The last month of the A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 season will serve as an early finals series for three teams trying to sneak into the last two spots inside the top-four.
With Eltham and Lower Plenty all but locking in the top-two spots on the ladder, very little continues to separate Banyule, Diamond Creek and Thomastown – who all take 8-6 records into Round 15, making four a riveting final four rounds.
Watsonia hosts Thomastown at A.K Lines Reserve as the Saints aim to end their winless streak for season 2018. Thomastown is fully aware it cannot afford a slip-up as it searches for its first finals appearance in second division since 2008.
The Saints suffered their fifth loss in excess of 80 points in their clash against Diamond Creek last weekend, falling by 82 points, despite the best efforts of Ben Sutherland, Jamie Ozimek and Daniel Gervasoni.
They Saints were relatively competitive during the opening three quarters but couldn’t maintain their intensity in the final term – where the home side piled on seven goals to one to gain much-needed percentage.
Thomastown suffered an agonising defeat to ladder-leader Eltham, falling by one point. The Bears booted the opening three goals, before rallying from five goals down midway in the third term with seven of the final eight goals.
Matthew Vasilevski, James Rizzolio and Christian Toppi led the way in a gallant defeat, while Jacob Osei-Duro was the only multiple goal kicker with two goals.
Despite not getting the desired result, Thomastown is sure to have taken plenty of confidence out of the game. Currently in fifth place – the Bears take on two sides inside and outside the top-four in the final month.
Diamond Creek will be looking for its second-consecutive win over Lower Plenty when the sides meet at Coventry Oval. The Creekers came from behind to win by nine points in their most recent encounter.
Diamond Creek led from start to finish against Watsonia, with their cause aided by four-goal hauls from Tyler Barnes and Ryan Pingree. Oliver Parks and Josh Marchbank were also dominant. The result moved them back into fourth place – 0.62 percent above Thomastown.
Lower Plenty was similarly successful in Round 14, running away in the final term to record a 55-point win over Banyule.
A close game throughout, Lower kicked seven goals in the final term, including the final six of the game to put an end to Banyule’s three-game win streak. The win all but secured a double-chance in the finals – sitting three games and percentage above the chasing pack.
Lower’s big men were in ripping form. Thomas Blake and Darcy Barden both snared five goals and were joined among the best players by Tom Keys and Patrick Flynn.
Banyule will be looking to bounce back when it hosts Epping at R.J. Brockwell Oval. The home side will certainly need to be at its best against a dangerous Blues outfit – with the sides sharing a win apiece in their 2018 outings.
Banyule’s three-game winning run came to a grinding halt against Lower Plenty, with limited rotations in the final quarter seeing Pete Davey’s side run out of gas in the final 10 minutes. Despite the heavy loss, they still retained third place.
Bailey Jordan continued his superb form, kicking four goals to make it 13 in his past three games. James Kroussoratis was also lively around the ground, kicking multiple goals for the 13th game in succession. Jacob Smith also played exceptionally well.
Epping looms as a major threat to top-four hopefuls in the run home and heads into the last month in fine form after last week making light work of the Fitzroy Stars at Epping Recreation Reserve.
The Blues kicked nine goals to one in the first quarter and never looked back in the 126-point thrashing, recording their highest score of the season in each quarter, finishing with a season-high total of 30.13 (193).
Dallyce Taylor made it ten goals in two weeks with a game-high six majors, whilst the performances of Jordan Wilkins, Reid Staples and Lucas Aquilina ensured the Blues claimed their fifth win of the year.
Fitzroy Stars will be looking to be more competitive when they host unbeaten Eltham at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval. It will be the Panthers first trip to the venue.
Hedley Smith, Jye Karpany and Benny Stallion all battled hard for the undermanned Stars last week, while John Hayes booted three goals.
Eltham kept its unbeaten intact by the tightest of margins against Thomastown – the Panthers’ second one-point win of the season. It was Tom Rogers who kicked the winning behind, just five weeks after kicking a goal on the siren in the one-point win at Banyule.
Inaccuracy almost cost the Panthers the game, recording a whopping 11 more scoring shots than their opponents, but finishing with a wayward 8.23 (71).
Brandon Freeman was the only multiple goal kicker for the Panthers with two goals, as the performances from usual suspects Tom Rogers, Brent Macaffer and Jesse Freeman ensured the Panthers remained unbeaten.