By Matt Fotia
It was another Saturday afternoon of Outer East football action, this one bathed with sunshine rather than torrential rain, as a number of sides made statements in their respective divisions.
Check out three takeaways from the weekend that was in the Football Review.
With a 56 point victory over their traditional rivals, Woori Yallock have moved two games clear of fifth placed Cranbourne and three games clear of their vanquished foes and sixth placed Wandin, all but locking up a spot in the finals in the process.
The Tigers day was all about the big names, with a couple of famous names floating around the Tigers home.
The two Monkhorst boys played key roles in the victory. Ben kicked five majors while Zac continued his strong season with three goals, 50 plus hitouts, a number of marks and a few clearances.
Jordan Williams returned from a mid season rendezvous in spectacular physical condition and a lovely tan to boot and was able to add some midfield depth and physical presence, whilst ex St Kilda legend Stephen Milne fulfilled his duties as the star of the show, impressing in the pre game luncheon as a guest speaker, on field with a haul of 4.4 and by all reports in the post game upstairs.
With all the attention drawn to the powerful Monkhorsts, the silky skills of the ex-saint and the glistening tan of Williams, the performance of Hayden Smith drifted under the radar, just like his year to date.
The Tigers number one is one of the key engine room operators in Yellow and Black.
His ferocious attack on the ball, endeavour to bash and crash his way into packs – despite not possessing the biggest frame – is something to be admired and his ability to find pockets of space, whether it be from agile footwork or his big work ethic, is the cherry on top of what is more or less the complete on baller.
Smith, who debuted for the Tigers in 2013, has played all nine games for Woori Yallock this year, kicked three majors and been named in the best players on seven occasions in 2019 – four of those appearances as the best afield.
The Tigers look ready to launch into yet another finals series, and whilst a fair bit of their success has come from the household names listed above, an even bigger part of it has come from their spirited number one.
2. Two Horse Race
The top two in Division One surged further ahead of the trailing pack on Saturday with a pair of convincing wins.
Monbulk remained undefeated as an Ash Beck five goal haul saw them defeat Officer by 29 points, whilst Pakenham ran out 41 point winners over Doveton with nine goal to five second half the deciding factor at Toomuc Reserve.
This leaves Doveton in third place, three games behind the second placed Lions and of course four games behind the, so far, invincible Hawks. But how far in front are the top two?
Monbulk of course have an unblemished record against the top five sides, having won all six of their clashes with Pakenham, Doveton, Officer and Mount Evelyn. The Hawks have a total winning margin of 137 points, with the average winning margin 22.73 points.
Those two stats could be much higher though, with Monbulk having 160 scoring shots across those six matches 72 more than their opponents who have totalled just 88.
Mount Evelyn have been the biggest benefactor from the Hawks inaccuracy. The Rovers have lost by just 16 points across their two matches with Monbulk, but have had just 35 scoring shots to 56.
Pakenham have just the one blemish in their six games against the top five, coming when Shane Williams booted ten goals in a massive 51 point win for Monbulk back in round five.
Over the course of their five wins they’ve run up a total winning margin of 116 points at an average of 23.1 points per win.
Whilst they may have just edged the Hawks in that statistic they are a fair way back when it comes to scoring shots. They’ve had 117 scoring shots against the top five (43 less than Monbulk) and have conceded 97 (nine more than Monbulk).
Where does that leave the other three?
Third placed Doveton have just two wins against the top five, both of those coming against Officer, who they defeated by 82 points in round one and by just 14 points in round eight.
Their current differential is – 33, despite three of their four losses (two to Pakenham, one to Mount Evelyn) coming by six goals or more. That round one win is helping them out a fair bit.
Mount Evelyn sit in fourth spot with a five and five record but have had just one win against a top five opponent. Their differential is similar to Doveton’s sitting at – 32, however unlike the Doves they’re biggest losing margin is just 29 points.
Officer fans may want to look away now.
Whilst the Roos defeated Mount Evelyn by 29 points in round six, they’ve lost their other five games against top five by a collective of 183 points with the Good Friday massacre really hurting their percentage.
What this tell us is that Monbulk and Pakenham seem to genuinely be two or three games better than the rest of the competition. The Lions are slightly more susceptible due to their slightly weaker attacking threat.
The other three are well off the boil.
Officer’s poor start to the year has skewed their stats and left them with a mountain of work to do percentage wise. Mount Evelyn seem fallible on the bigger grounds and have had a couple of let offs due to some kind kicking from their opponents and whilst Doveton were just two straight kicks away from defeating Monbulk, they too were benefactors of the Hawks inaccuracy in front of goal.
3. Brooker’s Blitz
On the road trip to Alexandra, Gembrook-Cockatoo coach Brad Coller would’ve felt the enormity of the oncoming football match.
The Brookers were coming off three straight losses and on their way to face a side whose form had been strong, especially on their home patch. They were also about to take on one of their two rivals for the final spot in the top five.
The objective was to play four quarters of football. Gembrook-Cockatoo are the fifth best (maybe higher) football side in the division on paper. If they put together four quarters they would no doubt be run away winners, and put one foot in the finals.
Come 4:45 pm the coach would be feeling a bit indifferent. His side failed to put together four quarters of football, kicking just three goals in the second half, with their opponents kicking eight in the same period – disappointing.
It didn’t matter on this occasion though, because by half time the game was over.
Gembrook-Cockatoo had played one of the most destructive halves of football to start the game kicking 14 goals to three, to lead by 41 points at quarter time and 65 points at the half.
Dylan Scott led the way alongside Matthew Templeton (six goals), Michael Firrito, Dante South (three goals) and Mitchell Brown (four goals).
Whilst Powelltown’s 123 point win over Thornton Eildon means they currently occupy the coveted fifth place on percentage, Gembrook-Cockatoo’s first half will have the Towners looking over their shoulder with a certain sense of fear.