By Matt Fotia
Can Woori Yallock inflict Berwick’s second loss of the season ? Will Stephen Milne make it two from two in the Outer East? Will Powelltown rub salt into Yarra Glen’s wounds and can Mount Evelyn keep the race for first spot in Division One A Grade alive? It’s the Weekend Preview.
Woori Yallock host top of the table Berwick in a massive Premier Division clash this weekend.
A win for the Tigers would put them in a well fancied position to have two chances at the premiership, whilst if the Wickers can continue their winning run they’ll all but have the top spot wrapped up, with their
massive percentage making it pretty hard for Narre Warren to reel them in, even with victory in round 18.
The Wickers have been red hot of late with their 34 point win over rivals Beaconsfield their smallest winning margin in the last month. They’ve knocked over Healesville to the tune of 160 points, Wandin by 76 and Upwey Tecoma by 110 in their last four outings.
Dynamic forward Harrison Money has 14 goals in that time as he continues to lead all comers in the Premier Division goal kicking race, Travis Tuck has gone about his work with three goals and two appearances in the best and ruckman Jesse Cirulis looks set to battle it out with Woori Yallock star Zach Monkhorst who for the first time all season was beaten by Olinda Ferny Creek’s Luke Hill last weekend.
The Tigers last month hasn’t been quite as impressive, with a seven point loss to Beaconsfield and a draw against Cranbourne mixed in with two victories over Wandin and Olinda Ferny Creek, the latter thanks to an impressive final quarter.
Kane Thompson and Jordan Williams look ready to take it up to the Berwick midfielders with Thompson coming off three strong weeks of football and Williams returning from a European Summer to slot straight back into the best players in the past fortnight.
Berwick’s only loss for the season came in round one when they failed to slow down the frantic pace of the game against Wandin. That led to more one on one contests and less emphasis on team defence. This should help Woori Yallock if it happens again as they’ll back the likes of Jake Matthews, Ben Monkhorst, Michael Risely and Michael Batten at either end of the ground.
Emerald are the second Outer East club to play host to ex St Kilda star Stephen Milne and they’ll be hoping he has the same impact as he did with Woori Yallock.
The Bombers host Doveton, a side they challenged back in round six, only to go down by 27 points, 11.11(77) to 15.14(104). The Bombers started slowly before giving away a seven goal to three second quarter which left them too much work to do in the second half.
James Gascard kicked four goals in a best on ground performance for the Doves whilst Mitch Pierce and Matthew Boyd each nailed three. All three have continued to have impressive outings throughout the year for the Doves, with Gascard particularly imposing as the deepest forward against Mount Evelyn.
Jake Pedder kicked four goals for the Bombers on that evening with young gun Rogan Goonan also popping up with a couple. Add Milne into the equation – he kicked four goals for Woori Yallock against Wandin – and the Bombers are very potent up forward.
They’ll also be boosted by the familiar surroundings. The Bombers are a better side at home with a positive differential of 23 against Pakenham and 29 against Monbulk. If they can use this and the addition of a certain number 44, they could be in the ball game.
Powelltown have gone from desperate to a massive chance in the Division Two finals race, in the space of a weekend after their massive win over Kinglake.
They now look set to finish on a minimum of 40 points which could be enough if Gembrook-Cockatoo were to remain unable to knock off a top five side this season. The Demons can however remain in control of their own destiny with a win over Yarra Glen this weekend.
They’ll be looking to feed off the form of James Rohan and Dean Roy who have combined for 56 goals this season (Rohan 23, Roy 33) of which 18 have come in the past three weekends (Rohan 10, Roy 8).
They face a side who despite their performance on the weekend have now slid into the top five scrap. The RiverPigs will be looking to embrace the smaller confides of the Sawmill, with their strong bodied on ball brigade no doubt eyeing off some more contested ball and clearance work.
They’ve got a fair chunk of goals from their midfield this season with five of their midfield rotation having kicked nine goals or more this season.
Tim Ekers has 21 in his first year at the club, Lachlan Telford bought his tally up to 20 on the weekend thanks to a bag of four, Billy Gardner has 13 as one of their better midfielders this season whilst Austin Smith (10) and Ben Ashton (9) also know where the goals are.
With what’s on the line and the style of football both sides are currently playing this one looks like an absolute thigh rubber.
Upwey-Tecoma will be fairly content with how their 2019 A Grade season has gone with the Tigers currently sitting on 20 points and a good reputation amongst the other sides in the competition.
They’ve tested Woori Yallock and Wandin on the two occasions they’ve crossed paths and will be looking to do the same this weekend when they travel to Holm Park to face second placed Beaconsfield, who knocked the Tigers off by 43 goals in the round five.
Beaconsfield are still in a strong position despite their rotating injury list which has hampered their past month. They were on song against Berwick though on the weekend and will be looking to do the same against a similarly ranked side, with momentum heading into finals key, especially as they still have Olinda Ferny Creek and Woori Yallock to come.
Rylee Nelson, Ash Gill and the other Eagle mids will be looking to take their game to another level and they have a good chance against a strong mid court this weekend. Upwey-Tecoma’s Jamie O’Hare and Georgia Copeland have been the shining lights in that regard this season.
In Division One Mount Evelyn are out to inflict another loss upon top placed ROC.
The two sides met in round six and ROC ran out 14 goals winners off the back of a 12 goal to one second quarter. Emily La Roche and Emily McInness went one-two in the best players whilst Dorothea George shot 21 goals for the Roos.
Both Emily’s have remained prominent throughout the season and were one and two in the Roos best players in their 29 goals victory over Belgrave last weekend, as George finished up with 28 goals. Much like their win over the Rovers in round six, the Roos were rampant in the second quarter notching up 17 goals to four.
Whilst back in round six the Rovers shooters Ellie Karalua and Georgia Marsh could only manage 24 goals, their scoring power has grown in recent times.
Their victory over Doveton last time out saw them hit the 50 barrier with Monique Lenehan-Moustafa the main culprit with 36 goals. Kailtyn Black has also popped up now and again in attack and had 23 goals against Pakenham. She could hold the star power required to knock over the Roos, something Monbulk had when they knocked them off earlier in the season.
In Division Two Alexandra are desperate to get back on the winners list against Kinglake as their spot in the top five continues to come under scrutiny.
Yarra Junction and Powelltown sit just four points behind them on the table and the Eagles have the bye this weekend, which will see them into the five should Alexandra lose, due to their superior percentage. Powelltown have a strong Yarra Glen outfit but stranger things have happened.
The Rebels haven’t won since they faced Gembrook-Cockatoo and have gone down to Yea, Powelltown and Seville, the Powelltown loss the one that may come back to bite them.
Caitlan Haggis and Lauren Steyger have been good all year and will look to start things for the Rebels in the mid court battle against Bridget Waack, Nakita Lastrina and co, who are coming off a 30 goal win against Powelltown.
The Lakers are still in third spot on the ladder but like Alexandra cannot afford a slip up with Yarra Glen sniffing at their heels. They’ll be boosted by the form of goal shooter Billie Cvijetic who shot 50 goals in last weekends win and will key to any premiership challenge they wish to make.