Challenges ahead for ladder leaders

Shea Burzese and Brandon McDonald in action for Morwell in round nine. photograph hayley mills

Shea Burzese and Brandon McDonald in action for Morwell in round nine. photograph hayley mills



For the second week in a row, ladder leaders Maffra will face an almighty challenge - this time in the form of third-placed Sale on Saturday to kick off round 10 proceedings.

The Eagles were given a scare against Moe in round nine and fell behind the ball in the first half to trail by four at the main break before regrouping to run over the top by 24 points.

Maffra's defence, commanded by Sam Pleming and Michael Coleman, has conceded just 411 points in the nine rounds played to date – 168 fewer than Leongatha in second. Sale were dealt their first loss since round one by defending premiers Leongatha in round nine in a see-sawing battle that featured an explosive last term.

The sides last met in round 10 of 2017 and while Maffra have maintained much of the form that helped them to the grand final, Sale are a completely changed side.

Wonthaggi v Leongatha

Leongatha coach Paul Carbis said he was "pleased to get away with a win" in the wake of the Parrots' round nine victory over Sale and earmarked this weekend's clash with Wonthaggi as a "good test".

"We played the game out which we didn't do the weekend before and got a healthy lead," Carbis said.

"As good as Sale are they really came back at us in the last quarter so I was pleased."

Ben Willis played a standout game in the ruck while Sam Forrester made a successful switch from half-back to half-forward and the wing and was "super", according to Carbis.

Josh Schelling again commanded the backline for the Parrots and was critical in the absence of Chris Verboon but went down with a knock to the back in the last term.

"I think we had a young side in this week and we'll probably have the same this week against Wonthaggi," Carbis said.

"It'll be a good test for us to see if we can back up our performance."

Drouin v Moe

After coming within 14 points of hot flag favourites Maffra in round nine, Moe will have a skip in their step this weekend when they travel to Drouin in search of a win.

The Lions led by four points at the main break but the joy was short-lived and they were overrun by the experienced Eagles in the second half.

Playing-coach James Blaser led from the front and racked up five goals from the forward pocket while the work through the middle was left to Dylan Farrell, Jacob Wood and Mitch Stanlake.

The Lions are poised in fourth spot on the Gippsland league ladder but are two games off the pace of Sale.

For Drouin, the pickings have been slim so far this season and they scraped through for their one win of the season by a single point against Warragul in round four.

Morwell v Warragul

Morwell's run of consecutive wins came to a grinding halt in round nine but they will look to return to the winner's list this weekend when they host Warragul on Saturday.

The Tigers trailed at every break against Traralgon in round nine but were again well-served by forward Ryan Tatterson who bagged three goals.

For Warragul, who have three wins for the season to date, victory over Morwell this weekend could signal a push towards a top-five finish.

Traralgon v Bairnsdale

Traralgon's win over Morwell in round nine places them fifth on the ladder and a win against Bairnsdale this weekend could see them move to fourth.

The Maroons led at every change at the weekend and ran out 27-point victors with Lee Stockdale's five-goal haul the best of the day.

The win puts Traralgon a game clear of Bairnsdale in fifth spot on the Gippsland league ladder.

The Redlegs made light work of Warragul in round nine and won by 39 points and were helped by an even spread of goalkickers with Link Robinson and Ricky Tatnell leading the way with three each while Ethan East, Kieran Vickery and Brayden Mccarrey each kicked two.

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