JUST when you think you have a read on the Gippsland League, it throws up results similar to those seen at the weekend.

Round 6 saw all five games go down paths not many people would have predicted, with three decided by less than 15 points, and another, equally surprising, decided by triple figures.

Regardless of allegiances, results were described as ‘good for the league’ when scores came to hand, adding further intrigue as the competition now breaks for an in-season bye.

A downside to an otherwise excellent round was the absence of league statistician Paul Carter, who is recovering from having his appendix removed.

The absence of the stats guru, who has hardly missed a game in decades, was felt greatly, and not just for his unmatched record keeping.

How’s the irony – the one week he is away is the one that sees the top-two teams get rolled.


Morwell 13.10 (88) def Leongatha 11.9 (75)

BOYD Bailey might have Coach of the Year wrapped up after that.

The Morwell playing-coach did what not many have done in the last 10 years – defeat Leongatha.

What’s more, the Tigers defeated the previously undefeated Parrots at their own run-and-spread game.

Morwell celebrated a big day for the club, raising money for the Breast Cancer Network, and winning 13.10 (88) to 11.9 (75) in the biggest result from Round 6 in the Gippsland League.

Trading the traditional yellow sash for pink, the Tigers made the most of what Bailey described as a “three to four” goal breeze heading toward the big hole in the ground at Morwell Recreation Reserve, getting four majors on the board in the first term.

The Tigers dominated possession early, so much so the ball did not enter Leongatha’s half of the ground until the 11 minute mark.

Tyler Hillier kicked the opening two goals for Morwell, his set shots showing just how strong the wind was as the ball drifted violently on the journey home.

Teammate Harri McColl also demonstrated this, with his set shot looking like it was headed straight between the left hand point post and goal post, only to curl back left to right for a major.

Despite having most of the play, the Parrots showed their efficiency, with their first two inside 50s resulting in goals.

For all their efforts, the Tigers went into the quarter time break only seven points up.

Morwell started the second term in similar fashion to the first, getting the first few scores on the board.

Brandon McDonald kicked the first of his three goals for the quarter only 42 seconds in, after Brandon Mcauliffe broke through the centre bounce, taking on Tom Marriott if you don’t mind.

However, if a goal inside 45 seconds was impressive, Leongatha showed they needed only five seconds to do likewise.

A Ben Graham-like kick-in from Cade Maskell nearly cleared the centre circle, and ended up in the hands of Nick Argento, who found Jack Ginnane in the goal square.

Ginnane ended with five goals, and proved something of a thorn in the Morwell side as chief agitator much in the Hayden Ballantyne mould.

The Tigers however were not deturbed, and their work at ground level to effect one percenters, especially smothers, was noteworthy.

Leongatha got another goal inside a 15 second window as the clock ticked into red time in the second term, and went into the sheds with the scores all tied up at 7.4 (46) apiece.

The main break may well have come at a good time for Morwell, as momentum appeared to shift to the advantage of the visitors.

There was no such doubt as to who had advantage on the resumption however.

The Tigers added 4.4 (24) to no score in the third term, and were suddenly daring to dream as three quarter time approached.

Leongatha ruckman Josh Schelling did not return after halftime, and as the Morwell lead grew, doubts appeared to creep in for the unbeaten Parrots.

Calling the game for TRFM, commentator Nick Lecchino made mention of Leongatha’s slumped body language, although speaking to the Express, Bailey said he didn’t sense anything too drastic.

Bailey kicked back-to-back goals in the third, the second following a courageous mark going back with the flight.

Hillier added his third, again using his knowledge of aerodynamics to steer the ball through the wind.

With the breeze still in play, the Tigers didn’t have the option of conserving their 28 point lead come the final change of ends, and manufactured two critical, and ultimately, match-defining goals in the last.

Bailey stepped up and showed presence of mind to soccer one in from 20 metres out at the 11 minute mark, taking the margin back out to 28 points after Leongatha got one on the board early.

The Parrots came hard, and had six consecutive scores, but Morwell found the steadying goal they craved through Cohen Campbell.

Needing to make a contest at centre half forward to not allow Maskell to rebound, the Tigers did just that after Mackenzie Blewett sent a long kick out of defence.

Hillier was there to accept the crumbs, and slapped the ball on the boot to open space where Campbell was able to run in and kick his third to seal the deal at the 25 minute mark.

There was however some debate surrounding the final goal, as Leongatha’s Mason McGannon laid on the turf at the other end of the ground.

McGannon had wrong-footed himself on the mark in the back pocket, and in teeth-grinding scenes, the situation did not look good for him or his knee.

Mcaulliffe was everywhere, and was a clear best-on-ground.

Bailey led from the front, as did captain Aidan Quigley and vice captain Tyler Hillier. Jackson Burr also played a pivotal role on Maskell, while Brandon Bailey and Tyler Brown were also prominent.

Max Linton had some good tussles with Ginnane down back, and was able to celebrate his 100th senior game in the finest way possible.

Milestone man: Max Linton warming up before his 100th senior game for Morwell. Photographs supplied

Bailey rated this alongside his first win as a coach in the Northern Territory as the best win in his short coaching career, while from a purely Morwell perspective, it would have to be the Tigers’ best win since they rolled eventual premier Maffra in 2019.

The Tigers did beat Sale in the last game of the 2022 home-and-away season to make finals, although with the passage of time, it would not be too outrageous to say the Magpies tactics that day achieved a convenient outcome for themselves.

Pessimists may point to the fact Leongatha was without Kim Drew, Noah Gown, Jack Hume, Aaron Hilberg, Luke Bowman and Cam Olden at the weekend, but that should not detract from the Tigers victory.

As they say, you can only beat what’s out there.

This is the Gippsland League to keep in mind, there are no genuinely ‘bad’ senior players, and if you are playing seniors for Leongatha, you are just about walking into seniors at nine other clubs.

Ginnane attracted votes for the Parrots, along with Marriott, Mitch Bentvelzen, Tallin Brill, Maskell and Jake van der Plight.

Morwell has now won their last three games and are four points clear inside the top five.

This is why Morwell was predicted to finish top five.


Moe 18.13 (121) def Drouin 2.8 (20)

WHEN Moe are good, they are Jimmy Anderson bowling under grey skies good.

Like the soon-to-be-retired GOAT of England bowlers, the Lions proved to be unplayable against Drouin.

Much like Anderson favourable conditions as well, there was a breeze at play at Ted Summerton Reserve.

For the second week in a row, the wind blew in the direction of the Can Bar, although this time however, any such advantage was taken out of the equation given the quarter-by-quarter scores Moe put up.

Kicking to the Vale Street end to start, the home side slammed on 7.3 (45) to 0.2 (2) in the opening term. The Lions’ effort was their equal best-ever first quarter in a game against Drouin, equally the mark set only a few years ago in 2019.

For pure trivia, the Moe players from that game in Round 2 2019 still playing were Jacob Wood, Trent Baldi, Harri Sim, Bryce Collings, Scott van Dyk, and Ben Maslen, wearing the number 33 (he has since gone 10 digits lower).

In further trivia sure to satisfy all football nerds, Baldi wore the number 2 jumper that day, and Collings number 9. The families have since swapped numbers, with Collings taking on the number 2 vacated by his brother-in-law James Blaser, while Trent’s twin brother Riley wears number 9.

Both Baldi’s were among the top three players for Moe at the weekend, as was van Dyk, who slotted two goals as the Lions won by more than 100 points, 18.13 (121) to 2.8 (20).

While predominately a rebounding defender, van Dyk is actually closing in on 100 senior goals, which could provide the Moe coaching staff with another option in their front half.

The Lions continued the onslaught in the second quarter, putting up four goals while keeping the Hawks to just another two behinds.

With a 68 point lead at the main break, the game was all but over, and the margin only extended to 82 points come the final change of ends.

By this stage, Drouin only had 1.5 (11) on the board, a slightly confusing sight given they came into the game with a percentage well over 100 and had built a reputation as being a highly-attacking team in the two years under coach Brent Clinnick.

But then again, you can just have those days.

If the available data is any indication, Drouin aren’t meant to be ‘this’ bad.

The last quarter played out in fairly predictive terms. Ordinarily this scribe averages four pages of notes per quarter. For this one however, he struggled to fill even half a page.

Riley Baldi started and ended the fourth term on the bench, but still provided a highlight, taking a diving mark floating across half forward, before squaring the ball to his brother who in turn found his namesake in Trent Morrow, who finished the set shot.

Morrow kicked two goals in the final term, the latter coming from a neat finish in the pocket opposite the Can Bar.

Drouin saved their own ‘record’ by kicking 1.3 (9) to avoid their lowest-ever score against Moe of 2.2 (14) in 2017 (incidentally, the Moe coach back then was in fact James Blaser).

Moe had four players kick as many or more goals than the entire Drouin team. Nick Prowse led the way with five, while Jaryn Makepeace continued his strong development with three.

Sim and Maslen did similar to what they had done in 2019, helping the Lions to the four points.

Kye Quirk, Will Papley, Shay Harvey, Tom Johnstone, Ed Morris and Jarrod Marshall battled hard for Drouin.

The win took Moe to second on the ladder leading into the league-wide bye after six rounds.

Without looking too far ahead, the Lions will likely start favourites in the three games to come, by which time every team will have played each other once. If they win the games they are expected to, they will go into the halfway mark with a win-loss record of 7-2.

Looking at things holistically however, while that all appears rosy, Moe’s reserves did lose by nearly 50 points at the weekend.

If the senior side is winning by more than 100 points and the reserves are losing by 50 against that same club’s twos, just where does that leave things?

Moe’s next home game isn’t until Round 9, but it is set to be a huge occasion for the club’s annual Fight MND campaign.

The man behind the fight against MND battle, Neale Daniher is slated to make another appearance in Moe (health dependent). His son Ben has played with the Lions for the last three seasons, becoming a vital cog in the midfield.

Who will be going under the ice water this year?


Sale 13.16 (94) def Traralgon 9.11 (65)

SALE won a match that required perspective.While the Magpies 13.16 (94) to 9.11 (65) win over Traralgon was meritorious in its own right, events at Sale Oval meant issues much bigger than football needed to be taken care of.

The Maroons entered the contest with only one loss to their name so far this season.

Just three minutes into the game however, a sickening blow was felt when key forward Josh Hamilton was concussed.

Hamilton flew for a high ball at the top of the goal square at the clubhouse end, only for the back of his head to collide with the turf upon landing.

Play was halted for 20 minutes, as by all reports the youngster was out cold for some portion of that time.

Trainers were to be commended for the job they did, although understandably, Traralgon players were shaken up by what took place, not to mention the effect it must have had on their coach and the player’s dad, Troy Hamilton.

The Maroons appeared to get on with the job after the delay, and went into the first break ahead by four points.

Sale made more of the running in the second, kicking three goals, one of which featured a spinning move from Bohdi Walker handing it off to playing-coach Jack Johnstone, who finished truly.

Adding to the subplots from the day, Johnstone kicked seven goals and did not feature in the best. Such an effort generally slots a key forward in the top six, let alone a midfielder such as Johnstone.

That he ended up kicking more than half the Magpies goals perhaps only highlighted the team effort from those wearing the black and white. Or maybe it was just coaching modesty.

Someone who did feature in the best was Will Leslie, who benefited from a horrendous and equally uncharacteristic turnover by foot from Traralgon captain Tye Hourigan in the second quarter. Leslie pounced on the loose ball and sent a dribbling kick toward goal, getting himself on the scoresheet.

Sale took a 10-point lead into the main break, and with their minds perhaps not as distracted as those in the Traralgon camp, virtually put the game to rest in the third.

The Magpies added five goals to two, getting the margin out to 31 points with one quarter to play.

Both teams then shared three goals in the last, making the final margin virtually the same as it was half-an-hour earlier.

Jack Leslie played another great game for the winners, as did Jonty McGuinness who just continues to impress.

McGuinness has come of age this season, already named in the best twice as many times as he did last season (four games).

On current form, he should feature prominently when votes are tallied at the end of the year, which (in the greatest respect) would have been very long odds in March.

Derek Eggmolesse-Smith again showed his class, and is proving why he was touted as the biggest recruit of the offseason. Mitch Dowse, back this year after some time away, also played well, as did the ever-reliable Shannen Lange.

For Traralgon, the plaudits went to Chance Doultree, Dylan Loprese, Hourigan, Mitch Membrey, Max Jacobsen and Conor Little in his 100th senior game.


Wonthaggi 8.12 (60) def Maffra 8.7 (55)

SO close, yet so far.

Such a cliché was apt for Maffra, who missed registering their first win of the season, losing to Wonthaggi by just five points (so close), on the Power’s home deck (geographically so far).

For the second week in a row, the Eagles came home like a freight train, kicking two goals in red time during the last term.

The second of those two however came right on the final siren, only serving to cut the final margin from 11 points to five, as the scoreboard read 8.12 (60) to 8.7 (55).

Wonthaggi, who have looked very underwhelming coming off a Grand Final last season, narrowly avoided a certain crisis meeting to go into the break with two wins from their last three games.

The Power had six scoring shots to one in the first quarter, but then watched on as Maffra made the most of their turn kicking with the advantage toward the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve entrance.

The Eagles slammed on 4.4 (28) to 1.2 (8) in the second, taking a 10 point lead into the sheds.

Sensing a genuine chance of victory, the Eagles held sway in the third, swapping the script with Wonthaggi for a quarter, who managed the same number of goals as their opponents had kicking to the scoring end.

With just 13 points the difference at three quarter time, the visitors failed to find the early inroads they were after.

Maffra did not kick a goal until the 25 minute mark of the final term, and even then it came from a free kick to Jack McQuillen.

McQuillen ended the game with two majors, as did Brodie Tohara.

Tohara’s second came right on the final siren, and amid some controversy as Wonthaggi players protested his long-range effort was touched on the line.

It mattered little however, as the siren sounded just as the umpire signalled all clear.

Maffra players appeared dejected in the immediate aftermath, having lost a second consecutive game by less than 10 points.

Such results however have put the competition on notice that the Eagles certainly won’t be a walkover this season, despite still searching for their first win.

Jett Killoran was best on and continues to impress for the Eagles. Jonathan Boyd, Zac Felsbourg, Alex Carr, Henry Anderson and key forward Caleb Calwyn, in his first game for Maffra since crossing over from Boisdale-Briagolong, all rated a mention.

The difference in a five-point result was arguably summed up in who featured in the best for Wonthaggi: Toma Huther, Aiden Lindsay, Shannon Bray, Jack Blair, Isaac Chugg and Jye Gilmour.

The first four names being all very senior Power players with finals experience, along with Chugg, who was playing AFL only two years ago, compared to Maffra’s best, mostly made up of kids, with the exception of Carr and Calwyn.


Warragul 9.11 (65) def Bairnsdale 7.13 (55)

WARRAGUL bookended the first block of six games with a win at Western Park.

The Guls regained some credibility, defeating Bairnsdale 9.11 (65) to 7.13 (55).

Having not won a game since Round 1, the victory meant Warragul went into the break with some confidence behind them.

Taking on a Redlegs outfit who had shown good signs in recent weeks, the Guls found three goals in the second term at Western Park to take a handy 15 point lead into the sheds.

The visitors responded with plenty of shots on goal in the third, but were let down by a return of 2.6 (18), which ultimately proved disastrous.

Warragul only led by seven points at three quarter time, but did enough to hold on as both teams kicked three goals in the last stanza.

Tom Cole kicked three goals for the winners and was among the best. He received good support from Lane Ward, Tom Hobbs, Mitch Smart, Jack Lewsey and Brad Hefford.

Lachlan Byrne-Jones was industrious for Bairnsdale, as was Lachlan Cloak, Randall Stewart, Matt Corbett and Will Mitchell.

That the Redlegs only named five players in the best perhaps summed up feelings from the coaching and support staff.