With top five spots and double chance finishes still up for grabs, wins will come at a premium during this weekend’s MC Labour Division 2 action.
The most anticipated fixture of the round will be the battle of second vs third when Banyule host Diamond Creek at Beverley Road Oval.
A win for either side will be incredibly valuable as they look to secure a top three spot heading into finals.
The Bears can’t mathematically drop lower than third if they do prevail on Saturday and although the Creekers might still only have a two-point lead from Lower Plenty if they claim the victory, a last round clash with the winless Fitzroy Stars would put them in the box seat for their first double chance finish since 2017.
Banyule are coming off a comprehensive 63-point victory over Epping, with the Bears getting back on the winner’s list in a big way following their six-point loss to Eltham the week prior.
Jack Langford and Lachlan Turner were brilliant inside 50, combining for nine goals, while Reuben Blackmore-Moore’s ability to play midfield and forward was on show again as he snagged three majors.
Riley Loton has put together an outstanding season with his influence in the midfield playing a big role in Banyule’s on field success so far this year.
In a low scoring affair last week, the Creekers produced a 41-point win over Panton Hill at Coventry Oval to keep their top three spot intact.
Sam Gleeson continues to put his hand up for recruit of the year with another excellent game for Andrew Tranquilli’s men while Tyler Barnes has also been impactful when drifting up forward, now kicking four goals in his last three games.
Banyule defeated Diamond Creek by 20 points when both clubs last met in Round 4. The following week would be the start of an eight-game winning streak for the Creekers.
With plenty on the line, expect to see the best of both sides on Saturday.
In a must win game for both teams, St Mary’s take on Lower Plenty at Whatmough Park.
The Burra currently sit a game clear of the bottom five sides in fifth position and with Watsonia and Thomastown still a mathematical chance to jump into five, nothing but a victory on Saturday will assure them of their first Division 2 finals appearance.
Unfortunately for Fabian Carelli’s side, they come into this important fixture off their heaviest defeat of the season, a 71-point loss to Eltham.
Vincent Loccisano played his first game since mid-June last week and was the Burra’s best for the second time in his last three matches. He kicked four majors in his side’s most recent match against Lower Plenty and a similar performance could go a long way towards getting St Mary’s over the line.
There’s almost just as much on the line for the Bears. With Banyule and Diamond Creek playing each other, a win for Phil Plunkett’s side could see them join the top three for the first time since Round 7.
The Bears are in good form, winning their last five matches and a win on Saturday will likely make it seven consecutive victories in the lead up to finals.
Their best was on display last week with a 47-point win against Thomastown away from home. Ciaran Porter and Corey Sleep stood up for the Bears with the absence of Billy and Darcy Barden, and with the brothers likely to return this week, Lower Plenty will be confident they can claim another triumph against the Burra.
With a spot in the top five still in reach, Watsonia have a great opportunity to keep their finals hopes alive when they face Epping at Binnak Park.
George Lattouf’s men sit just four points shy of the top five and with St Mary’s playing Lower Plenty, Watsonia could be level on points heading into last round of the home and away season.
What does hurt the Saints is their percentage, as they currently sit 16 percent behind the Burra and 37 percent behind Thomastown, meaning a convincing win over the Blues will be the perfect scenario for Watsonia’s final push towards the top five.
They do come into this clash with some momentum, responding to their heavy defeat to Lower Plenty a week prior by recording an emphatic 101-point victory over the Fitzroy Stars.
Daniel Annetta has produced some solid performances since his return from suspension, being a part of the Saints’ best players in his last two matches and kicking at least one goal in his last five appearances. Kyle Wheatley has also been a force up forward lately, with six goals in his last two matches.
Without a win in five games, Epping have at least looked more competitive in the second half of the season, putting in a brave showing against Banyule last week before getting ran over in the second half to go down by 11 goals.
Omar Mustafa was the side’s best player in the loss, building on an impressive last month of football, with Leigh Judd and Alec Buchan also having serviceable days out.
An incredible upset win would secure the Blues’ place in Division 2 next year although even with a loss, the likelihood of them staying put in 2023 is high.
Thomastown are still outsiders to play finals and will need to put in a complete performance against Panton Hill to keep those hopes alive.
At the end of Round 12, the Bears sat 14 points away from the top five, but with an improved patch of form, they could still be in the finals hunt by the end of the week.
If they beat Panton Hill and St Mary’s fall to Lower Plenty, the Bears will be just two points shy of the top five and ultimately set up a mouthwatering final round against the Burra at Whatmough Park.
Thomastown will at least want to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Lower Plenty last week in a match they never looked like winning.
Captain Josh Beare did lead from the front however, standing out as his side’s best on the ground.
Now playing for pride to wrap up the 2022 season, Panton Hill will be hoping to spoil the party as they build for next year.
The Redbacks slumped to a six-goal loss to the Creekers last week, being held goalless in the opening half and kicking just four majors for the match.
Oliver Parks was the highlight for Simon Amore’s side, picking up his fourth entry in the Redbacks’ best throughout his last five matches.
Panton Hill suffered a heavy 120-point defeat when they last faced the Bears in Round 7, so the aim for the Redbacks will be an improved performance in front of their home fans.
In a first vs tenth battle, the Fitzroy Stars and Eltham lock horns at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval.
A winless season looks to be on the cards for the Stars after suffering their eighth 100-point loss of the season last week.
Hotak Akram can hold his head up high this year as along with Riley Livingstone, has been one of the Stars’ most consistent performers. He was his side’s best on ground in the 101-point loss to Watsonia last Saturday, making it his 13th appearance in the Stars’ best throughout his 16 matches in 2022.
Suffering a 195-point loss to the ladder leaders in Round 9, Lionel Proctor’s men will hope to produce a competitive performance as they prepare for their final home match of the season.
The Panthers will hope to keep their incredible 13 game winning streak intact; they’ll also mathematically finish as minor premiers with another four points on Saturday.
Robert Hyde’s men again proved to be unfazed by any challenges that come their way after turning a one-point half time deficit against the Burra into a 71-point triumph.
With bottom two sides to round out the home and away campaign, Eltham can enter the finals series with their confidence at an all time high if they can secure two more comprehensive wins.