AS we get deeper into the back half of the season, different clubs have much different priorities.

Some are trying to manoeuvre into a position that allows them a double chance come finals time. Quite a few are on either side of the top six desperately trying just to secure a finals spot. Then there is a few at the bottom end trying to secure a rare win to celebrate a tough season.


Hill End 13.6 (84) def Boolarra 11.7 (73)

HILL End arrived on the winner’s list at the weekend.

The Rovers celebrated an 11-point victory against Boolarra in Round 12 of the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League, marking their first win for the season and their first in almost two years – 714 days to be exact.

What’s more, it was at their home ground.

Despite the drought, Hill End had reason to be confident heading into the game considering their recent form.

The bottom-listed Rovers pushed finals contender MDU for four quarters the week prior, only going down by three goals.

In games before that they had stuck with teams in patches, but were let down by equally horrendous passages.

Momentum flowed into their Boolarra matchup, with Hill End kicking the first four goals of the game, and they were up by as much as 26 to nothing halfway through the first quarter.

Boolarra did find themselves and got to the quarter time break down by only a goal.

The Rovers must have been acting on some pent up credence spilt over from the preceding weeks, as they once again jumped out with the first four goals of the quarter before conceding equally as much, leading 8.2 (50) to 7.4 (46).

Country footy would be on full display to open the second half however, with only a goal each both way, but the Demons found the little extra edge to hit the front for the first time all day and lead by three points heading into the final term.

After a back-and-forth opening few minutes with Boolarra kicking a goal early, Hill End kicked the next three to jump to a two goal lead with just over five minutes remaining.

The Demons would respond momentarily to bring it within a goal, but time was against them and the final siren wailed which guaranteed the down-on-their-luck side would be reading aloud their lyrics for the first time in quite a while.

It’s official: The scoreboard shows Hill End’s first senior win since 2022. Photograph supplied

In Hill End’s momentous win, it was the young guns who proved to be the difference-makers.

Seth Calway continued a stellar season after coming across from Drouin to begin the 2023 season, collecting best-on-ground honours for the fifth time this season, while first-year senior player Liam Cuminksey booted a team-high four goals.

The rest of the best included captain Aaron Fawcett, recent recruit Marko Kulas picked up mid-season from Longwarry in the Ellinbank & District Football League, Harry Moore, and local boy Mark Ferguson.

Hill End’s last victory came in Round 15, 2022 with a two-point thriller against eventual premier Yinnar, before losing their last three games of the season, including a three-goal loss to Boolarra in the Elimination Final.

Rovers senior coach, Ambu Uliando recorded his first win at the helm, being at the club for over 10 years at this point, he’s still cherishes it as one of his best football memories.

“I’m not sure where I’d rank it on all-time football victories but it would have to be up there as one of the best,” he said.

“There was a lot of emotion, a lot of hard work. When you’ve had a fair few games where you’ve been done by 100 points or more, I had some responses from the other guys that wins like that especially compounded by all those losses it makes it even more worth getting wins like that and it was really special for the club.”

Uliando could sense the team’s confidence levels had changed upon their MDU performance.

“The MDU game was the first time we actually played a consistent four quarters and there had been other games… we just need to string together those four quarters to be competitive with some of those better sides but it’s hard to do that with an inexperienced team.”

Uliando took over as senior coach for the 2024 season succeeding Mike Santo, who served the role for six years, taking the club to heights unseen for nearly 40 years, playing off in the 2019 Grand Final.

The day’s festivities were made extra special as the club held their Past Players day with the clubmen of the past watching on as the young and hungry side fought tooth and nail to get on the board in 2024.

The Rovers will hope to tack on a few extra sweeteners in their final five games of the season.

“Hopefully we’ve got a couple more where we can get up and we’ll see how we go,” Uliando added.


Toora 12.2 (74) def by Newborough 19.12 (126)

THIS clash was a perfect example of one team in Toora towards the bottom trying to claim the scalp of a contender, up against a Newborough side with their sights still set on a top three spot.

The Bulldogs got the job done winning 19.12 (126) to 12.12 (74).

Newborough are slowly but surely going about their business with coach Craig Skinner was pleased with the end result.

“We were happy to start as strong as we usually finish. Got first use through Zac Skinner with Kyle Jennings finishing with six classy goals. Jack’s men came out to play after half time and played some great footy. Four quarters of that will definitely take four points off someone before the seasons over. Relieved to get to our Bye this week to reset before we play the three top teams on the other side,” he said.

Newborough currently sit in fifth position still two wins from the top three and only a win ahead of seventh MDU.

The Magpies each week are playing good football but more times than not, it seems to be coming after a slow start said coach Jack Weston.

“Frustrating again to let a team get a five goal jump before we get in the game. At half time it threatened to get ugly. Thankfully we responded in the second half and the game didn’t blow out. Matching it with another top six side for a half. Challenges don’t get any bigger than Fish Creek next week. Our best footy is good enough against the best, we just need to do it for long enough.”

The thought of the top of the top table Kangaroos, is enough to give anyone some sleepless nights, but Toora fully understands you only ever lose if you don’t learn along the way, and the Magpies are slowly putting together the pieces for a successful club on the field following their excellent off field camaraderie.


Mirboo North 9.14 (68) def by Tarwin 13.6 (84)

THE reappointment of Mirboo North coach Damian Turner for season 2025, might have also had the Tigers hoping that they could flip the switch for a victory against visiting Tarwin.
The Sharks defeated Mirboo North, 13.6 (84) to 9.14 (68).

Tarwin arrived as a side that was still a chance for finals and a loss would have meant those possibilities over which more thank likely was the deciding factor.

The Sharks coach Jason Kennedy said their win didn’t come easy.

“The win keeps our season alive, the Tigers proved to be a tough opponent but at this stage of the season it is important we just keep getting the four points every time we can.”

Make no mistake the home team Tigers had their chances to turn the result in their favour, however far too many times those chances weren’t taken when they needed to be, which was relayed by Turner.

“We are disappointed, Tarwin were the better team when it counted so credit to them. Although behind all day we were within striking distance for the first half, playing some good footy,” he said.

“Tarwin came out in the third and pulled away to a match winning lead. We had a lot of play in the last quarter but didn’t capitalise. Need to play four quarters of footy to stay in these matches.”

The Tigers have some big weeks ahead, one of which will welcome one of the greatest AFL players ever with Gary Ablett Junior watching from the side lines (Saturday, July 20).


Morwell East 11.13 (79) def MDU 6.6 (42)

THERE was so much on offer for both of these two clubs, there would’ve been no excuse for poor performance from either.

Morwell East with a top three spot hanging in the balance hosting a MDU side that was still fighting for a chance to be part of the finals in just six weeks time.

In the end there was some good news for the Hawks and worrying times for the Demons with Morwell East winning 11.13 (79) to MDU 6.6 (36).

Hawks coach Paul Henry is keeping his group fixed on one game at a time.

“Every game is a big game when the competition is so close. MDU are a skilful side, our aim was to bring the pressure to provide the turnover,” he said.

“Our starts have been great, but not today. After half time we brought our game and never looked back. Worked really hard to win the last half to come away with the win.”

Winning and knowing that there is still improvement is a nice position for the Hawks to be in, sitting second their destiny is in their own hands.

MDU coach Nathan Allen praised the first two quarters that were offered from both clubs, the second half not so much, at least from his team’s end.

“First half of footy from both teams was great to be a part of. It was finals like pressure and intensity and both teams struggled to take their chances,” he said.

“(The) second half Morwell were able to maintain that level, we weren’t. They were too good for us and ran away with the game in the end.”

The loss for the Demons is one that hurts, they now sit just outside the six with some tough football ahead.


Foster 10.11 (71) def Yinnar 4.11 (35)

AS well as these two teams are going, each was under no illusions as to the amount of work that is still to be done before the end of the home and away season.

Yinnar entered the weekend as league leaders on the back of eight successive wins, hosting a Foster side that was just four premiership points behind them and more than capable as it proved to be as the Tigers were victorious, 10.11 (71) to 4.11 (35).

The impressive win came after a one kick defeat to reigning premiers Fish Creek just a week ago, both performances proof enough that the Tigers are well and truly in the premiership race upon their response heralded by coach Sam Davies.

“A strong bounce back from last week’s result, we really set up well and were defensively elite,” he said.

“Yinnar are a very good team and will no doubt take a lot away from the game. Hill End away coming up on the back of their first win in a couple of years.”

There is every chance that Yinnar might be questioning themselves after a comprehensive loss on the weekend.

Coach Sam McCulloch said that his boys never found their groove.

“We were greeted to perfect conditions for footy at Foster. (It) was a game in which they got the upper hand early and we were never able to get the game on our terms with disposal and decision making letting us down. Foster setup very well, played a good brand of footy and won most battles right across the field,” he said.

Confidence is key for good sides and there is no question that their weekend loss would have put a dent in that, how they bounce back will now tell us a little about who they are.


Stony Creek 9.3 (57) def by Fish Creek 16.9 (105)

STONY CREEK’S finals aspirations for this season might have been killed off a few weeks ago but that didn’t mean that the Lions didn’t fully intend to cause one of the upsets of the season by taking the scalp of the 2024 premiership favourites, Fish Creek, and for a while they looked on track until the visitors did what they do late in any game in which they are under pressure winning 16.9 (105) to 9.3 (57).

Fish Creek coach Jarrod Walker acknowledged Stony Creek’s performance.

“(We) got really pushed on the weekend for three quarters, Stony Creek had some high quality players across the ground which made it a hard fought contest all day. We were able to kick away in the third quarter and create a bit of a lead and then hold onto it for the last quarter,” he said.

For the Lions it was yet another example of them having the personnel to match with any side in the competition, but it is also no secret that given the closeness of the MGFNL, every side needs to give four quarters.

Coach Chris Verboon said it was two quarters not four that they put forth at the weekend.

“Our first half of footy showed we can match it with fish creek. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it for four quarters. Fish Creek’s third quarter showed why they are on top of the ladder,” he said.

“There is a lot we can take out of the game and work on this week.”

The challenge that follows for Stony Creek is no less demanding, having to take on the might of Yinnar, a side that is coming off a rare loss and will be desperate to bounce back.


THORPDALE had the bye.