A THUMPING 114-point win over third-placed Moe on Saturday, a little surprising after the Lions’ heroics against Maffra the previous week, has put Leongatha’s destiny in its own hands in season 2019.
As a result, they’ve moved up into second place behind their nemesis Maffra but with a big percentage lift over Sale and Moe in third and fourth.
And Leongatha can thank their neighbours at Wonthaggi for a fantastic result at home against Sale which has brought the former second-favourites for the flag down a notch or two.
All Leongatha has to do now is defeat Bairnsdale at Bairnsdale on Saturday to retain the ‘double chance’, mindful that both Sale and Moe, also on 12 wins, have easy assignments in the last round.
There were signs in the first quarter of a strong showing by the Parrots with Ben Willis continuing in superb form in the ruck, directing the ball to a winning on-ball unit including Tom Marriott, Luke Bowman, Hayden Brown and others, while up-forward, all key forwards were busy and looked capable of kicking goals.
Down back, the strength of the side, the defenders were well on top with Josh Schelling using his athleticism to back himself, Chris Verboon able to take contested and intercept marks, Sean Westaway as safe as houses and the likes of Col Sanbrook on Moe’s creative Ash Dugan, Sam Forrester on Peter Ainsworth and Rhett Kelly able to clean up with ease.
It didn’t help Moe that they missed several shots from point-blank range and the moment was lost for them.
After a five goal to one, competitive first quarter, the Parrots went bang with eight goals to two in the second quarter to ice the game by half time.
The team is settled with only one change on Saturday, Col Sanbrook in for an unlucky Jack Ginnane who responded in classy style with three goals and a best-on-ground performance in the Reserves.
The Seniors looked well balanced as they are but it will certainly be handy having an in-form, hard-to-match forward like Ginnane able to come in when needed.
The match was highlighted by the 800th senior umpiring match by Gary Scholz but that was soon set aside as Moe’s captain Jacob Wood won the first centre break. Sam Forrester rebounded the ball with confidence and up the other end, Jackson Harry rolled through the first goal.
Chris Dunne showed he was on-song early with a superb, long goal from the boundary and with Nick Nagel and Cade Maskell already busy, the Parrots looked hot up forward.
Back in the centre; Brown, Stone, Marriott and co were in-and-under the packs and there were lots of those one percenters coach Paul Carbis likes to see; the bumper bars, forward pressure, second efforts by Ben Willis and the other big men; it was all working well.
Attacking defence by Schelling, a goal-saving smother by Brown, a crunching tackle by Harry and excellent link-up work by Bowman and Marriott all looked good.
Moe missed some easy shots before fine defensive work by Rhett Kelly finished in another goal and Leongatha was well on top.
And they went on with it making a good side look ordinary in a percentage-boosting massacre.
All players contributed strongly and once again it’s good to see the team’s younger players contributing so strongly and looking very much at home in their roles.
When the whips are cracking in the finals it will be their pace, skills and enthusiasm that will make the difference.