Maffra, Maroons in finals preview

MAFFRA will host Traralgon in a preview of the Gippsland League football qualifying final.

The result of Saturday’s match could give the winner a psychological edge ahead of the finals.

Danny Butcher and Kel Porter have led the charge for the Eagles in the midfield, and will battle with the likes of Mitch Mustoe, who has played big roles in the Maroons’ past two wins.

With both sides having strong on-ball divisions, the ruck contest between Eagle Trent Knobel and Ben Amberg, whose been among the Maroons’ best in recent weeks, could have a major bearing on who controls the midfield.

Michael Burge has been in good form for Traralgon, while Lee Stockdale, who has kicked 36 goals this season, needs to be kept in check by the Eagles’ defence.

Captain Sam Pleming has been influential in Maffra’s two recent wins. Those wins over Morwell and Moe were expected, but the Eagles will know the reigning premiers will pose a different challenge.

The Eagles and Maroons have produced some thrillers in the past two years. The biggest margin during that period, 17 points, was in Traralgon’s qualifying final win last year.

In round seven, Maffra put in its best performance of the season to win by 14 points at Traralgon.

WITH their finals hopes still in their own hands, Sale and Warragul will meet in a big match at Sale Oval.

While they have only five wins this season, the Magpies are two wins outside the top five with three rounds before the finals. The teams the Magpies are fighting against for fifth spot will be their opponents over the next three weeks.

There is more at stake tomorrow for the Gulls, who face a tougher road to the finals, with matches against Traralgon and Maffra to round out the home-and-away season.

The Gulls dropped out of the top five after their loss to Leongatha a fortnight ago and Drouin’s thrilling win at Morwell last weekend.

The Gulls have won at Sale just 15 times from 57 attempts. The Gulls’ win in 2004 was their only success at Sale since 1994, although the clubs were in different competitions between 2000 to 2004.

Sale only kicked five goals against Warragul in round seven. The 28-point margin didn’t do the Gulls’ dominance justice.

WITH just two points between them on the ladder, Drouin will host Wonthaggi in a top five clash.

The Hawks return to the top five came after three consecutive victories, including Maffra at home.

With percentage compared to other teams battling for finals positions a concern, the Hawks have little choice but to win.

The Power needs to rediscover that winning feeling, having lost its past two matches. It only occupies fifth position on the ladder by virtue of a better percentage than sixth-placed Warragul.

MOE’S attempt to turn its form around and make the finals will take it to Leongatha to meet the undefeated Parrots.

A hat-trick of defeats have seen the Lions drop to eighth place on the ladder, two wins outside the top five.

Life is unlikely to get easier for Moe tomorrow against Leongatha, which has won its past 12 games against the Lions.

THE bottom two sides will meet, with Bairnsdale hosting Morwell in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

While Morwell has won the past five games against Bairnsdale, only one has been won by a margin of more than 30 points.

Bairnsdale hasn’t finished last since 1998 and Morwell, back-to-back premiers in 2013 and ‘14, hasn’t finished at the foot of the ladder since 2003.