The top-three and virtually the top five was decided in Round 17 of the Gippsland League.

Leongatha, Wonthaggi and Sale have all earnt a double-chance, while Traralgon will play finals for the first time since 2018.

Maffra, in fifth, looks all but certain to make finals on percentage, however, find themselves equal on points with Morwell with one round to play.

It is not often you will find Morwell barracking for Traralgon, but that will be the case this weekend.

The Tigers must beat Sale in the last round and rely on Traralgon defeating Maffra to take the last available spot in the top five.

SALE won a grind against Traralgon.

 

Choppy conditions at Sale Oval made life difficult for all concerned, but in the end, the Magpies prevailed 6.10 (46) to 5.9 (39).

Goals were gold throughout the day, and the three Sale kicked during the second term allowed them to keep their noses in front to the final siren.

The day started in unusual circumstances, as lightning meant the Under 16 match was abandoned early in the second quarter.

Following the thunderbolt and lightning very, very frightening experience, the Under 18, reserves and senior games went ahead.

Traralgon had five scoring shots to two in the first quarter of the main game, but Sale’s two straight goals allowed them to take a slender lead at the break.

The Magpies made their move in the second, kicking 3.4 (22), and their 15 point lead at half-time was probably equivalent to 25 in ordinary conditions.

Sale only added one more goal after the main break, but it proved to be enough to see not only victory, but the double-chance all wrapped up.

Having identified a top-three finish as the immediate goal after Round 15, Sale coach Jack Johnstone has this checkpoint ticked off the list.

Next item will surely be taking a win into the qualifying final against Wonthaggi.

Ryan Pendlebury was best-on-ground for the Magpies, followed by Mitch Thacker, Pat Tainsh, Kane Martin, Brad Dessent and Harry Ronchi.

Sale’s increased depth has been well documented this season, and it was again on display at the weekend in the form of Thacker.

Thacker came back through the seconds three weeks ago, and his strong showing in the seniors last round could well be a reflection of the fact the Magpies were able to manage rather than rush him back into the starting 22.

Haydn Hector was busy for Traralgon, while Tye Hourigan, David Brinker-Ritchie, Mark Collison, Jake Best and Conor Little were other prominent performers.

MAFFRA won its mini-final against Warragul.

The Eagles maintained their place in the top five following a 7.10 (52) to 4.5 (29) victory.

Maffra made the early running at home, kicking two goals to one behind in the opening term.

The Gulls hit back, winning the second quarter to see the scoreboard all but level at the main break.

Maffra then did enough to secure the points, kicking five goals to two in the second half.

The Carr boys, Ed and Alex, were best for the winners. Mitch Bennett, James Huts, Dylan Alexander and Jack Challands were also solid.

For Warragul, ruckman Sam Whibley, James Davidson, Nick Mulqueen, Will Cole, Brad Hefford and Wil Hatfield played well.

The result means the Eagles are locked in fifth on equal points with Morwell, but with a sizeable 14.69 percentage gap.

Heading into the last round, Morwell takes on Sale, and Maffra plays Traralgon.

While a winner from either game is far from certain, the most likely result will see the

Eagles and Tigers lose to their higher-ranked opponents.

If that is the case, Maffra should play finals as it has such a huge lead on Morwell in percentage.

MORWELL ensured it will be in with a fighting chance of playing finals right to the last round after defeating Drouin.

The Tigers made the journey west, and finish well to win 20.8 (128) to 11.10 (76).

Very little separated the sides in the first half, but a five goal to three second term provided Morwell with enough breathing space.

The visitors took a 16-point lead into the main break, and virtually the same into the last, as they held a 20-point advantage.

Having competed well for three quarters, Drouin eventually ran out of legs, and failed to kick a goal in the final term, while the Tigers piled on five.

Two men with the same surname but different spelling kicked five goals each for the winners. Cody Macdonald was best on ground for his effort, and Brandon McDonald wasn’t far behind.

Others to play well were Burkeley Macfarlane, Boyd Bailey, Tyler Brown and James Jacobsen.

Aden Quirk, Jordan Kingi, Jarrod Marshall, Seth Calway, Joseph Collins and Aaron Marsh put in honest efforts for Drouin.

With finals on the line for Morwell in a few days’ time, the Tigers will be approaching their game against Sale as a grand final.

Morwell will have a home ground advantage, and could see an opportunity to level a result from the last round of the 2019 season.

On that occasion, the Tigers lost to the Magpies by a point, which meant Sale finished top-three.

It will be an emotional day for Morwell, as the club will officially unveil the Stan Morgan Pavilion before the senior match.

The unveiling may just provide Tiger players the extra motivation needed to do the great man proud.

LEONGATHA continues to be Feel Good Inc.

The Parrots fought off a determined Moe, breaking away in the last quarter to win 15.12 (102) to 8.7 (55).

Up until midway through the final term it was anyone’s game, and for a large portion of the match, a famous upset was brewing.

The Lions led by nine points at quarter time, and were only down by five at the main break.

Unfortunately for Moe, key defender Brock Smith suffered concussion after being turned in a dangerous tackle before half-time, meaning he was not only done for the rest of the game, but the rest of the season.

Not condoning violence, but Moe players were quick to remonstrate and fly the flag for their teammate, which would have been pleasing for supporters and coaches to see.

Unfortunately Smith’s early day compounded issues further, as the Lions had already lost fellow key defender Charlie Rieniets and goal sneak Justin Morrow.

Despite this, Moe persisted in the third, and traded momentum with the Parrots.

A Leongatha kick-in that was intercepted by Caleb Michie saw the resultant goal keep the Lions within 10 points, as people at Ted Summerton Reserve started to entertain thought this might well be the day the Parrots lose their first game since April last year.

The Parrots were, however, able to slingshot a couple of momentum-breaking goals on the eve of three quarter time.

As good sides do, Leongatha feasted on turnover across half-back, and found loose players forward of centre once they won the ball back.

Those players had clearly sat forward in confidence and full faith their teammates would win the ball further afield – you can afford to do that in a good team.

Come three quarter time, the margin was just 15 points.

Moe players were implored to give one final effort for the season in front of their home crowd, knowing it would be a herculean task with only one on the bench.

The Parrots by contrast had a full complement, and the fear that the difference in resources would always have a say in the result was eventually realised.

Leongatha took control in the final term, kicking six goals to one. Moe held on until the 25-minute mark, before a snap from Cameron Olden took the lead to 16 points in the Parrots favour.

From there, Leongatha scored a few goals in junk time to bleed the margin.

Olden kicked five to be best afield. Matt Willcocks, Luther Juric, Aaron Turton, Kim Drew and Tom Marriott provided plenty of support.

The sight of Marriott, a league best-andfairest winner and arguably the best player in the competition, carrying a crate of water bottles to the bench after the three quarter time huddle was perhaps the greatest display of Leongatha’s culture.

The more observant football follower may have also noticed Parrots’ coach Trent McMicking and his assistant wearing AirPods. One can only assume they were using them to communicate to other coaches stationed around the ground.

Talk about innovation.

Scott Van Dyk was best for Moe, along with Grady Cocksedge, Ben Morrow, Harri Sim, Lachlan Rock and Trent Baldi, who looks a good show of winning the club best-and-fairest.

WONTHAGGI secured the double-chance after defeating Bairnsdale.

The Power made the long trip to Bairnsdale and defeated the Redlegs 15.18 (108) to 5.5 (35).

The game was over at half-time, as Wonthaggi led by 51 points.

Jack Blair was best for the Power, while Fergus O’Connor, Harry Dawson, Andrew Murray, Steven Scott and Shannon Bray were busy.

Nathan Dennison, Josh Wykes, Liam Giove, Oscar Pike, Randall Stewart and Simon Deery battled hard for Bairnsdale.