It’s already round four. Yep that’s right round four and whilst everyone’s season has only just begun some sides are in danger of seeing 2019 slip away, whilst others can show everyone they’re the real deal. It’s the weekend preview.
Can’t start anywhere other than the Battle of the Creek. Beaconsfield and Berwick are quite literally neighbours and quite literally don’t like each other. In recent times the Eagles have been hidden in the shadow of their more powerful neighbours. In 2018 Berwick took the points on each occasion (99-55, 42-19 & 90-73) before going on to collect their third premiership in four years. Both sides were built around defence in 2018, with Berwick the number one defensive side in the SEFNL and Beaconsfield third, but this season both sides seem to be evolving towards a more attacking model.
Berwick are the number one attack in the Premier Division this season under Rhys Nisbet. The Wickers are ranked first for average points per game (131), scoring shots per game (36) and approximate inside fifties (54) per game. Harrison Money is the leading goal kicker across the competition with 15 goals from three games and has been supported well thus far by Andrew Morozoff (six) and mobile half forward Tim Gunn (seven). Their opponents Beaconsfield were the lowest scoring side of the big four in the SEFNL last season, as Leigh McQuillen’s young side focused on defensive structures. With a new look forward line the Eagles have hit the scoreboard more consistently this season, averaging 92 points per game (ranked 3rd), 26 scoring shots and 39 inside fifties(3rd). Matthew Johnson has seven majors for the season whilst Riley Verbi and Jamie Plumridge both have five.
Berwick’s defence was ranked number one last season, but they Wickers are currently ranked fifth with the Wickers conceding 81.3 points a game, however their defensive players are more important for the attacking ranking some could say, with the likes of Smith and Arthurson kick starting their attacking dashes. Despite disappointing their coach with the ability to hold structures in the first two rounds, Beaconsfield are ranked second for points conceded this season (65.3), although last weekends effort against Wandin will have no doubt helped this statistic.
The Eagles have a big opportunity to showcase their coming of age. In recent years they’ve been let off the hook for inexperience but now is the perfect time to highlight their growth. They face Upwey Tecoma (Away) in a tough match after the Interleague bye before two should win games against Olinda Ferny Creek and Healesville. A win here could see them sitting 5-2 closing in on the halfway point. Berwick by contrast have a tough three weekends ahead of them coming off the bye. This weekend’s battle will be followed by Woori Yallock and Cranbourne and if things don’t go well they could easily be 2-4.
Cranbourne’s netballers bounced back onto the winners list last weekend with a 20 goal win over Woori Yallock lead by Tara Cecil who put in a strong defensive performance. The Eagles have been strong thus far in 2019 down back with just 77 goals conceded over the course of their two matches. They’d like to see a better result at the other end, although Tahlia Coates has impressed with 32 goals in two weeks. They face Wandin who despite sitting 0-3 are showing signs of things clicking back into gear. They went down by just seven goals to the undefeated Beaconsfield last weekend and won the second half .
The Dogs defence is the key, as they have consistently scored around the 40-45 mark for the season. If they can keep Cranbourne’s goalers quiet they can finally get their season started. Expect this one to be tight.
On the Division One court, Warburton Millgrove host the top of the table ROC, with the Burras coming off a tight one goal win. The Burras sit fourth on the table and are starting to put some form together after their loss to Mount Evelyn in round one. They’re ranked third in attack (137 for) but alarmingly are ranked sixth in defence (124 against). Their opponents are the number one ranked offence (142 for) and the number two ranked defence (94 against) as they’ve knocked off Doveton, Pakenham Lions and Monbulk on the way to their current position.
The Burras attack has been led by playing coach Bianca Daniels who leads the scoring charts for Division on 92 goals for the season. Her and Kirralee Liuyf (55) will do battle with Alisha Young and last weekends Best on Court for ROC, Emily McInnes. If ROC can shut down the scoring power of the Burras the pressure on Courtney Lever to continue her recent form will increase as the defender looks to take on Dorothea George. The ROC shooter is coming off 28 goals in their win over Monbulk.
This next month is massive for ROC as they face the fourth placed Burras, third placed Belgrave before Mount Evelyn in round six. If they can come through that with a positive win-loss ratio then they can be considered a genuine premiership contender.
One side who were considered a genuine contender in the Division One footballing sphere was Mount Evelyn, and this weekend the Rovers will take their first trip down the Princes Highway to Pakenham to see how their attacking style play will go on the big open expanses of Toomuc Reserve. The Rovers are the Divisions number one ranked attacking side averaging 99 points, 28 scoring shots and 44 inside fifties(approx) a game. Only Monbulk have matched the Rovers in the latter two stats, but the Hawks goal kicking efficiency is at 39% compared to the Rovers 53%.
The Lions however are the best defensive outfit around these parts, conceding an average of just 34.6 points per game in 2019. They had the best defence of the bottom three sides in the SEFNL last season and are built around the strong half back line of Dermott Yawney, Josh Tynan and Chris Cardona. The Lions defensive structure and ball movement is very efficient on the bigger grounds of the south east, and if they were able to lock down a key forward option they could become a scary prospect. They rank third for points scored (79) this season and have been sharing goals around, which on the surface is a good sign, but they still lack a get out of jail kick.
For Mount Evelyn it is a good opportunity to show how good they really are. They need to be prepared to move the ball in a different manor to usual and to run all day, both ways.
It doesn’t get any easier for Yarra Glen defensive pairing Leigh Thomson and Nathan McCulloch. The River Pigs key backs have just come off an impressive performance against the Seville Twin Towers – Patrick Ratray and Nathan O’Keefe – before facing the in form duo Chris Horman and Andrew Fairchild of Kinglake. Fairchild has 11 goals in two games, whilst Chris Horman has 12. The Lakers power forwards can expect to have a third player drifting in front of them all afternoon on Saturday, as the River Pigs deployed ruckman Jim Baughan to sit in the hole for the majority of the second half last weekend.
The River Pigs also brought some fierce tackling and physicality to the contest on Sunday and will no doubt do the same on Saturday. Kinglake should relish the contest though with a number of their new recruits experienced senior footballers who will have seen this all before. They will be wary though of the leg speed that Blake Binion and Austin Smith possess. If those two continue to appear in the best players for Yarra Glen, it’ll be a good year to be a River Pig.
Division Two Netball has thrown up an interesting round. Whilst the results may seem cut and dry to most people, it is a chance for a couple of sides to really test themselves against the competitions best. Alexandra sit atop the ladder right now thanks to two byes and a 30 goal win over Gembrook-Cockatoo and despite their lofty position would still not have a great image of where they sit overall. Whilst you would expect Yea to win this battle with relative ease, it’s a chance for Alexandra to use this weekend as an early measuring stick.
The same can be said for Yarra Glen. Coming off a big loss to Seville in which they conceded at least 13 goals per quarter Alicia Mortley’s crew will be looking to bounce back with a much better performance against Kinglake, who themselves are coming off the bye. The questions for Yarra Glen is which area do they focus on rebuilding first. They conceded heavily, but were unable to really hit the scoreboard themselves, other than in the last quarter where they finished with 10 goals. This weekend will give us a good indication on which way the head coach decide to go as they too use this Saturday’s game as another measuring stick.