The cold front that drifted across the Bight and Bass Strait imposed frigorific conditions on all venues last weekend. Some teams turned up the heat, others kept their cool, and it seems safe to say at this juncture that Kew, NOBS and Ivanhoe have finally been frozen out of playoff calculations. West Brunswick and Oakleigh both overcame opponents that started warm favourites, while hot-shots Hampton and Ormond have opened up a six point buffer on the chasing pack. Jarrod Bannister’s mammoth haul of 12 for the Lions kept him in sight of Aaron Cloke on the goal scoring leaderboard.
In the old VFL days of all matches played simultaneously on a Saturday, around the grounds reporters often heard the call “You’ve got the close one”. That certainly would have applied to the nail biter at Toorak Park between Prahran Assumption and Oakleigh. Prahran trailed by 38 points at half time, then a six goal third quarter was part of a comeback that saw them fall an agonising three points short of the Krushers. Aaron Cloke was again the most industrious contributor for Oakleigh with six majors, aided by Liam Gillard and Chris Mercuri further upfield. Jack Matherson tried to do it all for the Two Blues, kicking five goals as well as earning team-best honours.
The sneaky suspicion of an upset at Ransford Oval proved to have some merit as the hosts, West Brunswick, were desperate not to let Preston Bullants open up a two-game break on them. Though the Westies started poorly, they wore the Bullants down with persistence to finally hit the front near the death to keep their season on track. Seven goals to recently acquired recruit Jethro Calma-Holt was a highlight, as were the efforts of the reliable Cormac Cashin to get the Westies back into the game. Connor Howard kicked four and was named in the best for Prahran Assumption, along with Jack Sammartino.
The traffic went one way most of the day at Ivanhoe Park, where, as expected, Ormond prevailed easily over Ivanhoe. Wes Mayne snared two for the Hoers, and Max Post worked hard to give their score some respectability, although the margin would have been more than 53 points if not for another bout of inaccurate kicking from the Monders.
Brunswick NOBS avoided getting completely blown away at Fawkner Reserve, but Therry Penola kept them at arm’s length throughout and finished as 40-point victors. In the solo performance of the season, Jarrod Bannister’s 12 goals were also enough to earn him BOG honours. He has certainly hit his straps of late and remains in contention for this competition’s version of the “Golden Boot”. Nick Burgin (3) was named alongside Ben Wilson as the NOBS’ best.
Visitors Hampton Rovers were never troubled by Kew at Victoria Park, steadily increasing their lead at every change to an eventual 55-point win. Four different plyers notched up three majors each, and James Prosser provided plenty of drive. Travis Baldock and Max Waters did their best to keep the home side from a larger deficit. The sad reality for Kew is that two wins from ten games is not good enough to keep them in contention, and their battle now becomes keeping the two teams below them at bay.
Kew’s stern test comes quicker than expected when they travel to Alec Gillon Oval, in what is one of many season defining match-ups this round. A win will give them breathing space over Brunswick, a loss will allow the latter to draw level. The importance of a result here will not be lost on the NOBS either, so expect a no holds barred battle.
It’s only four weeks since Preston inflicted the Monders’ first and only loss, so they will be keen not only to repeat the dose, but to make up for last week’s perhaps unexpected defeat. This time the contest is on Ormond’s home turf, and that should aid them in their quest for retribution. There is much motivation for both sides, and this could be a spectacle for supporters to savour.
The mid-table clash at Scammell Reserve is another full of intrigue, as Oakleigh and West Brunswick will both be keen to continue on the highs created by last week’s close and meritorious wins. Courtesy of their better percentage, four points to the Krushers here would actually see them leapfrog the Westies on the ladder, and suddenly put them within touching distance of top four, should either the Lions or the Bullants falter. Another absolute ripper is in store.
And as the smorgasbord of mouth-watering games continues, what about the Two Blues and Therry Penola at Toorak Park? The Lions are entitled to start favoured given their better record, yet we know Prahran Assumption will be smarting from a narrow home loss. Another heartbreak here would leave the Two Blues in a tenuous position for a finals challenge, with the real possibility of dropping to seventh. They will not relish that scenario, and are bound to come out firing.
Not too many pundits would expect anything but a one sided affair at Boss James Reserve, where Hampton will prove too strong for the winless Ivanhoe. Even the Hoers’ best crack is likely to come up short, whilst the Rovers will have a keen interest in the scores from Gunn Reserve, with sole ladder leadership on offer.