By Matt Fotia
Whilst a fair few eyes will be focused on the Yarra Glen Recreation Reserve for the conclusion of the Division Two season, several clubs are still battling it out for a place in history in the top two divisions.
Beaconsfield host Cranbourne in a do or die football semi final, whilst on the netball court Beaconsfield get first crack at knocking over the so far indestructible Olinda Ferny Creek and on Sunday Holm Park plays host to the Division One preliminary finals, as Pakenham and ROC look to avoid straight sets exits, both taking on Monbulk.
Have a look in the Weekend Preview.
Beaconsfield fell back to earth last weekend as Narre Warren taught them a lesson about finals football at Edwin Flack Reserve in Berwick.
The Eagles came into the clash with memories of their impressive round 10 win over the Magpies but were quickly put back in their box as Narre kicked five goals to one in the first quarter. It didn’t get any better from there with the coach-less Magpies keeping Beaconsfield to just two behinds in the second half as they jumped into the second semi final against Berwick.
Beaconsfield had entered Saturday’s game in good form having won their four previous games comfortably, most notably their round 18 win over Woori Yallock, where they dominated the Tigers on their home deck to earn a spot in the qualifying final.
Leigh McQuillen is a very tactically oriented coach, with processes and set ups at a premium, but the heavy conditions at Edwin Flack meant the usually well oiled machine began to rust, before grinding to a halt.
This weekends venue, Doveton, is in slightly better condition then the Wicker’s home deck, but will still be a heavy ground due to the inclement weather the whole state has experienced in recent weeks.
This will suit Cranbourne, who have bigger and more mature bodies on their list then their (fellow) Eagle counterparts. These players came to the fore in last weekends win over Woori Yallock at Doveton.
They’re now as close to full strength as they’ve been all year and they had all of their big players stand up on the weekend, with Kirk Dickson and Tom Marks kicking two majors apiece, whilst Jordan Bertrand, Ryan Jones, Luke Bee-Hugo, Shaun Marusic and Stuart Morrish all amongst the best.
With the momentum behind them and the knowledge that they knocked out Beaconsfield at the exact same stage last season, confidence will be high down at Casey Fields.
The Beaconsfield netballers steadied themselves against Cranbourne in last weekends qualifying final, after a wobbly second term saw Cranbourne overturn a five goal quarter time deficit to lead at half time, but the second placed Beaconsfield found their way in the second half to earn a crack Olinda Ferny Creek with a 35-32 win.
Pleasingly for the Eagles four of their key players enjoyed themselves on the weekend, with Goal Keeper Katherine Grigoriou setting herself up for the undesirable task of handling Peri Stewart, Goal Defence Teneille Morrell prepped herself for a battle with either Ashlee Hottes or Elly Stewart, Centre Ashleigh Gill performed strongly as she looks to lead the way against a strong Olinda Ferny Creek mid court and Goal Shooter Bianca Sanzaro shot 20 goals, something she’ll need to do this weekend with chances at a premium against the Bloods.
Last time they met Beaconsfield impressed, but ultimately lapsed slightly in the third quarter, which allowed the Bloods to open up an eight goal lead at three quarter time, something they were never going to give up.
Such is the ruthlessness of the Bloods, they sense the moment that their opponent has drifted slightly and put their foot down.
All this means is that Beaconsfield can’t allow them that moment. It’s going to take four quarters to get a spot in the big dance.
At the third time of asking, Mount Evelyn finally knocked off minor premier ROC and sent the Roos to a knockout Preliminary Final this weekend against Monbulk. The Rovers completed owned their defensive end, allowing the Roos just 17 goals for the entire game, and just six in the second half.
Usual ROC stars, Emily La Roche and Zoe Callanan, were unable to have their normal impact on the match and therefore the Kangaroos usual drive was impeded.
This weekend’s opponent, Monbulk, had no such problems, putting 44 goals past Warburton Millgrove in the first semi final at Olinda Ferny Creek. They set the tone in the first quarter with a 16-6 first stanza, despite the awful conditions.
Goaling partnership Stephanie Puopolo and Nicole Macdowell starred shooting 33 goals and 10 goals respectively, doing as they have done for the Hawks throughout the backend of the season.
Worryingly for ROC, Puopolo was the chief destroyer when the Hawks won their round 10 encounter, shooting 42 goals in the Hawks 47-39 win – and as we all know, September is made for the big stars.
Pakenham are in a similar spot to ROC, after they also surprisingly went down in the second semi final at Woori Yallock.
The Lions failed to adapt to the heavy conditions quickly enough on Sunday, unable to ignore their instincts to go sideways or over possess by hand.
The Lions work hard to have an extra number either behind the ball or at the stoppage, to provide themselves with the chance to create an overlapping runner. This requires the Lions to have a willingness to switch the play or fire off quick handball chains to release that extra player.
The venue for this weekend’s preliminary final – Holm Park, Beaconsfield – should allow this to happen with more ease than on the weekend, with the extra room and better conditions (they couldn’t get any worse) allowing them to create the necessary angles.
But should Monbulk’s defence set up as well as they did back in round five, when Shane Williams booted 10 goals in a 51 point win for the Hawks, the Lions might have some trouble. On that occasion Monbulk were able to close off the inboard option and therefore stopped the Lions from releasing their extra player.
Whilst it won’t be as easy to implement this on a foreign surface, if the Hawks are on their game in this regard they could easily send the Lions out via the direct exit. If not, the extra space that Holm Park provides could make it a long day for the Hawks, because when the Lions are purring, they’re pretty good.