PRESSURE can be very quick in this game, no matter the competition.

It just so happens that the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League competition has applied the screws very early, with close encounters again the order of the day in Round 2 at the weekend.


Newborough 12.9 (81) def Yinnar 11.10 (76)

THESE two teams came off contrasting first round clashes, Newborough a narrow two point loser to reigning premier Fish Creek, and Yinnar, comfortable 52-point winners over Toora.

That however was Round 1, and the Bulldogs, on their home ground, wearing their Anzac Day jumpers and in front of a healthy home crowd, looked clear favourites to win this encounter.

They did, but it took a mighty final term from the home side to do so, nudging ahead of Yinnar at the final whistle 12.9 (81) to 11.10 (76).

Yinnar looked on track to cause an early season upset, leading by more than four goals at quarter time, 16 points at the main break, and then breaking out to a 31-point lead at three quarter time.

However, the Bulldogs stormed home in the last, kicking seven goals to one to collect the points and a sigh of relief.

“Sam (Yinnar coach Sam McCulloch) had his boys frothing from the first bounce with five goals on the board before we could get our hands on the ball,” Newborough coach, Craig Skinner said.

“Our middle two quarters were better but we kicked points and Yinnar kicked goals and were the better side for three quarters.

“A few changes and expectations in front of the ‘Top Dog’ crowd at three quarter time gave us belief and when you have that you become dangerous.

“Good to get the win to launch our season.”

Whilst disappointed, McCulloch said there was much to be pleased about.

“We have been pleased with our group’s commitment to our brand of footy that we are continually looking at improving,” he said.

“Newborough we see as a yard stick early on this season so we are taking the positives out of the game and learning from our mistakes throughout the final quarter.”


Thorpdale 9.10 (64) def Boolarra 8.8 (56)

THE wraps on Thorpdale prior to the season starting were huge; an already strong side, they had been bolstered by further talent in the offseason.

Things didn’t get off to the perfect start for the Blues, who only managed to fall over the line by one point in Round 1 against MDU, meaning the jury was still out.

That same jury might still be out following another close Thorpdale win, after the Blues defeated Boolarra 9.10 (64) to 8.8 (56).

Scores were locked away at the first quarter before the Demons went into the main break leading by eight points.

Thorpdale kept their opponents to just one behind in the third, eventually holding on to win at home.

Blues coach, Jason Winderlich said it was a determined team effort on home soil.

“Good, tough, contested game against Boolarra all day. Was a good even spread of 21 contributors to get the job done,” he said.

“Foster on their home deck will be another step up this week after playing themselves into form against Mirboo (North). We are expecting them to have a few key inclusions this week also which makes the challenge even greater.”

Winderlich and co-coach Ray Pickering have played in the reserves the first two rounds, the latter kicking eight goals at the weekend.

Thorpdale are tipped to be a major contender in the race for the 2024 premiership, which might mean Boolarra are not far off the pace also. The Demons actually won two quarters and drew one, but it was the third term that let them down.

“Really good game of footy with both sides looking to go 2-0. Unfortunately there had to be a loser with our boys falling on the wrong side,” Boolarra coach, Brendan Mason said.

“We had our chances to win the game but the Thorpdale guys took theirs and were too good in the end.”


Stony Creek 7.9 (51) def by Morwell East 13.14 (92)

AS good as Stony Creek was in their opening encounter against Hill End, there was little doubt they were going to need to be even better as they welcomed a Morwell East team that had flexed their considerable muscle by way of a ridiculously easy win against Foster on the road in Round 1.

The only niggling doubt for the Hawks was how they were going to respond playing away twice in a fortnight.

Such doubts were exstingished early, as Morwell East went on their way to a 13.14 (92) to 7.9 (51) victory.

“It was crucial to start well. We had a dominant first quarter, having 11 scoring shots to four. The lead was set early and we increased that at every change. Stoney kept coming, but so did we,” Hawks coach, Paul Henry said.

There was whispers from past Morwell East players to expect rapid improvement at the Hawks nest in 2024, and the early signs are that this indeed the case.

Stony Creek coach, Chris Verboon paid credit to Morwell East, particularly their first quarter, which saw them kick 5.6 (36) to four behinds.

“Morwell East started the game well, putting us on the back foot with five goals in the first quarter,” Verboon said.

“They move the ball well on the open side of the ground and set up well defensively.”

“We went away from how we want to play, which happens when you are put under pressure. Bit of a reality check for us early will be a good thing. We will go over the game and learn from it.”


Mirboo North 4.5 (29) def by Foster 10.10 (70)

BOTH of these two Tiger teams had their tail between their legs after Round 1 – Foster comprehensively beaten by Morwell East, Mirboo North likewise by Boolarra.

The home team of Mirboo North had always proven to be a difficult side to beat on their unique playing surface and they, like their visitors, were keen to regain their roar.

Playing under lights in front of a healthy crowd provided an opportunity for the visiting Tigers to rise to the occasion, and they did so, winning 10.10 (70) to 4.5 (29).

The visiting Tigers assumed control early in the night, leading by 15 points at quarter time, and building on that lead as the game unfolded.

“Positive response from our group, never easy playing under lights so I’m happy we won all four quarters,” Foster coach, Sam Davies said.

“Big game against Thorpdale next week – they’ve recruited heavily and Jas (Jason Winderlich) has them winning close games early. They’ll be in the top few later in the year so it’s a big test.”

Despite the result, Mirboo North coach, Damien Turner said he was also pleased with the initiative of providing Saturday night football for the local community.

“A fantastic day for our club. The night game was a success with huge numbers through the gate. Thank you to Foster again for their support,” he said.

“We showed some really strong patches of football, and improved in some areas we identified, but the small lapses from us coupled with Foster’s experience got us in the end.”

There is no question that season 2024 is likely to be a rebuilding year for Mirboo North, but the early signs, with the right people in the right positions, are that they will soon be doing what they have done for many seasons, and that is to be mixing it with the very best in the competition.


Toora 15.16 (106) def Hill End 6.6 (42)

WITH most pundits predicting that these two teams might not be expected to play a part in finals, every opportunity that presented a possible victory was no doubt going to be jumped on.

Toora, on their home deck, toughed out the first 60 minutes before breaking away for a comfortable 15.16 (106) to 6.6 (42) win over Hill End.

The Magpies victory is an ideal platform from which to build some confidence in the weeks ahead, according to coach Jack Weston.

“Another promising performance. It was an arm wrestle early, but our discipline to set the ground four quarters opened the game up for us in the second half,” he said.

“We’ll continue to build connection, but I’m pleased with the synergy the group is building.”

That synergy is key for Toora in taking the steps needed to have more success, already well placed off field, it appears on field progression has started.

Prior to the season starting, Hill End coach, Ambu Uliando predicted his team would be more than capable of staying with teams early, but running games out might be an issue.

That indeed proved to be the case at the weekend.

“Disappointing second half for us to let Toora kick away with it,” he said.

“Our movement and positioning was good but simple skill errors and execution let us down in the end.

“Preview – it’s going to be a real tough day for us on Saturday (against Newborough), no doubt about it. We suffered a few injuries so this will really test our depth.”


Tarwin 7.10 (52) def by MDU 7.20 (62)

MEENIYAN DUMBALK UNITED could have looked at last week’s one-point loss to Thorpdale in one of two ways: it was a devastating defeat in which they did nothing significantly wrong, or it was an opportunity to bounce back in a big way.

Their performance against the Sharks on Tarwin’s home ground was always going to be a good indicator of just how they had responded.

The Demons did what good sides do, this time winning a tight tussle 7.20 (62) to 7.10 (52).

MDUs kicking for goal was the most pressing issue in an otherwise impressive performance.

Demons coach, Nathan Allen was happy to bank the four points and move on.

“Tarwin came out with the energy and intensity you would expect for their first game of the season. They played a tough brand of footy and made things hard for us,” he said.

“Our pressure and ability to turn the ball over in our front half gave us enough opportunities to eventually make it count on the scoreboard.

“There may be a bit of goal kicking practice over the next couple of weeks! We have the bye next week so we get a chance to recover well and hit the next stretch of games with some fresh legs.”

Tarwin should be better for the run, having now played a game.

“It was a solid first hit-out away at MDU and we put in a solid effort, but in the end was tough to hold on after being down to one on the bench in the second quarter against a team who were keen to get their first win,” Sharks coach, Jason Kennedy said.

The first look at Tarwin was an impressive one and there is no doubt many victories lie ahead for the Sharks.


FISH CREEK had the bye.