Solid opening for Parrots
WITH a number of new faces in the line-up, Leongatha opened its 2017 season with a solid 62 point win over a competitive Bairnsdale.
Debuting in the seniors, Ryan Olden, Sam Forrester and Harrison McGannon all had their jumpers presented to them by their fathers, Col Olden, Danny Forrester and Darryl McGannon at half time in the thirds match.
All three players acquitted themselves well, Olden named in the best players while McGannon notably laid nine tackles, Forrester doing well at wing and half forward.
Leongatha welcomed Josh Schelling back to the club and his sharing of the rucking duties with Ben Willis will work well for the Parrots this season.
Schelling performed well and booted one goal while Willis, looking very fit, also did his fair share of heavy lifting.
Justin Pellicano was rewarded with a key role at centre half forward and performed well; Louis Riseley played well off half back and sneaked forward for a goal.
Leongatha’s campaign started badly with two injuries early in the game; Chris Verboon suffered a broken collarbone which will see him sidelined for about six weeks while Luke Bowman was benched as a precaution after citing hamstring soreness; the club deciding to not risk him for the match.
This meant the new four man bench was utilised immediately for Leongatha which played out the match with just two players rotating.
Despite this the Parrots opened well kicking towards the Splash pool end and having the advantage of the breeze.
This saw them score five goals in term one, key forward Chris Dunne booting two, Pat McGrath another, Jake Mackie off half back with a good dash and Justin Pellicano with a mark and set shot.
Quarter Time Leongatha 5.3.33 to Bairnsdale 1.1.7
Bairnsdale was playing a strong physical game and came out in term two determined to make a game of it.
The Gatha defence held firm though and managed to keep the Dales to just two for the term as Leongatha managed three.
Sean Westaway was having a good game on the dangerous Damian Cupido, a former Essendon and Brisbane Lions player.
Cupido, looking a little overweight, was good when he got hold of the ball, booting three goals for the day.
Half Time Leongatha 8.4.52 Bairnsdale 3.7.25
Bairnsdale had its best passage of play early in term three and with good pressure kicked the opening two goals to edge within a couple of goals. The Red Legs seemed to have gained momentum.
Against the run of play Jackson Harry received a lucky free kick and a consequent 50 metre penalty resulted in a goal.
This seemed to distract Bairnsdale but stunned Leongatha into action again.
Hayden Browne was another very solid contributor down back.
The Parrots went on to add another five goals as Bairnsdale added two more with Leongatha holding a solid 45 point lead at the last change; 14.10 to 7.7.
Tom Marriott played a brilliant four quarters of football from the middle, setting the tone with plenty of clearances, also kicking a goal in the third term, one of his two.
Pat McGrath was very consistent all day playing midfield and ducking forward on occasion, booting three goals.
Leongatha went on with the job in the last quarter booting five goals to Bairnsdale’s two and eventually running out comfortable winners.
Zak Vernon finished the day with three goals while it was interesting to note the Parrots had ten players kicking goals.
For Bairnsdale Timms played a quality game on the half back flank with Cowan doing a pretty good job in the midfield.
Leongatha heads to Wonthaggi this Friday for a Good Friday blockbuster which should draw a huge crowd.
Despite the first round loss Wonthaggi cannot be underestimated and a top match is assured.
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