THE top four in Mid Gippsland football is starting to take shape, or is it? Hillend 24, Foster 20, Mirboo North 20 and Morwell East 20 have all come through testing contests in the opening six rounds but this Saturday could tell us a lot about the contenders.
Boolarra v Fish Creek
Boolarra hosting one of the better teams in the new-look MGFNL competition, Fish Creek this coming Saturday, should be seen as an opportunity to take a scalp, but I fear the Demons are sometimes beaten before a ball is bounced, not believing they are capable of running with a top side for the four full quarters.
It’s been a frustrating habit of Boolarra, for all and sundry, but none more so than coach Tony Giardina, who time and time again is forced to watch the team mix it for a patch of 10 minutes or so, maybe even a quarter or two as they did against MDU last week, but not often the full one hundred and twenty minutes with teams that are playing with a passion to be a part of finals later in the season.
Fish Creek let one slip last week, after having Foster on the ropes at three quarter time, but the Kangaroos couldn’t quite keep their grip on the game, allowing the Tigers to steal a win with a five-goal last quarter blitz.
That loss will have hurt the club, as many have predicted they will finish as a top-four side, but it’s a result that leaves them out of that group at the minute.
The visitors have a few avenues to goal and will rely on the likes of Ethan Park, Kairon Doring, Jack Hayes, Travis Manne and Jarrod Walter to be also winning the ball around the contest.
The Kangaroos will be ill-advised to show up on a Saturday, thinking this one might just be a walk in the park because if Boolarra do ever decide to play four quarters, a win at home against the likes of Fish Creek would not be beyond them.
Foster v Stony Creek
Foster will have every intention of making a tough season to date for Stony Creek a whole lot worse for the visiting Lions side this Saturday.
The Lions haven’t been that far away, in fact last week against Thorpdale they nearly snatched their first premiership points of the season, but as competitive as you can be, the game is all about enjoying moments of success along the way, and as we quickly close in on the halfway point of the season, coach Jay Acardi will be hoping and planning for this to happen sooner rather than later.
It will take an almighty change in form for it to happen this week against Foster, who seem to have just the right mix of experience and youthful, talented enthusiasm. It’s a mix that can be quite devastating when a club has momentum, and you get the feeling the Tigers are rolling ahead quite nicely and capable of even further improvement as the weeks pass by.
The 14-point win over a MGFNL contender last week will have Foster in the frame of mind that this week can be one for percentage, and that’s usually the first slip up, especially for the younger players in the side, as only with the same preparation and focus and effort will a comfortable victory be achieved. It’s a learning experience along the way that the harder you work, the easier things become and even the luckier you get.
They might not need luck this week but anything less than one hundred per cent would be disappointing for coach Sam Davies, who I’m sure has far higher goals to achieve further down the track.
Morwell East v Tarwin
Morwell East will be keen to bounce back from the bye with winning form. The Hawks have managed four wins from their first five matches and have themselves right in the middle of conversations about potential finalists.
The chance to play on their home deck against Tarwin will be appreciated, as will the opportunity to pounce on a game early. On too many occasions to date, slow starts have put the Hawks in compromising positions, that only hard work and good coaching has got them out of on top.
Tarwin will see this clash as one which they can steal a win away from home. Their performance against Yinnar last week was good, as much as a performance can be good without winning, and the Sharks will be looking to the likes of Tom Van Der Kolk, Matthew Williams, Patterson both Julian and Kaj, together with Tom Sheedy to again be in the thick of the action, but their task will be a tough one against a very even and talented Morwell East midfield.
As the MGFNL ladder starts to take shape, there appears to be several clubs currently outside the top six, maybe even a handful who see themselves sneaking into finals contention, Tarwin is one of those sides, but it will be matches like this one that determines whether they are deserving of being on the bigger stage or not.
Newborough v MDU
If premiership points were given for effort, then Newborough would be hovering much higher on the MGFNL ladder, but its solitary win doesn’t truly reflect the work that coach Peter Ainsworth’s men are putting in.
Sure, there have been times they have been outclassed, but never have they given up and that quality I’m sure is one that is respected by both its supporters and importantly opposition clubs.
MDU are currently seventh on the ladder, only percentage outside of a coveted top six spot, so a win against Newborough remains crucial. The Demons were good against the top of the table Hillmen just a fortnight ago and franked that form with a solid performance and win against Boolarra last week.
Like many clubs lingering around midtable, consistency within matches remains a problem that will occasionally raise its head, but recent efforts should have Pete Harris’s men ready to go from the opening bounce.
The competition is hot this year and will only become even hotter in the weeks ahead, in fact following this week’s Newborough match, MDU face two clubs immediately above them in Yinnar and Morwell East, so the Demon’s fortunes might almost be known by the first week of June.
Thorpdale v Hill End
They say winning form is good form, and in this particular clash, both sides are bringing exactly that, winning form, but from entirely different backgrounds.
Thorpdale have managed to have success twice in the past fortnight for the first time in three years, while their opponents have won five from five this season on the back of making a grand final appearance in 2019,
All that being said, if you’re to judge a side on their last performance which is what your commonly judged on, Thorpdale might have some hope of causing the biggest upset in the MGFNL so far. The Blues should be commended not only for their first win in over one thousand days just two weeks ago, but more for their courageous victory last week against Stony Creek, when after trailing by three goals in heavy conditions away from home, they rallied, they fought and eventually succeeded in claiming another scalp against the odds.
Now Stony Creek are no Hill End, but you can only beat who you have in front of you, and the Thorpdale boys did just that.
The Hillmen are a different proposition altogether, even when not quite at a 100% as is the case right now, several players short of their best, the Rovers have still managed to manufacture wins on the back of the club’s depth of talent and some astute coaching by Mike Santo.
Hill End will win this game, but Thorpdale will have a very clear vision of just how far they have come, and what work is still to be done for finals to be a consideration.
Yinnar v Toora
If Yinnar football club was a movie, it would be one of those “edge of your seat thrillers” where you don’t actually know “who did it” until the very last seconds of the production.
The Yinnar Magpies currently sit in sixth place on the MGFNL ladder but that could have easily have been second spot, if not for their “after the siren” two-point loss to Mirboo North, a few weeks ago and a three point loss to Foster just a fortnight ago.
Follow that up with a heart stopping four-point win over Tarwin last week and you start to get the picture. They have been the sort of close finishes that players love to be a part of, but only if you can finish on the right side of the outcome.
Magpies coach, Daniel Taylor, would have breathed a sigh of relief last week as the final curtain went down, but the pressure continues this week against the Toora with just one less victory than Yinnar and who would see this clash as one that could put them back into finals discussion. If they were at home, you’d favour them to do just that.
The Toora Magpies will be attacking Yinnar like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds, another thriller that has you glued to the screen, it might not be as scary at Yinnar’s homeground but it will be entertaining to watch two teams of Magpies desperate for another win.
MGFNL round 7 preview with media officer Rob Popplestone.