LEONGATHA will go into the Gippsland League Qualifying Final at Western Park Warragul this Saturday, September 1 on the back of a strong performance against their finals opponents Sale.
But despite recording a 59-point win at Leongatha last Saturday, the Parrots will be wary of Sale after they started well in Saturday’s game, kicking the first two goals and having the home side on the backfoot initially.
Sale also reportedly have as many as five players who could return for Saturday’s all-important qualifying final, giving them a significantly different look on the day.
But, despite that, Parrots’ coach Paul Carbis was delighted with Saturday’s performance, especially the contribution by all of the 22.
“Look I think it just reinforces what we’ve shown all year that if we play the right brand of footy, we can beat any team in the competition on the day and I think we’ve shown that.
“We had a hiccup against Drouin a few weeks ago when we went away from that but as we’ve shown in the past two weeks, we know what we need to do.
“And as much as we respect Sale as a team and what they have been able to do this year, it’s a matter of focusing on what we can control and, spot on, if we get the contribution we got from everyone on Saturday, it’ll go a long way to doing what we need to do.”
The Parrots’ coach said that while he understood Sale had as many as five players to come back into the side for Saturday’s final, Leongatha would be able to recall key forward Jack Ginnane and onballer Paddy McGrath.
McGrath was a late withdrawal last Saturday.
“We’ve run a ‘no risk’ policy all year, which is why Jack and Paddy missed last week, and we’ve had plenty of players able to come in and play their role. In fact, we’ve played 37 players this year, which is quite a lot, and puts us in really good shape going in.
“We had a word to eight other players during the week who are also in the mix and asked them to keep their heads up and be ready.”
He said he felt the players were hitting their peak at the right time of the year, with everyone on the list in good shape and ready to go.
“We’ve had a few players who’ve taken time off and gone away for one reason or another through the year and freshened themselves up but as we showed against Maffra, when we had seven different players to what we had on Saturday, we were still able to get the job done and that’s a credit to the ones who’ve come in.
“That’s what it’s all about. Getting a strong contribution from the selected 22 on the day and that’s what we’ll be looking for again this week.”
Asked if he was pleased to see Jack Ginnane coming back to provide an obvious forward option to Chris Dunne, who kicked six against Sale on Saturday, he said Chris and Jack worked in different ways up forward.
“We don’t necessarily look for Chris one-out all the time. With his positioning and his ability to read the game, he’s a very smart forward.
“He can get out the back or create opportunities regardless of the pressure but certainly Jack does give us that other option.
“We’re not just relying on a couple of players each week. That’s the way it’s got to be.
“Sale were up and about early and really had a crack but I thought we withstood that pressure well and ultimately took control.”
In fact, after Sale kicked those initial two goals, Leongatha steadied with three of their own in the first quarter and went right on with the job in the second, kicking six goals to three in a free-flowing contest. Again, it may not be what you’ll see under finals’ pressure this Saturday.
Chris Dunne kicked six in a near best on ground performance but he was far from one-out. Tom Marriott was beck to his best in the centre, also kicking one, Col Sanbrook starred in defense, supported by a winning back six, James Lloyd continued his return to form after injury with two, and Ryan Olden continued his excellent year with another fine performance but you could look right across the field and find strong contributions from the likes of Ben Willis in the ruck, Cam Stone, Cade Maskell, Josh Hopkins and others.