Whilst there were only minor ladder position changes from Round 12 to 13, the whole context of the season transformed, with a wobbly kick after the siren keeping one club’s finals hopes alive, the ladder leaders comfortably beaten & the race for the top 4 more complex than ever.
Trailing at half time, and right up until with 2 minutes left at Kevin Bartlett Reserve, Richmond Central were staring down the barrel of an unlikely defeat and becoming Albert Park’s second victim for 2018. However, with two Joel Luis’ goals, including one after the siren, the Snakes’ hopes of late August & early September football are alive on the back of one true kick through the big sticks to give the home side a 2-point victory. Ricky Costanzo continued his recent outstanding form with his second BOG performance in the last 3 matches and was supported by Luis & Marek Pietrzac. With 5 matches remaining, the Snakes sit only one game and percentage out of the four.
The Falcons were gallant in defeat as they lead at the Q1, 2 & 3 breaks, on the back of 3 goals each by Gregory O’Shea & Joshua Beets. Albert Park’s ability to restrict the opposition to 9 majors should give a foundation of improvement for the rest of the season if the likes of Nick Albonico, Jack Amies & Stuart Birnie continue their solid performances from the past month.
Whilst it will take some more evidence to conclude the reasons behind Glen Eira’s first defeat, one thing was safely determined at the Westbourne School Ground last weekend. Westbourne Grammarians are finals bound. Having not dropped a game since Round 6, the Warriors came into this clash with the ladder leading Gryphons looking to see where they sit in the scheme of things within the Division 3 season. After piling on 11 goals in the second half and keeping Glen Eira goal-less in the last term, Westbourne certainly look to the final month knowing their best football is certainly good enough to challenge when the whips are cracking. With 6 changes to the Gryphons side from the one who took the field prior to the Big V bye, and with the class of Cale Hirschman & Jamie Doran, Glen Eira still remain on top as the team to beat.
Such is the nature of Division 3 football in 2018 that Swinburne University fought back from a 12 point deficit at half time, kicking 7 goals to 1 in the second half to run out 23-point winners against Manningham Cobras at Koonung Reserve, and yet still drop a ladder position. Having said that, the Razorbacks now find themselves only percentage out of the four, while the Cobras come back to the log-jam that covers 3rd to 8th on the ladder. Daniel Close kicked four for Swinburne and was also named BOG, while Sean Leonard was again named Manningham’s best for the second consecutive game.
Hawthorn AFC continued their exceptional form with a scintillating final term, piling on 9 goals to put Aquinas away by 52 points. Only leading by 9 points at the last break, the Hawks exploded through the likes of Justin Raiti, Aaron Downie, Coady Travaglia & Steven Wintle all hitting the scoreboard. The Bloods would be disappointed with the last quarter fade-out, with the task to make the finals, whilst mathematically possible, very difficult with 5 games to go. Aquinas find themselves now 2 games and considerable percentage out of the four; however, with the likes of Michael Di Donato and Jake Cawsey, there is room for improvement and can turn their form around quickly after facing the top two sides in consecutive weeks.
Canterbury added more than just the 4 points in their 164-point victory over La Trobe University, layering on 16.94 percent as a result. The Cobras hit the scorecard 50 times, kicking 28.22, including 18 majors in the second half. James Wilson, Martin Astbury, Alexander Wheeler & Jordan Dear all were multiple goal kickers and with this kind of fire power can certainly make some noise in the run home for the 3rd and 4th spot come late August. The Trobers’ Thomas Mooney again continued his outstanding individual form and has been one of the few shining lights in a difficult season for the Uni.
All roads lead to Packer Reserve on Saturday, with the top of the table clash between Glen Eira & Hawthorn AFC a preview to what awaits in coming weeks. This fixture comes at an important cross-road of the season between the two heavyweights and the Gryphons past month has not been earth shattering by any standard. Two victories under a goal and a 54-point loss at the hands of Westbourne, there is no time for respite this weekend. This may read as an overreaction when talking about the top side with only one defeat and a percentage of 168.48, however with significant changes and coming up against the well-oiled machine that is the Hawks, Glen Eira will want to get back to winning ways quickly and stabilise their outstanding season to date. Hawthorn has averaged 133 points a game in the last 4 matches and have not dropped lost since the first encounter between the two sides, way back on April 21 at Rathmines. Hawthorn to return the favour and give Glen Eira their second loss on the bounce.
After snapping a four-game losing streak, the Cobras from Canterbury will want to continue their winning form, coming up against the Snakes from Richmond Central at the Canterbury Sportsground. Another mini-final awaits both sides, with the ability to take away victories from rival clubs almost as important as accumulating the wins themselves. A beauty was played between the two clubs last time around, with Canterbury getting the chocolates by a solitary point. Last week, the Snakes too snapped a four-game losing streak, falling in against Albert Park, and while the mood will be up at Kevin Bartlett Reserve, I believe the Cobras will get the job done at home, and after a 6-1 start the season get back to the form that could see them claim that elusive finals spot.
5 wins on the trot and the Westbourne train leaves Truganina running express to Aquinas College. The Warriors knocked off the previously undefeated Glen Eira and will be full of confidence that their ball movement and game style can match all those before them in Division 3. The Bloods faced the top two sides in consecutive games either side of the bye and now face 3rd on the ladder, in a tough run of fixtures. Even though they are back at home, Westbourne’s form is too good to ignore and should bank another four points.
Albert Park can take great confidence out of last week’s performance, and now back at home, with the same attitude and application will look to build over the last month or so in 2018, with 4 of their last 5 matches at the Oval 20. The last time the two sides met, Manningham Cobras were comfortable 50-point winners at Koonung Reserve with Kane Maghamez slotting 6 majors. With percentage becoming a factor in determining who gets the 3rd and 4th spot at season’s end, today is a good opportunity for the Cobras to stabilise their position in the finals race and will do so with a win by around 10 goals.
It’s now or never for the Razorbacks, with today the start of two games that will either keep their finals chances in their own destiny or be at the mercy or other results going their way in coming weeks. Their contest today against La Trobe University provides an opportunity to firstly add to their winning tally, and secondly their percentage in the tightest race for finals spots in recent memory. The Trobers have had a difficult season, but the individual performances of Thomas Mooney & Bradley Fendyk are a shining light for the Uni. Swinburne University to get their third win and win comfortably in the process.