By Matt Fotia
One division down, two to go. Yep that’s right finals football is finally here as the ATC Traffic Division Two season wrapped up on the weekend, with Gembrook-Cockatoo busting its way to fourth spot on the table.
Elsewhere Officer smacked another lowly ranked side to keep their top three chances alive and Olinda Ferny Creek can’t make finals, but they can decide who does.
It’s the Football review.
The Brookers saved their best for last in 2019 as on the weekend as they surged into the finals with massive 77 point win over Yarra Glen on a picture perfect day on their home deck.
At half time, just seven points up, it would not have been shameful for the Brookers to wobble and allow their more experienced, bigger bodied and – at times throughout the season – much more fancied opponents to take up the fifth spot in the finals.
Rather than that, the Brookers blew Yarra Glen out of the water with a 13 goal second half as they pummelled the RiverPigs on their route to the elimination final.
The day saw Gembrook-Cockatoo’s more experienced players come to the fore.
Ex AFL stars Michael Firrito and Tarkyn Lockyer starred with nine goals between them, as the two Scotts, Leigh and Dylan, went one-two to be the best pair of players on the ground.
But the shining light for the Brookers will be the performance of young gun Joshua Tilly.
The red haired forward has played just a handful of senior games for the Brookers, with his season split between the Gembrook-Cockatoo senior side, under 18 side and the Eastern Ranges.
In just his sixth senior game Tilly booted four majors – his second four goal game for the year – to help his side dismantle the RiverPigs and book their place in finals.
Tilly is just one of the bright prospects wearing green this season, but his performance on the weekend will no doubt please the faithful watching on, as the future continues to look promising for the Brookers.
The near future, better known as this weekend, sees the Brookers take on Powelltown, a side they’ve beaten twice already this year. If they make it thrice, they might just dare to dream.
2. Officer’s Outside Chance
Hidden away behind the massive top four fixtures of Monbulk v Mount Evelyn and Doveton v Pakenham, the Officer Kangaroos were casually collecting their fourth 15 goal victory in five weeks, as they hammered Warburton Millgrove by 125 points on their home deck.
Since the Kangaroos lost three consecutive close games to the current top three, they’ve defeated Warburton Millgrove by 140 and 125, Belgrave by 96 – booting 172 points in the process – and Emerald by 89.
In between they lost to Mount Evelyn by 11 points, despite leading for the majority of the afternoon.
The Roos have jumped up into fourth place after the weekends action, with their strong percentage seeing them leapfrog the Rovers. They’re just a game behind Doveton, yet again with a much more superior percentage.
With just one round to go here’s how positions three to five shape up.
|Doveton||36||118%||Warburton Millgrove (away)|
|Mount Evelyn||32||115%||Emerald (home)|
Whilst the Doves will be the shortest of favourites to come away from the Burras nest victorious, it is no secret that the heavy conditions of Mac Sparke Oval are not the favoured surrounds for those up the highway.
Temptations will also be there to rest a couple of tired bodies, refreshing them for the Doves finals campaign, whilst the proud Burras will be out to pinch their third win of the year and avoid the wooden spoon for two years running.
The Rovers, like Doveton, are the favourites to defeat the Bombers, such is their ladder position and the Rovers strong home record. However after some close contested games in recent times they too will have some tired bodies.
The Rovers would also not only need Doveton to stumble, but would also require a swing in percentage, something Emerald are unlikely to provide them.
This leaves the Roos.
Unlike the aforementioned sides their bodies should be in better condition. They’ve had just one game finish with a margin inside 89 points in the last five games and will have no doubt used their last month as a chance to rest those aching limbs.
Playing Pakenham they will also be intent on entering the finals series on a massive high. They’ve beaten just one of the other top five sides this season – Mount Evelyn at home – and will want to have two under their belt come September.
If things fall into place this weekend the Roos could find themselves as the unlikely holders of a double chance, coming off an away win over Pakenham.
Primed for a tilt at the title.
3. Olinda’s Choice
Olinda Ferny Creek will have impressed many onlookers from around the league and the football community on the weekend as the fell 33 points short of premiership favourite Berwick, with poor goal kicking to blame.
The Bloods had two more scoring shots than the Wickers and at half time had kicked 3.13 to trail by 11 points despite having four more shots at goal. They finished 6.19 (55) to Berwick’s 13.10(88).
Marcus Hottes has showed his ability to keep up to speed despite the new wave of football engulfing the competition and was named second best on ground for Olinda Ferny Creek, another notch on his incredibly long ‘good game’ belt.
Luke Hill, previously regarded as the best defender in the Valley, has been a revelation in the ruck. Hill, who played in the role during his younger VFL days, was named as the Bloods best player, the second time he’s won that accolade in three weeks.
The Bloods have been very impressive in the second half of the year. As players have returned from injury their output has increased and they have gained praise from Beaconsfield’s coach Leigh McQuillen for the way they go about the game.
Their small hopes of making the Premier Division top five were dashed last weekend, but they still have a massive say in the make up of the finals, with games against Cranbourne and Wandin to finish off their season.
If they can complete the double against the Eagles this weekend they open up the race for the Dogs once again.
Then it will be up to them. They could end up rubbing salt into the wound of a familiar rival giving them hope before taking it away.
Or they could give the Dogs a taste of the finals to come.