By Matt Fotia
The back straight is upon us and the finish line is in sight. Some sides are going about perfecting their final 22 for a premiership push, whilst more and more moments are becoming season defining as the context around them intensifies.
Find out more in the Football Review below.
Defeating the Doves
Over the course of their past two games Doveton have showcased their physical prowess.
The Doves almost became the first side to defeat Monbulk in Round Seven, in a game described by many as one of the most physical contests they’ve seen in a long time.
Doveton went on a massive recruiting drive during the off-season adamant that they would rebound from their winless 2018. One of their biggest signings has been ruckman Michael Sikora, with the ex-Rowville giant key to their plans.
Sikora is not as mobile as he has been in the past but his ability to win hitouts and win them to advantage has not waned, which is all that Doveton want from him at this stage of his career – as it allows them to really play to their strengths.
With players like Matt Stapleton, club president Aaron Henwood, Jake Basa, Shaun Semmens and Western Bulldog great Matthew Boyd running their through the middle, the Doves will more often than not win the contested ball and clearances, especially with Sikora feeding them the ball.
Players like Stapleton and Boyd use their handball skills to release players such as Lachlan Batten and Will Smith to provide the outside run, whilst Henwood and co look to move the ball forward quickly, however scrappy it may be.
Both of these avenues worked at times on the weekend, especially in the third quarter with Batten having a dominant 10 minute burst and Doveton finding a couple of fortuitous goals via scrappy punts forward.
It leaves opposition a couple of ways to negate the Doves drive.
The first option is to try and stop the ball at the source, by having a very defensive focus around the stoppages, with players more concerned about stopping the Doveton midfielders getting their hands on it, rather than possessing the ball themselves.
The other, and the one that Officer pulled off for majority of the game on Saturday, is to nullify the ball users in Batten and Smith. By stopping those two in their tracks you force other, not so elite, ball users to do just that – use the ball. This should in theory mean the Doves are more likely to turn the ball over, giving the opposition control of the game and possession.
It’s easier said than done, but Officer showed (for three quarters) that it can be done.
2. The Butterfly Effect
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, as the season nears its conclusion, moments have more context, more meaning and therefore can become season defining.
We’ve already had a couple this year. Yarra Glen’s late match winner over Powelltown has meant the RiverPigs remain in the race for a top three finish, whilst Powelltown will continue to scrap it out for the last spot in five.
Tim Gunn’s left snap for Berwick against Beaconsfield meant the Wickers maintained their mental edge of their arch rivals, and now we can add another moment to the list.
Wandin got the jump over Olinda Ferny Creek at the weekend, kicking seven goals to two in the first quarter and looked well on their way to another massive score.
But the Bloods chipped away at the margin as their defence began to take over. The Dogs managed just two goals in an even second term and just four in the third as Olinda held on, just 25 points down at this stage.
Uncharacteristically Wandin managed just two behinds in the last quarter, with Olinda, who were a man down for 15 minutes during the final quarter, took complete control. When Mitch Bonuda nailed a goal with under a minute left the Bloods could sniff a come from behind win.
They would have an opportunity to pinch the victory, when David Noorda took a brilliant diving mark, just outside the arc at the Kennel, mere seconds before the final siren sounded.
Unfortunately for the long-sleeved number 12 his kick failed to make the distance as the Dogs hung on for their first win of the season in which they did not reach 100 points.
Noorda’s kick could be season defining for both clubs.
In this reality where his kick slid to the right, Wandin remain level with Cranbourne in fifth, have squared their win loss ledger at four apiece and with just one more trip to the South East (this weekend against Berwick) they look well set to finish 2019 strong and in the final five.
However, for a moment lets assume Noorda’s kick went through the middle.
In this reality it’s Olinda who look primed for a finals push.
It would see back to back wins for the Bloods. They would be level on points with Wandin. They would be one game outside the five with three or four very winnable games in the near future.
Their season, from an external viewpoint, would be full of life.
This is not mean to shine a light on David Noorda’s miss. Majority of players probably wouldn’t have taken the mark which gave him the opportunity to be a hero.
This is meant to show how a season can be shaped by just one kick.
3. Complete Set
In SuperCoach / AFL Fantasy and so on, players look to use the games trading system to build their side from one littered with ‘rookies’ to a side that is complete. This means the side is full of ‘premiums’ or in layman’s terms – guns.
Therefore in SuperCoach terms, Seville have completed their forward line. Their full strength forward six is one of the more scary propositions around with all of them having kicked a bag of six or more on one occasion this season.
Nathan O’Keefe is a mainstay of the goal kicking leaderboard and this season has been no different. The number 23 and ex North Melbourne forward has 35 goals with a best of nine goals.
Patrick Ratray, bought in to replace the then departed Joshua Neal, started the year with a bag of nine and has kicked 23 goals for the Blues this year.
Neal, who has returned from Eastern Football League side Lilydale, has played in the Blues last three games and kicked eight goals with a best of six, against Gembrook-Cockatoo.
Joshua Fraser, of Collingwood and Gold Coast, has played two games for Seville in 2019 returning 13 majors, also kicking a season high against Gembrook-Cockatoo with seven in their win against the Brookers.
Dylan Broadway has been one of the better performers for the lads from ‘the chip’ this season, with the speedy small forward having registered 20 majors with a best of six, whilst on the weekend Cory Glass joined the party booting seven goals against Yea to bring his season total to 18.
In summation, If O’Keefe doesn’t get you Ratray will, if Ratray doesn’t get you Fraser will and if Fraser doesn’t get you, well you get it.
If Seville get the ball forward often enough they, like the Brisbane Lions, will kick a winning score.
SEVILLE’S SCARY SIX
Nathan O’Keefe – 35 Goals ( Best of 9 )
Patrick Ratray – 23 (9)
Dylan Broadway – 20 (6)
Cory Glass – 18 (7)
Joshua Fraser – 13 (7)
Joshua Neal – 8 (6)