Dogs go six from six

Too good: Foster won the battle of the Tigers with a surprisingly big margin against Mirboo North. Photograph supplied





A LOT has been said about the evenness of the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League competition.

That sort of pressure is put on players on a week-to-week basis, but is also amplified on coaches, who not only have to deal with the prospect of quality opposition, but also their player injuries, unavailability and periods of poor form.


Boolarra v Yinnar

BOOLARRA and Yinnar are still a little way off being able to field their very best sides, but as we get deeper into the season, the reality is that clubs just have to find a way to win with what they’ve got.

The Demons, coming off a bye, were well aware of the need for a win on their home deck against the reigning premier, but just couldn’t get the job done, going down 9.15 (69) to 6.6 (42).

Magpies coach Daniel Taylor said he was happy with the effort, although it wasn’t all good news.

“A dominant first quarter set the day up for us, unfortunately we copped four injuries and were two players down midway through the first quarter, inaccurate kicking in the second and third (0.11 (11) kept Boolarra in the game,” he said.

“Boolarra kept coming and at three quarter time the game needed to be won and I thought the boys were fantastic.

“The bye this week comes at a perfect time, we should get seven, maybe eight guys back across the board to really strengthen both our squads for the rest of the season.”

As pleasing as the win was for the Magpies, the disappointment of letting another important game get away from the Demons has them starting to lose touch with the top six, and that is of most concern for coach Tony Giardina.

“Again we gave a top side a start. Kept them goalless for two quarters, they turned the heat up in the last, and the game was over,” he said.

“We are matching it with the good sides but aren’t playing four quarters which is killing us.”


Morwell East v Thorpdale

MORWELL EAST had been flying in the first month of the 2023 season, before a loss to Newborough delivered something of a reality check ahead of last weekend’s encounter with Thorpdale.

The Blues had been buoyed by two wins in as many weeks, and arrived at the home of the Hawks with every intention of making it three from three.

That is exactly what they achieved, winning 9.8 (62) to 4.7 (31).

Thorpdale coach, Jason Winderlich said it was another positive sign.

“Good result today for the club taking home the two footy wins,” he said.

“Hard fought contest early as both teams were fighting for the upper hand around stoppages and loose ball gets.

“We were able to capitalise on some forward entries in the second quarter and maintain the lead for the remainder of the game.”

“Looking ahead to this week, we are still realistic as to where we sit among the league. Toora gave us a touch up last year so our focus now is for a big week of recovery and training to keep developing our cohesion as a group.”

The win by the Blues was even more impressive due to the fact that Morwell East were well-prepared for what was coming.

“It was important for us to bounce back after our loss to the benchmark of the competition last week,” Hawks coach Paul Henry said.

“I wanted our boys to come in confident because I thought although we got beaten, we were four and one for a reason.

“We scored a goal in the first 30 seconds, and our ball movement against the wind in the first was excellent. The next three quarters Thorpy really stepped it up. Although we still kept cracking in and at moments I thought we were coming, but to Thorpy’s credit, they just didn’t allow the momentum to swing our way for a long period of time.”


Toora v Newborough

IN the Game of Thrones, there was plenty of fear and apprehension based on the warning that ‘winter is coming”, and to bring that phrase back into the MGFNL and throw in an in-form Newborough side to that, you just knew that Toora was going to be tested to the absolute max.

The goal for the home ground Magpies possibly wasn’t going to be whether they won, but how they held strong.

Newborough did win comfortably, 19.18 (132) to 5.6 (36), but the Magpies did feel as though they fought the match out as best they could with the players they chose to field.

“After a disappointing performance against Stony Creek, we wanted a response against Newborough. To the boys credit we responded and pushed a great side for a half, dropping away after half time. Our intensity and effort around the ball early was fantastic. To Newborough’s credit they were able to get us on the spread from the contest and kicked a winning score,” Toora coach Jack Weston said.

Counterpart Craig Skinner said it was always good to win on the road.

“A consistent four quarters and no major injuries is what we can take away from today,” he said.

“Like all clubs at the moment we are hoping our injury list is shortened by Saturday when we play Stony Creek at home. We are expecting a good tough contest that Chris (Stony Creek coach Chris Verboon) and his team will bring to the Kennel.”

Newborough are starting to build quite the record, and as good as they have been, the Bulldogs are likely to improve even further deep into the season.


Foster v Mirboo North

THE battle of these two Tigers teams was always going to be a fiercely contested encounter no matter the venue, but this time it was Foster on their home deck that welcomed a Mirboo North side as desperate as any to bounce back from an unexpected loss the week prior to MDU.

It’s too early to start talking finals, but make no mistake, the importance of the win made it a finals-like contest. The home side signalled that they are the Tiger team ready for the big time, winning comfortably 23.13 (151) to 4.4 (28).

Foster coach Sam Davies praised his side’s performance.

“Nice to get some real confidence back into the group,” he said.

“We’ve shown little glimpses all year and today we put four quarters together after tinkering with a few little things throughout the week.

“The group has so much ability but needed today to give them positive reinforcement.”

That positive reinforcement was not mirrored for Mirboo North. Peter Mongta’s men now face the challenge of clawing their way back to showcasing respectable performances that we have come to accept from Mirboo North.

“It was the biggest loss of the season on the weekend against a side that did everything right,” he said.

“Foster hit the scoreboard very early and didn’t look back, we struggled to make any impact in and around the contest with bigger bodies and good outside run that really hurt us.

“Positive signs for our ruckman, Patty Lewis who performed really well against good opposition.

“Next week we face Tarwin at home and our message was to move on very quickly.”


Hill End v MDU

THE nightmare for any coach, is when you start to wonder where your first win will come from.

Decimated by injury and unavailability, Hill End entered the weekend hopeful that this would be the one in which they could secure premiership points, and in doing so, start to lay the foundation for the weeks ahead. Instead, it was the reality of their position that was laid bare, as they lost to Meeniyan Dumbalk United 22.10 (142) to 7.9 (51).

Demons coach, Nathan Allen was happy with how things unfolded.

“We got off to a great start and never looked back today, converting whenever we got a chance,” he said.

“When we play our way, we can be hard to play against.”

The Demons were good, maybe even better than they have been in the wins prior. For Hill End, they continue to show glimpses of what they can do, but not for the length of time required to win games.

“MDU played well, they used the width of the ground and spread us out. They are a well-balanced side with size all over the ground,” Rovers coach Mike Santo said.

“We played well in patches again and was good to see some of our players improving. In-form Foster next week will be another big challenge.”

There is no doubt Hill End will snatch a victory sooner rather than later, however picking which clash that will be in is getting more difficult each week.


Tarwin v Fish Creek

ON the surface at least, Tarwin hadn’t seemed to be bringing the same sort of game they had last year, when the Sharks were clearly the benchmark of the home-and-away competition.

Back on their home deck, and after an indifferent start to the season, this clash had quickly become their most important of 2023, but you wouldn’t have thought it, given the Sharks most disappointing performance, losing 8.5 (52) to 4.4 (28) against Fish Creek.


BYE – Stony Creek