Round 9 looks set to be a cracking round, headlined by a match between the second and fourth-placed sides.
North Heidelberg takes on Lower Plenty at Shelley Reserve in a big game for both sides’ top-two chances.
The Bulldogs are coming off one the most entertaining games of the season, following a draw against the Fitzroy Stars. Leading by 30 points during the third term, the Bulldogs conceded seven of the final 10 goals to tie with the Stars.
Shane Harvey was in red-hot firm in his return from a foot injury and finished with eight goals, while Nick Matthews, Brent Harvey, Andre Habchi and Mitch Dillon were also among the Bulldogs’ best in the thriller.
Stephen Saddington’s side will take on a Lower Plenty team coming off the biggest win of the season. The Bears kicked 33 goals and had 57 scoring shots to overpower a heavily undermanned Panton Hill by 197 points.
Competition leading goal kicker Darcy Barden booted 10 majors, having now kicked 21 goals in the past three games, while Mark Favrin kicked five goals for the second-consecutive week. Jordan Sacco, Sam Paterson and Tom Keys were among the Bears’ best performers.
This will be the second encounter between these sides this year, following the Round 3 clash which the Bulldogs won by 47 points. In that game, Shane Harvey booted seven goals, while brother Brent was dominant in a best on ground performance.
Diamond Creek returned to the top of the ladder following an 84-point victory over Lalor and now hosts Thomastown at Coventry Oval.
The Demons held Lalor scoreless in the first quarter and looked on track to keep the Bloods goalless for the second time this season, before conceding in the second term. Jess Cosaitis bagged five goals, while Hugh Kavanagh, Josh Lorey and Tyler Barnes had superb games.
After eight rounds the Demons have the best defensive record of any ladder-leading team in Division 2 for the past five seasons. North Heidelberg’s 491 points conceded after eight rounds in 2014 is the closest to the Demons’ current tally of 397 points.
Thomastown will this week try to break through the resilient Demons defence. The Bears are still within percentage of the top-four, following their 25-point victory over Watsonia in Round 8.
David Folino and Joseph Vacccaro were instrumental in their side’s fifth win of the season, while Jacob Osei-Duro kicked four goals, and Daniel and Robert Chadwick combined for five.
The Bears proved once again they are the best performed side outside the top-four, but do need to take big scalps if they want to play finals this season. Unfortunately, they will be without star ball winner Matthew Cupo going forward.
The Fitzroy Stars travel to Watsonia for the second time this season. The Stars will have fond memories of A.K. Lines Reserve following a 94-point victory at the venue in Round 3.
The Stars produced a stunning second-half comeback last week to draw with North Heidelberg, doing so with key players Clint Edwards and Lionel Proctor both on the bench with injuries after the main break.
Vaasili Tuifao was again a pillar in attack, booting five goals and was supported by John Hayes, who booted four majors in his best game of the season. Kain Proctor and Max Maynard were also strong performers.
A victory this week would likely see the Stars remain in third position but a defeat could see them drop out of the top-four, with Lower Plenty and Thomastown hot on their tail.
Watsonia will hope to end its four-game losing streak after last week competing admirably against Thomastown. The Saints had just as much of the play as their host, but were unable to match the Bears’ efficiency going forward.
Jamie Haber and Kelby White each produced season-best performances, while Adrian Alfonsi kicked multiple goals for the fifth time this season to take his tally to 16 majors.
The bottom two sides meet at Lalor Reserve when Lalor hosts Panton Hill in a vital game for both teams.
The two will be desperate for a win to help kick-start an improved run of form heading with players returning from injury in the second half of the season.
A victory for the Bloods could see them move equal on points with Watsonia depending on the Saints result, while a victory for Panton Hill would be its first for the season and give the players confidence they can avoid the wooden spoon.
These sides met in Round 3 and in that match it was the Bloods who came out victorious at Cracknell Reserve after a fast start.
Jhye Baddeley-Kelly was superb, while Nick Sandy and Harley Nancarrow combined for nine goals to guide the Bloods’ to a 28-point victory.