FOLLOWING an improved performance in the semi-final, Maffra will need to continue that form into the preliminary final if it’s to make the Gippsland League football grand final.
The Eagles will play Traralgon on Saturday at Morwell for the right to take on Leongatha in the premiership decider.
The two sides met a fortnight ago in the qualifying final. The Eagles led at each break, but the Maroons licked five goals to two in the final term to win by 18 points.
The Eagles lacked the hunger to win such an important match. However, they appeared more driven last weekend in the first semi-final against Moe.
The Lions had trouble containing Maffra’s potent forward line, as the Eagles won the knock-out final by 55 points. Mitch Bennett was outstanding, kicking six goals in a best-on-ground performance, while Daniel Bedggood booted five.
The Eagles dominated in the midfield, led by Alex Carr, but will need to lift in that area on Saturday against the likes of Mark Collison and Rohan Hildebrand.
Traralgon lost the second semi-final to minor premier Leongatha by 28 points. The Maroons didn’t use the ball as well as the Parrots, something they would have looked at during the week.
In the past 10 games between the teams, each has won five. The winners alternated over the past seven meetings.
At Traralgon during the home-and-away season, the Maroons began strongly, but had to hold off a fast-finishing Maffra to win by eight points.
In the return match, the Eagles kicked six goals to one in the first term on their way to a 59-point victory, the Maroons’ biggest loss of the season.
Saturday’s match will be just the third time Maffra has met Traralgon in a preliminary final. The Maroons won in 1979 and the Eagles by a record 96 points on their way to claiming the 2006 premiership.
MAFFRA will play Morwell in the reserves, with the winner to face Leongatha in the grand final.
The Eagles’ 11-point second semi-final loss to Leongatha was the minor premiers’ first defeat since round nine, also to the Parrots.
The Tigers have won their past three matches. They defeated Traralgon by one point in the first semi-final.
Moe awaits the winner of the junior matches. Leongatha and Traralgon will contest both the under 18s and 16s.
Gippsland League preliminary final
Saturday at Morwell Recreation Reserve:
Football, seniors: Traralgon v Maffra, 2.20pm; reserves: Maffra v Morwell, 12.30pm; under 18s: Leongatha v Traralgon, 10.45am; under 16s: Traralgon v Leongatha, 9am.
Netball, A grade: Traralgon v Morwell, 2.15pm; B grade: Leongatha v Traralgon, 1pm; C grade: Wonthaggi v Maffra, noon; under 17s: Traralgon v Moe, 11am; under 15s: Wonthaggi v Bairnsdale, 10am; under 13s: Bairnsdale v Maffra, 9am.