One talon on top spot

Maffras Lachlan Channing kicks the ball out of defence.
Maffras Lachlan Channing kicks the ball out of defence.

MAFFRA put one hand on the Gippsland League football minor premiership after a dominant display to defeat Drouin on Saturday.

The Eagles were rarely tested at home, winning by 114 points, 23.19 (157) to 6.7 (43).

Thanks to its win, and losses for Sale and Moe, Maffra is now a game clear on top of the ladder heading into the final round, and has a sizeable percentage lead on its rivals.

Facing a team which cannot move from fifth place, the Eagles kicked the opening three goals, with Daniel Bedggood a focal point in attack.

Against the run of play, Bailey Beck received a favourable bounce of the ball before kicking the Hawks' only goal of the first term.

Maffra still had most of the possession, but the Hawks, putting more players back in defence, were able to prevent the home team from scoring. This was helped by the Eagles not being effective when kicking the ball into their forward line.

The Eagles led by 16 points at quarter-time, but the deficit was reduced to 10 in the opening minutes of the second term when Rhys Salter kicked a goal for the Hawks.

The Eagles responded when Tom Jolly goaled following a turnover.

Salter had his second goal a minute later after Maffra couldn't clear the ball from its back line.

Trailing by 10 points, that was as close as the Hawks would get for the rest of the match.

Kade Renooy was rewarded for a tackle with a free kick, which he converted to a goal.

A clever handpass from Danny Butcher in the centre of the ground allowed Renooy to set-up a goal for Jack Johnstone.

The highlight came when young debutant Thomas Bradshaw struggled off an opponent and kicked a goal on the run, to which all his teammates gathered around to celebrate.

Maffras Jack Johnstone contests the boundary throw-in with Drouins Bob McCallum.

Maffras Jack Johnstone contests the boundary throw-in with Drouins Bob McCallum.

Johnstone was on the end of the Eagles linking play in the midfield, kicking three consecutive goals to put the hosts 47 points ahead at the 23-minute mark.

A chain of quick handpasses resulted in Bradshaw kicking his second goal.

Majors from Jolly and Johnstone completed a 10-goal second term for the Eagles, who led by 67 points at the main break.

The Hawks kicked the first goal of the third term, but the Eagles kicked the final five to lead by 91 points at three-quarter-time.

The damage continued in the fourth quarter as the Eagles kicked five goals to two to push the margin beyond 100 points.

Johnson was outstanding in attack, kicking seven goals for the Eagles, with four each from Bedggood and Jolly.

The work of Lachlan Channing, Ed Carr and Kade Renooy through the midfield was integral to the Eagles booting a large score.

James Read held down the key defender role strongly, while Ben Brunt provided plenty of run from half-forward.

Playing off half-forward, Salter was Drouin's best player, kicking two goals, while forward Cambell Jolly and onballer Ed Morris also served the Hawks well.

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