Three rounds remain in the regular season when play resumes in Round 16 of Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 football after a two-week hiatus.
Round 14 was to feature clashes between second-placed Laurimar and third-placed Kilmore and a fourth versus fifth match-up with Old Eltham Collegians playing Heidelberg West.
While the cancelled Round 14 was going to play a big part in shaping the top four, the upcoming Round 16 fixture is equally vital, with four of the top-five teams playing each other.
Old Eltham Collegians has the toughest draw of all contenders in the run home – playing the top-three teams. However, as the Turtles are fourth and a game clear of Heidelberg West in fifth, their fate is in their own hands. If they keep winning, they’ll play finals.
Old Eltham Collegians’ sole remaining home game for the season is this weekend when it hosts Laurimar at Eltham College.
The best-case scenario for the Turtles is to win, retain fourth spot and be two games clear of Heidelberg West in fifth place. However, a loss could see them potentially drop down to fifth – depending on other results and margins.
The Power needs to win in order to strengthen their grip on to the double chance. Their story is similar to the Turtles, in that they will claim the double-chance if they keep winning. A loss could see them drop to third behind Kilmore, so there is no shortage of incentive.
Both teams were in good form prior to the break, with Laurimar on a five-game winning streak, while Old Eltham Collegians have won four on the trot.
An exciting spectacle awaits if their last clash is anything to go by. Laurimar prevailed by 19 points at Laurimar Reserve in Round 4, with Josh Williamson booting nine majors for the Power, while Fraser Cloney slotted five for the Turtles.
It’s déjà vu for Mernda and Reservoir. The last match they played was against each other at Waterview Recreation Reserve and they meet there again this weekend.
Their round 13 encounter resulted in a 151-point triumph for the Demons – with William Crouch booting a career-best seven goals.
The score line was a low point for the Mustangs, and they would be looking to better that result significantly in the rematch. The plus for them is that the team will have had recent experience at playing on the oval.
Mernda’s past two matches against Reservoir were followed by two rounds of shutdown. Demons’ fans would be hoping for back-to-back wins for the first time this year and then to finish off the season in style.
Kilmore has a chance of grabbing second place on the ladder when travelling to Lalor Reserve to take on Lalor.
To do so, the Blues must win well and hope that Old Eltham Collegians can notch a win over Laurimar.
Kilmore will go in as warm favourites, but the Bloods have gone close to toppling both the Hawks and the Turtles on their home turf, so the Lalor players will feel that an upset is possible.
Blues fans would like a repeat of their last trip to Lalor Reserve back in Round 7 of 2019. On that day, Kilmore won by 63 points with Marcus Webb scoring six majors.
Rounding out the return to football, South Morang hosts Heidelberg West at Mill Park Lakes Reserve.
While most pundits have pencilled in the Lions for the double chance already and a win here would seal the deal.
As well as ticking off that goal, Lions fans would like to rebound from their only loss of the season with a win over a possible finals opponent and then carry that momentum into the finals.
Heidelberg West went within 16 points of an upset back in Round 7 at Heidelberg Park when these teams last met. That began a four-game losing run either side of the Queen’s Birthday break for the Hawks, but they snapped that streak in Round 13 with a big win over Lalor.
So, they should enter this contest with the pressure valve released a little. Also, some of their better players may have had a chance to heal over the break, so the team selections will be of interest.
Hawks fans will be hoping for a good start in this contest as they were down five goals to one early in the Round 7 match. If the Hawks could topple the competition leaders, they would fancy their chances of playing finals for the first time in Division 3.
Ladder position: 1st
Win-loss record: 10 wins, 1 loss
Most times in best: Tye Hall (7), Nathan Bell (6), Liam Failla, Matthew Trim (5)
Leading goal kickers: Benjamin Peterson (25), Jake Potter (23), Alex Colaidis (22)
Players used: 34
Played every game: (10) Benjamin Peterson, Joshua Renehan, Nathan Bell, Kain Hall, Noah Dalmau, Mitchell Kalpakis, Ben Muscat, Matthew Robinson, Aaron Lazaric, Luke Cullen
Remaining fixture: Heidelberg West (H), Old Eltham Collegians (H), Laurimar (A)
Ladder position: 2nd
Win-loss record: 9 wins, 2 losses
Most times in best: Ethan Gorksi, Jacob Lawson, Kaiden Arthur, Mitchell Thompson (5)
Leading goal kickers: Josh Williamson (39), Jacson Cecil (16), Matthew Gersh (13)
Players used: 38
Played every game: (6) Jarod Coco, Joshua Leather, Mitchell Thompson, Michael Higgins, Luke Wilson, Harrison Mooney
Remaining fixture: Old Eltham Collegians (A), Lalor (H), South Morang (H)
Ladder position: 3rd
Win-loss record: 8 wins, 3 losses
Most times in best: Leigh Irons (7), Christopher Barton (6), Bailey Taylor-Egan, Caden Fitzpatrick, Chris Ryall, Christopher Jackson (5)
Leading goal kickers: Marcus Webb (17), Christopher Barton (15), Luke Chapman (15)
Players used: 33
Played every game: (6) Christopher Barton, Christopher Jackson, Jaxson Kinnear, Michael McCulloch, Leigh Irons, Daniel Matthew
Remaining fixture: Lalor (A), Mernda (A), Old Eltham Collegians (H)
OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS
Ladder position: 4th
Win-loss record: 7 wins, 4 losses
Most times in best: Matthew Dean (7), Eden Simpson, Jack Fitzgerald (5)
Leading goal kickers: Tim Woods (16), Eden Simpson (13), Fraser Cloney (12)
Players used: 38
Played every game: (8) Angus Robertson, Bryan Galvin, Jack Fitzgerald, Lachlan Smith, Luke Booth, Luke Bower, Thomas Cleary, Thomas O’Neill
Remaining fixture: Laurimar (H), South Morang (A), Kilmore (A)
Ladder position: 5th
Win-loss record: 6 wins, 5 losses
Most times in best: Jarryd Coulson (7), Masaki Miki (6), Ben Kennan, Bradley Moore (5)
Leading goal kickers: Alex Hywood (24), Harley Mozdzierz (15), Allan Young (12)
Players used: 37
Played every game: (7) Ben Kennan, Bradley Moore, Jarryd Coulson, Kane Moore, Lachlan Reinke, Michael Celestin, Ryan Offer
Remaining fixture: South Morang (A), Reservoir (A), Mernda (H)
Ladder position: 6th
Win-loss record: 3 wins, 8 losses
Most times in best: Joshua Mazzarella (8), Anthony Bradford, Joshua Coe (5)
Leading goal kickers: William Crouch (23), Byrce Kimuliatis (21), Riley Black (10)
Players used: 40
Played every game: (8) Christopher Roussos, Joshua Coe, Joshua Mazzarella, Kyle Yankos, Riley Black, Riley Edwards, Riley Vincent, William Crouch
Remaining fixture: Reservoir (H), Kilmore (H), Heidelberg West (A)
Ladder position: 7th
Win-loss record: 1 win, 10 losses
Most times in best: Louis Hill (9), Sam Rexhepi (8), Dominic Saccuzzo, Lachlan Evans (6)
Leading goal kickers: Sam Rexhepi (25), Nathan Smith (11), Louis Hill (10)
Players used: 49
Played every game: (3) Lachlan Evans, Louis Hill, Sam Rexhepi
Remaining fixture: Kilmore (H), Laurimar (A), Reservoir (H)
Ladder position: 8th
Win-loss record: 0 wins, 11 losses
Most times in best: Nicholas Gregson (9), Jack Smith (8), Robert Holland (7)
Leading goal kickers: Nicholas Gregson (13), Jack Smith (5), Ben Mowlam, Jonah Taylor (4)
Players used: 49
Played every game: (4) Jack Smith, Matthew Verduci, Thomas Hollaway, Tom Zerella
Remaining fixture: Mernda (A), Heidelberg West (H), Lalor (A)