Sam Anstee and Liam Durkin
SALE defeated Traralgon by 50 points in round four Gippsland League action at Sale on Saturday.
The game commemorated the tragic death of Peter Hug 20 years ago, with each club paying its respect to the Hug family leading into and after the match.
Sale welcomed back skipper Jordan Dessent, star midfielder Kane Martin and lively forward Jack Allman.
Under 16 player Cooper Whitehill was given a debut, after showing outstanding form at Gippsland Power and local level football.
The other big news for the Pies was the inclusion of former Essendon AFL player and brother of current Sale player Tom in Will Hams.
The game began as anticipated in slippery conditions, with Traralgon forcing a lot of numbers around the coal face, creating a wet scrappy hard contest early.
Martin was outstanding early, finding plenty of ball and using it with his typical effectiveness.
Sale had opportunities but could not convert, before a long ball in and a strong mark to Brad Dessent got Sale’s first goal on the board.
The quarter time margin sat at one point in the Magpies’ favour.
Sale kicked into gear in the second, with its prime movers and cleanliness in the tricky conditions a stand out.
A long Tom Hams snap was marked smartly by Allman, before he goaled from a tricky angle.
A sharp kick from Martin found Brad Dessent, who chipped over the top to Gooch, who made the Maroons suffer.
Sale had all the momentum and, suddenly, the Maroons looked flustered.
Lipman was gifted a free kick in a ruck infringement and subsequently goaled.
The Magpies’ pressure created turnovers, as Martin swooped on a loose ball, kicking truly.
Sale kicked six for the quarter, compared with the Maroons’ one, to open up a six goal lead at half-time.
The change room expectation was that the Maroons would not lay down, and without a doubt, they threw everything at the Magpies after half-time.
Sale held strong and was able to restrict the Maroons to just the two goals – a good effort,
considering the intensity and effort of Traralgon. Sale kicked a steadier through Chris Laverty, but a glimmer of hope sat with the Maroons at the three quarter time break, even with the margin sitting at 31 points.
Again, it was Martin’s class that stood out – when Sale needed a goal he was the man to do it.
A scrambled ball and gather resulted in a smooth finish, effectively ruling out any serious challenge.
A great effort by coach Shane Fyfe on the wing caused a turnover, and with slick hands from brother Will, Tom Hams snapped truly in front of the big group of past players.
Sale was now well and truly over the Maroons.
A good contest and smart roving goal by Jackson Glenane, followed by a 50 metre penalty to Jack McLaren, and a goal from the square was the icing on the cake.
Sale ran out a comfortable winner – Sale 13.14 (92) to Traralgon 6.6 (42).
For the Magpies, Martin was massive all day – his two goals in clutch moments and skill in trying conditions were a standout.
Tom Hams was fantastic, putting his body in situations it shouldn’t be, and his cleanliness was outstanding.
The two Sale midfielders were ably supported by Mitch Dowse, Jack McLaren and Jayden Allison, while Sale ruckman Jack Lipman played his best game for the year.
Sale’s defence would be pleased with its efforts, but Sale coach Shane Fyfe was the standout.
The Magpies should be ecstatic with the win, as many individual goal kickers and great synergy in the team was on show – the resultant win gaining consolidation in the top three, but even more so, it was the significance of the day and what that meant that would have pleased so many.
The challenge of an in-form Drouin at home awaits next weekend.
With the Maroons now consigned to the bottom of the ladder and in unfamiliar territory, the side is facing an uphill battle to keep its season alive.
Traralgon’s 0-4 start is its worst since 2007 when it lost its first seven games.
History is not on the Maroons’ side to play finals this season, as since the final five format was introduced, only Maffra in 1998 has played finals after losing the first four games.
IN other matches across round four, it was clear no team is safe, with two huge upsets highlighting the unforgiving nature of Gippsland’s premier league.
While the force was strong with a number of sides on May 4, others were made to pay for a disturbing lack of faith.
MORWELL shocked the competition with an upset win over Maffra, scoring four final quarter goals to steal the match by four points.
Having trailed at every break, the Tigers clicked into gear with a mighty last quarter effort, to keep Maffra scoreless in a low scoring affair that resulted in just 11 goals being kicked across both sides.
The Eagles appeared in control of the contest for the most part, as Morwell could only manage two goals up to three quarter time.
A pulsating final play saw Morwell’s Kuiy Jiath take the ball from a stoppage and kick the winning goal with 15 seconds left to send the home crowd into unrestrained jubilation.
ANOTHER huge boil-over occurred at Leongatha, with Warragul winning its first match of the season in an absolute heart-stopper.
An even first half saw the Gulls go into the main break with a two point lead, which they were then able to extend to 17 points at the last change.
The Parrots responded with three goals in the final term to level the scores late.
With the game on the line, Warragul player Matt Rennie received a handball and sent a check-side kick from 30 metres out that snuck in over the line to register a point, just as the siren sounded as the ball left his boot, giving the Gulls a one point victory.
MOE maintained its unbeaten start to 2019, with a win at home over Wonthaggi.
The Lions were slow out of the blocks in the opening term, as the Power kicked the first three goals in an even first half.
Moe was able to give itself a bit of breathing space at three quarter time with a 16-point buffer, and rallied well in the last quarter, kicking six goals to four to win by 27 points.
DROUIN got the points over Bairnsdale, with the ever-improving Hawks making the Redlegs’ long trip home even more painful after a close contest.
Bairnsdale took 30 minutes to wake up, but came to life in the second quarter, kicking six goals to take a four point lead into half-time.
The match could have gone either way after the main break, but Drouin did enough to win by nine points and consolidate third spot on the competition ladder.