THE second annual local football and netball Indigenous Round clash has been hailed a great success, with a large crowd enjoying the celebration of Indigenous heritage at the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
After launching the Indigenous Round last year across two Alberton FNL matches and one Gippsland League match, the Outa Metro Indigenous Committee focussed its attention on the sole match between Wonthaggi Power and Leongatha Parrots this season.
The event started with The Long Walk, with adults and children alike carrying Indigenous banners before entering the oval.
Indigenous singer and songwriter, Kutcha Edwards was back again as an entertaining MC for the event, and was fortunate enough to test out the Power’s new PA system, which was installed in time for the big match.
Descendent of the traditional owners of Boonwurrung, Steve Parker, led a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, before each footballer and netballer from both sides passed through the smoke.
A group of young dancers proceeded to perform a ceremonial dance before the two rivals broke away to renew hostilities.
Wearing Indigenous-inspired jumpers, the two clubs have embraced the Indigenous Round with open arms.
Last year, Wonthaggi Power proved too strong with a 30-point win over the Parrots, but this year the Parrots turned the tables in a physical contest.
The 21-point win saw the Parrots claim the Outa Metro Perpetual Shield, which was specially-designed for the match between the two sides.
The action on the netball court was fierce too, with the Power winning a thriller by one goal to move a game clear of the Parrots in fifth position.
The match started as a willing contest with high physicality and many big hits.
Neither side could manage to hit the scoreboard in the opening stages, with pressure causing turnovers from both sides.
Finally Dale Hoghton broke through with a classy running goal from long range, to give the Parrots a seven-point lead at the first change.
The Parrots lifted their workrate after quarter time and started to take control of the match.
Zak Vernon was looking dangerous up forward, providing a strong contest in the air and when the ball hit the ground.
Leongatha ruckman Ben Willis had the better of new Wonthaggi big man Johnathon Miles, who was cleared from the Northern Territory FL recently.
Willis’ heavy work around the stoppages allowed the likes of Hayden Brown, Tom Marriott and Hoghton to send the ball the Parrots’ way, and the forwards capitalised with six goals to two, to take a 29-point advantage into half time.
Wonthaggi looked down and out at half time, but the Power rallied in front of its home crowd.
Key forward Adam Cook became a focal point up forward and Aiden Lindsay was winning numerous possessions through the midfield.
With Ben Eddy and Dom O’Connor chopping off defensive kicks and Mark McCall holding strong down back, the Power turned the tables on the ladder leaders, booting six goals to one to claim a one-point lead at the final break.
With the match in the balance at three-quarter time, the cream rose to the top, with Vernon continuing to cause headaches for the Power defence.
He finished with four majors, while Shem Hawking and Aaron Hillberg snagged two goals each as the Parrots stormed home to win by 21 points.
Returning from injury, prolific goal-kicker Chris Dunne was well held throughout the contest and will be looking to recapture his good form next week when the Parrots travel to Maffra.
The Power will be buoyed by its efforts against the undefeated Parrots and take confidence into this week’s match against Sale at Wonthaggi.
Leongatha Parrots win second Indigenous Round match