Traralgon responds on the road

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WHAT a difference a week makes.

Traralgon got back on the winners list, defeating Sale in a top-five contest.

While the visitors led at every change, they were made to work for the points in an 11.10 (76) to 9.13 (67) victory.

Coming into the game off the back of a 79-point drubbing at the hands of fellow top-five team Wonthaggi, pressure was on the Maroons to respond.

Traralgon did so, and looked to have the game under control for all intents and purposes at three quarter time when they led by 26 points.

However, the Magpies hit back, and hit the front in fact, very nearly reigning in the deficit.

Sale kicked four goals with the wind in the final term heading toward the hospital, but were overtaken in a thrilling climax.

Up until then, Traralgon had been the better side, and kept the Magpies to just two goals in the middle two quarters.

The Maroons added five foals in the same amount of time, maintaining a three-to-four-goal buffer.

The home side threw skipper Jack Leslie forward in the last quarter, and he responded with two goals. A number of players on both sides rose to the occasion late, including Max Jacobsen, who took some telling marks for Traralgon.

A goal to Sale midfielder Kane Martin came at a crucial stage. With a game to win, there was no time to celebrate the fact it was his 300th senior goal for the black and white.

The feat added another dot point to a CV that includes four club best-and-fairests, a league best-and-fairest, and best-on-ground in a Grand Final.

For a midfielder to kick 300 goals in just over 200 games at Gippsland League level surely puts Martin among the greatest to have ever played at this level. (In my time covering or watching local footy, I haven’t seen anyone better).

Fellow midfield gun Shannen Lange kicked two goals for the Magpies, and was listed among the best alongside Will Leslie, Jack Leslie, Cooper Whitehill and Daine McGuiness, while Brad McKay played his first senior game since coming over from Rosedale.

The Magpies were forced to make two late changes, with Jordan Dessent and Lachie Ronchi pulling out.

Jack McLaren continued his amazing form with another best-on-ground performance.

It is McLaren’s world at the moment, we are just living in it – he has been best-on the last three weeks, and been first or second-best in six of nine games this season.

Traralgon was well-served by Tom Schneider, Billy Schilling, Josh Hamilton, Luis D’Angelo, Tye Hourigan and Jacobsen.

Like McLaren, Hourigan is bringing his own footy this season – he has been listed in the best seven times out of nine games.

The Maroons benefitted from Gippsland Power having a break due to the long weekend, and were able to welcome Hamilton, who kicked three goals, along with Cooper Brown and Harper Fox into the senior side.

Traralgon sits fourth on the ladder at the halfway mark, but is only a game off sharing top-spot with Leongatha.

Senior leader and club heart-and-soul Matt Northe played his first game for the season at the weekend, coming back through the reserves.

Following this win, there may be some cause for Traralgon to cast the Wonthaggi result aside as a once-off, although that might do the Power an equal disservice.

Does Traraglon beating Sale say more about the Maroons, less about Sale, or more about how good Wonthaggi are?


IF you went to Moe on Saturday for entertainment, it all happened before the senior game.

A huge crowd gathered at Ted Summerton Reserve to see a number of brave souls dunk their heads under ice cold water, all in the name of ‘putting a freeze’ on motor neuron disease (MND).

Former Socceroo Archie Thompson, a long-time friend and former Gippsland Falcons teammate of Moe Football-Netball Club president Manny Gelagotis, was there, as was larger-than-life media personality and North Melbourne premiership player Sam Kekovich.

The great Neale Daniher, the face of the Fight MND campaign, was also present, and watched on as the festivities unfolded.

Moe players all wore special Fight MND socks, and ran out with the iconic FightMND blue beanies on their heads before the game.

In a perfect script, Neale Daniher’s son, Moe footballer Ben, kicked the opening goal in the Lions’ win against Maffra.

That is about where the action ended, as the rest of the game was played out in a rather dull manner. Moe eventually got the points in a scoreboard that read 9.19 (73) to 8.4 (52).

Maffra threw a curveball at the home side, dropping one winger into defence and shifting another inside attacking 50.

While the ploy was highly unusual, it worked to the extent of giving the Lions something to think about.

Playing without wings meant Maffra essentially backed their midfielders at the source to win the ball, and had an extra number at either end to help out.

The catch-22 of course meant Moe’s wingers were freed-up, and there was a clear discrepancy on the inside 50 count.

The Lions however were plagued by poor conversion, and their inaccuracy kept Maffra right in the game until early in the last term.

Moe led by 21 point at the main break, but 15 scoring shots to four told a story of missed opportunities – and they weren’t easy missed opportunities either.

The home side straightened up in the third, kicking 3.3 (21), but their opponents more than responded, with five straight goals of their own.

The Eagles were able to isolate key forwards Daniel Bedggood and John Butcher, and the pair played a hand in seeing the visitors only 12 points down at the last change.

Butcher fired things up with a goal and subsequent melee that saw his jumper ripped, while skipper Bedggood flexed his muscle (literally), kicking a goal right on the siren in front of the pro-Moe crowd.

Moe forward Harry Pepper produced one of the rare highlights for the day at the other end, turning his man inside out and snapping through a bouncing goal.

Contrasting messages came out of the respective three quarter time huddles. Moe playing-coach Declan Keilty called on his side to lift, saying they hadn’t committed their bodies.

Meanwhile, over in the Maffra huddle (which was positioned very closely to the centre circle), the Eagles could sense an upset.

When Kade Renooy burst off half-forward and set up a goal to Alex Carr within the first minute, they couldn’t just sense an upset – they could well and truly see it.

With the margin just six points, some Moe supporters may have been fearing the worst, however, a goal-saving tackle from Dylan Brooks, as well as a 50 metre penalty from Butcher, helped the home side steady.

Pepper scored a crucial goal at the six minute mark, followed by a Billy Gowers snap and salute to the Can Bar.

Gowers found himself at the other end of the ground a short time later, and was pinged for running too far.

The follow-up shot from Sam Robbins looked on target, but Moe’s defence was able to hold strong.

The Eagles’ last real chance to make a late charge came when Butcher had a set shot from 45 metres out but failed to make the distance. Had he kicked that, it would have cut the margin back to 10 points.

Moe threw some magnets around, with usual defenders Tyson Biffin and Ben Maslen playing on the wing at times. Maslen took a strong overhead mark next to the coaches box, while Biffin smartly took time off the clock, finding Luke Mulqueen at the 25 minute mark late in the game.

The Lions only kicked two goals in the final term, but it was enough to secure a 21-point win. Despite a few nervy moments, it never felt as though Moe was going to lose the game. Without stating the absolute obvious, if they had of kicked straight, the game would have been over at halftime.

Daniher kicked two goals in the win, continuing his strong season that sees him among the favourites for the club best-and-fairest. Keilty should also feature prominently when the votes are read out, as will Scott Van Dyk and Brock Smith. The two Harrisons, Pepper (four goals) and Sim rounded out the best players. Sim has flown under the radar a bit in the goal-kicking stakes, and has a creditable 14 majors to his name as a small forward this season, working in tandem with Pepper who has 17.

For Maffra, the experience of Ed Carr, Brayden Monk, Daniel Bedggood (four goals), Ben Brunt, Alex Carr and Kieran Jones stood out.

As a team in transition, it was clear to see the future on display for the Eagles last Saturday. Senior coach Anthony Robbins will be hoping to keep a core group together, with players the likes of Max Stobie, Tom Thatcher and Jett Killoran among the next generation.

Moe goes into the halfway mark equal first on the ladder with Leongatha.


DID we all just suddenly forget about Wonthaggi?

The Power made it six wins in a row at the weekend, defeating Morwell with ease 17.12 (114) to 4.5 (29).

The home side led at each break, and kept Morwell to just one goal in the second half.
The Tigers’ only promising signs came in the second term, when they kicked three goals after being held to just one behind in the opening quarter.

Wonthaggi dominated most of the day, and finished strongly, with six goals in the last stanza.

Cooper McInness backed-up his previous round effort of seven goals, kicking five for the winners.

He was well supported by Troy Harley, who slotted four. Others to play well were Ryan Sparkes, Fergus O’Connor, Josh Schulz, and young gun Brodie Mabilia.

Better players for Morwell were Dan Musil, Max Linton, Zac Anderson, coach Boyd Bailey, James Jacobsen and Sam Walsh.

The result leaves the Tigers’ finals aspirations well and truly hanging by a thread.
With three wins to the halfway point of the season, Morwell will more than likely need to win at least six of the remaining nine games to even be a remote chance.

Looking at it, assuming the Tigers repeat the three wins they already have, and flip their loss to the now-struggling Warragul, they will still need to collect points in games against two current top-five sides.

Their situation will only get harder with every loss.

That being said, there is enough evidence to suggest Morwell shouldn’t be written off just yet. Their margins against top-five teams make for interesting analysis.

The Tigers were soundly beaten by Traralgon in Round 3 by 68 points, and here against Wonthaggi by 85 points. However, margins of 36 points against Leongatha and Moe, and four points against Sale, mean Morwell could easily find themselves still swinging come Round 16.

Wonthaggi on the other hand have further solidified their position in the top-three.

A win-loss record of 1-2 at the start of the season may have presented a false economy for the Power, who trailed Leongatha, Moe and Traralgon between rounds three and seven in the top-three stakes.

That all changed the round before last when Wonthaggi destroyed Traralgon on their home deck, which well and truly put the competition on notice.

While all the attention seemed to be on the Parrots, Lions and Maroons, people probably looked past the fact Wonthaggi had a percentage touching 200 and had only really slipped-up in one game (28-point loss to Moe in Round 3).

Now that they have won consecutive games by more than 10 goals, spectators may have reason to believe the Power are running themselves into peak form.

Who were people kidding?

Wonthaggi missed a Grand Final by two points last year – they weren’t just going to drop away this season without a fight.


YA still gonna have to beat Leongatha to win this premiership.

The Parrots went into the halfway mark of the Gippsland League season on top of the ladder, after handing Drouin a nice-old pasting.

Leongatha was not in a hospitable mood, and dismissed the Hawks by 99 points at home, 23.10 (148) to 7.7 (49).

While Drouin has shown some promising signs this season, and won plenty of admirers for their attacking flair, the winless Hawks perhaps showed just how easy they are to score against.

Big margins were the order of the day for the Hawks. Drouin local Ryan Maric lost by 122 points on debut for the West Coast Eagles against Adelaide on the same day.

If it is any consolation for Maric, another Gippslander suffered a worse loss on AFL debut – Maffra’s John Butcher lost his first AFL game by 165 points playing for Port Adelaide against Hawthorn in 2011.

At that time, it was said VFL side Port Melbourne would have beaten Port Adelaide.

Leongatha found plenty of goals from Tallin Brill, Jenson Garnham and Lachie Wright, the trio kicking 16 between them.

Tom Marriott was best afield (could he be on track to win another league best-and-fairest?), followed by Brill, Aaron Heppell, Garnham, Jack Hume, and the Benjamin Button of the Gippsland League, Cade Maskell.

Tim Hancock, Jarrod Marshall, Tom Evans, Ryan Taylor, Bailey Stephens and Kye Quirk battled hard for Drouin.


BAIRNSDALE celebrated a big day for the club.

The Redlegs not only defeated Warragul 19.9 (123) to 12.10 (82), but also raised more than $100,000 for the Fight MND campaign.

In true country footy style, a DIY Big Freeze slide was set-up at Bairnsdale City Oval, and saw a number of local celebrities take the plunge.

Among them was Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, as well as Stratford singer-songwriter Mick Harrington of The Voice notoriety.

In keeping with the good spirit of the day, injured Warragul coach Jed Lamb also went down the slide.

Bairnsdale’s effort was one of the biggest Fight MND fundraisers in the state.

The game itself kept spectators on edge, as just two points separated combatants at three quarter time.

With the Gulls struggling in recent weeks, players could sense a rare victory. The home side however made sure of the result, slamming on eight goals to one in the last term.

Amazingly, three players kicked five goals for the Redlegs: Tom Hudson, Brayden McCarrey and Tyran Rees.

Even more amazing was the fact Bairnsdale kicked 15 straight at the scoreboard end (thank you Mr Carter).

McCarrey and Rees joined Lachlan Byrne-Jones, Nathan Dennison, Ethan East and Link McKenna in the best.

Goals also came from a familiar boot for Bairnsdale, although the player concerned found himself in an unfamiliar grade.

Senior vice-captain John Gooch kicked 10 goals in the reserves, presumably to find some touch after being held to just two disposals by Morwell’s Campbell Blewett the week before.
It was Gooch’s first reserves game since his days at Sale in 2014.

While it is highly unusual to send a senior leader back to the early game at country level, the decision may be justified given the fact three Bairnsdale players ended up kicking five goals.

Ironically, Bairnsdale playing-coach Logan Austin might have taken a leaf out of his old AFL club Port Adelaide’s book in making the decision. The Power left skipper Tom Jonas out of the side last month, and he hasn’t been recalled since.

Richmond premiership captain, Bruce Monteath famously sat most of the 1980 Grand Final on the bench after struggling to get a game at times during the season.

For Warragul, Yarram recruit Corbin Sutherland played his best game in the major league, kicking five goals. Others to play well were Brad Hefford, Tom Kelly, Lane Ward, Sean Masterson, Lachlan Smith and Cooper Alger.

Kelly was an interesting inclusion; the former Gull with one of the best left foot kicks in the game, was available to play due to his current club on the Mornington Peninsula having a break.

Warragul goes into the halfway mark of the season two games off the bottom from local rival Drouin.

It is expected the Gulls will use the second half of the year to avoid the wooden spoon, with one eye turned to next year.

Warragul has been beset with concatenation of evil this year, with a mounting injury toll and issues with their player points system compounding things further.

The player points issue, where conjecture has been raised over the amount allocated to certain Warragul players, has meant they have been unable to select their best team at times.

The issue may have come to a head last week, as it is understood a player left the club after being told he couldn’t be picked in the seniors due to the points cap.