Be­yond the Bounce

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Foot­ball and net­ball is back in full swing through­out the district’s four leagues.

Drouin’s Liam Ax­ford, a busy player all day in the Gipp­s­land League match at Moe on Sat­ur­day, gets wrapped up in a tackle as play­ers across the re­gion fought out games in warm con­di­tions.

Also back is The Gazette’s “Be­yond the Bounce” liftout, this sea­son ex­panded to 12 pages with full cov­er­age of foot­ball and net­ball in the Gipp­s­land, Ellinbank and district, West Gipp­s­land and Mid Gipp­s­land com­pe­ti­tions.

Drouin suf­fered a start of sea­son set­back when it was soundly beaten by a sharp Moe at Moe on Sat­ur­day.

The Lions, a big im­prover last year to fin­ish in fourth spot, look a gen­uine fi­nals’ prospect again af­ter brush­ing aside Drouin 16-24 to 8-7.

The mar­gin would have been greater but for Moe’s in­ac­cu­racy in front of goal in the fi­nal quar­ter when it kicked 2-11.

The Hawks are a bet­ter side than last year when it failed to win a game and showed plenty of en­cour­age­ment in the first half with which new coach Jor­dan Kingi, who missed on Sat­ur­day due to a shoul­der in­jury, said he was rea­son­ably pleased.

But he was far from happy with the sec­ond half.

In a post-match ad­dress to the team he was crit­i­cal that the “fun­da­men­tals they’d worked on dur­ing the pre-sea­son” went out the win­dow af­ter half time.

Moe’s per­for­mance, how­ever, was slick and pur­pose­ful.

The open­ing to the game was fast and hec­tic, the ball swing­ing from end to end but both de­fences hold­ing sway.

It was al­most 10 min­utes be­fore the Lions got the first goal that was soon an­swered through an ac­cu­rate Rhys Fair­lie snap.

Moe got out to an 18-point lead be­fore Drouin pegged the gap back to six points at the end of the quar­ter with late goals to Nathan Guy and Bob McCal­lum.

Liam Ax­ford had been a busy on-baller for Drouin and would con­tinue to be one of best four quar­ter con­trib­u­tors.

The Lions got away to a great start to the sec­ond term, a goal within 40 sec­onds.

Drouin‘s ball car­ri­ers were un­der pres­sure from the op­po­si­tion but nei­ther side was giv­ing ground.

Rhys Sal­ter, an­other good con­trib­u­tor all day, got the Hawks’ first goal of the quar­ter be­fore Moe strung to­gether three in a row.

Tom Barr’s run­ning goal from an an­gle al­most 50 me­tres out as the siren sounded brought Drouin within 19 points, 7-11 to 5-4, at half time.

Some poor dis­posal er­rors, most tellingly in its de­fen­sive half of the ground, had crept into the Hawks’ game and Moe had showed its abil­ity to catch Drouin out with its run­ning ahead of the ball as it swept from de­fence.

Pres­sure may have ac­counted for some of Drouin’s mis­takes but there is lit­tle ex­cuse for illdirected short kicks from the back lines from kick-ins from be­hinds, marks or free kicks that gave the Lions some easy turnovers.

Moe’s first two goals of the third term came from kicks off the ground as Drouin fum­bled and failed to force be­hinds from close to goal.

Fair­lie got one of those back, and his sec­ond for the day, be­fore the Lions kicked the next five goals to take a 14-13 to 5-5 lead into the fi­nal change.

Drouin’s prob­lems had been com­pounded when James McKel­lar, one of the Hawks’ best across half back, left the ground with a rib in­jury early in the third quar­ter.

A goal to Moe only one minute into the fi­nal term was an­swered by McCal­lum, on the end of a long run and kick from Barr on a wing.

From then on it was all Moe, its in­ac­cu­racy the only short­com­ing.

Barr got the last goal of the match as the con­test fiz­zled out.

Drouin showed it is a much more com­pet­i­tive side this year and it will get bet­ter when a few re­turn from in­juries and other ab­sences over the next few weeks and when they set­tle a line-up that has a num­ber of new faces.

As­sis­tant coach Ed­die Mor­ris will be­come more in­flu­en­tial.

Bun­yip re­cruits Jeb McLeod and Michael Laszczyk were ef­fec­tive and Wayne Mor­ris, back af­ter an ab­sence and named cap­tain, was one of the bet­ter back­men.

Ax­ford was good in and around the packs, first-gamer Jesse Craig made a promis­ing de­but and Rhys Sal­ter, Liam An­der­son, Sam Piner, Nathan Guy, McKel­lar and David Miller were solid.

Moe has lost a cou­ple of key mid­field­ers from last year but look to have cov­ered them well.

Josh Pearce took lit­tle time to show he was a valu­able re­cruit com­ing from New­bor­ough and the Lions have plenty of younger play­ers that have stepped up seam­lessly to the se­niors.

Coach James Blaser, a joint league best and fairest last year, was a key play maker es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half.

Michael Laszczyk, left, in a bat­tle for a loose ball with Moe coach James Blaser, showed plenty of prom­ise in his first out­ing in Drouin colours. The Hawks were well in the game for a half be­fore a slick Moe took charge..

Drouin’s Jakob Simp­son loses the ball in a strong Moe tackle dur­ing the re­serves game on Sat­ur­day. Simp­son was an ef­fec­tive play­ing kick­ing two of the Hawks’ goals.

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