By Matt Fotia
Can Woori Yallock maintain their stranglehold over Cranbourne? Will Powelltown’s miracle run continue and can the Burra girls keep their slim premiership hopes alive ?
All this and more in the Weekend Preview.
Starting at AJ Robinson Oval in Doveton, it’s the Premier Division Elimination Final as Woori Yallock and Cranbourne meet for a third time this season. The Tigers have had the wood over the Eagles thus far, sneaking home in a thriller back in round three and coming away from Casey Fields with a draw in round 12.
Following that result and their round eight loss to Olinda Ferny Creek, the Eagles had it all to do coming into the last few weeks of the season if they were to make another finals series. Other than a big loss to Narre Warren they’ve been faultless, taking it all in their stride.
Whilst their scoring has improved since they last played the Tigers, it has been their defence that’s been the cornerstone of their resurgence. They’ve conceded under fifty in four of their last five games, keeping Berwick to 42, Healesville to 32, Olinda Ferny Creek to 25 and Upwey – Tecoma to 47, a grand total of 146 across four games.
The likes of Brandon Osbourne, Stuart Morrish and co have been strong and their match ups against any combination of Ben Monkhorst, Jake Matthews, Luke Boonjtes and Alex Marsh are key.
Monkhorst has been threatening all year to kick a massive bag, with inaccuracy and a lack of support holding him back. If Boonjtes, Matthews, Marsh or even the recently returned Robbie Allen can bob up and cause headaches for the Cranbourne defence, it could open things up for the Tigers spearhead to launch their September campaign.
In Division One Pakenham and Doveton will make what will most likely be their first ever trip to Woori Yallock to battle it out for a spot in the Division One decider.
The Doves are coming off a monumental come from behind win over Monbulk, but are facing their 2019 kryptonite – Pakenham.
In all three of their encounters this season the Doves have really struggled to score against the Lions secure defence, managing totals of 4.5(29), 9.4(58) and 8.9(57) in their three attempts, totalling 21.18 (144), an average of 48 points per game. Comparatively the Doves average 84.2 points per game against all other opponents.
James Gascard and Mitchell Pierce have led the line for the Doves in 2019, both accumulating 25 goals for the season, Gascard with a best of four goals, Pierce a best of five. Whilst they pose a threat on Saturday, it’s mid season recruit Max Sheppard that could hold the key for the Doves. In his eight games for the Doves the big power forward has 18 goals, at a club high average of 2.25 goals per game.
The Lions operate with a team defence and when in sync – as they’ve been most of the year – it’s hard to beat and therefore score.
But if Doveton can feed the big man in Sheppard and isolate him one on one inside the arc, they might be able to take the Pakenham defence out of the equation.
It’s simple in theory. Difficult in reality. But it might just be the key.
A month ago Yarra Junction wouldn’t have expected to be taking on Powelltown in the 2019 Preliminary Final.
It’s been an up and down finish to the season for the reigning premier, who have had some good wins over Yarra Glen, Powelltown themselves and Kinglake in the Qualifying Final, but have also had three losses, against the Lakers in round 17 and Seville, in round 14 and last weekends Second Semi Final.
They played into the Blues hands on the weekend, going high and long with their forward entries, which suited the high marking abilities of Jack Nolan, Adam Oxley and Jake Uslar, who kept the usually dangerous Tyson Wheeler and David Johnson to barely a whimper.
This weekends opponents Powelltown haven’t lost since round 14 and like Seville have a strong back six, with Garthwaite, Stokes, Hadjer and Dore all having strong years.
If Junction turn the ball over as regularly as they did last weekend when entering their forward 50, they should get ready for another dosage of the ball going back over their head, with the aforementioned quartet willingly to hand the ball off to Rhys Johnson, Rohan Nayna and Nathan Moody to kickstart a Powelltown attack.
However if the Eagles use the ball well their versatile forward line should have enough to run the Demons ragged, and give them another crack at the big dance.
On the netball court it’s a fourth meeting in 2019 for Seville and Kinglake, after the Blues went down to Yea by 17 goals in the Second Semi Final and the Lakers smashed Yarra Glen by 49 goals in the other semi final.
Seville have won the three previous meetings between the two sides, enjoying a nine goal win in round nine, an eight goal victory in round 18 and enjoyed a five goal margin in the Qualifying Final a fortnight ago.
Seville have the ability to problem-shoot in the goal circle should Caitlin Ryan and co get on top of Jackie Cullimore and her starting Goal Attack, with Carly McDonnell and Cailey Nolan both spending time in the Goal Attack and Wing Attack positions this season. Most notably in round 18 they both shot 16 goals in the Blues win over Kinglake.
In Division One Monbulk face off against Warburton Millgrove again as both sides look to gain the ascendancy against one another this season and a spot in the Preliminary Final.
In round six Monbulk left the Burras nest with the chocolates after a massive 18 goal to six second quarter put them well out of reach. Goal Shooter Stephanie Puopolo shot 44 goals on that occasion as she got ahold of the Burras defensive pairing of Petrucev and Lever.
Warburton Millgrove gave Monbulk a dose of their own medicine in the return leg, as a 27-21 second half saw them level the ledger against the Hawks, and shore up their finals credentials at the same time.
Puopolo still shot 38 goals, but Warburton Millgrove were lethal forward of centre as Selina Fotia and Ashlee Guerra gave Bianca Daniels and Kirralee Liuyf silver service. Expect a similar performance this weekend from the Burras, who rarely play out dull affairs. They’re coming off a 46-32 win over the Pakenham Lions.
This is shaping up as a battle of the mid courts, with both sides more than capable in their attacking goal circle.
It’s an Eagle battle in the Premier Division Qualifying Final as Beaconsfield take on Cranbourne for the chance to knock off Olinda Ferny Creek next week.
Beaconsfield kicked off their season with a big win over their fellow Eagles, which gave them momentum for the next few weeks. They remained undefeated until they fell to Olinda Ferny Creek in round six.
However in wet conditions, Cranbourne won the return leg, shutting down Beaconsfield as Tiana Butler and Tara Cecil did what they do, and turned it on defensively for Cranbourne. They hold the key again it would seem, with the scoring capabilities of Bianca Sanzaro, Danielle Roberts and Tanya Mijovic in their hands.
Both sides will be focusing on this weekend, but will know in the back of their mind what could face them should they lose. Beaconsfield lost to Woori Yallock in round 18, whilst Cranbourne went down to Narre Warren in round 16, meaning both sides in the Elimination Final will fancy their chances in a weeks time.