By Matt Fotia
Whilst the Premier Division sleeps (okay it’s an enforced bye) Division One and Division Two continue with a number of tantalising matches on the horizon. Who will win the likely top five decider between Gembrook-Cockatoo and Powelltown? Can Mount Evelyn rise to the occasion on their home deck? Will Belgrave keep their A Grade Finals hopes alive and can the RiverPig girls upset the Lakers?
All this in the Weekend Preview.
As detailed in the Football Review, Mount Evelyn have had their struggles against fellow top five sides this season having won just one of their five matches against Monbulk and co.
That win was against Doveton and more importantly it was at home. The Rovers are a substantially better side on their home patch, especially when compared to their two performances down the Princes Highway.
The Rovers have managed a total of just 12.25 down the Highway, compiling 5.12 (42) against Pakenham in round four, failing to kick a goal before half time in their 28 point loss, and 7.13 (55) against Officer as they found themselves 29 points down at the final siren. Thats 97 points at 48.5 a game from 37 scoring shots (18.5 per game).
On their home deck it’s a different story. Mark Fisher’s game plan revolves around pressure on the opposition, hurrying them and harassing them, as the Rovers will the ball forward by any means possible.
That statistics show this method is much more effective at the Mount Evelyn Football Ground.
The Rovers have won four of their five home games this season and have failed to reach triple figures on just one occasion at home (76 against Monbulk – round two). They average 113.8 point per game (569 total) and 32.8 scoring shots per game (164 total) when in their own backyard. That’s a differential of plus 65.3 points and plus 14.3 scoring shots when it comes to home games against those down the south east.
Their opponents Pakenham have conceded more than 58 points on just two occasions this season, against Monbulk and Belgrave, both much smaller surfaces than their stomping ground, Toomuc Reserve.
The Lions like to control the ball by foot and smaller dimensions dramatically decrease the room for error. It also makes Fisher’s pressure based approach much simpler to execute (as mentioned earlier).
This should mean the Rovers won’t go goalless to half time again.
Let’s see if it means they’ll grab another big scalp.
Belgrave lost to Doveton by nine goals (46-37) the last time these two sides met with Emily Pupuke leading the way for the Doves with 23 goals. It made it two losses in a fortnight for the Magpies and two wins on the bounce for the Doves.
Since then Doveton have only surpassed that total (46) on one occasion, against the winless Emerald. Belgrave share that feat.
Pupuke has lead the Doves goal scoring this season. She has 141 goals in 2019 at an average of 15.7 goals per game and is 73 goals ahead of the Doves next best goal scorer. The Magpies have had a pair of goalers break the tonne this season with Ellen Anthony (138 @ 17.3) and Naomi Hargreaves (130 @13) their best bets of a winning score.
With both sides similarly mediocre in attack, it seems Doveton sit two games clear of Belgrave due to their stronger defence. The Doves have conceded just 399 goals this season, 57 less than the Magpies. They’ll need their defence to be on top of their game should they repeat their attacking performance from last Saturday where they managed just 18 goals against the Pakenham Lions.
Belgrave need a win to keep the finals dream alive, whilst if Doveton can hold firm they’ll have just Warburton Millgrove to worry about for the final spot in the five.
With both sides struggling to put up consistent scores it’s going to come down to their defensive duos. Will it be the Magpies’ Weaver and Parissis or will it be Doveton’s Humbert and Webster with smiles on their faces come Saturday’s end?
In Division Two Yarra Glen host Kinglake in a massive danger game for the Lakers. The Lakers are now just percentage ahead of Yarra Glen and Alexandra in third place on the ladder after losses to Seville and Yea in recent times, despite statistically being the clear third best side in the Division.
Yarra Glen have beaten all sides outside of the top three this season and for the second time this year struggled to keep up with Seville going down 62 to 26 last week, an almost identical scoreline to their round three loss to the Blues, 27 to 68. The Blues and Yea have both managed to keep the RiverPigs under 30 goals whenever they’ve come across their path, completely nullifying any of their attacking threat.
Kinglake are yet to really have that effect on a side this season outside of Gembrook-Cockatoo.
The Lakers have also struggled to really put sides to the sword going forwards, failing to post a score higher than 55 against anyone other than Gembrook-Cockatoo. Seville have done this on four occasions, Yea have done it thrice.
Whilst Kinglake remain the heavy favourites to finish in third spot, Yarra Glen are the side most likely to pinch it off them. They came close last time going down by just seven goals 38-31 and will know that the Lakers are under pressure and vulnerable.
And they’ll want to pounce.
It might be July, but it’s more or less an Elimination Final this weekend, as Gembrook-Cockatoo host Powelltown, with the winner taking pole position for the final spot in the Division Two top five.
The Brookers, despite their 1-3 record over the past month, have been playing some good football. They got within four goals of Yarra Glen, Kinglake and Yarra Junction before blasting Alexandra out of the water last weekend with one of the better halves of football this season – from anyone.
Powelltown have been going about their business without making much of a fuss and jumped into fifth place with a big win over Thornton-Eildon last Saturday. The Towners lost the earlier edition of this match up when the Brookers kicked four goals to one in the last quarter to steam home.
Worryingly for the Towners they’ve won just one game away from home this season, defeating Thornton-Eildon on the road earlier this season. They’re also yet to win a game without scoring over 100 points.
On the plus side James Rohan and Rhys Johnson enter this clash in strong form. Rohan has eight goals from his last two outings whilst Johnson has been in the Towners’ best three players for the last three weekends.
Gembrook-Cockatoo’s star skipper Michael Firrito is beginning to have a similar purple patch. The ex-Kangaroo has three goals and three appearances in the Brooker’s best in this last month, whilst Matthew Templeton snagged six majors against Alexandra to make it 10 goals in his last four games. He enjoyed playing Powelltown last time out, finishing with two goals in a strong performance.
Both sides have two winnable games and two encounters with top four sides in the last four weeks of home and away action, making this already important clash, even more substantial.
Powelltown boast a more experienced list.
Gembrook-Cockatoo have the bubbly young talent.
Will the Brookers’ youngsters run the Towners off their feet, or will Powelltown’s experience come to the fore?
Whatever happens, it’s sure to be a ripper.