A month of Division 4 football is done and dusted for season 2018 and three sides remain unbeaten to start the year. St Francis Xavier, South Melbourne Districts and North Brunswick once again flexed their muslces in dominant wins over Box Hill North, Masala and Elsternwick respectively. The resurgent Parkside continued their strong play of late with a big performance over Mt Lilydale to notch their third in a row, while the Sharks got back on track, dispatching South Mornington for their second win of the year. Round 5 is upon us, and for the first time this year, we will see two undefeated sides in St Francis Xavier and South Melbourne Districts lock horns in what is set up to be an epic.
To kick off the weekend, Box Hill North AFC will look to end their three-game losing streak as they welcome the winless South Mornington to town. Despite their impressive Round 1 win over Parkside, the Demons have since been unable to grab another four points, losing their last three games by an average of 84-points, including an 130-point drubbing at the hands of ladder leaders St Francis Xavier. Converting on just one scoring shot for the entierty of the second half while conceding 15 majors and 23 scoring shots in total to the X-Men, it was never going to end well for Alan Chung’s men. Eamon Stewert kicked three of his sides six goals for the day in a respectable performance while Caillin Austin was also strong in the tough outing. Their opponents this weekend in the Tigers have also had a rough start to the season, starting 0-4 with an average losing margin of 46-points, including a 10-goal pummeling from the Eley Park Sharks. Travis French tried to keep the margin respectable with a bag of five majors, while Lee Murdoch and Aaron Davidson were gallant throughout, but with a slow start, including a goalless first term, the writing was on the wall from the opening bounce and the Tigers were no match. Dees to win at home.
Similar to Box Hill North, Elsternwick also started the year with a strong victory, but have since lost three on the trot and are staring down the barrel of potentially missing the finals for the 5th straight season. The Wickers welcome the much improved Parkside Football Club to Elsternwick Oval this Saturday as Rick Frost’s Red Devils look to make it four in a row and continue their run towards the post-season. Since their 12-point win over South Mornington in Round 1, Elsternwick have lost three in a row by an average margin of 36-points, but have come up against some strong competiton in the process and haven’t lost any supporters through this tough stretch of games. Their recent 53-point loss at the hands of North Brunswick may look bad on paper, but a strong final term including three majors to Justin Hunter and a big game from Adrian Costa, should hold them in a positive state entering this clash with Parkside. The Devils are a much improved side from last season, sitting in fourth spot with a healthy percentage and a bunch of confidence, Parkside are once again a team to be reckoned with. An 11-goal to four second half was the big difference in there 69-point thumping of Mt Lilydale. Adam Moffa kicked four and Matt Soligo contributed three in the siren-to-siren whitewash while Jonathan Friel and Jacob Heritage each had outstanding outings in Parkside’s third win in a row. Look for the Devils to notch another win to their name and strengthen their hold inside the top four.
The Masala Football Club, for the fourth time this season, will match-up against a top-4 side this weekend when they welcome the all conquering North Brunswick AFC to Fotheringham Reserve. The Tigers continue their long and arduous task of rebuilding and improving their players game-by-game, as they continue to struggle to put four-quarter performances together week in and week out. An average losing margin of 109-points to start the 2018 season, to follow up three years in a row of losing margins by over 50-points apiece, it is no shock to see Masala in 10th position. Their 125-point defeat at the hands of the South Melbourne Districts was their second biggest of the year so far, and could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the Bloods innaccuracy in-front of goal. Dale Gibb, Scott Becker, Leigh Murphy and Michael Tsivoulidis all kicked goals for Masala while Sam Freeman was named his sides best for the day. North Brunswick were simply outstanding once again last weekend, putting Elsternwick to the sword in a siren-to-siren performance. Michael Salloum put on another clinical performance in-front of goal with seven majors to push his season tally to 21, while Brendon George returned from his weekend off to kick another six and help the Bulls remain undefeated in season 2018. It would take a brave individual to pick against North Brunswick, and unfortunately for Masala, this one may get messy. Bulls to win.
The match of the round. South Melbourne Districts and St Francis Xavier. Both enter undefeated, but only one can remain, (unless there’s a draw). This is one contest you can’t afford to miss, as the top two sides in the competition, both of which are having a substantial bounce-back year after disappointing seasons in 2017, go head-to-head in what potentially could be a grand final preview. The Bloods sit in second position with an average winning margin of 58-points, including a 125-point demolishing of Masala last weekend – an outcome that could have been a lot of worse for the Tigers. Jordan Heis and Luke Money combined for 10 majors while a further eight players kicked another 12 goals to put the contest out of reach early. Money, Rory Kennedy and Steve Clarke were all named best on in the demolition job. Their opponents this weekend in St Francis Xavier are sitting pretty on top of the ladder and have made light work of the competition so far this season, with an average winning margin of 103-points per game. This is following up a huge 130-point thumping of Box Hill North, in which they piled on 15 of the final 16 goals of the game to blow it out of the water. Stephen Richards-Gill was supurb up-forward with six goals, while seven other X-Men booted multiples to run out convincing winners. Ryan Eggleton was named best on ground for his performance throughout the midfield, suffocating the Demons and not giving them a chance to push the ball forward. The Bloods will be no easy beat, especially at Lindsey Hassett Oval, but St Francis Xavier have been a freight train so far this year, and that train should run right through the Bloods. X-Men to remain undefeated.
The fifth and final contest of the week will feature the Rams from Mt Lilydale OC and the Eley Park Sharks. Sitting just one game out of the top four, the Sharks will need to keep winning to keep pace with Parkside for the fourth and final spot. While the Rams sit two games behind the Devils in the 7th spot with just one win on the year they have time to catch up, but with such a strong competition around them, Mt Lilydale can’t afford to keep coming up short if they wish to feature in finals football for the second year in a row. The Sharks took care of business in their 10-goal victory over the struggling South Mornington Tigers, exploding out of the gates to an early 25-point lead at the first interval, before gradually increasing the margin as the game went on, running out winners to the tune of 61-points. Jesiah Mcgarvie was once again outstanding for the Sharks as he kicked five majors, while Chris Brown booted three of his own. Brad Tonkies and star Josh Balon once again featured among the best for the Eley Park. The Rams on the other hand, were soundly beaten by Parkside and were handed their third loss on the year. The 69-point pummeling was their biggest defeat of the season so far, and it was highlighted by their scoreless third quarter which blew the game out. Daniel Berry and Matt Fernando both kicked two apiece while Nick Hearne and Luke England were gallant in the heavy loss. The Sharks should run out winners in this one, and keep pace with Parkside for the fourth spot on the ladder.