Bulldogs lock in top spot

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ROUND 14 of the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League saw Newborough virtually sew-up the minor premiership.

The Bulldogs are now three games clear with four rounds to go.

Where things get interesting however is immediately below.

There is only two games between second and eighth, meaning not only will finals positions in the top six go down to the wire, but so to will second spot on the ladder, carrying with it the double-chance.


Newborough v Yinnar

THE replay of last year’s grand final was also an opportunity for top-of-the-table Newborough to apply some real pressure to the reigning premier, as the Magpies, along with a handful of other teams, continued their fight for a top three spot.

In Round 1 this season it was the Bulldogs by 20 points, and on the weekend it was a far greater victory, Newborough winning 23.8 (146) to 8.5 (53).

A draw the only minor blemish for the Bulldogs this season, much to the delight of coach Craig Skinner.

“Saturday we welcomed lifelong rivals Yinnar to the Kennel. With a focus on improvement from the last month and a couple of senior players back, we were excited to see what that would look like on a perfect day for football,” he said.

“Our best start for the month set up our day against an extremely young and talented opponent. Both teams controlled the game for long periods at different times, with our forwards getting great looks at the goals. (Joel) Mitchell, (Josh) Pearce and (Jack) Robinson finished off some great work from our midfield which had a good consistent four quarters.

“The score took away from how good a contest it was all day. After the bye we play last week’s opponent Boolarra, this time at home.”

After sitting comfortably in the top three, the Magpies now have to get back to work to ensure they keep the double chance position.

Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor said his team would look to regroup.

“Unfortunately we were convincingly beaten by a very good footy side who were clinical with their ball movement and in front of goal,” he said.

“I can’t question our effort or intent, we cracked in but we just got completely outplayed.”

Unfortunately for Yinnar, there is little time to spend brewing on what was, as Thorpdale this weekend looms as another massive challenge that could have dire consequences for the Magpies if things don’t go their way.


Thorpdale v Boolarra

THERE is no question that Thorpdale are ‘up and about’, their win over the more fancied Tarwin just a week ago gave the Blues a real platform from which to launch a real surge further up the ladder.

Their opposition at the weekend faced the prospect of a possible, even if unlikely top six position in a few weeks time, if the result went their way.

Thorpdale however possibly killed off any hopes of Boolarra playing finals, after winning 17.12 (114) to 5.6 (36).

Blues coach Jason Winderlich labelled it a solid performance, but already had one eye turned to this week.

“Good four quarter effort from the boys to get the job done on the weekend, but now it’s Yinnar on their home deck, who are always a tough trip,” he said.

“They have only lost one game there and that was to Newborough in Round 1. Yinnar always responds well after a loss so Tac (Daniel Taylor) will have the boys fired up this week. We will need to be at our best to take the four points.”

As good as the Blues were, the Demons would likely be disappointed with the result after a promising start.

“First 10 minutes of the game we were competitive and then Thorpy’s running game took over and we were never in the hunt,” Boolarra coach Tony Giardina said.

“They have a very good side and should do well for the rest of the year and finals.”

After a promising start to the year and a reasonable expectation of again playing finals, Boolarra’s focus is now on their next win, but where that comes from is hard to pick.


Hill End v Morwell East

AS pedestrian as this clash appeared to be for the visiting Morwell East team, so much hung on the result that the Hawks were never ever going to let this one slip.

With a top six spot hanging squarely on the result, it was always expected that the winless Hill End would be shown no mercy, and so it was as Morwell East won 18.17 (125) to 7.13 (55).

Hawks coach Paul Henry said he was pleased with how his troops performed.

“Scoreboard pressure and the ability to be efficient and execute in front of goal was a real focus for us,” he said.

“Our first quarters had also been slow. Today was our best start to a game I think we’ve had. Ball movement was excellent, forward entry was efficient and the execution on goal was first class.

“Games can change quickly and Hill End forced the change. It was a good battle for the remaining quarters, and we worked harder for longer to get the reward.

“Bye this week and a well-earned rest before preparations begin for our last three games of the home-and-away.”

After the bye, the run to the finals, looks okay for the Hawks, and they should be well placed to make a case for a top six spot, but if this season has taught us anything, it’s don’t take anything for granted.

Hill End, are yet to grab a ‘w’ this season, but the weekend showed they can match it for long periods of time against the better sides in the competition.

“Morwell East were too physical for us around the ground. We had great match-ups forward but couldn’t give Jamie (Somers) and Lachie (Wilson) enough opportunities to impact the game,” Rovers coach Mike Santo said.

The Hillmen may have their best chance of success this weekend, travelling to meet a Toora team that has also struggled to find success this season, and it is probably fair to say that the losing team might also find themselves with a wooden spoon.


Mirboo North v Toora

TWO teams that would have wanted much more than what they have in season 2023, had the rare opportunity to win at the weekend.

The Tigers however had the added incentive of a mathematically possible late season push for top six consideration, and their win at the weekend kept those calculations alive after they took care of the Magpies with relative ease 16.15 (111) to 5.6 (36).

Mirboo North coach Peter Mongta said it was good to enjoy a win.

“Great win at home against Toora. We debuted another up-and-coming 16-year-old in Sam Bradley and he didn’t look one bit out of place,” Mongta said.

“The whole playing group started well and our key forwards hit the scoreboard early which was pleasing. Toora come out of the sheds with some intent in the third and a few of the boys were getting to know each other on another level but the boys finished off well.

“Special mention to our captain Hudson Kerr with another standout best-on performance along with Justin Pellicano slotting five for the day.

Toora coach Jack Weston said it was another disappointing day.

“After a bright start our pressure dropped away and Mirboo North capitalised with some quality entries giving our defenders too much to do,” he said.

“We fought the game out and had a good last quarter, but the damage was already done.”


MDU v Tarwin

THINGS have all of a sudden become very real for a number of clubs within the MGFNL, the tight tussles on a week-to-week basis means that both coaches and players needed to be on their game. A mistake by either can have dire ramifications, and such was the case on the weekend, with Tarwin blinking first in their 26-point loss to Meeniyan Dumbalk United 10.12 (72) to 7.4 (46).

Demons coach Nathan Allen said it was another positive step.

“It was a couple of huge wins by the reserves and seniors on the weekend. It was a really hard fought win by our boys. Tarwin made us work for four quarters. With the ladder so tight, we just have to keep banking the four points each week,” he said.

MDU have been big improvers this season and the weekend win has them well placed for finals in a months’ time. While for the Sharks, there still remains four weeks of pressure football.

“Turnovers killed us in the first half but I thought we matched them. They took their opportunities better than us. We had all the momentum in the third quarter but we couldn’t follow through in the last,” Tarwin coach Troy Hemming said.

Tarwin now find themselves just outside the six, with a number of clubs breathing down their neck, so it is fair to say the pressure is well and truly on.


FISH CREEK, Foster and Stony Creek had they bye.