MC Labour Division 2 Preview – Round 7

Published on Thursday, May 25, 2023

Author : Giacomo Bruno

The halfway point of the 2023 MC Labour Division 2 season is quickly approaching, with some massive clashes this weekend presenting an opportunity for many sides to keep their ambitions of contending for finals well and truly alive.

In a huge battle of third vs fourth, Northcote Park host South Morang at Bill Lawry Oval in what could possibly be an early finals fixture preview.

After an ominous start to the season, the Cougars have gotten their 2023 campaign back on track, as Stephen Saddington’s side look to secure their fourth win of the season and their third win on the bounce.

The trio of Michael Amad, Christopher Clark and Matthew Perry have been impressive in recent weeks and look to be leading the promotion charge for the Cougars. Having been instrumental in the side’s latest run of form, they’ll be looked upon to guide the side to another win on Saturday.

Alexander Boyse has also been crucial in the forward half and has kicked majors in every game he’s played thus far in 2023, taking his tally up to 13 for the season.

Meanwhile South Morang’s incredible push for back-to-back promotions has gotten off to an ideal start having one of the surprise packets to begin the 2023 season, winning four of their opening six matches.

Having seen off a resilient Watsonia outfit by 16-points last weekend, another victory will put them well placed to hold a top five spot through the middle stages of the season.

Up forward, Joshua D’Intinosante has been excellent, currently with 19 goals for the season, he comes into the game against the Cougars in form having recently booted five against the Saints last weekend.

If Gary Moorcroft backs up from his seven-goal effort in Round 6, they will again form a powerful duo inside 50.

You have to go back to 1994 to see the last time these two sides faced off against one another and with a lot to play for in the early stages, expect this highly anticipated contest to deliver.

Only out of the top five by percentage, Panton Hill will be looking to make it four wins on the trot and jump their Saturday opponents in Thomastown, who currently occupy fifth spot on the ladder.

Back on their home deck at A.E Cracknell Reserve, Simon Amore’s men will be confident they can continue their winning ways, most recently running out 23-point victors on the road against a St Mary’s outfit who were looking for a fourth straight win themselves.

Holding their opposition to less than 80 points in each of their last three matches, the Redbacks have looked strong defensively.

Meanwhile Tom Keys continues to stand out for the Redbacks. He’s coming off a stellar first six weeks of the season and was the star of the show in their most recent victory against the Burra, having an influence around the ground and also getting amongst the goal kickers.

Along with Keys, the Parks trio will have a role to play this weekend, all of whom are enjoying a bright start to the campaign. Nicholas and Samuel in particular have been named in the side’s best players four times each this season.

Thomastown will use this game as an opportunity to begin separating from the rest of the pack. They currently sit 3-3 and are in the top five only on percentage.

The Bears have won two of their last three games and most recently knocked off by Lower Plenty by 54-points at home.

When they have been winning, it’s been the usual suspects of Tyrone Leonardis, Daniel Caruso and Lawrence Lopiccolo who have been the most influential. Leonardis still leads the Coaches MVP Award race after polling five votes in last week’s win at Lower Plenty.

Having lost by an average of 70.5 points in their two meetings last season, expect Panton Hill to make this clash a lot closer and more competitive.

With neither side having registered a win to their name in 2023, Round 7 marks the perfect opportunity for both Lower Plenty and Epping to record their first triumph of the year when they lock heads at Montmorency Park South Oval.

With a relegation a looming threat for both sides, this fixture will prove to be a real eight-point game.

Fielding a much younger side in 2023, there have been glimpses of promise for the Bears, but with that has come some heavy defeats, most recently suffering a 54-point loss to Thomastown.

Co-captain Jordan Sacco has his best game of the season, while Ciaran Porter did all he could in the defensive half, as he’s done all season.

While many would have predicted Lower Plenty to comfortably defeat Epping in this fixture at the start of the season, the Blues first six weeks of 2023 has suggested a result won’t be as easy to predict come Saturday.

They fell by 65 points to Northcote Park in Round 6, but it was another instance where they kept up with their opposition for at least a half of football, only trailing by 23 at the main break before being blown out.

In the absence of the in-form Damon Hollow, Luke Lirosi stood up, kicking three goals and standing out as his team’s best. Ethan Gorski and Thomas Muscat also backed up good performances in recent weeks with another solid showing.

If Hollow returns this week, he could create a formidable trio with Lirosi as well as Leigh Judd to help give Epping every chance of winning.

What works in the Bears’ favour this weekend is that they’ve been the better scoring team than their Saturday opponents, however with so much at stake in this contest, expect both sides to leave nothing out there.

Watsonia will host an Eltham side determined to bounce back from their first loss of the season at Binnak Park.

The Saints currently sit sixth on the ladder, outside of the top five on percentage, with a win almost certainly seeing them return to the top half of the ladder.

After a blistering first two weeks of the season, George Lattouf’s side have faced defeat in three of their last four games but have shown signs that they’re up for the fight against the top sides of the competition.

Joshua Boulton continued on from his brilliant start to the 2023 campaign, with another stand out performance in their most recent defeat to South Morang putting him second in Coaches MVP Award voting.

He will be relied upon to guide their side to a victory over one of the early premiership favourites, as will forward James Lucente, who’s currently the division’s top goal-scorer.

Eltham will be looking to quickly return to the winner’s column, having endured just their fourth loss in their past 27 outings, going down to Diamond Creek by 19-points.

Thomas Goodwin will have a massive role to play, having been one of the premier rucks in the division in the season thus far. He’s been named in his side’s best in his last five games.

Another one to be weary of will be Daniel Owen who was sorely missed last weekend. The young forward has kicked 15 goals in his five games this season and despite Jason McCormick looking after things in his absence, Owen’s return will instantly improve Tim Bongetti’s side.

Having lost by an average of nine goals in their two meetings last season, the Saints will be looking to put in a far more competitive showing in their first clash against the Panthers this season.

Diamond Creek will hope to build from their brilliant victory last week as they face St Mary’s at Coventry Oval.

Andrew Tranquilli will be pleased with how his men have played in the first six rounds of the year, especially following one of their most memorable victories in recent years with an excellent 19-point triumph over Eltham at Eltham Central Park.

It was a complete performance from a Creekers side that look destined to be there at the pointy end of the season.

Tyler Barnes has kept up his stellar start to the campaign, having been named among his side’s best players on five occasions, including playing a role in his side’s win over the Panthers. His ability to have an impact in the midfield and up forward has been critical to Diamond Creek’s early success.

Young ruck Nicholas Barro also held his own against Thomas Goodwin on the weekend, being rewarded with four more Coaches MVP Award votes and a second best on ground for the Creekers this season.

After a scintillating three weeks for St Mary’s, they were brought back down to earth in Round 6, falling at home to Panton Hill.

Huon MacGibbon has been an incredibly consistent contributor for Fabian Carelli’s men thus far, being amongst the Burra’s top players on five occasions this season and he was again one of the shining lights in side’s loss last weekend.

They’ll also hope to welcome back Tane Cotter this week who in 2023, has had a similar start to his 2021 campaign, a year which saw him earn a Division 2 Team of the Year selection.

The Creekers won both meetings over St Mary’s last year and have not tasted defeat to the Burra since 2019. While the visitors will be determined to respond, Diamond Creek will hope to play in a similar way to their big victory last week.

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