Moe has fun in the sun

Eventful hours: Trent Baldi was prolific for Moe in their win over Traralgon. The Lions reigning best and fairest winner has made a successful return to the senior side, after missing the first half of the year through injury. Photograph Julie Sim





NOT often you see footballers applying sunscreen in the middle of winter.

Finals weather came early in Round 15 of the Gippsland League.

Perfect conditions and dry decks made for free-flowing football, as the five victorious teams all scored around the 100-mark.

There is still no separating the top-three sides, as Leongatha, Wonthaggi and Moe all carry win-loss records of 13-2.

Wonthaggi should take top spot this week by simple virtue of the fact they are the only top-three team playing due to a split round, and have an assignment against second-last placed Warragul.

While that match doesn’t evoke much excitement, the other game to be played in the first week of the split round certainly does: Morwell versus Sale – fifth versus sixth.

There is just one spot left in the final five, so whoever wins that game will just about be assured of a finals berth.


HAVE a guess who the Moe player that kicked six goals against Traralgon was.

No, it wasn’t Billy Gowers.

It wasn’t Harry Pepper either.

And Kristian Jaksch has been injured all year.

Nick Prowse emerged as something of an unlikely goal-kicking machine for the Lions on the weekend.

We say unlikely because he doesn’t usually get as much attention operating alongside Gowers and Pepper.

Like Roughead playing in the same team as Franklin and Rioli however, Prowse proved more than adequate foil, and ended the day with a bag of six goals.

His efforts helped Moe fight back from an early deficit to overrun the Maroons 15.8 (98) to 10.13 (73).

Taking to a dry Terry Hunter Oval, the visitor’s were presented with virtually the same surface as the one at their home ground of Ted Summerton Reserve.

Honours were shared in the first term, before Traralgon skipped out to a 20-point lead in the second.

The Maroons added four goals in a hurry to start the second, but Moe was equal to the task, adding just as many themselves to take a slender lead and some momentum into the main break.

As the sun continued to beat down, things heated up in more ways than one during the third.

Moe’s ill-discipline, which had already gifted Traralgon a goal in the first half, threatened to boil over in the second, as a couple of spot fires broke out.

Lions defender Tyler Pratt went after Maroons captain Dylan Loprese, resulting in a 50 metre penalty, taking youngster Tom Hamilton to 40 metres out directly in front.

Fortunately for Moe, the shot went astray, but with playing-coach Declan Keilty standing the mark, he was quick to tell his players to cool their jets as soon as the kick went through for a behind.

The usually placid Keilty gestured to his head, signalling to his players they would benefit from using what was inside.

Once the Lions calmed down, they were able to get some good looks inside 50.

The visitor’s were efficient moving forward, adding 3.1 (19) for the quarter, in stark contrast to Trarlagon, who butchered 1.6 (12).

Some nice running goals from Riley Baldi and Harri Sim provided highlights for the Lions, as they got out to a handy 13-point lead at three quarter time.

Traralgon key defender Dan McKenna came off in the third after being winded, giving the coaching staff another problem to deal with.

Moe started the last quarter in the best possible way, with an opportunistic goal from Billy Gowers in the first 30 seconds.

Traralgon full forward Brett Eddy responded a minute later, cutting the margin back to two goals.

Prowse found himself in the thick of the action, snapping the ball through after Gowers had shrugged off a few opponents, before adding another one to his tally.

The Maroons threw caution to the wind, and kept trying to put speed on the ball and get it into Eddy’s hands.

While he had been held to one goal for three quarters, he kept bobbing up in the last to keep Traralgon in the game.

His third goal came at the 14-minute mark, which left the equation at 18 points.

With plenty of time left, Moe needed a goal to settle things down.

Fittingly, it was milestone man Jacob Wood in his 200th senior game, who pounced on a loose ball and snapped through the sealer as the clock ticked into red time.

A late goal to Eddy five minutes later was followed by limited celebration, as all at the ground knew the result was now beyond doubt.

In many respects, the game played out in an opposite fashion to when the sides met in Round 6, with Moe being the team that left their run too late on that occasion.

Prowse topped off his day with his sixth goal seconds before the final siren, giving him best-on-ground honours.

Others to play well were the Baldi twins of Riley and Trent, along with Sim, Ben Danniher and Lucas Forato.

Wood was chaired from the ground, taking in the applause as possibly the greatest footballer to ever come out of the Willow Grove region.

Coming from a passionate Carlton family, they were in attendance as he ran through the banner before the game, all wearing Carlton jumpers.

Traralgon was well-served by Joel Scholtes (believe it’s pronounced ‘Skol-tees’) and Luis D’Angelo, who showcased his basketball skills in the first quarter with a quick steal and goal.

Jackson McMahon was also serviceable, as was Hamilton, Mitch Membrey and Eddy, who finished with four goals.

Keilty played on Eddy for the most part, while usual defender Charlie Rieniets was thrown into the ruck to help relieve 18-year-old Lachlan McGrath.

The Lions ruck stocks have taken a hit recently, with Ben Morrow and Chris Prowse both injured, along with Lachlan Rees who is done for the season.

The bye this week will give Prowse and Morrow extra time to recover. Signs look to be encouraging for Prowse, who did the running for Moe at the weekend.

In the Traralgon camp, it is looking like the Maroons will need to knock off Wonthaggi in the penultimate round to be any chance of entering the finals with immunity.

Such a task will be challenging, especially on the Power’s home deck.

Fourth appears fair for Traralgon at this stage of the season.

The Maroons have shown their capability at times, but they haven’t beaten a top-three side since their win over Moe in Round 6.

In fact, defeats at the hands of Leongatha and Wonthaggi have been convincing – 66 and 79 points respectively.

Coach Jake Best spoke to the team behind closed doors after the Leongatha match a fortnight ago, after which the Maroons kicked just two behinds in the last quarter while their opponents walked in five.

By all reports, it was an almighty spray.

Best would have no doubt been happy with the effort shown against Moe, and will look to use edits from their four goal run in the second term as key reference points.

Also, if the likes of Tate Marsh, Lucas Tripodi, Haydn Hector and Brad Kimberley are playing reserves, depth certainly won’t be an issue for the Maroons come finals.

What is becoming an issue though is the facilities at Terry Hunter Oval.

Through no fault of Traralgon Football-Netball Club, visiting teams are still operating out of portable rooms more than two years on from the major flood.

With local sporting facilities originally slated to host events at the now cancelled Commonwealth Games still set to receive upgrades, there might be scope to see that money spent on projects clearly in more urgent need.

In the greatest respect, does the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium really need an upgrade? It had a $19 million upgrade only three years ago.


HOW are those dairy farmers so good at footy.

Leongatha was too strong for Morwell, taking the points in a one-sided affair 13.14 (92) to 7.2 (44).

The Parrots burst out of the blocks at home, putting up 6.4 (40) to no score in the opening term.

Such a scoreline may have had some football aficionados recalling a scene from the documentary Year of the Dogs (still the best AFL documentary this writer has seen), in which Terry Wallace addresses his players at quarter time by saying “it was our (expletive) worst nightmare.”

The nightmare got slightly less frightening as Morwell managed to kick as many goals as Leongatha in the second, but their slow start meant they had a mountain to climb at halftime.

The Parrots took a 44-point lead into the sheds, and maintained the margin for another 30 minutes.

Morwell again scored as many goals as their opponents in the third, and did the same in the last. While this effort was manful, it did little, if anything, to wipe the deficit off the scoreboard.

A disappointed Tigers outfit was made to rue their poor start, which gave Leongatha the opportunity to virtually play the game out with little danger of being overran.

If there were any positives from Morwell’s perspective, it’s that they managed to go goal-for-goal with the ladder leaders after quarter time, and that they weren’t wiped off the park completely.

With a 40 point lead at quarter time, the margin could have easily bled to more than double that.

Aaron Heppell was best for the winners, followed by the Benjamin Button of Gippsland football, Cade Maskell.

Others to play well were Kim Drew, Tallin Brill, and backline general Sean Westaway.
Noah Fixter was also listed in the best, an achievement that is sure to do his confidence the world of good.

Having played in the reserves all last season, and broken into the Parrot’s senior side in recent weeks, he could be on track to become one of the feel good stories of the finals series.

Morwell youngster Judah Leak enjoyed a similar run last year, coming in late and being part of the Tiger’s side that played finals.

Leak has again had to wait until nearly the end of the season to get a call up, and came into the senior side for the first time this year at the weekend.

Blake Couling, Sam Walsh, Boyd Bailey, Tyler Hillier, Cohen Campbell and Zac Anderson were judged Morwell’s best.

The result leaves Morwell a game outside the top five from Sale.

The Tigers and Magpies meet this weekend.

You can bet the farmers will still be working, regardless of whether or not they have the bye.


THINGS just work out perfectly sometimes.

Maffra gave club legend Winston Gieschen a moment to savour, ensuring he celebrated his record-breaking day with a win.

Gieschen, playing senior game number 250, walked off his home ground after the Eagles won 15.14 (104) to 7.4 (46) against Warragul.

To top it all off, the milestone man kicked three goals.

When it’s your day …

Gieschen broke the senior games record for Maffra, surpassing the mark set by Brendon Donahoe, which had stood since 2003.

The four-time premiership winning Eagle saw his side start with a flurry of goals at the weekend, kicking 5.8 (38) to just one behind.

There was no way Maffra was going to let up from there, and the Eagles continued on their merry way for the best part of three quarters.

With Dr Sam Davidson running riot up forward, and Maffra’s defence keeping the Guls to just two goals up until three quarter time, the Eagles were afforded the luxury of playing the last quarter in total contentment they had the game won.

Warragul saved faced with five goals, but Maffra went past the ton with four of their own.

Dr Davidson kicked half-a-dozen, and was ably assisted by Brayden Monk, Noah Christy, Alex Carr, Kade Renooy and James Read.

Better players for Warragul were Sean Masterson, Bayley Paul, Tom Hobbs, Will Cole, Brad Hefford and Sam Fennell.

The ninth-placed Gulls have already turned their attention to next season, with Masterson and young gun Tom Stern signing on.

While the result of this game will do little in the grand scheme of the ladder, from the Eagles’ perspective, it means they will no longer be any chance of finishing last.

Following a few hefty defeats in recent weeks, there was an honest possibility Maffra could have met this fate.

For a club that has won nine premierships since the turn of the century, one could only imagine how big a shock to the system that would have been.


FOR a team that’s coming last, Drouin are still pretty good.

The Hawks put up a good fight against Sale, but went down in a competitive match 13.9 (87) to 9.9 (63).

Sale received an almighty scare at home, and were on level-pegging with Drouin when the halftime siren sounded.

The Magpies rectified the situation in the third term, adding three goals while keeping the Hawks to just one behind.

The game opened up in the last, as nine goals were kicked. Sale managed five, and Drouin closed strongly with four.

Sale however was able to take the four points, and a vital four points at that, to see themselves a game clear inside the top five.

Thank God the Magpies have Shannen Lange.

The star midfielder kicked five goals, and was Sale’s only multiple goal-scorer.

Lange collected best afield honours, followed by Jack McLaren, Will Leslie, Pat Tainsh, Jordan Dessent and Jarrod Freeman.

Drouin has a good one in Hugo Birks.

As well as having the best name in the competition, he is also a dangerous forward. Birks kicked four goals at the weekend, and now has 33 goals in just 11 games this season.

Tim Hancock played well for the Hawks, as did Jordan Kingi, Xavier Kinder, Kye Quirk, Ryan Taylor and Tom Evans.

Despite languishing in last position on the ladder, the Hawks continue to win praise from league pundits for their attacking style of play.

A percentage of nearly 70 means Drouin has hardly been a walkover this season, and given the fact the Hawks lost their first three games by single-figure margins, there could be plenty of upside for Drouin next season.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, they are probably going to claim the wooden spoon, but could well go down as the best team to finish last in Gippsland League history.

Drouin has just one winnable game left, against Maffra, before finishing with top-three sides Leongatha and Moe.

Meanwhile, Sale will now count down the days until its date with destiny.

The Magpies must beat Morwell on the road this weekend to all but lock in a finals berth.

As has been the story all season, Sale was again beset by chopping-and-changing its senior line-up at the weekend – the Magpies making four changes for the Drouin game.

Those sitting around the selection table at Sale Oval will have fingers and toes crossed for strong availability this weekend, as their season is on the line.

There will be a touch of irony about the situation, as it was Morwell who defeated Sale in the last round last season to secure their own spot in the finals.

The Magpies loss prevented Maffra from making finals. This time, Sale has to win to prevent Morwell possibly taking their own spot.


WONTHAGGI belted Bairnsdale.

The Redlegs were left resembling a prominent AFL player turned boxer in a recent bout, after going down 16.21 (117) to 0.8 (8).

Making what is believed to be the longest roadtrip in country Victoria, the Power started slowly, before flicking the switch and inducing maximum pain on their opponents.

Wonthaggi scored just one goal in the opening term, but then went on to score six, five and four – while their opponents did not even make the goal umpire signal with two fingers.

Perhaps the only negative for the Power was that they could not say they scored 16 times as many goals as their opposition – as it is impossible to multiply any figure by zero.

The Power kept Bairnsdale to the second-lowest Round 15 score in league history.