The top-four sides play each other in a critical Round 12 in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2.
Banyule hosts Diamond Creek in an all-important encounter at R.J. Brockwell Oval and both sides come off important wins last weekend.
Banyule put the disappointment of its after-the-siren loss to Eltham behind it by dismantling Thomastown at Main Street Reserve to the tune of 55 points.
Pete Davey’s side was never troubled throughout the match, producing its second-highest first-half score to move back inside the top-four for the first time since Round 7.
Riley Loton, Mannon Johnston, Adam Barclay and Daniel Camilleri were dominant in the vital win, while James Kroussoratis, Michael Italia, Bailey Jordan and Barclay all kicked two goals.
Diamond Creek found the going tougher but was able to grind out a hard-fought nine-point win over Epping at Coventry Oval to move back into third place.
With scores level at half time, the Creekers edged to a seven-point advantage at the final break. Epping had more scoring opportunities in the last quarter, but its inaccuracy cost it dearly as the Creekers held on for their seventh win.
Reigning best and fairest Jacob Booth was unstoppable with seven goals, while Matt Smith worked tirelessly in the ruck in the absence of Josh Marchbank.
Diamond Creek was a comfortable winner in its last meeting with Banyule, kicking 14 goals to four in the opening three quarters to set-up a 49-point triumph.
Lower Plenty tackles Eltham in the season’s second encounter between the top-two sides.
Lower had quite the scare in its trip to Watsonia after incurring a 24-point half-time deficit to the last-placed Saints. The Bears were able to cut the margin to 13 points at three-quarter time, before producing their best fourth quarter of the season to beat the Saints by 33 points.
The return of ruckman Patrick Flynn was a key to Lower’s final quarter rival, whilst the performances of Darcy Barden and Corey Sleep were also telling.
Tom Keys was again able to have an impact on the scoreboard. He led the goal kickers with three, bringing his season tally to 24 goals and ensuring he remains in touch with the competition’s leaders.
Eltham kept to the status quo, keeping its unbeaten record intact with a 104-point win over Fitzroy Stars, even without Anton Woods, Bradyn Taglieri, Lewis Galsgow, Paul and Tim Currie and Brandon Freeman.
The Panthers were inaccurate early, kicking 3.14 in the first quarter to hold a 24-point advantage at the first break. They straightened after quarter time and booted 16 goals from 24 scoring shots thereafter.
Brent Macaffer again led the way, while Tom Rogers and Bronson Glasgow featured among the best again, as did Darcy Vallance. Michael Still kicked five goals to move into third position on the goal kicker ladder.
Lower led during the opening half of the pair’s last meeting in Round 8, before Brent Macaffer inspired the Panthers to 36-point triumph with a dominant second half.
Epping and Watsonia lock horns at Epping Recreation Reserve, with Blues defender Peter McMahon set to play his 250th game for the club. Both sides will be desperate to respond after letting slip opportunities to score massive upsets last week.
Epping stayed with Diamond Creek for its entire Round 11 clash. The Blues had more scoring shots, but an inability to take its chances, particularly in the last quarter, cost the club an upset win at Coventry Oval.
Jordan Wilkins, Paul Dempsey and Lucas Aquilina were pivotal in ensuring the Blues kept with the Creekers throughout the day, while Chris Chilcott was their leading goal kicker with four.
Watsonia ran out of gas last week to fall short of producing its maiden win of 2018. The Saints led for most of the day, but couldn’t hold off Lower in the final term, as the visitors piled on 8.5 to 1.1 for the quarter. It was a similar tale when the sides met in Round 2.
Daniel Watson and Jonah Taylor each snagged three goals for Watsonia, while the performances of Matthew Crompton, Lachlan Sinclair and Clark Sloan were superb in the difficult loss.
Fitzroy Stars and Thomastown meet for the NAIDOC Cup at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval.
With Hayden Heta and Steven Stallion sidelined, the Stars were simply outclassed by Eltham last week, trailing the entire day on their way to a heavy defeat at Eltham Central Park.
Shawn Wilkey, Domenic Cutrupi and Clinton Benjamin did their best on a tough day, however their side was never truly in the contest. Sam Billinge was the only multiple goal kicker for the Stars, booting two of their four majors.
Thomastown was disappointing when it hosted Banyule, trailing all day in the 55-point defeat. It was a big letdown after such a positive performance against Diamond Creek the week prior.
The usual suspects in Matthew Vasilevski, Adrian Natoli and Anthony Capeci were again able to have an impact, but they had little support in what was otherwise a day to forget for their side.
The loss saw Thomastown slip from third place to fifth, trailing both Diamond Creek and Banyule on percentage.