Red Devils jump X-Men, Tigers keep pace

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Jake Morris

Another round, another upset. After North Brunswick suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of the Rams last weekend, it was now the X-Men’s turn as South Mornington led from start to finish in a convincing 34-point victory. In other results, the Bulls returned to the winners list with a win over Masala, Parkside made it six-in-a-row and moved into second with a thumping win over the Sharks, the Swans regained some much needed form with a win over the Rams and the Wickers piled on 27-majors in a rout of the Dees. Here is what to expect from Round 13.

Despite a minor slip-up last round, North Brunswick were able to right the ship and take home their 11th win of the year with a 128-point victory over Masala. Jake George, Daniel Orr and Brendon George all booted four apiece as they piled on their second highest total score for the year. Their opponents this weekend in Box Hill North suffered their fifth straight loss in a forgettable performance against Elsternwick, allowing their opponents to produce their highest score of the season at 178 points. The last time these two sides met in Round 2, the Bulls ran out 64-point winners after kicking seven goals to just one in the final term to balloon the three-quarter time margin of 23 points to out over 10 goals. North Brunswick remain the highest scoring team in the competition at just under 122 points a game, while the Dees allow the second most amount of points at 113. Box Hill North’s back six will be hard pressed to contain the four-pronged attack of Michael Salloum, Daniel Orr, Brendon & Jake George, so look for the Bulls to add another loss to the Dees growing streak.

What could be the match of the round, Parkside, fresh off their rout of Eley Park, take their six-game winning streak to Beaconsfield for a clash with the somewhat shaky St Francis Xavier. Just four weeks ago in Round 9 was the last time these two sides clashed, with Parkside registering the win at home by just 4-points in a low-scoring affair. A similar slog-style tactic could be implemented this time around by the Devils, as St Francis Xavier’s ability to score the ball at their best is almost impossible to match. SFX have won all but one of their games at home this season, holding a staggering winning margin of 89 points, with their only loss coming in Round 8 against the Bulls. During their six-game winning streak, Parkside have been able to score the ball with ease, piling on 114 points per game and winning each contest by 66 points on average. St Francis Xavier are more than capable of scoring the ball at a high rate, even against Parkside’s third ranked back six, but Parkside are in too hot of form to tip against, and should get the win.

Flying under the radar, the South Melbourne Districts were able to steady what has been a questionable six weeks of football with a 39-point win over the Rams at home. Their opponents in Eley Park have come crashing back down to earth after a thumping loss at the hands of Parkside, ending their biggest winning streak of the year at four games. Sitting in sixth position and just two wins behind the Swans, this is a must win game for the Sharks, with a loss making it increasingly unlikely they will feature in finals football. A Round 6 meeting between these two sides saw the Swans take care of the Sharks by 56-points in a fairly one-sided affair, with Toby Parish booting four in his first game of the year. Over the last six weeks, both sides have averaged just 78 points per game, while also conceding the same amount to the opposition at 95 points per contest. The Sharks are in arguably better form entering this clash, but the Swans are the better side and should get the win, but this could go either way.

Continuing their climb up the ladder, South Mornington took their second big scalp of the year with a very impressive 34-point victory over St Francis Xavier and, like Eley Park, sit just two games out of the top four with a clash with the winless Masala up next. As well as kicking five-goals-to-one in the final term, the Tigers were able to hold SFX to just 52 points, their lowest total score of the entire season. Winners in six of their last eight, the Tigers have come from starting 0-4, to being within striking distance of a highly unlikely finals berth. Masala were once again outplayed from start to finish, suffering their 12th straight defeat at the hands of the Bulls. Their average of 141 points conceded per contest is the most throughout the entire Men’s side of the VAFA competition. South Mornington have been on fire of late, and should keep that streak going through this clash.

Our final matchup sees Mt Lilydale and Elsternwick arguably playing off in a mini-elimination final. The Rams sit in seventh, three games behind the fourth placed Swans, while the Wickers sit four games behind in eighth. Both sides can still mathematically make the top four, but the odds aren’t short. The Rams were outclassed by a strong Parkside unit in their last matchup, while Elsternwick piled on a season-high 178 points in a dominating win over the Dees. Two sides with incredibly different playstyles, the Rams love to make each contest a slog, while the Wickers won’t be afraid to turn this one into a shootout. Mt Lilydale should be looking to maintain possession and restrict the amount of opportunities the likes of Julian Yeatman and Justin Hunter will have up forward, while the Wickers should be keen on controlling the midfield and giving their dynamic goal-scoring duo the best chance to succeed. Inconsistencies for both sides will be a factor, but look for the Rams to escape with a close victory.