THE new-look Mid Gippsland FNL is starting to heat up, now with three rounds under the clubs’ belts and some idea where the strength is coming from.
In the senior football, three teams have cleared out with three wins each but the upcoming fourth round will sort that out as well.
Undefeated teams Fish Creek and Morwell East meet in the match of the round at Fish Creek while the other undefeated side, Mirboo North will be tested at Meeniyan, MDU smarting after a below-par performance against their neighbours on Saturday.
Meanwhile the netball is just as interesting with Toora franking its pre-season ranking with three from three, and Yinnar also recording three wins but with some good games ahead of them.
Here’s how league publicity officer Rob Popplestone sees Round Four, this Saturday, May 1.
Boolarra v Thorpdale
Grand Finals don’t often come in round four of a home and away season, but for Boolarra and Thorpdale, this is a grand final, an absolute must win game from which only one side can grab a reward for effort and a glimmer of hope that a season can be built on.
The Blues are yet to win a match since 2018, for the Demons, the record isn’t quite so bad, but it’s not much better either.
Thorpdale are coming off a courageous loss to finals contender Morwell East, last week, whilst Boolarra are back from a bye after a disappointing fortnight to open up the season, albeit against some of the best teams in the Mid Gippsland Football Netball League.
Coach Tony Giardina has stuck by his Demons for a few years now and deserves more than what he’s been given, and his side are going to need to give more than they’ve given to get over the top of the Blues.
Thorpdale are playing with more heart than their opposition and you get the feeling they are so close to grabbing their first they can almost taste it.
That said, for the loser, a win will seem like a million miles away and the season almost a waste.
You don’t want to lose this one.
Fish Creek v Morwell East
Slow starts to any sport is less than ideal and Morwell East has dished up a couple of matches already that has coach Devon Soutar scratching his head.
The Hawks have been good enough and composed enough to find a way through, but as the opposition gets tougher, so too does the ability to fight your way back to a winning position.
Fish Creek reinvigorated their side with a handful of changes in round three and that same team will be giving the job of inflicting Morwell East’s first loss of the season.
Make no mistake the Hawks have a team with a good sprinkling of talent, the sort of talent that has, and could play at an even higher level, they also have a game plan, but slow starts indicates a team that thinks turning up is half the effort of winning and that won’t be the case this week.
Winning means giving one of these two sides the perfect start to a season, four wins from four rounds with some very tough matches to follow.
Maybe the only obvious advantage you can pick at the moment, is with a home ground, which means Fish Creek will be well placed.
This new thirteen team competition is yet to take shape, but its matches like this that will give us a really good insight as to which teams will be playing a part come September.
Foster v Newborough
Its fair to assume that Newborough have already played three of the leagues’ leading finals contenders in the first three rounds of the season, but the unfortunate news is that its set to continue into a fourth week in round four.
Foster did what many have said they would do and flexed their muscle in a considerable way when easily accounting for Tarwin in round three.
The Tigers showed what a good side on the rebound from a first round loss to Hill End can do and one would expect that sort of merciless approach will continue against an honest Newborough side this week.
The Bulldogs, have given their best in each of the first few weeks, but at this stage their best just isn’t quite good enough, nor will it be good enough this week.
They might turn this match like they did last into a bit of a scrap, and there is not too many times you can get the edge on a bloke from Newborough in a scrap, but this week Foster will.
Importantly the visitors are earning respect even in their losses but winning is ultimately what the game is all about, something they may have to wait a little longer for.
MDU V Mirboo North.
Mirboo North escaped with an after the siren goal last week, that effort had the Tigers both retain their unbeaten start to the season and give confidence to a team of what could be achieved when never giving a game up.
With that season defining win, Mirboo venture to the home of Meeniyan Dumbalk United, the Demons desperately wanting to bounce back from a disappointing day at the office last week against Fish Creek.
This week expect the Demons to be fiercer around the contest, especially in the way of their tackling and more composed when they have the ball in their hands.
Pressure will make that tough for MDU, the Tigers are pretty solid all over the park and the evidence is that no win is achieved over them with just a half or even three quarters of football, unless you’re prepared to give a hundred per cent for a hundred minutes you’re not going to be in apposition to grab the points.
Demon’s coach Peter Harris’s big challenge is to have his side committed to do what’s required, to beat a really good side, it’s a match after which he will know who can give him what he needs and who can’t.
Stony Creek v Yinnar
A really important game for a number of reasons, for Stony Creek simply because they need a win, and for Yinnar because the devastation of losing a match after the siren last week against Mirboo North needs to be quickly put to bed, and there is no better way to do that, than with a victory.
The Magpies have played some patches of really good football, but with the competition predicted to be so tight, a lack of concentration like last week on too many occasions could make the difference playing finals and not, and for coach Daniel Taylor that would be the difference between a season being a success of not.
Stony Creek coach, Jay Acardi will need his side to do two seemingly simple things if they are going to trouble the visiting Yinnar side, and they are, be ready to play from the first bounce and improve composure and use of the ball when under pressure, and for that matter when not under pressure.
The Lions numbers and pressure around the contest has pleased Acardi, but those small lapses in concentration and skills are the two areas that he knows has cost them dearly.
A fast start would have the Magpies on the back foot and that couple with the mind wandering back to last weeks game that got away might well cause some self doubt, to creep in.
It’s a flip of the coin match this one and one that deserves an enormous amount of local community support.
Toora v Hill End.
Hill End head to South Gippsland for the second time in just four weeks, an ask that has some at the Rovers questioning the fixture, but for which Toora will pay the ultimate price.
More on the fixture at another time, but for this week, Hill End are just wanting to start to lift the tempo of their game and get their mojo going into a more fluent and skillful style.
With their reputation preceding them, sides have been prepared to make it more about the scrap than the footy, and at times that has been a frustrating watch, but has not had an impact on the eventual result.
Toora got the rewards they deserved last week with a nice but not convincing win over Stony Creek.
The Magpies are well aware of the improvement needed inside fifty and this week every opportunity will need to be taken against a stronger opposition.
Hill End haven’t really been tested to date, but they have done enough to show opposition sides they are going to be mighty hard to stop.