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Boolarra FNC

MGFNL Round 1

There was an air of expectation as we started to close in on round one of the  the Grand Final replay of 2023, Fish Creek as Premiers, but devastated by an off season fire that destroyed much of the club's history, up against a Newborough side that was empathetic to the the Kangaroo's trauma, but nonetheless wanting desperately to claim a first up victory. 

Fish Creek v Newborough

Strong home ground support and the unfurling of their 2023 Premiership flag, had Fish Creek in the right frame of mind to start season 24 as they had left 23, as winners.

However it was never going to be a cruisy day at the office against a hungry Bulldogs side.

Fish Creek had to call on their big game experience to snatch a two point victory 9-10-64 to Newborough 9-8-62.

Jarrad Walker, Fish Creek coach “Day started off great for the fish creek community with the flag unfurling, and the game didn’t disappoint. A bit scrappy at times but hardly fought out by both teams. Relieved to get over the line in the end, Newborough will of course be within the top few teams for season so happy to pinch that one in the end. With the bye next week we will rest some sore bodies, get a good training block in and then get ready to get stuck into the season.”

The Kangaroos are deservingly seen as the early season premiership favourites, but the weekend's clash indicates this season may in fact be tougher than the last, that is good news for the league but it is also a clear indication that every match every week is crucial.

Craig Skinner, Newborough coach “We played the competitions best and in a physical contest fell short again. We competed harder and for longer this time. We played three seventeen year olds and they are going to be good. We play Yinnar next and know it will be tough so there will be no rest recovering and preparing as we search for our first win.”

The Bulldogs will dust themselves off and turn their attention to the Magpies, a match that is destined to be every bit as competitive as that of Fish Creek and that appears to be the nature of the competition.

In season 2023, there were as many as ten teams competing for a finals position just weeks before the end of the home and away season, 2024 is likely to provide the same exciting finish, and here we are just at the start!

MDU v Thorpdale

Two tight contests in 2023 alluded to much of the same to kick off 2024, the Demons had got close to the Blues on those previous encounters only to fall agonisingly short on both occasions, but a home ground and a strong pre season had MDU believing that round one would tell a different story.

There was never but a kick or two between these two talented sides, The Demons up by a point at quarter time, the Blues by eleven at the major break.

MDU called on all they had in the final quarter in an attempt to claw back a fourteen point three quarter time deficit, only to once again fall short by the barest possible margin

Thorpdale.13-6-84 to MDU 12-11-83.

Nathan Allen, MDU coach “Another close one between Thorpdale and us. Jason has them playing a tough skillful brand of footy again. We were unable to convert our chances when we got momentum. Proud of the fight our boys showed right to the final siren. 

No one could or would question the ability of the Demons, but sometimes in this game, sides can have an edge on others and that can be a tough hoodoo to break especially when MDU now have to wait for another couple of months to get another crack at the Blues.  The close contest was just as Thorpdale anticipated.

Jason Winderlich, Thorpdale coach, "“As expected, it was another tough game down South Gippsland against MDU. Both teams had momentum throughout the day but we were the lucky team to be in front at the final siren. Lots to work on though!”

Thorpdale got the job done, but both of these two teams have their sights set on bigger and better things in 2024, the Blues with the edge early, but there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge before we get a clearer picture of just who will be able to accomplish what, although there is little doubt there will plenty more wins for both.

Yinnar v Toora

The clash of the Magpies, even in round one, was always going to be an important clash for a number of reasons, it would give new Yinnar coach Sam McCulloch an early look at what he had to work with after the disappointment his club faced the year prior, while for Toora, a new season brought new hope of improvement after  a satisfying pre season. 

In round one it was Yinnar that indicated they may have progressed very quickly from last years fall from finals grace.

Yinnar 16-16-112 to Toora 9-6-60

Sam McCullough, Yinnar coach "Very happy to come away with the four points in what was a fast and physical game. The win was set up in the first half and it was pleasing with the even contribution from right across the field. Looking forward to the challenge of playing one of the premiership contenders in Newborough on their home turf in what will be a great opportunity to gauge where we are at."

Toora have produced very strong sides at reserves level in recent seasons, but have made no secret of the fact they are hoping to develop a more competitive outfit at the senior level this season, and at times you could see that was already starting to take shape. 

Jack Weston, Toora coach “It was a decent round one1 performance for us, in patches there was a lot to like. As a young developing squad, we will tidy this up and with improved consistency I can see us being in games. Ultimately, Yinnar’s spread and cleanliness away from the contest allowed them more quality looks at goal and to their credit, they did the damage." 

Yinnar looked good, Toora looked like they have potential and that in itself is a win for a team taking the small steps required to force themselves further up the MGFNL ladder.

Boolarra v Mirboo North

As much as the new coaches for each side., Boolarra's Brendan Mason, and Mirboo's Damien Turner were looking forward to what round one would present for them, so too were the MGFNL supporters, unsure of just where each side would fit into what appears to be a very even and competitive league once again.

In this clash, it would be the Demons that walked away with the points on an impressive start to the year,

Boolarra 14-13-97 to Mirboo North 8-6-54.

Brendan Mason, Boolarra coach “Always good to start the year with a win. Didn’t play our best footy but credit to the Mirboo North boys they fought hard all game. We now look forward to next week's challenge against the much fancied Thorpdale side. Which will give us a chance to see where we are at.

There is no doubt that Thorpdale are likely to be a bigger mountain for Boolarra to climb but attempt they will, while for Mirboo North it will take time to improve in a few areas, but all of them achievable with some focus on what is required both with and without the ball.

Damian Turner, Mirboo North coach “ We showed some really good signs against Boolarra. Especially the first half. Consistency is going to be a focus over the season, and unfortunately this let us down in the second half. It was a heated battle and credit to Brendan and his team for running the game out strong. 

The Tigers have had some off season distractions to contend with prior to the opening round of the year, but it seems that all the right people are in the right places, so with a little patience sprinkled with hard work there is no doubt that Mirboo North will be soon be causing opposition sides some heartaches. 

Hill End v Stony Creek

Hill End at home under the reins of MGFNL superstar player Ambu Uliando were always going to throw everything they could at anticipated improvers Stony Creek.

The question was, whether the Hillsmen had the depth of talent to run with the Lions for the full four quarters.

The Lions took a little time to shake off a determined Hill End team, the home side staying in touch up until near the halftime mark, before the visitors really started to open up.

A one point margin at quarter time, quickly turned into a five goal margin for the Lions at the main break, that lead extending further as the visitors took control.

Stony Creek 17-17-119 to Hill End 9-5-59.

Chris Verboon, Stony Creek coach “Hill end came out playing some really good footy and had us changing a few things up in the second quarter. I was happy with how we responded. We played good team footy and stuck to the way we wanted to play. We are hosting Morwell East next week who have had a great start with a win over Foster. We will need to be at our best to give ourselves a chance."

Coach Ambu was under no illusions as to the challenges he would face as coach of Hill End, the goal for his men to improve each week, and enjoy doing so, so that by years end they might be at a level from which to start to build another surge forward on the MGFNL ladder in the seasons ahead.

Foster v Morwell East

The early challenge for Foster appeared to be player availability with the end of school holidays and weddings meaning that just putting a team on the park was going to be the first challenge for the home ground Tigers, a very close second however was a talented Morwell East side eager to kick off their season with a win, the visiting Tiger side, sending a clear message to not only Foster, but the league that this year they are a more complete team than last.

Morwell East17-12-114 to Foster 6-9-45.

The Hawks not only won each quarter comfortably, but also more impressively as the game went on.

Sam Davies, Foster coach “Reality check. They're easily the benchmark this year.” 

That short but succinct observation by an experienced coach of what Morwell East produced is an obvious warning shot over the bow of every side in the competition, but the season is long and at every turn there is a challenge, sometimes expected sometimes not, so it is always wise, as we know, to take it one week at a time.

Paul Henry, Morwell East coach “Just the way we wanted to start our 2024 season campaign. Pleasing four quarter effort by our boys in what was a very physical contest against Foster on their home turf."

All coaches have been around long enough to know that "one swallow does not make a summer", there is still a long season ahead.


BYE: Tarwin

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