The stage is set for a huge weekend in Meadows Greyhounds Division 1, headlined by the top-four sides playing each other in two massive blockbusters.
Last week’s results completely changed the shape of the ladder, with Bundoora returning to the top-five for the first time since Round 1, while North Heidelberg finds itself in fifth spot and pushing to become the first reigning Division 2 premier to play finals in the top flight.
While the Bulls and Bulldogs enjoyed a jump up the ladder, it wasn’t as rosy for Northcote Park and Montmorency. The Cougars have fallen from second to sixth in the space of a fortnight, while the Magpies fell three spots to eighth following last week’s loss to Heidelberg.
The Round 12 action is headlined by a clash between first and second, with Macleod making the trip to War Memorial Park to take on Greensborough.
The Roos take a 10-game winning streak into the game and will all but lock away the minor premiership with another win, given they take a three-game and percentage advantage into the contest.
The ladder-leader did what was required last weekend against Hurstbridge, winning by 31 points at De Winton Park. The result was set-up in the third term, when the Roos piled on five unanswered goals to stretch a half time lead of 12 points to an unassailable 47 at the last break.
It continued an outstanding trend for Garry Ramsay’s side, who have not conceded a goal in the third quarter for three consecutive matches. Over the past three games, the Roos have scored an aggregate of 104 points in the third quarter and conceded just four behinds.
Ned McKeown produced a season-best game last week to secure maximum votes in the Coaches MVP award. Anthony Doherty, Justin White and Jack Bianchin were also influential and helped to cover the absence of Vic Metro duo Lucas Hobbs and Brad Leggett.
Greensborough takes a three-game winning streak into the top-of-the-table clash after last week overcoming a slow start to beat Whittlesea by 46 points in tough conditions at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
The Boro were on the backfoot early after conceding five first-quarter goals to trail by 15 points. It was a much different start to the pair’s Round 5 meeting, where the Boro took a 34-point advantage into quarter time after keeping the Eagles scoreless.
Greensborough was quick to respond to the slow start and piled on six goals in the second term to take a 17-point lead into half time. The Boro continued to control the game after half time and booted eight goals to four after the main break.
After impressing with four goals in his club debut in Round 10, Billy Murphy was again outstanding in his second game and finished with six majors. Lachlan McQuilken added two of his own in a strong showing, while Jacob Ireland continued his career-best season.
This weekend’s game is vital for Greensborough as they look to secure a fifth-consecutive finals appearance. A win would put the Boro in an excellent position to secure a double-chance, with a host of key players set to strengthen the side over the next few weeks.
Macleod claimed a come-from-behind 11-point win when the sides met in Round 6. The Roos booted 5.7 to zero in the final term to turn around a 26-point deficit at three quarter time at De Winton Park.
The round’s second top-four battle takes place at Yulong Reserve where resurgent Bundoora hosts West Preston-Lakeside. The Roosters scored a 53-point victory in the last outing between the sides in Round 6, however the Bulls have turned around their form since.
The reigning premier was simple awesome in last week’s 103-point demolition of Northcote Park – booting six goals to one in the first quarter and not relenting for the rest of the game in its best performance in 2018.
The Bulls kicked 13 goals to two after the main break to ensure they gave their percentage a healthy injection, going from 98.17 to 109.51. Given how tight the battle for a top-five place has become, the Bulls were in no mood to let-up in the last term.
Todd Hughes produced his best game for the club with six majors, all of which came in the opening three quarters. He had plenty of assistance, with Daniel Guccione (four goals), Brent Marshall, Kain Proctor and Dale Marshall all in fine form to help their side to its fourth-consecutive victory.
West Preston-Lakeside went down by nine points to North Heidelberg in a see-sawing battle. The result continued a string of close home defeats for the Roosters, who have lost four of five games at J.E. Moore Park this year – by a cumulative total of 34 points.
Kicking with the aid of a strong wind in the first term, the Roosters made a fast start against the Bulldogs to lead by 29 points at quarter time. However, they could only manage a further four goals after the first break to slip to their third loss in four matches and fall to third place.
Down by 15 early in the last term, the Roosters rallied to close the margin back to two points approaching time-on, however a late Shane Harvey proved to be the sealer for the visiting side.
Garrett McDonagh produced his best game of the season to try to will West Preston-Lakeside across the line, while Luke Lirosi (two goals), Michael Ercolano and Josh Novelli also toiled hard.
North Heidelberg and Montmorency play off in a game that could have massive ramifications for both side’s finals hopes. Montmorency was seven goals too good back in Round 2, however the Bulldogs take far better form into this encounter at Shelley Reserve.
Spearheaded by seven goals from Shane Harvey, North moved a step closer to an historic finals berth last weekend. The Bulldogs have won five of their past six games, with the only defeat coming at the hands of all-conquering Macleod.
Having beaten top-five sides in each of the past two weeks, the Bulldogs face sides placed 7-10 over the next month. Their finals destiny is well and truly in their own hands.
Michael Florance was outstanding last week and was the dominant big man on the ground, while Brent Harvey, Liam Hunt and Ryan McGhie were also among the best players on the ground.
Montmorency has fallen a win outside the top-five on the back of three-consecutive defeats, however its strong percentage means it is possible for it to move as high as fourth place if all results go its way in Round 12.
The damage in last week’s 15-point loss to Heidelberg was done in the first half, with the Tigers taking a 23-point advantage into half time. Over the past three weeks the Magpies have conceded an average of 57 points in the first half – up from 35 points from rounds 1-8.
Ben Kennedy and Ben Walton were again their side’s best players last week. However, they will need much greater support if they are to drag their side out of its current losing streak.
Northcote Park and Whittlesea meet at Bill Lawry Oval, with both sides sitting in the bottom-half of the table after 11 rounds.
Northcote Park took on Bundoora with a line-up featuring a dozen players aged 21 and under and were taught a football lesson by the reigning premier. After a tough start, the Cougars managed to win the second term – however they were unable to show any resistance after half time.
Luke Svarc was his side’s best player for the second-consecutive week and provided a strong example for his younger teammates to follow. Nick Carter and defender Cameron Simpson also toiled hard on a forgettable day for their club.
Having lost their past two games on the road, the Cougars will hope to continue their recent strong form at home – where they have won their past two games by an average of 51 points.
Whittlesea didn’t get the result against Greensborough last week, but it did put up a much more competitive showing than in its Round 5 defeat to the Boro. The Eagles laid more than 100 tackles, which showed their commitment across the board.
The Eagles produced their best opening quarter of the season to lead by 15 points at the first change but were unable to maintain the high level over the remaining three quarters against the competition’s second-placed side.
Tom Falls was his side’s best and capped his performance with two goals. There were also strong displays from Paul Higgins, Xavier Dimasi and Matthew Atta, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Eagles falling to their 10th defeat on the trot.
Hurstbridge returns to Ben Frilay Oval to host Heidelberg. The Bridges scored their most recent win when the sides met back in Round 5.
For the third consecutive match the Bridges were competitive in defeat. They managed to win two quarters during last week’s away loss to Macleod, however a poor third term put paid to any hope of causing a boil over.
Troy Barbero’s recent good form continued and was recognised with votes from both coaches in the Coaches MVP award, while Sean Jellie and Daniel Keenan also played their part against the ladder-leader.
Having built some momentum in recent weeks, the Bridges will take some confidence into this week’s game. They scored a 13-point triumph over Heidelberg at Warringal Park earlier this year, and also took the points when the sides met at Ben Frilay Oval last year.
Heidelberg put a poor fortnight behind it by claiming its first win at Montmorency Park since 2012. The 15-point triumph elevated the Tigers to seventh place and within percentage of a finals spot.
The final tally of 13.17 (95) was Heidelberg’s highest score of the season. The Tigers booted eight majors in the opening half to lead by 23 points at the main break, before holding off all Montmorency challenges in the second half.
Josh Gribben made an immediate impact in his return from injury and was among the most influential players on the ground. Gribben has featured among the Tigers’ best players in six of his nine matches this season.
Ben Irving, Tom Sullivan and youngster Matthew Cecchin were also standouts to help their side to its sixth win of the season, while the goals were shared among eight players.