A preview of the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 semi finals.
SECOND SEMI FINAL – MACLEOD v NORTHCOTE PARK
They’ve shared top spot on the ladder for the majority of the season and on Saturday Macleod or Northcote Park will secure the first spot in the 2017 Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 Grand Final.
After sitting out the opening week of the finals series, the Roos enter the second semi final as favourites after recording 75 and 84-point wins over the Cougars during the home and away season.
Along with Greensborough, Macleod has been the form side of the competition in recent months and enters the match on a seven-game winning streak – which includes the two commanding wins over Northcote Park.
However, the Cougars will be fielding a much stronger side this time around after being far from their best in their regular-season games against the Roos in rounds 13 and 18.
With Jordan Perry, Ash Close, Jordan Collopy, Paul Dirago, Nick Carter and Joel Donaldson all back in action, Northcote Park was able to cast aside its final-round drubbing at De Winton Park to secure a two-point win over Bundoora in the qualifying final.
Perry and Close were the two best players on the ground last week. Perry won many crucial clearances and tore the game open in the third term, while Close was used at both ends of the field to great success. Worth noting, neither has lined up against Macleod this year.
While the Cougars may have been fortunate in the qualifying final’s closing stages, they certainly deserved their win after controlling the opening three quarters. They defended superbly against the wind in the second term, before kicking the opening five goals of the second half.
Gerard Sutton provided plenty of dash, Ricky Fandrich (three goals) was lively in attack, while Dylan Campbell and Tyson Old stood up in important moments as their side demonstrated its premiership credentials.
In Northcote Park’s way this week stands a Macleod side gunning for a place in the grand final for the third consecutive year.
The Roos have been a model of consistency throughout 2017, winning 15 matches. Their three losses have come by a combined aggregate of just 19 points – with their heaviest defeat an eight-point upset at the hands of wooden spooner Eltham.
Garry Ramsay has kept a settled line-up following last year’s grand final defeat to Heidelberg, opting to filter in youngsters like Kurt and Haydon Manuel and James Condello, as opposed to recruiting players from elsewhere.
Ned McKeown has been outstanding in his second season with the club and would be favourite to take out his first best and fairest at senior level. His biggest rivals for the award are likely to be Shane Doherty, Lucas Hobbs and Hamish Paynter.
The emergence of Doherty has further strengthened Macleod’s top-end, with the excitement machine taking his game to another level this season – winning much more of the ball and booting 19 goals.
The Roos’ spread of goal kicking options has again been a major asset with Matthew Clark leading his side with 37 majors. Reid Brandt has kicked 33 in 13 games, including seven against Northcote Park in Round 18, while Nick Lynch could be a wildcard in September if he can remain fit after an injury-cruelled campaign.
15 wins – 3 losses
Points For – 1834, Average For – 102
Points Against – 1220, Average Against – 68
Average Winning Margin – 42
Average Losing Margin – 6
Leading Goal Kicker – Matthew Clark (37)
Most Times In Best – Ned McKeown (11)
13 wins – 6 losses
Points For – 1710, Average For – 90
Points Against – 1467, Average Against – 77
Average Winning Margin – 37
Average Losing Margin – 40
Leading Goal Kicker – Jackson Starcevich (38)
Most Times In Best – Jordan Perry (11)
HEAD TO HEAD IN 2017
Round 18: Macleod 21.15 (141) def Northcote Park 8.9 (57)
Goals: R. Brandt 7, L. Hobbs 4, P. Martin 2, L. Dowdle 2, J. White, A. Doherty, S. Doherty, M. Clark, C. Corr, K. Manuel
Best: L. Hobbs, R. Brandt, J. White, N. Lynch, C. Corr, K. Manuel
Goals: R. Fandrich 2, G. Sutton, T. Old, T. Jackson, D. Galofaro, B. Ricardi, J. Askew
Best: B. Davies, B. McLennan, J. Mills, D. Campbell, G. Sutton, T. Old
Round 13: Northcote Park 7.8 (50) def by Macleod 17.23 (125)
Goals: J. Violato 2, B. McLennan, J. Donaldson, T. Jackson, R. Fandrich, M. O’Connell
Best: B. Davies, B. McLennan, M. Perry, H. Reid, D. Galofaro
Goals: M. Clark 5, S. Doherty 3, J. Langford 2, R. Geary 2, K. Manuel, N. McKeown, H. Paynter, P. Martin, C. Corr
Best: M. Clark, R. Geary, B. Leggett, S. Doherty, L. Hobbs, J. Langford
FIRST SEMI FINAL – BUNDOORA v GREENSBOROUGH
For the second-consecutive year Bundoora and Greensborough will meet in the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 first semi final.
The two sides experienced contrasting emotions in an intriguing opening weekend of the 2017 finals series, with the Bulls losing a thriller to Northcote Park and the Boro running away to score an upset over West Preston-Lakeside.
The Bulls and Boro have produced two classics during the home and away season which only adds to the anticipation ahead of this week’s game.
Boro skipper Tristan Stead pushed forward and kicked six goals to help his side to a come-from-behind 13-point win back in Round 9, before Bundoora won a gripping Round 18 battle by two goals, which handed it the double chance in the finals.
Bundoora was denied by the right goal post twice in the dying minutes during its heart-stopping two-point loss to Northcote Park in the qualifying final. The Bulls had trailed by 37 points early in the fourth term, before piling on five goals in the space of 11 minutes.
While the Bulls live to fight another day, the misfortune experienced in the final five minutes last week has made the club’s quest to add a third premiership in seven years much more difficult – now needing to win three consecutive finals to claim the flag.
The task could be aided by the addition of Gary Moorcroft and Danny Younan this week. Moorcroft was a late out against the Cougars, while Younan should return after Essendon’s VFL side was beaten in its elimination final on Sunday.
With Isaac Muller and Nick Grabowski both in strong form, the Bulls look to have the much more potent forward line heading into this week’s do-or-die battle.
Matthew Dennis again looms as a key figure, with the two-time Frank Rosbrook medallist producing a dominant performance despite his side losing last week. He has also featured prominently in his two outings against the Boro this year.
Dennis will go head-to-head with Jamie Craker – who last weekend put in a gutsy performance to ruck one-out for the majority of the afternoon.
Greensborough was outstanding in the final three quarters as it sent West Preston-Lakeside crashing out of the finals race last Sunday. The Boro trailed by 12 points at quarter time, before kicking nine goals to one after the first break.
The back six produced an outstanding shutdown performance against the Roosters, with Dan McLinden, Jack Johnston, Michael Croxford and John Desmond all instrumental as the Boro claimed a finals win for the fourth-straight year.
They will all have to be at their best again this week to shutdown a Bundoora side which can score heavily if its midfield can supply enough entries inside forward 50.
Nick Riddle spent the majority of the second half on the bench last week and will be in doubt for this week’s game. However, the Boro last week proved they can still hold up defensively even without the star backman.
Mick Harford’s side is sure to have taken plenty of confidence out of last week’s win against a side it had twice been thrashed by in the regular season. They will also be buoyed by the fact they have beaten remaining finalists Macleod, Northcote Park and Bundoora in recent weeks.
12 wins – 7 losses
Points For – 1799, Average For – 95
Points Against – 1447, Average Against – 76
Average Winning Margin – 40
Average Losing Margin – 17
Leading Goal Kicker – Gary Moorcroft (49)
Most Times In Best – Matthew Dennis (15)
12 wins – 7 losses
Points For – 1510, Average For – 79
Points Against – 1331, Average Against – 70
Average Winning Margin – 30
Average Losing Margin – 25
Leading Goal Kicker – Josh Grubb (24)
Most Times In Best – Jack Johnston (13)
HEAD TO HEAD IN 2017
Round 18: Bundoora 15.11 (101) def Greensborough 14.5 (89)
Goals: I. Muller 5, L. Byrne 3, G. Moorcroft 3, J. Grabowski, B. Carlyon, T. Hughes, N. Grabowski
Best: I. Muller, L. Byrne, N. Grabowski, M. Dennis, K. Bardon, T. Hughes
Goals: J. Grubb 5, B. Tickell 2, M. Hill 2, M. Merkel, L. Emery, M. Haynes, T. Stead, B. Bedford
Best: J. Grubb, R. Mullins, J. Johnston, M. Hill, C. Clark, J. Callaway
Round 9: Greensborough 17.15 (117) def Bundoora 15.14 (104)
Goals: T. Stead 6, J. Grubb 2, A. Stellas 2, M. Haynes, R. Mullins, L. McQuilken, B. Bedford, J. Desmond, J. Callaway, B. Tickell
Best: T. Stead, J. Ireland, J. Callaway, J. Craker, R. Mullins, N. Riddle
Goals: G. Moorcroft 3, J. Grabowski 3, A. Carmusciano 2, D. Younan 2, D. Nixon, N. Thomas, R. Dyson, B. Carlyon, I. Muller
Best: G. Moorcroft, D. Younan, M. Dennis, D. Mitchell, B. Keating, J. Grabowski