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Eagles, Roosters primed for prelim


A SCINTILATING preliminary final looms between North Warrnambool and South Warrnambool, with both clubs desperate for the chance to take on reigning premier Koroit next week.

The showdown at Gardens Oval will pit the two clubs against each other for the second time this final series, after the pair played out a thrilling drawn qualifying final which was eventually won by the Eagles in extra time.

It was the perfect start to a long-anticipated finals return for the competition, which hadn’t staged a post-season since 2019, and came after the two sides had produced entertaining affairs during the home and away campaign.

First-year Eagles big man Nathan Vardy has come to learn of the hype associated with the pair’s growing rivalry and is expecting another enthralling battle to play out.

“As the year has gone on I’ve slowly worked out what rivalries look like in the competition and have got a feel of how these opponents come each week,” he said.

“It’s definitely a big clash between the two clubs. We’re obviously one and one during the season, they touched us up pretty convincingly late in the year and the first final could have gone either way.

“It’s obviously going to be hard for you lot (the media) to pick a winner but we’re really looking forward to the contest.

“We know we’ve got a few things we’ve got to work on from last time and South we’ll be in the same boat but fingers crossed we can find ourselves in front at the final siren.”

The Eagles hopes of victory have also been boosted by the return of key players Dylan Parish and Billie Smedts for the contest, inclusions Vardy welcomed.

“Dylan’s obviously had a pretty tough year mentally I think with a lot of niggling injuries that have put him out for periods of time during the year,” he said.

“I think he’s pretty pumped to be back at this time of year and he’s a pretty pivotal part of our line-up, he straightens us up forward.

“Billie was a bit sore (last week) and given the second chance we thought we’d take the conservative approach, so he’ll be a definite starter this week.

“We missed them last week and have missed them both in patches during this year but it’s going to be great to have them back.”

The Roosters have added their own pair of playmakers, with Josh Saunders and Archie Stevens set to bolster Mat Battistello’s line-up.

Saturday’s clash will be broadcast live on 94.5 3YB FM and live-streamed to the 3YB Facebook page from 2pm.

Around the Grounds with Hilly: Fresha Finals Series – Week 3


It was another successful weekend for the Hampden Football Netball League with two impressive victories and two big crowds. It has been unbelievable how much the local community has embraced this year’s final series, especially having been without them for the past two seasons. On Saturday, we witnessed one of the great clubs of Country Victoria continue their dominance with Koroit qualifying for their 8th consecutive Grand Final, meaning they will try to register their 7th straight premiership. It’s amazing how the Saints continue to produce the goods each season and there is no doubt, the motivation comes from wanting the younger members of the team to taste the success of premiership glory. It’s a credit to coach Chris McLaren and the whole club, it’s an amazing effort and they will certainly be hard to defeat on the Reid Oval in a week’s time.

Tigers Run Ends

It wasn’t the fairytale finish Portland were hoping to achieve on Sunday, but despite the scoreline in the 1st Semi Final, what a terrific season from the Tigers. The young Tigers outfit won their first seven games, qualified for the first finals appearance since joining the competition in 2013 and most importantly, unearthed some great talent. Skipper, Dan Jackson, had an excellent season in the midfield alongside Lachie Hupputz and Toby Jennings, Josh Jenner was a revelation across half-back, Nathan Haylock was dominant at centre-half-back, Ben Malcolm starred again and Tom Sharp was the ultimate focal point up forward with over 80 majors for the season. Portland will certainly use this season as a stepping stone for the future seasons ahead, they have a great bunch of young talent coming through and look to be a Hampden League force in 2023 and beyond.

Maskell Medal

One of my favourite days of the year, recognising the best and fairest player of the Hampden League competition. It has been one hell of a season in 2022 and extremely difficult to tip a winner. Below are my top three tips along with one smokey:

Daniel Jackson (Portland) – What a season for the Portland Tigers skipper and in my opinion will win this year’s medal. Daniel has featured in the Tigers best players 17 times, is a proven ball-winner, can kick goals and was a huge reason behind his team’s emergence in 2022. A career best season from ‘Jacko’ and will be leading the tally-board early. 

Shannon Beks (South Warrnambool) – Shannon has had a terrific season in 2022, with the pressure of being the number one forward taken away. Shannon has predominantly spent a large chunk of game-time up forward, but has been able to push up the ground causing opposition coaches plenty of head-aches. Shannon is a match-winner and his finish to the home and away season was first class. He will poll extremely well.

Sam Dobson (Koroit) – Sam is arguably the best player in the competition and has yet again dominated in the forward half of the ground. Sam kicked over 80 goals this season to narrowly win the goal-kicking title, but it’s not just that aspect of the game that defines him. He is one of the hardest workers in the Saints line-up, orchestrates a lot of play up the ground, plays an unselfish brand of football and overall, is a match-winner. Generally forwards don’t ever poll well in the award, but  I think this year will be an exception for Sam Dobson.

SmokeyPaul Pekin (Cobden) –  One of the great stories of the season this year has been the outstanding form of Cobden midfielder Paul Pekin. Paul was one of the Bombers joint captains this season and it would be fair to say, the leadership role has brought out the best of him on the ground. Paul has been able to withdraw himself from the necessary physical activities on the field, which has allowed him to concentrate on what he does best, find the football and set it up for team-mates. I think Paul will poll well and finish relatively high on the leaderboard.

Preliminary Final Tip

After a heart-stopping Qualifying Final, South Warrnambool and North Warrnambool battle each other for the final spot in next week’s Hampden Football Netball League Grand Final. The Roosters were impressive against Portland last Sunday, while after a slow start, the Eagles were so close to defeating Koroit in the 2nd Semi Final. It appears both teams could be bolstered with key players returning such as Josh Saunders, Archie Stevens, Dylan Parish and Billie Smedts. Whilst the North Warrnambool Eagles were impressive last weekend, I still believe South Warrnambool will be hard to beat. Defensively the Roosters set up well, and in my opinion have more forward goal-kicking options which include Dye, Beks, White, Hussey. Nathan Vardy looms as the major player for the Eagles, his work around the ball was nothing less than first class last week and his team will rely on that service. A terrific clash is coming up again.

See you at the footy!

Saints ready for September action


MINOR premier Koroit’s quest for an eighth straight grand final berth kicks off this Saturday when the Saints take on North Warrnambool Eagles in the Hampden league’s second semi-final.

The Saints have become the competition’s most decorated team over the past decade, winning six successive flags in a stretch from 2014 to 2019, with a record seventh looming following another top-of-table finish to the home and away season.

The Chris McLaren-coached outfit is just two wins away from glory but will need to overcome its 2019 grand final opponent to earn a direct passage into the grand final.

The Saints have won both of the pair’s home and away clashes this year, but skipper Liam Hoy knows his side will face a much-stronger Eagles team this time around.

But the occasion is not set to faze him and his team-mates, who are eager to finally get its September campaign underway.

“We can’t wait,” Hoy said.

“It was a really tough game last week, North were very good for a long part of the game so it isn’t going to be easy.

“It’s finals footy so it’s going to go up a notch and as a team we need to step it up a bit to give it a good shake.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

Having won six straight flags and then endured two years interrupted by COVID, one could wonder if motivation may start to waver for the Saints.

But Hoy is quick to dismiss that notion, adding success was a dangling carrot the group craved for various reasons.

Change has been afoot at Victoria Park this year, with a host of younger players emerging through the ranks but the two-time Ron Hoy Medallist said their progression has only galvanised the group’s desire to win.

“There’s a lot of young lads coming through that have just bought into what has been built over the last seven years,” Hoy said.

“There’s a lot of individual reasons to share success with and motivation is certainly not lacking.

“I think the older boys are in a new phase of life, it was all footy in their younger life but now they’ve stepped into work life and are young fathers and sharing it with their families and creating memories.

“I think there is all those little things that have added up to another successful campaign and we just can’t wait to hopefully push for another one (flag).”

Meanwhile, South Warrnambool and Portland will look to keep their finals campaigns alive at Cobden Community Bank Recreation Reserve on Sunday.

The Roosters are looking to regroup quickly off the back of their elimination final loss to the Eagles but will take confidence into the contest having had the upperhand on the Tigers throughout the home and away rounds.

However, the boys from Portland are riding a wave of momentum after a historic first finals win in the elimination final and will be take belief into the contest against Mat Battistello’s group.

Both matches will start at 2pm and will be broadcast live on 3YB FM and live-streamed on the 3YB Facebook page.

Tom Batten to line up in 250th senior game this weekend.


The HFNL wishes to congratulate Tom Batten from the North Warrnambool Eagles who will line up for his 250th Senior Football Game this weekend in the Qualifying Final against South Warrnambool at Victoria Park.

This is an enormous achievement and will entitle him to automatic Life Membership of the HFNL.

Tom started his journey at the Eagles in 1995 in the Auskick program.

Key stats and achievements for Tom below:

  • Coached 2 seasons of Under 18’s (2015 & 2016)
  • Senior Assistant Coach
  • Captain & Leadership Roles with the club
  • Represented the HFNL (interleague) 6 times
  • Interleague Vice-Captain
  • Team of the Year Awards
  • Runner up in Club B&F

Please join us in congratulating Tom and we wish him all the best in his 250th.

Around the Grounds with Hilly: Fresha Finals Series – Week 1


After a three year wait, we have finally reached the finals period in the Hampden Football Netball League. It feels like such a long-time ago when Koroit held up the premiership cup aloft for the sixth consecutive time. The Saints are well in contention to make it seven in a row, but will have strong competition against South Warrnambool, North Warrnambool, Portland and Warrnambool. It’s the beginning of a huge four weeks and I know every team involved is looking forward to the possibilities. 

Saints and Seagulls Coaching

Over the past fortnight, Koroit and Port Fairy have announced their coaching intentions for 2023. Saints mentor Chris McLaren will continue in the role, whilst Port Fairy leader Winis Imbi will step down from the role.

Firstly, a great coup again for Koroit with the reappointment of Chris McLaren. The Saints favourite son has to be regarded one of the best coaches the competition has seen over the past 20 years with his ability to keep his team playing at a consistent high level, as well as strong tactical nous and unbelievable ability to develop youth. We speak about the successes of Adam Dowie regularly, this fella is approaching if not at the same level in my mind.

As for Port Fairy, they will be seeking a new coach in 2023. You have to feel for outgoing leader Winis Imbi, half a season in 2021 and the difficulties he endured in 2022. Despite the lack of success, I believe Winis would leave the Gardens Oval satisfied with the development of players such as Oscar Pollock, Segdae Lucardie, Ollie Myers and many more, which hopefully are the future of the Seagulls in the coming years. It will be interesting to see Port Fairy’s next move, the upgoing coaching appointment could be one of the clubs most important decisions they’ve had to make in the past 10-15 years. 

Batten Milestone

He’s been one of the main-stays of the North Warrnambool Eagles defensive end for the past decade and this weekend Tom Batten will line up in his 250th senior match in the blue and yellow. One of the league’s good guys, Tom has been a pivotal player for the Eagles and the Bottle Greens for many seasons and is just rewarded with Hampden League Life Membership this weekend. A feature of Tom Batten is his flexibility, he can play on the talls, smalls and rebound dangerously off half back. When I think of Tom Batten, this is what enters my mind – loyal, composure, adaptive and caring. A great milestone for a great person, congratulations Tommy Batten on 250 games.

Qualifying Final

What a great encounter to kick off the 2022 Fresha Fruit Juice Finals Series. South Warrnambool have been one of the yardsticks of the competition all season whilst after a slow and inconsistent start, North Warrnambool have finished the season extremely well. Hopefully both squads will have near full strength teams heading into the game as both were missing key personnel. I really like South Warrnambool in this game. They have a deep midfield and revamped forward line but it’s the team’s defensive structures that impress me. The names of Thomas, Lee, Mullen and Thompson have dour defenders that are hard to score against but they are well supported by their midfield by rolling back and plugging holes. I don’t believe the margin will be great but Roosters can score but also defend as well as anyone and just in my mind move into the 2nd Semi Final.

Elimination Final

What a week for the Portland Tigers, playing their first ever finals match in the Hampden league since joining in 2013. Portland have dominated both of their games against Warrnambool this season, outclassing them with their quick ball use through the corridor and multiple goal-kicking options. The Blues are almost back at full strength, they have blooded some exciting youth, holding them in good stead for the seasons to come. In regards to this week, I like Portland. The Tigers’ brand against the top two teams in recent weeks have been promising, with their forward half and defence standing up for much of those encounters. I believe one of the big advantages for the Tigers is their ruckman Ben Malcolm, an absolute monster and one of the best big guys in the competition. He will battle against the exciting Ben Howard who has been impressive since the season ending injury of Daniel Weymouth. Looking forward to this game, let’s hope it comes down to the wire. 

Congratulations to all teams competing and let’s hope it’s one of the best finals series for some years.

See you at the footy!


Round 18: South Warrnambool vs Portland Highlights


Proud Tigers ready for finals football


A HISTORIC first Hampden league finals appearance awaits Portland on Sunday, yet Tigers coach Jarrod Holt is imploring his players to make the most of the occasion.

The league’s most western-based side will take on Warrnambool in the elimination final at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval, some 10 seasons after joining the competition and an initial 2021 campaign was ruined by COVID-19.

It’s a moment the club isn’t taking lightly, with the Tiger Army set to make the trek east in droves in the hope a historic first campaign can go deep into September.

“We’re really proud of being in this position,” Holt said.

“Last year we were close until the year didn’t quite finish up but it’s (reaching finals) been a long-time in the making.

“We’re a really proud club and have had a lot of success in the past in other leagues but it has taken a little bit of time (here) for various reasons.

“We’re really proud of where we’re at and hopefully our trajectory is still on the way up and we can start with a win this weekend.”

Having started the season in blistering fashion, winning their first 11 of their first 13 games, Portland’s run to the finals might have left a little to be desired.

Faced with the prospect of finishing inside the top three and gaining a double chance, the Tigers faded in the last month and half of the season, losing important games to Camperdown and Terang Mortlake, which ultimately cost them third spot.

While Holt conceded his side’s performances were disappointing in those matches, he is confident the Tigers are close to rediscovering their best football following improved displays against Koroit and South Warrnambool in recent weeks.

“Our form hasn’t been great the last month to six weeks,” he said.

“I guess the obvious thing is we’re pretty light-bodied and the heavier grounds haven’t suited us much but we’ve got to be better with our contested ball.

“Last weekend we were pretty happy, but it’s hard to read a lot into it as South didn’t have much to play for and I guess we didn’t either.

“We were happy with some of the things we saw but our performances against Koroit and South the last couple of weeks are holding us in better stead than we probably were tracking.”

Portland has had the Warrnambool’s measure in 2022, and while the Tigers will take confidence from those victories, their coach is asking them to defend strongly and implement its “run and gun” style if they are to progress beyond week one.

“It’s probably obvious that our style of footy differs from the top few sides but we think for the cattle we’ve got that suits us,” Holt said.

“Sometimes we execute it well and sometimes we don’t and that seems to be whether we play well or not.

“We do flick it around a bit to try and get some guys with a bit of run…if we can get it forward quick and hurt sides that way (that’s our go).

“The thing I think we’ve done well the last few weeks is we’ve defended a lot better, which I think we went away from a bit of late.

“We need to make sure our pressure is up, we’re defending well and we’re making the right decisions to defend.”

Meanwhile, North Warrnambool defender Tom Batten will celebrate his 250th game in the Eagles qualifying final showdown against South Warrnambool.

Batten has been a mainstay at Bushfield throughout his career and will be hoping to play an integral role in the Eagles quest for a first senior premiership.’

The two sides will meet at Koroit’s Victoria Park, with the winner to take on Koroit for a chance to book a spot in the grand final the following week.

Both finals this weekend will be broadcast live on Hampden League Live (94.5FM) and live-streamed on the 3YB FM Facebook page.

Kenna keen to finish on a high note


TERANG Mortlake coach Ben Kenna is hopeful his youthful outfit can finish off season 2022 in style when it ventures to Cobden Community Bank Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

The Bloods will meet the Bombers in the final home and away round of the year with aspirations to end the campaign on a strong note.

Currently sitting ninth on the ladder, Kenna has led the Bloods to three wins from the last eight matches after winning just one game in the opening nine rounds.

It comes off the back of an aligned approached to the second half of the year, in which they wanted to ensure they were consistently competitive against their weekly opposition.

“The second half of the season has been really pleasing,” Kenna said.

“At the halfway point we had only won the one game against Port Fairy so we placed a bit of a focus on being more competitive the second time round against everybody.

“To this point we have been (more competitive) so hopefully we can complete that and finish off against Cobden on Saturday.

“The boys will be determined to finish the season off strong like they have the last four or five games.”

Kenna, who is undecided on coaching in season 2023, believes the Bloods have built a strong nucleus over the past two seasons, but knows more depth is required if they are to rise up the ladder in future campaigns.

The likes of Ryleigh Hutchins, Harvey Roberts, Ned Roberts, Xavier Vickers, Hugh Porter and others have been exposed to regular senior football this season and will only be better for the experience but more help is needed to support the club’s up-and-comers.

“We’re not far away, maybe just a couple of key players, like a couple of taller player across half forward and a midfielder or two (short),” Kenna said.

“It’s probably just that depth I suppose, if we have players out we can’t cover that as well as your South’s, North’s and Koroit’s and sides like that can.

“There’s talent there but we probably just don’t quite bat deep enough at the moment.”

In the other matches, South Warrnambool welcomes Portland in the Hampden League Live Match of the Day, with both sides set to play finals the following weekend.

Camperdown will bring its season to a close at home against North Warrnambool, with the Eagles looking to refine its game ahead of the qualifying final.

Warrnambool will also finetune any last minute changes against Koroit at the Reid Oval, with the Saints set for a week off after snaring the minor premiership.

In the final game, the Hamilton Kangaroos will take on Port Fairy at Melville Oval.



It’s Grand Final Week for our Sunday Junior Competitions! Please see below game times for football and netball.

Date: Sunday 21 August 2022

Venue: Reid Oval, Warrnmabool

Gates Open: 9.00am


GradeTimeCompeting Teams
Under 12’s11.00amTerang Mortlake vs Warrnambool
Under 14’s12.15pmTerang Mortlake vs Hamilton Kangaroos
Under 16’s2.00pmSouth Warrnambool vs Warrnambool
Click on the links to view team lists.


GradeTimeCompeting Teams
Development Age10.00amKoroit vs Hamilton Kangaroos
13 & Under Reserves11.00amKoroit vs Hamilton Kangaroos
15 & Under Reserves12.00pmWarrnambool vs South Warrnambool
Click on the links to view team lists.

Round 17: Hamilton Kangaroos vs Camperdown Highlights


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