There were plenty of high fives at Ivanhoe Park, where the hosts got their first chance this year to belt out the club song. Ormond’s reign at the top was short-lived, handing back the ascendancy to Hampton after failing to hold off the Two Blues late at Toorak Park. Elsewhere, Oakleigh’s remarkable run continued unabated, claiming the biggest scalp in their six-win sequence on the back of another seven goals to league sharpshooter Aaron Cloke. With five rounds to go, seven sides remain in the hunt for playoff action, although in West Brunswick’s case, it’s a chance that’s rapidly descending into the “mathematical” variety.
Ivanhoe grabbed their opportunity to avoid a barren season with a 25-point win at the expense of Brunswick NOBS, although somewhat nervously given how much easier it could have been had they kicked straight. Despite their team’s 24 behinds, Lachlan Roberts with four and Nathan Valkanis and Vivian Blackmore-Moore with two each, held their nerve, while Conor Mitchell set Ivanhoe Park alight for the Hoes. Jed Carey led Brunswick’s resistance with four goals, and Geramie Ganino battled hard. Both sides are three games adrift of Kew in eighth spot, so any hopes of miraculous rescues are forlorn.
An eight goal second term is all Hampton Rovers needed to dispose of West Brunswick, whose ambitions for this year are quickly dissipating. Home fans at Boss James Reserve witnessed a clinical display from Samuel Clements, who supplemented his performance with four classy goals. Harrison Crisp and David Broadstock were also instrumental in the Rovers’ return to atop the table, courtesy of Ormond’s slip-up at Toorak Park. It was no surprise to see Cormac Cashin again named in the best for the Westies.
Aaron Cloke stepped up again for Oakleigh at Scammell Reserve, his seven goals contributing in no small way to the unexpectedly lopsided scoreline against a flat Preston. Arguably the most comprehensive performance in the Krushers’ stunning winning streak, the 86-point demolition of the Bullants now leaves them only a couple of percentage points outside top four, with confidence high. Christopher Mercuri joined Cloke as one of the Krushers’ best, Coen Giali-Brosnan never gave up for Preston.
Prahran Assumption kept in touch with the four, drawing away at the finish after what had been a cliffhanger till three quarter time at Toorak Park. Ormond’s 22 point loss saw them cede Div 1 bragging rights to the Rovers, not what they had hoped for after being only one point down at the final break. Tonn Steele booted three for the Monders, while Jack Matherson and Brent Chapman did likewise for Prahran Assumption. For the winners, it was their captain James Musster who looked unstoppable.
Kew had no answers to a determined Therry Penola at Victoria Park, making it hard for themselves with a meagre single major in each of the first two quarters. John Lisle and Nathan Sambevski were the hardest triers for the Bears, whilst the 39-point margin for the Lions was predominantly set up by a brilliant John Mennuni and four goals from Darcy Ryan. Subsequent to this result, Therry Penola have given themselves some breathing space in third spot, one game and valuable percentage ahead of the chasers.
Match of the day prognostications may not always live up to the hype, but there can be no questioning as to which fixture deserves top billing in Round 14. As the successive wins build, each week presents more of a challenge for Oakleigh to sustain, and it doesn’t come much harder than a trip to face Ormond on the rebound. The case for the Krushers is compelling – a formline which includes a last-start dismantling of the only team that had beaten both the top sides – yet tipping against a smarting Ormond at Gunn Reserve is fraught with danger. Holding Aaron Cloke to a manageable total will be one of the Monders’ priorities.
Ivanhoe will have gained belief and confidence from last week’s breakthrough, but Therry Penola will deservedly start short-priced favourites at Fawkner Reserve. The Lions are not only protecting third spot, they are also aware they can move within two points of Ormond should the latter falter in their clash with Oakleigh.
It will be season in tatters for West Brunswick should they fail to conjure four points at Ransford Oval when Prahran Assumption come to play. For that motivational reason, one has to give the Westies a fighting chance, nevertheless the Two Blues boast the better form. This is the round’s second most important contest.
Win or lose, Kew really can’t go anywhere regardless of result, whereas Preston Bullants will be eager to show the faithful at Ruthven Reserve that they are not about to surrender their place in the four easily. The Bears will have a crack, but an against the odds win is unlikely.
Alec Gillon Oval should not hold any fears for the visiting Hampton, as the gap in class between the Rovers and their hosts Brunswick NOBS has proven to be stark. The NOBS will scrap, but this one may be over well before the final siren.