By Brenton Mann – @BrentyMann
St John’s banked back-to-back wins as it held off a determined Richmond Central side and ground out a 26-point win at Thomas Carroll Reserve. After consecutive losses to ladder-leader Ivanhoe and finals aspirant Northern Blues, the JOCs needed to climb out of their rut, and did so, albeit in ugly fashion. The Snakes’ faint finals hopes hinged on victory last Saturday, but unfortunately too much was left to too few, as they couldn’t combat St Johns’ much vaunted on-ball brigade. Inaccuracy plagued the JOCs in the first term as their forwards simply couldn’t capitalise on the good work done up the field. Both sides slotted four goals in the second quarter but it was the Snakes who had all the running. St Johns struggled to by-pass Richmond’s loose back, which gave the Snakes plenty of drive, with the majority of their goals launched from defensive 50. In the third, the JOCs again couldn’t make the most of their opportunities and consequently kept the Snakes within striking distance heading in into the final term. The last quarter was a scrappy affair, with both sides searching for a spark, for the JOCs it came in the form of key-forward Tim Edwards. The classy forward soared in what was arguably the mark-of-the-year and converted to seal a gutsy win. Coming off the bye, St Johns head to Garvey Oval to take on an in-form Old Paradians whilst the Snakes host the Northern Blues in what is a must win.
Old Paradians put in their best performance of the year and in doing so may have sealed consecutive finals appearances with a commanding 37-point win over Eltham. It was a classic eight-point game, which now sees the third-placed Raiders two games clear of the fourth-placed Turtles. After back-to-back losses, Eltham’s top-four spot hangs in the balance with Northern Blues nipping at their heels. Parade’s form on the road has left a lot to be desired but that may have turned it around after putting Eltham to the sword. The Raiders held the Turtles at bay in the first-half and then tore the game apart with a seven-goals-to-two third term. The Turtles offered stern resistance in the final term, but it was simply too little too late. Parade was led superbly in attack by Boundy and Kandilakis who combined for seven goals and will prove a handful for St Johns this week. If the Raiders can overcome the in-form JOCs, then it would all but seal their top-four spot. Eltham needs to get its season back on track as it faces a plucky Monash side desperate to avoid relegation.
Northern Blues kept its stellar home record intact as it thumped Elsternwick to the tune of 79-ponts. Fans were treated to a shootout at W.R Ruthven Reserve with both teams combining for 40 goals but it was the Blues spread of goal-kickers that proved the difference. Blues forwards Marcon and McRedmond bagged five goals apiece and were well supported by Holmes (4) and Higham and Passey with three each. The Wicks were riding on the high of their win over Eltham a week prior and despite the final margin, they were far from disgraced. After an inaccurate first term, Northern held a handy three-goal lead, but pushed that out to 43-points by halftime. Both sides traded blows in the third term, with six goals apiece as defence was not high on the priority list. Northern stormed home in the last with 7.10 as the Wicks ran out of gas. This week, the Blues face Richmond Central with a percentage boost needed to jump into the top-four. Elsternwick has a chance to exit the relegation zone as it takes the luckless South Melbourne.
Melbourne High rebounded after the previous week’s loss to St Johns in fine style with a 25-point win over Monash. Gryphons’ forward Erwin-Ross stole the show however with an eight-goal haul but unfortunately it was to no greater purpose. “Panda” Hawking bagged four for the Unicorns and was well supported by Toman and Svirskis with three apiece. With a mere five goals separating the sides at quarter-time, Melbourne High held the Gryphons goalless in the second and took a three-goal-lead into halftime. Much like the opening term, the third was an arm wrestle, with both sides bagging five goals apiece. The Unicorns did what they needed to in the last to secure a much-needed win. They face a sterner test this week however as they welcome ladder-leaders Ivanhoe to Melbourne High, in what looms as season defining. Monash however is a legitimate chance to take its biggest scalp of the year as it faces hot and cold Eltham at East Caulfield Reserve.
The game at Lindsay Hassett Oval went according to script as first-placed Ivanhoe thumped last-placed South Melbourne to the tune of 60-points. The first three quarters were a slugfest with the Hoes putting the Districts to the sword with a scintillating seven goal final term. Kaldawi and Lovell were electric up forward for Ivanhoe combining for nine majors. South Melbourne will be heartened by something of a three quarter performance against the in-form team of Div 2 and will fancy their chances against Elsternwick. Ivanhoe will go in warm favourites but should not underestimate the plucky Melbourne High.
Round 13 Tips
Monash vs Eltham
Old Paradians vs St Johns
Richmond Central vs Northern Blues
South Melbourne vs Elsternwick
MHSOB vs Ivanhoe