By Matt Fotia
Fasten your seatbelts because we’ve got a full fixture list again in the Outer East and it’s sure to be an exciting round of football and netball. With just over a month to go before finals every match has added pressure, permutations and perspective.
Look ahead via the Weekend Preview.
Cranbourne head into their clash with Woori Yallock well aware of their situation. The Eagles sit a game clear – and around 60% – of Wandin, the side most likely to jump into the five and two games clear of Olinda Ferny Creek whom despite being two games back are quietly confident that they’re still in the race.
The Eagles should take some assurance from the above paragraph as it highlights the fair amount of breathing room they have over the chasing pack.
However their recent form has led to some insecurity. The Eagles have only beaten Wandin – during the Dogs horror three week period – and the bottom two sides since their round one upset win over Beaconsfield.
Last time they played the Tigers they jumped out to an early lead before Woori Yallock got on top around the stoppages thanks to Zac Monkhorst, Hayden Smith and Jordan Williams to go on and dominate the second and third quarters.
Two of those three have carried on from that round three win to be in career best form,whilst the recently returning Jordan Williams was impressive enough in the Tigers win over Wandin last time out. Kane Thompson has added to the Tigers elite engine room in the past month of football, collecting two best afield’s and two other vote getting performances in Woori’s last four fixtures against Upwey-Tecoma, Narre Warren, Beaconsfield and Wandin.
Clearances will be Woori Yallock’s focus once again but they will be aware it’s not the be all and end all, as deep inside fifty entries won’t come straight from the centre of Casey Fields.
The Eagles on the other hand will be looking to take advantage of their versatile forward line.
Woori Yallock should have their trio of marking defenders, Robbie Allen, Michael Riseley and Michael Batten, on the park ready to intercept anything that comes within their airspace. If the Eagles forwards can lead up at the football and take away the need for high entries, they’ll be halfway to a winning score and a place in September.
In Division One Pakenham host Monbulk looking to overturn their earlier result against the ladder leading Hawks, as well as returning to the winners list after last weekends loss to Mount Evelyn.
Shane Williams booted 10 majors last time these two sides met as Monbulk created turnover after turnover via their set up behind the ball, pressure on the Lions ball carriers and some sloppy Pakenham skills which allowed the Hawks defenders – McClleland, Veit, Griffiths and Werts in particular – to control their defensive end and the game.
The Lions are youthful, fast, fit and enjoy their home patch.
They’ll be able to use their leg speed to greater effect this time around and this should see them have more space for their forwards to work in. The Lions aren’t blessed with a consistent goal kicker, so constant movement and unpredictability is the key to their scores. The increased space and forward movement should also make it harder for Monbulk as they could find themselves being dragged out of position by a clever Lions outfit.
The increased space also means there is more room for error when it comes to those incisive kicks both sides like to produce. Whilst Pakenham are more highly regarded in this area don’t discount the Hawks. Players like Glenn Strachan will enjoy the opportunity to show off their flashier side.
Toomuc Reserve has taken all sides before it this season, but Monbulk aren’t any side. They’re well coached, high on confidence and have plenty of star power. Win this one and you literally can’t go past them for some September glory.
There’s another top of the table clash this weekend as Seville host Yarra Junction in a juicy Division Two encounter. The Blues have had a tough time of it lately against the Eagles with their last two fixtures seeing Yarra Junction run out winners by 80 plus points. In round five this year Nathan O’Keefe kicked six, but Leigh Hoffman and Ewan Wadsworth tore the game – and the Seville midfield – apart.
This time around the Blues will be looking to slow the game down. Seville’s much talked about strength is their aerial prowess down forward with the likes of O’Keefe, Rattray and Neal patrolling the area.
To both counteract Yarra Junction’s strength (run and carry) and to also play to their own, Seville should be looking to move the ball with care around the ground and accumulate a high number of marks. Circumspect ball movement out of defence and controlling the football until they reach the wing or half forward area may allow the Eagles to get their defenders back in place, but the Blues would back the aforementioned trio to win more marking contests than they lose. Anyway Dylan Broadway and Cory Glass are pretty handy at ground level.
The Blues forwards are deadset guns, but quick they are not (tall forwards that is). The quicker this game is played the more likely it is that Sam Morton will be the one piling on the goals.
Go slow Seville. Go slow.
For Wandin’s netballers slow starts have been the bane of their 2019 season. Firstly they started the actual season a bit sluggishly, not registering a win until round five. Secondly they’ve had a few losses where their first quarter has really let them down.
It let them down against Woori Yallock in their last outing, where they gave the Tigers a seven goal head start and it happened back in round three when Beaconsfield lead by 13-6 at the first change. Seven goals was the final margin as Danielle Roberts (28) and Cassidy Iedema (20) lead the charge for either side.
The Dogs can’t afford another slow start again. They’re more or less in a two horse race with Narre Warren for fifth spot and the Magpies should collect eight more points before they meet each other in round 14. Every game is vital.
Their opponents, Beaconsfield, are not in the same predicament as they’re well entrenched in the five a game clear in second spot. The Eagles will be mindful of Cranbourne and Woori Yallock who both sit a game behind them and play each other this weekend, so expect them to be putting their best foot forward.
Monbulk defeated Pakenham Lions by 13 goals last time they met to push themselves into the top five conversation for the first time whilst simultaneously bringing Pakenham back to earth after the Lions had knocked off Mount Evelyn the week before.
The Hawks were able to make the game into a high scoring one and that’s not the way Pakenham like to play. The Lions usually win via defensive effort, high levels of forced errors and efficiency in the goal circle via the Kyra Esler – Mia Palmer combination.
Whilst it was trump card Stephanie Puopolo that dominated the game last time with 43 goals, it’s Tahlia Northey that comes into this weekend in red hot form. In her first A Grade appearance for the season Northey shot 46 goals against Emerald adding another string to Monbulk’s bow.
The winner will be close to certainties for the finals. The losers will have to keep looking over their shoulder.
In Division Two Alexandra can both strengthen their finals credentials and put a line through Powelltown’s this weekend as they host the Towners at Rebel Park.
The Rebels weren’t able to stay with premiership favourites Yea at any point last weekend as they went down 52-25 but Lauren Steyger did continue her strong season through the mid court for Alexandra.
Powelltown and Yarra Junction sit outside of the top five waiting and hoping for a slip up from the Rebels or Yarra Glen and enter this weekend coming off a big win over Gembrook-Cockatoo. They’ll be aware that the victory is nothing to write home about.
Nicole Hadjer and Samantha Hansen have showed all season that they have enough cutting edge in the goal circle but they’ll need adequate supply. Marissa Haynes was also a good performer last weekend and will need to be on her game again to help win the mid court battle against Steyger and co.
Do that and Powelltown are in the game.