Moe goes 16 and two

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DID anyone really take much notice of what happened in the Gippsland League at the weekend?

There was no last round anxiety for teams, as Round 18 matches went largely as expected.

Morwell kept things interesting by leading Wonthaggi at three quarter time before being overran in the last quarter. Had the Tigers won, Moe would have claimed the minor premiership.

While the Lions found themselves in the unusual position of barracking for Morwell, the top five remained as it had been since Sale sewed up the fifth and last available spot in September two rounds ago.

The Power have earned a break in the first week of finals, and will watch on at their home ground as Moe and Leongatha fight it out in the qualifying final.

Traralgon and Sale warmed up for their elimination final, playing each other in the last home-and-away round last weekend.

Matches from Round 18 were almost instantly forgotten about for all clubs, as attention immediately turned to finals, or postseason celebrations for those not partaking.

There will likely be some sore heads reading these verses by the time newspapers hit shelves.



Moe might have uncovered a hidden gem right on the eve of finals.

In his first year out of thirds, and in just his second senior game, Tom Blackshaw kicked five goals to see the Lions to a 21.11 (137) to 6.9 (45) win over Drouin.

Blackshaw’s effort may have reminded onlookers at Ted Summerton Reserve of Jacob Townsend coming in late for Richmond in 2017, and will now surely give Moe selectors the proverbial good problem to have.

Leading forward Billy Gowers was rested at the weekned, and partner-in-crime Harry Pepper sat out from quarter time onwards as a precaution after landing awkwardly.

Those two will more than likely come back in for the Qualifying Final this week, and with Blackshaw providing a similar key target, it might leave Moe too tall but … gee what do you do after someone has kicked five?

No one is safe of course, even Dizzy was axed after scoring a double ton.

Then again, don’t forget how tall the Brisbane Lions forward line was during their dynasty: Alastair Lynch, Jonathan Brown, Daniel Bradshaw.

Gowers, along with Moe playing-coach and centre half back Declan Keilty were among prominent names to sit out the game at the weekend.

Although the Hawks were last on the ladder heading into the match, and ended the season with the wooden spoon, they appeared up for the contest until halftime.

After then however, Moe flexed their muscle, and kicked 14 goals to three after the main break.

As he has all season, Drouin forward Hugo Birks gave league pundits something to take notice of, with an insane dribble goal tucked right up against the boundary at the Can Bar end – all the while being beset upon by two Moe defenders.

Birks ended the year with 44 goals, getting him a place in the top five on the league table.

Birks may well be wondering what a difference a year makes – this time 12 months ago he was playing alongside future AFL stars Will Ashcroft and Harry Sheezel – now he’s running around in the Drouin mud.

With their season finished, the Moe reserves were making full use of the corporate box upstairs, and cheered wildly every time Blackshaw added to his tally. A cheer also went up for young Liam Wier after kicking his first goal. The goal was something of a family affair, as his dad Martin stopped the clock in his role as timekeeper.

Drouin dropped further and further away the more the game went on. The Hawks were clearly thinking about the night to come during the last quarter – at one stage a player, who must have been daydreaming, ran straight through the protected zone.

Umpire Scott Moorhouse was right onto it, but even he almost looked dumbfounded he had to give such an obvious 50 metre penalty.

Those who weren’t in the class of Drouin daydreamers were Kye Quirk, Dan Clebney, Jordan Kingi, Aden Quirk, Jarrod Marshall and Shay Harvey.

Trent Baldi was best-on-ground for Moe, and was joined by skipper Jacob Wood, Blackshaw, Luke Mulqueen, Jacob Balfour and Harri Sim, who kicked four goals.

Sim has had an outstanding year playing as a small half forward, arguably the hardest position on the ground. With 26 goals to his name, one would hope those picking team of the year choose players by position.

Moe will look to ride a wave of positivity into the finals. With one of the biggest followings in the league, a bus load, which could become a coach load by Saturday, of supporters are making their way over to Wonthaggi for the final.

The Lions already have one eye turned to next season, with Keilty’s reappointment announced last Thursday night.

In nice scenes on the same night, club legends Karen Morrow, Michaela Heywood, Loretta Clarke and Julie Sim were presented with flowers from players (well, their sons mostly) to thank them for their efforts preparing Thursday night meals, among many other things, during the season.


MORWELL would be bullish about their prospects for next season.

Although by the same token, the Tigers would be equally frustrated to have played their best football at the end of the season when finals are out of the equation.

If the last two rounds of this season were played as the first two rounds of next season, Morwell would surely raise a few eyebrows among league circles.

The Tigers put together what coach Boyd Bailey described as a near perfect game against Bairnsdale the week before, and backed it up at the weekend by taking it right up to Wonthaggi.

Morwell jumped out of the blocks with three goals to one at home, and were three points ahead at the last change.

The Power steadied in the last, kicking five goals to one, but not before surviving a few nervy moments.

While Wonthaggi was safe in terms of a double chance, they weren’t so in terms of the minor premiership. The Power still had to win this game, as Moe, equal on points, was always likely to beat bottom-side Drouin.

So, no one could accuse Wonthaggi of playing dead, especially against a team that has recent history of rising in the last round.

In Round 18 in 2019, the non-finals-bound Tigers lost to top-three side Sale by one point, while just last year, Morwell defeated the Magpies in the final round to take a place in finals.

Bailey led from the front on Saturday, and found willing allies in Zac Anderson, Brandon Mcauliffe, Aidan Quigley, Max Linton and Dan Musil.

The coaches must have given themselves a card, as best for Wonthaggi was Jarryd Blair. Others to follow was likely league best-and-fairest Ryan Sparkes, Josh Bates, Toma Huther, Tim Knowles and Isaac Chugg.

For Bailey, he has much to work with during the offseason, with a team that finished with seven wins and 11 losses, but with a very good percentage of more than 85, helped mainly by Brandon McDonald, who kicked 56 goals this year, second only to Traralgon’s Brett Eddy who won with 60.

Morwell has already started planning for next year, with Gippsland local and former North Melbourne player Troy Makepeace appointed head of football operations.

Next year will mark 10 years since Morwell last won a final, and given the close relationship between them and Yallourn Yallourn North, you would imagine there are a few players on the Tigers’ radar to help bolster their stocks.

Losses to Warragul and Sale by under 10 points during this season have arguably been the difference between Morwell paying finals and not.


JUST how much this game means will be seen in a few days’ time.

Traralgon and Sale faced off, in what was a dress rehearsal for the elimination final.

If this was Test cricket, the Magpies would be taking a 1-0 lead into the decider, after beating the Maroons 13.10 (88) to 10.8 (68).

Sale led at every change, with a six goal to one opening term setting up their win on Terry Hunter Oval.

Traralgon fought gallantly, but found the gap too great to overcome.

By the time a Sale victory was assured, both sides were happy to park the bus and look to this week.

Jack McLaren finished the regular season as he started it, with a spot in the best players for the Magpies. Others to play well were Harry Ronchi, Jarrod Freeman, Pat Tainsh, Mitch Bown and Tom Wrigglesworth, zooching is way into finals.

The David Bowie song Changes might well be apt for Sale this season, as again at the weekend, the Magpies were forced to bring magnets across from one board to another.

Key forward Brad Dessent was named in the reserves, but was a late out, while Kai McDonald was one to be bumped up into the main game.

At country level, it is often said the reserves reflect the seniors, and both of Sale’s teams will head into the first week of finals after finishing fifth.

Traralgon meanwhile will take some very unwanted form into September. The Maroons have lost their last four games, and are at risk of being bundled out cheaply.

Those listed in the best at the weekend however in Billy Schilling, Tom Hamilton, Tye Hourigan, Sammy Hallyburton, Hugh Dunbar and Louis D’Angelo will be hellbent on making sure this doesn’t happen.

Traralgon has had a hectic few weeks, capped off with the announcement that coach Jake Best would not be continuing.

Best had the option of going to a fourth year, but cited family and travel as the main reasons he could not commit the hours necessary.

Elsewhere, the surface at a couple of Latrobe Valley-based grounds has attracted criticism in recent weeks.

Terry Hunter Oval and Ted Summerton Reserve are both currently resembling beaches, due to the yellow tinge plaguing the grass, and players from either side sported severe grass burns after the match.

There are no finals at either of those venues this year.


HOW many seats would have been taken up by eskies for this bus trip?

Bairnsdale finished its season on a positive note, defeating Warragul.

The Redlegs made the long drive to Western Park, and broke away in the final term to win 13.12 (90) to 7.11 (53).

Just six points separated the sides at the last change, but Bairnsdale closed strongly, kicking six goals to two.

Lachlan Byrne-Jones was again prominent for the winners, while Ethan East, Will Mitchell, Nathan Dennison, Logan Austin and James Dore were also serviceable.

The Redlegs showed a willingness to play kids right to the end, with youngster Campbell Moresi making his debut.

Given Warragul’s issues with the player points system this season, where former juniors returning to the club have been worth more than one point, it was perhaps ironic to note Moresi came in as a four-point player.

For context, Wonthaggi recruit Cooper McInnes, who joined from Tarwin in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League this season and finished third in the league goal kicking, is worth the same number of points.

Best players for Warragul were Will Cole, Patrick Ireland, Luke Garner, Tom Hobbs, James Davidson and Corbin Sutherland, who kicked four goals.



LEONGATHA crushed Maffra.

The Parrots showed no mercy at home, and will take a triple-figure winning margin into finals.

Leongatha never gave the Eagles a look-in, and won 19.14 (128) to 2.5 (17).

In a season where a young Maffra side has seemingly entered the record books for all the wrong reasons, they again found themselves in that position at the weekend.

The Eagles’ score was the equal-fourth lowest Round 18 total in Gippsland League history.

Maffra kicked just one goal in the first three quarters, and watched by as Leongatha added five, six and another six, before putting the cue in the rack at three quarter time to prepare for this week.

Brayden Monk, Ben Brunt and Ed Carr battled out the last game.

Maffra’s final position of eighth is their worst since 1995.

Aaron Heppell, Jackson Harry, Noah Gown, Josh Hopkins, Aaron Hillberg and Jenson Garnham were best for the Parrots.

Hopkins was brought back into the senior team in Round 17 after being overseas for three months and playing two games in the reserves upon return.

VFL-listed player Gown also got his Leongatha games for the season up to four – the number required to qualify for finals.