ROUND 8 PREVIEW – Alinta Energy Gippsland League

Round 8 awaits as we near the turning point for the 2022 home and away season. Third and Fourth on the Senior ladder match up with Sale making the trip down the highway to Traralgon. The Magpies have bounced back after their shaky start and wins over Moe at Ted Summerton and a solid percentage booster over the dangerous Warragul side have them clear in third. The pair of Jacks have been magnificent in the past month with coach Jack Johnstone booting five in the win last weekend, while Jack Leslie should be well placed in Trood Award and Rodda medal voting with his standout matches in the ruck. The Maroons snatched a crucial win against Wonthaggi and got the job done over Bairnsdale. The Warragul hiccup looms large in their season still as they have beaten the Power and came within single figures of Leongatha. If their best are available and fit they look a lock for the top 5 and likely higher. Brett Eddy continues to provide a target and will kick another bag at some stage this season. They will be hoping that their young star Tye Hourigan is available. He has probably taken the mantle as their most valuable player with his ability to play in the ruck and really any position on the ground. Sale might be slight favorites but the Maroons will have their time in front and will be hoping that they can make sure that it is after 120 minutes. The Traralgon A Grade side has bounced back after their tough start to the season and is taking advantage of a good run in their draw. They play the bottom 3 sides from round 7-9 so should go into the half way point of the season in the five. Sale have had a tough run over the first third of the season and the Maroons will be a tough ask. Maddi Stockdale was best on court last week while defender Amy Harrison has been good over the past month. The Magpies will be relying on Tori Dessent to be competitive against the Maroon’s mid court while Tegan Harrison looks their main avenue to shooting a winning score. Traralgon to win comfortably.

The two top senior sides meet this weekend with Leongatha hosting Moe at Parrot Park. The Green and Gold are undefeated still this year despite being tested away at Maffra last weekend. The Lions have dropped just the one game at home to Sale and snuck over the line against Drouin last weekend thanks to a might final term comeback. Conditions are likely to play a factor in this game with the Lions featuring a lot of younger talent they will rely on good conditions to challenge the Parrots. Leongatha have proven they can adapt to any weather but they should be hard to beat through the winter months with their mature bodies on each line. Tom Marriott leads the MVP and looks set to be leading the Trood Award and Rodda medal so far. He has been a stand out over the past 6 weeks. The Lions have welcomed back veteran Tom Long with open arms. While experienced trio Jacob Wood, James Blaser and Scott Van Dyk continue to be among their key performers. Last season the Parrots goth the win in a tight match over a red hot Moe with Kristian Jaksch bagging 8 in one of the most dominant Gippy League performances in recent memory. The Parrots arguably look stronger in 2022 and will be hoping to tick off the first of what looks to be many clashes in 2022 between these two sides. The netball is just as intriguing with second and third set to faceoff. The Lions and Parrots have only tasted defeat against Morwell so far in 2022 and look to be the next tier of challengers. Moe probably are a slight favorite due to their dominance over the opposition sides lower on the ladder so far. Leongatha have quality players all over the court with Hannah Flanders moving up in to second place in the MVP while shooting partner Jess Edgar sits in the top 3 shooters this season. They have been consistent and have a settled side. The match probably comes down to Higgins and Redpath chopping off the lobs to Taylin Gourley in goals. If they can pinch a few intercepts they have a chance to take that second place on the table.

The Distance Derby is on and Wonthaggi are thankful that they drew the home fixture after two weeks on the road. The Power are in desperate need of four points in the seniors and they wont get a better chance then the bottom placed Red Legs on the longest road trip in the League. Wonthaggi have dropped games to Morwell and Traralgon over the past two weeks along with their draw to bottom 3 side Warragul , has them clinging onto fifth place. At their best they look like a Grand Final side but they have shown that they can be beaten around the ball and are lacking some polish that the top sides display going forward. They kicked themselves out of a win last week and need to respond. Bairnsdale faced a similar story with a competitive 3 quarters that slipped away. They have shown that they can play but struggle to match it over 4 full quarters of senior football. Coach Logan Austin has been great on the field and young gun Randall Stewart will be one that they will hope to keep in future years. Wonthaggi should win and need to win well to keep their season going. In the netball it is another tough ask for the Red Legs. They have a go and look like a team that would enjoy being on the road together. Wonthaggi are a solid senior team and will likely be a finals side in 2022. They are coming off two losses against the strong Valley sides and will need to get the job done here to solidify the finals spot.

The Tigers welcome the Hawks with the Tigers only two pints out of the five. Last weekends shock win over the Power has them in touch with the Maroons and Wonthaggi for those minor finals positions. Few would have thought they would have performed like this in 2022 but with single figure wins over the Red Legs, Power and a home victory over the Gulls has them at 3-4 with 9th placed Drouin this week. The Hawks are a mystery team with heavy defeats surrounded by competitive performances against top sides. They almost pulled off the win of the year last weekend against Moe but faded out in the final term. They sit 9th with one win at 56% but have challenged both Moe and Sale this year. Tim Hancock looks set to be in the team of the year squad again while Aden Quirk has been a welcome addition for the Maroon and Gold. Morwell should win and are a competitive team at home. No result would surprise from this game. In the netball we have the top of the table Tigers taking on fourth placed Drouin. The Hawks suffered a heavy defeat to Moe and while being in fourth look to be a tier behind the top 3. Morwell are easily the favorites so far to be there late September and will be odds on to take away their 8th win in a row. Shannon Freeman has been the recruit of the year, slipping into a premiership defence and adding so much to their team. Saskia Eenjes has been another vital recruit playing either on the wings or slipping into goals when needed she has given the Tigers the best versatility in the League. Morwell to win and keep their streak going. Drouin will be more than competitive in patches but over four quarters the Tiger’s should be too good.

The final match of the round is the two red and black teams lining up in Warragul. It’s been a tough draw for the Gulls with Leongatha and Sale back to back. Now they meet the 2019 premiers Maffra in a cruicla match for both teams. The Eagles have been solid this year and will be hoping they can replace Wonthaggi in the five at seasons end. They look the best of the bottom six and as shown last week can match it with any team. Warragul have been up and down this year but are coming from tenth place so are probably ahead of expectations. Wins over Traralgon and a draw to Wonthaggi sandwiched in with heavy losses to Drouin and Morwell see then sit in 8th place coming into this week. Jed Lamb has been excellent up forward but is probably needed through the middle to help Nick Graham. Sean Masterson has been a star and looks a lock for team of the year. Was swung forward last week and gave the Gulls a great target which could be a trick used again. The Eagles should be too strong around the ball but their defence has dropped off from previous years and that gives the Gulls potent forwards a chance to kick a winning score, especially at home. Maffra will be slight favorites but all results are on the table. In the netball it is a crucial game for the Gulls. The Eagles sit 8th but have been improving over recent weeks. Warragul are a mixed bag this year with their best being very good. They have used the most shooting combinations, probably in Gippsland League history, over the first 7 weeks with no less than 9 shooters used in combination with Jaime Rollinson who has played in every match. They will need to sort out their player availability if they are to get on a run and challenge for finals. They should have enough senior talent to get the win this weekend and with Bairnsdale next week it gives them a great chance to go into the turning point at 4-5.