Gulls get important win at Wonthaggi
A composed and focussed second half carried Warragul to its second win from two games in strong winds and on a slippery surface due to rain at Wonthaggi on Saturday.
The Gulls ran out winners 10-8 to 7-7 after losing ground - and their lead - in the second quarter.
They are one of only three teams to open the season with two wins and sit second on the ladder behind Maffra on percentage.
Warragul started promisingly getting out to a two-goal lead at quarter time.
But they took their eyes off the ball a bit in the second term when Wonthaggi played with plenty of physicality.
At the long break Power had wrested the lead 5-5 to 4-2, Warragul adding only one behind for the quarter.
The message at half time from coach Steve Kidd was strong – “lower the heads and concentrate on the ball”. Kidd was delighted with the response. “The players took the message on board”. It was a game we’d probably have lost last year, he said.
The result was still touch and go beginning the last quarter with the Gulls 11 points up but Wonthaggi with what benefit the strong wind provided as it blew towards a forward pocket.
But Warragul held firm adding 2-2 to Power’s one goal.
The Gulls made two changes to the line-up that scored a first round win over Morwell.
Ex-Bunyip player Matthew Ross and Darwin recruit Mick Coombes came into the side.
Ross kicked a goal in a sound game but due to his role as a fitness adviser with Gippsland Power TAC Cup and representative sides may only be available periodically throughout the year.
Coombes also showed some good signs in a rugged introduction to a Gippsland winter.
Acting captain Sam Russell showed great leadership and was superb in defence over four quarters to be Warragul’s best on the day.
Kim Drew, James Davidson and Mitch Nobelius were great on the ball taking a lot of the pressure off Nate Paredes.
Drew is only young but has shown in the two games so far he is well up to senior level and has been among the Gulls’ best in both.
Nic Mulqueen and Jed Serong were also among Warragul’s better players. The goals were spread around. Drew, Davidson and Jed Serong each got two and singles were scored by Russell, Paredes and Dan Giardina.
The start to the season has been as good as Warragul could have hoped for.
Wonthaggi was seen as one of the sides the Gulls need to finish ahead of to make finals.
Next Saturday they can take another big stride forward if form holds up and they can overcome another potential finalist in Moe on home turf at Western Park.
Key player Brayden Fowler may be only another week or two away after recovering from surgery and the club is hopeful that Tom Muir, named captain this year and now back in training, will be available in a few weeks.
Next Saturday’s clash with Moe should be one Warragul’s Under 18 thirds can’t wait to come.
The young Gulls have a more than handy side and will be against an opponent that also looms as a
Drouin’s Rhys Salter (19) puts a strong shepherd on Maffra opponent Alex Carr to give assistant coach Eddie Morris the space to break clear as the senior sides played out the game in steadily deteriorating conditions at Drouin on Saturday.
Drouin backman Brendan Dower gets his kick away, beating the late tackling attempt by Maffra captain Dan Bedggood, to relieve some pressure in Saturday’s senior match.
Drouin’s Bob McCallum’s experience shone through as he controlled the ruck contests against Maffra, generally outpositioning opponents and, as shown above, where possible deciding that two hands were better than one in the slippery going.