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DESPITE not kicking a goal in the first half, Maffra overcame a determined Morwell to win by 27 points and maintain top spot on the Gippsland League football ladder.
The Eagles gave the Tigers a does of their own medicine, as the visitors didn’t kick a goal in the second half to lose 7.12 (54) to 3.9 (27).
The Morwell press frustrated the Eagles, who struggled to find clear avenues to goal. Leading at half and three-quarter times, the Tigers couldn’t maintain their intensity in the final term.
With last week’s best-on-ground Michael Coleman out of the side, Kade Renooy provided good run off half-back to try and break the Morwell press.
Jack Johnstone won plenty of contested possession through the midfield and half-forward for the four quarters.
Midfielders Ed Carr and Danny Butcher used guick ball movement to set-up goal kicking opportunities.
In the absence of Kieran Jones, James Read more than acquitted himself in the ruck.
Sam Pleming returned to the side to again provide a strong influence at centre half-back.
Andrew Petrou was the only multiple goal kicker on the park, finishing with two.
Morwell had more of the ball in the first quarter. When they lost the ball, the Tigers were able to get players back to prevent the Eagles from moving forward fluently.
Neither side kicked a goal in the first term, with the Eagles kicking three behinds and the Tigers two.
It took until the fifth minute of the second quarter for a goal to be kicked. Morwell claimed the lead when Isaac Abas goaled following a free kick.
The Tigers’ lead became 10 points when Joel Soutar’s goal ended a good run of play out of defence.
The Eagles were struggling to hit targets in the forward line, with the Tigers playing well in the back line to not allow the home team’s attack to function properly.
Cody Macdonald sent the ball into Morwell’s forward line and following a pack mark in the goal square, Dan Musil booted a major to give the Tigers a 16-ppint lead at the main break.
Maffra lifted its intensity in the second half, and eventually wore Morwell down.
The Eagles kicked their first goal of the match four minutes into the third term. Petrou’s goal was set-up by a Johnstone contested mark.
The Tigers were still making it hard for the Eagles to kick goals, with defenders taking intercept marks. Needing to kick the next goal, a long kick from Alex Carr found Lachlan Channing, whose major reduced the margin to five points.
With the Tigers tiring, the Eagles were beginning to open the game up.
Maffra could have gone into the final change in front, but a mark was taken in the forward line just after the siren.
A goal from Mitch Bennett levelled the scores early in the final term. A behind soon after gave the Eagles their first lead since the beginning of the second quarter.
The momentum was with the Eagles, and they didn’t look back after goals from Petrou and Pleming.
Quick movement of the ball continued to pay off when Daniel Bedggood and Alex Carr booted goals.
Maffra now has a one-game lead over Moe and Sale on the ladder, while the loss leaves Morwell in eighth place on the ladder, still three wins outside the top five.
Kuiy Jiath and Tyler Hillier were dangerous in the forward line for the Tigers, while Nathan Noblett was effective in defence.