In what was a wild and windy Saturday of D4 action, the South Melbourne Districts, who looked all but gone heading into their clash with the in-form South Mornington, revived their season and sent shockwaves throughout the competition with a team lifting come-from-behind victory over the Tigers. In other matches, the Bulls, Red-Devils and X-Men all took care of business to strengthen their hold on a top four finish while the Wickers kept their slim finals chances alive in a big win over Masala. Just two weeks remain and two finals spots are still up for grabs, let’s get you primed for a big Round 17.
Ladder leaders and premiership favourites North Brunswick, who are fresh off a 43-point win over the Sharks, will return to Allard Park this weekend for a matchup with South Mornington, who suffered a shock loss at the hands of the Swans. After a slow start, the Bulls flexed their muscles in the latter three quarters, piling on 14 majors to six to comfortably dispatch of Eley Park. The Tigers were one of the hottest teams in the league entering their Round 16 matchup, winners in 10 of their last 12 games, but the key omission of Travis French and a lacklustre last quarter spelled doom as the Swans overran them and sent the Tigers to their first loss since July 16. Look for two of the highest scoring teams in the competition to try do as much damage to the scoreboard as possible, with the return of Jake George for the Bulls and Travis French for the Tigers potentially turning this into even more of a scoring fiesta. Despite the scoring, this game will be won on the defensive end of the ground, and with the Bulls boasting the superior back six, making life hard for French will go a long way in giving North Brunswick their 16th win on the year.
Following their 42-point win over the Dees, Parkside were able to lockup a top four finish and will now officially play finals for the first time in their clubs short history. The South Melbourne Districts put an end to their three-game losing streak, quieting their doubters and keeping their season alive with a 10-point win over the Tigers. After a hiccup against the Bulls a fortnight ago, the Red-Devils returned to the winners list and made it nine of their last ten to almost certainly lockup a top-two finish. The Swans potentially put an end to their late-season slide, keeping their hopes of a finals finish well and truly alive. Last round was the first time since July 16 that the Swans had cracked triple-figures, while the Devils have done it four times since then, including a whopping 183-points over Masala. Look for Parkside’s forward line quartet in Sam Gilfedder, Matthew Soligo, Isaac Romano and Adam Moffa to get a hold of the shaky Swans defence, and drive the Devils to another victory.
After a blistering start to the year, and a seemingly small mid-season slump, St Francis Xavier can finally book their ticket to finals football with a win over Box Hill North this weekend. Despite notching the victory over the Rams, the X-Men are still marginally off their red-hot early season form which saw them pick teams apart by an average of 95 points from rounds one to seven. The Dees will once again be looking to play spoiler and improve on their passages to goal, as they still rank second-to-last in points per game. Look for the X-Men to control this one from start to finish and lock up their first finals berth since 2016 with a strong victory.
In a clash that will surely spell doom for the loser, this matchup between the 6th placed Eley Park and 7th placed Elsternwick will feature two sides hell-bent on keeping their slim finals chances alive. The Sharks, who sit with eight wins and eight losses, will need both the Tigers and Swans to lose, as well as taking down the Wickers themselves to move into equal fourth on the table, and a chance to leapfrog into the four with a matchup against the X-Men in Round 18. For Elsternwick, who have seven wins and nine losses, the equation is a lot harder, as they need to win out, and hope the Tigers, Swans and Sharks all lose their final two games and even then, may still be behind on percentage. After winning six of seven, the Sharks have now dropped two in a row by an average of 67 points, while the Wickers have won four of five and continue to score with ease, piling on over 135-points on average in those victories. Look for the Sharks to try turn this into a slog by dominating the midfield, but if the Wickers can grab control of the ball and get it forward to the likes of Julian Yeatman and co, Elsternwick could run away with it. Wickers to win and keep their season alive.
Our final clash between Masala and Mt Lilydale has no finals implications, but is a battle of pride. The Rams have lost seven of their last eight while Masala, who claimed their first victory of the year a fortnight ago, weren’t able to lodge their second win of the year, going down by 65-points to Elsternwick. Averaging just 61-points over the last five weeks of play and conceding 100 on average in that same span, this contest could be a good chance for the Rams to improve those numbers and put their season in a better spot. For the Tigers, this is another chance to show some heart and take advantage of another out-of-form side, with the potential to register their second win very much in play. Rams to win, but a Masala victory here wouldn’t be a surprise.