MC Labour Division 2 Preview – Round 14

Published on Thursday, July 11, 2024

While the top three sides in MC Labour Division 2 looks all but confirmed, there’s still spots up for grabs in the final five approaching Round 14 action this weekend.

Watsonia and Northcote Park are aiming to keep their finals aspirations alive when they meet at Binnak Park.

Both sides sit eight and ten points away from the top five respectively, but with four games to go after Saturday’s meeting, a win is a must if either team want to feature in the post-season.

The Saints were unable to grab an opportunity last week, conceding 29 scoring shots in a defeat to Panton Hill away from home, seeing them now taste defeat in three straight games.

Daniel Annetta remains on pace to be a member of the Division 2 Team of the Year after doing all he could to get his side over the line in the loss to the Redbacks, continuing his career best campaign in the process.

George Lattouf’s men however do have a slightly favourable run home, as apart from Diamond Creek, their final five weeks feature teams who are fifth on the ladder or lower.

But it won’t be an easy task to topple Northcote Park on the weekend, despite the Cougars coming into this game off a loss for the first time in over a month.

The Cougars produced a more than admirable performance over Diamond Creek on the weekend, trailing by just five points at the main break before going down by 42 points.

Christopher Clark still earnt a fourth consecutive appearance in his side’s best, while captain Matthew Perry was another strong contributor.

Anthony Palmer’s side face a much tougher final few matches of the season, as after their clash with Watsonia and next week’s game with Laurimar, they do battle with the current top four teams to end the regular campaign.

However, if Northcote Park’s recent form is anything to go by, they will feel confident of turning their Round 5 defeat to Watsonia around and claiming another four points in the process.

Diamond Creek can make it five wins from their last five ahead of a battle with St Mary’s at Coventry Oval.

The Creekers are slowly building their form back to a strong position, having claimed four impressive victories over the previous month to apply some pressure on top of the table side Whittlesea.

They would be impressed with Nicholas Barro, who’s four-goal effort in his side’s win over Northcote Park last week has seen him named in his side’s best in three of his previous four matches.

Jacob Booth is also starting to impact the scoreboard in a big way and has kicked five majors in his last two games, after only kicking seven goals in his first seven games.

Having defeated St Mary’s by 61 points in their Round 5 clash, Andrew Tranquilli’s men will be eager to inflict the same pain on a side who are struggling for consistency.

The undermanned Burra suffered a one-point defeat to Lower Plenty in Round 13, despite almost mounting a terrific comeback in the final term.

It leaves them with a 7-6 record and eight points clear of sixth placed Thomastown, however more wins will be required if they are to secure back-to-back finals appearances.

The influence Jack Bianchin is having on the team can’t be understated, as he has been one to stand up for his side in recent weeks, meanwhile Jack Cicitta is settling well in the forward line since returning to the senior team in Round 9, kicking 11 majors in those five matches.

But St Mary’s have not registered a score of more than 70 since Round 8 and coming against a Diamond Creek team who only concede an average of under 45 points a game, more scoring power will be required if Fabian Carelli’s men are to pull off an upset.

The other battle between top five sides this week sees the undefeated Whittlesea welcome Lower Plenty to Whittlesea Showgrounds.

Remarkably, the Eagles have already locked in a top three spot with five games to play after a comprehensive 80-point victory over Thomastown last weekend.

They have made the Showgrounds a fortress in 2024, producing a winning margin of over 55 points a game and averaging almost 105 points a game at the venue.

Midfielder Taidgh Bland also returned to the top of the Division 2 Coaches MVP Award leaderboard, after an outstanding performance in their triumph the Bears, with teammate Mitchell Andrews playing his best game of the season in the result.

With games against South Morang and Diamond Creek ahead, more wins could see the Eagles secure the minor premiership for the first time since 2013, however they will still be weary of a Lower Plenty team who come into this match with more confidence than ever after their upset victory over St Mary’s last week.

The Bears returned to the top five after holding their nerve in their one-point triumph over the Burra, and displayed the signs of a team who are capable of featuring in finals action this season.

Travis Stephens’ will be sure to remind his side of how much more capable they are of staying with the top sides in the competition, after they led by as much as 20 points over the Eagles in Round 5 before being overrun in the second half.

That game didn’t feature ruck Patrick Flynn, who dominated for Lower Plenty last week to receive 10 Coaches MVP Award votes. The Bears veteran will be a key piece to his team’s chances of handing Whittlesea their first blemish of the season this Saturday.

South Morang have the opportunity to produce their best winning run of the season when they host Panton Hill at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.

The Lions have been flying under the radar over the last month or so, continually building up wins to sit in equal second position with five matches to play.

It wasn’t as smooth sailing last week however, having to shrug off a Laurimar team who were on level pegging with the Lions until half time, with Gary Hall’s men eventually prevailing by 44 points.

Speaking of flying under the radar, it would be an accurate way to describe Kobe van Zwienen’s campaign, who after another terrific performance over the Power last week, has found himself sitting equal fourth in the Division 2 Coaches MVP Award leaderboard. Koby Davies has also been named in his side’s best in three of his previous four games.

Their Saturday opponents in Panton Hill head into this match following an impressive 41-point triumph over Watsonia. Despite the inaccuracy, it was the side’s second largest victory of the season which helps them sit just two points behind Lower Plenty in fifth.

Samuel Parks’ influence has remained large for the Redbacks both on and off field, as the skipper continues to put together another terrific year. Along with the likes of Thomas Blake and Oliver Parks, he will be an important player in his side’s run towards a finals berth.

South Morang won the last encounter between these two sides by 105 points, but a more competitive performance from Panton Hill could do them a world of good ahead of crucial games against Laurimar, Thomastown and Lower Plenty in the final three games of the home and away campaign.

Thomastown will look to return to the top five by the end of the week when they face Laurimar at Main Street Recreation Reserve.

Like they did when they faced the Power in Round 5 this year, the Bears come into this clash following a losing streak. This time it’s four matches without a win, following an 80-point loss to Whittlesea away from home in Round 13.

But having now faced all the sides currently sitting in the top three, the Bears have a good opportunity to string some wins together and solidify another finals appearance.

Highlights from the loss included Jesse Malfi, who finished in his side’s best in his senior debut, while Kyle Green performed well and kicked two of his team’s six goals.

But Main Street Recreation Reserve hasn’t been the fortress that David Folino and Sashe Spiroski’s men would’ve been hoping for, having only won once in six matches at the ground in 2024 after going 5-4 on their home deck last year.

But that can change this weekend against a Laurimar outfit who must start winning to avoid an immediate return to Division 3 next season.

The Power were admirable in defeat again last week, but still face a two-game gap from ninth position approaching the last five matches of the season.

They do however only face one more current top five side for the rest of the campaign, giving Jimmy Atkins’ men hope of a revival.

Impactful performances will need to continue from the likes of Ethan Bateman, who has been named in his side’s best in three straight games, as well as Joel Lawson, who booted three majors in the loss to South Morang and kicked a season-high of six goals when he last faced Thomastown back in May this year.

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