LEONGATHA had a good win, a darn good, character-filled victory over ladder leaders, and the favourites for this year’s Gippsland League flag, Maffra at Maffra on Saturday.
The old stalwarts of the club including Graham Fixter with his Kangaroos’ scarf around his neck against the cold, Frank Welsford and Shirley-Anne and Glenn Wright were there to welcome them in, and proud parents including Terry Ginnane, Julie Marriott and Chris and Martin Stone were all smiles as the boys came off the rain-soaked battlefield.
Exhausted trainers including Mark Dwyer and Graham and Alan Beasley were just as pleased they were all in one piece after a gruelling contest which featured dozens of physical encounters which boiled over at times, typical of what’s required on that sort of day.
The result proved at least two things; Leongatha’s up for the fight again this year and so is Maffra but there’s unfinished business here despite a win either way this season and both clubs know it.
But it was an important one for the Parrots all the same, not only securing the ‘four points’ but also giving coach Paul Carbis and his match committee confidence that they have at least 21 players prepared to put their heads over the ball and go when it’s their turn as they did to a man on Saturday.
And there’s still the likes of Tom Marriott to come back in, away in Bali for Bill Blundy and Sophie Maxwell’s wedding. He’d have revelled in those conditions.
The sun came out after a dirty morning to start the seniors and hung around until half time, improving conditions, but the wind was blowing a hooley, creating contests wherever the ball fell short of intended targets.
Leongatha attacked first without luck and it was Maffra’s Petrou who opened the scoring with an easy mark and goal.
Great lead up work away from the stoppage by Brown, Bowman and Hopkins followed by a courageous mark by Cade Maskell and Leongatha had the answer – game on!
Col Sanbrook, Julian Lockwood, Cam Stone and Maskell were all busy early and Stone had a chance to score soon after.
Josh Schelling was continuing his good form at half back, backing his athletic ability when attacking the ball and he combined well with Luke Bowman, already in devastating form around the ball.
All the Leongatha youngsters, forward and back, were playing their part as well and when Blake Van Rooy marked strongly before booting a clutch goal, long into the wind, the Parrots were getting a contribution from everyone.
That remained the most pleasing aspect of the day.
Schells repelled the ball again after a nice mark by Maffra’s Carr but the Eagles showed why they’re a top outfit when they ran the ball expertly back again through Holmes, Channing, Renoy, Channing again, Petrou and the dangerous Bedggood for a point. They clearly have an excellent dry weather game as well.
Maffra controlled the play for a burst but Leongatha regained control with Matt Borschmann, Jack Ginnnane, Brok Davidson, Ryan Olden and Sam Forrester taking the lead from the onballers and leaders in defence to play their roles.
Fast play-on footy by an alert Lockwood got the ball quickly to Cade Maskell for an important mark and goal, Cam Stone copped a late hit after taking a mark which ended in a melee and finally Bowman got the ball into the danger zone where Maskell soccered it through Harry Kane style. It was the Parrots leading four goals to one at the first break.
But Maffra hit back with the first three goals of the second quarter to be on even terms again, the first of them after one of those ridiculous 50 metre penalties when Brok Davidson strayed somewhere near (not close) to the protected zone… crazy stuff.
The talented Bedggood showed his soccer skills too for another and they hit the front when Jolly took a one-handed mark before goaling.
But the Parrots were giving plenty with Maskell, Joel Norton, Schelling and Van Rooy all involved. Finally it was Sam Forrester who led up strongly, marked and put the Parrots back in front.
Another to Jack Ginnane soon after and they were up by 10 points leading into half time but only protected that lead through the agency of captain Hayden Brown in the contest, where he was often opposed to Maffra’s Danny Butcher, Tim Sauvarin, Lou Riseley, Sean Westaway and others in defence.
A wintry blast of rain hit the ground during and after the long break and the first goal, by Ryan Olden after a pass from Luke Bowman, was so important.
Benny Willis in the ruck, Matt Borschmann, Bowman and Brown on the ball and the ‘pressure’ acts by Col Sanbrook and Brok Davidson smothering the ball to apply pressure in the forward half led to another goal to Brown after a free and the Parrots had some breathing space.
But two quick goals by Maffra, through the helmeted Reeves and a free kick to Renooy (too high!) had them right back in it and it was a slugfest through to the last change.
After the break, Maffra scored the first goal after a charity free kick to Reeves and they were just two points down on their home ground. But in a masterful display of defensive footy, led by Sean Westaway and Josh Schelling, and with the likes of Lou Riseley contributing strongly, the Parrots held them out in combination of State of Origin rugby and World Cup soccer, from both sides.
Ultimately the Parrots got another goal, through Bowman, at the 20-minute mark, increasing the lead to nine points with 10 to play, a margin they were to hold on to with play on the wind-blown wing for most of the remaining minutes.
It was an absorbing battle in the conditions and holds the promise of more to come in September.
Final scores: Leongatha 9.8.62 def Maffra 7.11.53
Parrots beat Eagles in arctic conditions