SUNDAY football is the go, forget about night games, it’s too cold in South Gippsland!
That appears to be the view of those who voted with their feet to attend Wonthaggi’s Sunday fixture against Leongatha last weekend.
The ground and facilities at Wonthaggi were again first class and the canteen was doing a roaring trade.
It was to be a defining game for both sides, both keen to get a win on the board and to continue the development of their young teams.
Leongatha brought in youngster Kaj Patterson, still eligible for the U16s and he showed enough to suggest that he will be a player to watch in the future.
Wonthaggi welcomed back Aloysio Ferreira-Neto from Gippy Power and he was named in their best players. Wonthaggi, with one win under its belt and a solid showing last week against Sale, would start favourite, especially playing at home but football doesn’t always go the way of predictions. All was set for a great game.
As expected it was intense from the first bounce, such is the nature of this rivalry between these two teams. Wonthaggi kicking against the strong wind was immediately under pressure but its defence, led by Tim Gilliland, Byron Dryden, Matt Coyne and Ben Eddy was standing up well.
Aaron Ware, Aiden Lindsay and Joel Liddle were busy around the packs as usual, fed by dominating ruckmen Earl Shaw and Chris Wylie.
Wonthaggi were combining well as a team and supporting each other at the contests. Players were attacking the ball vigorously and the visitors were keen to get their running game going, kicking wide and using the big ground to advantage.
Brett Lynch got the first goal of the day for Leongatha with a fine snap but Wonthaggi responded with a good roving goal to Ferreira-Neto. Goals quickly followed through Riley Lindsay and Matt Howell as Wonthaggi stretched the lead at an important part of the game.
Ashley Lynch, Chris Bruns and on-baller Zac Vernon were getting plenty of the ball and ruckman Aaron Hillberg was competitive against the Power’s ruck twins.
Tom Marriott in the centre was working hard and Sean Westaway down back was doing well under pressure. Another youngster for Leongatha, Alexander Puruntatameri, was providing good drive across the wing and into attack, finishing with two goals for the day.
Wonthaggi had made a good start against the wind and were keen to drive home the advantage in the second quarter.
The wind seemed to be getting stronger and although it was not a pretty game to watch, the spectators were certainly enjoying the spirit of the contest.
Aiden Lindsay for Power slotted through a great goal from a tight angle and his side were lifting. Ruckman Chris Wylie marked strongly and got their second goal for the quarter. Chris Bruns now up forward for the Parrots replied with a long goal against the wind to bring them closer but they weren’t getting true value for time in possession.
Ruckman Ben Willis was doing better now for Leongatha and Marriott continued to gather valuable possessions but it was noticeable that the Powers’ players were lifting their heads and hitting up their big forwards while Leongatha weren’t able to be as direct.
Travis Krause, roving the packs well, got another goal for Wonthaggi and Troy Harley, Jye Read and Joel Liddle added further goals to give Wonthaggi a winning lead at half time.
As the third began, down came the rain and it was heavy. However it didn’t dampen the spirits of the players as they continued to bore in relentlessly. It was a great battle and this quarter was a do or die effort.
Harley got his second goal for Wonthaggi as conditions made the game scrappier. Dryden again controlled the backline with his fine run out of defence. Lachlan Wright for the visitors went off after a heavy clash and all the players were starting to show the effects of the strong tackling.
Krause burst through a pack and goaled again for Wonthaggi and Lynch for Leongatha got his second in an even quarter of football.
Hillberg goaled on the siren to give the visitors some chance going into final quarter but it would take a huge effort as they trailed by six goals.
Shaw and Lindsay goaled straight after the restart to put the result beyond doubt and while Hillberg and Puruntatameri softened the final outcome with two late ones, it was all Wonthaggi in the finish.
Final scores: Wonthaggi 13.12.90 to Leongatha 7.7.49.