By Matt Fotia | Twitter – @fotiamatt
Another massive weekend of football has passed us by and more conundrums have crossed our paths. There are swings and roundabouts for the Eagles and Dogs, a RiverPig mudslide and a closer look at the run home and first week of finals in each division. It’s the Football Review.
There’s been much conjecture about the scheduling of byes in the Premier Division this season. Each club has two byes due to the odd number of sides, along with two extra whole division byes.
The first of these was for the Outer East’s participation in the AFL Victoria Community Championships and the second for the Victorian Country v Victorian Amateur Football Association, where Outer East players are eligible for selection.
The latter of these two byes has been the most controversial as no Outer East players were selected, leaving clubs aggrieved by the lack of continuity they were being force-fed. Whilst most clubs haven’t been too affected by the bye, two clubs have had their seasons fortunes aggressively changed post bye in Beaconsfield and Wandin.
The Eagles had won six games on the bounce heading into the Vic Country v VAFA bye, with their last two wins against familiar foes in Cranbourne and Narre Warren lifting them from outside chance to genuine premiership smoky.
They were running like a well oiled machine with Leigh McQuillen’s detailed approach seeing them keep Cranbourne to just 30 points and Narre Warren to 59 points as they looked set to lock down the double chance.
But the bye seems to have put a halt to this run. The Eagles went down to the then sixth placed Wandin the week after the bye, their defensive structures either rusty or blown apart by the chaotic nature of the Dogs ball movement.
That result left them licking their wounds during the build up to their clash with premiership favourite and arch rivals Berwick. Whilst they were able to compete with the Wickers, they were unable to maintain the standard and went down comfortably.
The Eagles are now fourth with two crucial games to come against Olinda Ferny Creek (away) and Woori Yallock (away), where a loss to either side will sentence them to a fourth placed finish and an elimination showdown.
Wandin had split the difference in the six weeks leading up to the aforementioned Vic Country v VAFA bye. They’d steadied the ship with three wins through the middle after their horror start to the season, but went into the bye thinking about what could’ve been after consecutive defeats to Berwick and Woori Yallock. They’d faded in those two matches, lacked their usual vigour and seemed very unlikely to make the finals after the loss to the Tigers.
But with wins over both Eagles (Beaconsfield and Cranbourne) post the bye, the Dogs have roared into the five and are now in complete control of their own destiny, favourites for three of their last four matches.
The two sides probably have differing views on the bye. But it looks like it has set them up for a meeting in the first week of finals and if their last meeting was anything to go by, we should be thankful for the bye.
2. RiverPig Mud Slide
Yarra Glen went down to Yarra Junction on the weekend by 27 points in an enthralling contest that ebbed and flowed throughout the day, as the RiverPigs took it up to the Eagles on their home deck.
They kicked the opening two goals of the last quarter to bring the margin back to within two goals as Billy Gardner (two goals), Daniel Hurley, Austin Smith and Lachlan Telford (four goals) took it up to the Eagles and their star studded midfield.
The Eagles were able to lift though as experienced heads Allan Chandler, David Johnson and John Holmes lead the resistance to will the Eagles over the line for the 12th time this season. The Eagles win has left Yarra Glen in the previously unfathomable position of missing the finals with the RiverPigs drifting back to fifth after Gembrook-Cockatoo’s percentage boosting win on the weekend.
Powelltown’s shock win over Kinglake didn’t help their cause either, with the Towner’s now just a game back from the RiverPigs, but technically on the same points as they’re yet to have their second bye for 2019.
The good news for Yarra Glen is the fact that they play both of these two sides in the remaining three rounds. It leaves them with control over their 2019 season. If they’re able to win both of those games they’ll go into the finals in fourth position, with a recent win over their elimination final opponents and the knowledge that their best football is good enough to challenge the top three.
Split the difference against the Demons and Brookers and percentage will have a massive part to play.
Lose both and September getaways will be high on the priority list.
3. The Run Home
There’s just three weeks left before the 2019 AFL Outer East Finals Series kicks off and there is still so much left undecided.
Who will finish fifth in Premier Division and Division Two?
Will Woori Yallock hang on to the double chance?
Can Pakenham usurp Monbulk for the week off and could Powelltown end up in fourth position?
We decided to jump on the SportsTg predictor and see how each Division will end up and who will take on who in week one of their respective finals.
Next weekend shapes up as a massive one in Division Two with Yarra Glen travelling out to Powelltown with the Towner’s fresh off a big win over Kinglake. It’ll be a tight one, with the RiverPigs scraping home in their earlier clash by just one point. This time around we think the Demons will get over the line, home ground advantage coming into it.
Gembrook-Cockatoo travel to Seville where a win over the Blues would more or less book them a spot in the finals. We don’t see it happening though – the Blues are in too good of form.
Round 17 sees Kinglake host Yarra Junction, where the Lakers can give the Blues the week off with a win over the Eagles. However we think Yarra Junction will keep the race for first alive with an away win over Andrew Fairchild’s men.
Yarra Glen travel to Gembrook-Cockatoo in the final round of the year and we think it’ll be a play off for fifth with Powelltown having Yea and the bye to finish off their home and away season.
It’ll be another tight one, but we think the Brookers might just have enough at home, sentencing the RiverPigs to an early finish to 2019.
Predicted Top Six
Projected First Week of Finals
Qualifying Final – Yarra Junction v Kinglake
Elimination Final – Powelltown v Gembrook-Cockatoo
This weekend sees Round 13’s completion and it pits the likely elimination finalists against each other as Mount Evelyn host Officer. We can’t look past the Rovers at home after the way they’ve previously knocked off Doveton and Pakenham at home.
The Doves host Monbulk on their home deck in Round 14 and it shapes as a big one, especially considering their first meeting. Home ground advantage comes into it and the Hawks may still have a few key players out of their side – Doves win.
Doveton then go on to host Pakenham the following weekend, but after the way Pakenham dismantled them earlier in the season and the way they’ve continued the grow throughout the season, we can’t go past the Lions. Round 15 also sees Monbulk play Mount Evelyn again and we think the Hawks will complete a clean sweep over the Rovers, especially on their home patch.
Pakenham host Officer in the final round of the season and despite the Roos impressive form of late, it’ll be the Lions who enter finals on a winning note.
Predicted Top Five
Projected First Week of Finals
Qualifying Final – Monbulk v Doveton
Elimination Final – Mount Evelyn v Officer
Round 14 is a massive one with Wandin hosting Narre Warren and Woori Yallock welcoming Berwick to the Tigers den. Despite the home ground advantage we think the top two will have too much for the Dogs and Tigers, but good games of football should ensue.
Beaconsfield travel to Olinda Ferny Creek in round 15 as the Bloods look to keep their slim finals chances alive. Despite the recent form of both sides indicating the Bloods should be favourites, we think Leigh McQuillen’s troops will have enough to sneak a crucial away win.
Cranbourne should reverse their earlier loss to Olinda Ferny Creek on their home deck in round 17 whilst Narre Warren should win against Woori Yallock at Kalora Park. The Magpies will then host Berwick, meeting the Wickers for the first time since April 6th. We’ve got the home side winning this one by just one kick, although it shouldn’t effect the ladder.
Woori Yallock and Beaconsfield play off for the double chance at Woori Yallock and like their first encounter we see the home side coming out on top, booking themselves a spot in the Qualifying Final.
Predicted Top Six
Projected First Week of Finals
Qualifying Final – Narre Warren v Woori Yallock
Elimination Final – Beaconsfield v Wandin