Rees Quilford reports: As any good prelim should be, this weekend’s game shapes as tough as any to pick. Nothing separated the two sides in their previous encounters this year. Round 2 saw a dead-eyed performance from the Blues get them over the line by 8-points. Their round 11 rematch produced an identical margin but with the margin reversed. That day, NOBs took frugal conversion to another level, kicking 14.2 to take the biscuits.
Both sides come into the game with solid form. Although they went down in the end, Monash were very impressive on all lines last weekend. They lead the minor premiers for a substantial portion of the contest and only went down by 10 points. NOBs, on the other hand, were clinical and disciplined in their hard-fought win over the Pirates.
Monash will again look to George Smyth to provide drive out of the middle, he has been a colossus for them all year and the NOB/SP coaching staff will be looking hard for a way to limit his impact. With his ability to find space and deliver from the wings Andrew Young also shapes as danger. The Fatcat, Alex McKenzie provides a genuine marking target at up forward and they also have quality at the other end of the ground in the likes of Sam Baring and Earl Ree-Goodings. Their ability to shut out their opponents then, with ball in hand, setting up play from the back half could be crucial.
Just as they did so effectively last week, NOBs will look to shut down space when not in possession then break forward in numbers with the ball in hand. Matt Keown, Dan Tonkin and Samuel Thomson all shape as influential players. Up forward, plenty rests on the broad shoulders of Todd Paterson.
It will again be a close one but the Blues spread of height and talent will get them over the line by a couple of goals.
James Coyne says: Fighting for spots in the D2 Grand Final will be Glen Eira and Old Paradians. And after the performances the two sides put on show last, it will be a hotly fought contest. Again, David Boundy and Chris Kandilakis were be the measuring stick on how far the Raiders will go. For Glen Eira, they will need to play at the same intensity to get over the line against a very talented team. Stefan Krull, Andrew Spink, Mick Kohout and Tom Paterson will all need big games to book a place in the 2010 Grand Final. I’m tipping Old Paradians by a kick.
Jonathan Hibbert reports: St John’s will be like a bear backed into a corner; dangerous and scary, while Power House look to gain a premiership berth for the first time in a while. If it’s wet and muddy, and not conducive to running play, the Pikemen should get up in a close and filthy contest. If St John’s can run and carry, they will stand and deliver, so I’ll say a win to the JOC’s, the ‘House an outside chance.
Jim Sutton opines:
Third meeting in the last five weeks for this pair, who by 5pm on Saturday will probably be sick of the sight of each other. Of course with a 0-3 record against the Rams this year the Cobras may already be feeling a little queasy. Preliminary finals are often the most tense match of the year with the last promotion spot up for grabs, the loser goes unrewarded for a season of sweat and toil while the winner gets a big prize regardless of the result next week. Hard to ignore the form line of Mt Lilydale who have only lost twice this season, if they can turn around their slow starts of the last two weeks they should be too good and advance to a Grand Final showdown with the Gryphons.
In the reserves North Brunswick came close to toppling the Gryphons last week and will be keen to get the job done against Swinburne Uni and set up a rematch next week.