Morwell 13.10 (88) def Drouin 9.12 (66)

AS a prominent Gippsland coach once said: “The ball can move faster than you can run.”

Morwell did away with one, sometimes multiple, too many handballs in the second half against Drouin, on their way to an important 13.10 (88) to 9.12 (66) win during Round 4 of the Gippsland League at the weekend.

The Tigers’ indifferent start to the season threatened to continue at halftime when they trailed by 11 points, but they were able to walk off their home ground victors by the best part of four goals.

Drouin kept the door open for Morwell thanks to some inaccuracy in front of goal, returning 5.7 (37) from twice as many scoring shots in the second term.

The Tigers got up and going after the main break, slamming on five goals to one in the third quarter before again outscoring the Hawks in the final term.

Pleasingly from a Morwell perspective, it was not left up to Brandon McDonald to do all the scoring. The livewire kicked three, but so too did Tom Smith, while Cohen Campbell and Riley Loprese nailed a pair each.

Archie Grant got the plaudits for best-on-ground, and found willing allies in Zac Anderson, Harri McColl, Tyler Brown, Aidan Quigley and Dan Musil.

Burkeley Macfarlane could perhaps count himself stiff not to be in the top six players after collecting 30 disposals, so can have a mention in this passage.

Morwell’s overuse of handball was evident in the first half, although coach Boyd Bailey denied any major tactical change when the team went into the sheds, rather stating the side needed a simple reset.

Bailey said it was an important win in the context of the season.

“It was a great result to get the win,” he said.

“We are slowly building some momentum and starting to play the brand of footy we know we can.

“Definitely still a lot of areas to improve as a group and we are still striving for consistency in our performances to bridge the gap between our best and our worst.”

By contrast, the result was a major disappointment for Drouin, who would have identified the game as one that was very much winnable.

The Hawks were without Mitch Cotter and Joe Collins, after the two collided with each other in the previous match, although Ed Morris was perhaps a surprise selection given he injured his shoulder last round.

Morris was reportedly in discomfort at the weekend, and clearly not at full fitness.

Will Papley however, another player to come into the match under an injury cloud, played to the contrary, putting in a solid effort. Others to play well for Drouin were Aden Quirk, Tim Hancock, Ben Brasier, Ryan Taylor and Shay Harvey.

The win capped off a big week for Morwell on a number of fronts. The Tigers showed their strong commitment to community at Morwell RSL’s Anzac Day service, with an excellent turnout of senior and junior players, as well as club officials.

The legendary Jack Huxtable laid a wreath at the service, the same Jack Huxtable who until recently was still doing the timekeeping for Morwell senior games.

As retirement is only a word in country footy, even at the age of 92, it is understood Huxtable might still be called upon if needed.

Community and club have also been at the forefront of Brendan Blackshaw’s thinking, and the outgoing Morwell Football-Netball Club treasurer was publicly acknowledged for his work over the last 16 years.

Blackshaw is stepping down as chief bookkeeper, and his exit is sure to leave very big shoes to fill at Tigerland.

Finances have rarely been an issue for Morwell Football-Netball Club, firstly through the efforts of the late, great Stan Morgan, whose name now adorns the grandstand, running the club’s bingo, and Blackshaw, whose attention to detail may well epitomise the saying ‘cross the T’s and dot the I’s’.

By the way, the person who said the ball can move faster than you can run coached Morwell to multiple premierships.

Can you guess who it was?


Leongatha 11.11 (77) def Moe 9.7 (61)

LEONGATHA aren’t unbeatable – but they are still hard to beat.

The Parrots kept their unbeaten start to season 2024 intact, withstanding a gallant Moe.

The visiting Lions made a promising start, leading by eight points at the first break, but watched on as Leongatha kicked seven goals to two either side of halftime on their way to an 11.11 (77) to 9.7 (61) victory.

On the scoreboard at least, what happened in the middle quarters allowed the Parrots to hold a four to five goal lead, which they used to constantly keep the Lions at bay.

A couple of late goals to Moe, which made it a 16-point final margin, perhaps provided a fallacy into how the match was played, as for all intents and purposes, Leongatha was around a four goal better side.

The shallowness of most playing squads across the league continues to provide some commentary, and even at the top end of town, it appears teams are digging more into their reserves than they would probably prefer.

Josh Schelling, looking somewhat unusual without his trademark long sleeves on, played his first senior game since 2021 for Leongatha at the weekend, filling the post at fullback vacated by Sean Westaway.

Moe also went back quite some years, almost a decade in fact, with Trent Morrow suiting up for his first senior game in the maroon and blue since Round 18, 2015. (Admittedly, he has played senior football elsewhere in the intervening years).

The strength of Leongatha’s depth over the last two years, where they have won both senior and reserves titles, was perhaps fully evident when Tallin Brill kicked a three-bounce running goal in the second term.

Brill played exclusively in the reserves for the Parrots in 2022, and provided one of the highlights of the game when he took off down the wing and nailed a goal at the scoreboard end.

That he had goalposts to kick between was a minor miracle, as minutes beforehand, Moe playing-coach Declan Keilty almost snapped one of them in half after leaping high to touch a long range effort from Cade Maskell on the line, and in doing so, collided solidly with the upright.

While Keilty avoided a Leigh Matthews moment there, his side went into the main break 17 points down.

Leongatha controlled the third term, as the usual suspects in Tom Marriott, Sam Forrester and Maskell got involved around the ground.

The Parrots appeared to be outnumbering Moe at the contest more often than not, and could have stretched their lead further had it not been for some early misses.

The Lions only kicked one goal for the term, but it at least enable them to stay in the game.

Some smart play to shift the ball across to Liam Masters, who then found Harri Sim, who in turn found Max Woodall inside 50 made it a 15-point ballgame at the 15-minute-mark.

Woodall, from Mirboo North, is quickly becoming a man you would want kicking for goal after the siren, such is his accuracy. There was another forward from Mirboo North who rarely missed – Tim Trail. He did a few things.

The home side however continued to show just how much experience can count for in delicate moments. While a 15-point margin might not seem like much, the manner in which the Parrots played made it feel as though they were never in danger of being run down.

As professional sides do, they controlled tempo, and denied a new-look Moe much opportunity to play quickly from halfback.

And when Leongatha generated turnover close to goal – they made it count where it hurts most – on the scoreboard.

The Parrots’ two goals for the quarter were incredibly demoralising for Moe, equally as much for how they occurred as for when they occurred.

The first came at the 20 minute mark after Ned Hanily snapped one through amid some confusion further up the ground when Lions midfielder Trent Baldi appeared to do all that was required to win a holding the ball. That the play resulted in a goal compounded frustrations, especially for Baldi, who was seemingly punished for doing nothing wrong.

Minutes later, a horrendous turnover by foot from Moe at halfback handed the ball back to Leongatha, who made full use of the gift by giving Jenson Garnham one of his four goals for the afternoon.

Like dropped catches in cricket, those are the sort of moments that cause heads to fall back. As much as you don’t want to think about them, there is no escaping it. If it’s any consolation, we’ve all been there – even Mark Waugh once dropped three catches in a Test innings.

Come three quarter time, the Lions found themselves 27 points down. Referencing their final term renaissance against Traralgon a fortnight ago, where they kicked six goals from an even greater deficit, Moe was prepared to go down swinging.

The difference this time however might have been in the profile of the opposition. While the very young Maroons side may have only known one way – to play in top gear, this Parrots team knew exactly what was coming the other way.

Leongatha responded accordingly, manufacturing a goal two minutes in via Jackson Harry wheeling from a hit up to sow an early seed of doubt.

With a 33-point lead, the Parrots smartly took enough time out of the game to make Moe’s chances of a comeback all the more remote.

That’s not to say Leongatha didn’t keep their standards high, and even a half-smother from Marriott in congestion led to the Parrots winning the ball back at one stage. While the smother itself wasn’t absolutely effective, there was enough pressure to see the kick go straight up in the air rather than forward.

One has to admire Marriott, not only for the player he has become, but for how he has gone about getting there.

Before becoming a dual Gippsland League senior best-and-fairest, he was axed by two VFL clubs without ever playing a game, while growing up, never played for Gippsland Power either.

He started out wearing the number 74 jumper for Leongatha, and even today by his own admission, isn’t a highly skilled player. What he can do however, is win contested ball and run all day.

Take note any kids that might be reading when you are told you’re not good enough.

Moe got some consolation goals toward the end, with Morrow highlighting one of them in his return, while youngster Liam Weir also got on the scoreboard.

The Lions showed strong resolve right to the end, epitomised perhaps by vice captain Scott van Dyk flying in front of Garnham to stop a certain mark when the result was beyond doubt.

This resolve was showcased to the final siren, when Nick Prowse goaled after the bell following a nice build up from a Riley Baldi smother getting the ball to Tom Matthews, then Weir and Harri Sim who found Prowse in the pocket at the entrance end.

Riley and Trent Baldi, along with Prowse were the standouts for Moe, along with Lachlan McGrath, Luke Mulqueen and Masters.

Moe might have lost the game, but were able to escape a fairly bruising encounter without any major injuries. The same could not be said across the board however, as the Lions reserves finished the game with around 12 fit players.

Like the final scene in Hamlet, most of the starting characters ended up bloodied and on the floor.

Those prone to superstition may be starting to believe Leongatha is a graveyard for Moe players. When the Lions visited the venue in 2022 with a 6-2 win-loss record, it lost four players in the first quarter all to hamstrings. Moe won just two more games for the season after that.

Marriott, Maskell, Ben Willis, Harry, Matt Borschman and Hanily were best for the Parrots.


Traralgon 11.12 (78) def Warragul 7.6 (48)

TRARALGON experienced some slight déjà vu on Saturday night in Round 4 of the Gippsland League.

A 20-point three quarter time lead under lights at Terry Hunter Oval quickly became a 12-point lead less than 10 minutes into the last against Warragul – in scenes eerily similar to what happened to Traralgon against Moe only a fortnight ago when the Maroons held on to win by five points.

This time however, the Maroons didn’t have as much reason to panic, as they closed out the game 30 point winners, 11.12 (78) to 7.6 (48).

A physical Warragul outfit made scoring somewhat difficult for the home side, but by and large, Traralgon’s polish and ability to make the ground big saw them get enough clean looks moving forward.

The start of the match was preceded by an ANZAC observance, as well as a minute’s silence for the late Danny Riddle and Nick Edney, two men closely linked to Traralgon and Warragul football-netball clubs respectively.

A classy snap in front of goal from Sam Hallyburton highlighted an otherwise dour opening half, that saw Traralgon take a 13 point lead into the main break.

While the margin was only the best part of two goals, something was clearly agitating one Warragul coach, who could be heard giving his troops an old-fashioned tune-up, clearly audible from as far away as the netball court at Traralgon.

The spray, the gist of which centred around selfishness, didn’t have the desired effect, as the visitors found themselves further behind with a quarter to play.

The bright lights, not helped by one forgetful patron leaving their high beam on shining right across the ground, could have perhaps attributed to a sloppy third quarter, in which the ball was constantly turned over.

Warragul remained in the contest with a goal at the eight minute mark, reducing the margin to just seven points, however, Traralgon then got the game on their terms.

Much commentary had surrounded the Maroons nabbing ex-Morwell VFL player Tristen Waack in the offseason, and he played his first game in a Traralgon jumper on Saturday night.

Waack launched a long range effort at the 10 minute mark of the third to kick a timely goal from right on 50, while a goal to fellow VFL player Chance Doultree at the 17 minute mark gave the Maroons breathing space.

It would prove to be Doultree’s only goal of the match, from what would have been at least five shots.

A somewhat fortuitous 50 metre penalty gave Tate Marsh a goal from point blank range at the 19 minute mark, after the non-controlling umpire awarded a protected zone infringement.

With the lead out to 25 points, the Maroons were starting to get on top at both ends of the ground. A courageous mark from Jackson McMahon dropping back with the flight typified what was required, while some improvisation from midfielder Luis D’Angelo using all his basketball skill was needed when called upon to ruck at half-forward for the Maroons.

Warragul then had a square up with an advantage call going their way, leading to a late goal which cut the margin to 20 points with one quarter to play.

Just as Moe had referenced their final quarter against Traralgon in their huddle at Leongatha earlier in the day, the Maroons did exactly the same during their three quarter time address.

Traralgon coach Troy Hamilton instructed his players to defend first but “hurt them the other way” when the opportunity presented itself, which he assured his players would be the case as Warragul had to play a high-risk, high-reward style.

Just as Hamilton predicted, the Guls attacked from the outset, and with a makeshift forward line that contained usual defender Sean Masterson, were able to score first at the eight minute mark.

Traralgon defender Connor Little could count himself rather unlucky after copping a bad bounce which led to Masterson accepting the ball from close range, however there was no time to dwell on any misfortune when Tom Hobbs followed with a goal a minute later, suddenly making it just a 12-point ballgame with plenty of time left.

With the match in the balance, the Maroons found some solid wins, especially from defender Joel Scholtes, who took a good grab going back with the flight after finding himself in the very daunting position of being one-out inside defensive 50.

A dribble goal from Will Brent that just snuck in made life easier for Traralgon, before an opportunistic soccer off the deck from Harvey Neocleous all but sealed the deal at the 17 minute mark.

By now the pressure may have been getting to Warragul, so much so a dropped chest mark even occurred, breaking up a potential forward chain.

Josh Hamilton then stamped Traralgon’s third win for the season, after leaping high to take a strong mark inside 50 and going back to kick the goal.

Usual suspect Tye Hourigan was best-on-ground for Traralgon, playing his trademark role across half-back, taking intercept marks for fun.

His job was no doubt made easier by Warragul’s propensity to bomb the ball long, which appeared to be an automatic action for some of their players around the ground as soon as they got the ball.

McMahon was also busy, working in close quarters to Hourigan, while Hallyburton, Marsh, Connor Ambler and Liam Willaton all played well.

Willaton has started life in the major league in blistering form after coming across from TTU in the North Gippsland Football-Netball League, named in the best in three of the first four games.

His story is shaping as quite remarkable, especially considering he didn’t even make the cut for Traralgon under 16s as a junior.

Not to be deterred, he came back to Traralgon for the under 18s, went out to Tyers, won the North Gippsland senior best-and-fairest last year, and is now among the Maroons’ top players.

Warragul was well-served by Hobbs, Lucas Carter, Riley Senini, Tom Crole, Mitchell Smart and Jack Lewsey.

Traralgon now has a win-loss record of 3-1, and will welcome the chance to play games at a more familiar timeslot after hosting two night games and travelling to Bairnsdale for the standalone fixture to open the season over Easter.

Troy Hamilton felt the experience from the Moe game helped his side stave off Warragul.

“It was a good practice run for us because we went through it two weeks ago, two weeks ago we were down to two on the bench, this time we had three which was helpful, I think it was good learning for us,” he said.

“I think in this league with the talent, people start rolling the dice and going through the middle, it’s hard to stop, so you have to be prepared.

“When a side starts coming at you and rolling through the middle, when they make mistakes you have to make them pay the other way, otherwise you are just like a boxing bag.

“Moe we didn’t do that, Moe came at us through the middle and when they made mistakes we tried to go slow, so I think if they (the opposition) make mistakes you have to make them pay.

“First quarter I think we got a bit cute and they put good pressure on, but after that we kicked the ball well, out of the back half I thought Hourigan and McMahon were really outstanding.”

Traralgon defender Mitch Membrey was the only casualty from the match, coming off midway through the third term with a corky.


Sale 9.5 (59) def by Wonthaggi 9.12 (66)

WOULD you be slightly concerned if you were Sale?

While it is only Round 4 of the Gippsland League, the Magpies lost at the weekend to a travelling Wonthaggi side who entered the match with a 0-3 win-loss record.

Granted the Power played off in the Grand Final last year, and were due to come good at some stage, but considering the side that ran out for Wonthaggi at the weekend was exactly the same as the one that lost the previous week to a young Morwell team, there could be early alarm bells ringing in the Magpies nest.

The Power led at every change to record a gritty 9.12 (66) to 9.5 (59) win on Sale Oval.

The margin at each of the breaks was only nine, 12 and one point respectively, although the visitors could have extended their halftime lead had it not been for a return of 5.9 (39).

Sale worked their way back into the contest in the third quarter, kicking four goals to two, but then only managed one in the last as they lost by seven points.

Jack Leslie played a strong captain’s game for the Magpies, and was supported by Jonty McGuiness, who is in arguably career best form at centre half back.

The ever-reliable Shannen Lange also featured, as did rising star Harry Tatterson across half-back, while Jake Hutchins and Tom Campbell were two who could hold their heads high.

Speaking postgame, Sale assistant coach Shane Fyfe said it was a disappointing outcome.

“It was an arm wrestle all day, we just couldn’t quite get in front, momentum shifted a few times for both teams, it was an even amount of inside 50s but they probably just converted a little bit better,” he said.

“Always tough to play against Wonthaggi, they’ve had a tough start to the season, so we knew they were going to come.”

Josh Schulz, Isaac Chugg, Mitch Hayes, Noah Anderson, Kaj Patterson and Jack Blair stood out for the winners.

The result pins Sale to a 2-2 record, and while far from panic stations, could be a game that is looked back on as one that got away.

The Magpies dropped a similar game to Bairnsdale at home last season in Round 2, from which time they never seemed to fully recover on their way to a first-week finals exit.

Sale of this year will be hoping history does not repeat itself.


Bairnsdale 13.9 (87) def Maffra 9.12 (66)

IT could honestly be Round 9 before Maffra wins a game.

If you were to go on current form, the Eagles probably won’t start anywhere near even-money until they play Warragul at the halfway mark.

Given that game is still more than two months away, Maffra can ill-afford to look too far ahead, but will have some reason to be confident all the same after putting in a relatively good performance against Bairnsdale at the weekend.

While the Eagles lost 13.9 (87) to 9.12 (66), they were right in the contest up until three quarter time at Bairnsdale City Oval.

The visitors overcame a sluggish start, in which they kicked three goals to nine in the first half, to rattle home four goals to one in the third to only be 13 points down at the last change.

The Redlegs however finished the stronger of the two sides, adding 3.4 (22) to 2.2 (14) in the final term to stave off a potential upset.

Brayden McCarrey kicked four goals for Bairnsdale, continuing his solid start to the season. The goal-sneak already has 12 goals to his name, and has featured in the best in all three games he has played.

Cooper Harvey was also industrious, as was Will Mitchell, Randall Stewart, Link Mckenna and Tyran Rees, who may now have some competition for Goal of the Year from Leongatha’s Tallin Brill.

Alex Carr and Danny Butcher were best for Maffra, while the next generation of Jett Killoran, Ashton Wright, Zac Felsbourg and Archer Watt (three goals) continued to show signs of what the Eagles’ future looks like.

Watt may have had extra incentive to play well, having joined Maffra from Bairnsdale this season.

Although a winless start to the season is less than ideal, it is perhaps little surprise to see the Eagles in the current position they are in.

It is looming as boys against men for large parts of the season for Maffra. The Eagles team at the weekend featured 10 players in their first year out of Under 18s, and a further two just out of Under 16s.