South Morang have extended their Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 winning streak to nine after comfortably defeating Old Eltham Collegians by 70 points at Eltham College.
The 15.8 (98) to 3.10 (28) victory all but clinches the double chance for the Lions and moves them two games clear of the Turtles.
For Old Eltham Collegians to claim the double chance now, they would need to win both remaining games, have the loser of next week’s top two clash also lose the last round and then they would require big wins themselves to bridge a percentage gap of almost 50.
The Lions led from the opening bounce and never looked like losing in an emphatic display.
Trailing by 31 points at the first change, the Turtles had a period early in the second term where they had a plethora of opportunities to bridge the gap, but shots at goal either missed or fell short in the heavy conditions.
The Lions then slammed on two goals in quick succession midway through the term courtesy of Ben Peterson and Alex Colaidis. These two were the most productive forwards on the ground and each registered three majors for the day.
With a 33-point buffer at the main break, South Morang had a goal on the board in the first minute of the second half, they won the ball from the first centre bounce and a Jake Potter handball presented Madison Bell with an easy goal. The game was as good as won by that early stage.
Mathew Crooks would’ve been a likely match-up for Nathan Stefanile, but was out injured and as a result, the Lions big man dominated in the ruck and contributed around the ground as well.
Tye Hall was influential early when the contest was up for grabs and finished the game full of running. He also kicked two goals.
The visitors’ defence was led well by Reece Jones, while Bailey Brown and Matthew Trim regularly fed the ball forward. The Lions controlled the corridor meaning the Turtles had to go wide when attacking which made scoring difficult.
“The players have been first in at the contest and have put their heads over the ball for the past six to eight weeks and the results speak for themselves,” said South Morang coach Gary Hall.
The Turtles have hit some speed humps in the past month or so in terms of injury and illness, so it’s a matter of getting the best list together in time for a tilt at the flag.
“We now have two weeks to prepare for our first final,” said Old Eltham Collegians coach Matt Sleeman.
Sleeman praised the work of Lachlan Holmes who kept Jake Potter goalless while Sebastian Francis-Perkins was a late inclusion and used the ball well out of defence. Clay Crimmins was also productive and at times was the loose across half back.
Captain Eden Simpson worked well in the midfield and was assisted by Nick Snowdon and Jesse Howell.
South Morang and Old Eltham Collegians both face challenging hit-outs in the penultimate round of the regular season.
The Lions host Laurimar at Mill Park Lakes Reserve in a top of the table clash. The winner of that heavyweight match will sit atop the ladder.
The Turtles journey north to J.J. Clancy Reserve to take on Kilmore. They are yet to come away with a victory at the ground, but their last two matches at the venue resulted in single digit margins and they’ll need to win to avoid dropping to fourth spot on the ladder.