THE Leongatha Thirds defeated Maffra by 44 points at Traralgon on Saturday to take home the Premiership Cup.
Setting out for their third strike against the Eagles, the Parrots were ready to flock.
Leongatha had the breeze first and in the unpredictable weather, the start was crucial.
In the ruck was Leongatha’s Alex Krausz taking on Floyd Fulton. This battle was well fought, with the height and leap of Krausz taking favour.
Under the ball was the skilled hands of Maffra’s league best and fairest Tom ‘Junior’ Bradshaw.
His talent was something Leongatha would have to control if they were going to succeed.
Junior was a key element in the Eagles’ first goal, 12 minutes in, that went to Shane Atkinson.
However, not confronted – Jack Hume set to work. He managed his first, two minutes later and got the Parrots up.
The Parrots held steady intensity from there. Mason McGannon and Aaron Turton both kicked goals in the first term.
Coming into the first break with a 14-point lead, Leongatha were on track.
Back to it, the second term saw the wind going Maffra’s way, and it was time for the Parrots to stand tall.
That they did, in a show of strength, the Parrots managed the next four. One to Liam O’Neill another to McGannon and two more to the steady boot of Jack Hume.
Their backline was near impenetrable uptil this stage. Leongatha best and fairest Travis Nash was dominating centre halfback.
Until the last five minutes of the second term, ‘Gatha looked ready to run away.
A late two goals from Maffra’s Max Gravener and Curtis Cook slowed those proceedings.
Losing momentum at half time, the game was back within two kicks – now was not the time to choke.
Ben Willis, Parrots’ assistant coach knew exactly what was on the line.
“We had to just stick to our style, keep the shape, control the ball and find a man when we didn’t,” Ben said.
“It was a style that took a while to master, but it really came together when we needed it.”
Maffra was aware of the consequences here and worked hard to maintain their intensity against the wind.
Attacking, they made a handful of forward 50 entries. Leongatha captain Tom Vanderkolk moved the ball well out of danger.
One resurgence saw Will Littlejohn caught, but Maffra still couldn’t convert.
Moving into attack Leongatha travelled well. They had excellent efficiency into attacking fifty, something that really set them apart.
Communication was clear, and the flight path for Jack Hume was clear.
The third saw Jack add to his highlight reel, with clean hands and a text-book kicking style putting another two on the board.
Lamers kicked his second and the Parrots looked to soar.
But it wasn’t over yet. Junior had other plans, taking the game on, his modern style of footy earnt him another goal and slowed the Parrots.
Lamers kicked his third and the Parrots went into the break 35 points ahead.
You could taste the confindence in the final huddle. Coach Hickey was ready for full throttle.
“The cracks are starting to show, keep working and when you get the chance – smash them to bits!” He rose.
But it was Maffra who kicked the next two, Max Gravener wrangled the Eagles a double and strained the lead to 23 points.
Unconcerned, Leongatha got back to work. The clean hands of Nash and Ned Hanily were used and the passage un-locked.
Back to Hume for his sixth and the 30-point lead seemed secure.
Anticipation grew, with the early arriving senior side building the atmosphere, Parrot’s dreams became a reality.
O’Neill worked hard for his second and the margin became certain.
It was the icing on the cake for Hume with his seventh and the Parrots’ grins brimmed. Coaching staff soon shook hands and the loyal fans knew this one was home. Former Thirds premiership coach Glenn Sullivan looked on happy to pass the legacy of his 2010 title.
The Parrots were home. But for the Eagles – the defeat tallied towards their senior resolve.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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