A review of the 2022 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 season.
Following the shortened 2021 season, eight teams were hungry as ever to fight it out for premiership glory this year.
The end of the home and away campaign saw South Morang finish on top following an 11-game winning streak and despite an upset defeat in the second semi-final, the Lions would go on to claim its first senior flag since 2011.
Laurimar fought hard in the grand final but fell 15 points short. Nonetheless, they ticked off a few boxes in just their fourth completed season in the NFNL senior competition.
Old Eltham Collegians were in fourth spot when the 2021 season concluded. They managed to back up that effort by making finals for the first time this year, winning their first finals match since joining the league in 2019.
Kilmore made it back to back finals campaigns (2019 and 2022), but were unable to claim that vital first finals victory.
Heidelberg West narrowly missed the top four, but it was still their best finish in Division 3 after claiming 10 wins along with securing a healthy percentage of 166.82 at season’s end.
Mernda was behind the Hawks in sixth spot, but did manage two victories against higher placed teams which is something that can be built on heading into next year.
Reservoir and Lalor were battling for seventh place, with the Mustangs winning all three games against the Bloods. Lalor’s winless season consigned them to the bottom of the table.
Kilmore’s Chris Ryall won the league’s best and fairest for the second year in a row with 22 votes, finishing two ahead of Laurimar co-captain Luke Wilson.
The Power’s Jacson Cecil led the goal-kicking with 84 goals in the regular season. His best haul was an impressive bag of 16 against Reservoir in Round 10, he also booted four in the grand final to take his full season tally to 89. Cecil finished 32 majors clear of Alex Hywood (Heidelberg West) who booted 57 goals, with Nick Milne (Old Eltham Collegians) in third place with 44 goals.
Continue below for a season review for each Division 3 team:
Premier (15 wins, 3 losses)
In the eyes of most pundits, South Morang began 2022 as the number one seed. The Lions were atop the ladder when the 2021 season was called off and then acquired some key recruits in Bailey Brown, returning to the club from Montmorency, and Nathan Stefanile from Whittlesea. After winning four straight games to start the season, South Morang started to struggle with injury and unavailability and as a result, lost three on the trot against top four sides to slip to fourth on the ladder, just one win ahead of Heidelberg West and Mernda. But Gary Hall’s men didn’t take long to turn things around, snapping the losing streak with a solid 19-point victory over Heidelberg West, which began an eleven-game winning run. A 26-point loss to a determined Laurimar outfit in the second semi-final had some wondering if the Lions were again going to fall short in the finals, however, a convincing 45-point win over Old Eltham Collegians in the preliminary final gave South Morang a second crack at the Power in the decider. After a slow start in the grand final, the Lions found themselves 20 points adrift in the first term, before a wonderful banana goal from Sam Hutton swung the momentum. The minor premiers hit the front by half time and were steady enough under pressure thereafter to win by 15 points. South Morang previously won the Division 3 flag in 2011, but their stay in the higher division was brief. This time around, the club appears to be more prepared for the challenge against higher quality opponents and they would give themselves a chance to be challenging for a finals berth in 2023. In 2018, Banyule finished third on the ladder in division 2 after winning the 2017 division 3 flag. So there is a precedent for the optimism that Lions fans would feel for the upcoming season.
Most times in best: Bailey Brown (15)
Leading goal kicker: Benjamin Peterson (46 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Mitch Kalpakis, Matthew Trim, Aaron Lazaric, Bailey Brown and Ben Peterson.
Runner-Up (14 wins, 4 losses)
Entering the senior competition in 2017, Laurimar played finals in its second year (2018), then snared a double chance the following season. With a great depth of junior talent coming through, Power fans looked to the 2022 campaign with great anticipation. A big win over Reservoir in round 1 set the tone for a year where they were rarely displaced from the top two. In fact, at one stage, Laurimar was atop the ladder in seniors, reserves and under-19s. But, after a 10-1 start to the year, the Power lost three of the last seven matches. This put them one win behind South Morang at the end of the regular season although they did boast the highest percentage of all clubs. A finals victory had eluded the club until the second semi-final when Jimmy Atkins’ men lead at every change against the Lions to advance straight to the grand final, with Jake Richards, Noah Mooney and Luke Wilson leading the charge. In a third meeting in the space of five weeks between the two sides, the Power jumped out of the blocks early to establish a handy lead in the grand final over South Morang. But they were unable to hold out the Lions for the remainder of the match, and had to settle for being the competition runners up after going down by 15 points After the departure of Josh Williamson, Jacson Cecil became the main forward target for the club and excelled with 84 goals in the regular season and a further five in the finals series. Assisting Cecil up forward were the Lawson brothers in Jacob and Joel, as well as Josh Campbell and Kaiden Arthur. All four players managed a bag of five goals during the season. After a promising campaign, Laurimar fans would feel confident that they can claim a flag in the not-too-distant future.
Most times in best: Jake Richards (15)
Leading goal kicker: Jacson Cecil (89 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Nathan Andrews, Jake Richards, Jacson Cecil, Luke Wilson and Kaidyn Arthur.
OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS
3rd (12 wins, 6 losses)
When the Turtles finished the shortened 2021 season in fourth spot, it seemed like the team was heading in the right direction and following some big signings in the off-season, optimism was high at Eltham College. The Turtles would be without captain Luke Booth for the entire 2022 campaign due to injury, but despite the loss, Old Eltham Collegians produced a bright start to the year, notching up seven wins on the trot to share the top of the ladder with Laurimar after eight games. The final ten games of the season proved to be more of a challenge as player availability became an issue. However, Matthew Sleeman’s men managed to win enough games through that period to play finals, with a duo of wins by the narrowest margin over Laurimar in Round 12 and Kilmore in the penultimate round, proving instrumental in helping them claim third spot on the ladder. Old Eltham Collegians were indeed, the kings of close finishes. They played in seven games where the margin was single digits, winning six of them. Nick Milne’s brilliant six goal effort helped the Turtles secure their first finals win in the competition when they defeated Kilmore by 21 points in the first semi-final before proving no match for a South Morang outfit in the preliminary final, suffering a 45-point defeat. Despite the disappointment of failing to make the grand final, 2022 was a hugely successful year for the club and if they can keep their squad together next year, they will be more than capable of taking the next step in the near future,
Most times in best: Eden Simpson, Jesse Howell and Niall McDonagh (8)
Leading goal kicker: Nick Milne (51 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Nick Milne
4th (11 wins, 7 losses)
After playing finals for the first time in 17 years back in 2019, the Blues made it back-to-back finals campaigns following a fourth place finish this year. The Blues began 2022 well and at 5-1, they found themselves on top of the ladder for the first time since joining the NFNL. That good start included an impressive 32-point win over eventual premiers South Morang at Mill Park Lakes Reserve in Round 5. However, a loss to sixth placed Mernda at Waterview Recreation Reserve in Round 7 dropped the Blues to third spot and defeats in three of their next five games saw them fight to maintain their place in the top four. A three-game winning streak later in the season would prove enough to secure a finals spot. Matches against Old Eltham Collegians were highly significant this year. Kilmore faced the Turtles at Eltham College in the opening round where they came from behind to record a 10-point victory. At J.J Clancy Reserve in Round 9, the Turtles’ eight game winning streak was snapped by the Blues before a Nick Milne goal on the siren gave Old Eltham Collegians a thrilling one-point triumph at the same venue in Round 17. As a result, their first semi-final clash was eagerly anticipated. Sadly, for Kilmore fans, they were unable to secure their maiden finals win when going down to Old Eltham Collegians by 21 points. Chris Ryall showed star quality to win back-to-back league best and fairest awards. His midfield partner Chris Barton wasn’t far behind this year in finishing equal fourth. The Blues will be eyeing a finals win in 2023 with their form throughout this season suggesting this team could contend for a premiership sooner rather than later.
Most times in best: Chris Barton (15)
Leading goal kicker: Bailey Taylor-Egan (34 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Stephen McIntyre, Chris Ryall, Bailey Taylor-Egan and Chris Barton
5th (10 wins, 8 losses)
Heidelberg West completed their most successful year in Division 3 football with a ten-win season. This could’ve been enough to claim a finals berth, but the Hawks finished one win below fourth placed Kilmore despite losing triple league best and fairest Jarryd Coulson as well as star midfielder Masaki Miki in the previous off-season. The loss of Coulson and Miki was offset by recruits Jordon Bulman, Lachlan Evans, Louis Hill, Marcus Hill and Nick Paton. After a big win in the opening round, Heidelberg West lost four successive games to the eventual finalists. Narrow defeats to Old Eltham Collegians in Round 3 and Kilmore the following week put the Hawks behind the 8-ball in the early stages of the year. Things looked grim in Round 6 when they trailed Mernda by 17 points at three quarter time at Heidelberg Park, before Michael Missen’s men rallied to overrun the Demons and prevail by nine points to keep their season alive. The run home after the Queen’s Birthday break was book-ended by wins over the Turtles. The most impressive victory for the year was a 46-point result against Kilmore in Round 12. Alex Hywood booted five goals or more on six occasions. His most impressive match was in the final round against Old Eltham Collegians where he slotted four goals in quick time to give his side the vital momentum as they went on to record a 15-point triumph. The Hawks lost three out of four games where the margin was 12 points or less and it proved costly in the end as had they won three of four, they would have played finals. But, given that the club finished with a trio of wins and produced some promising performances throughout the year, finals could be on the horizon for Heidelberg West.
Most times in best: Brad Moore (12)
Leading goal kicker: Alex Hywood (57 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Nick Paton, Brad Moore, Alex Hywood and Jordon Bulman
6th (7 wins, 11 losses)
Mernda repeated their performance of 2021 in having sixth place wrapped up prior to the end of the regular season. The Demons finished three wins below Heidelberg West and four wins ahead of Reservoir. They did have some bright spots throughout the season, but multiple instances of back to back losses saw them fall short of finals action. Mernda began the year with a trio of 50 point plus defeats against the eventual top three teams and then got their season back on track with wins over Lalor and Reservoir. The key time for Mernda turned out to be between Round 6 and Round 8. They led Heidelberg West comfortably at the last change in Round 6 but were overrun late to go down by nine points. Round 7 was to be the highlight of the year for Demons fans. Robert Fletcher’s men jumped out of the blocks and led from pillar to post to record a 25-point victory over the highly fancied Kilmore side. Mernda was looking to square the ledger at 4-4 the following week at Eltham College against Old Eltham Collegians. But, after being a solitary point ahead at half time, they fell short by just seven points. The Demons went to the mid-season break at 3-6 and were unable to notch up enough wins against the finals contenders to bridge the gap.
Veteran Ryan Bongetti was recruited from Craigieburn and impressed the Demon faithful. He finished equal fourth in the league best and fairest with 14 votes. Both Mernda’s reserves and under 19’s side’s made grand finals, meaning the future could be bright for the club in the next few seasons.
Most times in best: Edward Mills and Ryan Bongetti (11)
Leading goal kicker: Bryce Kimuliatis (45 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Edward Mills and Ryan Bongetti
7th (3 wins, 15 losses)
Heading into this year’s campaign, Reservoir had yet to win a game since 2017 but with a new coach at the helm in Justin George, the Mustangs were hopeful of some improvement in 2022. They didn’t have to wait long for that improvement to show. In Round 2, the Mustangs ran away with a 31-point victory against Lalor at Lalor Reserve. It was a mixture of disbelief, joy and relief as their team snapped a losing streak dating back almost five years. Reservoir went on to win all three matches against the Bloods but were unable to match it with the higher placed teams. Excluding an unfinished match against Mernda, the closest they came to a top six side was an 84-point loss to preliminary finalists Old Eltham Collegians in Round 15.
George and his team realised that it would be a gradual process to become competitive and that 2022 was just a stepping stone. However, the results against the higher teams did trend in the right direction in the second half of the season. Robert Holland scored the most votes for the club in the league best and fairest award, he also produced one of the goals of the year in Round 15 against the Turtles. Midfield duo Jack Smith and Tom Holloway also impressed. Following their drought-breaking victory, the potential for Reservoir to close the gap on the higher placed teams next season is high.
Most times in best: Nathan King, Daniel Cole (8)
Leading goal kicker: Nelson Macdonald (5 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Rob Holland
8th (0 wins, 18 losses)
Some close losses to higher placed teams in 2021 would’ve given Lalor fans renewed hope, but a significant exodus of talent prior to the 2022 season proved to be a significant handicap. The turnover of players made it tough for incoming coach Angelo Lamanna, but the team gradually improved throughout the season. The Bloods suffered four losses of 200 points plus prior to the bye and only one such result thereafter. Most highlights from the season were from the games against Reservoir. The closest they got was in Round 8 at Crispe Park when the Bloods excelled in the middle part of the game and got out to a lead in excess of 20 points but were reeled in late. The defeat virtually sealed the wooden spoon for Lalor, but they had one last opportunity to register a win when they played the Mustangs in the penultimate round. This match was the reverse of the Round 8 clash in some ways. The Bloods managed to lead at quarter time, but the Mustangs controlled the match through the middle stages and went on to win by 24 points. The day wasn’t a total write-off, however. The Lalor reserves team scored their only win of the season with a 32-point win over Reservoir breaking a long drought for the Bloods. Lamanna has been signed up again for 2023 and, with more stability in the playing list, fans will anticipate an improved showing next season.
Most times in best: Dylan Cawsey (10)
Leading goal kicker: Dylan Cawsey (9 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Nil
HEIDELBERG GOLF CLUB DIVISION 3 – 2022 REVIEW
First Semi Final: Old Eltham Collegians 12.6 (78) def Kilmore 8.9 (57)
Second Semi Final: Laurimar 10.10 (70) def South Morang 5.14 (44)
Preliminary Final: South Morang 15.14 (104) def Old Eltham Collegians 9.5 (59)
Grand Final: South Morang 13.10 (88) def Laurimar 11.7 (73)
Best and Fairest
1st – Chris Ryall (Kilmore) – 22 votes
2nd – Luke Wilson (Laurimar) – 20 votes
3rd – Aaron Lazaric (South Morang) 15 votes*
=4th – Chris Barton (Kilmore) 14 votes
=4th – Ryan Bongetti (Mernda) 14 votes
Leading Goal Kicker (home and away only)
1st – Jacson Cecil (Laurimar) – 84 goals
2nd – Alex Hywood (Heidelberg West) – 57 goals
3rd – Nick Milne (Old Eltham Collegians) – 44 goals
4th – Benjamin Peterson (South Morang) 43 goals
5th – Bryce Kimuliatis (Mernda) – 45 goals
Coaches Most Valuable Player
1st – Chris Ryall (Kilmore) – 77 votes
2nd – Bailey Brown (South Morang) – 76 votes
3rd – Jacson Cecil (Laurimar) – 69 votes
4th – Ryan Bongetti (Mernda) – 68 votes
5th – Chris Barton (Kilmore) – 57 votes