Hawks, Bulldogs unbeaten

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IT was expected that Round 3 of the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League season might start to give us an indication of which teams might and might not be around the mark at the business end of the year, but the fact is it seems that things have just got a whole lot harder to confidently pick a winner from week to week.


Boolarra v Foster

BOTH of these two teams came off contrasting fortunes from the round prior, with Foster having secured a surprising win over Tarwin, while Boolarra were disappointing losers to fellow Demons, Meeniyan Dumbalk United.

Every expectation was that we would be in for a close hard fought contest, especially with the Demons back on their home deck.

It was all of that and more, as Foster 8.14 (62) defeated Boolarra 9.5 (59).

“We keep putting ourselves in interesting positions – again, dominated periods of the game on the weekend but couldn’t put scoreboard pressure on,” Foster senior coach Sam Davies said.

“Seven behinds in a row in the second quarter in ten minutes meant Boolarra stayed in the game.

“Tony [Giardina] is a very good operator, they played to their strengths and made us work until the final siren. We’ll bank the four points happily and move on.”

It was the second time in as many weeks that the Tigers had secured victory by less than a goal, both times by a three point margin.

The win welcomed by Foster, the loss a learning curve for the Demons.

“It was a good game from two determined teams, unfortunately our third quarter let us down,” Boolarra senior coach Giardina said.

“Now we head to Tarwin for another big game against another top side.”


Fish Creek v Thorpdale

TRAVELLING to Fish Creek, Thorpdale, even with the many injuries they had, were giving themselves a chance of their first win of 2023.

That confidence built on the back of some respectable performances in the first fortnight of the season.

However for the third time in three weeks, the Blues fell agonisingly short, losing to the Kangaroos, 6.8 (44) to 9.11 (65).

“It was an arm wrestle all day, Thorpdale are a strong side who are well coached. A few strong efforts from our mids and forwards helped us get over the line,” Fish Creek senior coach Jarrod Walker said.

The Kangaroos are proving to be a solid outfit, with very few passengers, and will prove to to be a tough outfit to beat against any opposition on their home ground.

“We put in a good effort for the first three quarters to match it with Fish Creek on their home deck. We got beaten in and around the stoppage contests in the last quarter which ultimately cost us the game,” Thorpdale senior coach Jason Winderlich said.

The Blues, unquestionably are deserving of a reward for their efforts over the first three weeks of 2023, and you sense that reward will be coming sooner rather than later, however round four offers the task of facing Mirboo North on their home deck.


Newborough v Mirboo North

Two of the unbeaten sides of the competition, were given a real opportunity of showcasing their respective styles on the weekend, as the Tigers ventured to the home of the Bulldogs, for one of the toughest away games that any side is likely to face in 2023.

On offer was the Ron Skinner Cup, in honour of Craig’s father who had coached successfully at both the Tigers and Bulldogs himself.

Newborough might not have had everything go their own way early, but the deeper into the game they went, the more control they had, and they soon had their own grip on it, Newborough 13.14 (92) defeated Mirboo North 8.10 (58).

The pre-season prediction that Newborough might just be the side to beat in 2023 is quickly coming to fruition as coach Craig Skinner builds a strong outfit of experience, youth and home grown talent.

“Our first game at Newborough, and Mirboo North started like the home side with three early goals in slippery conditions,” Newborough senior coach Craig Skinner said.

“Peter Ainsworth kept us in the game, rebounding from half back. A ten minute patch in the third quarter was what separated the sides on the day.

“Wins are premium in this competition and I’m happy to have our first one on the top dog’s day and keep the Ron Skinner Cup in the Cabinet.”

You get the feeling, the Bulldogs will be keen to keep the cup in the cabinet for as long as they can.

“Conditions didn’t really impact a pretty good game of football today. Both defences held up really well with the football rebounding at a pretty fast pace game of footy,” Mirboo North senior coach Peter Mongta said.

“Newborough had a big third quarter, their midfield got some easy centre clearances and put our defence under huge pressure and that meant it was hard to get momentum back our way.”

The Tigers now host the winless Thorpdale on their home deck, but like any game this year, they can ill afford to believe that just turning up will guarantee them the points.


Stony Creek v Hill End

It is always a testing time for a coach, especially so early in the season, when injuries have already started to significantly impact your starting line up, and that’s exactly what was staring Hill End senior coach Mike Santo in the face as his side ventured to the home of the Lions.

Both teams were searching for their first win, only one side securing the premiership points.

That side was Stony Creek, 11.12 (78) to Hill End’s 6.6 (42), the victory a confidence building one for the Lions.

“It was pleasing to see our boys play some good team footy, we had a few blokes play their first game and they really played their role well,” Stony Creek senior coach Chris Verboon said.

The Lions, rewarded their home ground support for some early season patience and played the sort of football that will secure more and more wins as the season rolls along.

“Stony Creek played well on their home track, they played a really tight defensive game and forced us into errors,” Santo said.

“I was happy with our boys’ efforts, but skill errors are costing us badly at the moment, we now look forward to Newborough at home next week.”

It’s another tough task for Hill End, who have had some close clashes with their local rivals in recent years, and although the Bulldogs might appear to be too tough a task, rest assured Hill End will be in for the fight.


Toora v Morwell East

Buoyed by their first up win of the year over Hill End just seven days prior, Toora welcomed the unbeaten Morwell East side to their home ground with the very real belief that stringing two wins together was a real possibility.

The reality however turned out to be a completely different story for the home side as Morwell East 17.8 (110) were comfortable winners over Toora 5.4 (34).

“I thought we executed our game plan the best we have so far this season. We controlled the game from the start to finish. Toora moved the ball well, so we had to make sure we limited our turnovers as they were looking to make us pay,” Morwell East senior coach Paul Henry said.

“Backline held strong, mids applied constant pressure and the forwards had their kicking boots on.”

The Hawks have quickly raised the eyebrows of many in the competition after flying very much under the radar in the lead up to the season’s start.

“Tough day against a Morwell East side who were very slick on the weekend. Their ball movement allowed access to the open side which made the defenders job tough,” Toora senior coach Jack Weston said.

“We had patches of time where we looked ok, but not for long enough. A solid three weeks where we learned a lot, but very much looking forward to the bye next weekend.”

A break for the Magpies might be just the tonic, as they prepare for a clash against Stony Creek in a fortnight.


Yinnar v MDU

This clash was always going to be one of the more intriguing of round three, with the reigning premiers at home, but being confronted by a side that had shown improvement on the season prior, but were still somewhat of an unknown force in 2023.

With both sides having chances to win, Yinnar took theirs, getting over the line by less than a kick, 7.9 (51) to MDU’s 6.11 (47).

“It was close right to the end, hard conditions, but the boys just cracked in and our effort was good, and Meeniyan really moved the ball well,” Yinnar senior coach Daniel Taylor said.

“We’ve lost seven players from the premiership and we have three or four injuries as well, so it’s a whole new side from last year, but the young kids, the thirds coming in and it has been really good.”

As good as the win was for the victors, the loss was heart breaking for MDU.

“We fought hard in scrappy conditions but we couldn’t convert when we had our chances, they got numbers back and got back deep, so we couldn’t goal from forty out with a wet ball,” MDU senior coach Nathan Allen said.

Make no mistake, the new looking MDU side are destined to cause many teams in the MGFNL some headaches as the season unfolds.

A new structure is being learnt, the ball movement is there, and improvement is guaranteed.


Tarwin – BYE


Round 4 Preview

Foster v Yinnar

THIS week’s clash between these two teams is a perfect example of what has become commonplace in the13-team competition, that is exciting new rivalries have been formed, raising the stakes in each and every game.

“Now Foster down at Foster, we have a good rivalry with them, we’ve played them three times since the league has been merged, and I don’t think any game has been won by more than eight or 10 points so we’re keen to get down there and have a crack at it,” Yinnar senior coach Daniel Taylor said.

Two brave wins by the Tigers in as many weeks, will have the home side ready for as fierce a contest as they can probably expect.

“Yinnar is always a battle, we respect them highly.” Foster senior coach Sam Davies said.

As good as the likes of Matt Clark, Todd Bastion, Jon Segat and Tim Wigney have been, they will also be calling on plenty of support from teammates to get the job done.


Hill End v Newborough

IF ever there was the story of David and Goliath for the MGFNL season 2023, then this match is surely it.

It should be noted that Hill End have quite recently been where Newborough now sit, the Rovers, through injury and player exits for opportunities at an even stronger level now finds itself still searching for its first win of the year, against a side yet to taste defeat.

“I was happy with our boys’ efforts last week but our skill errors are costing us badly at the moment, we now look forward to Newborough at home next week,” Hill End senior coach Mike Santo said.

You get the feeling everything would have to fall into place for Hill End to threaten Newborough, but coach of the Bulldogs, Craig Skinner has been around too long to know that his boys will need to be on their game to keep the Rovers at arm’s length.

“We are away again and up to Hill End and looking forward to seeing what surprises Coach Santo has for us on Saturday,” Newborough senior coach Craig Skinner said.

It would surely take a magic trick for the home side to claim premiership points, but Santo prides himself on producing the unexpected and he and his team have their opportunity to do just that this week.


MDU v Fish Creek

A CLOSE loss can either inspire a team to greater heights or cast doubt when pressure is applied once more.

MDU suffered defeat by less than a kick against reigning premiers Yinnar just seven days ago, and as a result find themselves in a must win position this week.

“It’s another big game this week, we have our past players, so its a huge day for us and hopefully we can get across the line – the competition is close and you can’t fall too far behind and it becomes a must win now for us as we sit with one and two,” MDU senior coach Nathan Allen said.

The Kangaroos appear to be a good honest outfit that can match it with most in the competition, and this week promises to be no different as the plan appears to be to attack at all costs.

“Looking forward to playing Meeniyan. We are starting to build a bit of a rivalry with them and they always match up well on us. it will definitely be a bit of a shootout and a good game to watch,” Fish Creek senior coach Jarrod Walker said.

Allen is still learning about many of his clubs opposition, including this week’s opponent Fish Creek.

“I don’t know too much about them but that’s sort of a challenge, well it’s a challenge but it’s also a positive as we just go about our way and we test ourselves and hopefully we are good enough,” he said.

There are certain games in a season that appear to be a fork in the road to a club’s fortunes, this clash certainly looks like one of those.


Mirboo North v Thorpdale

JUST when Thorpdale might be looking for some sort of a reprieve after three commendable and close losses, the Blues find themselves having to travel to the home of Mirboo North, to face a Tigers team on the rebound from their loss to Newborough.

“Facing Mirboo at home will be one of the biggest challenges for the year,” Thorpdale senior coach Jason Winderlich said.

There is no question that Mirboo North have bounced back into 2023 with a new-found confidence and enthusiasm, but despite their respective places on the ladder, Thorpdale will be no walk in the park.

“Last week our defence was under huge pressure against Newborough and that meant it was hard to get momentum back our way. This week we have Thorpdale at home,” Mirboo North senior coach Peter Mongta said.

“We will recover and look forward to another good game of footy against the Blues.”
The Tigers will be deserving favourites, but like the three clubs that have previously faced Thorpdale, will find that the pathway to success will be a testing one.


Morwell East v Stony Creek

THE dream continues for Morwell East, the Hawks managing to have slipped under the guard of many, if not most, in the MGFNL competition.

Coach Paul Henry has had his young team finding a way to win in all three of its matches to date, and with the whispers about some more experienced players preparing to return to the nest, things might only get better.

“I thought last week we executed our game plan the best we have so far this season. We controlled the game from the start to finish,” Morwell East senior coach Paul Henry said.

“This week we welcome Stony Creek to the East which will be another big game.”
Like Morwell East, Stony Creek has also shown some really pleasing recent form.

“Last week it was pleasing to see our boys play some good footy, but Morwell East the ladder leaders will be a tough matchup for us this week,” Stony Creek senior coach Chris Verboon said.

The intangibles of confidence and momentum can sometimes be hard to grasp, but once a club has them, they can also be hard to stop.

Both of these two teams come into this match as last round winners, but only one will carry that title going forward.


Tarwin v Boolarra

THE best medicine, they say, after a loss is the opportunity to win as quickly as possible.

Tarwin have had a fortnight to brew on their close three-point loss to Foster, whilst the Demons just seven days to consider the exact same thing – a three point loss to Foster!

That statistic might have us believe that Tarwin and Boolarra should be fighting out perhaps the closest clash of Round 4.

“After our close loss to Foster we now prepare to take on Boolarra after our week off with a bye and our boys will be fresh and ready to go,” Tarwin senior coach Troy Hemming said.
“We need to get back on the winners list, so I’m expecting a good performance from us and also a big challenge from Boolarra.”

Boolarra too, will be super keen to return to the winners list after a couple of excruciating close losses.

“Last week it was a good game between two determined sides, but our third quarter let us down, but now we head to Tarwin for another big game against another top side,” Boolarra senior coach Tony Giardina said.

So early in the season it might be hard to foresee just how important games like these are, but there is no question that the result will have a significant impact on opportunities later in the year.


TOORA has the bye.