Division 2: It’s tight at the top

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Division 2 Men's

By Brenton Mann – @BrentyMann

The closing of the penultimate round of the year signalled the Division 2 demise for both South Melbourne and Elsternwick, who are due for relegation at the close of play. Last week’s results also set-up a tantalising and intriguing race to secure fourth spot between Northern Blues, Old Paradians and Eltham. Three doesn’t go into two, and for one of those sides, the final siren of 2015 will sound at around 4:30pm. Eltham face the unenviable task of Ivanhoe at Eltham College, and if they’re able to build on recent form, will have well and truly earnt their finals berth. Northern will start warm favourites as it welcomes relegation dodger Monash, who should not be taken lightly. Parade head to Lindsay Hassett Oval to face Division 3 bound South Districts, who could offer up some final round resistance.

Ivanhoe’s 43-point drubbing of a disappointing St John’s was the other intriguing result from last week. In a top-of-the-table clash, the JOCs were found wanting for the second time this year. St John’s inability to make the most of early opportunities kept Ivanhoe in the game, who then worked its way into the game, and then put the foot down. The JOCs were all at sea. The Hoes piled on seven-goals-to-one in the first term and held the JOCs at bay for the remainder of the game. St John’s dismal forward pressure allowed Ivanhoe’s defenders to simply waltz out of defensive 50 and set-up countless forays forward. It was clear St John’s failed to learn from previous mistakes and are playing with little synergy. Ivanhoe’s imperious system sees them as clear premiership favourites with the gap between the other three finals aspirants widening. The JOCs have failed to recapture its early season form and if last week’s performance is anything to go by…they have plenty of work to do.

Eltham’s emerging forward Benjamin Gill put in his best-performance of the year as he amassed 13 majors in his sides 40-point win over Melbourne High. Gill has kicked 30 goals from six games and is one of the in-form forwards of Division 2. The game was a shoot-out with 36 goals kicked collectively. No more than four goals separated the two sides heading into the last quarter and the Turtles’ season was on the line, and they lifted accordingly. Eltham banged on seven-goals-to-three and in doing so, leapt to third spot. The Unicorns hung tough for the majority of the day and will look to cap off an improved 2015 against Richmond Central this week.

Richmond Central and Elsternwick treated the crowd to a goal fest on the confines of Oval 2 but it was the Snakes who prevailed by 80-points. Richmond Central burst out of the blocks with ten goals to two and kept their foot on the throttle for the rest of the game. Snakes’ spearhead Jake Munro feasted on a leaky Wicks’ defence, bagging 13 and was handsomely supported by Steve Bugeja who slotted six. Elsternwick key-forward Justin Hunter built on his late season form with a bag of six as Scott Grace chimed in with three. Richmond should view its consolidation as a positive for 2015 and will favour themselves against Melbourne High this week. Elsternwick will be looking to end 2015 on a high as it heads to Thomas Carroll to face a plucky St John’s.

Northern Blues kept its finals hopes well and truly alive with a gutsy 20-point win over northern neighbours Old Paradians. It was one of Parade’s most disappointing losses of the year and saw them slip into a three-horse race in order to qualify for the finals. A win would have secured their top-four spot, but now they have let themselves fall into a precarious position. Northern has beaten three of the top-four sides and is the finals smoky.

Monash once again leapt out of the relegation zone in the final hour with a nail biting eight-point win over South Melbourne. Monash opened the game with an eight-goal-to-three opening quarter and had to hold-off a fast-finishing South Melbourne who stormed home with an eight goal final term. The Gryphons have hit top-form in the final third of the year and aren’t as bad as their ladder position suggests. For South Melbourne, it must concentrate on recruitment and retainment over the summer months and use its sojourn into Div 3 as a chance to rebuild.

Tips

Eltham vs Ivanhoe
Richmond Central vs MHSOB
South Melbourne vs Old Paradians
St John’s vs Elsternwick
Northern Blues vs Monash