Redlegs dig deep

Redlegs dig deep

Hardly a player was left standing at the final siren as Bairnsdale secured its fourth Gippsland League home win of the season in yet another City Oval nail-biter on Saturday, defeating Warragul by four points.

It was the third City Oval encounter this season that has been decided by single figures following previous wins against Moe and Traralgon and Saturday’s victory arguably showed the most character.

Missing star forward and league leading goalkicker, Brayden McCarrey, as well as Nick Sing, Nathan Dennison, Keenan Hynes and Brad Daniel from the team that travelled to Wonthaggi a week prior, Bairnsdale handed a debut to under 18 talent, Byron Vickery, Ben McKinnon played his first senior match of the year, as did Matt Corbett, while Russ Cowan and Will Hamilton were welcome inclusions.

With five changes, Bairnsdale showed patches of cohesiveness, enough to pull the team from an early deficit to a 20-point three quarter time lead.

However, the gruelling affair was taking its toll and Warragul’s experience came to the fore as it booted five goals in the opening 11 minutes of the final term to gain a 10-point lead. Bairnsdale kept fighting, however couldn’t hit back for another 10 minutes when back-to-back Link Robinson goals – one a giant set shot from the past players’ pavilion put the Redlegs back in front after 23 minutes.

The remaining 10 minutes of play was largely spent in Warragul’ s half, however two behinds and an out on the full attempt were all the Gulls could muster.

Bairnsdale’s defence was under incredible pressure and while decision-making wasn’t always superb when rebounding, the Redlegs did thwart numerous opportunities from the coalface with the basics – spoiling and tackling – done superbly.

Bairnsdale eventually broke into space at the 32-minute mark and Cowan took his side down the museum wing and dribbled a long behind. As Warragul played on from the kick in, the siren sounded.

Another heart-stopper, but one that showed Bairnsdale’s character and kept its season on track.

While it was a team effort to get the Redlegs across the line, Shaun Wyatt was exceptional, controlling his side’s on-ball unit while drifting forward to kick three goals. He stood up in the key moments.

Tomm Bryan was an able assistant at the source, while big men, Ethan East and Hamilton played important roles. Robinson’ s two last quarter goals were vital, while Brayden Radford’ s stopping role on Ben Hughes after he kicked three first term goals, was critical.

Kieran Vickery continued his consistent form in front of goal with three majors, while his debuting younger brother, Byron, booted two and looked comfortable at senior level.

Bairnsdale sits in sixth position with a 4-4 record and faces a difficult road trip to take on reigning premier, Leongatha, this Saturday. The Redlegs desperately need a road win with all victories coming at home thus far.

Warragul kicked the opener with Ben Hughes receiving a holding free from Jesse Glassborrow in the opening minute as a high clearance entered the Gulls’ attacking 50m.

Barely a minute later the key forward had his second, this time playing in front following a Bairnsdale midfield turnover.

It was a case of turnover-afterturnover for the Redlegs in the opening 10 minutes as Warragul repelled cleanly from defence.

Ryan Halford finally broke through for Bairnsdale, finding space on the back of a lateral Bryan pass at the 12-minute mark.

However, Hughes was causing Bairnsdale all sorts of problems, the mobile tall target becoming provider for Will Jolley after marking in space on the museum wing.

The Gulls’ lead was out to 13 at the 15-minute mark.

Bairnsdale would hit back two minutes later when Hamilton marked a short Kieran Vickery set shot attempt unopposed at the back of a goalsquare pack.

Daniel Giardina became the Gulls’ third recipient of an inside 50m free kick at the 22-minute mark and he pushed his side back out to a 13point lead.

Bairnsdale would yet again respond from a short Kieran Vickery set shot, this time Shaun Wyatt, who had won more than 10 possessions, roving perfectly front and centre in the goalsquare.

Callan McKeon showed his blistering speed from the resulting centre bounce, winning the clearance and nailing debutant, Byron Vickery, with a sizzling pass, the youngsert drilling the set shot from 40m out in front of the clubrooms to much delight of his teammates.

Hughes added his third following yet another free kick inside 50m deep in red time, ensuring the Gulls held onto an eight-point lead at the first break.

Warragul held Bairnsdale at bay defensively, while being brutal on the rebound.

The Redlegs were best serviced by Wyatt in the midfield, the strong-bodied onballer showing his class and poise while teammates rushed and turned the ball over.

The Vickery brothers came into the quarter late, Byron having two shots on goal, but it was his elder brother, Kieran, who cut the margin to two at the seven-minute mark of the second term, roving a forward 50 ball up and nailing a left foot snap.

He gave Bairnsdale its first lead moments later when he marked a centring Wyatt pass.

Bairnsdale had three in succession when McKeon broke through congestion on the wing and allowed Ethan East to goal, before Vickery added his third for the quarter, this time thanks to a Wyatt tackle on Luke Tynan and sharp handball from Charlie Mein at ground level, snapping on the run from the museum pocket. Suddenly Bairnsdale was 15 points ahead after 11 minutes.

Warragul had the run of play after the 15-minute mark, however was unable to capitalise when within scoring range, going goalless for the term. The Gulls had 14 scoring shots to 10 for the half, however trailed by 11 points at the main break.

Bairnsdale’s pressure had increased in what was becoming a heated battle, however there was still room for improvement in terms of clean ball use.

Brayden Radford being moved onto Hughes was slowing Warragul’s early momentum as the visitors struggled to find more avenues to goal.

Bairnsdale extended its lead to 17 at the three-minute mark of the third quarter when Byron Vickery drilled his second following a holding free kick.

Tom Kelly answered for Warragul, marking a Jolley attempt on the behind line and snapping truly, cutting the deficit to 13 after eight minutes.

Warragul had two in a row when Giardina marked on a long lead and again it was game on, the margin cut to seven.

Bairnsdale was desperate for a midfield spark.

The Gulls pegged back Bairnsdale’s lead to one when Sam Whibley goaled with a long set at the 18-minute mark, however some order was restored as Wyatt nailed a timely response thanks to a downfield free kick.

A Glassborrow rebound 50 and dashing run from Halford allowed Bryan to find Wyatt who extended the Bairnsdale’s lead to 14 as he made it two in a row from a set shot at the 22-minute mark.

Charlie Mein was then the recipient of dual 50m penalties as Bairnsdale seized control with a 20-point advantage at the final break.

The Redlegs had cleaned up their ball use following Warragul’s earlier flurry, now being much more precise as it transitioned from defence to attack.

What Bairnsdale didn’t need was Warragul to boot the opening goal of the final quarter, yet that was what happened as Jack Nuttal drilled a long range set shot from the gate pocket, reducing the gap to 15 at the two-minute mark.

Kelly sliced the margin to single digits when he took an advantage free kick from a throw in and Mitch Nobelius cut the deficit to less than a kick with a quick snap at the eight-minute mark.

Again, Bairnsdale needed a midfield lift the Gulls we’re dictating terms at the source.

Warragul had four on the trot and a lead of four points as Nobelius added his second on the run.

Bairnsdale was now playing catch up.

It was one-way traffic as Matt Rennie pushed forward and sent the Gulls to a 10-point advantage at the 11-minute mark. Bairnsdale could not find an answer, but kept on fighting.

Consecutive behinds from the Redlegs saw the margin reduced to eight, but Warragul was absorbing pressure.

East added a further behind for a seven-point deficit, yet Warragul still appeared the superior team as the clocked ticked past 20 minutes.

Link Robinson, after being brought to ground by his dreadlocks and earning a free kick, nailed a huge set shot in front of the Warragul faithful in the past players’ pavilion, cutting the margin to one before he regained Bairnsdale’s lead thanks to an infringing 50m penalty at the 23minute mark. The Redlegs had a five-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

A Warragul begind a minute later saw the home side’s lead be cut to four as pressure intensified. The Gulls were felling it as another shot on goal from the clubrooms pocket missed the lot.

The ball was trapped inside Warragul’s attacking 50m as Kim Drew who had been the catalyst for Warragul’s fightback in the midfield missed a difficult set shot.

Bairnsdale cleared despite the Gulls’ best attempts to lock the ball in scoring range, time and again repelling, so much so it held on for victory following one last break from defence.

RESERVES SHOW GRIT

Bairnsdale’s reserve were made to work overtime for their eightpoint victory, coming from a 10point three quarter time deficit.

In what was a close game throughout, three third quarter goals to Gulls put the visitors in control, however they were held to just one behind in the final term as the Redlegs came home with a wet sail.

Jordy Ray was exceptional, Alex McLaren kicked three goals while on loan from Paynesville, while Nick George and Ricky Tatnell pushed for senior recalls.

Bairnsdale’s thirds went down to a powerful Warragul side by 61 points.

With Byron Vickery making his senior debut, the Redlegs struggles to find an avenue to goal.

It battled for three quarters, however the visitors finished the match with six in the final term.

Josh Carroll, Harry Cook and Riley Taylor were the Redlegs’ best.

Bairnsdale’s under 16s also suffered defeat, going down to the Gulls by 33 points.

Warragul gained control early despite a scores final term, secured a comfortable victory.

For Bairnsdale, Jock Overend, Jobe Somerville and Randall Stewart performed well while Tom Selleck kicked two goals.

PICTURED: Bairnsdale’s Brayden Radford moves his side out of defence during his side’s four-point win over Warragul at home during round eight of the Gippsland League on Saturday.


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