EFL Media’s Matt Fotia previews all the upcoming action in Division 1. Don’t forget to use the #EFLDIV1 hashtag and tweet us, @footyefl.
Balwyn (3rd, 10-5, LWW) v Noble Park (5th, 9-6, WLL)
The Tigers annual assault on the finals continued last weekend as they won every quarter against a fancied South Croydon side.
The return of dynamic mid sized (at best) forward Luke Barker added an extra edge to a Balwyn side his return to side after two months out. His six goals were part of a nine goal partnership with Jeffery Gobbels who kicked three in his best on ground performance.
Adding more goal kicking options bodes well for a side that has built from the back this season, boasting the second best defence in the competition.
Whilst the Tigers are building up for that September stretch, the Bulls are sounding the ‘ danger of missing finals’ alarm.
Losses to Norwood and Doncaster, both at home and failing to kick 10 goals on both occasions sees Noble Park just percentage ahead of an equally panicked Blackburn side.
Ziggie Alwan has slotted 31 goals this year to head the Bulls goal kicking charts, but it is the form of James Gwilt (17 Goals) and Timothy Harper (26) that is worrying. The pair of them have only managed three goals between them in the last three games, which epitomises the Bulls struggles in the forward half.
Last Time : Noble Park 10.12.72 def by Balwyn 12.4.76
Straight Shooting Balwyn won what could be a season defining game. Weatherald kicked 3 in a BOG game.
Bayswater (12th, 1-14, LLL) v North Ringwood (9th, 5-10, LLL)
Just three more weeks to go for the Waters who will be looking to retain the bulk of this squad and its First Division experience for the return to Division Two next season.
The most optimistic fan will be hoping that more players will follow the lead of Anthony Van Royen, as they cling to the mathematical chance of survival.
BOG against Norwood, a strong performer in a slog against the Dogs out at Cheong and three majors in the clubs only win of the year over Montrose. If he and some others can replicate this sort of form Bayswater may still be in it.
For the Saints the last fortnight has seen a couple of hard to swallow losses. An 11 point loss to Doncaster followed by a five point loss to Rowville.
Statistically the Saints are not the ninth team in the competition. If Norwood make up a ‘ top seven’ in Division One, then North Ringwood are the best of the rest in attack (1068 tied with Rowville) and defence (1161). Wins over Norwood and Blackburn this season also provide hope for the future.
With youthful players such as Jack Whelan, Tim Jones and Jayden Van Unen the new North coach has plenty of talent to work with.
Last Time: North Ringwood 19.17.131 def Bayswater 10.6.66
Hill 8, McInerney 6, Haley 4, Jones and Whelan in the best.
Doncaster (4th, 10-5, WWW) v East Ringwood (8th, 6-9, WWW)
Keeping it tight in 2017, that seems to be the plan of attack (ironic) for Doncaster as they continue to creep up on the top three. Much like Jaws, but without the music.
Conceding a measly 978 points for the year, Doncaster’s backline deserve a lot more credit then it is currently getting. Players such as Schimmelbusch (nine times in the best this year), Marganis (seven times), David Molloy (seven times) and Ewen McKenzie (four times from nine games) have put in performance after performance this season.
The Sharks have pulled off the double over Balwyn, had away wins against Noble Park and were closest to toppling the unassailable Eagles. The Sharks are circling heading into finals.
Opponents this weekend East Ringwood haven three games on the bounce, seeing the Maroondah club jump from relegation battle to eighth place on the table.
Captain Chris Cerni continues his blistering form, stringing together his third vote catching game. Cerni will no doubt be more pleased with the youthful promise East Ringwood house.
Butera, the Belo boys, Callum Hirovenen and Joshua Weightman (just to name a few) show a clear path back to glory days for East Ringwood. Currently defensively sound, creating a more attacking threat over the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 will be next on the agenda.
Last Time: East Ringwood 8.13.61 def Doncaster 6.11.47
The two Belo’s and Cerni played well as Doncaster dropped a game they would have had down as very winnable.
Rowville (10th, 4-11, LLW) v South Croydon (2nd, 11-4, WWL)
A big sigh of relief for Rowville people after its five point win over North Ringwood, as it all but guaranteed its safety in Division One for 2018.
If the Hawks are too avoid a similar struggle next season, they’ll have to tighten up at the back. Only bottom side Bayswater have conceded more points than the Hawks in 2017. In 2016, Rowville had the third best defence, which only enhances the disappointment of this season.
South Croydon will be out to steady the ship this time out after a tough loss to fellow finals aspirant Balwyn, which accompanied the Dogs lowest total for the year.
The second best side offensively this season the Dogs have already outscored its 2016 version of itself. This has been led by Jake Tucker (44 goals) who has hit the scoresheet every week this season.
The club will be buoyed this week by Tucker putting pen to paper for season 2018 and the prospect of locking up double chance.
Last Time: South Croydon 16.10.106 def Rowville 11.6.72
Tucker kicked 6 as Rowville conceded over 100 points.
Vermont (1st, 15-0, WWW) v Norwood (7th, 7-8, WWW)
Now confirmed as minor premiers, the Eagles can concentrate all of their efforts on the main prize for the remainder of the season.
Tested by Blackburn up until the main break last week, Vermont broke away thanks to three familiar names. Rory Lehmann (10 times in best), Lachlan Johns (5 goals and two vote catching games in the last fortnight) and Tom Schneider who kicked two goals against the Burners.
Despite seeming to be on another level at this moment, they cannot afford to cruise too much. With an inform Norwood, second placed South Croydon and Noble Park to come the Eagles won’t want bad habits, such as losing, creeping in on the even of finals.
Mathematically still in the hunt, Vermont’s opponents, Norwood look to have clicked into gear just a little too late.
After finding out that Gus MacLeod rates him as the best player in the league, Leigh Williams would’ve been brimming with confidence. Six goals (63 for the year) in a BOG performance suggests so at least. Norwood had 10 individual goal kickers again as they ran Bayswater ragged.
With nothing to lose, Norwood pose a major threat to Vermont as he Norsemen pillage its way to the end of the season.
Last Time: Norwood 5.10.40 def by Vermont 10.16.76
Williams kicked 2, Schneider and Lehmann in the best. Expect more goals this time out.
Montrose (11th, 3-12, LLL) v Blackburn (6th, 9-6, LLL)
So close last week for the Demons. They will rue missed chances as its goal less last term cost them the points against the Roos.
Down back Troy Wright has been in sublime form for Montrose. Best on in a loss to Doncaster, strong in the Demons valiant effort against Vermont, Wright put in another shift last weekend, albeit in vein against the Roos.
With Jake Hammond coming up the mountain this weekend he’ll have to dust himself off and get ready to go again.
Stay calm Blackburn fans. Stay calm. Its easier said then done but deep breaths. That home win over Noble Park in round 12 seems an eternity ago.
That win put the Panthers level on points with South Croydon in second. Losses to Norwood, South Croydon and Vermont have seen them drop to sixth a full 14% behind the Bulls.
Blackburn will need a win to not only reclaim fifth spot, but to settle the nerves. It will no doubt be cold, wet and windy day up the mountain this weekend which is good weather for a scrap. Blackburn have the Sharks in round 18. They need this win and the Demons know it.
Last Time: Blackburn 13.12.90 def Montrose 8.12.60
A strong second half from Blackburn got the points. What they’d do for a five goal win this weekend. The mind boggles.