Rep footy returns in Gippsland League

Rep action: Jacob Balfour is forced into a rare right-foot kick as Kade Renooy closes in during the Gippsland League All Stars match. Photograph Gippsland League





A MODERN take on interleague was unveiled at the weekend.

After no representative football or netball in the last few years, and with leagues across the state reluctant to organise games, the Gippsland League took matters into its own hands.

Last Saturday was set aside for some of the best young players in the Gippsland League to play some form of representative football and netball.

Players across the league were selected for an in-house version of traditional interleague. Teams were selected based on location of the player’s home club, with ‘Team Navy’ pooling from Morwell, Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Maffra and Sale, while ‘Team Red’ took in Moe, Warragul, Drouin, Leongatha and Wonthaggi.

The cut-off age for participation in senior football was set at 25 in order to showcase some of the best young players in the competition. The move may have also allowed potential AFL and VFL scouts to make their way down to Traralgon knowing they would be viewing a high-quality game.

Morwell playing-coach Boyd Bailey led the Navy side, while Moe assistant Shane Paynter answered the call to replace Jed Lamb as coach of Red as the Warragul coach was dealing with recovery from his horrific leg injury.

Team Navy took bragging rights, winning 12.12 (84) to 7.8 (50).

Maffra’s Kade Renooy was voted best-on -ground, and received good support from former Eagles teammate Hudson Holmes, Traralgon pair Luis D’Angelo and Tye Hourigan, and Morwell ruckman and VFL product Tristen Waack.

Team Red was well served by Moe’s Riley Baldi, Tallin Brill (Leongatha), Jake Hume (Leongatha), Tom Evans (Drouin) and Sean Masterson (Warragul).

Junior football saw Navy defeat Red by 32 points.

IN senior netball, Red defeated Navy 60-45.

Leongatha’s Nicola Marriott won best-on-court honours.

Others to play well were Drouin teammates April Bethune and Ava Gaul.

For Navy, Morwell’s Courtney Garth was a standout, along with Warragul pair Sienna Green and Selene Chadrawy.

The netball teams were selected via a draft process by coaches Rachael Paterson (Navy) and Staci Gardiner (Red).

Under 17s netball was won by Navy 51-39, Red 42-27 in Under 15s and Navy 29-25 in Under 13s.


I’VE got good news and bad news.

The good news: Gippsland League footy is back this weekend.

The bad news: there are no games in the Valley.

Moe, Morwell and Traralgon will all hit the road for Round 7 action, as the league resumes for another five game block.

As competitors enter the second-third of the season, this Saturday will mark the last match in autumn before the traditional winter grind commences.

If the first-third of the season is the ‘establishment phase’, the next six or so games should be viewed as the ‘stabilisation period’ where teams either consolidate spots near the top of the ladder, or keep themselves in the hunt for a finals berth.

Heavier grounds in weeks to come will undoubtedly increase the risk of injury, meaning coaches will have to navigate players and work out selection contingencies depending on the ramifications associated with the game at hand.

With six or so weeks in the last third of the season, officials have some flexibility now to exercise caution and nurse players back for the business end of the season.
Players themselves will need to play this period smartly. If you are 10 goals up with five minutes to go in the next few weeks, maybe don’t go back with the flight and risk adding yourself to the unavailability list.

The annual flu season can also wreak havoc with squads, and given every second person seems to be sick at the moment, it would appear there is a clear bug going around.

Therefore, all players, coaches and officials would be well advised to stay on top of their respiratory health, as the last thing anyone needs is for illness to wipe out half a list.


IF you are a Moe player and can’t get motivated for this, you might want to contemplate retiring.

The Lions travel to Leongatha in a battle between first and second.

The Parrots are currently the clubhouse leaders of the Gippsland League, and the only unbeaten team in the competition.

Leongatha’s strength so far this season was demonstrated in the Grand Final rematch against Sale four weeks ago when they won by 130 points.

Moe however will head over the hill with some confidence. The Lions have proven they can defeat quality opposition in South Gippsland, evidenced by their victory over Wonthaggi in Round 3.

The Lions willingness to compete went to another level in that game, and if they can replicate such intensity on Saturday, spectators could be in for an enthralling contest.
More specifically, Moe might look to capitalise on at least one key statistic it has over Leongatha.

For a team as dominant as Leongatha, it is interesting to note they actually aren’t a great clearance side.

The Parrots have only won the clearance count in half their games this year, and even then it has only been +4, +7, +4.

Leongatha was smashed in clearance by Traralgon, going -14, whereas Moe went +5 against the same opposition.

The Lions have won the clearance battle in four of their six games, the most notable being the +16 differential against Wonthaggi.

The work of veteran ruckman Ben Morrow has been noteworthy, as well as new recruit Chris Prowse in getting the ball to the likes of Riley Baldi, Ben Daniher and Grady Cocksedge.

If the ball is continually going away from Leongatha’s goal at stoppage, it then begs the question: just how are the Parrots so effective?

These numbers might provide an indication.

It is the Parrots’ ability to win the ball back that makes them so dangerous.

Put simply – they explode on offence and feast on turnover.

Leongatha’s inside 50 count since Round 3 has been +41, +23, +49, +31.

Their turnover game is almost criminal – in the last match they forced Morwell into 23 more clangers.

Evaluating the data, it would appear Moe will win their share of the ball this weekend, they will just have to make sure they don’t simply hand it back to the opposition.

Imagine what history will say about the team that was able to defeat Leongatha.


SURELY the statistic currently aligned to Morwell and Sale will end this weekend.

Amazingly, the Tigers and Magpies sit on exactly the same points and exactly the same percentage.

Barring a draw, one will break from the other when the final siren sounds at Sale Oval.

Both teams are two points outside the top-five, but the winner will go into the top half of the ladder assuming Traralgon beats Bairnsdale as expected.

Although there are plenty of games left, this clash is looming as a vital one in either sides finals aspirations.

Generally speaking, you can’t afford to lose more than eight games to join in the September action. Morwell and Sale each have four losses to their name already, so the road back could be arduous for whoever drops the bundle this Saturday.

Needing to win eight of your last 11 sounds harder the more you think of it.

The Tigers will be hoping the week off allows them to get a few players back. Playing-coach Boyd Bailey has had his finger in a splint the last few weeks, while key forward Adam Braendler also missed the last game.

Morwell put up an admirable fight against Leongatha a fortnight ago, and were only 10 points down at three quarter time before weight of numbers caught up with them.

Sale’s physicality has been a hallmark in the last couple of years, and players such as the Leslie brothers, Will and Jack, will be looking to make their presence felt.

Morwell will need to stand up to any pushing and shoving that might take place, and also deal with the unique shape of Sale Oval’s very straight wings.


HOPE you’ve got a good playlist sorted Traralgon.

The Maroons make the journey east to take on Bairnsdale.

Traralgon is on a roll at present, sitting third on the ladder with a five game winning streak.

The visitor’s are expected to make it six in a row against a Redlegs outfit that has looked well out of sorts in recent weeks.

After starting the year with a morale-boosting win over Sale, Bairnsdale followed up by barely getting over the line against Drouin at home, before losing to Moe, Leongatha and Wonthaggi heavily.

The draw hasn’t been overly kind to the Redlegs, as this weekend will make it four games in a row against the top-four teams.

As they say however, ‘them’s the breaks’, and the Maroons won’t have any sympathy for their opponents.

There is likely to be Port Adelaide reunion as Traralgon full forward Brett Eddy plays against Bairnsdale coach Logan Austin.

Austin will surely go to Eddy and look to negate his influence.

The key forward is coming off a six-goal effort against Moe, and could be in for another bag if Luis D’Angelo, Tom Schneider and Jackson McMahon keep lacing him out.


IN other games, Maffra will look to make it back-to-back wins when they welcome Drouin.

Although the Hawks are winless and at the foot of the ladder, that record does not do them justice.

Of the six games Drouin has lost, four have been by under 10 points, while they have also kicked at least 10 goals in five of those games.

General feedback around the league has been that the Hawks have decided to go all-out attack this season, and as such, have been a hard team to defend against.

Basically, you can’t stop Drouin scoring, so you have to keep scoring yourself in order to beat them.

With decent conditions forecast for Saturday in Maffra, an old-fashioned shootout could be on the cards.


ELSEWHERE, the two Ws in Wonthaggi and Warragul will meet.

The Power should win easily at home and stay in touch with those fighting for positions in the top three.

Unfortunately for the Gulls, they are genuinely the walking wounded at present, and could have no choice but to play some kids over the next few weeks.

While injuries happen in football, the way in which they occur can have a very demoralising effect on a group. The horrific leg injury suffered by Warragul playing-coach Jed Lamb a few weeks ago may well belong in that category.

Think back to Nathan Brown – Richmond’s season never recovered after that.