Bulldogs celebrate Jibba’s 400-game milestone in style

The man: Newborough players gather around Peter 'Jibba' Ainsworth (front row, third from left) before his 400th senior game. The Bulldogs all wore special 'Jibba 400' shirts for the occasion. Photograph supplied





AS the second half of the season got underway in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League at the weekend, pundits might have been preparing to see the inevitable ‘killing off’ of some clubs’ finals aspirations.

Although ‘mathematically’ possible, the reality is that being part of the business end of the season would be highly improbable for some if they found themselves on the wrong end of results in Round 10.


Boolarra v Morwell East

FOR Boolarra, it was win or be found wanting in the weeks ahead.

Nothing less than victory would be acceptable given the Demon’s precarious position some two games shy of the league’s top six clubs.

Hosting Morwell East, who themselves desperately needed to win, was always going to be something very close to finals-like football, and that’s what we got, Boolarra winning a thriller 11.4 (70) to 9.14 (68).

Boolarra coach, Tony Giardina breathed a sigh of relief at the final siren.

“Both teams had a lot to play for and the game was played that way,” he said.

“We kept our nose just in front all day, (Morwell) East really put the pressure on in the last and they were unlucky to not to get the four points in the end, missing a shot for goal directly in front in last minute.

“I’m proud of the way the boys went about it considering the injuries and unavailability of guys we had.”

As ecstatic as the Demons were in both the win and keeping their season alive, the result was a disaster for Morwell East, with the pressure now really starting to build on the Hawks.

“Another devastating loss for us. We had more opportunities in the forward half but inaccurate kicking on goal cost us in the end,” coach Paul Henry said.


Newborough v MDU

NEWBOROUGH managed to get through last week’s match-of-the-round against an in-form Thorpdale relatively unscathed, and importantly with the four points, only to come up against yet another contender keen to try their luck against the unbeaten Bulldogs.

Meeniyan Dumbalk United, second on the table before the weekend, had slowly, quietly and impressively climbed their way towards the top of the mountain, and were keen to put their flag in the centre of Newborough’s home ground, and to their credit, they got awfully close.

The Bulldogs however found just enough to win 14.9 (93) to 13.6 (84).

Newborough coach Craig Skinner said it was a high-standard game.

“Was a cracking start to the game where 17 goals were kicked by half time. Win the clearance and get the goal,” he said.

“Nathan Allen’s coaching has made a big impact early and with fast ball movement and some forward targets they are going to be hard to beat in the back end of the season.

“Luke Webber was solid and loud down back for us. Pat Charles and Liam Flahavin took their footy to another level in the centre today and Jake Bishop marked everything that came his way and then kicked some crucial goals.

“Hayden Prestidge lit up the wing with run and carry, but it was the 400-gamer Peter Ainsworth that sealed the deal with two last quarter goals.”

Despite the result, Demons coach Nathan Allen said his side would take confidence out of the performance against the league leader’s.

“We took it right up to Newborough on the weekend. They made us pay for a few mistakes in the first half, but impressively our boys fought the game out to the final siren,” he said.

Both teams showed most of what they have on the weekend, with the Bulldogs pressure without the ball possibly the difference, but make no mistake, with months before the finals, both teams will be significantly improved the next time they meet, which will no doubt be come finals time.


Fish Creek v Mirboo North

IT was with a certain amount of trepidation that Fish Creek welcomed Mirboo North to their home ground.

Only seven days earlier, the Tiger’s had turned ‘giant killers’ when defeating one of the league’s premiership favourites in Yinnar.

The question was, could Mirboo North back that impressive victory up against yet another club with a big reputation?

The answer, unfortunately for Tiger’s fans was no.

Fish Creek doing it comfortably 15.14 (104) to 7.3 (45).

Kangaroos coach Jarrod Walker was pleased with the performance.

“A great result for us today, we came out off the bye like a bull at a gate and did the hard work early,” he said.

“Mirboo definitely came out in the second half and showed the skills they’ve got and the potential they have.”

The Kangaroos continue to do what needs to be done more times than not, and are now a game clear inside the top six.

Mirboo North coach Peter Mongta said it was a disappointing performance.

“Fish Creek came out of the blocks on the weekend with a seven-goal to one first quarter,” he said.

“We were simply out-worked in and around the contest and they moved the footy with ease and (had) easy shots on goal.

“Fish Creek continued on their merry way in the second quarter and things were starting to look ugly.

“Halftime couldn’t come quick enough. We adjusted some areas of our game, the contested ball was back on our terms with some good outside run to see a strong second half of footy to outscore the victors.”

The Tigers are not far off where they need to be, but with time running out and more than a few clubs in a similar position around them, they will no doubt need to string wins together following their bye in this weekend.


Yinnar v Hill End

IT is a well-known scientific fact that good sides do not lose two games in a row, and from every calculation, Yinnar had earned the reputation of being a very good side.

Wanting to rebound quickly from their shock loss to Mirboo North the previous round, this game spelt danger for the winless and visiting Hill End side.

The Rovers bore the brunt of the Magpies speedy response, as Yinnar won 13.13 (91) to 5.6 (36).

Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor was happy to get out with four points.

“Fair to say the game didn’t hit great heights but we’re happy to bounce back after last week and walk away with a comfortable win and no injuries,” he said.

“I thought Hill End competed really well, they definitely have a crack and a win shouldn’t be too far away.”

You can’t help but be impressed by the respect shown by clubs and coaches, both for those that are winning games and those that are not. The Rovers are manfully fighting for their first victory of 2023, and knowing coach Mike Santo, one win, won’t be enough.

“Great effort by our lads all day, but effort alone doesn’t win you games. Continued skill errors and decision making hurt us again badly,” he said.

“Yinnar use the width of the ground well and have good players especially across half back and on the outside.”

It’s a year that hasn’t gone to plan for Hill End, but coach Santo is trying to ensure it’s a year that doesn’t go to waste, by also casting an eye towards what is needed to be better in 2024.


Stony Creek v Foster

AS good as Stony Creek had been over the past month, the reality is that the Lions had suffered too many close losses that appeared on the surface at least, the difference between what could have been and what is.

Three games shy of where they wanted to be, only a win against an inform Foster could breathe life into the home team’s season, but that desire was but a dream, as Foster won 14.7 (91) to Stony Creek 4.9 (33).

Foster coach, Sam Davies described it as a relatively tight game.

“The scoreboard didn’t reflect the evenness of the game in my eyes, it was quite physical and contested we felt, which is what we were searching for after an easier month,” he said.

“Our team defence is slowly working better each week.”

Stony Creek were a little off where they have been in recent weeks, and being a little off against good sides can quickly get out of control.

“A disappointing game for us. We had our premiership reunions, so had a lot of club legends watching on,” Lions coach Chris Verboon said.

“Foster jumped out of the gates early. They were able to hold space around stoppages which allowed them to get easy forward entries.

“We went away from how we have been playing the last four weeks and still have a lot to work on.

“Next week we take on Tarwin who are another in-form team. Tarwin versus Stony is always a hard-fought contest.”


Toora v Tarwin

AFTER showing glimpses of what they could do early in the season, the Toora team had become somewhat of a punching bag for opposition teams over the last few weeks, with too many big losses knocking the stuffing out of the Magpies players and their confidence.

Tarwin arrived with the intent of doing exactly the same thing, and went on to win 23.11 (149) to 6.6 (42).

Tarwin coach Troy Hemmig labelled it a four-quarter performance.

“We played very well for four quarters and our game plan clicked very well,” he said.

“Couldn’t get a better day for footy with the weather down at Toora so that was a bonus too!

“Jack (Toora coach Jack Weston) and his men are trying hard, just lack a bit of talent. I’m sure Jack can turn the club around as he is very well respected from all of us at Tarwin.”

Times are tough for Toora, but Hemming’s respect for the Magpies is echoed by many in the league, that said, winning is reward for hard work and at this stage, Toora needs to somehow find a way to do even more for longer to get rewarded.

“Another tough day. We showed patches of good footy with some decent ball movement into an open forward 50,” Weston said.

“Looking forward to getting a few back from injury against Boolarra next week at home who will be tough off the back of a good few weeks.”


THORPDALE had the bye.