Pies end Parrots’ unbeaten run

SALE kicked away in the closing stages to inflict Leongatha with its first loss of the Gippsland League football season.

The Magpies kicked 4.6 to zero in the final quarter to win 11.12 (78) to 6.6 (42) to put them back on top of the ladder on percentage.

The Sale defence was outstanding, keeping in-form Parrots forward Dwayne Holt and Jake Best goalless for the first time this season.

The defenders, led by Joel Wallace, Chris Laverty, Andrew Quirk and Shane Fyfe, were at their best. The Parrots launched attacks, only to find the ball landing in the safe hands of the Sale backmen.

On the ball, Kane Martin and Luke Collins fed off ruckmen Dylan McLaren and Jake Lipman. McLaren’s palming was first class, using the big tap to open the game up.

Matt Ferguson, three goals, Brendan Rathnow and Collins, two each, were the best of the goal kickers.

The victory gives the Magpies a perfect record from four matches under lights over the past two seasons.

After leading by 14 points at half-time, the Magpies went on the attack. A goal from Ferguson from a relayed free kick was followed up when the coach, with good vision, hooked the ball back to centre half-forward where McLaren marked using good body work, played on then kicked a goal from 20 metres out to extend the margin to 26 points.

The Parrots launched a counter-attack, winning the ball in the midfield with Chris Verboon (twice) and Beau Vernon getting on the end of long kicks to score vital goals to reduce the deficit to just six points at the final change. It looked as though the Magpies would have their work cut out to hold the charging Parrots.

The Parrots’ approach to the final quarter was hard to follow.

At the seven-minute mark, the only players in the Leongatha forward line were Holt, guarded by Quirk, and Verboon, marked by Jordan Dessent. This allowed the Magpies to set up a defensive wall across the midfield.

The Parrots, with few options, had to chip the ball around. After three of four passes, the last of their clearing kicks landed with the Magpies.

Collins kicked one of his two goals after intercepting a Leongatha kick.

Fifteen-year-old Bohdi Walker took one of the marks of the match, flying in from the side of the pack. The goal that followed was a just reward for his courageous mark.

Rathnow had the Magpie fans cheering with two final quarter goals, for the second he appeared to slip as he kicked, but recovered quickly to boot the major.

The Magpies’ other 15-year-old, Josh Dunkley, again chipped in to mark a Leongatha clearing kick and goaled from 50m out to cap off Sale’s best win of the season.

In the reserves, it was also a match between first and second on the ladder, with Leongatha holding on to win by five points.

The Magpies’ under 18s played well, winning by 75 points, while the under 16s maintain their unbeaten run with a 175-point victory.