Leon­gatha earn chance to end 16-year drought

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - “HERE’S MY CARD” -

Leon­gatha earned an­other crack at end­ing a 16-year premier­ship drought with its sec­ond semi-fi­nal de­feat of Trar­al­gon on Satur­day.

The Par­rots, run­ners-up in each of the past two sea­sons, won a tough con­test pre­dom­i­nantly fought at close quar­ters at Moe and on a sur­face made slip­pery by some heavy rain on Fri­day night and sev­eral show­ers on Satur­day.

At the siren it was Leon­gatha 11-5 to 6-7.

The vic­tory was set up in the first half when the Par­rots got out to a 6-2 to 1-4 lead.

Trar­al­gon threw ev­ery­thing into the third term and clawed its way back into the con­test to trail by just 14 points at the last change.

The Ma­roons missed a great chance to cut the gap even fur­ther within sec­onds of the start of the fi­nal quar­ter.

But the writ­ing was on the wall when Aaron Hill­berg goaled for Leon­gatha less than two min­utes later and Tom Mar­riott fol­lowed with an­other at the five-minute mark. The 27-point mar­gin that opened was sim­ply too great to be reeled in given the con­di­tions.

The slip­pery sur­face and a pre­dom­i­nantly cross breeze blow­ing to the eastern side of the ground prob­a­bly im­pacted Trar­al­gon’s game style more than they did Leon­gatha’s.

Those and tac­tics used led to con­gested, tight play.

Both sides started with loose men in de­fence but it was Leon­gatha that used that more ef­fec­tively.

The Par­rots also got plenty of num­bers around con­tests and at ball-ups where they were able to negate the ruck dom­i­nance of Trar­al­gon’s Ben Am­berg and they al­ways had num­bers be­hind the ball to sti­fle most of Trar­al­gon’s for­ward moves.

It wasn’t un­til the Ma­roons re­verted to the ba­sic man-on-man in the third quar­ter that they mounted a chal­lenge.

The match cer­tainly wasn’t one for the for­wards.

Trar­al­gon’s Jay Nea­gle was well held by a com­bi­na­tion of Chris Ver­boon and Sean West­away, Leigh Stock­dale had lit­tle im­pact and Leon­gatha’s main scor­ers Chris Dunne and Aaron Hill­berg also found op­por­tu­ni­ties hard to come by.

Each was re­stricted to one goal for the game.

Par­rot Jack Gin­nane kicked a match high three goals with Zac Ver­non and Tom Mar­riott, the lat­ter re­ally com­ing to the fore in the last quar­ter, get­ting two each.

Trar­al­gon didn’t have a mul­ti­ple goal kicker.

GIPP­S­LAND LEAGUE - SEC­OND SEMI-FI­NAL

Maf­fra play­ers hud­dle to­gether be­fore the start of Sun­day’s semi-fi­nal to re­in­force their game plan to take on Moe. The plan worked to per­fec­tion with the Eagles jump­ing to a quick start and never be­ing threatened in a con­vinc­ing win that took them into next Satur­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

Dy­namic Moe coach James Blaser, es­cap­ing this tack­ling at­tempt, led from the front but it wasn’t enough to lift his side to a win against Maf­fra.

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