The final round of the 2022 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 home and away season will be an important opportunity for the top four sides to tune up ahead of a highly anticipated finals series.
With percentage breaks between teams ranked two through to five being too great, the finals combatants are now totally locked in. South Morang will match up with Laurimar the second semi-final, while Old Eltham Collegians and Kilmore will play in the first semi-final.
In a weekend which provided plenty of entertainment for fans, all four games last week were up for grabs at three quarter time.
Games between Kilmore and Old Eltham Collegians have gone down to the wire this season and last Saturday’s match at J.J. Clancy Reserve was no exception.
The Blues led in the final minute, but a 50-metre penalty took Nicholas Milne to the line, and he goaled to put his team up by a solitary point, the siren blew almost immediately to give the Turtles the four points.
With that result, Old Eltham Collegians have now beaten every team at least once this season. The come from behind win brought back happy memories for Turtles fans, of Tim Woods kicking a goal after the siren in 2021 at Eltham College to defeat Kilmore.
The victory will be a major confidence booster for Matthew Sleeman’s side after a sizeable loss to South Morang a week earlier. Timothy Ellis returned after a significant injury lay-off and was immediately back to his best while similarly, Matthew Quinton was a welcome inclusion and contributed strongly.
Although Kilmore fans will rue the last-minute loss, it doesn’t adversely affect the team’s finals schedule.
“Looking forward to two weeks’ time when we play the Turtles in the finals, we’ll tweak a few things that we didn’t do right and, hopefully, atone for this loss,” said Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips.
Chris Barton did plenty of hard running to assist the Blues, while Kieran Moran was outstanding in defence.
Lalor made the trip to Crispe Park to play Reservoir in the hope of securing a maiden victory for 2022. The Bloods began well with the first two majors, but the Mustangs eventually gained control to secure a 24-point triumph.
Heidelberg West won back the Les Butterworth Cup with a come from behind 23-point victory over Mernda at Heidelberg Park. The Demons were in control at the main break with a 27-point buffer but were overrun in the second half.
The win takes the Hawks to a win outside the top four, but a hefty percentage deficit means finals are out of reach.
Brothers Marcus and Louis Hill starred for the home team along with Brad Moore.
“We’ve won nine games, which is our best result in division 3, we think we’re heading in the right direction and want to play finals in 2023,” said Heidelberg West coach Michael Missen.
The ever-reliable Gus Mills was best for Mernda, who will finish the season in sixth spot on the table.
“We stuck to instructions in the first half and did well,” said Jarrod King, who was coach for the day.
“But the Hawks got momentum after that, and we couldn’t stop them.”
Laurimar took on South Morang at Mill Park Lakes Reserve in a preview of the second semi-final. The game was tight early but the Lions drew away to win by 21 points.
Bailey Brown continued his good form in the centre, while Ben Power and Reece Jones led a solid defence.
“The boys are battle-hardened and ready for finals,” said South Morang coach Gary Hall.
Kaiden Arthur stood out for the Power, while seasoned campaigners Jake Richards and Luke Wilson performed admirably.
“We made some mistakes throughout the game which cost us, but the contested footy work was better than when we played them previously and I’m proud of the boys for that,” said Laurimar coach Jimmy Atkins.
Round 18 action gives four teams a chance to prepare for finals, while those out of the finals hunt will look to finish their seasons on a positive note. In each game the finalist is the home team playing a team in the bottom four.
Lalor ends its season with a journey to Laurimar Reserve to take on the Power. While the Bloods last weekend missed a good chance to open their account in 2022, they can aim to better their previous result at this venue back in Round 13 where the Power prevailed by 207 points.
Given the general upward trend in the second half of the season, the aim would be to avoid another 200 plus point defeat at the very least.
However, the margin won’t be a primary focus for the home team. Laurimar will want to bounce back from last week’s defeat and set themselves up well for the upcoming finals series. The Power would be likely to regain top spot if they win and Mernda upsets South Morang.
Mill Park Lakes Reserve will host the South Morang vs Mernda clash, with the Lions aiming for eleven straight wins heading into the finals series. After hitting a flat spot prior to the bye due to player availability, the Lions have won every game since by 23 points or more and would be hot favourites to continue the winning streak.
The Demons would be looking for a strong end to the season as a promising performance to end the 2022 campaign would give hope that the team can build on wins such as their upset 25-point win over Kilmore in Round 7.
The battle between Old Eltham Collegians and Heidelberg West at Eltham College is an intriguing match-up.
The score is 1-1 for the season between these two teams. The Turtles won a thriller by a solitary behind in round 3 at Heidelberg Park before the Hawks prevailed in the return match at Eltham College by 24 points in round 10.
A Hawks victory would see them end the season with three consecutive wins with the week before the streak being a competitive defeat to the ladder leaders.
Old Eltham Collegians would be looking for a strong performance to take momentum into the first semi-final the following week. As well as backing up the win over Kilmore the previous week, the Turtles would like a bit more stability in their team as they have had multiple forced changes for many of the rounds since the bye.
This game is a tough one for tipsters and should be a great spectacle as well as a good lead-in game to the final series.