Hobbled Justin Hoggan drags his Wangaratta Pies home


JUSTIN Hoggan’s game looked done and dusted 15 minutes into the first quarter on Saturday.

Two hours later, the Wangaratta assistant coach was the matchwinner.

A stunning five-goal final quarter cameo from Hoggan proved the difference as the Magpies sunk Wodonga by 32 points at Norm Minns Oval on Saturday.

Hoggan, who went to hospital with a burst blood vessel in his leg in the first term, was back on the ground midway through the second half and turned the game on its head with five final quarter goals.

Wangaratta’s season is now back on track after the Pies dropped their opening two games.

“It was more luck than anything,” Hoggan said.

“I went down early and went to hospital with a tennis ball on my shin but they said I was right to go and so I came back on halfway through the third.

“I told Mark (Knobel) to throw me forward for a bit and everything fell into place.

“It was a great result.”

Matt Kelly was brilliant in the midfield and dominated the centre clearances as the Magpies charged home in the final term.

Wangaratta had shot out to a 22-point lead by quarter-time and looked set to run on with things.

But the Bulldogs had other ideas.

Wodonga rallied, kicking five of the game’s next six goals across the second and third terms, and led by eight points at three-quarter-time.

But a final quarter avalanche inspired by Hoggan saw the Magpies steamroll to victory.

John Pratt was the Bulldogs’ best.

As expected, Sam Wortmann was a late inclusion after he had his six-match ban for rough conduct overturned on Thursday night.

He did a great job nullifying the influence of star ball-winner Jamie Allan after quarter-time.

But again, the Bulldogs failed to capitalise on their momentum with scoreboard pressure.

Wodonga coach Ben Hollands conceded it was becoming a problem.

“We were pretty flat after the game,” he said.

“Defensively, we were really good but we probably didn’t put on enough scoreboard pressure.

“For it to blow out in the end was pretty disappointing.”

Things get no easier for the winless Dogs, who host reigning premier Yarrawonga this Saturday.

Sunday’s Wangaratta derby, meanwhile, shapes as a cracker.

Both the Hawks and Pies enter the round 5 showdown with 2-2 win-loss records.

Lee Dale is likely to be free of VFL commitments to play his first game for Wangaratta.

Young forward Josh Porter is also an outside chance of coming into the Magpies’ line-up.