Coming down to the wire

File image





HISTORY looks set to repeat itself in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League.

With one round to play, reigning premier Yinnar must do as it did last year, and win its last regular season game to be any chance of playing finals.

This time however, a win simply won’t be enough. Adding a twist of irony to the Magpies’ task, they need to not only beat second-placed Fish Creek, but rely on Thorpdale defeating Morwell East – the team Yinnar defeated in the final round last season to pinch a finals berth.


Stony Creek v Morwell East

WITH finals so close they could almost touch them, Morwell East faced one of their last challenges in order to get a firmer grip on a position inside the league’s top six. All they had to do was beat a dangerous Stony Creek side on their home turf.

The Hawks, now with the smell of finals in their nostrils compliments of a three goal win, did just that, winning 8.10 (58) to 6.4 (40).

“A win today would see us get back into the top six, with one game to go,” he said.

“We knew that wasn’t going to be easy against Stony Creek on their home turf. The first quarter was evenly matched, hard contested footy. The second quarter, Stony were better in taking their opportunities. The last half, we upped the anti. We worked harder for longer and got ourselves back into the game. Still behind coming into the last, but we were able to hit the front midway through the quarter and never looked back.”

The loss for the Lions was another close one that got away, making it a handful of defeats that have proven costly in season 2023.

Stony Creek coach Chris Verboon was again left to lament a missed opportunity.

“Yet another game that got away from us in the last quarter. Did everything right to get into a winning position but couldn’t finish off our hard work,” he said.

“Heated contest with four blokes between us sent off during the game.”

Despite just winning three games so far this season, make no mistake you can expect Stony Creek to be a tough outfit in 2024.


Boolarra v Tarwin

TWO of last years finalists had fallen a few rungs down the ladder in season 2023, and no doubt their priorities may have changed also, but one thing was for certain, both were also looking to take something out of the season.

Boolarra had limped to the line in the back half of the year and their last game of the season on their home ground was also their last chance to send off retiring coach Tony Giardina with a victory.

It wasn’t to be however, with Tarwin winning 13.15 (93) to 10.7 (67).

“Great result today for the boys! We have been playing good footy just not getting the result so it was good to be back on the winners list!” he said.

“Congratulations to Tony Giardina, the Boolarra coach on a great stint at coaching the Demons, from everyone at Tarwin we wish him all the best.”

The win gives the Sharks a faint hope of finals, although it is looking like it will take a minor miracle as it has undefeated Newborough in the last round.

For Boolarra, although the result had no impact on their season as such, it was a disappointing way to send off their coach.

“Started the game pretty good. But as the game went on Tarwin started to get on top of us and our skill level was letting us down, that’s pretty much what’s happened all season, boys fought the game out and that’s our season done,” Giardina said.

With a bye in the last round, season 2023 is now over for Boolarra, and you might now find Tony Giardina on the sidelines enjoying MGFNL for football’s sake, with no pressure of a result, and the league wishes him all the best.


Mirboo North v Fish Creek

IT was only a weeks ago that Mirboo North flagged the fact that they were capable of mixing it with one of the the league leaders, albeit for just half of the game, and that was possibly enough to have the visiting Fish Creek prepared for a match harder than what the Tigers ladder position of ninth suggested.

In the end however, the Kangaroos had little to worry about, and were comfortable 79-point victors 17.11 (113) to 5.4 (34).

Fish Creek coach Jarred Walker said it was a four-quarter performance from his team.

“A solid performance in slippery conditions at Mirboo. A tough ground to play on but I thought as a team we adapted to the conditions well. It was nice to break our hoodoo on the hill and get our first win there,” he said.

Fish Creek has certainly taken a few steps forward in the back of the season and have now stepped forward as the leading contender to rock the boat of unbeaten Newborough.

Mirboo North may not have had the result they wanted but they did get the opportunity to recognise a club legend.

“Today we witnessed our third player in club history in Damo Turner to play his 300th senior game and we certainly celebrated his achievement no matter what the result,” Tigers coach Peter Mongta said.

“We came up against a very good outfit today, their midfield monstered us around stoppages and their transition was even better across all areas and was hard to stop. Moose (Matt) McGannon was at his best for Fishy along with Roland De Biase who’s stoppage work was elite.

“Thanks to the Fishy boys who stood with us as we carried Damo off after the game.”

So while the Tiger’s season will wind down to an end next weekend, the real stuff starts to get closer for an impressive Kangaroos outfit.


Newborough v Hill End

THIS game threatened to be a whitewash between top and bottom, and that is exactly how it panned out.

Newborough was never challenged by Hill End, winning 30.1 (195) to 0.3 (3)

The Bulldogs 30.15 (195) to 0.3 (3) win was Newborough’s highest-ever score against Hill End, beating the previous best of 31.10 (190) in 2016.

It was also the first time ever Hill End had failed to goal against the Bulldogs. The Rovers previous low was 1.4 (10) in 1960.

Joel Mitchell’s 10-goal effort on the weekend equalled the record held by a Newborough player against Hill End. Others to kick double-figures are Steve Sanders (1980) and James Todd (2004).

Newborough coach Craig Skinner said despite the one-sided nature of the contest, there was still meaning attached.

“Saturday we welcomed Hill End to play for the Byrne/Fanning cup. After a fast start and some great performances down back and in front of goal we managed to play another four consistent quarters,” he said.

“It was a game played in good spirits from a proud club that will regroup for next season. Apart from the scoreboard it was another win to finish the game with no additions to the injury list where we travel to Tarwin for our last game before finals.”

You get the feeling that the Bulldogs are just “ticking the boxes” they need to, with their focus firmly being on the best they can be when finals commence.

“There is a lot of respect between myself and Craig,” he said.

“They play a really beautiful brand of footy Wheildon and Mitchell up forward are as good as I’ve seen as a forward pairing.

“They move the ball well, work for each other and are relentless with their tackle pressure.

“We fought out until the final siren which I’m proud of but we weren’t anywhere near good enough.”

A nice moment during the game occurred when both coaches came together for a hug.

The season is one game short of ending for Hill End, and that one game is also their very last chance for a victory.


Yinnar v Foster

FOR the winner, a finals position was almost as good as guaranteed, but for the loser, there would be the very real possibility of a fall from grace at possibly the most important time of the season.

Yinnar at home in 2023 just haven’t been the challenge they had in previous years, and the prospect of a talented Tigers team was to be one of the tougher tests any side could face.

Foster proved their worth, winning 10.11 (71) to 8.6 (54).

“Our season’s still alive – on top all day and got the result,” he said.

“I wish there were 10 Duursma’s, it will be our last game home game against Stony next week. We will enjoy celebrating the season’s of our resilient reserves and netballers in their final games”.

The efforts of Foster were good, the skills and ability of young Willem Duursma even more so.

Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor said there was positive to take out, despite the result.

“Disappointed to not get the result but once again I can’t question our effort, I thought it was a pretty even game of footy but Foster just had that one or two goal buffer all day which we couldn’t quite peg back,” he said.

“We’ve been crying out for a key target up forward for a big chunk of the season and I thought Stu Patten with five goals was fantastic for us in his first game back since Round 6.

“No doubt about it though the difference in the game was Foster’s young gun Willem Duursma, he can do it all this kid, he’s quick, has a great set of hands, marks it at the highest point and is a beautiful kick of the football. To be honest, if I take my opposition coaches hat off, he was very good to watch.”

There is no question football is a team game, but every so often one player stands out as one that can change the fortunes of a team, we saw a bit of it on the weekend, and there is every chance we will see more of it as the bar gets lifted for finals.


MDU, Thorpdale and Toora had the bye.