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As the minutes ticked away in the last quarter of a pulsating contest between Leongatha and Traralgon on Saturday, the story of the day was clear for all to see – the result could have gone either way.

But in a Gippsland League season, that looks set to be incredibly close, the fact that Leongatha won the four points by less than a goal could be crucial in the final analysis. And they won because they deserved it. They had a team of contributors all day with several standouts including Chris Verboon, the chief down back, ably assisted by young Jack Hume and Sean Westaway; big Benny Willis worked super hard in the ruck with Josh Hopkins, Sam Forrester, Cam Stone, and burrowing in and under, Brodie Easton, getting the ball going the Parrots’ way. Meanwhile, up forward, the class of Chris Dunne shone out with five goals while Jack Ginnane was playing higher up the ground this week at times, producing a dynamic that seemed to work better as he marked or hunted back towards the goals.

The Parrots were able to control the ball for longer periods than the Maroons but when they did turn it over, it was noticeable that Traralgon’s players ran in waves, sling-shotting out of defence into a more open forward line and catching the defenders out.

Into the team this week came Cam Olden and Tully Bernaldo for his first game, both distinguishing themselves with their performances; Olden responsible for a number of key clearances while Bernaldo showed his commitment throughout.

In one incident just before three quarter time he showed his mettle by marking the ball on the grandstand side just as he was being crunched by the Traralgon opposition. It was an important play with the ball coming out of defence via Westaway and Hopkins. Cam Stone was back after injury and played well.

It was in the second quarter that Leongatha appeared to have taken control of the match, kicking three goals to Traralgon’s one, featuring good system into attack and with Chris Dunne on the end of several goals.

He kicked two more in the third quarter, but it was here that Traralgon came on strong with five of their own, at one stage closing the gap to eight points when the Loprese brothers, Riley and Dylan, combined for a goal. But there after the tackling by Leongatha was reassuring, Chris Verboon doing it all at half back and bringing down one of Traralgon’s ball carriers while at the other end, Jack Ginnane stuck a team-lifting tackle that resulted in a goal to Lloyd from close range. Pace by Ginnane, running on to the loose ball soon after, and a ‘laces out’ pass to his partner-in-crime Dunne for another and the buffer was restored by three quarter time. Coach Paul Carbis stressed the teams KPIs at the last break; the pressure acts, the ‘bumper bars’, the clearances but he also asked the players to pay attention to keeping possession of the ball as the minutes ticked away. Whether this fed into a slightly negative mindset or not, it was Traralgon’s Whiteoak who got the first goal to close the gap to within seven points and they ended up with three goals to Leongatha’s one to almost snatch it in the closing stages.

An end-to-end play soon after allowed the Parrots to stay clear until later in the term. Starting with Hume in the back half, the ball went through the hands of Stone, Verboon, Forrester, Nash, Pellicano, Lloyd, Bernaldo (terrific again) and finally to Paddy McGrath, who showed courage under the ball to mark near goal. His straight kick was the winner.

South Gippsland Sentinel Times

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A seven-goal-to-none opening term paved the way for Moe's demolition of Drouin on Saturday, leaving the Lions top of the Gippsland league table after two rounds.

Boom recruit Spencer White led the way on the scoreboard with four majors on the back of three in round one to help Moe to the win, 19.16 (130) to 5.8 (38).

The Hawks managed just two goals from seven scoring shots to half-time to trail by 61 points and were listless as the Lions' barrage continue in the second half, blowing out to 92 points at the final siren.

Lachlan Macleod and Ash Dugan helped head the charge and finished with three goals each while Jordan Ceppi, Trent Baldi and Jacob Wood each bagged two.

Lions' star backs Mitch Stanlake and Tyson Biffin, with assistance from Bernie Vince, were at their restrictive best in defence, limiting Drouin to just five majors for the day.

Latrobe Valley Express

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In a fitting tribute to stalwart Joel Soutar in his 250th game, Morwell belted out the Tiger anthem in style after a 59-point thrashing of Wonthaggi at home on Saturday.

The win, also the first for coach Denis Knight, came courtesy of no less than 13 individual goal-kickers, 16.14 (110) to 7.9 (51).

Power scored just one goal to the Tigers' five in the opener and were down by 58 at the final change.

They had opportunities to cut back the deficit in the final term with seven shots on goal but only converted three.

Going down by 59 points after a promising win last week against Warragul, it was a disappointing result for the fit Wonthaggi side. As many players seemed to leave the opportunity to another, it was the youngest Josh Schulz and Josh Bates who stood up. Morwell were first in for the ball and were maintaining possession across the ground, finishing the first quarter four goals up. This extended to a whopping seven-goal lead by the end of the second term. Both teams slotted four goals each in the third, with a similar performance in the last term.

For Morwell, Kuiy Jiath, Zac Cantrill and Tyler Hillier all kicked two majors each while 10 others hit the scoreboard for singles.

Patrick Ryan was the only multiple goal-scorer for Wonthaggi with two.

Latrobe Valley Express and The Great Southern Star

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A trip to Western Park is always viewed as a dangerous proposition for teams from the east, with Saturday's encounter shaping as another tough match.

The Magpies had five forced changes from the round one line-up, handing debuts to Ethan Dyer, Kyle Simpson, Josh Ryan and Jack Rietschel, while returning Gippsland Power player Luke Williams settled into the defence.

For Warragul, Matt Rennie, unavailable for round one, and Mason McGarrity who was with Gippsland Power came into Warragul’s line-up.

Rennie played in attack after last year making his mark in a key defensive post.

As both teams found their feet early the Magpies' forward pressure was outstanding, led by Brad Dessent.

Warragul's defence was made to feel threatened at every opportunity, this created numerous chances for the Magpies' fleet-footed midfield such as Mitch Dowse and Kane Martin, who swooped on anything at ground level.

The Magpies opened up a 21-point lead in a four-goal opening term.

The outstanding pressure and threat of the tall targets up forward forced Warragul to change tact. Extra Gulls were pushed into defence and opposition coach Ben Hughes moved on-ball to provide more physicality.

Despite this, the intensity at the contest of the Magpies did not flounder and with such an inexperienced side it was the debutants who flashed in and out of the game, providing the spark for the Magpies.

Rietschel's errant goal kicking cost him a couple of majors, while Ryan's two-bounce goal from 45 metres was a great reward for effort. The contests created up forward by Daine McGuiness and Brad Dessent could not be questioned.

The Magpies were all over Warragul as their defence excelled, allowing the Gulls only two goals for the half, while slotting seven themselves.

Warragul persisted with similar tactics at stages in the third quarter, the onset of numbers around the contest at times forcing the Sale back line to defend hard. Sale's composure and experience down back was pivotal.

The Magpies broke through with a Mitch Dowse goal.

As tensions boiled over, Warragul gave away a 50m penalty, gifting Tom Hams a goal before forced skill errors down back meant the ball landed in the hands of Jordan Dessent, who retrospectively sealed the match with a long goal late in the third quarter for the Magpies.

A 45-point lead at the beginning of the fourth looked too much for Warragul, but reminders of last year's close encounter from a similar position were evoked when the Gulls kicked the first three goals to bring the lead back to 27 points.

A steadier by a strong Brad Dessent mark followed up by a nice hit-up lead by Jarrod Freeman saw the Magpies retain a comfortable margin with the game petering out to allow the Magpies a comfortable win.

Coach Shane Fyfe was clearly pleased with the outcome, praising his young and inexperienced combatants. The expectation and standard of role playing within the group was a key factor in the win.

Hams was clearly best-on-ground, his marking around the ground, decision making and cleanliness by foot outstanding.

Mitch Dowse was again bullocking, and the ever-reliable skipper Jordan Dessent and Martin injected their experience where necessary. Mitch Thacker was terrific down back, effectively forcing Warragul coach Hughes to change roles, while Chris Laverty, Dyer and Nic Dowse were all accomplished in their composure.

For Warragul, Nic Mulqueen has matured considerably as a player and was the Gull’s standout.

Once again youngster Ned Tworkowski, still eligible for the thirds and in only his second senior game, was impressive.

He was given the never easy role to run with and curb the impact of Sale on-baller Kane Martin, a league best and fairest medallist, and did it admirably.

Angus Emery was good on a wing where his desire to win the ball showed and James Davidson and Mitch Nobelius did well in defence despite Sale’s overall control of the game.

The benefits of a strong pre-season was evident in the play of Will Cole whose disposal of the ball was an example a few others would do well to follow.

Coach Ben Hughes was restricted to one goal but often was a victim of poor delivery of the ball into the forward area.

Ruckman Sam Whibley followed up his good start to the season with another solid game.

The goal scoring for Warragul came from Mulqueen, Rennie and McGarrity with two each and singles to Ben Hughes, Cole and Luke di Ciero kicked two.

Sam Anstee - Gippsland Times and Warragul & Drouin Gazette

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Maffra survived a spirited challenge from Bairnsdale to record its first victory of the Gippsland League football season.

The Eagles defeated the Redlegs by 26 points, 15.10 (100) to 11.8 (74), at home on Saturday night.

After trailing by as much as 34 points heading into time-on in the third quarter, the Redlegs kicked four of the final six goals of the match. They kicked the first two goals of the fourth term to get within 13 points, and had chances to reduce the deficit further, but couldn't.

Maffra's victory was set-up by a seven-goal third quarter.

Although he started across half-back, Kade Renooy was effective when he drifted forward, kicking three goals (including two during the third term), a figure matched by teammate Andrew Petrou.

Ed Carr and Daniel O'Brien were also dangerous up forward.

Jack Johnstone led the Eagles in the midfield, linking well with Kieran Jones in the ruck.

Sam Pleming was again strong at centre-half forward, particularly when the visitors had control of the ball.

The Eagles had the edge over the Redlegs during a tight first quarter, using the ball better to kick five goals to three and take a 16-point lead into the break.

Petrou kicked two goals for the Eagles in the quarter, as did Brayden McCarrey for the Redlegs.

Bairnsdale had the better of play during the second term, as the Eagles were turning over possession. Maffra's lead was at nine points after the visitors kicked two goals to one for the quarter.

Improving their transition from defence to attack, the Eagles all-but took the game away from the Redlegs during the third quarter. Maffra's control of play at stoppages was also a major factor.

The Redlegs kicked two goals late in the quarter to give them a glimmer of hope, but a goal from Jim Reeves gave the Eagles a 27-point lead at three-quarter-time. The Eagles kicked seven goals to four during the quarter.

A goal from Harry Gibbs following a 50 metre penalty and a major from Nick George lifted the Redlegs during the fourth quarter, but missed chances stalled any momentum they could have had.

A goal from Renooy steadied the Eagles before Tom Jolly took the Eagles lead to more than 20 points during time-on.

McCarrey finished with four goals for the Redlegs, while fellow forward Callan McKeon was prominent. Nick Sing and Brayden Radford were more than solid in defence.

David Braithwaite - Gippsland Times


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Leongatha v Traralgon match review published by South Gippsland Sentinel Times. To view original article in full online subscribe to SGST here.

Moe v Drouin match review published by Latrobe Valley Express. To view original article in full online click here.

Morwell v Wonthaggi match review contains exerts of articles published by Latrobe Valley Express and The Great Southern Star. to view original articles in full online click here (LVE) or subscribe to TGSS here.

Warragul v Sale match review contains exerts of an article published by Warragul & Drouin Gazette and an article written by Sam Anstee reporting for Gippsland Times. To view original WDG article in full online subscribe here. To view original GT article in full online click here.

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

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