Gulls get im­por­tant win at Won­thaggi

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - BEYOND THE BOUNCE -

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.

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