Magpies overcome Hawks

Sam Anstee

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SALE recorded a 14-point victory to consolidate its hold on third spot on the Gippsland League football ladder.

Despite kicking their lowest score for the season — 9.14 (68) — the Magpies defeated the Hawks, who booted 7.12 (54).

Greeted by heavy ground conditions at Drouin on Saturday, the Magpies were forced to make a late change to the selected side, with Luke Williams being called up to Gippsland Power allowing Corey Oliver to return from injury.

The defensive unit looked different, for the first time in his coaching reign, Shane Fyfe looked on from afar as a precaution following a head knock last week. Under 18s captain Declan Barnett was picked to make his senior debut, while Zac Hurley was back to Power duties.

The Hawks began the game well, with their three scoring shots for the quarter all coming within the first 10 minutes.

Sale struggled to penetrate deep into its own forward line. It took the Magpies 17 minutes to kick their first goal, coming on the run from Jack McLindin.

Brad Dessent marked strongly, kicking truly from 20 metres out on a slight angle. The Magpies led by 14 points at quarter-time, with errant goal kicking preventing the margin being bigger.

Sale began the second term well, but was again let down by poor kicking for goal.

Brad Dessent’s strong marking up forward a highlight, his kicking for goal not. A Dessent did kick a goal, but it was Jordan, as both teams were missing opportunities.

The game was being played primarily between the arcs, with Drouin intent on kicking and running through the Sale press. Andrew Quirk was particularly strong dealing with any high balls from the Drouin midfielders, while his tackling was fantastic.

Sale led by 19 points at half-time, but Drouin was hopeful, sticking with the Magpies in general play.

The contest between Gippsland’s two premier ruckmen, Jack Lipman and Bob McCallum, was intriguing.

Drouin ruckman McCallum was a big contributor in the third term, as the Hawks kicked the first three goals to make it a one-point game.

Jayden Allison roved smartly to kick a left foot snap goal to provide the steadier Sale needed.

A long entry ended up in a few slick vhandballs, the ball coming back out of the Sale 50 and finding Allison, who found Freeman via a strong mark.

Freeman kicked truly as Sale sensing an opportunity to break the game open, however, the Magpies missed two opportunities.

Sale could not kick another goal, and was forced to defend hard for  the final five minutes of the term, but the Hawks kicked another major to cut the Magpies’ lead to eight points at three-quarter-time.

Both teams were pushing hard in the final term, but the heavy ground conditions weren’t conducive to free-flowing football.

John Gooch was working hard, and had a hand in the first goal of the quarter, a long kick to advantage finding Brad Dessent, who kicked truly.

Drouin responded to bring it back to a one-goal margin, but Martin kicked the sealer for Sale.

Martin’s work rate and skills in the tough conditions was outstanding.

Gooch, who surprisingly didn’t kick a goal, was Sales link man, getting up and down the ground and jumping hard.

Andrew Quirk was fantastic in defence, denying many Drouin attacking opportunities.

Senior players Jamie Sweeney and Chris Laverty (who is now level with club senior games record holder Kane Fraser) were solid as always — their experience and communication was vital in the tough conditions.

The Magpies would be happy with the four points but not happy with the performance. The game was similar to earlier in the year at Warragul, missed opportunities gave the home side a sniff, and both sides took the opportunities as presented.