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SALE consolidated second place on the Gippsland League football ladder with a gritty 19-point win at Wonthaggi on Saturday.
Without injured captain Kane Martin, the Magpies won Sale 14.10 (95) to 11.9 (75).
Despite heavy rainfall during the week, ground conditions were good and in expected fashion the bigger Wonthaggi side looked to exert its size to the advantage by pressing up and competing hard.
Beginning well, the Magpies matched Wonthaggi in tight contest. Brad Dessent was isolated up forward early, his three majors for the quarter gave the Magpies an 11 point lead at quarter-time.
With Dessent in fine form, it seemed the Magpies would inevitably use this to advantage but when he did not return to the field after quarter-time, a reshuffling of the side had to occur.
Adam Wallace was gaining lots of possession through the midfield, this led the Magpies to continue to push deep entries to no real effect. A smart goal to Jackson Glenane off teammates’ quick hands midway through the quarter kept the Power at bay.
Pat Ryan for the Power was looking ominous up forward as Wonthaggi continued to control the play, but Sale’s defence, in particular Andrew Quirk and Ollie Collins, held tight.
A long goal against the run of play by Jordan Dowsett stemmed the Power’s hopes of a lead. A shot on the siren by Jack Mapleson missed, with the Magpies holding on to a two-goal lead at the main break.
Coach Shane Fyfe understood the importance of the game and urged his players to step-up and embrace the challenge. The move of Nic Dowse onto Ryan (who had kicked four goals in the first half) limited Wonthaggi’s main target.
Despite this, the game swayed into Wonthaggi’s favour, Sale could not effectively exit the defensive 50, and when Wonthaggi ran into an open goal off the back of the contest, the lead changed hands for the first time.
The Magpies’ defence held on tight and a brave effort by Glenane to run with the flight of the ball, creating an opportunity for Mapleson, who calmly slotted through the first of three late unanswered goals for the Magpies.
This would open up a 16-point lead by three-quarter-time.
Jarrod Freeman limped off in the fourth quarter and both teams were at the mercy of injuries, with Sale limited to two fit players on the bench.
A combination of tough play, lack of rotations and a strong cross wind in the final quarter meant the game was played between the arcs.
The Power continued to pressure, tackle and look inside but steady play by Jayden Allison, Chris Laverty, Jordan Dessent and coach Fyfe saw Sale control any dangerous Wonthaggi movement.
In a grinding final quarter, goals were hard to come by, but the Magpies walked off victors at Wonthaggi for the first time since 2014.
Jayden Allison was the best Magpie, putting in his most consistent performance of the year in the midfield.
The defensive acts and clean ball movement of Glenane didn’t go unnoticed.
Jordan Dessent continued his great season — playing through the midfield he kicked two goals and hit the post twice.
Defenders were also vitally important, as Collins, Nic Dowse and Quirk showed great poise and maturity throughout the game.