By Matt Fotia
A new Eagle has landed, the Rovers need a little bit more composure, the Rebels’ fortress and Healesville get off the mark in 2019. All of this in the Football Review.
Beaconsfield have pushed themselves two games clear of their old foe and namesake Cranbourne with a comfortable 49 point win on the weekend, getting their first victory over a fellow ex-SEFNL side since the dawn of the AFL Outer East.
Matthew Johnson kicked three majors, whilst Riley Verbi and Kyle O’Sullivan booted two with Jake Boyd and Jason Tendler the two best for Beaconsfield on a successful and soggy afternoon.
Along with strengthening their likelihood of receiving the double chance come finals time, the Eagles win over Cranbourne will help the mental side of their game, knowing they can knock off a side that has notoriously had their measure come the crunch.
Saturday’s win was just the first step in really proving to themselves and the rest of the Outer East community that they are genuine contenders for the premiership, with Narre Warren (this weekend) and Berwick (round 13) the next two – much bigger – steps.
Beaconsfield have faced the trio of Cranbourne, Narre Warren and Berwick 13 times since round one of 2018 and have grabbed just three wins, all against Cranbourne.
They lost to Narre Warren by 72 and 50 points last year, before falling eight points short in round two this season, whilst they went down to arch rivals Berwick by 44, 23 and 17 points in 2018 before going down to the Wickers by just two points earlier this year.
Whilst 2019 has clearly seen Beaconsfield go up a level and close the gap on the big two from the South East, If they are to really instil some true belief amongst the playing group and fanbase that this year could be their year, they’ll have to knock them off and they’ll have to knock them off now.
2. Rover Composure
The last goal that Mount Evelyn kicked in their 10 point loss to ladder leaders Monbulk was a perfect example of where they are really lacking in their 2019 campaign.
Callum Urquhart took another strong mark in defence before switching the ball to Damion Kift who marked more or less in his defensive goal square.
Kift rather than taking the safe option of bombing the ball to a pack of players on either defensive flank, produced a incisive ball to Noah Beamish who marked at centre half back.
As Beamish turned he would’ve seen the ground open up for him, a rarity for the Rovers on Saturday.
He found Adam Johnson who turned, looked for a target in Kaleb Van Beek, who despite not marking the football was able to dish off to Matthew Brierley who ran into an open goal.
A piece of play that was not matched for the entire afternoon and was as cutting edge a goal as you’ll see in Division One this season, all beginning with Damion Kift’s composed kick when exiting defence.
Alas, the Rovers don’t often go with this approach when exiting their back 50. They prefer to clear their lines with an eye for distance rather than precision, looking to set up their array of terrier like small forwards with a chance to harass their opponents and will the ball forward in a flash.
Whilst I understand the need for the Rovers to move the ball quickly, due to their forward set up – especially when they lack Robert Hatfield down forward – they still need to take more care when bringing the ball out of defence.
This reckless approach is easier to accommodate for on smaller grounds, much like their home patch, as the lack of space makes pressuring the ball carrier a whole lot easier. On the bigger surfaces of Officer, Pakenham and Doveton this task when become a lot more difficult and will see them concede a lot more possession and in turn goals.
Their last goal shows that they have the players and the know-how to produce a more composed passage of play.
They just need to use it more often.
3. Rebels Rising
With a hard fought, rain soaked, 45 point win over Thornton-Eildon, Alexandra now find themselves sitting in fifth place on the ladder a game clear of their closest rivals Gembrook-Cockatoo and Powelltown.
The win was also the Rebels first win away from home for the 2019, with Sam Kidd’s men a completely different side on their home patch.
They’ve played four fixtures at the Alexandra Football Ground this season and have won three against Thornton-Eildon, Yea and Yarra Glen. Their only loss was to reigning premier, ladder leader and premiership favourite Yarra Junction, by a more than respectable 34 points.
They’ve scored 395 points when playing at home and have reached the 100 point barrier on two occasions. Defensively they’ve let in just 232 points across those four games with the aforementioned Eagles the only team to get past 72 points.
Thats an average of 98.75 points scored per game and 58 conceded per game.
Away from home it is a very different story.
They’ve played five matches away from home and have kicked over 62 points on just one occasion, when they managed 92 against Powelltown in a game that they lost by 29 points.
They’ve scored just 283 points at an average of 56.6 and conceded 480 at an average of 96. Almost a complete mirror of their home form.
Whilst they will no doubt be endeavouring to improve this poor away form, the Rebels will be banking on their home form to drive them into a fourth straight finals series. They’ve already pinched a win over a top four side in Yarra Glen and will be eyeing off Kinglake and Seville over the course of the next seven weeks.
But it will be this weekends clash with Gembrook-Cockatoo and the round 14 encounter with Powelltown where they will be really looking to cash in. Those two matches are likely to define the Rebels season. Win both and they’ll have one foot in the finals.
Luckily for the men in Red, White and Black, they’ll be playing those two games at home.
4. Bloods Boil
Healesville are off the mark in 2019, winning an exciting match against Upwey-Tecoma by nine points at Chosen Avenue.
The Bloods sniffed their opportunity for a victory and dominated the second half outscoring the Tigers by 22 points to grab their first win for the season.
This shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise however, with Healesville showing some really good signs in recent weeks, especially in their last performance against Wandin, where they managed to kick 18 goals.
Rodney Woodford kicked six goals in a best on ground performance to follow his bag of four against Wandin, bringing his season tally to 21 goals for the year in the process, whilst Nic Mende continued his really good form, with a second appearance in the best two players for the Bloods in three weeks. Max Donegan has also been impressive with six goals in two weeks.
Despite their lowly position a number of opposition coaches have noted that the Bloods clearance work is still top quality, and that they have some very talented players in their forward fifty. Smaller grounds such as Clegg Road and Chosen Avenue will suit their capabilities to a tee, with the lack of space giving those highly rated clearance players a direct route to the talents closer to goal.
It’s a well deserved win for both those involved in the on field and those putting in their time off the field.
It could also be a sign of the light at the end of the tunnel.