Morwell 8.10 (58) def by Moe 11.9 (75)

MORWELL Football-Netball Club will be getting a decent hot water bill for the month of June.

Bodily reactions said all that needed to be said about how cold it was last Saturday, as Morwell and Moe players battled it out under grey skies during Round 12 of the Gippsland League.

The Lions emerged victorious by 17 points, in what ended up being a traditional winter slog 11.9 (75) to 8.10 (58).

There were no goals kicked during the final term, played in light so fading it became virtually impossible to see what was happening on the far side of the ground, even from the lofty vantage point of the grandstand in the Stan Morgan Pavilion.

While the floodlights were turned on as early as the second quarter, the game belied conditions to some extent, with a combined 14 goals going through up until the main break.

Moe added four goals in each of the first two quarters, while Morwell was effective going forward, registering 6.1 (37) before retreating to the sheds.

The wet and slippery conditions meant trainers from both sides were kept busy tending to injuries, some of which were game-ending.

Morwell lost Sam Walsh on the eve of halftime with what looked to be a dislocated shoulder, while Moe playing-coach Declan Keilty was unable to do either of those jobs after needing to leave the venue following a head clash. Fellow Moe swingman Brock Smith also sat out the second half, leaving the Lions down to 20 men.

Where the Tigers had made the most of their opportunities inside 50 during the first half, the Lions did likewise in the third term.

A miraculous goal from Moe young gun Tom Matthews spinning out of a pack in front of the Morwell social rooms gave the Lions a 22-point lead just three minutes in, however, for the next 20 minutes, the game belonged to the Tigers.

The problem was they just couldn’t put the ball through the big sticks.

A goal to Morwell playing-coach Boyd Bailey cut the margin to eight points at the 13 minute mark, yet an overall return of 2.6 (18) for the quarter highlighted a number of missed chances.

As is often the case when a team peppers the goals at one end for little reward, the team going the other way converts seemingly every chance.

A long range effort from Trent Baldi wheeling onto his right at the 32-minute mark provided momentum for the visitors, while an earlier running goal from Max Woodall provided a steadier.

Woodall celebrated his goal with Gippsland Power teammate Matthews, the two leaping in the air and chest bumping each other in scenes usually reserved for Crinigan Road.

The margin hardly deviated from 18 points during the final term, in what became a case of players running out the clock as quickly as possible.

Baldi was again involved in a defining moment, stealing an errant handball in the corridor and sending the ball forward at the four-and-a-half minute mark.

The play led to a mark inside 50, and while a goal would have all but sealed the deal for Moe, the resultant behind was also important in the overall scheme of things.

The barrels came out on field by the 20-minute mark, while off it, the roaring fire barrel at the Legends Bar appeared a much nicer place to be.

Baldi was best-on-ground for the winners, doing great work with and without the ball by manner of diving smothers and going back with the flight.

The midfielder might have also set a record for consecutive best-on performances at the same venue in different grades, having also been best afield in the reserves last season on the comeback from injury.

Jacob Balfour continued his good form, while Tim Golds, Chris Prowse, Matthews and Liam Masters did a good job.

Masters made up the third in the trio of Moe players currently aligned with Gippsland Power, and registered his first senior goal for the Lions.

The win may prove vital for Moe, as a place in the top three was on offer to whoever won this match.

Morwell perhaps felt too much was left to too few, naming only five players in the best. Those honours went to Tyler Brown, Brandon Bailey, Aidan Quigley, Boyd Bailey and Charlie Burr.

The Tigers however could be preparing a decent assault after the league-wide bye this week, and look to be getting the chess pieces in order.

Riley Loprese, Campbell Blewett and Josh Galea, all carrying senior finals experience, played in the reserves at the weekend, while Tom Gray was sent back for his first game as an adult in the early timeslot, and duly kicked half-a-dozen majors.

It is understood Galea needed to play two weeks in the reserves to prove his fitness, and with that box ticked, one imagines he will be in line to return after the break.

Morwell look to be doing good things beyond simply playing football as well. In the midst of battle at the weekend, senior players lined the race at halftime to welcome local Auskickers onto the ground for their grid game.

The Tigers have put in a power of work with AFL Gippsland to help boost participation, going right to the grassroots to help build from the bottom up.

A similar approach might need to be used to help address the current shortage of umpires.

Last Saturday saw the Latrobe Valley Umpires Association represented only in goals at Morwell Recreation Reserve – this for a game in the ‘premier’ competition featuring two teams under the LVUA umbrella.

Two field umpires were supplied by the Sale Umpires Association to assist, while ‘bring your own’ boundary umpires were also used.

If umpiring numbers were at crisis levels, they are now surely at catastrophic.


Traralgon 7.9 (51) def by Leongatha 13.7 (85)

THIS might be concerning.

Concerning for anyone who doesn’t support Leongatha that is.

The Parrots won the top-of-the-table clash against Traralgon by 34 points, winning 13.7 (85) to 7.9 (51).

What’s more, the reigning back-to-back premier did it away from home, and without Tom Marriott, Cade Maskell, Luke Bowman, Sean Westaway, Cam Olden and Noah Gown, just to name a few.

Speaking on the Saturday Morning Sports Show on Gippsland FM last year, Maroons captain at the time Dylan Loprese jokingly responded to a question about how to stop Leongatha, saying “they are going to need about 17 injuries”.

Not much appears to have changed 12 months on.

The Parrots broke away from Traralgon after an even first quarter at the weekend, setting up their victory with a five goal to one second term.

With a 24-point lead established at halftime, the visitors were able to professionally see out the game from there.

Jenson Garnham kicked three goals in the win, while others who played well were Kim Drew, Sam Forrester, Jackson Harry, Jarrod Stewart and Mitch Bentvelzen.

Connor Ambler, Liam Willaton, Mitch Membrey, Joel Scholtes, Jackson McMahon and Max Jacobsen were listed in the best for Traralgon.

Like Joe Biden, the Maroons will have much to ponder, as it does seem to be a case of the same names getting in the best most weeks.

By the same token, this performance might not have been all that surprising to Traralgon insiders, as results in the last few weeks arguably flattered the team.

The Maroons were more than 20 points down at halftime against second-bottom side Warragul the week before last, and only beat Bairnsdale with a failed kick after the siren from the Redlegs the week before that.

Unlike Biden however, Traralgon does have age and possibly time on its side, sitting clear second on the ladder and with the league-wide bye giving them a chance to reset.

Anyone expecting Leongatha to be compared with Biden’s opponent might be disappointed.

Such a comparison would be unfair – Leongatha actually know what they are doing.


Sale 12.17 (89) def Maffra 8.12 (60)

THE latest Battle of the Birds clash wasn’t one that will likely find its way onto any ‘best of’ lists.

Sale however are equally unlikely to be deterred, after beating Maffra 12.17 (89) to 8.12 (60) in Round 12 of the Gippsland League.

The Magpies recovered from an indifferent start to eventually record their seventh win for the season.

The result keeps the Magpies in outright fourth, while the Eagles are anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

Conditions were clearly slippery at Sale Oval, so much so Maffra midfielders were even dropping the ball during their centre bounce warm-up before the main game.

While the Eagles did kick the first two goals of the game, the score after the first 20 minutes was 1.2 (8) to 0.2 (2), reflecting just how much of a slog it really was.

Sale was able to add three goals in relatively quick succession just before the first siren, and then set up their victory in the second thanks to back-to-back goals from playing-coach Jack Johnstone.

Johnstone snapped truly at six-and-a-half minutes to give the Magpies some breathing space by way of a 12-point margin, and followed up with a goal off the deck in the square at the clubroom end a short time later.

Sale went on its way after the main break, and kept Maffra goalless in the third quarter to see out the game.

The Eagles finished with some positives, kicking four goals in the last to again suggest they have the fitness to run games out.

Seth Smith kicked three goals, including two in the first quarter, and was named best-on-ground. Zac O’Keefe also played well, as did his namesake but with different spelling Zach Felsbourg. Max Stobie, Kade Renooy and Alex Carr.

Jonty McGuiness continued his likely ascension to the most improved player award at Sale (if there is one), while Josh Butcher, Jack Leslie, Hudson Holmes and Patrick Tainsh were also prominent.

Best-on-ground honours however again belonged to Shannen Lange, who could honestly be on track to win his third Trood Award and Rodda Medal as best player in the Gippsland League.

A Sale official, arguably with the greatest knowledge of the club and all its players, recently rated Lange as the best player he has seen in his 50-year involvement with the Magpies.


Drouin 8.7 (55) def by Bairnsdale 8.8 (56)

THINK of the worst way to spend a weekend. Bairnsdale nearly experienced that last Saturday.

Now think of the best. Bairnsdale did experience that last Saturday.

The Redlegs drove more than two hours, and then spent another two doing more mud wrestling than football at Drouin Recreation Reserve.

For much of the final quarter, it appeared Bairnsdale would be driving another two hours with defeat and dirt still in their mouths, minus their white alternative strip which was surely sent to the incinerator straight after the game.

As it turned out however, the Redlegs found a Barry Breen-like behind during red time, enough to hold on for an 8.8 (56) to 8.7 (55) victory.

Two hour drives home wouldn’t feel too bad after that (with a few stops on the way back surely).

With players covered in mud from head to toe not long after the ball went up to start the game, the home side used its local knowledge to some advantage, holding slender leads at each break.

Scores were level at the 24 minute mark of the last quarter, before a pass from Brayden McCarrey found Ricky Tatnell* directly in front 30 or so metres out.

The asterisk has been used because it was near-on impossible to read jumper numbers watching the footage. This author had originally written ’19’ in his notes, before checking PlayHQ and seeing the person wearing number 19 had not kicked a goal. Tatnell had, and he wears number nine.

Whoever had the shot, they were successful, as the ball sailed through to level the scores.

A couple of minutes later, the ball was slapped forward from a stoppage, and landed in the forward pocket near the visiting team’s coaches box.

A flurry of hands went up to contest, before the ball found its way to Josh Lando (I think), who sent a wobbly snap goalward.

The result was a behind, enough to give Bairnsdale the lead, and four minutes later, the match.

McCarrey kicked three goals, probably worth twice as many in the conditions, and did work at both ends, taking a crucial mark inside defensive 50 on one of the last plays of the day.

Will Mitchell was also busy, as was Tyran Rees, Ethan East, Lachlan Cloak and former Port Adelaide and St Kilda player Logan Austin, who was about as far away from the MCG as you could get.

Tim Hancock, Mitch Cotter, Aden Quirk, Ed Morris, Jordan Kingi and Max Williames raged in the rain.

While the state of Drouin’s home ground has been well documented over the years, it is amazing to consider at least one aspect.


Wonthaggi 8.3 (51) def Warragul 4.5 (29)

YOU would start shivering just thinking about how cold it would have been in Wonthaggi last Saturday.

Scores reflected these thoughts, as Wonthaggi won an unspectacular affair 8.3 (51) to 4.5 (29) over Warragul.

The visitors made most of the early running, keeping their opponents scoreless in the opening term.

For the second consecutive week, a Warragul upset was on the cards, with the Gulls ahead by three points at the main break.

Wonthaggi responded however with four goals to one in the third term, to build a gap that was never quite bridged.

Warragul managed just one behind in the final term, and the Power one goal, as conditions only deteriorated.

On a day when goals were worth gold, Cooper McInnes had a big say in the result, booting four in the win.

His efforts finished off some good work from Jakeb Thomas, Jack Blair, Shannon Bray, Kyle Yann, Josh Schulz and Kaj Patterson.

Warragul coach Jed Lamb continued his strong return to football, kicking three goals, helped along by Isaac Wallace, Liam Serong, Jack Lewsey, Mitchell Smart and Riley Senini.

The Power have recovered from a slow start to the season, to now only be two points outside the top five.

Wonthaggi are looming as the team no one will want to play in finals, having built up a head of steam and adding players the calibre of Collingwood premiership player Nathan Brown to the list in recent weeks.

With clearances officially closing last Sunday, league pundits will watch on with interest to see if Power coach Jarryd Blair has been able to get anyone else before the deadline.