MORE questions than answers remain after two rounds of the Gippsland League.

While time has not yet allowed the competition to fully unfold, results so far have left queries on a number of teams.

Has Warragul improved a lot? Has Morwell in fact not improved at all? Are things starting to click for Bairnsdale?

What of Wonthaggi? The Power has already lost as many home and away games this year as they did for the whole season in 2023.

When is Maffra’s first win coming? And how can Moe kick six goals in the last quarter after only managing four in the first three.


Traralgon vs Moe

AS any diehard football supporter will tell you “never leave a game early”.

Spectators were shown exactly why on Saturday night, as Traralgon and Moe played out an unlikely thriller under lights at Terry Hunter Oval.

An eventual 10.14 (74) to 10.9 (69) win to the Maroons appeared the furthest possible result for 90 per cent of the game, given the home sides control of the scoreboard.

At contest level however it was a different story, as both teams shared periods of dominance.

A string of behinds in the second term eventually came back to haunt the Lions – and very nearly did the same for Traralgon.

Both teams went 1.6 (12) either side of halftime, yet a five goal to one opening meant Moe was forced to play catch up.

The Lions inaccuracy in the second led Traralgon to take a 28-point lead into the sheds.

Amazingly, the margin was exactly the same at three quarter time, as both sides registered 12 points, albeit with Moe kicking two straight and the Maroons taking seven shots to rack up the same number.

Moe vice captain and designated punter, Scott van Dyk kicked a neat goal at the eight minute mark of the third after running down to accept a handball from fellow VC, Harri Sim after the latter lined up on the edge of 50. A follow up dob from Ben Daniher then breathed life back into what was appearing to be a spiritless Moe line-up.

Traralgon’s leaders however also stood up, with skipper Tye Hourigan wondering down from centre half back to kick his sides only goal for the term.

A desperate tackle from Hugh Dunbar denied Moe a scoring opportunity, which was highlighted by Traralgon coach, Troy Hamilton during his three quarter time address.

Hamilton praised his troops for their willingness to come forward to defend, especially given they were two men down with Jordan Cunico and Tom Hamilton done for the night.

Over in the Moe huddle, the general feel was one of the game being out of reach.

The Lions therefore decided to turn one eye to next week, moving the magnets around to try and uncover some hidden aces.

Harry Pepper was moved from deep forward to up the ground, and second-gamer James Maslen given the job as a defensive forward on Hourigan.

With the game looking like it would lead to a Traralgon victory by around four goals, van Dyk chimed in with the words “finish well” as the players came together for the last effort of Round 2.

What followed was both staggering and equally intriguing.

Moe did end up finishing well, but evidently, not well enough.

While the Maroons were without their Tom, the Lions were certainly happy theirs was available.

Get shares in Tom Matthews before the stock price rises – this kid is something special.

He nearly took Mark of the Year on senior debut last week, and followed up by kicking three goals in the last quarter at the weekend as a bottom age thirds player.

Matthews also set up further scoring opportunities, including the first of the last which came when he smartly changed the angle inside 50 to spot Riley Baldi 20 metres out.

Baldi’s resultant goal inside the first two minutes cut the margin to 22 points. When Daniher (playing forward nursing injury) steered home his second from a set shot a couple of minutes later, and then Jacob Balfour at the nine-minute mark, it was suddenly game on.

With a momentum swing looming, Matthews bobbed up to kick a clutch goal two minutes later.

Traralgon responded, or so they thought, following a disallowed goal to Dylan Loprese after a free kick had been paid to teammate Connor Scandrett.

Loprese was rightfully agitated the goal did not stand, pleading his case with the umpire. Given Scandrett went on to mis the set shot, one could understand his frustration.

A free kick at the other end of the ground led to a Moe goal, after an alert Pepper caught the Traralgon defence napping. Pepper asked for and received a handball from Daniher as he was walking back to take a set shot, with Pepper smartly taking the ball from his injured teammate and snapping it home in front of the Pud Northe Bar.

That goal made it just one goal the difference as the clock ticked past 20 minutes.

Needing a hero of their own, the Maroons found one in Liam Willaton.

Another free kick inside 50 saw the pint-sized midfielder/forward given the chance to make life easier for the Maroons.

With ice in his veins, Willaton steered the ball through from 40 metres out on a slight angle for his third goal of the game.

In the context of the match, it appeared to be enough, and with the pressure back on Moe, they suffered a deer in the headlights moment.

The next centre bounce gifted the ball to Traralgon as the Lions had too many players in the square. Bewilderingly, this was the second time Moe had made this infringement for the quarter.

Such errors were akin to being taught in under 12s cricket to ground your bat.

The Lions however fought on, and when Matthews kicked his third goal of the term, snapping the ball seemingly out of mid-air amid congestion deep into time on, the margin was back to under a goal.

Needing to go for everything, Moe pressed all their numbers up, as the game was now being played under a ‘last goal wins’ style.

With all players except Loprese and Lions playing-coach, Declan Keilty past halfway, there was one last piece of drama when the Maroons were pinged for deliberate out of bounds just past centre wing.

Leading by example: Moe playing-coach, Declan Keilty was best-on for the Lions. As an aside, any photographer will tell you how hard it is to get decent action shots of country footy during night games. Photograph: Liam Durkin

Traralgon however were able to kill the following kick, with the siren sounding shortly after, bringing to end a memorable game born out of an unmemorable beginning.

Interceptors were named best-on for their respective teams, with Hourigan taking the plaudits for Traralgon, and Keilty for Moe.

Despite playing a similar role, both approach their tasks in different ways. Keilty beats the opponent he’s on, Hourigan beats opponents who don’t make him accountable.

Others to play well for the winners were Dunbar, Willaton, Luis D’Angelo, Josh Hamilton and Loprese.

Riley Baldi, van Dyk, Brock Smith, Matthews and fellow bottom-age thirds player, Liam Masters were best for Moe.


Morwell vs Bairnsdale

THAT’S a shocking second half from Morwell.

The Tigers managed just three goals to nine against Bairnsdale, after going into the main break seven points up, to eventually lose 13.9 (87) to 9.6 (60).

To make matters worse, it was on Morwell’s home deck as well.

Scores were level at quarter time, before the Tigers benefitted from some inaccuracy by their opponents on the eve of the main break.

The Redlegs costs themselves potential ascendancy, returning 1.6 (12) for the term, while Morwell kicked three goals from almost half the amount of scoring shots.

However, what the Tigers managed in the second term, they only managed for the rest of the game as far as goals were concerned.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Bairnsdale couldn’t miss, and kicked eight straight to go ahead by nine points with a quarter to play.

The visitors finished full of running, and ended up slamming home five final quarter goals.
Brayden McCarrey and his long sleeves proved a handful, as the pocket rocket sent home five goals for the winners.

His teammate Ricky Tatnell got the nod as best-on-ground, followed by man mountain Ethan East, Randall Stewart, Lachlan Cloak and Link McKenna.

Tom Gray was best for Morwell, while Brandon Mcauliffe, Sam Walsh, Campbell Blewett, Tyler Brown and Harri McColl put in solid efforts.


Wonthaggi vs Leongatha

GEE Wonthaggi looks thin at the moment.

The Power lost the Grand Final rematch to Leongatha, 11.11 (77) to 8.7 (55), although on paper at least, it was perhaps easy to see why.

Wonthaggi only had 11 players from its Grand Final team play at the weekend.

Leongatha only had 15 themselves, but the difference was in the remainder.

The players coming in for the Parrots were Cooper Alger, Mitch Bentvelzen and Nick Argento – all genuine senior players.

In the absolute greatest respect, those coming in for Wonthaggi were Ethan Dickison, Kyle Yann and Ryan Cornell – who have all only ever played in the lunchtime league previously.

With this in mind, the result was perhaps unsurprising, although in fairness to Wonthaggi, the final margin off 22 points showed they were more than up for the fight on their home deck.

Leongatha’s class and experience however meant they were never really in danger, and after kicking six goals to one in the first term, might have even put the diff lock in second gear for the rest of the game to make sure they got through unscathed.

Bentvelzen and Alger were named in the best, further emphasising the point made earlier.

Jenson Garnham, Tallin Brill, Tom Marriott and Jake van der Plight also played well.

Dickison made sure this senior game won’t be a once-off, named in the best for the Power.

Others to battle strongly were Aiden Lindsay, Shannen Bray, Jakeb Thomas, Josh Schulz and Reeve Moresco.


Sale vs Warragul

SALE held off a persistent Warragul.

The Magpies kicked five goals to two in the final term, to win 16.13 (109) to 12.10 (82).

In a match described as “highly entertaining”, spectators crammed the Past Players Hill at Sale Oval to see the home side prevail.

Not much separated combatants in the first three quarters, although Sale was able to give itself some breathing space at halftime after kicking five goals to one in the second term.

The Guls however hit back, taking advantage of the scoring end to nail four goals of their own in the third to make it a seven-point ballgame at the final change.

There was to be no upset however, as Sale players like Shannen Lange, Hudson Holmes and Jack Leslie made sure the Magpies kept their unbeaten start to the season intact.

Former Richmond player Derek Eggmolesse-Smith also featured in the best, as did Jonty McGuiness and Josh Butcher.

A great story to come out of the day was Sale junior graduate Kane Cutler, who enjoyed a dream debut in senior colours – kicking a match-high four goals.

In a game decided by 27 points, his efforts were certainly appreciated by all wearing the black and white.

Riley Senini, Luke Garner (three goals), Lucas Carter, Isaac Wallace, Patrick Carpenter and Sean Masterson were best for Warragul.


Drouin vs Maffra

MAFFRA is still searching for its first win of the season.

The Eagles were well beaten by Drouin at the weekend, going down by 66 points.

Maffra was never really in the hunt after quarter time at Drouin Recreation Reserve, with the final scoreboard reading 16.18 (114) to 6.12 (48).

Just seven points was the margin at quarter time, before the Hawks broke away, kicking five goals to one to take a 33-point lead into the sheds.

The margin was virtually the same at three quarter time, with Maffra only able to shave three points off the previous deficit.

Drouin finished very strongly, adding five goals in the final term. Conversely, the Eagles showed characteristics of an inexperienced side struggling to run games out, managing just a single behind.

The more senior players in the Maffra line-up were judged best afield, with James Read, Alex Carr and Kade Renooy getting those honours.

Youngsters Zac O’Keefe, Henry Anderson and Noah Christy were also able to hold their heads high.

Kye Quirk kicked four goals for the winners, while Joe Collins nabbed three.

The pair were listed as the most prominent, along with Mitch Cotter, Ed Morris, Jarrod Marshall and Tim Hancock.

Things do not get easier for Maffra, who take on reigning premier Leongatha this weekend.

The Eagles then make the tough road trip to Bairnsdale, meaning if results go as predicted, Maffra’s first win might not come until Round 5 against Morwell.