Maffra maintained its hold on third spot on the Gippsland League football ladder after defeating reigning premier Leongatha by 23 points on Saturday.
Playing at home, the Eagles won 12.16 (88) to 10.5 (65) to move within a game of top side Sale, who had the bye this weekend along with Bairnsdale.
The Eagles are still ahead of Moe and Drouin on percentage, but are now two wins ahead of fifth-placed Leongatha, which is still yet to field its first choice team because of injury.
The Eagles kept the Parrots score-less in the first quarter, but missed the chance to put the match away early, kicking only two goals from eight scoring shots for the term.
Turnovers created by pressure were not rewarded on many occasions, the exception came in the fourth minute when Alex Carr booted the first goal of the match.
Maffra mistakes late in the quarter threatened to gift the visitors a goal, but the Eagles’ defence was solid.
Daniel Bedggood outmanoeuvred his opponent in a one-on-one contest to kick the Eagles’ second goal just before the quarter-time siren, giving the hosts an 18-point lead.
Lachlan Wright kicked the Parrots’ first major early in the second term, before goals from Jack Johnstone, Bedggood and Mitch Bennet gave the Eagles a 31-point lead midway through the quarter.
The teams added two goals each to end the quarter, with the Eagles 33 points ahead at the main break.
The match was put out of the Parrots’ reach during the third quarter, when the Eagles kicked five goals to three to lead by 41 points at the final change of ends.
The Parrots had the better of the fourth quarter, kicking all four goals to reduce the margin, but the damage had been done.
Mitch Bennet finished with four goals, while Bedggood, who booted three, was dangerous in the forward line in the absence of John Butcher.
The combination of Danny Butcher and Ed Carr gave the Eagles the edge in the midfield, with Kade Rennoy work well off half-back.
James Read held down centre half-back strongly, while Kieran Jones more than gave a good account for himself against Ben Willis in a great ruck contest.
Cameron Olden worked hard in the midfield of the Parrots, while Colin Sanbrook, Josh Schelling and Chris Verboon did well under pressure in defence.
Moe got the better of Morwell for the second time in season 2019 on Saturday and held the Tigers goalless in the final term to run out 38-point victors, 14.15 (99) to 9.7 (61).
It was all the home side in the first quarter with the Lions adding three goals to Morwell's one to lead by 13 points at the first break.
The Tigers hustled back into contention in the second, matching Moe with four goals and three behinds to tie the term and stand within 13 points at the main break.
They managed to cut another point off the deficit by the last change, however, a four-goal-to-none term in the last helped the Lions to the win.
A quartet of players - James Blaser, Thomas Long, Josh Galea and Ash Dugan - each bagged two goals for Moe in the win while Dan Musil and Cody Macdonald finished with two apiece for Morwell.
Drouin posted a seventh win for the season to maintain a two-game break in the “five” when it held off a strong Traralgon challenge at Traralgon on Saturday.
It was a game marred by an early finish due to time taken to attend to a Traralgon player badly injured in the last quarter but which, until then, had been a fantastic contest - fast, hard-tackling, close checking and plenty of skill despite relatively low scoring.
When the game came to an end 10 minutes into the final term Drouin had its nose in front by seven points, 7-9 to 6-8.
(The match is awarded the team in front at the time when a game is called off in the second half).
While the result was still well in the balance when that happened the Hawks’ were worthy winners.
There were huge stakes for both sides – Drouin to hold off a potential challenger for its position in the “five”, Traralgon to keep alive a slim chance it could again figure in finals.
The teams attacked the game accordingly.
The Hawks were a slightly better side all day.
And they also had their setbacks.
Coach Jordan Kingi was off the ground in the first quarter and on his way to hospital with another break in the forearm that had caused him to miss the first six rounds.
And on-ball star Eddie Morris took no further part after suffering a leg injury in the third term.
He took over the coaching duties from the sidelines.
Their injuries didn’t help a side that went into the game with a few key players “a bit sore”.
But Drouin stood tall throughout.
It surrendered the lead only twice for brief periods in the first and third quarters, but the Hawks’ biggest lead for the day was only 13 points.
Across the ground defence was the first order of the day and players from both teams were unrelenting in their attacks on contests and players in possession of the ball.
Because of that, setting up goal scoring chances was not easy.
Drouin was getting clear a bit more often but missed some chances in the first quarter to slip a couple of points behind until Bailey Beck got the team’s and his second goal late to open a 2-5 to 2-1 lead at the first break.
There was no give and take in the second term either.
It took 16 minutes for a goal to be scored, that coming from a strong Jamie Ferguson mark to kick the Hawks’ third.
Tom Barr followed up four minutes later from 45 metres to open what became the game’s biggest gap.
That was cut back to seven points – 4-6 to 3-5 – when Traralgon’s Riley Loprese goaled 30 seconds ahead of the half time siren.
He goaled again early in the third term; one point the difference.
The high level pressure of the first half continued.
A Mark Collison goal got Traralgon to the lead by four points before Chris Robinson put Drouin back in front again late in the quarter with a brilliant piece of individual play.
He sprinted 20 metres to intercept a kick in from a behind, continued running and slotted through a goal from a tight angle to make it 5-9 to 5-7 in Drouin’s favour at the last break.
Bob McCallum following through from a centre ball up speared a pass to Rhys Salter for a goal in the opening minute of the last term before Lee Stockdale got Traralgon back within one point.
Backman Clayton Kingi drifted forward to be on the receiving end of a pass and a subsequent 50-metre penalty that took him to the goal line.
His gtoal proved to be the last score with the stoppage to play called soon after with the ball on Drouin’s half forward flank.
While the four premierships were the objective the Hawks would have been more than pleased with the way the side stood up with two key on-ballers, Jordan Kingi and Morris, out of action.
Robinson was superb in that regard.
His on-field leadership, let alone the way he lifted his play even higher, showed the way for his team mates.
Liam Axford and Todd Beck, in great form earlier on a wing, were others that answered the on-ball challenge, along with McCallum and Tom Barr with his relentless run and skill.
But the other Drouin players also responded across the ground.
The defensive group again can hold its head high, Joe Collins terrific again across half back, Brendan Dower, Liam Anderson, Harry Wans, Clayton Kingi and the returning David Miller all more than pulling their weight.Warragul & Drouin Gazette
A Tom Kelly goal with three seconds remaining on the clock snatched a thrilling win for Warragul over Wonthaggi Power at Western Park on Saturday. The Gulls got home 10-9 to 9-9. Kelly found himself on the end of the ball to mark when Warragul desperately belted the ball forward with scores tied and knowing that the clock was ticking down.
On an angle Kelly played around the mark to snap the goal.
But had he done the same thing three second later it would have been “play on” and no score had he not made his kick before the siren.
Earlier Warragul had come from 10 points down at three-quarter time to draw level with a couple of minutes to go.
That was through Matt Rennie’s second goal of the quarter.
Primarily a key backman Rennie, who has had an outstanding season, is smart enough to know when it’s worth the risk to push forward and try to hit the scoreboard.
He’s done that a few times this year, none more importantly than his last quarter forays on Saturday.
Those plays capped off a best on the ground performance in which he’d also led a defensive unit that is developing into a hard to beat cohesive group.
Luke Tynan played his sixth game for Warragul on Saturday and has stiffened up the defence with his quality and leadership alongside Rennie and Jake Hughes, another having an excellent year.
Brad Hefford, also in the back lines, had possibly his best game for the season on Saturday.
Other than a period in the third quarter Warragul stuck solidly to its team structures and the need to support and play for each other.
That brief lapse enabled Wonthaggi to come from nine points down at half time to lead by 10 at the last change.
The Gulls scored only one goal for the quarter to Power’s four, a big drop off from the second quarter when their half time lead was set up on the back of five goals.
But the tide turned again in the last quarter, Rennie’s two goals and Kelly’s match-winner the only ones kicked.
Wonthaggi was restricted to four behinds.
Ruckman Sam Whibley and midfielder Mitch Nobelius again gave Warragul terrific service.
Nobelius, who left the ground last week after a heavy knock, was thought likely to miss the game with a rib injury but was given a medical okay to play late in the week.
He no doubt was sore but played his usual committed, hard at the ball game.
Coach Ben Hughes got the Gulls going early with three goals and solid work in the forward area.
Kelly and Rennie each kicked two goals for the game with Nobelius, Luke DiCiero and Nic Mulqueen’s single goals also proving vital at the end.
It was a good comeback by DiCiero, not just for his goal, but his general play after a week in the reserves to find touch.
The win, Warragul’s third for the year, lifted it from the foot of the ladder and it is only two wins (plus percentage) from 5th place.Warragul & Drouin Gazette
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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.
Moe v Morwell match review published by Latrobe Valley Express. To view original article in full online click here.
Traralgon v Drouin and Wonthaggi v Warragul match review published by Warragul & Drouin Gazette. To view original articles in full online subscribe to WDG here.