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Maffra has muscled its way into a fourth consecutive Gippsland League football grand final.

The Eagles defeated Leongatha by 25 points in a low-scoring second semi-final at Maffra on Saturday, 7.7 (49) to 3.6 (24).

Forcing stoppages around the ground, the Eagles controlled the tempo for most of the match.

This wore down the Parrots, as the home side kicked four unanswered goals in the final term to secure victory and a spot in the grand final.

A strong breeze across the ground made long kicking to teammates difficult, with handpassing and running with the ball the most effective way to get the Sherrin forward.

James Huts helped to blunt the effectiveness of the Leongatha forwards in a best-on-ground performance for the Eagles.

Ed Carr, Danny Butcher, Daniel O’Brien in his 200th senior game and David Adams took the match up to the Parrots in the midfield before creating good transition from defence into attack.

Tom Jolly troubled the Leongatha defence, kicking two goals, a number matched by teammates Mitch Bennett and John Butcher.

Mitch Bennett kicked two goals for Maffra.

The signs were promising for Maffra early, with Bennett, Butcher and Jolly kicking goals within the first five minutes of the match. The Eagles didn’t kick their fourth until late in the third term.

John Ginnane kicked the Parrots’ only goal of the first quarter in the ninth minute, as the Eagles led by 11 points at the first change.

A goal from James Lloyd early in the second quarter reduced the margin to seven points, but that would be the only goal of the term.

In match with plenty of niggle between the teams, the main talking point of the quarter was the yellow card handed out to Eagle Jack Johnstone for a hit off the ball. Johnstone was off the field for 15 minutes, but could also miss the grand final through suspension if the league takes the matter further.

Despite only one goal kicked for the quarter, there were 35 minutes between the first and final sirens, highlighting the amount of stoppages.

Maffra led by six points at half-time, with pressure applied and ill-discipline preventing clear chances for goals in the third quarter.

The first goal of the term came after 19 minutes, when Tom Marriott levelled the scores for the Parrots. The visitors took the lead soon after when a shot from Ginnane hit the post.

In the 26th minute, Michael Coleman’s kick to Jolly resulted in a long-awaited goal for the Eagles and a five-point lead at three-quarter-time.

Sensing the Parrots were tyring, Maffra coach Wayne Butcher urged his side to spread the play in the final term.

John Butcher extended the Eagles’ lead with a goal.

Minutes later, Daniel Bedggood did well to avoid getting tackled before kicking the ball to Bennett in the forward pocket. Bennett’s banana kick resulted in another goal and a 17-point Maffra lead in the 10th minute.

With Leongatha pressing to get back into the contest, a turnover led to Carr kicking the match-sealing goal approaching time-on.

After a tough match, the Eagles will enjoy another week off to prepare for the grand final, while the Parrots will have to regroup for their preliminary final against Moe.

Luke Bowman and Tom Marriott worked hard for Leongatha in the midfield, as did ruckman Ben Willis.

Defenders Chris Verboon and Josh Schelling also created contests.

David Braithwaite - Gippsland Times


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Sale's Gippsland League football season came to an end on Sunday, as the Magpies lost to Moe in the first semi-final, 6.3 (39) to 9.16 (70).

Most pundits entering the Traralgon Recreation Reserve went into the game thinking the contest would be a genuine 50-50, as only a one-point win to Sale in the final home-and-away round gave them the double chance in the finals ahead of Moe.

Both teams won 13 matches during the regular season, but for Sale, two of those victories came against Moe.

Through a combination of injury and unavailability, the Magpies were forced to make half a dozen changes to the team which took care of Moe with relative ease only five weeks ago.

Moe was also forced to make some changes to the team which defeated Drouin in the elimination final, with key defender Lachlan Rees coming in as a like-for-like replacement for the injured Joel Bragagnolo, and Tristan Gum replacing Bryce Collings, who has been eating his meals through a straw after sustaining a broken jaw the previous Sunday.

Honours were shared in the opening term as neither side was really able to gain a decisive advantage. Moe kicked the first goal through a Spencer White set shot, before Sale got one on the board through Jarrod Freeman.

Freeman was walked to the goal line after receiving a free kick and a 50 metre penalty after the ball was not handed back to him in a gentlemanly manner.

Moe went into the first huddle with an 11-point lead after registering eight scoring shots to two, before making some decisive inroads in the second to be ahead by 21 points at the main break.

The umpires put their whistles away during the second quarter, as players from both teams battled desperately to keep the ball moving forward.

The crowd was given a moment to laugh after a spectator failed to kick the ball back in from the grandstand to the field of play, somehow managing to kick it flush into a nearby flagpole.

As teams re-entered the arena for the second half, there was a noticeable absentee from the Sale camp, with league leading goal kicker Brad Dessent taking no further part in the game.

Moe extended its lead to a game high 34 points at the seven-minute mark of the third quarter as dark clouds began to develop. The Traralgon lights were turned on early in the term, as people began to check their phones to see how the radar was tracking.

With a huge storm on the way, Sale knew it would need to get a move on if was to be any chance of staying in the game. The Magpies kicked back-to-back goals through captain Jordan Dessent and Mitch Dowse, who kicked truly at the 21-minute mark to cut the margin back to within four goals.

The Lions were able to snuff some of Sale's momentum with a goal late in the quarter from Hayden Prestidge, who kept his composure and kicked a clutch set shot.

Moe found the first goal of the final term through Dylan Farrell, who put his team 35-points ahead.

As rain began to pelt down midway through the final term, the result became a forgone conclusion, as a few Moe players rugged up on the interchange bench and turned one eye to the next game.

In the finish, arguably the difference between the two sides was how many marks they took inside 50.

The Lions were able to find 17, while the Magpies could only manage three.

Sale veteran Chris Laverty was best afield for his team, with the defender's efforts ensuring the Magpies were not blown out of the water. Zac Hurley also put in some admirable efforts in the back line, and found support further up the field from Will Leslie, Mitch Dowse, Jack Lipman and Oliver Collins.

Chief ball winners for Sale were Mitch Dowse with 21 touches, Luke Williams (20), and Jack McLaren (20).

Moe's best players were Ben Morrow, Jacob Wood and Mitch Stanlake. Wood had 23 disposals, while fellow midfielders James Blaser (24) and Jordan Ceppi (22) were also busy.

Liam Durkin - Gippsland Times


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Maffra v Leongatha match review written by David Braithwaite reporting for Gippsland Times. To view original article in full online click here.

Sale v Moe match review written by Liam Durkin reporting for Gippsland Times. To view original article in full online click here.

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