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Traralgon all the way

TRARALGON has been crowned the best in Gippsland after defeating Leongatha by five goals in the grand final of the Gippsland Football League on Saturday, denying Leongatha coach Beau Vernon a dream first year as senior coach.
In front of a record crowd of more than 5500 people at Traralgon Recreation Reserve, the Maroons claimed their 26th senior premiership and third of the Gippsland league era, with a 12.11.83 to 7.11 53 victory.
Five goals is precisely the amount of goals Traralgon kicked unanswered in the first term before Leongatha could score a major very late into the quarter; and this ended up being the final margin at the finish.
They say a home ground advantage must amount to something and it appeared obvious Traralgon used this advantage in the opening quarter; attacking almost exclusively to the pocket on the scoring side of the ground with the cross breeze behind the players. The Maroons seemed to know precisely where to aim the kicks as they went straight through.
Equally though Traralgon settled quickly with quick balls out of the middle providing the forwards with plenty of opportunities which they took with five straight goals. Leongatha on the other hand appeared to be suffering from early game nerves with very little entry into the forward 50 metres while the defenders were under great pressure.
Indeed the Traralgon pressure and intensity continued throughout match.
In sunny conditions on a top ground the only battle players had was with the tricky cross breeze and with the opposition.
Traralgon had done its homework in its second semi final win over the Parrots and they continued where they left off.
Traralgon’s 30-point victory was built on the back of a barnstorming opening quarter.
Within 30 seconds Traralgon had scored the opening goal through Christian Buykx-Smith.
Hayden Britten was the unlikely game-breaker, bagging three first-quarter goals – his third a classy snap following a one-handed contested mark – to give Traralgon a 30-point lead before Leongatha managed a score.
When key Parrot Zak Vernon limped from the ground a short time later, things were looking grim for the sentimental favourites.
They did, however, grab a much-needed goal on the stroke of quarter-time through Brenton Fitzgerald and Tas Clingan’s classy set shot ensured the second term started better than the first.
Dylan Loprese responded for the Maroons and fortunately Vernon returned to the field and the Parrots started to settle into the contest.
Ten behinds were kicked for the term as both sides struggled for accuracy in front of goal, but late majors to Aaron Heppell and Ash Lynch had Leongatha within 13 points at the main change.
The majority of the second half was a tense and engrossing contest, with two high-calibre sides trading blows.
With forward Nick Nagel sidelined with an ankle injury, Leongatha was down to two rotations on the bench and Traralgon’s leaders ensured their side answered every challenge thrown at it.
A booming long-range snap from playing coach Mark Collison and a clutch set shot from retiring skipper Michael Geary maintained a 16-point margin for the Maroons at the final break.
While the game was still in the balance at three-quarter-time, a dour 10 minute-spell of stoppage-heavy football concentrated on Leongatha’s right half-forward flank favoured the Maroons, who laid the telling blow a short time later through veteran Josh Jennings.
Aaron Hillberg pulled one back for the Parrots, but Traralgon remained in control and, fittingly, Geary sealed the game with two stunning goals in the dying minutes.
Traralgon’s strength was at stoppages, where ruckman Ben Amberg provided his on-ballers with first use and the likes of Jennings, Geary and Collison able to spread with pace and precision to a mobile and multi-dimensional forward line.
The Maroons had plenty of winners on the day, with Britten (four goals), Jordan Bourke, Jackson Hall and brothers Tim and Matt Northe among the other stand out performers.
Aaron Heppell tried hard all day for Parrots as too did Zak Vernon who bravely came back on and played good footy after a nasty corky.
Other good players for the Parrots were Tas Clingan, Brent Fitzgerald, Chris Verboon down back and Shem Hawking on the wing.
Leongatha’s forwards had a bad day at the office with leading goalkicker Jake Best, as well as Cade Maskell and Nick Nagel all failing to register any majors with the only other key forward in Aaron Hillberg booting two.
Traralgon’s Josh Jennings was awarded the Stan Aitken Medal and Maroons ruckman Ben Amberg the AFL Victoria Country Medal as the best players on the ground.
The flag capped an incredible day for Traralgon, which claimed four of the 10 premierships from six grand final appearances.

Clear space: this time Leongatha managed some space on the ground as Tas Clingan gets possession flanked by Aaron Heppell, Jason Tomada, and Lochie Dumont. More photos at www.mdphotos.net

Clear space: this time Leongatha managed some space on the ground as Tas Clingan gets possession flanked by Aaron Heppell, Jason Tomada, and Lochie Dumont. More photos at www.mdphotos.net

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=16244

Posted by on Sep 29 2015. Filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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