Bairnsdale 7.10 (52) def by Morwell 8.9 (57)

MORWELL made sure it was a memorable trip home from Bairnsdale.

There was a few pounding heartrates before that however.

The Tigers held on for dear life on Bairnsdale City Oval, getting up by five points 8.9 (57) to 7.10 (52) in Round 11 of the Gippsland League.

Drama of the highest order unfolded in the final term, as both teams fought desperately to try and achieve the desired result.

Morwell may well have been feeling a sense of déjà vu, as a late set shot from their opposition registered a behind much like it did against Traralgon a fortnight ago.

While that game ended in a draw, the Tigers were at least given a win on this occasion.

Having led marginally at every change, a grandstand finish saw Bairnsdale’s Max East cut the margin back to six points with a neat set shot from in front of the changerooms at the 22-minute mark.

Morwell scrambled the ball forward over the next few minutes, and were rewarded with a free kick inside 50 at the 26-minute mark.

The ball was in good hands, that of playing-coach Boyd Bailey, who lined up from 40 metres out on an acute angle. With any score meaning Bairnsdale would need to kick two goals deep in red time in order to win, there was a further twist in the tale.

A free kick to Bairnsdale was plucked from the goal square as the ball made its way down, which led to a frantic period of the ball exiting then re-entering Morwell’s attacking end.

A clearing kick was met by Brandon Bailey, who could count himself stiff not to be paid a mark on the edge of 50, as the Tigers did all they could to surge the ball closer to goal.

They got as close as the behind post, but the Redlegs refused to concede, and with precious seconds ticking away, went for a Hail Mary play.

Using the corridor, the home side found Will Mitchell, taking a diving mark in the middle of the ground.

Mitchell was awarded a 50 metre penalty, apparently because the ball was not handed back in an appropriate fashion, taking him well within scoring range directly in front.

With the game riding on his boot, Mitchell’s shot sailed wide for a behind at the 28-minute mark.

Morwell cleared the ball from the resultant kick-in, and heard the siren not long after.

Players wearing the yellow and black were jubilant, especially their coach, who raised both arms in a rare display of public emotion.

The gesture was perhaps warranted, as the match was essentially an eight point game for Morwell, who were inside the top five but only two-points clear of Bairnsdale heading in.

Boyd Bailey was among the best for the winners, as was Max Linton, Burkeley Macfarlane, Zac Anderson, Charlie Burr and Aidan Quigley.

The result carried further credit, as the Tigers became just the second team this season to beat Bairnsdale on their home deck. Morwell are now outright fourth, which sets up a huge clash with Valley rival Moe this weekend.

The winner of that match will go to third on the ladder.

Both teams could be set to bring in some key players. Josh Galea made his return to football at the weekend from injury, kicking four goals for the Tigers reserves, while the Gippsland Power bye should mean Moe has Tom Matthews, Max Woodall and Liam Masters available.

Bairnsdale might well be wondering when their luck will change, having now lost two games in a row decided by virtually the last kick of the day.

Mitchell was their best, while coach Logan Austin, Randall Stewart, league ‘big boy’ Ethan East, Matt Corbett and Tate Clay were industrious.


Moe 9.14 (68) def Leongatha 8.9 (57)

CLUB functions are always better after a win.

Especially when you beat the reigning back-to-back premier.

Moe had even more reason to celebrate at its mid season ball last Saturday night, following victory over Leongatha.

The Lions put an indifferent few weeks behind them, securing the four points in a final scoreboard that read 9.14 (68) to 8.9 (57) at Ted Summerton Reserve.

Moe led at every change, and survived a nervous last quarter to hold off the fast-finishing Parrots.

Up until then, it had been a relatively dour affair. With both sides down on key personnel (Leongatha admittedly with more than 500 senior games of experience missing), things were brought back to an equilibrium.

The lack of players on Leongatha’s part however should not detract from Moe’s win. The Lions were reduced to 20 men for most of the game after Callum Nash and Jaryn Makepeace unfortunately ended up on crutches early in the piece.

Leongatha too had senior, and even VFL quality, running around in the early game. Cam Olden, who has been with Richmond for most of the year, played in the reserves for the Parrots, presumably to avoid injury.

He didn’t just appear on the team sheet to qualify for finals either; oh no, he played three quarters and even spent time in the midfield.

Just four points separated the teams at the main break, before Moe enjoyed a more fruitful third quarter, kicking four goals to take what appeared to be a safe 25-point lead in the context of the game heading into the last.

The move of Lions playing-coach Declan Keilty from his usual posting at centre half back to the forward line paid dividends, and while he only kicked two goals, he had multiple shots and gave the opposition greater problems.

While taking the best defender out of the back six carried some danger, it inadvertently gave the remaining Moe defenders like Brock Smith, Ben Maslen, Luke Mulqueen, Tyler Pratt, Tim Golds and James Maslen motivation as they had to step up in the absence of their leader.

The defence responded to the challenge admirably, especially Smith, who became the general in a position of leadership.

The move also carried an insurance policy, as Keilty went back in the last term when Leongatha was pressing to help keep the ship afloat.

Given much can be gained in a team environment when individuals take ownership, the Lions might have uncovered something 11 rounds in.

It was said David Parkin actually hardly even coached Carlton’s 1995 premiership team such was the quality of leadership among the senior players. The players would take training, develop the game plan and even pick the team.

Keilty instructed his troops to not play conservatively in the final term. Words of “they will come” from assistant coach Shane Paynter proved prophetic, as the Parrots did just that.

Leongatha had their chances, but a fourth quarter effort of 2.4 (16) to 0.2 (2) in a final margin of 11 points perhaps said it all.

The Parrots made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and when a switch kick missed its intended target by a good five metres, it was enough to send coach Trent McMicking back into the dugout to sit down and collect his thoughts.

Leongatha sharp-shooter Jack Ginnane, who would be a strong candidate in the ‘kick for your life after the siren’ category, even missed a set shot entirely, sending the ball spiralling out on the full from the arc.

Mitch Bentvelzen played well for the visitors, as did Jake van der Plight, Adan Trotto, Jackson Harry, Matt Borschman and Sam Forrester.

If body language is anything to go by, the Parrots appeared unfazed by the result, and could have parallels drawn to the baseball team in Space Jam after Michael Jordan strikes out saying, “we’re not worried”.

Indeed, Leongatha probably has little reason to be worried – they are still half-a-game clear on top and lost to a fellow top-three side by 11 points without Tom Marriott, Cade Maskell, Luke Bowman, Kim Drew and Sean Westaway playing.

For Moe however, the win has arguably come at the best possible time, and should provide a significant boost as there just seemed to be a general feeling of staleness in their four games proceeding (losses to Warragul and Sale and uninspiring wins over Maffra and Wonthaggi).

Keilty was best-on-ground, along with Trent and Riley Baldi, Smith, Jacob Balfour and young ruckman Lachlan McGrath, sure to do his confidence the world of good jumping against a seriously imposing figure in Ben Willis.


Warragul 12.10 (82) def by Traralgon 17.8 (110)

ANOTHER week, another Traralgon rollercoaster.

While the end result showed the Maroons beat Warragul by the best part of five goals at the weekend, it was anything but a walk in the park – Western Park to be specific.

A huge upset loomed at halftime when the home side took a 22-point lead into the sheds.

Traralgon however responded in devastating fashion, kicking eight goals to two in the third term to completely shellshock the Gulls.

The avalanche of goals enabled the Maroons to lead by 12 points at the final change of ends, before a further four goals to two in the last made sure of the points.

Correspondence coming in from a reporter covering the match for another masthead said Warragul was playing its best football in recent memory up until halftime.

Traralgon made sure the Gulls enjoyed no further dominance once the second half started, and ended up kicking three times as many goals as their opponents after the main break.

Harvey Neocleous was a more than welcomed return to the Maroons’ line-up, coming back from Casey in the VFL and kicking seven goals in a best-on-ground display for his home club.

It ended up being an unbelievable day for the family, as his younger brother Marlon Neocleous kicked five majors on senior debut.

Incredibly, Traralgon had two senior debutants at the weekend still eligible for under 16s.
Joining Marlon Neocleous in this group was Blair Roscoe, who himself has had a scarcely believable fortnight.

The precursor to his senior debut came the week before when he kicked seven goals for the Traralgon reserves, after kicking four in the under 16s earlier in the day.

The future indeed looks bright for the Maroons. Marlon was in the top six players, as was Joel Scholtes (under 21), Tye Hourigan, Mitch Membrey and Luis D’Angelo.

Best for Warragul was Isaac Wallace, Sean Masterson, Tom Stern, Lachlan Giliam, Mitch Smart and Heath Jinks.


Maffra 15.8 (98) def by Drouin 16.8 (104)

DROUIN had the better time of the western clubs, getting up to defeat Maffra in Round 11 of the Gippsland League.

The Eagles ruined Maffra captain Daniel Bedggood’s 250th game, winning a high-scoring thriller 16.8 (104) to 15.8 (98).

It was Drouin’s first win at Maffra since 2009, and was led by Kye Quirk, Aden Quirk, Seb Amoroso, Mitch Cotter, Jordan Kingi and Tim Hancock.

Bedggood was among the best in his milestone, and looks an absolute certainty to break the club record of 253 games currently held by a man carrying another familiar Maffra surname in Winston Gieschen.

Caleb Calwyn was mighty in the loss, kicking seven goals, while Alex Carr, Brayden Monk, Henry Anderson and Lachlan Allman were also solid.

They just love to kick goals those Hawks, even if it means getting scored heavily against. Drouin may have only won four games, but their percentage is 81.53.

If you’re not going to win, you might as well make it entertaining.


Wonthaggi 14.13 (97) def Sale 7.6 (48)

IT’S not what you know, it’s who you know.

The match between Wonthaggi and Sale turned into an ironic encounter given the Collingwood connection to both clubs.

While the Magpies are home to one of if not Collingwood’s greatest ever in Scott Pendlebury, the fact he is still playing at the top level means they are somewhat restricted.
Wonthaggi by contrast don’t have that problem.

Either that or their coach Jarryd Blair is a very good salesman.

Blair, himself a Collingwood premiership teammate of Pendlebury’s, has been able to add no less than four players with ties to the Magpies into the Power line-up in the last three years.

They all came together at the weekend, the result of which saw Wonthaggi win 14.13 (97) to 7.6 (48) on their home deck.

The latest Collingwood recruit was Nathan Brown, another of Blair’s 2010 premiership teammates.

Brown is rumoured to be playing the rest of the season with the Power, and looks set to have joined in the nick of time as clearances close this Sunday.

Wonthaggi was also helped by Collingwood VFL player Ryan Sparkes being available for his home club last weekend.

It is understood Sparkes is also back at the Power fulltime, after a reported change in his living arrangements after former Wonthaggi teammate Jack Hutchinson was taken by West Coast in the midseason draft.

The other players with Collingwood connections currently at the Power are Isaac Chugg (former AFL) and Jack Blair (VFL).

Chugg was named in the best, after Wonthaggi put up five goals to one in the first term, and were rarely challenged from there.

The Power could have inflicted even greater damage, as they kicked 3.4 (22) to no score in the last quarter.

Cooper McInnes kicked five goals for the winners, receiving good support from Sparkes, Brayden Duve, Shannon Bray and Kaj Patterson.

Jonty McGuiness continued his strong season for Sale. Others who played well were Nathan Whitford on return, Shannen Lange, Josh Butcher, Jack Leslie and Hudson Holmes.

While there might be calls for Wonthaggi to do the opposite to Port Adelaide and change their nickname from Power to Magpies, their recent form has put the competition on high alert.

The Power have now won four of their last six games, and despite sitting seventh on the ladder, have more than enough time to push further into finals calculations.

Will Scott Pendlebury ever come back and play for Sale? He might be too busy coaching Tassie.