Round 7 of A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 is headlined by a top-of-the table clash, with the competition’s two Bears vying for top spot on the ladder.
While all other games this weekend could have major implications at the lower end of the top-four, there is no doubt the pick of the matches takes place at Beverley Rd Oval between Banyule and Thomastown.
Banyule has been the dominant side across the opening third of the season and this weekend’s match could provide an insight into how big a gap the club has put between itself and the rest of the competition.
Both sides enter the game on the back of five-consecutive wins, with Banyule’s average winning margin during this period a whopping 73 points. Thomastown has been convincing in its victories, although its average winning margin is significantly less, at 38 points.
The next month provides a great test for Ben Chapman’s side and will give an insight as to how far they have come this year, following last year’s finals appearance. Following this week’s match, the Bears take on fellow finals contenders Eltham and Whittlesea
Banyule maintained its unbeaten start to the season last weekend with a comprehensive 88-point win over Diamond Creek. The ladder-leader opened a 36-point advantage at quarter-time and never looked back, piling on 22 goals to record their second 140+ score of the year.
Mannon Johnston and Jack Langford were prolific with five goals apiece, while Brent Stanton was at his outstanding best. The former Essendon star now sits atop the Coaches MVP voting with 35 votes, while Langford also features in the top-five vote winners.
Thomastown found the going a little tougher in its match against Epping but was still able to keep its winning streak alive with a 26-point triumph at Main Street Recreation Reserve.
The Bears led by 20 points at quarter time and stretched the advantage to 36 by the last change, before being pegged back by the visitors in the last term.
Shannon Ball was best and finished with a four-goal haul, while Josh Beare, Lukas Fellows and Adrian Natoli were also named in the best to help their side remain one game clear inside the top-two.
Diamond Creek hosts St Mary’s at Coventry Oval where the home side must win to stay in touch with the top-four, while the visitors will be out to make it two wins on the trot.
Diamond Creek suffered its third loss in a row in its heavy defeat at Banyule and has now slipped to sixth spot on the ladder – a game and 34 percent behind fourth-placed Whittlesea.
The game started off badly for the Creekers, coughing up 44 points in the first term – the most they have concede in any quarter this season. They weren’t able to stop Banyule’s dominance thereafter and suffered their biggest loss of the campaign.
Jacob Booth was again a shining light despite the final result and finished with four of the Creekers’ eight goals, while Nicholas Kitchell and Tyler Barnes also did their best against rampant opposition.
The Creekers will be desperate to get their season back on track this week and have winnable matches either side of the Queen’s Birthday weekend, with matches against fellow bottom-half sides St Mary’s and Watsonia.
St Mary’s returns to action after sitting out the past two weeks with both the competition break and then the bye but will be hoping to emulate its performance from Round 5 when it recorded a 31-point win over Epping.
The Burra led by just six points at half-time but set their win up in the third term when they piled on five goals to one to set up an historic first ever win in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2.
Rhys Rigoni, Daniel Castagnini and Chris Petroro were the Burra’s best in a win that moved their side off the bottom of the ladder, while Myles Guldon led the scoring with three majors.
The club has shown significant improvement across its past two matches and must take plenty of confidence into this week’s trip to Coventry Oval – particularly given the recent form of their host.
Epping and the Fitzroy Stars will both be looking to build on promising Round 6 performances when they meet at Epping Recreation Reserve.
The Blues may have suffered their fifth loss of the season in their clash with Thomastown last week, but there were plenty of positives to take out of the 26-point defeat to one of the competition’s form sides.
The Blues booted 2.8 to 2.2 with the breeze in the second quarter and could’ve been closer at the main break with straighter kicking at goal, before finishing well in the final term when they outscored the Bears 3.4 to 2.0
Leigh Judd continued his outstanding form and had good support from the likes of Michael Sibaie, Adam Rose and Thomas Burnside, while Sage Dicello was lively and booted two goals.
Fitzroy Stars enters this week’s game in good touch after bouncing back from the Round 5 defeat to Banyule with a much-needed 31-point win over Whittlesea.
Trailing by two points at half time, the Stars produced their best football of the year in the third quarter when they broke the game open with seven goals to one to take a 34-point advantage into three quarter time.
Josh Saveka and Lionel Proctor made welcome returns after missing the loss to Banyule and were among the best players, along with Cameron Hall. The goals were shared, with four players kicking multiple goals.
Now sitting in fifth place on the ladder, Fitzroy has won games over premiership fancies Eltham and Whittlesea and would have all sides currently inside the top-four looking over their shoulder.
Whittlesea will be looking to bounce back when it hosts Watsonia at Whittlesea Showgrounds.
The Eagles suddenly look vulnerable inside the top-four, having lost their two of their past three matches. The win in between came against St Mary’s on a day when the Burra kicked 6.21 and had more scoring shots in a 28-point result.
Paul Higgins and Xavier Dimasi continued their great form despite the defeat at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval, while Nicholas Pupillo was the only multiple goal scorer with two majors and played another good game after working his way up from the reserves.
After winning their opening two matches of the season, the Saints suffered their third and biggest loss on the weekend, falling to Eltham by 96 points at Eltham Central Park.
The Saints were within three goals at the main break, but then couldn’t contain the Panthers in the second half – conceding 16 of the last 20 goals to slip to seventh place on the ladder.
Daniel Watson tried his absolute best and continued his early-season purple patch, Xavier Kelly played his best game since returning to the club, while Adrian Alfonsi booted three goals.
This week’s game marks the Saints first trip to the Whittlesea Showgrounds since winning the 2016 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 grand final, when the Saints downed Epping to claim their first flag since 1987.