By Matt Fotia
Who will take bragging rights on the Premier Division Netball court?
Are Officer just the best of the rest? And how do Gembrook-Cockatoo go about knocking off Seville?
All that and more in this week’s Weekend Preview.
Let’s kick things off with the biggest clash of the weekend – Beaconsfield hosting Olinda Ferny Creek on the netball court. Both sides are undefeated after five weekends of action, with the Bloods on top of the ladder due to their superior percentage. Olinda Ferny Creek are incredibly potent going forward averaging over 90 goals a game in 2019. Beaconsfield are next best with a measly(in comparison) 56 goals per game.
The Bloods trump card seems to be Peri Stewart. The tall Goal Shooter has had an incredible start to the season with 220 goals across her four outings and combines well with ex-Melbourne Vixen Ashlee Howard, who has 98 goals this season, playing more of a supply role in Goal Attack.
Despite having some inform attackers themselves (Sanzaro – 132, Roberts – 103) it’s quite clear that if Beaconsfield are to win this game they’ll have to do it with a strong defensive performance. Katherine Georgiou, Teneille Morrell and Danielle Cameron have all spent time in defence for the Eagles this season and will no doubt be looking to work together as the task may be too big to take on as individuals.
Olinda Ferny Creek coach Tim Smith mentioned this week that the Bloods try not to react to what the opposition are doing and play their way. That’s easy to do when you’re more often than not the better team. Beaconsfield might have to take a different tact if they’re to knock Olinda Ferny Creek off tomorrow – this one has all the makings of a classic.
In other games Wandin will be looking to make it two in a row as they host Upwey-Tecoma after the Dogs got on the winners list against Narre Warren last weekend. Woori Yallock host Healesville in the Valley Dreamtime clash and Cranbourne will be looking to consolidate third spot against Berwick.
The football version of that last match up is one of interest. Cranbourne sit in third position, a spot they became accustomed to last season. According to numerous members of the south east community, Cranbourne were clearly the third best side in 2018. This weekend provides them an opportunity to show everyone that they’ve closed the gap.
Their opponents continued on their merry way last weekend, defeating a severely undermanned Woori Yallock outfit with ease at home with Harry Money booting eight after going almost touch-less on Interleague duty. He has 25 majors for the season, whilst Tim Gunn has 12. It is expected that Cranbourne skipper and star defender Brandon Osbourne will take one of those two, whilst dour defender Stuart Morrish may be given the task on the other.
ON THEIR PERCH| @CrannFNC are sitting pretty in third spot on the Premier Division Ladder.
Hear what senior coach Steve O'Brien has to say about the season so far here: https://t.co/16dWgx9UEo
— AFL OUTER EAST (@AFL_OE) May 29, 2019
The Eagles have developed a reputation for being one of the best front running sides around. If you give them any sort of momentum they can score against you, and score very quickly. In Round One they took on Beaconsfield and after a slow start (5.5 – 2.0 at quarter time), Cranbourne ran all over their counterparts having 21 (11.10) scoring shots to 12 (4.8) after the first break.
Conversely they can also have similar runs of scoring go against them. In Round Three against Woori Yallock the Eagles dominated the first term to lead four goals to one at the first change. They let the game slip in the next two quarters however, with the hosts kicking 12 goals to five in that time frame, including five second quarter goals to Alex Marsh.
Berwick have a lot of football nous amongst its list. Those players will read the signs and be able to recognise when the Eagles have a run on. For the Eagles sake lets hope they’ve got the same nous on its list as well.
In the other Premier Division games, Beaconsfield will be looking to make it 3-3 after the first six rounds when it hosts Olinda Ferny Creek , Woori Yallock host an improving Healesville under lights for the annual Valley Dreamtime clash and Wandin are looking forward to getting back on their home deck against Upwey-Tecoma.
Mount Evelyn are ready to try again on the bigger surrounds of the south-east after they got back on the winners list at home last weekend to Doveton. The Rovers travel to take on Officer, who recorded their second win on the bounce against Belgrave. Mount Evelyn ‘got lost’ when they played Pakenham in Round Four and were held to just five goals across the day against the Lions.
This time out should be different. The Rovers will no doubt have learnt from their mistakes at Toomuc Reserve and have key players at either end of the ground that can hurt the Roos.
Rob Hartfield kicked his second bag of six for the year against Doveton on the weekend, taking him to 15 goals for the season. The Kangaroos aren’t blessed with tall defenders, and if Mount Evelyn can sort out their ball movement on the bigger ground and isolate the big man, he could be looking at another day out.
At the other end of the ground, Callum Urquhart will be looking to roll off his opponent as much as possible. Urquhart was best on ground against Doveton on the weekend taking a number of intercept marks across half back. Once again the Roos operate with a lot of mid sized forwards, meaning the marking defender could get on top aerially again.
If the Rovers win, it will give them a big confidence boost about their ability to adapt to the big grounds. For Officer a loss here will sentence them to battle it out to be the ‘best of the rest’ having lost to all four sides above them on the ladder.
Officer’s victims from last weekend – Belgrave are hosting Pakenham and will be looking to squeeze the Lions on their already smaller home patch, whilst Emerald will look to take advantage of a wounded Doveton outfit in two of the other Division One clashes.
The final game of the round pits Warburton Millgrove against Monbulk. The Hawks finished in seventh position on the ladder in last seasons AFL Yarra Ranges Division One just four points outside the final five. Curiously they lost to the bottom of the ladder Burras on two occasions. The Burras only two wins for the year. Whilst this season the Hawks look a different outfit, the Burras will be hoping they can maintain their unusual hold over this contest.
On the netball court the undefeated ROC take on second placed Mount Evelyn in yet another top of the table clash. Mount Evelyn should realistically be undefeated as well, their loss coming against the lower ranked Pakenham Lions.
ROC average 50 goals a game in 2019, compared to the Rovers who average just 38. Mount Evelyn have built their game off the defensive combination of the Black sisters – Kaitlyn and Jacqui. They’ve have lead the Mount Evelyn defence to be one of the stingiest around, conceding an average of 27 goals per game. The only time a side has scored over 30 goals this season against the Rovers was in Round One when Warburton Millgrove shot 37 goals.
The Black girls are very tall and will be able to combat ROC’s Dorothea George who uses her height to her advantage on most occasions. The ROC Goal Shooter has 114 goals for the year thus far. If the Black’s bring their ‘A Game’ and limit the scoring power of ROC it will place immense pressure on the ROC defenders to take the leading role against Ellie Karalua (84 goals) and Georgia Marsh (74). It’s a good old fashioned battle of attack versus defence.
In the other Division One netball clashes Warburton Millgrove face a resurgent Monbulk with the Burras looking to consolidate third position, Doveton host Emerald who will be sniffing their chance to get on the winners list for the first time in 2019 and the Jekyll and Hyde of Pakenham Lions will be looking to bounce back against Belgrave.
Yarra Glen scored its first win of the Division Two netball season last weekend against Yarra Junction by an impressive 18 goal margin, 62-44. They have a massive chance to make it two wins in a row against Powelltown who have been consistent in 2019 without landing any major blows.
The Towners are a very even outfit, averaging 40 goals a game in attack and conceding 45 goals per game the other way. In comparison Yarra Glen can be very leaky in defence, conceding an average of 56 goals per game so far this season.
Yarra Glen have had a tough start to the season, taking on the Division Two big three – Seville, Kinglake and Yea – in their opening three encounters. Coach Alicia Mortley will be preaching to her chargers that the real measure of where they are at began last weekend, against sides with similar lists in Yarra Junction, Powelltown and Alexandra.
Powelltown will be looking to take advantage of Yarra Glen’s defensive frailties, with Samantha Hansen (125 goals) the key focal point. If Yarra Glen are too make it two on the trot they’ll need strong performances from Stone and Vanderkolk.
In the other Division Two netball clashes, Seville will be looking to build percentage once again when they take on the lowly Gembrook-Cockatoo and Kinglake will need a win over Alexandra to stay in touch with the Blues.
For Gembrook-Cockatoo this weekends football clash with Seville is a massive one. The Brookers have won three in a row to find themselves back in the five, level on points with the Blues who sit in third position. They’ve tightened up defensively after the first two rounds of the season conceding scores of 6.7(43) against Alexandra, 10.9(69) against Powelltown and 8.9(57) against Yea.
They’ll need to be on their defensive game again this weekend against Seville. Seville average 110 points per game in 2019 and have one of the most potent attacking tridents with Nathan O’Keefe (28 goals), Patrick Ratray (19) and Dylan Broadway (14) leading the way on the scoreboard. All have kicked bags of six or more this season, with Broadway bagging half a dozen against Alexandra last weekend.
If the Brookers can keep the talls of Seville quiet and also make them accountable going the other way they could get on top of the Blues, who are very much a side that thinks about attacking before it ponders defending.
A Gembrook-Cockatoo win gives more validity to their pre-season hype, whilst a loss leaves them with the same conundrum that Officer face in Division One – fighting it out to be the best of the rest.
The other Division Two games see Yarra Glen offer Powelltown a similar opportunity to the one the Brookers have against Seville, Alexandra travel to the undefeated Kinglake and Yarra Junction will be eying off some percentage against Thornton Eildon.