By Matt Fotia
We’re closing in on the halfway point of the season now and even though it still feels as if the season just kicked off, the ladders are starting to take shape and here are some interesting clashes in both the football and netball spheres this weekend across all divisions.
So without further ado – here’s the Weekend Preview.
Premier Division returns following the Interleague break and there will be a few players itching to get back onto the field to make amends for last weekends mistakes, albeit in a different jumper.
Berwick had five players represent the Outer East last week in Ash Smith, Trent Thomas, Harrison Money, William Arthurson and Tim Gunn, whilst their opponents Woori Yallock had just one with ruckman Zach Monkhorst making the trip up.
The Wickers will likely be missing star midfielder Madison Andrews with a fractured hand, but will be looking to have Travis Tuck return to the side after he was a late withdrawal for the match against Beaconsfield.
Berwick were impressive in defence against the Eagles forcing their opponent to change game-style and ball movement due to their solidity, but they will be more inclined to attack on their home patch against a side not as well equipped at playing on spacious grounds in Woori.
Tim Gunn impressed against Beaconsfield with three goals and will be crucial again tomorrow playing the link man role. They’ll be wanting an improvement from Andrew Morozoff who was held goalless against Beaconsfield and can provide relief for Gunn and Money.
Woori Yallock will have inside knowledge on how to be best shut down their opponents with former Wicker Michael Riseley returning to Edwin Flack Reserve after coming back to Woori Yallock at the end of the last season. The marking defender has been warming into the season nicely and was impressive against Olinda Ferny Creek last time out, along with Jake Matthews who is no doubt someone Berwick will put time into.
Matthews has kicked 10 goals for the season, with multiples in each of the three games the Tigers have played, despite spending a fair bit of time through the midfield. The Tigers have the necessary skillset to enjoy the big grounds, with pace and fitness throughout the side with Hayden Smith, Mitchell Anderson, Bradd Arnold and Joel Adams just to name a few who could enjoy the surroundings.
It’ll be up to their coach Brian ‘ Jack ‘ Cole to ensure that they use their pace efficiently and run to all the right places.
In another interesting clash, Upwey Tecoma host Beaconsfield at Chosen Avenue. This will be the Eagles first taste of the smaller surface and they may struggle to find room to switch the play as often as they’d like across half back. Big man Scott Meyer will enjoy the need to move the ball forward quicker if he plays a key forward role last like time out – he was starved of one on one contests against Berwick.
READ | Upwey-Tecoma Football Netball Club know they need to adapt to compete on the big grounds.
Read how coach David Bell and ruckman Liam Beacom think they can do it here : https://t.co/A2fXx6MzjU
— AFL OUTER EAST (@AFL_OE) May 23, 2019
The Tigers will be looking to make the game as contested as possible, playing to their inside midfield strength. The likes of Oates, Bell and Grenda will be looking to use their physicality to win the ball at the coalface. Daniel Waters will need help though as Beaconsfield did a good job shutting down the two deepest forwards against Berwick .
The Eagles are better than their 1-3 record but nonetheless need a win. If they lose another close one it could start to become a mental hurdle for their playing group and also see them go too far back to have a genuine finals push.
On the netball court Berwick and Woori Yallock is also set up as a crucial clash. The Wickers sit just inside the top five, with Woori a game and percentage behind them. Both sides have beaten Wandin, the Tigers doing that with more ease.
For the Tigers it would be their defence that is worrying them, they’ve conceded 49, 47 and 81 goals across their three matches, whilst Berwick’s attack hasn’t quite met its potential thus far this season despite going ok. If Clarke and Withers can turn it on this week they will be creating a nice break between them and those on the edge of finals, with Upwey Tecoma expected to lose to the undefeated Beaconsfield.
The Tigers will be looking to Lauren Van Der Westhuizen to play a big role on Withers and get them back on the winners list.
In Division One Monbulk host the Pakenham Lions in another interesting clash. The Lions will want to make sure that their win against Mount Evelyn in round four wasn’t in vain, by backing it up with a win over opposition they would expect to beat.
READ | Pakenham Lions Netball Club got back on the winners list with an upset win over Mt Evelyn last weekend.Read…
Both sides are quite strong defensively meaning Monbulk may have the ace in the hole with the inform Steph Puopolo, who has 70 goals for the season. The Hawks may be 1-3 but their three losses have come against the current top three (ROC, Mount Evelyn, Belgrave), meaning their defensive record is even more impressive and that a win here could give them a real boost heading into a crucial period of fixtures.
Elsewhere Warburton Millgrove will be looking to make the most of their visit to cellar dwellers Emerald. The Burra girls will be looking to grab a big win to get their percentage back above 100, and will be hoping it will get them back into the top three with ROC facing Belgrave and Mount Evelyn hosting Doveton.
The top of the table clash in the football promises to be a very interesting one. Pakenham have the best defence in the competition conceding just 146 point so far at an average of 36.5 points per game. Their team defence is something to be admired, but they have yet to play on a new ground.
Monbulk are the third highest scorers in the competition but really should be far and away the highest. The Hawks have had 116 scoring shots this season and have kicked 73 behinds. They’ll be hoping that a return to their home patch will see the troops find their kicking boots again.
The Hawks have one of the more versatile forward lines in the whole of the Outer East and this will be crucial against the Lions. Pakenham generate a lot of their attacks from half back using the skills of Cardona, Tynan, Yawney and co to rebound with speed. If Monbulk can manage to exploit the direct opponents of that trio and force them to be accountable they can consider themselves halfway to shutting the Lions down.
Across at Mount Evelyn the Rovers are facing Doveton in a massive day for the club. Thus far this season the Rovers have already played two of the predicted premiership contenders and have been defeated, with Monbulk running over the top of them at home and having 32 scoring shots to 21, whilst they were kept to just one goal by Pakenham in round four.
Having this fixture at home certainly helps them, but Doveton have a number of marking options in Nyoun, Kelleher and Gascard and are less reliant on having copious amounts of space. They have the necessary inside midfielders in the form of Aaron Henwood, Matt Stapleton and ex Western Bulldog Matthew Boyd.
Mount Evelyn risk falling two games behind the top three if they lose this one, which by the looks of things might be a little bit of a shootout.
Yarra Junction have been winless on the netball court since round two despite still going well offensively. They face a inconsistent Yarra Glen who almost toppled 2018 runner up Kinglake a fortnight ago with a very impressive defensive effort, but either side of that performance they have been leaky in that department conceding 76 to Yea and 68 to Seville.
The RiverPigs seem to have an attacking ceiling of around 35-40 and must make sure they keep Amanda Finn quiet to grab the four points – I don’t fancy them in a shootout.
Elsewhere Seville face Alexandra, where the Rebels have a chance to send a little message to the competition. They impressed with their effort against Yea earlier in the year and will be looking to upset the Blues. Stephanie McNay returns for Seville and goal shooter Jackie Cullimore hit form last weekend meaning Alexandra’s Brooke Lloyd will have another big job on her hands.
On the football field it’s a very similar vibe. Alexandra are not expected to defeat the Blues but have more than a sniff. Coach Sam Kidd will be getting annoyed at his sides tendency to fade out of games and will be expecting a four quarter effort against the undermanned Blues. The Rebels lost the second half to bottom side Yea eight goals to six and had four late goals kicked against them to go down by 29 points to Powelltown on the weekend.
For Seville their Twin Towers continue to perform with nine goals between them last weekend and 45 for the season. However it is the defensive side of their game that is really letting them down. Against last seasons preliminary finalist and premier they have conceded 63 scoring shots and allowed both Yarra Glen and Yarra Junction to run too easily through the middle of the ground. The Blues will definitely get a hold of sides this season, but need to be careful they don’t forget about keeping a hold of themselves too.
Yarra Junction continue to get better each week. John Holmes’ men looked to take the game on last weekend and play on at every opportunity and despite a number of missed kicks they still managed to cut Seville open with their pace and ferocity.
Yarra Glen will be able to match the midfield depth of the Eagles with the likes of Telford, Ashton, Austin Smith, Gardner, Hurley, Ekers and Binion able to go through the guts. However their will be a lot of pressure on Smith and Binion to provide the run and carry as the RiverPigs midfield is mainly an ‘inside’ build. They’ll also need to figure out a match up for small forward Sam Morton.
Morton has kicked 15 goals in three weeks, is lightning quick and often utilises the backspace to his advantage. Yarra Glen’s Marks will no doubt have the speed to go with him – but does he have the necessary defensive mindset to stay accountable?
This game shapes up as an absolute thigh rubber, with the form of David Johnson, the aforementioned Morton, Jiemba Smith and Richard Gurney it could also be a high scoring one.