Mid-table logjam in Div 1 & 5 into 2 won’t go

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Sig Arness

In two very close encounters between evenly matched sides, that insidious disease known as inaccuracy may have cost the losers dearly. Both Preston and West Brunswick had more pings at the sticks than their opponents but went down, to Ormond and Oakleigh respectively, by less than a goal. They were the only near misses in a round where the gap between third and seventh tightened up, and Kew finally flexed some muscle to move clear of the relegation zone. Although only adding one to his tally, Aaron Cloke retained a healthy lead in the sharpshooters’ race.

Kew answered their critics in most emphatic fashion – and perhaps provoked a bit of “what might have been”- with a fifteen goal demolition of Brunswick NOBS at Alec Gillon Oval. Led by Max Waters and Blake Goodwin, they kept the Nobs goalless till half time, and continued to outscore them in the second half. The Bears’ multiple goalkickers included their captain Andrew Brazzale with 6 and Nathan Sambevski with 4, whilst for Brunswick only Chris Gavaghan managed to split the uprights more than once. Geramie Ganino and Ben Wilson did best for the Nobs.

Josh McPherson iced his stellar game for Hampton with seven goals, in what was pretty much a cakewalk for the Rovers after slotting eleven majors past the Ivanhoe defence in the opening quarter. Predictably, Hampton secured the round’s highest score and biggest margin against the bottom side, for whom Danny Jones and Aidan Mifsud never gave up. Shern Curry and Ned Fallon were in everything for the dominant Rovers.

At Gunn Reserve, Ormond exacted revenge on their recent conquerors Preston, albeit in nerve-wracking fashion as the game went on, seeing a 34 point orange-time lead evaporate to less than a goal at the siren. The Bullants came alive in the last, but would have rued their six goal, eight behind return. The Monders held sway through five goals from reliable skipper Thomas Buckley, and match-saving inputs from Blair Atkins and Jeremy Simon. Tindarra Hood bagged 3 for Preston, complementing fine work upfield by Jordan Hull and Ollie Lang.

Spraying 3-10 in one quarter of football is often a recipe for disaster, but that particular third-stanza effort did not impact on Prahran Assumption’s day. Having kept Therry Penola to an embarrassing two points in the first half, that onslaught of wastefulness for the Two Blues mattered little, other than leaving the final margin of 39 points a little flattering for the Lions. It was a surprisingly inept effort by Therry Penola, who surrendered third spot and significant percentage at a time when top four positions in this division will be at a premium. Daniel McCracken tried his heart out and Jordan Bannister kicked 2 for the losers, and it was Harry Taylor with 3 and James Musster around the ground amongst many good contributors for the Two Blues.

Oakleigh’s charge is gathering momentum, and this time not just on the back of their champion spearhead. West Brunswick may claim that they kicked themselves out of it, but nevertheless the Krushers held on for a two point win at home and moved threateningly into sixth spot, with the Westies dropping back to seventh. Impressive pick-up Jethro Calma-Holt added another bag of 4 for the beaten brigade, who were well served by Craig Mitchell and Tom Stokes, but it was the poise of Liam Gillard and another even team contribution that saw the boys from Scammell over the line.

PREVIEW

Are NOBS done and dusted? Can they put a brake on the Krushers’ mid-season charge? These are questions to be answered at Alec Gillon Oval, where one side is playing for survival, the other to plant itself firmly in the mix for finals. Form suggests that Oakleigh should come out on top, whereas a loss for Brunswick will probably consign them to the drop.

The pride of the Lions is at stake at Fawkner Reserve, not to mention the real possibility of slipping out of the four. They would no doubt have hoped for a less daunting assignment than the ladder-leading Rovers, but often difficult challenges and rebounding from disappointment brings out the best in combatants. Don’t put this result down as a given.

Despite the home ground advantage and the goalkicking exploits of Jethro Calma-Holt, there is a suspicion West Brunswick lack the supporting firepower to topple Ormond at Ransford Oval. Thomas Buckley and Matthew Hine will give the sometimes brittle Westies’ backline plenty of headaches, and the Monders are not wanting to hand Hampton a break on them. A loss here may not be the end of the world for West Brunswick, but a further deterioration in their already poor percentage will exacerbate the difficulty of their task in the run home.

The winter solstice has come and gone, signifying that the corner has been turned. Unfortunately for Ivanhoe, their winter of discontent looks set to continue. A few weeks ago, the Hoers may have looked at this fixture against Kew as a chance to notch up some much needed points, but, after the Bears’ brutal dismantling of the other relegation-bound outfit last week, that appears a forlorn hope.

Arguably the game of the round – almost a mid-season blockbuster – takes place at Ruthven Reserve. Just a few weeks back, Preston were the movers and shakers, having knocked off the unbeaten teams in successive rounds. Suddenly, they’re coming off two defeats and find themselves in a pack – along with their opponents Prahran Assumption – where everyone knows five into two won’t go. The Two Blues are a game behind but with an equivalent percentage, so they can move past the Bullants with a win here.