Pies keeping hopes alive

WANGARATTA re-ignited the battle for fifth spot with a gutsy 14-point win against Myrtleford at Norm Minns Oval.

The Magpies moved within four premiership points of arch-rival Wangaratta Rovers, which botched a chance to seal a finals berth against an undermanned Lavington.

The Magpies and Hawks have winnable games next round before a season-defining Wangaratta derby a week later.

Myrtleford led narrowly at half-time before the Magpies lifted their workrate sufficiently enough to win a highly competitive contest, albeit error riddled.

A strong breeze favoured the clubrooms end of the ground from the first bounce, but neither team could cash in, beginning with the Saints, who had first use.

The Saints led by three points at half-time, but were again outscored in the third term with successive goals to Judd Porter, Luke Mullins, who had been rarely sighted in the first half, and Joel Harris.

The margin blew out to 16 points before a late goal to Nathan Cossignani kept the Saints in touch at the last change.

The Saints failed to capitalise on other chances, but one of their best, Kristan Height, was incredibly unlucky when a shot bounced on top of the goal post.

Former Pie premiership Jarrod Hayes threaded a tough set shot from the pocket for the Saints to level the scores at the 10-minute mark of the last term.

Young key defender Riley O’Shea had taken the honours against Joel Harris, but the Pies forward kicked two late goals to seal the win.

The first came from a great build-up involving Aaron Braden and the second courtesy of superb running play from youngster Matt Hedin.

Hedin broke clear at the 50-metre mark and after a three-bounce run popped a handballl to Harris in the square.

The Magpies were well served by some usual suspects in Jamie Allan and Daine Porter in the midfield.

Matt Grossman played in a variety of roles and was also a fine contributor.

Young duo Jade Cleeland and Dylan Van Berlo were also prominent.

Saints co-coach Brad Murray was clearly hampered by a lingering hamstring injury.

Pies coach Mark Knobel said his team had not given up on playing finals and were poised to get some injured players back in coming weeks.

He also didn’t rule out Lee Dale and Josh Porter returning.

“We just have to keep winning and give ourselves a shot,” he said.