We’ve had our little entree and now we’ve got a craving for some more football and netball. So, open up and get ready for a conveyor belt of footy and netball over the next six months. And to help you get ready for it all here’s this weeks AFL Outer East preview – taking a closer look at some of the big games this weekend.
Totally Workwear Berwick and Knoxfield Premier Division football is headlined by the clash of the reigning premiers when Wandin host Berwick at the kennel on Sunday. Much was expected from Berwick after an off-season of hype, and whilst they came away from last weekend with the four points, the level of fear they instilled in others would have dropped down a peg.
Berwick tended to over possess the ball against Narre Warren, and whilst there is plenty of space to do that at Edwin Flack Reserve, the tight confides of the kennel could see that game plan lead to more turnovers. The ball use off half back from Hillard, Arthurson and Ash Smith will become more important this week.
The increased congestion will suit the experienced on-ballers of Berwick in Andrews, Asher and Tuck whose mature bodies are made for this kind of footy. If they get first hands on it, they can provide star forward Harrison Money plenty of opportunities to score.
Speaking of Money – Nick Adam has a big dilemma on his hands. Who does he put on the Berwick star? Does he throw recruit Alex O’Reilly on him and risk Money playing a more traditional small forward role / impacting O’Reilly’s ability to intercept mark? Or does he give the job to John Del Giudice?
Wandin will look to take advantage of their marking forwards in Van Unen, Daniel Gorringe and Michael Fowkes. Berwick have a very stingy defence but it can be considered undersized. If Wandin can give the three aforementioned forwards consistent ball they could make a big impact aerially.
Whoever moves the ball quicker will have more success.
Across at Don Road, Healesville and Upwey-Tecoma will be looking to start the season off in the right way with a game against familiar opposition. The Tigers have recruited well and Pierce Rooney, Travis Pears and co will be keen to impress for their new club. The winner will be feeling a lot better about themselves before facing stronger opponents in the coming weeks.
On the Netball court, Yarra Ranges premier Olinda Ferny Creek will be sniffing an opportunity to stamp their authority upon the competition when the take on Narre Warren.
Narre were impressive last weekend in their 13-goal win over Berwick, but the Magpies aren’t blessed with plenty of height – which could be key considering the aerial talents of Ashlee Howard and Peri Stewart in goal circle for the Bloods.
It will be interesting to see if Brittany Mashado returns to the Magpies line up in what could be an intriguing duel with Krista Tomlinson through the mid court, whilst goal keeper Jemma Osborne will hope she can follow up last weekends strong performance with another one against Peri Stewart who netted well over 750 goals for the Bloods last season.
Hallam and Bayswater Truck Centres Division One has been billed as the most even division in the league this year as no club has featured regularly in finals for a few seasons. One club that is being backed heavily to go deep in 2019 is Mount Evelyn and the Rovers host Warburton Millgrove this Sunday.
The Rovers have made no major changes to the list that almost returned to them to September action last season and have only tweaked their ball movement slightly to increase their scoring power.
Warburton on the other hand have been looking at complete overhaul this season, after many years down in the doldrums. The new focus of enjoyment is a nice cliché for the off-season but how will it translate into the on field? Brendon Murphy will be hoping one of his young Burras can stand up to take the pressure off Liam Barnard and Tim McKail.
Saturday evening sees the only Division One ‘cross over game’ with Pakenham hosting Emerald. Pakenham are not to expected to be a benchmark this season, but they will be a good measuring stick for how far Emerald have come after a busy off-season and how even the competition will be.
Netball wise all eyes will be on Belgrave and Monbulk which sees the battle of those who have lost some personnel and those who have gained some. The Magpies A Grade outfit that finished Runners-Up in last season’s Division One A Grade have all moved on from the club, and whilst new coach Matthew Weaver has replaced most of that squad, it will be difficult to know how strong the Magpies will be.
Meanwhile much has been made of Monbulk’s new coaching staff – the Puopolo’s. The Hawks finished last season in the Division One finals but won eight less games then this week’s opponent. This gives them a good chance to see how much they’ve closed the gap.
In the ATC Traffic Division Two the big netball clash is between last seasons premiers Yea and notorious contenders Seville.
The Blues were quite low scorers last season but have added Jackie Cullimore to their list coming across from Wandin. Cullimore netted 482 goals for the Dogs last season and should add some more potency to the Seville attack alongside coach Carly McDonnell.
Yea had no problems scoring goals in 2018 with Melissa Martinov tormenting defences all season along with Nikki Watts. That combination is expected to line up together again and will be billed against the competition’s best defender in Stephanie McNay. It’s a massive clash to kick start the season and could give us an early look at who will be competing at the end of the year.
It’ll be youth against experience for Gembrook-Cockatoo and Kinglake this weekend as the Brookers look to blood some of their Under 18 premiership players and Kinglake introduce their new look side to the competition. The Lakers have recruited several weathered heads from the Northern Football League and are looking to play a slower and more considered tempo of footy this season and are expected to improve. Coming up against a premiership favourite in the Brookers will give Andrew Fairchild a chance to see where his side sits straight off the bat.
For Gembrook it’s a chance to rubber stamp their premiership credentials with an early win over strengthened opposition. A loss however could cause early doubts amongst the Division Two ranks.