By Matt Fotia
With finals on the horizon the time has come to for sides to show us what they’re really made of. Are they content to come close to September action or is there a real desire to give themselves a chance at success in the inaugural Outer East season.
Will Wandin continue its build towards the top five? Can Warburton Millgrove knock off a top five side and jump back into A Grade contention and will Yarra Glen be able to take advantage of the wounded Eagles?
All this and more in the Weekend Preview.
When Cranbourne handed Wandin its second successive 100 point thrashing back in round four you would’ve been considered a fool if you were to suggest that their second meeting would be a battle for the last spot in the top five – but here we are.
The equation is simple, the winner of this weekends game will be in the box seat to finish fifth, the loser will have to rely on other sides helping out.
The Eagles come into this game off the back of an enthralling draw against Woori Yallock. The two points garnered from that effort are the first premiership points Cranbourne have grabbed since round nine when they beat the lowly Upwey-Tecoma.
They’ve struggled to find a regular goal kicker in 2019 with the loss of club legend Marc Holt really hurting their attacking prowess.
Thomas Marks leads all comers at the moment with 15 goals for the season whilst Casey Demons listed player Anthony Vella has 12 from just five games, making him the most potent of the Eagles players. Young starlet Corey Ellison also has 12 goals from six games joining Vella as the only players on the Eagles list to average two goals a game.
Whilst this isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to winning games of football nowadays, the Eagles will need to find a goal kicker if they’re to have success on Wandin’s deck.
Clegg Road is one of the highest scoring venues in the Outer East and this season it’s seen a grand total of 202.166 (1,378) scored on it. That’s an average of – around about – 34.28 (230) per game.
All of the Dogs wins in 2019 have come at home and they’ve cracked the ton on four occasions.
Furthermore they’ve managed 22 goals or more three times.
Unlike Cranbourne, Wandin are not short a talisman with four of their marking forwards having booted a bag of five at one time or another this year. Skipper Justin Van Unen is the main culprit with 37 goals from 10 games, including five hauls of five goals or more.
Ex AFL and current social media star Daniel Gorringe has collected three handfuls this season on his way to 27 goals from nine games. Patrick Hodgett (15 from 11) and Clint Johnston (14 from 10) both have one five goal game each in 2019.
The dimensions and gradient of Wandin’s ground make it easier to get quick ball movement inside forward fifty which isolates these powerful marking forwards with their defenders one on one. Team defence is harder to execute as Beaconsfield, Berwick and Upwey – Tecoma have discovered this season.
So the challenge for the Eagles is to find someone capable of kicking a big bag and then to isolate them.
Their season depends on it.
In Division One Pakenham will be out to ensure there is no dip in form after they conquered the dragon that is Monbulk last weekend.
The Lions will be on their home deck once again which will no doubt help this cause, as Toomuc Reserve provides them with the adequate room to showcase their skills and put to use their running power.
Zac Stewart, Darcy Hope and Kane Tyrell will be looking to continue their fine form as the Division One finals series creeps ever closer.
Their opponents, Belgrave, have been relatively poor since the two sides last met in round six, when they went down by 33 points to the Lions at home. Since then they’ve had just one win and have had two losses to tune of 90 (or more) points.
The start to the season showed plenty of promise, with the new look Magpies running with all of the current top four for 75% of their games, unable to pull off a surprise victory. New coach Nathan Johns has experience on larger surfaces from his time at Crib Point and has previously stated that his system is better on the bigger grounds, so let’s hope for the Magpies sake he’s on the money or else it could get ugly as Ash Green’s men look to build on a massive round 12 result.
It’s the battle of the Yarra’s in Division Two as Yarra Glen travel to Yarra Junction looking to collect back to back wins for just the third time this season.
The RiverPigs grabbed a much needed win against a struggling Yea after fading late against Kinglake in round 13. They’ve struggled for consistency all year having only strung together consecutive wins in rounds one and three (bye in between) and rounds nine and ten. Both of those instances included wins over Thornton-Eildon.
They’ll take solace from the fact they were able to run the Eagles close last time out, when they had more scoring shots in a nine point loss. The RiverPigs have the midfield depth to match the Eagles, but prefer the contested ball, so that’ll no doubt be a feature of this clash.
The Eagles are in unfamiliar territory coming off just their second loss for the season. It’s also the first loss by over 50 points since round six last season when Seville knocked them off to the tune of 52 points, 119 – 67.
They uncharacteristically struggled to score last weekend, managing just five goals for the afternoon and none in the second term. Their total of 5.7(37) was their lowest score since round seven 2017 when Yarra Glen kept them to 3.9(27).
These records are a testament to how far – and how quickly – the Eagles have come and that we shouldn’t expect a repeat performance this weekend. They’ll relish being back on their home deck and will look to run and gun against a Yarra Glen side that isn’t really built around pace.
On the Netball court Powelltown host Kinglake as they look to continue their push for a spot in the finals.
The Towner’s are coming off back to back wins over Alexandra and Gembrook-Cockatoo, where they raised the bat (reached 50) on both occasions, scoring 53 against the Rebels and 72 against the Brookers. Samantha Hansen was dominant on both occasions netting 40 last weekend and 47 against Gembrook-Cockatoo.
All of Powelltown’s victories this season have seen them score over 50 goals. They’ve only lost on once occasion when reaching the 50 mark, when they went down to Yarra Junction in their thrilling round one clash.
Powelltown want an open free-flowing game and Kinglake won’t allow it. Last time the Lakers were able to keep Powelltown to just seven goals in both of the opening quarters, effectively killing the Towner’s chances.
Kinglake’s defence has remained resolute this season, conceding over 45 goals just once. This makes them the worst team for Powelltown to face as the Laker’s defence could put the brakes on their charge for the five.
Another side looking to jump into their respective top five are Warburton Millgrove, with the Burra ladies currently sitting one game behind Pakenham and Doveton on the Division One A Grade ladder. They’re coming off a strong win against Emerald where goalers Bianca Daniels (31) and Kirralee Liuyf (26) combined well.
They’ll need a top five scalp to get right back into the finals race and this weekend provides them that opportunity, when they take on Monbulk.
Last time out the Hawks got up by 17 goals as Steph Puopolo fired her first warning shot to the competition with 40+ goals. Goal Attack Sophie Stubbs and Goal Defence Paige Whitworth were super impressive though, controlling the court for the Hawks.
Warburton Millgrove will need to play to their strengths. They have plenty of mid court depth with the likes of Selina Fotia, Holly Guerra, Ashlee Guerra, Grace Barnard, Chelsea Barnard and Taylah Moschetti all having gone through the centre and wing positions at some point this season.
If they can pull off a frantic short passing game which utilises this strength, they could look to overturn their round six loss and jump right back into the finals frame.
Woori Yallock aren’t looking to climb into the finals, they look well set to reach September with games to spare, but they’ll be using this weekend as a measuring stick and learning curve as they come up against the Olinda Ferny Creek juggernaut.
The Tigers lost by 11 goals to Cranbourne last weekend, the second time this season they’ve gone down to the Eagles. The loss wasn’t their desired result but it showed they’ll be around the mark come finals time.
This weekend however will show where they’re really at.
Goalling duo Mia Sudomirski and Madeline Hargrave will look to improve on their round four effort against the Bloods defence, taking on Brodie Smith and co. Their mid courters should look to take notes on how Krista Tomlinson goes about her business, whilst inform defenders Jordan Maher and Lauren Van Der Westhuizen can test themselves against Peri Stewart, Elly Stewart and Ashlee Howard.
The Tigers will be out to win, but failing that they should be at least be looking to learn from this weekend, so if they’re to get another chance at the Bloods, they’ll be better prepared.