HARD GOING FOR HAWKS IN WET, MUD
Drouin struggled to find ways through Maffra’s defensive set-up in Saturday’s tough conditions at Drouin.
Not only did the strong wind, almost gale force at times, cause enough problems of its own for the players but by the time the seniors took the ground the surface had chopped up considerably.
Rain also persisted for much of the match including a couple of heavy downpours.
Maffra was more composed and better in attack than the Hawks as reflected by the 11-16 to 2-9 scoreline at the finish.
Around the middle of the ground Drouin more than held its own and the defence did a pretty solid job in the circumstances.
Drouin just couldn’t find ways to capitalise, especially in a first half that produced only three behinds.
Maffra’s five-goal second quarter after it had led by 10 points at the first change settled the result.
It was mainly a slog-fest throughout.
A main difference was the talent up forward where the Eagles’ Mitch Bennet, with four goals, and Dan Bedggood two were lively.
Sam Pleming was virtually impassable sweeping across Maffra’s half back line and, given he is the side’s “bail out” man in defence it was a bit of a surprise the Hawks didn’t man up on him in the first quarter especially.
Drouin did have a patch when it had much the better of the contest – the first 15 minutes of the third quarter.
The ball was in the Hawks half of the ground for most of that time and yielded two goals - a snap by ruckman Bob McCallum after grabbing the ball at a ball up close to goal and Rhys Salter following soon after when he cleanly gathered at ground level, burst his way through a small gap and kicked one of the match’s best goals.
But two incidents Drouin’s momentum.
The first was a heavy knock to the head and shoulder to Eddie Morris, possibly the Hawks’ best to that stage, that ended his game.
The second was a horror back line error where a Drouin player kicked the ball from a half back flank across ground and into the waiting arms of an unattended Eagle 20 metres from goal.
The goal from that error and Bennet’s fourth of the day just before three quarter time had Drouin on the back foot again.
Morris was the third Drouin player whose game came to an early end.
An accidental kick to the shin ended Cody Harrison’s day in the first quarter and Wayne Morris, with his nose spread across his face after a second quarter clash, also departed.
The Hawks did fight out the contest to the finish.
Salter had a great chance to get his second and Drouin’s third goal late in the game but as the wind blew ferociously and the rain poured down he miscued with a set shot from the goal square.
Overall, Drouin just wasn’t good enough to threaten a side that no doubt will be a serious contender again this year.
But quite a few Hawks can hold their heads high.
McCallum in the ruck and just about everywhere else, on-ballers Liam Axford, Eddie Morris and Jeb McLeod, Salter and Tom Barr on a wing as well as the defenders were all good.
David Olsen was terrific in leading the back lines where Sam Piner, David Miller, Wayne Morris until his second quarter injury, James McKellar and Brendan Dower also contested well.
Drouin travels to Bairnsdale next week and will be anxious to see how Harrison and Eddie and Wayne Morris recover, especially with Nathan Guy and Jesse Craig sidelined after suffering hamstring strains at training last week. stalled
A spell on the interchange bench probably came as a bit of a relief for Drouin-on-baller Cambell Jolly who spent plenty of time at the bottom of the packs in the match against Maffra played in cold, wet, windy and slippery conditions. Photographs: Paul Cohen.
Keeping his feet in the wet and slippery conditions Drouin’s Tom Barr takes clean possession of the ball at ground level as the Hawks battled to make breakthoughs against a strong Maffra side at Drouin on Saturday.
Opposing ruckmen Damien Allison of Drouin (right) and Maffra’s Kieran Jones battled it out at ground level as well as in the air during Saturday’s clash at Drouin.