Lions take on Monders as Krushers enter 4

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At Round 7, Oakleigh were sitting 2-5 and in seventh place, barely clear of the drop zone and with seemingly nowhere to go. Fast forward to the end of Round 14, and they occupy fourth, a game clear of fifth and with considerable momentum. Not so rosy for the Bullants, who will be very disappointed with the plummet from fourth to sixth after going down to the less fancied Kew. Elsewhere, the Bannister brothers feasted on the lacklustre opposition from bottom placed Ivanhoe, sharing 13 goals in a cakewalk for third placed Therry Penola. The race is now down to six teams, after West Brunswick fluffed their lines against Prahran Assumption.

Ormond may have justifiably thought holding Aaron Cloke to three goals should have been enough to deny the rampant Krushers, but the boys from Oakleigh continue to defy expectations, each week proving they have more than one string to their bow. Not the least significant of those is the ability to win the close ones, this time holding off a five goal final quarter charge from the Monders to salute by eight points on the foreign turf of Gunn Reserve. Zac Pearce-Thomas was in everything for the Krushers, while Tim Blackburn and Lachlan Mccambley led the spirited comeback for Ormond.

The game was virtually up for Ivanhoe by quarter time at Ivanhoe Park, but for the crowd the entertainment was not as Jordan and Jarrod Bannister waged their private goal-scoring war for Therry Penola, finishing with seven and six respectively. Jacob Gough and Nick Castaldi provided plenty of drive for the Lions, who now sit reasonably comfortably in third. Two goals each to Angus Woodward and Mitch Rees kept the scoreboard respectable for the Hoes, whose Wes Mayne was named their best.

West Brunswick’s last-ditch chance at salvaging their season fell short against an efficient Prahran Assumption, for whom captain James Musster again starred, ably assisted by Jack Matherson (4 goals) and Harry Taylor (3). Jethro Calma-Holt (2), Cormac Cashin and Abe Jones gave their all for the Westies, who now need to make up two games and heaps of percentage to figure in playoffs – surely an insurmountable task.

Preston Bullants may have cause to rue their somewhat insipid effort against Kew at Ruthven Reserve, going down by 44 points and in the process losing not just the game, but their place in the four. Kew jumped out of the blocks to lead by 29 points at the first break, a gap that Preston could not reel in despite the ongoing fine form of Coen Giali-Brosnan. The Bears will take plenty of heart from this performance, once again led by Nathan Sambevski (3) and a starring showing by Brin Duggan.

At Alec Gillon Oval, the two best afield were also the game’s top scorers, as Samuel Clement and Daniel Corp booted seven and five in that order for Hampton Rovers in their untroubled dismissal of Brunswick NOBS. Geramie Ganino was the usual standout for the beaten brigade, whose Jed Carey snared four majors.

PREVIEW

With only four rounds remaining, the ramifications of each loss are magnified for the teams currently sitting third to sixth. So, for those sides, their clashes this week take on paramount relevance.

Hampton Rovers (1st) v Oakleigh (4th)

Week after week, I suspect Oakleigh are due for a fall, and week after week they prove me wrong. So who would be temerarious enough to suggest they can’t take it up to the Rovers and make it eight in a row? The two teams behind them have, on paper, “easier” games, so, should they fail, their residency in the top four may be short lived. Hampton can lose and still stay 1st, but that won’t be part of their thinking.

Therry Penola (3rd) v Ormond (2nd)

Therry Penola would leapfrog Ormond into second should they get over the line at Fawkner Reserve. But can we envisage Ormond, who only a few weeks ago briefly occupied top place, losing three in succession? For either side, a win could all but guarantee finals participation, ensuring spectators a ripping contest.

Ivanhoe (10th) v Preston Bullants (6th)

Preston have arguably the least challenging assignment of the round, merely needing to beat Ivanhoe to stay in touch. The probability is weighted in favour of that outcome, but Ivanhoe won’t lie down at their home park, and the Bullants have been brittle of late.

Kew (8th) v Prahran Assumption (5th)

Kew’s previous month has produced some meritorious results, so Prahran Assumption should not be underestimating the hosts when they travel to Victoria Park. The fact that the stakes are higher for the Two Blues should see them salute against the always competitive Bears.

Brunswick NOBS (9th) v West Brunswick (7th)

The unfortunate label of this round’s ho-hum fixture falls to the clash of the Westies and the NOBS at Alec Gillon Oval. Yet, as they always do, these teams will play for pride and put on an entertaining contest although very little hinges on the result.

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