An unbelievable goal from Shaun Phelan late in the piece proved the difference in a finals like match between Ellinbank and Catani. With Phelan running back into the pocket, he collected and converted an unbelievable left foot checkside to put the Eagles in front and consign the Blues to another difficult loss, 13-8 (86) to 12-9 (81).
The Eagles had kicked three goals to one in the third term to reduce the margin to just one point at the final change, setting up an epic finish. A left foot checkside gave the Blues the first goal of the final quarter, but forward half domination from Phelan and Tom Johnson inspired as the Eagles prevailed in a thriller. Phelan broke a tackle in the middle to set up a goal from a rundown tackle to keep the Eagles in touch.
A long goal inspired Catani, but the Eagles weren’t done yet, paving the way for some Phelan and Johnson brilliance. Phelan’s inspirational goal from the pocket had all in awe, before a long snap into the forward 50 was marked by Johnson to put the Eagles in front.
Catani hit back with a long goal from out wide, but again Phelan and Johnson would stand up for the visitors. A strong mark to Phelan sent the ball forward with Johnson climbing over the top of the pack for another strong mark and goal. What would be Catani’s final chance went begging, across the face and out of bounds. The ball concentrated on the social club wing as the intensity lifted, neither side able to break past half forward. Ellinbank finally got a kick away into space, with Phelan chasing hard towards the boundary line and the siren sounding just as it trickled out to bring elation to the big Ellinbank crowd in attendance.
Earlier, the first term provided a taste of what was to come as both sides traded blows. Two goals to Owen Fitzpatrick one from a lead and the other from a strong mark, opened up an early buffer for the Blues, along with Dylan Williams running into an open goal. Ellinbank took the ball the length of the field for their first goal, following up with conversions from a snap, set shot and long to hit the front. A strong mark helped the Blues reduce the margin to two points at the first change. Fitzpatrick snuck in the first major of the second term but the contest continued to go goal for goal with the Eagles converting from a free kick despite holding a handy 13-point lead at half time.
Blues coach Paul Alger was left to lament giving away free kicks in costly areas of the ground. Just as the Blues looked as if they might make some ascendancy against a fellow finals hopeful following the first major of the third term, Ellinbank hit back by running into the open goal. Another major followed from out wide and again a costly free kick in front of goal saw the Eagles pull the margin back to a solitary point at the final change.
With the Blues desperately missing reigning best and fairest Paul Pattison and Antonio Benvenuto, the Eagles could sense they were in with a chance. Phelan and Johnson delivered for the Eagles, dominating the final term to just about single handedly carry the visitors over the line. Coach Ben Wragg, Tim Leicester, Jacob Walker and Sam Barwick also had a hand in the thrilling win.
Owen Fitzpatrick was once again strong up forward for the Blues, finishing with four goals, while Dylan Williams, Riley McDonald, Jackson Caddy, James Alexander, Nicholas Visser and Aiden Cuff also stood tall.
Warragul and Drouin Gazette

If Longwarry were to stamp themselves as one of the top teams in the competition, they simply needed to get the job done at home over a younger Buln Buln side. Despite the plucky Lyrebirds keeping in touch throughout the first half, the Crows did just that by kicking away to a comfortable victory 14-17 (101) to 8-7 (55).

Kicking the only three majors of the third term opened up the handy buffer, with the Lyrebirds producing a competitive final term. It’s further evidence the young Lyrebirds team are taking a step backwards to move forward, although supporters would have been impressed with the effort to push one of the top teams in the competition for three quarters.

Building to a solid four quarter effort will be next on the agenda for the young side. Braydon McHugh kicked five goals for the Crows, while Cory Lenders chipped in with four majors. Ruckman Nick Redley provided first use, with the likes of Riley Rundell, Russell Lehman and Jack Anning taking full advantage.

Adam Rakip, James Taylor, Jack Martyn, Ryan Bishop and Matt Gray led a competitive effort from Buln Buln, while Jake Pierrehumbert took confidence from his appearance in the community championship match to also feature among the better players.

Warragul and Drouin Gazette

Nyora managed to maintain their unbeaten record, with a thrilling one point win over the visiting Nilma-Darnum.

The game was a tight tussle early, with the ball in dispute more often than not. It wasn't until around 13 minutes into the quarter that we saw the first goal of the game, courtesy of a 50m pentalty to Nyora's Adam Tagliaferro who made no mistake from 30m out. The momentum then swung the way of the Saints, who then kicked another three goals. Nilma-Darnum had their fair share of the ball, but Nyora's defence stood tall, repelling the Bombers' attack across their defensive 50m arc. Nilma-Darnum managed a set shot late in the quarter, but failed to register a score. This ill fated attempt at goal rebounded straight back down the other end which resulted in a goal to Saints spearhead Ilan Osman. Nyora looked a class above, taking a 25 point lead at the 1/4 time break.

Nilma-Darnum would get their first goal of the game 5 minutes into the second quarter courtesy of a free kick in the forward pocket. After this, both teams peppered at the goals with minimal result. The standard of play was tough and contested, with a lot of stoppages. Nyora and Nilma-Darnum would add one goal each to their score before half time. The Saints still carried a handy 22 point lead into the main break.

The third quarter was all Nyora early, but they were getting little reward for effort. When the ball wasn't yo-yo-ing between the two 50m arcs, the Saints were the only ones who could manage to get a shot on goal, but only managed four behinds. It wasn't until 13 minutes in that Nyora broke the goal drought and suddenly they had jumped out to the biggest lead of the game, to the tune of 31 points. Things were starting to look ominous for the Bombers, but something stirred inside them. A goal from a free kick inside their forward 50 a few minutes later brought them back within 25 points and Nyora started to lose their composure. A string of free kicks lead to scoring opportunities for Nilma-Darnum. They added another 1.1 and at the last break, they found themselves only 19 points behind.

In the last term, Nilma-Darnum came out guns blazing. They started to take risks and believed in each other. Suddenly Nyora were on the back foot and chasing tail. The Bombers kicked the first goal of the final quarter within the first three minutes and they had a sniff for the first time in the match. Nyora tried to respond, with the next 5 minutes of play becoming a tight, contested arm wrestle between the two midfields. It wasn't until around the 8 minute mark that the Bombers' hard work had paid off and they willed through a goal. The feeling in the crowd had shifted now and some worried faces began to appear on the Nyora faithful. Five more minutes of tough, contested footy followed until a dashing shot on goal sailed through for Nilma Darnum and all of sudden the Bombers found themselves one point in arrears. The intensity lifted in both sides as bodies clashed and bones crunched. All players wanted the footy as much as each other with no one willing to back down. A shot on goal by Nilma Darnum 17 minutes into the the final term just missed the desired result and we had scores level. The Bombers were on top and Nyora were on the ropes. Another shot on goal from Nilma-Darnum also missed a few minutes later and the Bombers were in front for the first time in the game. Nyora were finding it hard to move the ball out of defensive 50 and when they did, it was coming straight back again. Then with a last ditch effort, the Saints found a final gear. Through what appeared to be sheer determination, Nyora moved the ball with purpose into their forward 50 with what had been their best scoring opportunity since early in the last quarter. The ball was rushed through and scores were level again. Nilma-Darnum had thrown everything they had at Nyora in that final quarter and it seemed they had run of puff to get the ball back to their forwards. Another behind to Nyora registered a minute before the final siren went and the Saints had climbed out of jail again, with their 2018 unbeaten record in tact.

In can be said that coach Matt Shorey does have his players on the right track, despite their current 3-4 record. Nilma-Darnum looked out of this game in the first half. Their disposal was not as clean as their opponents and they were predictable going forward. Once they started taking the game on and utilised some run and carry, the players grew in confidence and efforts were rewarded.

For Nyora, there is an air of belief. Belief in the plan and each other. Playing coach Fia Tootoo was a pillar of strength for majority of the game down back. They had an even spread of contributors across the midfield lead by captain Dylan Heylen and a formidable forward line in Ilan Osman and Ben Schultz.

Good teams may not win pretty every week, but they know how to win when it matters. Nyora have shown they fit in this category for season 2018. Nilma-Darnum are not quite at the same level yet, but they are not far off and will be one team to watch for the remainder of the season.

Gippsland Footy admin

POOWONG welcomed Neerim South on Saturday, with the weather and ground conducive to good football and both sides made the most of it. Poowong welcomed back Ben Hancock, losing Alex Doria to a wedding and still have Trevor Hooker and Michael Harris to come back into the side when available.
It was an important game for Poowong, as it was a few years back to when it last won three in a row; history books were out. Poowong kicked to the Drouin end and started off with a point. Neerim kicked a point, followed by the first goal of the match. Poowong added a point and then its first goal through Ben Hancock but Neerim replied with its second. Poowong lifted, and a pass from Chris Doria resulted in Ben Hancock’s second followed by his third goal for the quarter from the boundary. Poowong held an eight point lead at quarter time.
The second quarter opened with Ben Hancock marking and kicking his fourth. Neerim replied with its third goal. Another pass from Chris Doria was marked by Ben Hancock in front but he passed this off to Mitch Whiting who kicked truly for Poowong’s fifth. Ben Hancock in taking the mark felt hamstring tightness again and went off taking no further part in the game and with Tom Wyatt also with a groin strain playing in the forward pocket Poowong had to reorganise the forward line.
Poowong’s Jack Hazendonk kicked the first of his five from outside 50 metres, the quarter finished with a series of points to both sides with Poowong going in at half time with a 22 point lead 6.7.43 to 3.3.21.
The third quarter started with a point to Neerim South then Poowong’s Lachie Green kicked a goal followed by Jack Hazendonk kicking three, the first from a mark followed by two from the boundary and they looked in control but Neerim came back kicking its fourth goal just before the siren. Poowong held a 40 point lead at three quarter time and with Jack Hazendonk, Matt Cozzio and Lachie Green and Chris Doria to name a few causing havoc to Neerim’s defence.  Joseph Bisognin was a working hard on the ball and the game looked well within their keeping. Poowong 10.8.68 to 4.4.28.
The fourth quarter started with both sides working hard, Poowong managed two points before Neerim kicked its fifth goal, Poowong lifted its game but only managed five points for its efforts before Lachie Green kicked his second and then Jack Hazendonk kicked his fifth and Poowong’s 13th.
The siren sounded with Poowong winning by 58 points 13.16.94 to Neerim 5.6.36 but for poor kicking 3.8 in the last quarter the difference could have been higher.
Neerim will worry sides as it moves the ball well but are just lacking a couple of players. Poowong won the game but will need every player available in the next few weeks as‘it has some vital games coming up if it is to be a finals contender. 
The Great Southern Star

Lang Lang was simply no match for the Warragul Industrials at Western Park.

The Dusties set the tone with a five goal to one opening term and continued to pile on the pain in the remaining three quarters, eventually running out 21.21 (147) to 1.4 (10) winners.

The Tigers were outscored 1-113 after quarter time, highlighting the complete domination the Dusties enjoyed.

Stu Casey and Will McGindle were valiant in what was a dirty day for Lang Lang, while Jack Blakey (seven goals) and Tyson Bale ran riot for Warragul.

Hayley Wildes

Pakenham Gazette

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Match reviews taken from Pakenham Gazette, The Great Southern Star and Warragul & Drouin Gazette. Original articles can be viewed online via subscription only

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