A sense of revenge, a sense of retribution, a perfect opportunity to exact reprisal will be sitting at the forefront of Dale Bower and the University Blacks mind as the ladder-leaders enter round fifteen, travelling to Caulfield for a potential finals preview against Old Haileyburians. Suffering their one and only defeat at the hands of the Bloods earlier in the year, the Blackers have been an unstoppable locomotive since, and with the opportunity to move two-games clear by the weekend’s conclusion, there should be no lack of motivation to secure the crucial win. Both sides have no issues putting points on the board, with Durras Seccull and Jackson Ross anchoring Haileybury’s attack at one end, while Nick Hey and Dan McCullough elevate the Blackers regularly, the difference in this one should come down to how effective each back-six should be. Uni concede just over 49-points a game this year and only 44 over their last five wins, while Haileybury, though still impressive, sit at 62-points a game. Another juicy clash that should go down to the very end and hopefully, a matchup we see once again in September.
‘Shark Park’ has once again claimed another victim, with Haileybury succumbing to Beaumaris in round fourteen to make it six straight wins and nine of their last eleven at Banksia Reserve, climbing into double-chance territory in the process. A chance to make it seven in a row now await the Sharks as they travel up the Nepean highway for a clash with the improving Fitzroy at Brunswick Street Oval. The Roys’ etched their second win a row and fourth on the year, lifting themselves a game-clear of the dreaded relegation zone and into sixth on the table. Though a loss would officially put a line through Luke Mahoney’s September aspirations, a return to Premier B in 2022 would still be a monumental effort after an injury riddled start to the year for the Roys. Beauy by a decent margin here, with a win potentially putting them a game clear of third and into the inside lane for a return to William Buck Premier, ending a four-year stay.
Returning to the confines of Waverley Oval for the first time in seven weeks, De La Salle will have the opportunity to officially sew up a finals birth on their home deck as they welcome Parkdale Vultures to Dairy Bell. Though their recent inaccuracy in-front of goals remains (14.33 in the last fortnight), De La should have little problems breezing past the winless Vultures and potentially, depending on the size of the victory matched with a Uni Blacks win over Haileybury, could see them elevate into third with just three weeks remain. Despite the loss, the Vultures managed their highest total so far this year in round fourteen, including five majors in the final term, a season high. A percentage boosting victory for De La that locks the top-4 away here, turning the season into an official race from relegation.
Though a De La victory over Parkdale will ultimately end all hope for St Bedes/Mentone Tigers and AJAX to feature in September, the two sides still have the aspirations of avoiding ninth spot and a trip back to Premier C in 2022. The Tigers, who now sit fifth, secured an incredibly important victory in round fourteen as they downed Carey to move a game-clear of the ninth placed Panthers. A win here for Bedes, which could push them two-games clear of ninth, would almost certainly lock them into another Premier B return next year. Unlike the Tigers, the Jackas sit a little more precariously on the cliff of ninth, with the poor percentage putting them at risk of one Old Carey victory and potentially being passed in the process. Leaning towards the Tigers here as their forward prowess, led by league-leading goal kicker James Mangoni, is a lot more potent.
Our final clash for the weekend will see Williamstown CYMS return to Fearon Reserve for the first time since June 26th, for a season-saving and potentially season-ending clash with Old Carey. Sitting in a similar position to the Tigers, the CY’s will have a chance on their home deck to push themselves two-games clear of the relegation zone and almost certainly locking them into a return Premier B next year. A return home and a chance to save their season? Mathew Montebello and company should not lack motivation. On the other side of the coin, a do-or-die matchup in every sense awaits Carey, as a loss here will all but lock in their second bottom-two finish in as many seasons and a return to Premier C for the first time since 2007. Though the Panthers did take the four-points in the side’s recent matchup in round three and a sense of urgency lingers above their heads, I lean towards the CY’s in a close one at home, with Daniel Cross and Oskar Manton the heroes to save Willy’s first season in the dizzying heights of Premier B.