The penultimate round of home & away football has come to pass, and with its fallouts come four teams who were affected ladder-wise, either positively or adversely, by the weekend’s results. After eight long weeks knocking on the top four’s door, Caulfield Grammarians re-entered finals discussion, nipping 4th place, with a resounding 116-point victory over Mazenod. St Bernard’s (1st) and University Blacks (3rd) continued their impressive form with convincing victories over Monash Blues and Beaumaris, respectively, while Parkdale Vultures whizzed past Old Haileybury, snatching their 6th position on the table, thanks to their 32-point win over Ajax, and the Bloods 33-point shortcoming to Old Carey (2nd).
With just a solitary week remaining before the finals dance takes the floor, Round 18 promises so much for the Premier B supporter:
- Is Chad Jones going to be the second VAFA player in 2018 (Division 1: Aaron Cloke, Oakleigh FC – 102 goals) to reach the 100 goal milestone by way of a five goal bag against Ajax?
- Will it be Beaumaris, who fielded a place in the top four for a resolved 11 rounds, who complete the finals group via an especially comprehensive win over Old Haileybury at Shark Park?
- Can Caulfield (4th) hang tight and secure their spot bound for September glory by upstaging Parkdale at Gerry Green reserve?
- Can Mazenod or Ajax dodge the move to Premier C in 2019 with massive scalps over University Blacks and St Bernard’s, respectively?
Parkdale Vultures will host Caulfield Grammarians in a game which holds plenty of consequence for the visitors at this late stage of the season. Win, and the Fields’ ticket to finals is all but sealed, credit to their 14.15% advantage over the aspiring Beaumaris (5th). Lose, and their radical run, winning four of their last five, including a major coup over top dogs St Bernard’s, could all be for nought if the Sharks snag the four points over Old Haileybury. Other results aside, the Fields’ primary focus on Saturday afternoon indubitably lies at Gerry Green, with a win over the Vultures absolutely vital. When these sides last met in Round 8, only a goal separated the sides at the first break before the Fields upped the ante and put the match beyond reach in the second kicking 7.7 to the Vultures 1.1. On that occasion, Keegan Stewart was lively up forward for Caulfield, kicking four majors, while Adam Knight and Charlie Dillon (2) were pivotal for the Vultures.
Finals ambitions aside, Beaumaris will need to bring their A-game in front of their home crowd at Shark Park on Saturday afternoon if they are to break their 3-game losing streak, and attain the win, over a sometimes unpredictable Old Haileybury. Rewind 16 rounds ago to Round 2, and you’ll recall wet’n’wintry conditions and gale force winds; none of which stopped the Sharks from locking in a 41-point victory over the Bloods. With those unfavourable conditions in mind, it is easy to understand why Beaumaris’ 8.7 to 4.3 opening half was a bridge too far for the gutsy Haileyburians, despite the best efforts of James Paul, Nicholas Garrett and Aaron Toy. Rob Cathcart (3) and William Edmondson (3) were commendable for the Sharks, as was the always impressive Matthew Petering. The radar is looking substantially less bleak for their meeting this time around, but will the final result reflect that too?
In a game which, on paper, holds little impact on the final outcome of the minor rounds, you can bet both Old Carey and Monash Blues will be unremitting in their clash at Carey Sports Complex. For the Panthers, who still breathe down the necks of St Bernard’s with equal premiership points (60), a stand-alone win here is unlikely to improve their standing given their 58.19% disadvantage to the ladder leaders. But, if the Snow Dogs were to stumble again, like they did to the Fields in Round 16, minor premiership honours would be there for Old Carey to pounce on. On the other end of the spectrum, Monash Blues would be determined to retain their 8th place standing and an upset here would put all relegation woes beyond reach from Ajax (9th) and Mazenod (10th). Sitting as the worst defensive side in Premier B and second lowest offensive side, scoring about 54 points and allowing just shy of a 112-point average slip each week, it will take a gallant effort, and some, to topple the Panthers (averaging 102 points for, 59 points against).
Mazenod (10th) will welcome University Blacks (3rd) in their final game for 2018 and, unless they can emulate a huge upset over the steamrolling Blacks with other results also suiting their cause, will be regrouping over the off-season for a Premier C appearance in 2019. When these sides last encountered in Round 1, it was a consistent four-quarter effort by the Uni side which saw them emerge as 59-point victors on home soil. In that instance, Lachlan Huntington and Lochie Dornauf were particularly damaging in the forward-line, scoring 9 of the Blacks 15 goals between them, a theme that has continued all season as both boys have notched a joint 94 goals since. With an enormous 45 players moving in and out of the Nodders line-up during the year, only two of which have played all 17 games to date, finding consistency and reliable scoring outlets has undoubtedly been a struggle, reflected in their average of 49 points scored each week. Ranking second as this section’s best offensive side, averaging almost 109 points in every outing, the Blacks will be looking to redo, nay outdo, their Round 1 victory again on Saturday.
The St Bernard’s camp will have but one message ringing loud and clear in Round 18, and surely that is to provide goal-kicking superstar Chad Jones with plenty of the ball up forward so he can notch the ever-allusive 100 goal milestone. If their last meeting with Ajax is anything to go by, an occasion which was a close contest, and would’ve been reflected as such in the final scoreline if not for a 59-point third quarter blowout in the Snow Dogs favour, then Jones will be well en route to that centurion accolade considering the nine-goal haul he bagged then in Round 4. For the Jackas, who will farewell AFL premiership coach, Mark Williams, upon the match conclusion, a scalp here could very well see them avoid the relocation to Premier C, but it’s hard to envisage the Snow Dogs rolling over with so much on the line.