Fresh from the mid-season bye, teams now have a nine-week run to the finals as they prepare for Round 10 action in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
There is plenty of competition for the two double chance spots following the four games that took place a fortnight ago, while teams outside the top four face a difficult, but not impossible, task in taking part of finals action.
Kilmore and Old Eltham Collegians met at J.J. Clancy Reserve before the bye, with the Blues prevailing by eight points in a tight contest. Kilmore had the game in their control for most of the second half, before the Turtles drew within five points late in the game. But they were unable to score another major, allowing the Blues to hold to victory.
While Tom McMillan was voted best by the coaches, Chris Ryall scored 7 votes in the coaches MVP to edge ahead of teammate Bailey Taylor-Egan and draw level with league leader Nathan Andrews of Laurimar.
Lalor hosted Heidelberg West with the Hawks coming away with a 133-point win. Ex-Bloods player Louis Hill excelled for the victors as Jordan Vellios and Jordon Bulman both booted four goals in a list of twelve goal-kickers.
“We’re looking forward to the break as we have been decimated by injury and illness this year,” said Heidelberg West coach Michael Missen.
“For most part we have had 6 – 12 core senior players unavailable each week.”
Dylan Cawsey found plenty of it and was best for the Bloods, while Nicholas Anastasi played his best game for the club.
“We’re looking to have better results second time around,” said Lalor coach Angelo Lamanna.
Indeed, they improved their result against the Hawks by 72-points, having gone down in their Round 1 outing by 205 points.
Reservoir travelled to Mill Park Lakes Reserve to play South Morang, the home team recording a 146-point victory. Like the Bloods, Reservoir also lost their previous encounter with the Lions by 205 points and therefore improving margin wise despite the loss.
Daniel Cole and John Abouhaila contributed well for the Mustangs and Dylan Bryce improved to be in the best.
“I am very pleased with the improvement of the young squad,” said Reservoir coach Justin George.
“We will continue to improve as we continue to get games into them.”
The Lions went into the bye with momentum after back-to-back wins following a rough patch that saw them lose three consecutive games.
“We’re looking forward to Kilmore after the break where we should field our strongest team of the season,” said South Morang coach Gary Hall.
Aaron Lazaric pleased his coach as a stand-out in the ruck which gave his team mates first use of the ball.
Laurimar defeated Mernda at Waterview Recreation Reserve to the tune of 39 points. The Power looked to the task, only facing a 12-point deficit at three quarter time.
But with the wind as an advantage, Laurimar sailed home. Amazingly, only three of the 24 match goals were kicked at the northern end of the ground.
“Our contested footy was very good in the second half, that probably won us the game” said Laurimar coach Jimmy Atkins.
Ryan Bongetti continued his stellar season for the Demons, booting three goals, as did Aaron Colliss, while Nathan Baccega was solid across half back.
As the second half of the season commences, Laurimar is atop the ladder with eight wins. Old Eltham Collegians sit a game behind on seven wins with South Morang and Kilmore both on six wins.
The hunt for a finals spot has been elusive for Heidelberg West and Mernda in recent years. They have four and three wins respectively and will need to string victories together to challenge those ahead of them.
Mernda will look to get back on the winners list when hosting Lalor at Waterview Recreation Reserve. The teams last met in Round 4 at Lalor Reserve when the Demons prevailed by 130 points.
Bloods fans would be looking to get closer than the substantial margin this time around, while Mernda needs both a win and a percentage boost to keep their slim finals chances alive.
Reservoir hosts Laurimar at Crispe Park as the Mustangs too will be looking to improve on their previous effort against the Power. The sides last clashed in the opening round at this venue, which resulted in a 157-point triumph by Laurimar.
A significant reduction in the margin this time would be confirmation that Reservoir is on the right path, however it will prove a difficult task against a Power side who boast a five-game winning streak.
For Jimmy Atkins’ side, it is a matter of banking the wins and edging closer to locking away the double chance.
Old Eltham Collegians and Heidelberg West meet at Eltham College in a crucial game for both teams. With third and fourth on the ladder playing each other and the Turtles one game ahead in second spot, the home side will need to secure the four points to ensure they remain in second spot.
The Hawks will go within a game of fourth if they can prevail and recent form between these two sides suggests a close finish.
Heidelberg West’s only game at Eltham College was back in 2019 when the Turtles won by 4 points.
Their most recent encounter yielded a win by the narrowest of margins to Old Eltham Collegians at Heidelberg Park in Round 3 this season, however, expect different line-ups this time as both sides had key players missing on that day.
The match of the day sees fourth placed Kilmore plays host to South Morang at J.J. Clancy Reserve. The Lions are in third place and ahead of the Blues by percentage only, so the winner will be a game clear in third spot and may even rise to second on the ladder, depending on other results.
Based on their Round 5 meeting at Mill Park Lakes Reserve when the Blues won by 32 points, Kilmore would be hot favourites.
However, South Morang didn’t have a full squad to choose from that day and should be stronger this time. Astonishingly, a win would be the Lions’ first triumph over a top four side this season.
The Lions have not played at Kilmore since the opening round of 2019 when they won narrowly by six points. Alex Colaidis booted four majors that day and he has just come off his best return for the 2022 season last week with a bag of six against Reservoir.
With South Morang looking to be returning to form and the Blues back on track after ending the long winning run of Old Eltham Collegians, a tight contest looms as a likely outcome.