Division 4: Cobra juggernaut to hit back

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Division 4 Men's

By Rich Hummerston – @Richie_Humm

With the ladder essentially squared away for the year, and no threat of sides facing the chop and a sentence in a division below, Round 18 was a swan song for five sides and a chance for those playing finals to iron out any last kinks, and for the audacious, an opportunity to trial a couple of last minute game plans before the real stuff starts.

But despite the round meaning little in the grand scheme of things, it still provided one of the biggest upsets of the season and stripped Canterbury of that elusive perfect season.

Just like a late goal from Chris Grant cruelly stripped the Bombers of the honour in the final round of the 2000 AFL season, Old Westbourne were too strong for an undermanned Canterbury and inflicted their first blemish of the season. With a horde of stars missing from the Canterbury side, Westbourne jumped the Cobras early, the travelling side seemingly perturbed by the industrial surroundings, a long throw from the leafy golden mile where many of them reside. Canterbury managed to wrestle the lead back in the 2nd half, but would again relinquish the advantage, this time permanently. Tim Nichols was given the arduous task of holding Dale Collins for the day, and performed admirably, keeping him to just the three, while at the other end of the ground, ‘The Flash’ Andrew Baker kicked seven in a fantastic display.  For the home team it was Brayden Smith, Chris Sneddon and Adam Imber who stood out, but credit needs to go to the entire side for a well-rounded performance.

In the other games featuring finalists, Parkside inflicted one final blow to Manningham, who will be one of the happiest clubs to see season 2015 in the rear view mirror. They’ll be hoping for a quick turnaround in 2016 in their quest to escape the bottom division. Box Hill North annihilated the improved Chadstone and Point Cook repeated the dose against Mount Lilydale, destroying their slim finals chances in the process.

The top six finals system implemented to tackle our 11-team competition is a peculiar one, with the main benefactors being those that finish in 3rd and 4th, but whether you love it or hate it, or flat out, don’t understand it, let’s take a look at the matchups for the first week of finals.

Point Cook vs Box Hill North

These two sides have met as recently as round 17, with the lower placed Box Hill North getting the job done in a high scoring affair. Earlier in the year, the results were reversed, Point Cook saluting in a scrappy one out at Saltwater Reserve.

Until recently, Point Cook were billeted as a certain top two finisher, their early season form was second to none and for many, considered premiership favourites.

Fast forward half a season, and Point Cook’s perceived dominance has undoubtedly been diluted, capped off by the disappointing loss to Box Hill a fortnight ago.

Despite the drop off in form, I’m still selecting Point Cook to tip the season ledger with Box Hill North in their favour. Boasting names like Team of the Year inductee Mason Kip and the formidable Matty Herbertson in front of goals, they’ll be too strong. Fortunately for Box Hill, despite finishing 4th and losing their first final, such is the Da Vinci code of the finals system, they’ll still go through.

Canterbury vs North Brunswick

Read into last week’s result what you will, but only a man far braver than me would dare tip against the juggernaut that is the Cobras, especially considering the ease they dismantled North Brunswick with on the one occasion they met this year.

What North Brunswick do have in their favour, is the noticeable omission of skipper Michael Peel and veteran Rowan Walmsley from last week’s team sheet. It doesn’t take a genius to draw a parallel between their absence and Canterbury’s first loss, and should they miss again this week, it’s a cause for concern.

Regardless, Canterbury easily in this one.

Old Westbourne Grammarians vs Parkside

After a shaky start in their return season in the VAFA, Parkside have turned their season round, and deserve their spot in this year’s finals series. After leaving the Association in 2002, the VAFA were delighted to regain the side in both Division 4 and the Under 18 competition and it has been a workmanlike effort by the side to make the finals.

Unfortunately for Parkside though, this will be a mountain too big to climb. Even if McLaren racks up 50 touches and Potter kicks 15, I expect them to still come up short. Dale Collins has slipped away a little in his own individual efforts as the rest of his side tune in, however I wouldn’t be surprised if he produces a bag this week.

Old Westbourne is in devastatingly good form at the moment, and unlike their ladder topping counterparts in Canterbury, they have a near full list to chose from.

Canterbury v North Brunswick
Point Cook v Box Hill North
Old Westbourne v Parkside