PLAYERS forgot to pack their kicking boots in round 11 of Gippsland League football.
Some average displays of inaccuracy in front of goal dominated the round, as those with pen in hand ran out of space in the second column on the scorecard.
SALE got home by the barest of margins against Bairnsdale.
While the majority of pundits predicted the Magpies to win easily, the final score of 9.20 (74) to 11.7 (73) caused a number of raised eyebrows as the result came to hand.
Trailing at quarter and half-time at Sale Oval, the home side firstly dug deep in the third before hanging on for dear life in the last.
The Magpies kicked four goals in the third term and led by 14 points at the last change.
Come the final quarter however, Sale kicked behind after behind, while conversely, Bairnsdale could not miss, and added four goals of its own to close in on a memorable victory.
Sale was eventually saved by the bell, netting a huge sigh of relief from all involved in what was both a great escape and showing that ‘good teams find a way to win’.
Remarkably, Bairnsdale kicked two more goals than Sale, yet the Magpies had 11 more scoring shots.
Without stating the obvious, the Magpies’ return of nine goals and 20 behinds hurt their chances of wrapping the game up earlier, but the win nevertheless keeps Sale in the hunt for a top three finish.
Most finals-bound teams have at least one win during the season where they use the get out of jail card, and this may well have been the game Sale used its card.
Mitch Bown was best on ground for the Magpies, followed by Shannen Lange who is having a stellar season.
Sale’s big game players rose to the occasion when the game was on the line, with John Gooch, Jayden Allison and Kane Martin all showing their class. Martin had a clear impact on the result, with his four goals virtually single handily keeping Sale in with a show.
For Bairnsdale, veteran Simon Deery was best on ground. Andrew Nelson also played well, while Nathan Dennison kicked three goals.
MOE shook off a determined Maffra.
The Lions kicked four goals to none in the final term to claim a 10.6 (66) to 4.16 (40) victory.
In a game that never reached any great heights, Moe did enough in scrappy conditions at Ted Summerton Reserve.
Maffra held tight throughout the game, yet inaccuracy in front of goal plagued the Eagles.
The away team looked damaging at times, yet a return of four goals and 16 points told the story.
The game was up for grabs at three quarter time, with the margin just five points in the Lions’ favour. Moe steadied in the last, with its experienced campaigners taking the impetus to dig their heels in and get the team over the line.
Lucas Forato snapped a team-lifting goal to extend the margin, before skipper Jacob Wood made sure of the result after getting forward of the ball from the pocket, finding space goal side and slamming through the sealer at the Can Bar end.
Lions forward Lachlan Rees played his best game for the season, leading the goal kicking with three. Declan Keilty and Jordan Ceppi also played well, as did Forato, Ben Maslen and Trent Baldi.
Hudson Holmes was best for Maffra, and received good support from Alex Carr and James Read. Heart and soul ruckman Bill Pleming, midfielder Danny Butcher and Lachlan Channing were also prominent.
The Lions’ victory was soured by an injury to midfielder Lachlan Macleod, who was taken from the ground by ambulance early in the piece.
THE highly-anticipated clash between traditional rivals Traralgon and Morwell lived up the hype.
An arm-wrestle of a match, the Tigers broke away from the Maroons in the last quarter to win by 15 points 10.7 (67) to 7.10 (52).
Traralgon made the early running and took a nine point lead at the first change, but was unable to capitalise on its opportunities inside 50.
The Tigers had the better of the second quarter, adding three goals to go in with their noses narrowly in front at the main break, and honours were shared in the third term as teams traded goals.
The margin was just two points at the last break, before Morwell came home with a wet sail, kicking four goals to one to grind out a hard fought win.
Ruckman Isaac Abas was a standout, finishing the game with 24 hit outs and the sealing goal, while Tom Caile, Brandon McAuliffe and Dan Musil also contributed.
Tye Hourigan had the ball on a string for Traralgon and did his best to get his side over the line, while Luke Johnson and Conor Little also played well.
The effects of the loss may not be seen for Traralgon until the final ladder positions are filled; if the Maroons miss out on a finals spot, they will look back to this game as one that cost them.
For Morwell, the confidence garnered from a win such as this will do the young Tigers the world of good, and will also keep the motivation alive for the remainder of the season while the possibility of finals and more character building wins remains alive.
SUNDAY action saw Leongatha solidify itself as premiership favourite after brushing Wonthaggi aside by 29 points.
The top-of-the-table clash gave the Power its first loss for the season, and saw it drop down to third position as a result.
Leongatha, Wonthaggi and Moe are now equal on points, with seven wins and one loss to their credit.
Leongatha trailed by two points at half-time, but kicked six goals to none in the third term.
The Parrots’ ability to flick the ball around congestion cleanly by hand was telling, while Wonthaggi seemed to panic and just slammed the ball on the boot whenever it gained possession around traffic.
Because of this, Leongatha’s key defender Josh Schelling had a field day, mopping up in the defensive 50.
Schelling was among the best for the Parrots, and Jake Van Der Plight and Kim Drew also played well for the winners.
At the other end, Jack Hume was deadly on the lead and finished with six goals in a best on ground display.
Jack Blair was his usual silky self for Wonthaggi, while Mitchell Hayes and Fergus O’Connor also played good games.
Power small forward Lachlan Ferguson was on crutches at the end of the game after having his quad heavily iced at three quarter time.
THE other local derby between Warragul and Drouin saw the Hawks win by 13 points.
Drouin now has some breathing space in the top five and is two wins clear from Traralgon, while the Gulls are still searching for their first win.