SALE held off a persistent Bairnsdale to win by 12 points at Bairnsdale City Oval.
The third-placed Magpies won 12.13 (85) to 10.13 (73).
The Magpies are now level on points with Maffra and Leongatha on the Gippsland League football ladder, with the Eagles to play during the second weekend of the split round.
Sale welcomed back dominant ruckman Jack Lipman, while utility Jack Mapleson recovered from a slight leg issue last week to take his place for the Magpies.
The windy conditions favoured the team kicking towards the southern end of the ground, but Sale, kicking to the northern end in the first term, gained the advantage early with Jackson Glenane and Jack McLindin kicking goals.
Bairnsdale responded swiftly with four in a row.
Sale had injury concerns, with key forward Brad Dessent limping off the ground following an innocuous incident.
Bairnsdale’s 16-point lead at quarter-time flattered the visitors, who were missing some of their pressure and structure. The margin could have been greater, but the siren stopped a certain Bairnsdale goal.
Captain Kane Martin got the Magpies going with a clever roving goal.
The Redlegs were holding on well, with their pressure and windy conditions forcing the Magpies to turnover the football forward early.
A strong Mitch Dowse clearance and subsequent long entry turned into a left foot dribble goal from John Gooch. Suddenly Sale seemed to have some momentum, but Bairnsdale then went wide from defence, breaking the forward press open, before Ricky Tatnell kicked a goal for the home side.
Jordan Dessent and coach Shane Fyfe steadied the ship for the Magpies.
A Jamie Sweeney intercept mark and short pass found Dessent, who kicked truly, while a sloppy Adam Wallace entry saw Dessent gather, spin out of trouble and kick another goal.
The Magpies kicked two more goals before half-time, giving them an 18-point lead.
Sale controlled play early in the third quarter, but conditions were tough for scoring from general play. It took nearly 14 minutes for the first goal of the term, when a long pass by Jayden Allison went to to Gooch, whose strong contested mark and sound kick saw Sale extend its lead.
Bairnsdale’s willingness to keep playing wide and push the ball forward by foot was worrying Sale.
The Redlegs kicked three goals in a row to bring the margin to six points.
The Magpies weren’t able to exit the Bairnsdale back-half, and were hurting themselves with turnovers and a lack of intensity.
The speed of Brad McKay opened up the game through the midfield, his kick found Gooch, who kicked goal on the three-quarter-time siren, giving Sale a 12-points lead.
As the wind dropped off late in the third quarter, the intensity stepped up. Bairnsdale could sense an upset, generating shots for goal early in the fourth term which went wide — this would hurt the Redlegs in the end.
The ball pinged between both sides’ forward arcs before Jordan Dessent kicked the steadying goal the Magpies needed.
Injuries to Martin, Adam Wallace and Zac Hurley left the Magpies without any fit players in the bench for the final 10 minutes.
Simon Deery kicked a goal a few seconds before the siren for the Redlegs, reducing the deficit to 12 points.
Jordan Dessent was clearly Magpies’ best player, his efforts and three goals had a massive influence on the result. Martin’s workrate through the midfield and ability to get to good areas in kicking two goals had him once again in the best players.
Mitch Dowse proved strong in the contest and at times him and McKay broke the game open with there pace, while Allison’s foot skills were outstanding at times.
Chris Laverty and Fyfe were steadying influences at both ends of the ground.
The split round comes at a good time for the Magpies, who are nursing some sore bodies as they prepare for the finals.
Shock win for Hawks over Parrots
DROUIN caused the upset of the Gippsland League football season, shocking defending premier Leongatha.
The Parrots led by eight points at the first changed, but relinquished it to be 16 points in the red at half-time. They regained the upper hand and had stolen the lead again at three-quarter-time to be up by 13 points heading into the final term, but a three-goal-to-one finish gave the visiting Hawks an unlikely win and their second for the season, 10.9 (69) to 9.13 (67).
It was the Hawks’ first win over the Parrots in seven years.
Playing his 246th senior match, David Olsen marked breaking the Hawks’ senior games record with a best-on-ground performance at centre half-forward.
Coach Jordan Kingi was one of three Hawks to bag three goals, along with Michael Laszczyk and Rhys Salter.
League leading goal kicker Chris Dunne booted five majors for Leongatha.
Parrots coach Paul Carbis said his side didn’t adjust well to the strong winds which swept the ground, but admitted it didn’t take opportunities when they were presented.
“At half-time we spoke about some adjustments and we were playing really poorly to be honest, but Drouin were playing really well,” Carbis said.
“We didn’t take our opportunities in the third and could of put the game beyond doubt but we didn’t take our chances.
“In the end, Drouin deserved to win because they were better on the day.
“I don’t believe that any loss is a good loss to be honest, and I hate losing but (Saturday) was probably the wake-up call we needed.”
MORWELL made up for a lacklustre start on home soil against Wonthaggi by kicking four final-term goals to run out a 29-point winner.
The Tigers had just two majors from nine scoring shots at half-time and were three points in the red. A further seven shots for goal in the third returned three majors and the home side had wrestled back the lead to be seven points up at the last break.
Wonthaggi squandered opportunities in the final term, and was goal-less from four attempts, while Morwell’s four goals was enough to see it hang on for win number four of the season, 9.13 (67) to 5.8 (38).
Anthony Rosato led the way for the Tigers across half-forward, while Ryan Hearn kicked three goals.
Wonthaggi is now on the bottom of the ladder follow its loss and Drouin’s win.
THE split round will end this Saturday with Maffra heading to Warragul, and Traralgon hosting Moe. – with Kate Withers