By Matt Fotia
The home and away season is finally done and dusted as Cranbourne begin to time their run, in Division One Officer light up the Gembrook Sports Ground and the cream (Nathan O’Keefe) rose to the top in a ripping Division Two Second Semi Final.
It’s the Football Review.
Woori Yallock and Cranbourne will tackle each other for the third time this season in the Premier Division Elimination Final, after the Tigers faded in the second half against Beaconsfield and Cranbourne recovered from a shaky start to defeat Upwey-Tecoma with relative ease and finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Despite finishing a game clear of the Eagles on the ladder, Woori Yallock will go into this clash as underdogs, with Cranbourne’s recent form line looking much more impressive than that of the Tigers.
The Eagles have won four of their last five games, including a 106 point win over Olinda Ferny Creek and a four point victory over premiership favourite Berwick, the Wickers second loss for the season.
Woori Yallock on the other hand have won just two of their last five games, defeating Healesville and Upwey-Tecoma, albeit by an accumulative margin of 181 points. The three games they’ve lost have been to the top three sides in the division, which is no embarrassment, but the Tigers will be more disappointed with the margins.
Berwick won by 64, Narre Warren by 75 and Beaconsfield by 52. The Eagles (Beaconsfield that is) had 35 scoring shots to 13 on the weekend.
Woori Yallock will go into the do or die final with some sore bodies, as the same six to seven players continue to do a lot of the heavy lifting, whilst Cranbourne are beginning to uncover some more stars.
Up and coming forward Corey Ellison has booted nine goals in the past fortnight, Anthony Fischer was named in the best players in consecutive weeks, whilst livewire forward Kyle Nunn has regained his early season form.
Woori Yallock shouldn’t be discounted. They’re full of heart and determination, have finished fourth for a reason and will take confidence from their record against Cranbourne this season.
But Steve O’Brien’s men are playing some of their best footy at the right time.
And timing is everything in September.
2. Rampaging Roos
Before the weather hit at the Gembrook Sports Ground on Sunday, the Officer Kangaroos showed everyone how good they can be, dominating the early stages before finishing up 61 point winners over Mount Evelyn in the Division One Elimination Final.
Doug Koop’s side produced some scintillating ball movement via both hand and foot, moving the sherrin with speed and efficiency around the Brookers’ home patch. They were able to make sure their best ball users had the ball at every opportunity – Tivendale, Ingaliso et al. – as well as isolating their forwards one on one.
Jesse Longmuir took full toll of the latter, booting five goals for the game, showing his strong potential and impressive power. Matthew Clarke only managed two but could’ve had a handful of his own on a different day.
The Kangaroos showed dare, were keen to switch play, play on out of defence and take on the pack splitting pass, as they exposed the Rovers lack of run and dare of their own. It was no shock to anyone in attendance that the Roos are the highest scorers in the division.
They aren’t without contested ball winners either, with Kerrigan, O’Loughlin, Wassylko and Valentine willing to bust packs and lay tackles when needs must.
Sean Roach used his hulky presence to win the ruck duel, whilst a further positive was the uncharacteristically quiet game from renown ball winner Tyler Clark, who rarely misses twice.
Whilst Officer’s final fate is yet to be confirmed there is one thing for certain – the Roos will go down swinging.
3. Cream Rises
Saturday played host to sunshine and a fantastic game of Division Two football as Seville and Yarra Junction logged heads at the Don Road Sporting Complex for a spot in the Grand Final.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout with the strong wind hard to harness when at your back and even harder to counter when blowing into your face.
Yarra Junction were able to hold off the Blues for the best part of three and half quarters, leading at every change and enjoying some early momentum in the last quarter, as their small forwards and midfielders did some heavy lifting, with their tall forwards having a strangely poor day in the air.
At the other end of the ground Dylan Brookes held ex-Collingwood champion Josh Fraser well, whilst Luke Spaulding held on for dear life against Seville superstar Nathan O’Keefe.
The Division Two leading goal kicker ran Spaulding ragged, dragging the Junction defender all around the ground, twisting and turning his marker at every opportunity, leaving him in knots on multiple occasions.
In the last quarter O’Keefe’s tank finally got to Spaulding, who was left gasping for air with his hands on his knees at every stoppage, helpless to stop O’Keefe, who had taken the game by the scruff of the neck.
The number 23 booted three goals in the final quarter to bring his game tally to six, the beneficiary of some good work up the field from balding trio Justin Myers, Mark Cecere, Scott McDonnell as well as Jesse Fraser, to see Seville book their spot in the 2019 decider.
If O’Keefe can produce another performance like that in a fortnight’s time, Seville’s long wait might just be over.