As the halfway mark of the 2022 Mid Gippsland season quickly starts to close in on the competition, the make-up of the ladder is also starting to take some sort of shape, which in turn sends a very clear message to many clubs as to what is needed to be achieved in order to save themselves from having the door closed on them come finals time on the third Saturday of August.
HILL END v THORPDALE THE jostling for prime position inside the Mid Gippsland top five continues with Hill End having ‘some’ control over their finishing position after their weekend win over Thorpdale. The Hillmen are not taking their current ladder position of second for granted, given there is both a long road ahead and still plenty of improvements to be made, even in their comfortable win on the weekend to the tune of 87-points 23.8 (146) to 9.5 (59). Hill End coach Mike Santo said his team would move on quickly from the game. “It was a physical encounter with a bit of heat in the game early on, we started well and were able to string some sharp passages of good footy together,” he said. “Thorpdale out-played us in the third quarter but we were able to get on top in the last quarter and finish the game off well. “The bye is coming at a perfect time for us.” Thorpdale, disappointed but satisfied, that they showed more of what they’re capable of than the week prior against Yinnar, a game in which they didn’t score a goal. Blues coach Ray Pickering said the side would take some lessons from the game. “A much improved effort, with some really good patches especially in the third quarter where we got our game up and going but couldn’t sustain it against a strong outfit,” he said. Thorpdale will have their moments to celebrate this year, but at this stage the Blues are just a little off where they need to be.
MDU v NEWBOROUGH THE Demons made a significant statement a fortnight ago when they successfully defeated Hill End by a point, only to fall over the line against the competition’s bottom side in Toora just seven days ago. Last weekend, MDU faced another significant challenge in the form of a visiting Newborough side who like themselves were in a fight for what is quite clearly limited room in the top five positions on the ladder. Newborough announced their arrival with another tenacious victory 11.11 (77) to 5.10 (40). The win for the Bulldogs was built on the back of some great team play and very good skills according to coach Craig Skinner. “We got to play on a great ground in perfect conditions, against a side of locals that move the ball very well and deny the opposition the ball,” he said. “A few injuries at crucial times cost MDU on the scoreboard, we are happy to win our first game in South Gippsland and we feel like other teams that we are improving every week which is a very rewarding energy for the coach, our nervous energy is turning into enthusiasm for the next contest.” The Demons too, as coach Peter Harris said, were happy enough with their effort, if not the result. “Our effort and endeavour was superb, really proud of how the boys went about it,” he said. “We made simple skill errors that hurt us, where Newborough were much cleaner and then able to convert on the scoreboard with greater ease.” Newborough’s fate is now very much in their own hands while for the Demons, the need for some wins against the odds will be required over the next month or two.
FISH CREEK v BOOLARRA FISH Creek found themselves in the unusual position at the bottom half of the table (ninth) and more than two games behind their opponents prior to their weekend clash with Boolarra (third), who had also had the added benefit of having a game in hand. The precarious position of the respected Kangaroos meant that a loss would rapidly decrease their chances of being part of finals action later in the year, reason enough for the home side to throw absolutely everything at the visitors. The Demons withstood the pressure, got the points courtesy of a 12.7 (79) to 9.10 (64) win, in a game that for a lot of the afternoon could have gone either way. Boolarra coach Tony Giardina said it was pleasing to bank another four points. “Every week is a tough game in this competition, in the first half we went away from the type of footy we want to play and Fishy were playing good, running footy and making us look ordinary,” he said. “But to the boys credit after half-time we started playing the footy we want and the game turned our way.” The turn of the game means contrasting fortunes for the two sides, with Boolarra now well positioned in third spot and Fish Creek in the danger zone of 11th. Fish Creek coach John Danckert is keeping the panic button behind closed doors for now. “It was a much better effort this week and things are starting to come together,” he said. “We had a poor patch of footy in the third quarter that Boolarra capitalised on, credit to them, they took their chance.” The immediate road ahead for the Kangaroos doesn’t get any easier though this week, facing an inform Newborough side on the Bulldogs home ground.
STONY CREEK v FOSTER STONY Creek had seemingly got under most of their oppositions guard in the early part of this season, and in doing so climbed to within percentage of fourth place on the ladder, a position that many would have thought impossible prior to the start of the season. All that stood in their way on the weekend was a visiting Foster side that not only needed percentage, they also needed the four points as well and that’s what they got, compliments of an impressive 52-point victory 12.14 (86) to 4.10 (34). The win for the Tigers spoilt the party of Lions’ favourite son Jacob Byrnes, playing his 300th game. Foster coach Sam Davies was gracious after the win. “Congratulations firstly to Jacob on his 300th, nice to be back on the winners list, it’s never easy at the race track,” he said. “We had moments of really good play, our back six keep absorbing and continue to be a strong group, we look forward to keep building momentum.” Foster is slowly climbing their way back up to where they need to be, while the pressure remains on Stony Creek. Lions’ coach Jay Accardi said they were beaten by a better side. “We came up against a Foster side this week and were unfortunately not able to match their intensity,” he said. “The boys battled but came up well short, a big improvement is needed for us to be competitive against Boolarra next week.”
TARWIN v MORWELL EAST THE Sharks came into their weekend clash against the Hawks very much focused on protecting their unbeaten record of five wins from five matches. Morwell East had so much to prove on the back of their lacklustre start on a big occasion just seven days prior under lights at home against Newborough, and were well aware a fast start was going to be pivotal to their chances of winning this game. Tarwin withstood the fight of the visiting Hawks, and claimed their sixth win in six matches 11.15 (81) to 9.8 (62). Sharks coach Troy Hemming couldn’t be more pleased of what his side has achieved to date. “Morwell East were exactly what I expected, well coached by Devon (Soutar), I have a lot of respect for him as a person and as a coach. They play a good modern brand of football and have some great experienced players in their team,” he said. “Great contest game with it being pretty even across the ground. Our group is pretty young so I’m very proud of the boys for sticking to the game plan and staying confident within themselves to get the job done. “I’m very proud of our group not only as footballers but the care they show for each other out on the ground too.” For Morwell East, coach Soutar couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match. “Right from the pregame it was clear we were going to be cracking in, driven by our leaders we finally played in the exact manner that we’ve been searching for, unfortunately, very good sides like Tarwin don’t give up much margin for error and a turnover riddled patch in the second quarter and a slight drop of intensity at the start of the last prevented us getting the reward for effort,” he said. The rewards for the Hawks are sure to come as Soutar works at turning his team of champions into a champion team.
TOORA v YINNAR The ‘Battle of the Magpies’ looked to be a one way affair if one was to judge the match on ladder positions alone. Toora, winless and on the bottom of the table against a Yinnar team desperate to climb from seventh, to a spot, any spot, inside the five. However, it was noted by the visitors that this Toora team had pushed a very good side in MDU to within a kick just the week prior, so Yinnar, unlike many others, were ready for a fight. In the end an undermanned Toora side was no match for Yinnar, who won 27.16 (178) to 2.2 (14). Yinnar coach Daniel Taylor said it was good to win on the road. “Fantastic result for us over at Toora, our foot skills, run, carry and spread were on show all day,” he said. “We understand Toora had a lot out with COVID which makes it very hard, they had three blokes play seconds and seniors so by the end of the day we just completely outran them, they will be a much better team next week.” The one sided affair was not really a true reflection of what Toora are capable of, when they have a full list to choose from. Toora coach Matt Ponton was prepared to class the game as a write-off. “Was always going to be tough with 11 senior players out through COVID and injury and the scoreboard reflected that,” he said. “Take nothing away from Yinnar, they are a really well-drilled side and play an attacking brand of football that can hang with the best of them. “Our boys gave it a crack today and that’s all you can ask when undermanned, credit to our better players, Oscar Casmore, Michael Cameron and Lukas Jenkins.” Toora are hanging tough under trying conditions and that in itself is a win that should be recognised.
MIRBOO North had the bye.