Wonthaggi makes powerful start to the Gippsland League season by defeating Drouin at home

The ticketbox appears a long way in the distance at Wonthaggi as people came in droves to watch local football and netball once more. Photo Liam Durkin
The ticketbox appears a long way in the distance at Wonthaggi as people came in droves to watch local football and netball once more. Photo Liam Durkin

WONTHAGGI began the Gippsland League football season with a 77-point victory over Drouin on Saturday.

The clubs drew a large Easter Saturday crowd to Wonthaggi. So big was the crowd, the line of cars extended far beyond the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve gate, and all undercover seats were taken by the time the senior match began.

Truthfully, most in attendance were there to see former Collingwood player and Wonthaggi junior Jarryd Blair in his first game as Power playing coach, and by the end of the game most would have been impressed by what they saw.

Wonthaggi outplayed Drouin with a systematic dismantling which saw the Power slam on six goals to one in the opening term.

A near 30 degree day proved ideal conditions for Wonthaggi players to use their skills, which they did to damaging effect.

The Power played the dimensions of their ground well, as players repeatedly punched kicks into holes around the ground before making their way inside 50.

Once inside 50 Wonthaggi played to its strengths, as apart from Troy Harley it didn't have any tall forwards, and so simply opted to send the ball deep to Harley who then brought the smalls into the game.

Of the 16 goals Wonthaggi kicked for the match, the majority were scrambled, with many coming as the ball was kept alive in the goal square.

Left-footers Mitchell Hayes and Steven Scott proved effective in breaking the lines with racking kicks between the arcs, while around the contest Aiden Lindsay and Tim Knowles were busy.

As expected, Blair was a class above, and showed all the attributes of a 150-plus game AFL player.

He generally played on ball, but for some centre bounces was at half-back, where he was able to track through and smartly position himself to either receive a handball or provide an out-number on ground ball.

Drouin tightened up after quarter-time, but never looked in the contest, and in the finish the final scoreboard read 16.7 (103) to 3.8 (26).

Things got heated in the third term, as a brawl broke out in front of the Drouin coache's box, but the incident subsided after those involved had gotten whatever it was out of their system.

The match was stopped a little while later when Drouin player Callum Tyler was stretchered off following a nasty collision.

Hawks ruckman Bob McCallum battled manfully all day, while Todd Beck and Tyler played well.

The opening round will conclude this weekend.

On Saturday, Traralgon will host Leongatha, Moe will host Morwell in a local derby, and Bairnsdale will make the long trip to Warragul. Sale and Maffra will meet on Sunday at Sale Oval.


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