By: Matt Fotia
The sun shone intermittently with varying degrees of rain this weekend as we all got out first real taste of the upcoming winter. Luckily for us we can distract ourselves from the cold by concentrating on the footy. Here’s five things that came away from Round 6.
Forest Hill sends a reminder.
Forest Hill was everyone’s pre-season premiership favourites this season, after yet again just missing out on finals glory in 2017. But heading into this weekend’s top four battle with the previously undefeated Whitehorse Pioneers, the Zebras’ stocks had fallen.
Its three wins prior had come against three of the bottom four sides, and it had lost handily to East Burwood and the Glen Waverley Hawks. But come 4:30pm on Saturday afternoon, the Zebras had given us a healthy reminder as to why they were premiership favourites back in December.
Their contested ball, ability to switch the play (led by Tim Johnston across half back) and the one-two combination of Pimm (six goals) and Cardamone (two goals) up forward meant they had too much for a valiant Whitehorse side who came hard late in the final term. With countless players to come back into the Zebras’ side and an easier month of footy than they’ve just encountered, Martin Stillman’s men should be back where they belong in the coming weeks.
Vermont variety and Bulls on the re-build
Vermont has only gone and added to its forward line this season. Already far and away the highest scoring side in Division 1 this season with 739 points from six games, the Eagles’ forward six is a tough one to crack. Brett Eddy has 29 goals from his six games, Andrew Ainger has 16 from four and Jake Best announced his return to form on the weekend with seven goals against the Bulls.
But perhaps Vermont’s biggest forward line asset is its new forward line coach, ex-AFL player and 2017 Balwyn coach Marty Pask. Vermont didn’t wait long to snap up Pask in January. Pask led Balwyn to second place after the home and away season last year with 13 wins showing his coaching prowess and he has only added to Harmit Singh’s impressive support staff as the Eagles eye a flag in 2018.
Their opponents from the weekend, Noble Park, may be in unfamiliar territory at this point of the season, in eighth position and with a percentage less than 100 but we encourage them to keep the faith. The Bulls have a great coach in Mick Fogarty and are going through a transition period after off-loading a lot of experience off their list in the off-season. Fogarty’s men have shown that their best is more than good enough and will no doubt be more consistent as the season continues.
Kings and Sharks take their chance
Not too much to learn from this weekend of the Division 2 split round. The results went the way they were expected to go with big wins to Upper Gully and Park Orchards.
But these wins were more than just four points for these sides, they hold within them precious momentum. With Upper taking on Wantirna South in a third versus fourth showdown next week and Park Orchards travelling to the Lions Den (Doncaster East, not Mulgrave), it is entering those clashes with form behind which is key. Its opponent may have a little malaise to shake off early and if the Kings and Sharks can take advantage of that they could come away with two vital wins.
Down the bottom, Mulgrave has probably its biggest fortnight of football ahead of it. Clashes with the two opponents within reach (Croydon and Mitcham) in consecutive weeks mean that the Lions should know their fate by 5pm on the 26th of May. They’ll either have two wins under their belt and be favourites to stay up, or they could be rock bottom and looking forward to 2019 already.
Big dogs to do battle
Division 3’s heavyweights all recorded wins over the weekend to keep the gap between themselves and the rest of the competition. Scoresby held off a valiant Donvale by 35 points, Ringwood ran rings around Ferntree Gully to win by 71 points, Boronia tore Warrandyte apart in the second and third terms to run away winners by 74 points, whilst Heathmont won by an impressive 149 against Chirnside with youngster Fin Brown showcasing his talent kicking eight.
So what you might ask? Everyone knows how good these four teams are. Well, we could be about to find out who the best two are, as all four of the heavyweights do battle in round seven. Ringwood host Scoresby at its adopted home of Fred Geale Reserve with an unblemished record and an in-form Trent Farmer (eight goals against the Gully), whilst Boronia will do battle with Heathmont at Tormore Reserve.
This weekend will give us a real indication of where all four of these sides are at.
Is it as close as we think?
Is Ringwood and Boronia a step ahead?
How good is Heathmont’s young midfield?
Has Scoresby’s recruiting really done the trick?
All of these and more will be answered when Saturday comes.
Hawks sit at the big boys’ table.
In recent years, the Glen Waverley Hawks have threatened to become a premiership contender before ultimately falling short.
In 2016, they finished third on the table before being absolutely punished by Donvale in the elimination final, and last season they finished 10 points shy of a finals berth, despite some really impressive performances, but this season something feels different.
After a tough start to the year with losses to the Whitehorse Pioneers (second) and East Burwood (first), Glen Waverley has since gone a month unbeaten knocking off Forest Hill (third), Kilsyth (fifth), Surrey Park and Fairpark all by over 30 points. It finds itself fourth on the table with a 4-2 record with Nunawading, Coldstream and Silvan to come over the next three weeks.
The Hawks should hit the halfway point of the season at 7-2 with one eye firmly on a top-two spot. The Hawks may have finally gained permission to sit at the big boys’ table in Division 4.
Nunawading reserves win!
I don’t usually include reserves football in The Five, but a special mention has to go out to the Nunawading reserves who defeated Coldstream by five goals on the weekend. Samuel Johnson snagged five goals and Josh Hartill got his second best on ground performance. This is the second reserves win over the past two seasons and is hopefully a sign of things to come for the Nunawading Football Club.
All views expressed in this article remain those of the author and not the Eastern Football League or its affiliated clubs.