Finals were back for the Alinta Energy Gippsland League and they were back with a bang. Two days of pristine weather presented as all ten member clubs had a netball and football team representing them in week one of the finals.
Both days produced record gates smashing previous records set in 2016 (Qualifying Final) and 2019 (Elimination Final). Sunday produced one of the best finals days in the recent history of the Gippsland League where over 2100 people were on hand to see arch rivals Traralgon and Morwell battle it out in the senior football. Melbourne Football Club great Nathan Jones was responsible for the coin toss for one of country footballs great rivalries.
The day was one of the rare occasions where all ten clubs had a team competing with seven clubs (Traralgon, Morwell, Sale, Bairnsdale, Moe, Drouin and Leongatha) playing in the football matches and the other three, technically four including Drouin Netball Club, playing in the netball schedule. Wonthaggi Power made a return to A Grade finals for the first time since 2016. After going winless in 2019 it was an amazing turn around for the club which also had their senior football side win through to the 2nd Semi Final on Saturday.
Traralgon broke out to an early lead in the senior match and pilled on the first seven goals before Morwell responded. Kicking towards the majority of their supporter base at the southern end the Tigers clawed back into the match in the second term. Inaccuracy in front of goals in the third term cost them dearly as they had a chance to push for an unbelievable comeback. Late Maroons goals steadied the ship, and they took a 20 point lead into the final term. The Tigers wouldn’t lie down and bought the match back to a single goal in the final term but late goals to Troy Forrest and Matt Northe sealed a famous Traralgon win by 18 points. In the netball, the Maroons had a reversal of fortunes as they were well beaten early. The Power were 10-2 up at one stage and were dominating play. As was the case in the football the trailing side fought back and some nervous Wonthaggi plays late in the third saw the lead erode and the Maroons stepped up to take a two goal lead into the final change. The last quarter was played at an intensely high standard with bodies flying everywhere around the court, it was vintage Courtney Young as she was the difference in front of goals while Jess Blair and Zali Anderson provided vital turnovers to get the Power through to the Semi’s.
In the Saturday matches Wonthaggi was against on the card with the senior side lining up against Sale. The Magpies burst out of the blocks and took an early three goal lead. Once Wonthaggi got going they were irresistible. Troy Harley was the difference up forward kicking 7 goals while the Blair brothers dominated through the middle. Sale came back late with a few majors, but it was too late to influence the game. In the A Grade match the Lions were without their coach Ramayer Gourley who was on representative duties. The Parrots took full advantage of this and never gave the Lions team a chance. It was an incredibly professional performance as they notched up a 30 goal win.