With the top-two spots looking locked in, the race for the final two places in the finals looks an open race between three sides.
One match that will have a big outcome on the finals make-up takes place at Main Street Reserve when third-placed Thomastown hosts fifth-placed Banyule. Only one win separates the sides after 10 rounds.
Thomastown has won five of its past six games and last week ended Diamond Creek’s three-game winning streak with a commanding display away from home to win by 21 points.
After a slow start, Thomastown finished with 12 of the last 17 goals to leapfrog the Creekers on the ladder. As well as strengthening their place on the ladder, the win was another statement that Ben Chapman’s side is a genuine contender in 2018.
Mathew Vasilevski, Josh Tonna and Josh Beare were all influential in the win, while Matthew Ferraro was dominant up forward and snagged four goals.
Banyule came agonisingly close to handing Eltham its first loss of the year. Trailing by 25 points at half time, Pete Davey’s side hit the front in the last quarter, before a goal to Tom Rogers on the final siren handed the Panthers a one-point win.
While the close defeat will be tough to swallow, Banyule has been the side that has given the league-ladder the most trouble this season. The two outings between the sides have been determined by a combined total of just 20 points.
Banyule skipper Scott Gumbleton was named in his side’s best two players for the fourth-consecutive week, while Adam Barclay and James Kroussoratis were the only multiple goal kickers with two goals apiece.
Watsonia continues its search for its maiden win in season 2018 when it hosts Lower Plenty at A.K. Lines Reserve.
The Saints were so close to breaking their drought in last weekend’s clash against Fitzroy Stars, with Sam Peet’s long range set shot after the final siren falling just metres short in the two-point defeat.
Watsonia’s 13.14 (92) was its highest total for the season, however it wasn’t enough in a see-sawing battle, where no more than eight points separated the sides at the end of any quarter.
Peet, Graeme Hines and Jesse Hawkes were named amongst the best on ground for the Saints, whilst Jeremy Bennett bagged three goals in his second appearance for the season.
Lower Plenty ended a two-game losing streak, with a strong second half helping secure a 34-point win over Epping. The win helped Lower extend its hold on second place to two games over Thomastown and Diamond Creek.
After being jumped early by the Blues, Lower Plenty was able to settle and led by four points at half time, before piling on nine goals to four in the second half to run away with its first win since Round 7.
Darcy Barden was enormous with 41 disposals and two goals. Ben Paterson and Corey Porter also stepped up to lead the Lower charge, as did Tom Keys and Ned Waters who each kicked three goals.
Diamond Creek will be desperate to get back on the winners’ list when it hosts Epping at Coventry Oval. The Creekers will start favourites, but Epping has proven a handful for top sides this year.
The Creekers slipped to fourth after suffering their first loss since Round 6, and are suddenly looking vulnerable having played one more game than fellow finals hopefuls Thomastown and Banyule
After a blistering start, which saw them kick four goals within the first seven minutes, Diamond Creek could only manage six more majors for the match, with the absence of
leading goal kicker Jess Cosaitis being felt, with many scoring chances going begging.
Ty Franks, Jai Norman and Josh Marchbank were named as the best for the Creekers as their side fell to its second loss to Thomastown for the season.
Epping produced another strong showing against a premiership contender and made Lower Plenty work hard right throughout the day in the 34-point result at Epping Recreation Reserve.
Alec Buchan was named among the Blues best players for the seventh time in 10 matches and would be a leading contender for the club’s best and fairest. Damon Marcon booted another four goals and sits third on the goal kicking table with 26 for the season.
Eltham and Fitzroy Stars clash at Eltham Central Park in the round’s final matchup, with both sides fresh off nail-biting wins.
Without a host of star players, including Tim and Paul Currie, Lewis Glasgow and Matthew Keys, Eltham had its biggest scare of the season in the one-point win over Banyule.
Tom Rogers’ buzz-beater was one of only three goals for the Panthers in the second half, as they escaped for their 11th win on the trot after leading by as much as 25 points at the main break.
Brendan O’Sullivan, Darcy Vallance and Brent Macaffer had strong outings at R.J. Brockwell Oval, as did Michael Still who made it 23 goals for the season with his bag of four majors.
The Panthers will be even more undermanned this week, with star midfielder Anton Woods set to represent Vic Metro in its Community Cup clash against Vic Country, while Bradyn Taglieri will be sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained during last week’s win.
The Stars moved two games clear of the bottom of the table with a thrilling two-point win over Watsonia at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval. It was the club’s second close win of the year, after downing Epping by one point in Round 4.
It was an inaccurate start by the Stars, who booted 3.11 in the first half to trail by eight points. However, they made the most of their chances in the second half, booting 10 goals from 15 scoring shots.
Keith Morgan, Steven Stallion and Roger Morris led the way in the triumph, whilst John Hayes was also instrumental and kicked more than three goals for the fifth time in six weeks. His four-goal haul extended his season tally to 21.