The top four race has opened up in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 with sides vying to establish themselves as finals contenders in season 2022.
After a gloomy start to winter, sunny skies greeted fans during last weekend’s Round 10 action.
Surprisingly, two teams striving for finals action had not beaten a top four team for the entire first half of the year. That changed last Saturday when both South Morang and Heidelberg West claimed convincing wins and those results have had a big impact on the ladder.
Meanwhile, teams out of the finals race in Reservoir and Lalor found it tough going first up after the bye and lost by heavy margins.
Despite losing to Kilmore in Round 5 at Mill Park Lakes Reserve by 32 points, South Morang looked a different side when they travelled to J.J. Clancy Reserve for the first time since 2019. They gained control of the match early and never looked back in registering a 34-point victory.
The ruck duo of Aaron Lazaric and Nathan Stefanile gave the Lions the winning edge with the ever-reliable Matthew Trim lifting his game to another level, kicking three majors in a best-on-ground performance.
“We’ve got players coming back and we’re starting to build for the back end of the year,” said South Morang coach Gary Hall.
Chris Ryall continued his excellent form in the midfield for the Blues and was ably assisted by Chris Barton.
“South Morang worked a lot harder than us and took their chances,” said Kilmore coach Nathan Phillips.
“We didn’t, we were reactive and poor in transition. It’s a disappointing result, but we’ll regroup and go again.”
Heidelberg West lost by a solitary behind in the Round 3 clash against Old Eltham Collegians at Heidelberg Park, but this time around it was a different story.
They were still considered outsiders by most pundits, but the Hawks booted seven majors in the final term to win by 24 points over the highly fancied Turtles, undoubtably the upset of the round.
Alex Hywood has scored multiple goals in the past five rounds and stood out again inside 50 with six on the day for the Hawks. Jesse Howell was named best for Old Eltham Collegians.
Mernda narrowly missed the double ton, scoring 199 in their 164-point win over Lalor at Waterview Recreation Reserve.
Josh Mazzarella kicked ten majors and Bryce Kimuliatis scored nine in the victory.
Small forward Jason Cousins took his chances and kicked four goals for the Bloods while Dylan Cawsey continued to press his claim for best and fairest with another polished display.
“We’re experimenting a bit and trying to maximize our opportunities up forward,” said Lalor coach Angelo Lamanna.
Reservoir played Laurimar in the opening round of the season at Crispe Park and lost by 157 points. Seeking to improve on that margin when playing then again at the same venue, the Mustangs never looked likely and went down by 290 points to the Power.
Jacson Cecil kicked the competition’s biggest bag for the year with sixteen majors as Luke Wilson and Ethan Frawley led a dominant midfield.
“We’re very happy with our accuracy in front of goal and the fact that we played out the game defensively until the end,” said Laurimar coach Jimmy Atkins.
On a tough day for the home side, captain Tom Holloway was best, while eighteen-year-old Nicholas Repic did well through the midfield and half back.
“This was a setback, but we still have goals we are trying to achieve for the year and they are in front of us,” said Reservoir coach Justin George.
Laurimar have skipped to a two-game plus percentage break on the field while South Morang moved into second place with their triumph, eclipsing Old Eltham Collegians on percentage. Kilmore is a game back in fourth and Heidelberg West sits a further game behind in fifth place.
Old Eltham Collegians will be keen to snap a two-game losing streak when travelling to Crispe Park to play Reservoir.
Percentage will also come in handy as they currently trail South Morang by just under 50 percent. They will also use the game as a warm-up for the following week’s clash with Laurimar as they aim to get key players back from injury.
The Mustangs will be looking for a better effort and a much closer game than the previous week to give the home fans an indication that things are back on track. The previous game between these teams resulted in a 224-point win by the Turtles in Round 6 at Eltham College.
Kilmore will also look to return to the winners list when playing Lalor at Lalor Reserve. With Heidelberg West snapping at the heels of the Blues with a superior percentage and only a win behind them, the Blues will be looking for a big win in the lead up to a crucial match the following week against the Hawks.
Bloods fans will look for a combination of attacking flair and improved defence. The last meeting between these teams saw the Blues win by 227 points at J.J. Clancy Reserve in Round 6.
South Morang will be aiming to keep its three-game winning run intact when hosting Mernda at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.
The Lions won convincingly by 58 points at this venue in the opening round of the season, but the Demons look to have improved since then. Even so, South Morang will go in as clear favourites as they attempt to push for a double chance spot.
But if Mernda can cause an upset, they may draw level on wins with fifth placed Heidelberg West.
The Hawks will be looking for back-to-back wins over top four teams when hosting Laurimar at Heidelberg Park in the match of the round.
It’s arguably the toughest test of all for Michael Missen’s side, but they will go in with some confidence after powering away from Old Eltham Collegians last Saturday.
For Laurimar, it’s a matter of clinching the double chance as soon as possible. Heidelberg West needs to score more wins against top four teams in the run home to clinch that elusive finals spot.
It’s hard to make a case against the Power who would have been undefeated if not for a three-point loss to the Turtles at Eltham College in Round 4.