Division 2 2016 preview

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

By Christian Burgess & Nick Armistead

Division 2 had it all in 2015, with an emotional premiership victory by Old Paradians after 29 years void of silverware and joint Fullerton medallists, Timothy Harper (MHSOB) and Dean Calcedo (Preston Bullants).

If the pre-season whispers coming out of the nine competing Clubs are anything to go by, this season is primed to live up to similarly enthralling standards.  

As is the case with the VAFA’s promotion/relegation system, four new teams enter Division 2 in 2016. Bulleen/Templestowe and Yarra Valley will aim to increase their combined six wins from Division 1 last season, while West Brunswick and Emmaus St Leo’s make the jump on the back of their one-point grand final thriller in Division 3.

Due to Monash Gryphons’ inability to field a senior side in 2016, there will be a bye round for all Clubs after Old Paradians and Ivanhoe earnt promotion to Division 1 and Elsternwick and South Melbourne Districts fell to the division below following unsuccessful 2015 campaigns.

St John’s will look back on last season as the one which got away. After commencing the year with an 8-0 start, the JOCs fell away to a straight sets loss in the first two weeks of the finals. Injuries and suspension cost the JOCs dearly on the run home but a positive pre-season, combined with a number of impressive inclusions, gives the boys from Thomas Carroll deserved hope of playing finals footy again.  

Young, vibrant and with a year of Division 2 under their belt, the newly-franchised Preston Bullants will be keen to avenge their first semi-final loss to eventual premier, Old Paradians, which ultimately put an end to any chance of going back-to-back-to-back in 2015. Despite being unable to secure the three-peat after flags in the two years prior, star midfielder, Dean Calcedo, claimed the Fullerton Medal as one of the two best players running around in Division 2. With the Holmes brothers running around racking up disposals, among several other young guns full of potential, expect the Bullants to make serious inroads and likely find themselves in Division 1 next season.    

Old Eltham Collegians fell agonisingly close to finals in 2015 by one game but had Tim Woods, Ben Gill and Zach Tranter combine for 113 goals as they dominated the forward line in a fashion capable of taking them one step further in 2016. Predict the Turtles to be extremely hard to beat at home after retention of the majority of their list from last year.

Melbourne High School Old Boys have completed a solid pre-season and set up the foundations for a much-anticipated 2016. Finishing last year with nine wins and nine losses, MHSOB are on the hunt for success as they only just missed playing finals by three games. In Round 18, 200 game veteran, Tim Harper, took arguably mark of the year and three votes to earn a much deserved joint Fullerton Medal. MHSOB showed they can compete with the best after being only one of three sides to beat Ivanhoe during the year. MHSOB will look to their young talent to work alongside Harper and Villani in 2016 in an attempt to climb back to Division 1, where they once were in 2014.

Despite finishing seventh, Richmond Central were the fifth highest scoring team in 2015 and will look to continue their attacking style of play. The Snakes will be led by new senior coach, Brett Davidson, who will look to continue the fine form they showed at the beginning of the 2015 season. The Snakes showed their best was well and truly good enough to compete with the ladder leaders, despite losing leading goal kicker Jake Munro who kicked 88 goals last year, expect the talented Snakes forward line to cover his goal kicking prowess.

The West Brunswick train continues to roll at full steam after the 2014 Division 4 premiers backed it up last year in Division 3 with a one-point victory against Emmaus St Leo’s in one of the greatest grand finals in VAFA history. Despite the Animals exhibiting pure dominance and going undefeated for the entire home and away season, West Brunswick found form at the right time and hit the front with just minutes remaining on the clock. While history dictates it is incredibly difficult to win three premierships in a row, the confidence attained from last year’s grand final win may propel the Westies to that very feat. Reigning VAFA Senior Coach of the Year, Angus Hamilton, has the credentials and confidence of his chargers and as such, anything is possible.  

Extreme highs and lows are part and parcel of Australian Rules football and unfortunately Emmaus St Leo’s felt both throughout 2015. An undefeated season was on the cards heading into the Division 3 Grand Final, before a wrong bounce of the sherrin with moments remaining on the clock put an end to an unbelievably impressive streak. Club legends, Paul and Nathan Baranello, brought individual success to the Animals’ outfit, claiming the Hutchinson Medal for Division 3 best and fairest and the best on ground medallion in their grand final loss, respectively. Having retained the bulk of their list – including goal kicking duo, Ryan Harding and Christopher Beluszar, and the Baranello brothers – the Animals are shaping up as a favourite with VAFA fans to defy the odds and go one better in Division 2.

Bulleen/Templestowe and Yarra Valley will make the trek back down to Division 2 this season, after the two Clubs combined for just six wins in 2015. While the output was not where either side would have liked, there were positives to take out of their respective seasons. Bullants forward Kristian Cherbakof booted 45 from his 12 matches at an average of 3.75 per outing in a standout performance, while Bushrangers pair, Stephen Donald and Michael Letson, combined for 49 to lead all comers. The great thing about the relegation system is it gives Clubs a chance to recompose and challenge for the premiership the season after undergoing disappointment. Both the Bushrangers and the Bullants will undoubtedly be there come September.

Scribe Predictions

Premier: Preston Bullants

Top Four: Preston Bullants, St John’s OC, Bulleen/Templestowe & Yarra Valley

Fullerton Medallist: Tie – Matthew Holmes (Preston Bullants) & Ricky Costanzo (Richmond Central)

Leading Goal Kicker: Kristian Cherbakof (Bulleen/Templestowe)