A look ahead to Round 17 in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
With just two rounds to go before finals time, results on in Round 16 kept the race for fourth spot open.
Mernda, fresh off a great win against Kilmore at J. J. Clancy Reserve, went in as hot favourites to defeat Lalor at Waterview Recreation Reserve.
But the game went right down to the wire – with the Demons prevailing by a solitary point after the scores were level at the 27-minute mark.
“We didn’t deserve to win, but we found a way,” a relieved Mernda coach Paul Derrick said. “The ball is in our court now – if we keep winning, we will play finals.”
Michael Aparo was best down back – ably assisted by Brad Colliss at half back. Aaron Colliss was exceptional across half forward – being the link man and also finishing off with two majors himself. Anthony Bradford got plenty of it in the midfield.
Sadly for the Bloods, they missed a chance to claim a late season scalp. Lachlan Evans was named best, while Hirsi Twomey in the ruck did well and Demetrios Constantinou continued his stellar season.
The battle of the heavyweights took place at Laurimar Reserve where Panton Hill was far too good for Laurimar and drew away to win by 36 points in an entertaining game.
A highlight of the game was the forward work of Redbacks leading goal kicker Rhys Boyden, who took some good contested marks and kicked seven majors. At the other end, Brent Ryan repelled numerous Power attacks.
Laurimar’s Jacson Cecil booted five goals and was supported by 16-year-old Ethan Frawley with two. Frawley also did some good work further down the field.
The match was a preview of the second semi-final and possibly of the grand final two weeks later. Panton Hill made a good case to be the one to win the flag this year, but it does have injuries to deal with in the interim.
Scott Conte, Matthew Fowler and Matthew Byron (coincidentally – numbers 6, 7 and 8) were all injured on the day. Laurimar also played the last term three men down – with Bryce Kotas, Bradley Deed and Dallas King all suffering injuries.
Kilmore hosted Heidelberg West at J.J. Clancy Reserve and just needed a win to finally lock away a finals berth – their first in any league since 2002. But the Blues had been in a flat spot since the bye with three losses on the trot.
The trend looked like continuing when they trailed the Hawks at quarter time, but a dominant 7.10 to 1.0 second term righted the ship and Kilmore went on to win by 65 points.
“It was good to bounce back with a reasonably convincing win,” Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips said. “And it was good to get back our good form leading into the finals.”
Adam Milne played his best game for the season across half back. Shane Skidmore kicked three goals and had a hand in others as well. Matt Swindells impressed through the midfield, while 23rd man Kye Maher put his body on the line and did well in his debut.
“Our boys fought all day and showed great heart,” Heidelberg West coach Cam Van Florestein said. “Ben Fogarty was best for us and Jack Marris was good up forward.”
Kyl Ewart suffered a broken nose and has now played his last game in an outstanding career. The Hawks had no bench after half time, but on a positive note, they won the clash of the top two teams in the reserves earlier in the day to clinch top spot come finals time.
Kilmore won 104 to 39 and the exact totals were recorded at Eltham College where Old Eltham Collegians scored an impressive 65-point win over South Morang.
The Turtles caused a minor upset and did the damage in the first term – as they did the week prior at Lalor – with a blistering 7.3 to 1.1 start. The Lions reduced the deficit slightly by half time, but a four-goal to nil third term wrapped it up for Old Eltham Collegians in its best win for the year.
“The development of our team is really coming together well,” Old Eltham Collegians coach John Garrard said. “Every game now is building towards 2020 and wins like this will strengthen us as a club that can continue to attract new players, sponsors and supporters.”
Two 17-year-olds in Nick Green and Soul Suzuki debuted for the Turtles and each kicked a goal. Kieran Malone kicked four to take his total to 26, while Nick Snowdon and Tom O’Neill showed great leadership.
“They got off to a flyer, set up well behind the ball and we never looked like getting into the game,” South Morang coach Gary Hall said.
Luke Shelton booted two majors and was best for the Lions, while Tye Hall continued his good season.
The loss puts South Morang just half a win ahead of Mernda. The Lions go to the bye, so will have to follow the scores to see if they remain in the top-four at the end of Round 17.
Laurimar remains on top – a win ahead of Panton Hill, with Kilmore three games further back. South Morang is half a game behind the Blues.
Behind Mernda, Heidelberg West is clinging on to sixth spot – half a win ahead of a fast-finishing Old Eltham Collegians. Lalor and Reservoir remain in the bottom-two places.
Mernda hosts Laurimar at Waterview Recreation Reserve to kick off Round 17 with the knowledge that it will be in the top-four if it can win.
Although ladder positions suggest that the Power should win comfortably, their last encounter went down to the wire – with the Power winning by just four points at Laurimar Reserve in Round 3.
Laurimar may look like making some forced changes to the team after suffering injuries against Panton Hill. The Power would be keen to get straight back on the winners’ list after their first defeat for the year last week and it should be an enticing contest.
Reservoir comes off the bye to host Old Eltham Collegians at Crispe Park. It will be the final venue to visit for the Turtles and they will arrive full of confidence after completing back-to-back wins.
The Mustangs are still seeking their first win and will be sure to give it their all in their last home game for the year. Although Reservoir looks unlikely to prevail, they did test the Turtles in Round 11 at Eltham College – eventually going down by 36 points.
Heidelberg West journeys to Lalor Reserve to take on Lalor. Although this game has no bearing on the finals race, it is a most interesting game nonetheless.
Heidelberg West’s season finishes this week as it has the Round 18 bye. The Hawks’ finals hope evaporated with a quartet of losses – first to Old Eltham Collegians and then to the three top sides. But they can finish the season on a high note with a win over the Bloods and, in doing so, keep ahead of the Turtles for at least another week.
Lalor went within a whisker of beating a higher-placed team last week and would see this as their best chance to grab their third win of the season. The Bloods would need to play better than in Round 4, when they lost to the Hawks at Heidelberg Park by 99 points
Kilmore travels to A.E. Cracknell Reserve to play Panton Hill.
The Redbacks looked terrific last week and their win 100 percent locked up the double chance, so this game will be about preparation for finals action for both teams. As for Laurimar, Panton Hill may need to make changes to their team.
The Redbacks will also remember the 35-point defeat at the hands of the Blues back in Round 8 at J. J. Clancy Reserve, when they were restricted to just three goals for the match.
Kilmore should go in with renewed confidence after snapping a three-game losing streak last weekend. A win would be a handy psychological boost for either team given that they may meet in the upcoming finals series.