Despite the top five facing the bottom five in MC Labour Division 2 action this weekend, the stakes remain as high as ever to move up the ladder.
After a heart stopping one point win last week, ladder leaders Eltham will look to make it eight victories in a row when they host Watsonia who are still knocking on the door of the top five.
Having been a dominant for most of this season, the Panthers fought hard last weekend to take all four points from Lower Plenty. But they were able to turn the tables from their defeat to the Bears in Round 3 this year and as a result, have now defeated every side in the competition.
Luke Sirianni was the star contributor, named the side’s best player and finishing the day with three goals. Meanwhile Lane Sinclair, Daniel Horsfield and Darcy Vallance were also impressive.
The Panthers will look difficult to beat for the remainder of the season, facing just three top five sides in the last eight weeks of the home and away campaign. But despite the strong momentum, they’ll be weary of an improved Watsonia side who have shown this year they are capable of causing an upset.
The Saints will be coming into this fixture eager to make amends, having slightly lost touch with the top-five following their 17-point loss to St Mary’s last week.
Despite getting off to a bright start, George Lattouf’s side conceded seven second quarter goals to the Burra, with that gap proving to be a bridge too far for the remainder of the afternoon.
James Lucente was the obvious standout, he kicked six majors in the absence of club leading goalkicker Kyle Wheatley. Meanwhile Lachlan Potter, Daniel Annetta and Julian Janev were notable contributors in the losing effort.
Although they’ll be branded as the outsiders in this clash, expect the Saints to push the league leaders to their limits.
Having lost their past three games, Thomastown are desperate to find their way back onto the winners list when they face Banyule.
Despite the difference in ladder positions, this match always produces a close finish. You only have to go back to Round 2 this year, when Banyule snatched the four points in the dying seconds of the match.
Thomastown’s woes continued last weekend, going down by 14 points to Diamond Creek.
Having been in the hunt for most of the game, thanks to Jarryd Coulson’s ruck dominance as well as four goals from Anthony Capeci, the Bears ultimately fell short, with the Creekers running away with a three goal to two final term.
The defeat leaves Mario Bandera’s side ten points adrift from the top five, and with still four top five sides to play in the home and away campaign, the Bears will need to start causing some upsets in order to make an appearance in September, with their ‘Battle of the Bears’ clash this weekend a perfect opportunity to begin their turnaround.
Banyule on the other hand, are coming into this fixture off a great run of form, with their heavy defeat to Eltham their only blemish in their last six matches.
The Bears jumped to second on the ladder following last week’s 58-point win over Panton Hill in a game that could’ve been blown apart well earlier had it not been for their inaccurate goalkicking.
Having won four of their last five games, the Bears most recently knocked off Panton Hill by 58-points, with the side breaking away after half time.
Another victory will keep Banyule pushing to knock Eltham off top spot although a shock defeat could see them lose touch with the top two.
If Thomastown are unable to shake off their losing streak, they will likely sit at least 14 points behind the fifth placed side, meaning they would have to win four of their last seven games while also hoping the sides above them begin to fall.
Epping will hope to build from their incredible victory last week, as they do battle with Diamond Creek at Epping Recreation Reserve.
Having gone on a run of consecutive heavy defeats, the Blues turned their fortunes around, stealing a one-point win over the Fitzroy Stars.
In front of their home faithful, the likes of Dallyce Taylor, Thomas Burnside and Leigh Judd all stood up to claim just their second victory of the season.
The jubilant triumph all but secures Epping’s place in Division 2 next season, having established an eight-point advantage over the winless Stars.
Although the task at hand is significantly harder than last week, as the Blues will just look to improve on their 121-point defeat to Diamond Creek earlier this season.
The Creekers continue to go about their business quietly in the Division 2 competition and remain a premiership threat after having won their last seven games.
It wasn’t light work in their most recent match however, as they grinded out an important 14-point win over Thomastown on their home deck.
In a tough game against the Bears, Jai Norman was name as the side’s best player in the win, with the key forward finishing the game with three goals. Sage Dicello was the standout inside 50 however, finishing with five majors.
With just one game separating the Creekers and top of the table Eltham, Andrew Tranquilli’s side will be hoping to improve their percentage in Saturday’s encounter, boasting just the fourth highest percentage in the league thus far.
After both suffering heartbreaking defeats over the weekend, the Fitzroy Stars and Lower Plenty will be hoping to turn the tables when they do battle at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval.
In their meeting in Round 2, it was the Bears who came away with a 102-point win, with both side’s form line’s since, suggesting the result could be similar.
The Stars came agonisingly close to recording their first win of the season last week, as despite not trailing at any of the three breaks, they weren’t able to get over the line.
Hotak Akram was the side’s best player in the losing effort continuing his impressive last few weeks alongside Riley Livingstone.
The loss means the Stars will need to win at least two games this year to have any chance of avoiding relegation and they’ll hope they can rebuild some momentum again when they face the Bears on Saturday.
Lower Plenty will also want to put their one-point defeat last week in the past as they plan to close the gap between them and the top sides of the competition.
Despite registering more scoring shots, the Bears couldn’t topple Eltham, with Darcy Barden’s last attempt on goal just falling short.
Tyler Wallace and Tom Keys continued their goal form however with four goals each, and they’ll be relied on again to ensure the Bears have no issue with getting the four points against the Stars.
Panton Hill will want to avoid their third consecutive defeat when they host St Mary’s at A.E Cracknell Reserve.
The Redbacks have had a tough season with their only two wins coming against the lowly placed Epping and Fitzroy Stars.
Having put up a spirited showing in the first half, they’d be blown away last week in the second half to Banyule, going down by over nine goals.
Nathan Jasper was named as the side’s best player in the losing effort while Ben Donehue, Sam Parks and Oliver Parks again impressed.
Simon Amore will hope his side can continue to build upon their good patches of form in games this year, as they face a St Mary’s team in great form.
The Burra were able to claim the four points in their crucial battle with Watsonia last week.
Impressive efforts from Bailey Leonard, Rory Hanlon and Jack Cicitta were crucial in St Mary’s’ win as they did the double on the Saints in season 2022.
The 17-point win now has given them a handy four-point gap from the sixth placed Saints and with three of their next four games against bottom five sides, the Burra can secure a historic finals berth by the end of July.