Cougars begin finals campaign

File photograph




FINALS fever has struck the North Gippsland Football Netball League.

The 2023 finals series began at Gaskin Park in Churchill, where second-place Heyfield took on third-place Churchill in a qualifying final.

Despite sitting a run lower on the ladder, Churchill had the upper hand. The Cougars had a little home-ground advantage and had also bet them on two separate occasions this year.

The Cougars came out firing – known for their slow starts; it stunned the opposition as the Churchill side took the first centre pass off the Roo girls and then some.

There was a full-court defensive pressure that the Cougars brought that the Roos crumbled underneath. Cougar Veteran Stacey Yates had her hands on every pass, with tips galore for the wing defender. The attackers had plenty of opportunities to gain possession and with brilliant feeds into the ring from Skipper Rachael Loechel and playing coach Katrina Hutchinson.

By the first break, the Cougars were up 13 to eight and looked the much better side for the day.

In came the second term, and it was much of the same for the Cougars, who were able to capitalise on most of their turnovers, pushing the margin out by one to a comfortable six-goal lead.

The Heyfield side, known for their youth and exuberance, came out to play in the second half.

Goal keeper Jayde Parsons took on a living embodiment of a Kangaroo as she jumped sky high on her shot defence. While Heyfield’s centre in Millie Riseley had the game of her life, contesting every ball – making it a nightmare for the Cougars to transition from defence to attack.

Off the back of some very fast-paced Roos play and some poor Cougars decision-making, the Roos made a third-quarter comeback. Roos goal shooter, Phoebe Escreet punished the Cougars as she made most of her shooting opportunities with some strongholds. The veteran was sinking shoots from anywhere in the goal circle and by three-quarter time the Roos came back to close the margin to four narrow points.

The Cougars had led all game and weren’t about to give it all up. After a fire-up speech before the last term, the Cougars found that winning momentum. Destiny Mackrell found some shooting rhythm alongside goal shooter Lynette (Louie) Patten, who served as an impenetrable feeding point into the ring. The pair combined for 12 goals in the final term. The Cougars ran away with the game in a nine-goal victory that sees them lock in a semi-final with Sale City next Saturday (August, 26).

WOODSIDE sent a woeful Rosedale home.

On Sunday, Yarram hosted a 2022 Grand Final matchup; this time, the two sides faced off in a do-or-die elimination match that ultimately became incredibly one-sided.

The Wildcats are arguably the best side in the competition but finished fourth on the ladder thanks to a midseason lull.

Rosedale had some lows and highs but undoubtedly deserved to be there; however, the Blues best was nowhere to be seen on Sunday.

The Wildcat’s were too strong, outscoring the Blues by eleven goals in just the first quarter. The Woodside side continued to build on their lead, piling on another 22 shots while keeping Rosedale to a mere seven goals by halftime.

The Blues looked like they couldn’t buy a goal, while Woodside looked like a well-oiled machine, well-versed high-pressure netball.

A few jolted spectators felt as if the Blues were hard done by as Woodside’s playing coach Libby Nicol dominated the Blues’ defence, with the Blues goal keeper allegedly sent to spend two minutes in the sin-bin.

The final scores reflect a very dominant Woodside performance and a very poor Rosedale effort, as the Wildcats went away 75 to 24 victors.

Woodside will now take on Heyfield in Glengarry next Sunday for a spot in the preliminary final while the Blues season comes to a close.


THE Magpies caused a bit of a stir in Round 17 of the Gippsland League as the home team defeated a determined Warragul side.

The fifth-place Gulls have been a very hard team to beat all year, but the Magpies sitting in seventh, had a few tricks left up their sleeve.

Sale was down by three goals at the first break, but a huge second quarter saw the team score 12 to Warragul’s four. Emma Allman, Dee Dee Lambert and Rachel Ronaldson were outstanding for the Magpies.

The Sale side were able to build on their lead, and despite a late challenge from the Gulls, it was the Magpies victorious in the end. The final scores were Warragul’s 31 to Sale’s 38.

Warragul’s Alexandra Cole and Sienna Green were notable even in defeat.

MOE is just too good.

A bit of a drive didn’t faze the Lions as they defeated Maffra 67 to 23 in Maffra.

It was all one-way traffic on the court as the Lions dominated play from the get-go. The Lions took an 11-goal lead at the first break and had no thoughts of taking their foot off the throttle.

Maffra’s Natalie Allman, Chloe Proud and Chelsea Allman were the best for the home side, trying their best to stop the pile of goals against them.

While, Macy Gardiner, Hollie Bugeja and Abby Gregorovich were Moe’s court specialists last Saturday.

The Last quarter score line reflects the Lions winning determination, fitness and mental stamina, scoring 20 goals to Maffra’s mere five – credit to a side that might just go all the way this year. With the strength of this side, Maffra did well to keep the margin to 44.

MORWELL goes roar.

The Tigers were another team this round who just outclassed their opponent, defeating Bairnsdale 58 to 25.

It was a blowout from the start as the Tigers showed the Redlegs just why and how they won a flag last year.

Daisy Hill had a day out, shooting the majority of the Tigers’ score with 42 points to her name.

Tanya Budge, Hill and Courtney Garth were among Morwell’s best for the day.

Bairnsdale’s Danielle Johnson, Brielle Malady and Ruby Dunkley were influential for the Redlegs in scoring those 25 goals.

Traralgon, get another one on the board.

The Traralgon side had a great win on Saturday as they came home from Wonthaggi, 14-point winners over the Power.

In another shooting masterclass, Traralgon’s Sophie Lecchino could not miss and worked hard on and off the ball to facilitate play. Montanna Styles again stood out from the Maroons’ side as her full-court pressure and excellent court vision helped win them the game. Best on for Traralgon was Ashlyn Pavey, Styles and Lecchino.

Despite Traralgon’s strong lead for the entire game, The Power didn’t give up with the likes of Mia Plenkovich, Charlie Berry and Chelsea Bowman starring for the home side. The final scores were 49 to 35.

DROUIN wins the battle of the sky.

The mighty Hawks knocked off the Parrots from the third spot on the ladder as the Drouin side held onto a two-goal victory.

It was neck and neck as the two birds battled it out, but the Hawks had the swopping power, in the end, to take away the win. The final scores were 41 to 39.

Drouin’s Ella Henderson, Ava Gaul and April Bethune were great for the winners, but so too were Leongatha’s Nicola Marriot, Jessica Edgar and Lauren Redpath.

The Hawks leapfrog over the Parrots on the Gippsland League ladder, taking the third spot while Leongatha drop to fourth.


MID GIPPSLAND’s last round of the season produced standard results.

Yinnar was among the many favourites who won last Saturday, as they defeated Fish Creek 45 to 30.

Fellow Magpie team, and reigning premiers Toora also had a good win against MDU, with finals scores reading 58 to 17.

In a closer affair, Morwell East was victorious over Boolarra in a narrow seven-point win, the Demons just fell short scoring, 41 to the Hawks’ 48.

Tarwin showed some fight defeating the Newborough Bulldogs, 43 to 34.

Hill End was oh so close to getting over the Mirboo North Line, but the Tigers held on in the end to win 45 to 39.

Foster finished their season on high after defeating Stony Creek 31 to 25.

Finals fixtures are now set as the two top teams in Yinnar and Toora will do battle in a Semi Final on Saturday, September 2.

While Morwell East and Fish Creek face off in an elimination final this Saturday.

Boolarra and Tarwin will also fight to keep their season alive on Sunday.