Lions take down Goliath

Gang tackle: Moe players Ben Maslen and Ben Daniher wrap up a Leongatha opponent. Coming in for support is Scott Van Dyk, who played his 100th game during the Lions' epic win over the previously undefeated Parrots on Saturday. Photograph Julie Sim





THEY’RE certainly beatable.

Moe did what no Gippsland League side had done in 769 days – defeat Leongatha.

And they did it on the Parrot’s home turf as well.

The Lions prevailed 12.5 (77) to 6.14 (50) to highlight Round 7 of the Gippsland League.

So big was the result, it made state-wide news.

Even my mum, who has absolutely zero interest in football asked if Moe was still standing afterwards.

Yes, Moe is still standing, and standing tall at that, equal first on the ladder with Leongatha and Traralgon.

In what was a true team effort, the Lions found contributions right across the board to end the Parrots’ 34-game winning streak.

There wasn’t any magical formula. Everyone just simply played their role.

Everyone that was physically able to so that is. Moe was two men down for large parts, with midfielders Jacob Balfour and Jordan Ceppi succumbing to injury.

Ceppi returned to the field after grabbing at a troublesome ankle. Balfour wasn’t as lucky, taken to hospital with what ended up being a fractured collarbone.

So the win was made all the more mighty, and one for the history books – it was Moe’s first win at Leongatha since 2009.

The Lions’ win over Wonthaggi earlier in the year was declared their best win on the road in more than a decade. This would just about top it.

The win evoked memories of the “if it bleeds you can kill it” line delivered by Leigh Matthews. This notion became more evident as the game went on. Once Moe got into a winning position midway through the third quarter, it was clear they weren’t intimidated by Leongatha. It’s as if they realised ‘oh, they are just people in green and gold jumpers after all’.

This might have rang especially true for Lions defender Tyson Biffin, who may recall his old Assumption College coach Ray Carroll telling players “your opponent has the same number of arms and legs as you.”

At its most simplistic, Moe’s formula to victory was: take away the opposition’s one wood + sow the seed of doubt + add scoreboard pressure = win.

How often does David King say “don’t get beaten by what you know” on Fox Footy.

The Lions certainly weren’t beaten by what they knew Leongatha was going to throw at them.

While the Parrots haven’t been a great clearance side during their unbeaten run, their ability to make the ground big has enabled them to explode on offence.

Moe covered Leongatha’s switch so effectively, the Parrots’ only options were to play high risk through the corridor, or simply kick down the line.

To Leongatha’s credit, they kept taking it on through the middle until there was 10 minutes to go. However, with the pressure mounting, Moe cut off a number of inboard kicks and were able to slingshot the ball into dangerous spots – their three final quarter goals were all kicked closer than 20 metres out.

A strong south-easterly breeze across the ground toward the entrance played some havoc with kicking skills early in the piece, and presented a sizeable advantage to whoever kicked with it.

Leongatha had that luxury in the first quarter, and there was ominous signs when the Parrots had a shot on goal in the first 30 seconds.

The home side was plagued by poor conversion however, and at quarter time the score was 2.1 (13) to 0.7 (7) in Moe’s favour.

The visitors then had their turn kicking with the breeze, and made the most of their opportunities, adding four goals.

Former Western Bulldogs player Billy Gowers was on debut for Moe, and slotted a nice goal from deep in the pocket.

Up the other end, the Parrots continued to register scores, but only minor ones, and at halftime, they had 1.12 (18) to 6.3 (39) on the board.

As promising as Moe’s position was, with 13 scoring shots to nine, the threat of Leongatha taking the game away kicking with the wind in the third quarter hung over their head.

In fairness, a lot of the Parrots’ behinds were due to the work of the Lion’s defenders, who forced Leongatha into positions where they had to take shots wide.

The Parrots did make some running in the third, adding four goals, but Moe was equal to the task, kicking three themselves.

Lion’s veteran midfielder James Blaser wound back the clock in the second half, and played like a man possessed. He drew a free kick for holding the ball on the edge of 50 at the scoreboard end, before his kick was marked by fellow veteran in Moe captain Jacob Wood on the goal line.

Another goal followed after Scott Van Dyk, in his 100th game, smartly dropped the ball into Ben Daniher 25 metres out straight in front. With a raking kick in his locker, most thought Van Dyk was having a shot from 50, and his ploy to shape as if he was going to do so meant most of the Leongatha defenders were on the goal line.

A goal to Leongatha’s Jack Hume at the 24-minute mark cut the margin back, as the third quarter ended amid some confusion.

Leongatha was awarded a free kick on the 50 metre arc after the three quarter time siren. Star midfielder Tom Marriot went to take the shot, but had to reluctantly hand the ball over to Aaron Turton, who failed to kick the ball much further than 40 metres.

At the last change, Moe was ahead by 16 points. With a handy but by no means safe lead, coach Declan Keilty told his team to keep playing to win the game, not to save it.

The final term started with perhaps the first sign the home team was seriously fearful of losing their first game in more than two years.

With the ball spilling from congestion in the middle of the ground, a Leongatha player looked indecisive about whether or not to attack the loose ball or wait for it to arrive to him.

The situation became a lot harder for the home side after Grady Cocksedge walked out of a stoppage in the forward pocket and snapped through a goal at the four minute mark, extending the lead beyond 20 points.

The Parrots threw caution to the wind, and started going for everything. Their day perhaps summed up when Jack Ginnane, usually a deadeye in front of goal, had a set shot from a 45 degree angle and kicked it out on the full.

Moe however could not be denied. Play of the day was saved for the six minute mark, when the Lions went coast-to-coast through Harri Sim, Cocksedge and Wood, who kicked the ball long inside 50 to Harry Pepper.

Pepper engaged in a one-on-one, and worked his opponent under the ball, getting out the back and running into an open goal.

When that happened, the score was 71-43, giving the Lions enough breathing space.

By the 13 minute mark, it was clear players were out on their feet. Moe chipped the ball around to chew some time off the clock, although a four bounce run by Hume to set up a goal provided one for the highlight reel.

Things heated up towards the end, and on a record-breaking day, it was perhaps fitting it could have also been a record-setting day as far as holding the ball and high contact decisions were concerned.

In my time covering local football, I’ve never seen more free kicks paid.

A small scuffle broke out at the 25-minute mark, which resulted in Daniher being awarded a 50-metre penalty, taking him 20 metres out straight in front.

The left footer slotted the goal, and the siren went straight after the ball went through.

Arms were raised on the Moe bench in unison, celebrating a true win for the ages.

Cocksedge was voted best-on-ground, followed by Blaser, Brock Smith, Gowers (five goals) and Daniher.

Keilty was also among the best, and was full of praise for his side.

“It’s always tough coming up against Leongatha, so to come away with the win was pretty special,” he said.

“It took 22 guys buying in, doing their role, playing their bit for the team.”

Summing up the game, Keilty said it was pleasing Moe was able to get the match on their terms.

“I think it was just our contested effort and our defensive effort,” he said.

“You have to respect their midfielders like Tom Marriott, Luke Bowman, Aaron Heppell, so to be able to defensively win at the stoppage and then mitigate their impact on the game was a big part of that.

“Shane Paynter, one of our assistant coaches, made the comment we probably forced them to kick long down the line more than what they wanted to which played into our hands, we were able to control the ball in the back half.

“The message going into the game was we wanted to play our way, if we went away from that in the last quarter, I think Leongatha would have rolled us, it was just stick to that mentality, try to keep winning, try to keep scoring as best we can.”

Best for Leongatha was Cade Maskell, Cam Olden, Ben Willis in his 150th game, Guy Dickson, Hume and Kim Drew.


TRARALGON took its winning streak to six in Round 7 of the Gippsland League.

The Maroons broke away from a determined Bairnsdale on their home deck, eventually winning 11.16 (82) to 6.7 (43).

Traralgon may have caught the travel bug early, as they were only a point up at quarter time.

From there however, the visitors were able to take control.

Class prevailed after halftime, as Traralgon kicked seven goals to three.

With twice as many scoring shots after the main break, the Maroons could have easily won by more had it not been for inaccurate kicking.

Favourite son Jordan Cunico made his long-awaited return for Traralgon.

The local product and former Geelong player showed why he has been touted as one of the recruits of the year, getting in the best along with Tye Hourigan, Jackson McMahon, Tom Schneider, Billy Schilling and Sam Hallyburton.

The win moves Traralgon to equal-first on the ladder, after Moe did them a favour by defeating Leongatha.

There wouldn’t be too many times Traralgon has had reason to thank Moe for something on the field.

The Maroons face a tough challenge this weekend when they welcome Wonthaggi, a result that could go a long way to determining who gets the double chance.

Better players for Bairnsdale were Logan Austin, Ethan East, Will Mitchell, Kieran Vickery, Byron Vickery and Link McKenna.

The Redlegs have now lost four games in a row, and will be desperate to break the shackles when they take on Morwell this Saturday.

For Bairnsdale, the problem may be simple – the same players keep getting in the best.


THEY are getting some players back at Sale.

The Magpies moved into the top-five at the weekend, after holding off a fast-finishing Morwell 8.10 (58) to 8.6 (54).

The match was predicted to be close, and was befitting of a game that saw two teams enter on not only the same number of premiership points, but exactly the same percentage.

Only a draw would have meant Sale and Morwell remained separated on the ladder by only the alphabet, and amazingly, it was only four points off staying that way.

The Magpies however will take the win, which they had in their keeping for most of the clash at Sale Oval.

Despite the margin never extending beyond 13 points at any of the breaks, the home side always found themselves with enough breathing space.

Some late goals from the visitors gave Sale a scare, but in the end, they were able to get a timely win on the board, and take their record to 3-4.

Will Leslie was best on for the winners, and received good support from Jack McLaren, Jayden Allison, Nathan Whitford, Jarrod Freeman and Daine McGuiness, who would have to be just about the most improved player in the comp.

Zac Anderson played well for Morwell, as did Brandon Bailey, Riley Loprese, Brandon Mcauliffe, Max Linton and playing-coach Boyd Bailey.

With Morwell now 2-5 and facing an uphill battle to remain in the finals race, first-year coach Bailey could be feeling the heat.

In fairness, his situation has not been helped in recent weeks due to players booking in holidays and choosing to go to weddings during the season.

Having taken over from an old-school authoritarian coach in Denis Knight, it is unlikely that sort of thing would have happened in the previous regime.

From here, Morwell will more than likely need to win eight of their remaining 11 home-and-away games to even be a chance of playing finals.

That is not an easy task when you consider the Tigers still have to play Wonthaggi over there before the fixture reverts back to the start.

Sale meanwhile is half-a-game clear in fifth, and will look to consolidate a spot in the top half of the ladder now that it has some key players back.

Pat Tainsh and Brad Dessent are both back in the seniors, while Bohdi Walker, Brad McKay and Jordan Dessent are on the comeback trail, and all played reserves at the weekend.

While Sale has some ground to make up to get into the top-three, it is looking like it will be a very even top-five.

Leongatha, Moe and Traralgon are all equal on points at the top, while Wonthaggi is only a game behind in fourth.

As four into three won’t go, and with Sale continuing to get quality players back, there could honestly be five very good teams in the finals this year.

Could this be the year someone does the unheard of and wins a granny from fifth?


MAFFRA recorded a meritorious win over Drouin.

While it might sound stupid to label victory over a team that hasn’t won a game as being one full of merit, the Hawks have shown plenty in season 2023 to suggest they are a good side.

There was enough there last Saturday as well, when Drouin was only 20 points down at halftime.

The Eagles however, put the foot down in the third term at home, kicking six goals to two to take an unassailable lead heading into the last.

Both teams only managed one goal in the last quarter, but that was fine as far as Maffra was concerned, as they kicked the ton to win 15.17 (107) to 8.12 (60).

Eagles captain Daniel Bedggood led the way with six goals in a dominant display. Others to play well were Brayden Monk, Kieran Jones, Nathan Pollard, Kade Renooy and John Butcher, who helped himself to four goals.

Hugo Birks continues to take the Gippsland League by storm, and not just for his name. Birks kicked four goals at the weekend, taking his season tally to 20.

Shae Harvey, Clayton Kingi, Joe Collins, Jarrod Marshall and Noah Glen were other shinning lights for the Hawks.

As they say, a week is a long time in football, and Maffra has gone from equal last to only two points out of the top-five in the space of three weeks.

The Eagles have played a host of youngsters so far this season, and they welcomed their eighth senior debutant in Bailey Carubia on Saturday..


THE match between Wonthaggi and Warragul went as expected.

Things got ugly very quickly for the Gulls, who didn’t even register a score at Wonthaggi in the first quarter, on the way to losing by 138 points.

Warragul’s unenviable predicament may be best summed up by the fact 50-something-year-old veteran, Anthony Pavey pulled on the boots for the reserves.

He was one of three eyebrow-raising players to make an appearance in the early game, along with Rick Galea at Morwell and Clinton Taylor, who announced his retirement last season, at Moe.

It’s getting to that time of year.