By Brenton Mann – @BrentyMann
South Melbourne were the talk of the VAFA, as the Districts, who had been seemingly all at sea, notched their first win of 2015. Souths hosted Elsternwick at Lindsay Hassett Oval and claimed a resounding 16-point win. The Districts had been thereabouts in the weeks prior and had clearly set themselves for the match, and set-up the win with a five-goals-to-two third quarter. The loss was a double-blow for Elsternwick who will yet again, have to fight to hold their place in Division 2. The Wicks held sway in the first-half over an inaccurate South Melbourne and led by eight points at halftime. It was in the third however, when the Districts made their move. They banged home 5.6 to 2.3 which eventually sealed the result. South Melbourne boasted an impressive spread of goal-kickers with Mitchell-Russell and Jordy Heis bagging three apiece, while McNamara and Rhodes snagged two. Elsternwick were well served by forward duo Justin Hunter (5) and Ben Robertson (4) but the pair required more support. The euphoria may be short lived for South Melbourne, as they head north, to W.R Ruthven Reserve, to take on a seasoned Blues outfit. For Elsternwick, they must bounce back against a Melbourne High side riding high after last week’s nail biting win over Ivanhoe.
Melbourne High sent a shockwave through Division 2, as it upset ladder-leaders Ivanhoe in what was arguably the performance of the year. The Unicorns found themselves four-goals down at quarter-time, and clearly struggling. It was business as usual for Ivanhoe with six goals straight in the first, and seemed to be cruising. But, for the remaining three-quarters Melbourne High put them to the sword. They cut the margin to a manageable 16-points at halftime and then ramped up the intensity. The Unicorns’ third quarter blitz netted them six goals and held the Hoes to two and subsequently, took an eight-point lead into the last quarter. The final term was an arm-wrestle, as Ivanhoe attempted to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The Hoes won the final term, but the Unicorns would not be denied as they held on by a nail biting three-points. After a two couple of years, Melbourne High has done plenty right this year in what’s been a year of consolidation. Unicorns’ forward “Panda” Hawking and Hamilton-Ho bagged three, while Svirskis slotted two. The loss was Ivanhoe’s was second of the year and surely not a travesty. It will hopefully be learnt from and an opportunity to reflect and iron out some flaws in their game. Melbourne High will this week start warn favourites against a patchy Elsternwick. Ivanhoe face a sterner test as it hosts an in-form Old Paradians who will want to build on last week’s win over St John’s.
Old Paradians staked their claim as a force to be reckoned with as they secured a gritty six-point win over St John’s at Garvey Oval. The JOCs have struggled to recapture their early season form but started the better in near arctic conditions. They held a 14-point quarter-time, and seemed to be cruising. The Raiders went in with a distinct plan to deny St John’s the ball and the high possession game worked to a tee. They controlled the tempo of the game for the following three quarters and had to withstand a late St John’s surge to secure the win. The Raiders this week face top-of-the-table Ivanhoe and a win could see them secure second spot. St John’s host fourth placed Eltham, who like the JOCs, have struggled to hit top form over the last month.
Monash gave Eltham a fright, as the Turtles held off the lowly Gryphons by a miserly seven-points at East Caulfield Reserve. It was a must win for Eltham, but by no means had it all their own way. In saying that, the Turtles led at every change but had a fright as the Gryphons charged home in the last. Ben Gill and Zach Tranter bagged five apiece for Eltham while Nuguid and Erwin-Ross kicked three for the Gryphons. Eltham has Northern Blues nipping at their heels and must beat St John’s at Thomas Carroll this week to keep their finals hopes alive. Monash host Richmond Central and must win for alternate reasons. They’re in a dogfight with Elsternwick and South Melbourne to avoid relegation.
Northern Blues’ forward Lachlan McRedmond bagged seven and led his side to a gritty 15-point win over Richmond Central at Kevin Bartlett Reserve. The Snakes will be rueing the loss, as the inaccurate Snakes kicked 8.20 to the Blues’ 12.11 which effectively ruled out Richmond’s finals hopes. For Northern, the game was a must win so they kept in touch with the top-four, as they sit fifth, equal fourth in percentage. Northern Blues face an “in-form” South Melbourne and simply must win. Richmond Central have a tricky encounter against a plucky Monash side keen to avoid relegation.
Monash vs Richmond Central
Ivanhoe vs Old Paradians
Elsternwick vs MHSOB
St John’s vs Eltham
Northern Blues vs South Melbourne