FOOTBALL resumes in the Gippsland League this Saturday.

The competition had the first of three league-wide byes at the weekend, which have been spaced out every four to six weeks.

The bye was surely most welcomed by clubs as an opportunity to take stock and refresh, and by teams who will hopefully see some players return with a week’s rest behind them.

The league, much to their credit, appear to have provided clubs with an accommodating fixture lessening the burden on travel and time poor working professionals.

As such, the schedule of games for Round 7 has been thought through. Bairnsdale make the trip to Wonthaggi and Sale travels to Leongatha with more than a week’s lead in to mentally prepare for such journeys.

Just the one game is scheduled for the Latrobe Valley, with the other two taking place in opposite geographic locations.


Drouin v Traralgon

TRARALGON are on the road to Drouin.

Both sides will be out to get back on the winner’s list, but will come into the contest with differing mentalities.

The Maroons lost their previous round match against Sale, although they could be forgiven for doing so given events that happened early on in the game.

The concussion to key forward Josh Hamilton following an awkward fall from a marking contest arguably had a huge bearing on how the rest of the day played out, with the young Maroons possibly mentally distracted from then on.

The nature of an injury can often derail a team’s season, and Traralgon will be desperate to make sure they do not go down this path.

Richmond had a win-loss record of 7-2 in 2005 before Nathan Brown broke his leg. The Tigers won just three games after that.

Brown had already kicked 34 goals up to that point as well.

The Maroons are currently 4-2, opposed to a Drouin side with the exact opposite record.

The Hawks, almost unexplainably, lost their last game before the bye by more than 100 points to Moe, and for this reason, will be out to rectify such a performance.

The margin was somewhat out of character for Drouin given there was no available data to suggest a loss of that magnitude was coming.

The Hawks were without key midfielders Joe Collins and Mitch Cotter, but even still, the absence of two players does not usually make up 17 goals.

This match is shaping as a battle between two sides who play in a similar vein, as both like to move the ball quickly and have players able to do so.

Therefore, it could simply come down to who does it better for longer.

If Drouin is to stifle any offensive explosion from the Maroons, it is likely they will need to stop the likes of Jackson McMahon and Joel Scholtes streaming out of defence.


Morwell v Warragul

MORWELL has a good chance of making it five wins in a row.

The Tigers host Warragul, and can stay on track with the top three if it achieves the desired result.

The home side will start favourite against the Guls, and their odds may become even shorter if there is no rain come Saturday.

Warragul has won two games so far this season, although they have both been by less than 10 points in low-scoring affairs at Western Park.

Profiling the Guls, who have a number of physically imposing players, Morwell will know exactly the style of game needed to see itself to victory.

If the Tigers display the same run and spread that was so successful in their last round win against Leongatha, they should have little to no trouble dealing with their opponents this weekend.

That being said, Morwell can ill-afford to rest on its win over the Parrots, and playing-coach Boyd Bailey will be tasked with ensuring no complacency creeps in.


Maffra v Moe

MOE will pack their R.M. Williams boots and head out to Maffra.

The Lions are on the road for the first time in four weeks, and face something of a danger game.

While the Eagles are yet to win a game, the young side has lost its last two games by less than 10 points, and shown enough signs to suggest they will cause a few teams issues in the season of 2024.

Maffra might feel as though they are on the verge, meaning conversely, the pressure could actually be on Moe, as no team wants to be the first to hand points over to a winless opposition.

The Lions are currently second on the ladder, and will see this weekend’s assignment as an opportunity to further solidity its position.

The Baldi twins, Riley and Trent have been in sublime form, as has Scott van Dyk, who is racking up touches across half-back, much like Sam Pleming did at Maffra not that long ago.

Maffra should be bolstered by the return of Kade Renooy, who has missed the last three games through suspension.

Renooy was offered four games for an accidental elbow in Round 3 against Leongatha, but took three with an early guilty plea.


Leongatha v Sale

SALE faces Leongatha.

The visiting Magpies go into the encounter not expected to cause the Parrots too much trouble, a slightly farcical prediction given there is only one game separating them.

Sale has had a major distraction in the last fortnight, with playing-coach Jack Johnstone ousted by the MRP for his involvement in the Hamilton incident.

Johnstone’s attempted spoil which led to Hamilton’s concussion was not looked upon favourably, and he has been handed a three week suspension.

The Magpies have not taken that as a final answer, and have lodged an appeal with AFL Victoria.

The appeal is likely to take place tonight (Wednesday, May 22).

Johnstone, a hard-nosed midfielder, has tribunal history, and perhaps carries a tax of his own as a result.

He was sensationally given a four match suspended sentence in 2019, which allowed him to play in the Grand Final while at Maffra.


Wonthaggi v Bairnsdale

LOAD up the eskies, Bairnsdale are travelling to Wonthaggi.

The Redlegs will climb aboard the bus to make what is believed to be the longest road trip in country Victoria – 224 kilometres.

It will be a sombre return trip if the visitors don’t get the four points, which they need to get their 3-3 ledger into the positive.