Drouin made it win number three for the year defeating Bairnsdale at Drouin on Saturday to take a share of second place on the ladder.
The clash lived up to expectations that there was little between the teams.
Bairnsdale led for only a very brief time from just before half time when it snatched a four-point lead until the one-minute mark of the third quarter when Drouin’s Tom Barr intercepted a kick in and converted from 45 metres.
But the Redlegs had Drouin under siege in the last five minutes of the game.
Two goals in two minutes followed by a behind cut what looked a big enough lead – 22 points – to nine and they were launching another attack when the siren sounded.`
Until then Drouin had charge of the term although running into the breeze but couldn’t put the game well out of reach.
Its first five scoring shots for the quarter were behinds, a couple of them terrible misses from close in.
A steadying goal from Bailey Beck drew an immediate Bairnsdale response.
A second goal to him and another by Barr after contesting in the air, recovering quickly to gather the ball and bursting clear of opponents for a 35-metre goal on the run opened a good gap.
It was more than handy to have when the Redlegs mounted their late charge.
The Hawks had led 33 to 1-0 at quarter time but it didn’t reflect their dominance of play with the defence superb and the midfield well on top.
Bairnsdale’s only score came 90 seconds from the end of the quarter when Russell Cowan marked a hurried kick off the ground and converted.
The second quarter was the opposite of the first.
The Redlegs lifted across the ground, kept a tight check on the Drouin on-ballers and rammed through six goals for the term to snatch the half time lead by four points.
Forward Brayden McCarrey was the key to that.
He seized his opportunities on the way to a match tally of five goals.
Perhaps the key to the eventual result was Drouin’s ability to score against the breeze.
It kicked six of its 12 goals to the town end goal; Maffra got only one of its 11 there.
The hard-fought contest all day was evidence of the importance both sides placed on the game.
Jamie Ferguson’s return to the side at centre-half forward after missing the Warragul game with injury boosted the attack.
He kicked two of Drouin’s first four goals and set up one of the others while his strong marking and mobility across the forward half of the ground made a great attacking avenue.
Josh Seri’s delayed departure to live in Queensland was also more than important.
He kicked three goals, all of them from beyond 40 metres and at crucial times.
Bob McCallum is never anything but good and was in the “very good category” on Saturday.
He was outstanding in the ruck and great all over the ground covering as much territory of any of the smaller onballers.
Chris Robinson has proven a reliable and cool on-baller in his four games at the club, wingman Barr continued his fine form, Bailey Beck was good and stood up when most needed and Eddie Morris did his bit although rarely without an opponent or two at his side.
The defence led by Harry Wans, Clayton Kingi and Liam Anderson held well apart from the second term and the last few minutes.
And a couple of the less experienced players Jake Simpson and Fletcher Robertson Edgar took some more steps forward.
McCarrey and Cowan, both likely to make the final inter-league team, were responsible for Bairnsdale staying right in the game.
A never-say-die Warragul produced a major upset at Leongatha desperately clinging to a one-point lead for the final three minutes.
A Matt Rennie behind gave Warragul the lead after the Parrots had fought back from a 17-point deficit at three-quarter time to level the scores.
The momentum had swung Leongatha’s way during the term as it tried to avoid a second successive loss.
However, the Gulls withstood the pressure of the final few minutes to win for the first time this year.
The Leongatha ground has not been a happy hunting ground for Warragul – it had not won there since 2008 – but history and reputation meant nothing on Saturday.
With key on-baller Kim Drew sidelined with an ankle problem Warragul went into the game without four of its top half dozen players and the task looked almost insurmountable against a Parrots’ lineup that wasn’t too far from full strength.
Promising young player Sam Fennell was also out of the line-up.
In came Michael Lynn, rewarded for good performances in the reserves, and Will Cole.
A slow start or a bad quarter had been the Gulls’ downfalls in previous rounds but neither raised their heads at Leongatha.
They held slender leads of one and two points at each of the first two breaks then got out to a telling 17point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Ruckman Sam Whibley, only 21 years old, had the better of highly regarded opponent Ben Willis and Matt Ross was the forward spark Warragul had been searching for.
He kicked five of the Gulls’ 11 goals, including three of their four in the first term, in a match-winning performance.
Coach and centrehalf forward Ben Hughes was kept on a tight rein by Leongatha’s Chris Verboon but Ross proved more than a handful for the opposition defence.
Hughes said after the game that his side deserved to win.
“We played smarter football in the wet conditions pushing the ball forward at every opportunity”.
“And we wanted to win more” he said.
However, Hughes said Warragul had also wasted many scoring opportunities within its 50-metre arc.
The win could be the turning point in the Gulls’ season.
They have another tough assignment next Saturday taking on Maffra, no doubt shaken by its loss to Morwell.
They’ll face the contest with some confidence – and a win now under the belt.
As well as the top games by Ross and Whibley, Warragul got good four quarter performances from Mitch Nobelius, Jack Nuttall, Shaun Beecroft and Will Jolley.
But, as Hughes commented, it was a committed effort by all 22 that brought home the premiership points.
Jolley kicked two goals and Luke Di Ciero, Dan Giardina, James Davidson and Nic Mulqueen scored single goals to go with Ross’ five.
MOE stood its ground as the team to beat, maintaining its undefeated streak over the weekend. However, Wonthaggi did not allow the win to come easily, playing a classy first quarter. Through Troy Harley, Mitch Betson and Jake Thomas, Wonthaggi left Moe stunned with a 12 point lead. Moe struggled to convert its opportunities, missing targets in front of goal. Defensive pressure intensified in the second term, resulting in a completely scoreless quarter.
As soon as play restarted after half time, Moe’s Darnell Grech received a free kick only metres from goal and made no mistake to put them in front. Wonthaggi had Toma Huther, Mitch Hayes, Fergus O’Connor and Aiden Lindsay on the ball but they were being shaded by big Dylan Farrell, Jacob Wood, Grady Cocksedge and others at the stoppages. Moe missed scoring another goal after a free kick and Wonthaggi tried to respond only to be blocked by Joel Bragagholo roaming across half back. Betson scored his mobility by picking up and delivering on the wing, Josh Schulz worked hard out of defence, and Lenehan was busy around the flanks, but after holding Moe out, a mix-up between Lenehan and Murray handed the ball to Moe for another. Although the Lions were dominating, it was at least hopeful that they were only 10 points up close to three quarter time. Scott, Knowles and McCarthy were matching the Moe forward, Harley to Waters for the Power was good footy but Moe finally stretched their lead with an easy goal; their third for the quarter to Power’s nil. At the last change Power coach Lee Rowe warned his players that they were losing their structure by all chasing the ball carrier.
“We let ourselves down with structure but fortunately they didn’t hurt us too much on scoreboard,” he said. “Don’t all come up to the ball. Keep your forward six. And don’t worry about sinking slipper if required to get it forward. Switch it every time this quarter. It’s all about work rate now, isn’t it? Let’s see off their first few minutes of effort and then capitalise.”
But it was Moe who got the first two goals of the last quarter to seal the deal. Wonthaggi’s Betson did have the first chance to goal and get the Power’s momentum going but a bad miss was costly and Moe swung into action. It was then fairly even to the end but Moe was the better side on the day.The Great Southern Star
Morwell have come from behind to deliver a shock defeat to powerhouse Maffra on Saturday in round four action.
With just two goals up until the last change and trailing by 23 points, the Tigers kicked four goals and two behinds in the final term while holding the Eagles scoreless to nab a four-point win.
Maffra were made to rue their inaccurate kicking at the final siren, 5.10 (40) to Morwell's 6.8 (48).
The Eagles had four majors and five behinds to half-time but squandered opportunities in the third, converting just one of seven shots on goal.Latrobe Valley Express
Traralgon will have to keep hunting for their first win of the season after Saturday's trip to Sale resulted in their fourth straight loss, 13.14 (92) to 66 (42).
It was slow going for both sides in the early stages of the game with one goal apiece at the first break but the Magpies tore away in the second, kicking six more goals to lead by 36 points at half-time.
The Maroons won the third quarter narrowly but allowed Sale too much room in the final quarter as they added five more goals to blow the margin out to 50 points.Latrobe Valley Express
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Drouin v Bairnsdale and Leongatha v Warragul match reviews published by Warragul & Drouin Gazette. To view original articles in full online subscribe to WDG here.
Moe v Wonthaggi match review published by The Great Southern Star. To view original article in full online subscribe to TGSS here.
Morwell v Maffra and Sale v Traralgon match reviews published by Latrobe Valley Express. To view original article in full online click here.