By Matt Fotia
Come to the front of the class and collect the folder with your name on it – It’s mid season report time, this time it’s the Premier Division who’ll be collecting their grades to take home to their expectant parents.
Check out each clubs highlight, lowlight, overall grade and more below.
Berwick (1st) P8 W7 L1 B1 32 points
Points Scored – 945 (Ranked 1st)
Points Conceded – 450 (2nd)
Leading Goal Kicker – Harrison Money (38 Goals)
Highlight – There’s been a few, with the Wickers thrashing and bashing their way to the top of the pops at the halfway point, but their last gasp win over Beaconsfield in the Battle of the Creek takes the cake. Berwick moved their defensive zone a little bit deeper to negate the rebounding style the Eagles play, conceded the lead early in the last quarter before Tim Gunn snared the win with a lovely left foot snap.
Lowlight – It’s their only loss, but the fact that they got sucked into a shootout against Wandin, with their ego taking over is the most disappointing part. In hindsight a 10 minute period of tempo football would’ve probably won them the game and they’d be undefeated.
Overall – Everything’s going pretty well for Berwick at the moment, as they continue their march towards the finals. Their only loss came from a level of arrogance against Wandin and more often than not their experienced stars get them out of trouble.
Although he probably didn’t mean it to come across this way President Glenn Gambetta’s comments in the Leader a few weeks back have opened Berwick up for a hammering should they not win the premiership, so they’re clearly confident.
Grade – A+
Narre Warren (2nd) P8 W7 L1 B1 32 points
Points Scored – 942 (2nd)
Points Conceded – 461 (3rd)
Leading Goal Kicker – Daniel Jackson (26)
Highlight – The Woori Yallock win. Despite the scoreline the Magpies were challenged all day on their first real test on a valley ground and they came away with full marks. They moved the ball with speed and precision, each player nailing his role. A real team performance.
Lowlight – On paper it’s not really that big of a lowlight, going down to Berwick by just a goal in the opening game of the season, but an argument could easily be made to suggest that Narre let that one slip, not making the most of their early possession and control.
Overall – The Magpies have been brilliantly consistent with each rounds scoreline looking near on identical after the season opener. They don’t have the same firepower as the Wickers but they have a strong leadership group and 22 contributors each weekend. The best team I’ve seen this season.
Grade – A+
Beaconsfield (3rd) P8 W5 L3 B1 24 points
Points Scored – 759 (4th)
Points Conceded – 424 (1st)
Leading Goal Kicker – Jamie Plumridge (13)
Highlight – Riley Verbi’s performance against Berwick. After a really slow start for the Eagles, caused by Berwick’s defensive solidity, Verbi took a hold of the midfield collecting well over 30 disposals and for a period it felt like he was single handedly keeping the Eagles in the game. For such a young player to perform like that against an arch rival was a massive tick for the Eagles future.
Lowlight – Choking against Cranbourne. Okay choking might be a bit harsh but Beaconsfield were 23 points up at quarter time against Cranbourne and had a massive chance to show they were a much more mature side in 2019.
They kicked just six behinds over the next two quarters and lost by 21 points. It hasn’t hurt them too much, but it’ll still be annoying Leigh McQuillen.
Overall – Everything is going pretty well for the Eagles. They’re well set for the future with some incredible depth and have probably the youngest side in the running for finals. But they haven’t been able to knock over any of their previous bogey sides in Berwick, Narre Warren and Cranbourne and that’ll be the real test.
Grade – B+
Woori Yallock (4th) P8 W5 L3 B1 24 points
Points Scored – 618 (6th)
Points Conceded – 657 (5th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Jake Matthews (19)
Highlight – The second and third quarter against Cranbourne. The Eagles had gained the ascendancy with four goals to one in the first and the writing was on the wall for the Woori Yallock.
The Tigers kicked 12 goals to five in the next quarters, with Alex Marsh kicking five goals in the second quarter alone, to lead by 26 points at the last change. They faded late in the last quarter but the damage was done. Cranbourne blamed it on ill discipline but it was more than that, the Tigers had shown how good they can be.
Lowlight – The Berwick loss. Whilst there were factors going against the Tigers such as injuries and other unavailabilities they would’ve been absolutely shattered to go down by 99 points as that’s not a true representation of where they’re at, in comparison to the Wickers.
Overall – The Tigers looked set for a top three finish heading into the past fortnight, but a home loss to Narre Warren and a heartbreaking defeat against Beaconsfield at the weekend has put them back with the pack, especially with their current percentage.
The Tigers don’t have much depth to call upon, so will need to make sure they bank wins over the next few weeks to sew up finals before their tough run home.
Grade – B+
Cranbourne (5th) P8 W4 L4 B1 20 points
Points Scored – 779 (3rd)
Points Conceded – 513 (4th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Thomas Marks (13)
Highlight – Round Four v Wandin. Coming off their loss to Woori Yallock the Eagles absolutely ripped the Dogs apart on their home track, winning by 135 points, with seven players getting multiple goals. Their best performance of the year.
Lowlight – Round Seven against Narre Warren was their lowest ebb this season. They’d come off an admirable performance against Berwick, in which a poor third quarter let them down, and had another opportunity to restate their top three claims.
Goalless at quarter time, just two majors at halftime and the Eagles were done.
Overall – The Eagles had an interesting off-season with a number of players, most notably club legend Marc Holt, leaving the club and were thus expected to have a little drop off, but they won’t be happy with where they’re sitting.
They might point to ill-discipline or bad luck as the cause for a couple of their losses, but for a side with nine interleague representatives they’re performing below expectations.
Grade – C-
Wandin (6th) P8 W4 L4 B1 20 points
Points Scored – 751 (5th)
Points Conceded – 971 (8th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Justin Van Unen (34)
Highlight – The win over Berwick will live long in the memory for Dogs supporters as they slayed the giant in front of their home crowd on a warm April Sunday, in what many would say is the best game of local football in a long time.
The game was played the way they wanted to play it with end to end action allowing their forward prowess to come to the fore. A great day to be a dog.
Lowlight – Those three horrible weekends in May. The Dogs were whacked in three successive matches by Beaconsfield, Cranbourne and Narre Warren as they travelled down the highway. They kicked just 14 goals across the period and conceded 67, which has really dented their percentage.
Overall – The Dogs are one of the more interesting cases. They have an incredibly talented list with the best forward line in the competition on paper. But their defence and tendency to put the cue in the rack once the game is perceived to be out of their control has been a really disappointing inditement on a really good list.
Their forward strength has got them across the line on their home deck so far and their home form looks to be the main deciding factor in the final make up of the top five. If they can give Beaconsfield, Narre Warren and most importantly Cranbourne a taste of their own medicine they’ll make the finals.
Grade – C-
Olinda Ferny Creek (7th) P8 W2 L6 B1 12 points
Points Scored – 463 (8th)
Points Conceded – 719 (6th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Lachlan Taylor (14)
Highlight – Lachlan Taylor’s season comes close, but the win over Cranbourne is the winner. The Bloods season was beginning to float away before they bought it back to life with a courageous win over the talented Eagles, with a six goal to four second half the difference in the end. A great victory for Brendan Donovan and his charges.
Lowlight – The first quarter of the year was horrible. The Bloods kicked just three behinds as Narre Warren slammed on nine goals in the first quarter. To kick off the season in that manner can really hurt a player’s psyche – they’d love another crack at that I’m sure.
Overall – The Bloods have been impressive over the past month with some more consistency in their performances and of course that win over Cranbourne. If they nail their shot after the siren against Wandin they are a genuine finals chance. Whilst it’s not what they would’ve been hoping for, seventh is about right for their list.
Grade – C
Upwey-Tecoma (8th) P8 W2 L6 B1 12 points
Points Scored – 532 (7th)
Points Conceded – 922 (7th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Daniel Waters (14)
Highlight – Kyle Grenda’s past three weeks. Grenda has spent a fair bit of time forward this season and in his clubs losses to Woori Yallock, Berwick and Cranbourne he’s bobbed up with five goals as well as two best on grounds – leading from the front in tough times.
Lowlight – The Wandin loss will have stung. The Tigers would’ve seen this as a big opportunity to get back on the winners list and keep their finals dream alive, however impractical it may have been, with a win against an old rival. But their defence couldn’t stand up to the task as they allowed Wandin to kick 26 goals in a 76 point loss.
Overall – Upwey-Tecoma, like Olinda Ferny Creek, are probably performing as they should with their current list. The Tigers would’ve been disappointed with their home performances against the Beaconsfield and Berwick, but have a good football brain in David Bell as coach and the list will no doubt be learning from each match. Whilst it mightn’t be all rainbows and butterflies at the moment, the future is bright.
Grade – C
Healesville (9th) P8 W0 L8 B1 4 points
Points Scored – 438 (9th)
Points Conceded – 1110 (9th)
Leading Goal Kicker – Rodney Woodford (15)
Highlight – Breaking the ton against the Dogs. Coming into their Round Eight clash with last seasons Yarra Ranges Premier, Healesville had a highest score of 55 which they scored against Olinda Ferny Creek.
Albeit against the notoriously leaky Wandin, Healesville were able to put through 18 majors as they gave the Dogs an almighty scare, before going down by 34 points.
Lowlight – Olinda Ferny Creek. That was their chance and if it weren’t for a dodgy second and third quarter they would’ve grabbed a win to reward all of the hard workers behind the scenes.
Overall – Healesville are clearly out of their depth in terms of squad depth and overall talent, but they’ve have not thrown the towel in at all this season and that must be admired. They’re a very proud club and will no doubt fight until the end of the season, eyeing off games against Upwey-Tecoma and Olinda Ferny Creek as their chances for victory.
Grade – C-
1. Narre Warren
5. Woori Yallock
7. Olinda Ferny Creek
Premier – Narre Warren