Morwell stranglehold on top spot will grow with another win

Traralgon welcomed the return of Stacey O'Brien from injury. photograph hayley mills

Traralgon welcomed the return of Stacey O'Brien from injury. photograph hayley mills

NETBALL

GIPPSLAND LEAGUE

The Tigers consolidated their stranglehold on the A grade competition with a win over defending premiers Traralgon to sew up top spot and will head into this weekend's encounter with Warragul as hot favourites.

Warragul journeyed to Bairnsdale and returned home with a three-goal win but will be hard-pressed to match it with the ladder leaders on Saturday.

Morwell coach Rachel Allison was suitably chuffed with where her side sits at the half-way point of the season.

"I think we expected to be where we are actually," Allison said.

"We sort of recruited well and looking at the team pre-season we were happy and confident just with the changes. We've had a similar team for a while and with the changes we thought we were fairly strong."

The Tigers have dropped just one game to date, to Drouin in round eight, but haven't looked like faltering since.

"Our start was what helped us against Traralgon. We had a slow start against Drouin and the intensity was up and we took the foot off a bit in the last quarter but overall I was pretty happy with the game," Allison said.

Courtney Garth was best-on court for Morwell in the win and swung with ease from goal defence to goal keeper to help limit Traralgon to their lowest score of the season.

Shooters Daisy Hill and Claire Allison continue to work like a well-oiled machine in the circle and will again be the Tigers' biggest source of danger against Warragul this weekend.

Morwell got the better of the Gulls by 27 goals in their round one meeting but Allison said this weekend's opposition remained somewhat of an unknown.

"We haven't played since round one but seeing their scores, they're quite a strong team and their defensive end is their strength," she said.

Drouin v Moe

Drouin and Moe will go head-to-head to break a deadlock at the upper end of the Gippsland league A grade ladder this weekend when third plays fourth in round nine proceedings on Saturday.

The Lions beat Maffra by seven goals in round nine - an impressive on-the-road win for their sixth win of season 2018.

Drouin also travelled well and made off with the points against Wonthaggi, 59-48, but Moe coach Peter Moody said the confidence of the playing group was growing week by week.

"We feel like we're starting to gel really well," Moody said.

"We had a few out but the girls are playing with a lot of confidence and we've built up to this weekend against Drouin as a really important game to really challenge ourselves and see where we're at."

Defender Emily McInnes, who has made a successful transition to the top tier competition from the side's B grade side, has reared as "the revelation of the season", according to Moody.

Charlize Bird will return to the midcourt for the Lions this weekend - a key addition to the side's efforts to shut down league best and fairest winner and Drouin weapon Stacie Gardiner.

"Drouin have had the wood on us and in round one we just couldn't get over the top," Moody said.

"But the girls have really set themselves to make sure we give a good account of ourselves this weekend.

"It will be all hands on deck this weekend, and like the Traralgon game, there'll be no excuses if we can't get over the line."

Traralgon v Bairnsdale

Traralgon were put to the test by ladder leaders Morwell in round nine and couldn't quite get over the line and fell by three goals at the final whistle.

Defender Ramayer Gourley, midcourter Kate French and shooter Maddie Stockdale have all been missing from the Maroons' starting seven but the return of Stacey O'Brien has bolstered their stocks.

Bairnsdale went goal for goal with Warragul at the weekend but were edged out by three goals and will be faced with a tough task in the form of Traralgon on the road this weekend.

Maffra v Sale

Cellar dwellers Sale will be up against the odds this weekend when they travel to take on fifth-placed Maffra in round 10.

The Eagles were overrun by a youthful Moe side on Saturday and conceded a 13-goal defeat but are a different prospect on their home court.

Sale were no match for Leongatha and went down 52-41 to mark their fourth loss on the trot.

Wonthaggi v Leongatha

Wonthaggi will host Leongatha this weekend in search of win number two for the 2018 season.

The Power were no match for 2017 grand finalist Drouin and were outmuscled by 11 goals while Leongatha travelled well and notched a win over Sale.

The Parrots sit a game outside of the top five with four wins and five losses for the season to date.

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