By: Matt Fotia
A freezing cold weekend, which threatened rain, gave us extreme wind chill and occasionally tempted us with sunshine. It also gave us plenty of complications and realisations as we turn the last corner and head into the final straight of 2018. Here’s five things we learnt from the weekend…
Redbacks rise to brush off the Jets
The newly-refurbished Jubilee Park hosted the second instalment of the Parker Cup for 2018 as the injury-ravaged Jets came to play.
Heathmont coach Joel Cordwell caught everyone by surprise when he swung Ben Abbruzzese down back to lock onto Trent Farmer.
The move came out as a masterstroke as Abbruzzese matched Farmer’s strength and explosiveness. Farmer was forced to move higher up the ground to influence the contest in what must be considered a massive win for the Jets, especially as they headed into the main break with a lead.
The Redbacks identified the stoppages and contested possessions as the key areas where they needed to improve and improve they did. Led by Mitch Farmer their on-ball brigade as they almost assaulted the Jets midfield, nullifying Brent English’s impact around the stoppages and played the second half entirely on their terms.
The most pleasing aspect for Ringwood fans was the spread of goal-kicking options with the absence of a Farmer bag. Zach Callinan (pictured) kicked three in a great small forward performance, Mitchell Jacobs was impressive in the second half with two goals, as five others hit the scoresheet.
For Heathmont, there are positives. The aforementioned performance of Abbruzzese, Fin Brown and Leigh Odermatt are combining well up forward and they’re testing their depth which should come in handy come finals time – the Jets will still be a force come September.
After the first three rounds of the season it was pretty clear that the Templestowe Dockers had decided to rebuild. Many (including myself) expected them to start next season in the new Division 3, as part of the bottom six this season. But after completing yet another shutout, this time against the Waverley Blues, the Dockers look set to finish in the top six and could still consider themselves a massive finals aspirant.
The Blues could only manage one goal after quarter time as Daniel Cripps snagged four and David Di Stefano kicked three for Tempy, with Mark Ferraro finished best afield. The Dockers’ defensive structure is something to be admired as they show the benefits of a solid back six in today’s footy.
It leaves Templestowe level on points with The Basin in fifth and with the Bears facing Boronia next week it could mean the Round 14 clash between Templestowe and the Bears will have an extra edge. It’s a massive credit to Craig De Corsey and the Templestowe Football Club who have managed to combine transition and success in 2018.
Roos on the hop
Despite showing plenty of evidence that they are going in the right direction and have plenty of upside, it seems that East Ringwood will not be a part of the Premier Division in 2019 after its 13-point loss to Montrose on Saturday.
Brett Johnson showed his worth kicking three goals and finishing best on ground, whilst big Billy Schilling stood up for his side when it mattered again, snagging six majors in a game which saw just 18 goals. It’s made even more impressive by the fact Schilling had just 12 goals in seven games prior to this weekend.
After a free flowing first quarter which saw 11 goals, both sides clearly felt the enormity of the result with just eight behinds kicked in the second. East heading into the final change four points ahead, but failed to convert its chances kicking four behinds to three goals in the last term.
One thing keeping the Roos in the hunt for the Premier Division in 2019 is their superior percentage of 75% compared to Montrose’s 66%. What isn’t in their favour is their run home. The Roos still have Knox in three weeks’ time which should give them their third win for the year, but will have to knock off one of ; Blackburn (A), Balwyn (H), South Croydon (H), North Ringwood (A) or Rowville (H) to be a chance of staying up.
Should Montrose fail to get a victory for the rest of the season, that Round 17 clash with local rivals North Ringwood could be East Ringwood’s last chance saloon.
Sharks sinking fast
It’s a known fact that if Sharks stop swimming they die. I don’t know the ins and outs of why that occurs, but I know that’s a fact. It seems that our friends out at Domeney Reserve have stopped swimming, as Park Orchards sunk to its third successive loss, this time at the hands of Croydon, a side playing with no pressure.
Croydon hit the front with about 10 minutes to go in the last, before a Connor Hickey set shot wobbled through at the 23 minute mark to bring the Sharks level. It’s at this stage of the game where Jarrod Bayliss would’ve expected his big stars to stand up and will his side over the line, to steady their season and go level with Bayswater.
However with 28 minutes gone on the clock, Harry Dempster wobbled a left foot bomb from just inside the arc which whacked into the woodwork. 30 seconds later, with the ball in the middle of the ground, the siren sounded, with two completely different emotions sweeping the two sides.
Croydon, now 5-7, has a blank canvas for the rest of the season. The Blues can try new things, new players and begin planning for next season. The Sharks, now 6-6, missed a great chance to go level with Bayswater in fourth, are now just percentage ahead of Wantirna South and have three of the top four to play, with Bayswater in Round 16 the big one. However after a look at both sides’ fixture list, the Sharks may be out of the running by that time of year.
The Sharks have just come up to the division, but would’ve expected more after their start to the year. A big month ahead for the young Park Orchards troops.
Three into one
The victories of East Burwood, Fairpark and the Whitehorse Pioneers have set the top three of the Division 4 ladder for season 2018. It’s also opened up a three-horse race for the fourth spot as Fairpark, for all its faults, finds itself just one game behind Forest Hill, level with Kilsyth.
The Lions have two very winnable games (Silvan and Coldstream) to come in their run home, face Glen Waverley in Round 14, before their bunnies Whitehorse Pioneers in Round 15 and go up against Forest Hill at home in Round 16.
Kilsyth has the second-placed Pioneers and third-placed East Burwood in the next fortnight, before facing Coldstream, Surrey Park and Forest Hill in the last three rounds, whilst the Zebras have Coldstream, Whitehorse, Silvan before a massive final two weeks against Fairpark and Kilsyth.
What does all this tell us? Whichever side finishes in the top four will have definitely deserved it. Neither of those three sides have an easy run home and it could all come down to the last weekend. It might not always get the attention it deserves, but the Division 4 finals race is something to keep everyone interested with just five games to go.
All views expressed in this article remain those of the author and not of the Eastern Football League or its affiliated clubs.