A top-five blockbuster headlines a tantalising round of MC Labour Division 2 football, as the competition remains tight at the top.
A huge battle awaits at Montmorency Park South Oval when Lower Plenty and Banyule are set to lock horns in what could be a top-five shaping match.
Both sides have been in strong form in the past month, meaning a win will prove valuable for both sides.
Victory for the Banyule could potentially see them regain second spot as they continue their quest to knock off the top of the table Eltham side, while for Lower Plenty, not only would the four points avoid the gap reducing between them and sixth placed Watsonia, but with a healthy percentage, it could also boost their chances of sneaking into the top three.
Having fell short against Eltham in Round 10, Lower Plenty recorded an important bounce back triumph last weekend, comfortably defeating the Fitzroy Stars by 105 points.
Ben Paterson led the way for the Bears, kicking four goals for the game and being named as the side’s best player in the win. Darcy Barden was again impressive while Jordan Sacco had one of his more solid games of the season.
With their key players in good form and having defeated Banyule by five goals in their last meeting, Lower will be confident their side can get the better of their opponents again.
However, following their shock heavy defeat to Eltham, a month ago, Banyule regained momentum nicely in the last three weeks, collecting important wins against bottom five sides.
Their most recent victory was their toughest task, as on a windy afternoon at Main Street Recreation Reserve, the Bears turned a 10-point three quarter time deficit into a 22-point triumph over Thomastown.
The visitors kicked five goals to nil in the final term to remain in the hunt to knock off the Panthers in top spot.
Joshua Page played his best game of the season. He was influential around the ground and kicked an important goal in the last quarter to help guide his side to victory.
With plenty at stake for both sides, expect this match to deliver a fiery and entertaining contest.
It’s make or break for Thomastown will be looking to turn their fortunes around when they host Eltham at Main Street Recreation Reserve.
2022 has been an ‘almost’ season for the Bears who have had opportunities to win games this year taken away from them.
It was a similar case on the weekend after a 10-point three quarter time lead turned into a 22-point defeat against Banyule.
As a result, Thomastown have lost their last four matches and sit 10 points adrift from the top five.
Tyla Barrow and Anthony Capeci have been standouts in the last few weeks for Mario Bandera’s side, but it will need to take an entire team effort to not only get past the ladder leaders this week but to rise their way back into finals contention.
Eltham continue to charge towards their first minor premiership since 2018. That season, the Panthers finished with a 16-2 home & away record and with how this year’s campaign has played out so far, a similar record could be reached.
Robert Hyde’s men have won their last nine fixtures, with their most recent victory another example of the ability his side has of breaking away from games despite being challenged.
The Panthers trailed by eight points at half time against a fiery Watsonia outfit before storming home in the second half to win by 38 points.
The emergence of their young brigade continues to be a key factor in their 2022 success, with Finnbar Maley, Declan Ayres and David Evans playing brilliant football in their first year of senior’s action.
A six goal to nil first quarter set the tone in Eltham’s last match against the Bears in Round 6 in which they won by 59 points and a similar result on Saturday could spell the end of Thomastown’s finals hopes.
Watsonia will take on Diamond Creek at Binnak Park in what is another crucial fixture for both sides.
The Saints are coming off an encouraging showing last week against the league leaders in Eltham where they led by eight points at half time. But they will rue their missed opportunities, as they kicked 5.14 for the match and let the lead slip to lose by 38 points.
Daniel Gervasoni was named as his side’s best performer while Kobe Van Zwienen and Joshua Boulton were also solid.
James Lucente and Kyle Wheatley have been a great duo up forward for George Latouff’s side but they’ll need to both be firing if they’re to get through this impressive Diamond Creek outfit.
Having convincingly taken out Epping by 110-points, Diamond Creek are coming into their clash fresh off a percentage boosting victory to ensure they finished the round inside the top two.
Another victory for Andrew Tranquilli’s side will be their ninth in a row as they look to stake their claim as premiership contenders.
Strong and consistent performances from the likes of Jai Norman, Tyler Barnes, Ryan Pingree, Sam Gleeson, Nicholas Barro and Nathan Searl are a big reason as to why the Creekers are in the position they’re in and with the addition of Whittlesea star David Mennen a fortnight ago, Diamond Creek are looking like a side to be reckoned with in 2022.
This almost becomes an elimination final for Watsonia as another defeat could make finals berth a difficult task but at the least, they’ll want to produce a better showing then their last clash with the Creekers in which they were on the wrong end of a 64-point result in Round 6.
Two sides who will be hoping to bank another win before the season comes to end are Panton Hill and Epping who face off at A.E Cracknell Reserve.
The Redbacks have all but secured their place in Division 2 next year after producing their best win of the season, a 12-point triumph over St Mary’s.
In one of the upsets of this year’s campaign, the Redbacks kicked 2.7 in the final term but were able to hold off the finals bound Burra outfit in order to claim their third win of the season.
Panton Hill were aided by the return of 2019 premiership stars Daniel Freeman, Scott Conte and Tim Duckworth who will no doubt continue to play key roles on and off field to help the young Redbacks take the next step in their development.
Their Saturday opponents in Epping were quickly thrown back into reality last week following a heavy defeat to Diamond Creek.
The 110-point loss was their seventh loss by over 100 point this season, on top of a 99-point defeat to Thomastown on Good Friday and will want to get themselves back on track to ensure their development continues to be on the improve.
It was a tense battle last time these two sides faced each other, with Panton Hill extending their nine-point three quarter time lead into a 21-point triumph over the Blues in Round 2.
The Redbacks would be the favourites in this clash, particularly off the back of their performance last week as well as this game being at home, however Epping will be desperate to take the opportunity of another win with both hands.
St Mary’s have a big chance to firm their spot inside the top-five when they take on the winless Fitzroy Stars at Whatmough Oval.
The Burra will be particularly eager to return to the winner’s list, following a shock defeat to Panton Hill last week.
Fabian Carelli’s side will be fortunate that both Watsonia and Thomastown dropped points over the weekend in order to give them a fresh opportunity to extend the gap between them and the bottom five.
Despite the defeat, spirited performances from Zane Costello and Lachlan Read will be taken as positives as St Mary’s look to improve on their already healthy percentage against the struggling Stars.
Lionel Proctor’s men continue to search for their first win of the season following another heavy loss last week, this time at the hands of Lower Plenty.
With seven games remaining in the regular season and still sitting two games away from the next best side, the Stars will need to produce some significantly improved performances in order to avoid their first relegation since joining the league in 2008.
Individual performances continue to stand out for the Fitzroy Stars despite the one-sided affairs, with Riley Livingstone and Hotak Akram playing some of their best football at present.
If the Stars can muster some momentum in the next few weeks of the season, anything is possible, but a run to avoid the going down would need to start sooner rather than later.