MC Labour Division 2 Preview – Round 6

Published on Thursday, May 9, 2024

Author : Giacomo Bruno

Round 6 of the MC Labour Division 2 season again sees plenty of crucial battles for sides who are both looking to get off the mark and maintain their winning runs.

A repeat of the 2023 first semi-final is in store as South Morang host St Mary’s at Mill Park Lakes Recreation Reserve.

Whilst this match may have been seen as an even contest a month ago, it’s hard to argue against the Lions being favourites this week.

They remain unbeaten in five matches, winning by an average of over 70 points, and producing three triumphs by a 15-goal margin or more, including last week, when they defeated Panton Hill by 105 points.

Gary Hall’s men have had a host of contributors to thank for their incredible start to the season, with their Round 5 win seeing players such as James Hewson and Lachlan Potter being named in their side’s best for the first time this year.

They take on a St Mary’s outfit who will be determined to make a statement after being outclassed by a strong Diamond Creek team last week.

After being a high scoring side over the previous two matches, they were kept to just four goals by the Creekers in their second loss for the season.

Despite the defeat, impressive performances from Joseph Maggio and Rory Hanlon continued, with the duo needing to repeat their efforts again if they’re to topple a prolific South Morang midfield on Saturday.

The Burra have won their last two matches against the Lions, but South Morang did win the contest at Mill Park Lakes in 2023. One thing to note ahead of this game is that so far this season, the Lions have an average winning margin of just 23.5 in their two triumphs at the ground compared to 102 points on average away from home.

Sitting two games behind the top three, a victory for Fabian Carelli’s men will put them back in the mix ahead of fruitful games against Northcote Park and Laurimar in the next fortnight.

With both sides still searching for their first win of the season, Northcote Park and Laurimar have a great chance to open their accounts in 2024 when they meet for the very first time at Bill Lawry Oval.

It was imperative for the Cougars to respond last week after their disappointing performance against Diamond Creek and despite going down to Watsonia on their home deck, it was a more promising effort from Anthony Palmer’s side, particularly in the second half when they kicked nine goals to six.

Jordan Perry continues to be a shining light for his side this season, having been the only Cougar to be named in the team’s best every game across the opening five rounds, he’s been their most consistent performer.

Jacob Thompson was also a revelation for Northcote Park in his debut last week, kicking four majors, and could be someone the Cougars can use as a key avenue to goal this weekend and beyond.

Laurimar have had a very similar form line to their Saturday opponents, not only with the 0-5 record, but also with their slightly improved effort in Round 5 in comparison to previous weeks.

They had only trailed Thomastown by 12 points at the main break before the Bears ran away to prevail by 35 points at Laurimar Reserve.

The Power have yet to kick more than 74 points so far this season, despite Joel Lawson getting back to his best on the weekend, producing an impressive six-goal effort. If he can do the same against a side that has conceded an average of 111 points in the last week, Laurimar will be well on their way to their first ever Division 2 triumph.

It is arguably the most important clash of the year to date for these sides, with the winner set to gain some breathing room from the bottom of the ladder.

In the battle of the Bears, Thomastown host Lower Plenty at Main Street Recreation Reserve with both sides currently sitting with a 2-3 record.

Thomastown come into the clash with the wood over their Saturday opponents, having been on the losing end against Lower in just one of their past four meetings, and having defeated Laurimar comfortably last week, David Folino and Sashe Spiroski’s men will be looking to keep up their winning ways.

The Round 5 victory highlighted the influence of recruit Julian Janev who has truly settled into his new colours after a two-goal, best on ground performance.

They also saw multiple contributors inside 50 during the triumph over the Power, with Youseph Dib, James Lucente and Billy Samie all kicking three majors apiece to help their side kick their first 100+ score of the season.

With Lower Plenty seven points shy of conceding the most points of any team in the competition to date, the above trio will be primed to repeat their efforts this Saturday.

But Travis Stephens’ men lost no admirers despite their 61-point loss at home to Whittlesea last weekend.

Lower Plenty challenged the unbeaten Eagles in the first half and led by as much as 20 points in the second quarter, before being overrun in the final two quarters.

Joel Leslie starred once again and alongside fellow consistent performers in Ciaran Porter and Jordan Sacco, the Bears can have shown the potential to cause a few upsets in 2024 and will be looking to just that against Thomastown.

A victory could also put Lower Plenty in good position for a top five pursuit, with matches against sides currently below them in four of their next six matches.

Another side with a 2-3 record but facing a much tougher task ahead is Panton Hill as they make the trip to Whittlesea Showgrounds to face Whittlesea.

Following a solid trio of weeks which included two victories and a 22-point loss to St Mary’s, the Redbacks were brought back down to earth with a 105-point thumping by South Morang at A.E. Cracknell Reserve.

While it’s not the best form to come into this week’s game with, it still provides an opportunity for improvement for Simon Amore’s men.

The key to victory will still come through an ability to kick a big score, particularly as they play a side who average over 30 scoring shots a match. Riley Livingstone will again lead the charge as he has 13 majors to his name, 11 of which have come in the last three rounds.

Bailey Sobol has also been in great form for the Redbacks and has been rewarded with mentions in his side’s best in three of five games in 2024, including the last two straight matches.

Whittlesea however will want to continue a relentless approach in order to remain unbeaten in 2024.

They suffered another slow start over Lower Plenty in Round 5 before kicking 11 straight majors to prevail by over 10 goals.

Expect captain Xavier Dimasi and star utility Jaron Murphy to set the pace again for Garry Ramsay’s men who will be aiming to tick off another win before a massive fortnight against the two other undefeated sides of the competition.

This is the first meeting between the two teams since the 2015 season. The Redbacks upset the Eagles in their Round 2 clash, winning by two points, before Whittlesea got the last laugh with a 70-point triumph in Round 7.

Having opened their account for season 2024, Watsonia will attempt one of the upsets of the season when it faces Diamond Creek at Coventry Oval.

The Saints produced an excellent six-goal to nil opening quarter against Northcote Park last week, which proved to be the catalyst in their 16-point triumph, their first win since Round 17, 2023.

Ethan Lowe starred with five majors in the win and has continued to kick at least two goals in each game this campaign, meanwhile Rayden Garrard impressed in the ruck and Ben Callaghan earned a fourth consecutive mention in the best.

But while George Lattouf’s men will be pleased with breaking the drought this year, they will have to arrest some trends if they’re to get over the line against a Diamond Creek outfit who haven’t looked close to losing in 2024.

The Creekers have defeated Watsonia by an average of 55 points in their last five meetings, with the Saints failing to kick more than 10 goals in any of those matches.

Diamond Creek’s ability to keep opposition sides to low scores continued in their victory over St Mary’s last week. They reduced the Burra to just four goals from 15 scoring shots, and now average just 29 points scored against them in five games.

It was Brenton Keating and Nathan Searl who directed things in defence to ensure the Creekers remained in control throughout their match with St Mary’s.

Tyler Barnes also continues to be in scintillating form for last year’s minor premiers, having kicked goals in all five matches and been named in his side’s best in his last four successive games. His influence in games has played a part in Diamond Creek’s strong start to 2024.

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