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TRARALGON handed Sale its second defeat in a row and its third for the Gippsland League football season.
The Maroons won 12.1 (73) to 9.14 (68) at home on Saturday.
With Traralgon fielding a young side, the Magpies knew the Maroons would be fleet of foot.
The match began at good pace, with Traralgon forcing Sale to turnover the football on numerous occasions in the first quarter, something that would become a consistent factor in the Magpies' play. Still, the Magpies led at quarter-time by a goal.
Again in the second quarter, the Magpies were not using the ball to their typical level. Combining this with shallow entries and poor kicking at goal, the sniff Traralgon needed was there.
The Maroons turned every opportunity they could into forward 50 entries, but, more importantly, kicked straight.
Although Sale had the majority of the play, the seven-point half-time lead didn't do justice to a team which had possessed the ball most of the game.
The lackluster first half culminated for the Magpies in the third quarter.
Traralgon kicked a couple of goals by spreading the Sale press, enabling an easy over the top advantage on both occasions.
The renowned Sale pressure was off with the Maroons effectively setting up the game kicking six goals for the term.
With a 20-point margin in front of the Magpies, coach Fyfe urged his players at three-quarter-time to take the game on.
Fyfe kicked the first goal for the final term, but as had happened all day, the Maroons found a goal almost immediately.
The Magpies pushed hard to the end, with their prime movers Luke Williams, Jayden Allison and Will Leslie beginning to take control, but again the form of the day continued with errant decision making and poor execution leaving the Magpies five points short at the final siren.
Incidentally, the Maroons' only point for the day was a touched behind on the goal line. In contrast, the Magpies had nine scoring shots in the fourth term, for three goals and six behinds.
Picking the best players was a tough task with Sale only having a few players play to their typical high standard.
Leslie was important in the midfield with plenty of clearances and finding the ball on the outside, he looked at times like he was going to open the game up.
Jack Lipman was the dominant big man on the ground, while Jordan Dessent was reliable in tight.
Brad Dessent kicked three goals but again it was a day of what if for the forward. A few marks not quite sticking and the numbers behind the ball making it tough at times.
Mitch and Nic Dowse applied plenty of pressure, while Jackson Glenane was solid through a variety of roles, but again there were a number of Magpies down on the day.
The win handed back the Peter Hug Memorial Cup to the Maroons and kept their slim finals chances alive, while the loss dropped Sale back to third behind Moe on percentage.
MOE moved into second place on the ladder with a 45-point win at Wonthaggi.
The Lions notched up their sixth win in a row, defeating the Power 13.13 (91) to 6.10 (46).
The visitors led by six points at half-time, but stormed away in the second half, booting eight goals to two.
Joel Bragagnolo stood out for Moe at centre half-back, while Tom Long kicked four goals and Tristan Gum three.
BAIRNSDALE kept its faint finals hopes alive with a 27-point at home over Drouin.
With five games to play, the sixthplaced Redlegs are two wins behind the Hawks in fifth following their 15.15 (105) to 10.17 (77) victory. The Hawks have lost their past three matches.
The Redlegs controlled play in the first half to lead by 35 points at the main break.
The margin increased to 42 by three-quarter-time. The gap could have been smaller if the Hawks kicked straighter for goal.
The visitors found the goals to begin the final, kicking five of the first six majors to get within 16 points. The Redlegs steadied to kick the final two goals of the match.
Shaun Wyatt kicked five goals in a best-on-ground performance for the Redlegs.
LEONGATHA and Warragul had the bye.