Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - BEYOND THE BOUNCE -

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.

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