A look ahead to Round 12 in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
The fight for fourth spot looks like it might go right down to the wire after results in Round 11. The round was played in tough conditions – with strong winds and heavy rain making scoring difficult. For the first time this season, no team managed to top the ton.
Mernda was sitting at 1-5 after Round 6 but has hit its straps recently and finds itself on the brink of the top-four after a thrilling one-point win over South Morang at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.
The Demons jumped the Lions in the first term to lead 3.0 to 0.2 but South Morang clawed its way back to make it a nip and tuck affair for the last half.
Tyson Sparkes was a livewire for Mernda and finished off his best on ground performance with two goals. Andrew Marino also bagged two. Tye Hall and Luke Shelton were best for South Morang and each hit the scoreboard.
Kilmore has all but sewn up its first finals berth in the NFNL with an impressive win over Heidelberg West at Heidelberg Park. The Blues won every quarter – pulling away to win by 47 points.
Leigh Irons relished the conditions and excelled as an inside midfielder for the Blues. Chris Ryall continues to impress and booted two majors. Scott Swindells booted three goals on a day not suited for marking forwards.
“We had 22 solid contributors which helped us to have such a good win on a pretty ordinary day,” Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips said. “We have the bye now and then look forward to playing Laurimar at home.”
That clash at J. J. Clancy Reserve next week will be a mouth-watering encounter, with both teams currently on long winning runs. The Blues have now surpassed their 2018 season tally of seven wins and have been hard to beat at home this season.
Oliver Welsh and Stuart Guthrie performed admirably for Heidelberg West, despite their side suffering a fifth-straight defeat.
“I thought we played pretty tough and our effort was up,” Heidelberg West coach Cam Van Florestein said. “But we didn’t have a bench after half time and that hurt our rotations. It’s a long year and we have to grab our moments when they come.”
Old Eltham Collegians showed no rustiness coming off the bye when hosting Reservoir at Eltham College. The Turtles romped to a 5.8 to 0.2 half time lead.
It looked like being a dirty day for the Mustangs, but they played a great third term – kicking four goals to one to give themselves a faint hope. However, the home team did enough to keep Reservoir at bay thereafter to record a 36-point win and notch its second win for the year.
“I was really happy with how the boys applied themselves and hunted the ball,” Old Eltham Collegians coach John Garrard said. “We let Reservoir back into the game but, to our credit, we refocused and got the job done.”
Nick Snowdon returned for the Turtles and had a great game, kicking two goals. Corey Ray and Kieran Malone also impressed, while Cody Johnstone played his best game for the club.
Reservoir was best served by Ben Mowlam and Sam McDowell, while the Mustangs four goals were shared by four different players.
Lalor journeyed to Laurimar Reserve to take on Laurimar. The Power controlled the game throughout and scored a strong 77-point win.
They had no fewer than five multiple goal kickers – with each of Mitch Golby, Jacson Cecil, Dallas King, Josh Leather and coach Justin Sherman all booting two. Under-19 players Ethan Frawley and William Jacovou both put in solid performances in the win.
“Great win – our best four quarter performance for the year,” Power coach Justin Sherman said.
Daniel Langborne and Lachlan Evans were best for Lalor.
“The boys gave great effort but, in the end, the difference was polish,” Lalor coach Gary Cutler said. “We had 12 from our best 18 not playing but we fought hard all day.”
The win keeps Laurimar two games clear on top. Kilmore’s win moves it into second spot – with Panton Hill having the bye and being a win behind the Blues with a game in hand.
South Morang is in fourth spot – six points behind Panton Hill, but with Mernda and Heidelberg West a mere two points adrift.
Old Eltham Collegians now has a game and a half break on Lalor, with Reservoir a further game back.
The four points will be vital in Round 12 as teams get close to the business end of the season.
Heidelberg West has lost five on the trot and faces a must-win game against Reservoir at Heidelberg Park.
Just getting a win will be a huge relief for the Hawks if they can do it. Based on ladder positions, they will be strongly fancied to do so.
The Mustangs have shown patches of good form recently and would see this game as a chance to record an upset win. They would need to improve on their Round 2 loss to the Hawks at Crispe Park to the tune of 68 points, but the gap might have closed between the teams since then.
South Morang will retain fourth spot if it can overcome Lalor at Lalor Reserve.
The Lions would be favoured based on recent form, but the Round 6 encounter between these teams at Mill Park Lakes Reserve was a thriller – with South Morang prevailing by a solitary goal. Both Lion Alex Colaidis and Sam Rexhepi of the Bloods booted four that day and an interesting clash awaits this time.
The Lions cannot afford to drop this one with some difficult games upcoming, while Lalor would love to take some momentum to the bye after a long run of outs.
Laurimar has back-to-back home games at Laurimar Reserve with a match against Old Eltham Collegians.
A win will see the Power three games clear of the second placed team, but with both second and third teams having a game in hand.
Laurimar would be confident of remaining unbeaten after defeating Old Eltham Collegians at Eltham College in Round 5 by 56 points when Dallas King kicked six goals.
But the Turtles have pushed higher ranked teams at times and loom as a danger match-up for any team aiming to play finals in 2019.
Mernda is on a four-game winning streak and faces third-placed Panton Hill in the match of the day at Waterview Recreation Reserve.
The Redbacks had a win of sorts last weekend – virtue of their Round 11 bye as other teams slogged it out in heavy conditions. And with Kilmore having the Round 12 bye, the Redbacks will regain second place if they win due to their superior percentage.
The Demons are on a roll now and will go into the game with some confidence as they hunt their first finals appearance since reaching the Division 2 preliminary final in 2014.
Their last loss was against the Redbacks in Round 6 at A. E. Cracknell Reserve to the tune of 54 points. Rhys Boyden booted seven in that contest. Given its improvement since then, Mernda should be given some chance of causing an upset on its home ground.