ROUND 4 PREVIEW – Alinta Energy Gippsland League

Round 4 is here and the first full month of football and netball is about to be completed. It’s another enticing schedule of fixtures as rivalry round spills over into round 4 with one of the traditional foes Maffra and Sale set for the 2022 Battle of the Birds. Sale go into the senior football match after their first win of the season over fellow East Gippslander’s Bairnsdale. The Magpies have started slowly and this shapes as an early indicator to where they are at for season 2022. The Eagles will be awaiting the availability of their star Ed Carr who was reported against Moe. Carr has been in great form and forms as a vital player to the result of the match. After two big scores the Eagles were held to only 3 goals against Moe. In accuracy had a large bearing on this kicking 14 points in the loss. They have the advantage of noted goalkickers in John Butcher & Mitch Bennett while Sale are relying heavily on goals from midfielders like Shannen Lange & Jack Johnstone when the Dessent brothers have been missing from the team. Sale will be slight favorites with the inclusion of the likes of Kane Martin, Brad Dessent and Jack McLaren but the Battle of the Birds could produce anything. The A Grade match will see two sides that will look at the fixture and see one of the few chances to get 4 points in season 2022. The Eagles are the stronger team and have some of their quality juniors stepping into senior netball. Both sides have managed a win so far beating the young Bairnsdale team. Tegan Harrison has fitted in nicely in the front court for Sale and managed 30 goals last week in a team that has only shot 83 goals for the entire season. Nat Allman and Emma Allman have been productive through the mid court for Maffra and will have a large part in the result this Saturday.

It's been over 1000 days coming but Latrobe Valley rivals Moe and Traralgon finally get a chance to meet again. The clubs were set to play four times in season 2021 before the abandonment of the season. Moe go into the match on top of the ladder after three convincing wins in the first 3 weeks. The Lions accounted for the unbeaten Maffra side last week and look set to be a top 3 side again this year. Harry Pepper has kicked 13 goals in the first 3 weeks and with fellow 2019 AFL draftee Brock Smith controlling half back the pair have made up for the loss of some of the Melbourne based players from 2021. Traralgon started slowly against Morwell in the ANZAC clash but pulled away to get the win by 48 points. The Maroons moved the ball slickly and have some key targets up forward with Brett Eddy, Dylan Loprese and Jake Best. Their defence looked vulnerable at times when Tye Hourigan was forced into the ruck. Hourigan was best on field nudging out Mark Collison who was a ball magnet and did whatever he please after quarter time. An interesting game for two sides that will see themselves as top 5 contenders in 2022. The Lions may be slight favorites at home but Traralgon can play a burst of football that wins any game. In the A Grade match there are high stakes for different reasons then these two sides are accustomed. The Maroons have started the season 0-3 but are far from a 9th placed team. A tough draw and 3 close losses see them only sit above Bairnsdale and come up against one of the top sides this year. Moe have won their two games convincingly over Maffra and Warragul. They were without Taylin Gourley last week but managed to get the points by 25 goals over the Eagles. The match will be won in Traralgon’s goal ring. Maddy Stockdale was one of their better players against Morwell and will need to fire to help them shoot a winning score.

Wonthaggi travel to Drouin after losses in both their major football and netball grades last weekend. The Power fell short against the Parrots on the netball court after their amazing start to the season. The Hawks and the Power will be locked in battle for that 4th or 5th spot in A Grade come seasons end and these matches effectively take on an 8 point bounty for the winner. Drouin will be kicking themselves they fell short against Warragul which places more emphasis on this result. Kym Diston again was solid in defence while Stacie Gardiner shot 24 goals in the loss. The Power will need Zali Anderson’s availability again to play a key role in defence against the Proctor sisters. Wonthaggi’s shooters will need to get the supply they lacked at times against Leongatha if they are to come away with the win at Drouin. Every season there is a result that makes the Gippsland League footy community take notice and the Hawks produced that last week. It wasn’t the win over their traditional rivals but the margin and score that made people take notice. Jordan Kingi should be incredibly proud of the way they bounced back after a home thumping against Traralgon. Having Ed Morris available certainly helps as the 2019 number 1 ranked Gippsland League player was named best on field in his return. The Power fell short against Leongatha at home but it was in a very high standard of football. They had a number of chances but didn’t convert where their opponents were ruthless in their execution inside 50. The Power have a big forward line and this will stretch Drouin. They need to start putting the results on the board though with only 6 points from their first 3 rounds they need to get the job done against teams that will likely finish outside the 5.

Contrasting results for both sides in their respective codes last week give different meaning to the matches for Morwell and Warragul. Both A Grade sides had great wins over their rivals in round 3 which sets up a key clash this weekend. Morwell look like premiership favorites this year and have beaten both Moe and Traralgon already. They were down at times in round 3 but have arguably the best depth on every line in the League which gave them the backing to get the job done in the final quarter. At home it is tough to see the Gulls getting enough shots up to put in a winning score with Courtney Garth relishing the goal keeper role this year. Morwell blew Traralgon away early last week but fell away after half time as they did against Moe. The young Tiger’s attack and take the game on but are finding it hard to get structured quality looks on goal over four quarters. They are getting enough of the ball but in the last few weeks have been forced to take long sets shots which hasn’t managed to yield the results after their initial energy drops away. After a huge result against Wonthaggi, Warragul would have penned in four points against the Hawks but managed just the three goals. We praised their forward strength last week and they will be hoping it is only a minor glitch on their 2022 radar. Nick Graham was back and better for the run while Sean Masterson is having a team of the year season already across half back. Warragul should bounce back and win but expect Morwell to be in front at half time.

Bairnsdale make the trip to Leongatha in what is the toughest test in football. The Parrots dynasty continues and they look set to feature late in September again. The Red Legs have not been competitive in this trip in the past and it looks like a familiar case for them even in round 4. They will take heart from the Drouin results and look to the 2019 result where the 10th placed Gulls beat the Parrots at home. Tom Marriott and Luke Bowman are arguably the two most valuable players in the competition in the Leongatha midfield. They are winning huge numbers and start the majority of scores from clearances. Cade Maskell behind the ball has been inspired and the floating defender is being a huge influence with his disposal out of full back and leadership in the back 6. The netball is a similar case unfortunately for Bairnsdale. They missed their two best chances in the first half of the year at a win in the last two weeks and now face the top of the table Parrots. They were clinical against Wonthaggi and have a number of experienced players on each line. Nicola Marriott and Taylah Brown made up the best offensive mid court in the competition and with Hannah Flanders and Jess Edgar there to feed the ball into they will be far too strong for the young Red Legs.