Woodside knock off reigning premier

Tom Hayes

IT’S showtime.

The 2024 North Gippsland Football-Netball season is now underway, after an enthralling opening round.


TTU suffered their first loss since the 2022 season, outdone by last year’s Grand Final opponent, Woodside.

It was on from the very first quarter, as 2023’s Grand Finalists went toe-to-toe to assert their dominance in the new season.

Both sides tallied 3.1 (19) in the first quarter, the close nature of the game mimicking that of the Grand Final itself. In an end-to-end quarter, both teams had their fair share of the football.

But someone had to break the chain, and it was Woodside who kicked away, with five goals to one in the second term to hold a 22-point advantage at the main break.

Given the nature of games these two played in last year, 22 points was a massive margin, but Woodside could not discount the side that is the reigning premier.

So, they simply carried on.

Another three goals were added to Woodside’s tally, while chances went amiss at the other end, which had massive repercussions for the Bombers.

TTU kicked 2.10 (22) in the third quarter, which, if things had have gone their way, could have blown the game out of the water.

“(In the) third quarter (TTU) really stepped up and gave everything and got within 14 points at three-quarter time,” Woodside senior coach, Michael Stockdale said.

“They really took it up to us, with 15 more inside 50s – which we defended well. They did miss some opportunities in front of goal.”

A disheartened TTU entered the final term with some catching up to do, down by three straight kicks.

Despite the amount of effort exerted, the Bombers couldn’t handle the wrath of the Wildcats, who went on to have six scoring shots, returning 3.3 (21).

What did TTU have in response? Four behinds. They were held goalless as last year’s runner-up soon became the favourite for the flag after a 31-point win.

Woodside claimed the four points, 13.6 (84) to TTU’s 6.17 (53).

“Both sides played a good brand of footy. They were missing some key players which will make them only stronger,” Stockdale noted.

Mark Collison, Ryan Foat, Lee Stockdale, Jai Williams (four goals), Thomas King, and Adam Janssen were highlights for the Wildcats.

In defeat, TTU’s Zach Kilgower, Flynn Shields, Oscar Aliotta, Trent Hourigan, Jake Cashmore, and Nicholas Fox played admirably.

WITH two milestones being played at Yarram Recreation Reserve, both Yarram and Churchill had something other than premiership points to play for.

The Demons were celebrating 300 club games of Josh Swift, while the Cougars were doing it for Chris ‘Squid’ Williams, who brought up 200 senior games.

Churchill got the early jump, making the most of the wind by taking a nine-point lead into the first break.

In a fast-paced, high-scoring second term, the Cougars were able to remain within reach kicking against the breeze.

Yarram kicked seven goals to five to regain the lead and essentially hold the upper hand at the main break by three points.

The momentum stayed with the Demons in the third term, which was vital as Churchill had their second chance kicking with the wind.

Yarram’s structures overpowered that of the Cougars in the penultimate quarter, as the Demons disabled the ability of Churchill to use the corridor.

Churchill did kick three goals, including a special banana from the boundary off the foot of Ben Kearns, but they were outdone by Yarram who posted four themselves.

Still, only two kicks separated the sides as they entered the last quarter.

Churchill was hoping to display some magic, like they did in their last visit to Yarram Recreation Reserve. No, it wasn’t against Yarram, but it was a final quarter comeback with significance, as they knocked over Yallourn Yallourn North in last year’s Elimination Final.

Both sides could barely get going in the final stanza. Yarram slowed down the play and congested the footy, ultimately halting any sort of comeback from Churchill.

Yarram closed out the opening round win, defeating the Cougars, 15.11 (101) to 13.13 (91).

“I’m really proud of our boys. Churchill are a quality opposition and are a team that always keeps on coming and never seem to back down,” Yarram senior playing-coach Boadie Motton said.

“So, for us to be able to play a consistent four quarters of team football and stick to ours structure and moral was a really good sight to see.

“We have implemented and worked on a range of new things over the offseason, and to mostly execute that in the opening game, will drive a bit of confidence amongst the playing group.”

Dylan Garnham, Matt Clavarino, Josh Swift (six goals), Griffin Underwood, Motton, and Jake McFarland were the best for the Demons.

Nick Celima, Ben Kearns (five goals), Jordan Fenech, Nathan McRae, Chris Williams, and Brendan Holt were the drivers for the Cougars.

SALE CITY capped off the round with a classy victory over Cowwarr.

The Saints hope to be one of the big improvers in 2024, with the massive signing of Keenan Hughes from YYN.

Despite his efforts in front of goal, Cowwarr was unable to disable the power of the Bulldogs.

Sale City went from a 27-point quarter time lead, to a 32-point halftime lead. Yet still within reach, they would soon break the shackles and let loose on Cowwarr.

Adding 37 points to their score in the third term, the Bulldogs put themselves in a commanding position, with Cowwarr only adding three majors.

With the margin getting out of hand, the Bulldogs only made it worse for the Saints, kicking five final quarter goals to the Saints’ two.

The four points went the way of the home team at Stephenson Park, 18.11 (119) to 7.7 (49).

Jacob Schuback hit the ground running for the Bulldogs with six majors. Also in their best was Jaxsyn Whitehill, Kane Martin (four goals), Daine McGuiness, Ostin Waugh, and Lachlan Carman.

Cowwarr was led by Alex Saunders, Hughes, Nick Twomey, Connor Cook, Ben Coffey, and Kyle Stamers.

HEYFIELD aren’t going anywhere.

With the expected rise of the likes of Rosedale, Sale City and Yarram, the Kangaroos would be put to the test when they hosted the Blues to open their season.

And a test it was, as a trying Rosedale outfit would not let up for the majority of the game, and at some points looked like the favourites to take home the four points.

The two teams were hard to separate in the opening stanza, with the scores tied at 4.3 (27) apiece at quarter time.

The congested nature of the game continued well into the second term up until halftime, which saw Rosedale take the advantage, kicking two goals to two behinds.

It was a completely different contest in the second half, as Heyfield appeared to take the deficit personally.

Heyfield displayed the dominance they did in the back half of the 2023 season, kicking seven goals to one in the third term, completely blowing Rosedale out of the water.

Still, their lead was only 23 points, and by no means was Heyfield allowed to assume that would be enough to close out the game.

So, they made sure of victory, sealing the game by kicking another 6.4 (40) to Rosedale’s sole behind, claiming a 62-point win, 17.9 (111) to 7.7 (49), but by no means did they do it the easy way.

“It was nice to start the season off on a positive note. In a game littered with young players on both sides, it was a tight contest in the first half and the game opened up after halftime,” Heyfield coach, Leigh Brown said.

The players of difference for the Kangaroos were Thomas Marchesi, Max Van Der Zwart, Robert McMillan, Brayden Woodland, Kyle Graham, and Tyson Birss. Mitchell Bennett led the way in front of goal for Heyfield with six majors.

Luke Stuckey, Blake Safstrom, Will Logan, Oscar Smith, Bailey Reid, and Caleb Barnett were valiant in defeat for Rosedale.

GLENGARRY are off to the best start possible.

Some had their doubts about the Magpies going into the new season, after finishing the previous year toward the footend of the ladder.

It was questioned whether Gormandale may be able to cash in on what looked to be a weakened Glengarry outfit, who reportedly made no major changes to their 2023 squad.

For the Tigers, it was up to them to cause a shock and surprise the Magpies, while for Glengarry, the pressure was on them to collect the four points.

Glengarry appeared to handle that pressure expertly, winning 17.12 (114) to 4.5 (29).

Jack Burgess, Luke Healy, Spencer Poulton (five goals), Jesse Lee, Thomas Harris and Callum Mitchell were the most influential for the Magpies.

For Gormandale, the standouts were Jai Foulkes, Jet Krimhand, Hayden Richards, Isaac Copland, Kodie Owen, and Matt Anderson.

YYN had the bye.