With three weeks to go before the mid-season break, the fight for spots in the top four of Heidelberg the Golf Club Division 3 ladder is heating up.
Any of the current four teams could lay claim to the coveted double chance as they prepare for round seven action this weekend.
Kilmore went to the top of the ladder for the first time on the back of a 227 point win over Lalor.
“It was just good to get another good win at home and play our brand of footy for four quarters”, said Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips.
Phillips praised the work of Chris Jackson who used the ball well in the midfield and also went forward to kick four goals.
Regular players among the best in Leigh Irons and Chris Barton excelled, while Bailey Taylor-Egan returned to the side to boot seven majors.
Max Lacorcia kicked his first goal for the club and then added another three, Liam Salter also put four through the big sticks.
Lalor found the going tough against an in-form top team. But Dylan Cawsey again stood out, while Jake Langborne did well in a defence that saw a lot of action. Hayden Muscat rucked well and kicked their only goal.
“We’re looking to reward players who have been performing well in the reserves and on the track,” said Lalor coach Angelo Lamanna.
Heidelberg West rallied from 17 points down at the last change to overrun Mernda at Heidelberg Park. The win salvaged the season for the Hawks and snapped a four-game losing streak.
With games against Reservoir, South Morang and Lalor leading up to the bye, Michael Missen’s men look set to be, at worst, 4-5 by then and this would give them a chance to push for finals later in the season.
Laurimar made it two in a row against South Morang with a 19 point win at Laurimar Reserve. The Power had to withstand two separate challenges from the Lions to gain the result.
Matthew Gersh booted four and was the difference between the two teams.
Old Eltham Collegians had the game well in hand early against Reservoir at Eltham College, but the battle for top spot with Kilmore went down to the wire.
The Turtles fell just short with a percentage of 274.53 compared to 282.20 for the Blues, but regardless, they recorded their highest ever score in the 38.21-249 to 4.1-25 win over the Mustangs.
Matt Keys, Jack Snow and Nick Milne cashed in with eight, seven and five goals respectively in a list of thirteen players on the goal-kicking sheet.
Reservoir kicked their highest score since their round two win over Lalor. Taylor Bryant debuted and booted two majors, while Rob Holland returned to the side and was among the best.
“We had to blood some young players due to injuries and illness at the club,” said Reservoir coach Justin George.
“We played well in periods but were not able to sustain it.”
Round seven is highlighted by the clash between South Morang and Old Eltham Collegians at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.
Had people tipped this game prior to the season, the vast majority would’ve pencilled in the Lions, but recent form would suggest that it’s Turtles who should be tipped.
The challenge for the Lions is to recapture the form that made them appear as certainties for the double chance earlier in the season as they come into this game off the back of consecutive losses for the first time since 2019.
If they don’t regain that form and lose three on the trot, the Lions will likely find themselves inside the top four by just four points as well as being two games behind Old Eltham Collegians.
But a win would see them leap-frog the Turtles, who could drop as far as fourth.
Old Eltham Collegians coach Matt Sleeman is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Lions away from home.
“Previously, it has been us outside the four playing a top four side, but now we get a chance to cement our place on the ladder,” he said.
Their form from the past five weeks suggest that they deserve to be ranked alongside the top teams and, if they can claim an away win over South Morang, a top two spot looks within their grasp. But defeating the top team of 2021 will not be easy.
The only time these teams have met at this ground was in round four, 2019. The game finished as a draw, a result which isn’t out of the realms of possibility again this Saturday.
Lalor hosts Laurimar at Lalor Reserve in a game where the Power will be the hottest of favourites. The Power won at this venue in 2021 by 65-points and would be hoping to emulate the winning margins of Old Eltham Collegians (195-points) and Kilmore (227-points) in the previous two weeks.
The Bloods fans will be hoping to build for the round 8 clash against Reservoir at Crispe Park the following week. It might not show as a win against a powerhouse team such as Laurimar, but a smother, chase, shepherd or selfless bit of play by a Lalor player this week may lead to something more positive the following week.
The Power could potentially grab top spot if they can record a big win.
Heidelberg West travels to Crispe Park to play Reservoir. The Hawks will be full of confidence after that come-from-behind win over Mernda.
Both teams will be building for important matches to come. The Hawks will look to take momentum into their home game against South Morang the following week.
Reservoir would hope a creditable performance against Heidelberg West would lead into a victory over Lalor the following Saturday. Their scoring trend is on the up and Mustang fans will be looking for their second win of the season before the Queen’s Birthday break.
Kilmore will be aiming to consolidate a top two spot when venturing to Waterview Recreation Reserve to take on Mernda.
A top versus sixth match would, at first glance, seem easy to pick. But the Blues were pushed by Heidelberg West two weeks prior at J.J. Clancy Reserve and last week, the Demons led the Hawks until the dying minutes at Heidelberg Park.
Most will tip the ladder leaders to keep their unbeaten road record intact in 2022, but Demons fans will see this as a chance to take a big scalp and to keep their slim finals hopes alive.