MAFFRA has plenty of work to do if it’s to win the Gippsland League football premiership.
Losing the second semi-final to Leongatha by 64 points on Saturday night at Traralgon, the Eagles failed to kick a goal during the second half.
The 16.9 (105) to 5.11 (41) loss was the Eagles’ biggest since a 79-point defeat to Sale in 2012.
The margin appeared unlikely at half-time, when the Eagles were leading by nine points.
Battered and bruised, the Eagles will play Traralgon in the preliminary final this Saturday at Moe.
Maffra did most of the attacking during the first half, their running with and without the ball putting the Eagles in a strong position. The Parrots also found it hard to deal with the intense pressure applied by their opponents.
The Eagles kicked the first goal when Kel Porter pounced on a loose ball, and his long kick was gathered by Mitch Bennett, who snapped the first of his three majors for the match.
The Parrots were good in defence under pressure, but had few entries into their own forward 50 metre arc. It took until the 16th minute of the first quarter for the Parrots to post their first score, a behind.
Having taken a mark after running with the flight of the ball, Lachlan Channing kicked the Eagles’ second goal at the 25-minute mark.
The Parrots responded two minutes later, when Chris Dunne kicked their first major from a free kick.
The Eagles led by eight points at quarter-time.
Maffra coach Wayne Butcher was pleased with the Eagles’ relentless attack on the ball and speed away from the stoppages.
The pattern continued early in the second term, as Bennett kicked his second goal.
A diving smother by Sam Walker prevented a possible Leongatha goal. The Parrots got the next goal through Ryan Olden.
Danny Butcher sent the ball to Hudson Holmes, whose kick was tapped by Daniel Bedggood to Bennett, whose goal gave the Eagles a 15-point lead.
The Parrots were missing chances in front of goal, until majors from John Ginnane and Cade Maskell reduced the deficit to two points.
Maffra steadied with a goal from Tom Jolly late in the quarter, with the Parrots able to prevent another major before the main break.
The intensity and run which was a highlight for Eagles’ play disappeared when the players returned to the field for the second half.
Three goals within the first 10 minutes of the third quarter put the Parrots 10 points up.
The trickle had become a torrent as Josh Hopkins beat James Huts to the ball and kicked it off the ground for the Parrots’ fourth major of the term.
A goal from Julian Lockwood pushed the lead out for 22 points.
Trailing by 23 points at three-quarter-time, the Eagles kicked the ball in their forward line without purpose, with most kicks met by the Parrots’ tall defenders.
During his three-quarter-time address, Butcher said the Eagles “just went to sleep for a quarter”.
“They were more desperate,” he said.
The news didn’t get any better for the Eagles in the final term, as the Parrots kicked eight unanswered goals.
The bottom line was, the Eagles couldn’t maintain their intensity for four quarters, the Parrots could. The performance of Leongatha will give Maffra plenty to consider ahead of the grand final, should it get past Traralgon, which is far from a gimme.
Jack Johnstone and Alex Carr were the Eagles’ most consistent performers throughout the four quarters. They tried hard to help the Eagles regain ascendency through the midfield.
Chris Verboon typified the Parrots strength in defence, Ben Willis’ control of the ruck in the second half had a major bearing on the result, and Luke Bowman was superb across half-forward. Ginnane and Dunne kicked three goals each.
MAFFRA was too strong for Traralgon in the reserves second semi-final.
The Eagles kept the Maroons scoreless in the second half to win 11.14 (80) to 3.1 (19) and progress to the grand final.
Jesse Ross, Ben Brunt and Luke Shelton stood-out for Maffra, while Jack Tatterson kicked three goals.
DESPITE trailing at each break, Sale booked a spot in the under 16s grand final with a four-point victory over Bairnsdale.
Little separated the sides throughout the match, but the Magpies kicked the only two goals of the final term to win 8.7 (55) to 7.9 (51).
Mason Benson kicked three goals for the Magpies, with William McKinnon and Blake Safstrom prominent.
IN the under 18s, Traralgon defeated Moe 10.7 (67) to 5.4 (34) after trailing by five points at half-time.
Gippsland League preliminary final
Saturday at Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe:
Seniors: Maffra v Traralgon, 2.20pm.
Reserves: Traralgon v Leongatha, 12.30pm.
Under 18s: Moe v Bairnsdale, 10.30am.
Under 16s: Bairnsdale v Wonthaggi, 9am.