If you want good football, you want Division 3 Men’s

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Division 3 Men's

Mitch Dyer

I’m scared to tip winners in this division, I really am.  Division 3 Men’s constantly brings with it the unpredictability of who will bring home the chocolates giving me the greatest opportunity to highlight the seven key things we learned from round seven and beyond.

1. The Cobras have the best forward line in the league

I’m not sure what Nathan Walsh is feeding his forward line at Thursday night dinners, but the Cobras inside the forward arc seem to be an unstoppable force in 2023.

Not that they were not in 2022, however their goal kicking momentum continued this week with key highlights being Tommy Lowden kicking his season high bag of 7 majors alongside his teammate Jayden Cutts kicking a division high 10 goals in their major win against Richmond.

During the week, coach Nathan Welsh explained that although the side had an impressive 2022 that saw them contest deep into the finals series, the side managed to retain all-bar-one player from that relatively new side. Thus, suggesting 2023 is a chance for the side to go one further to the big dance with a well-connected team.

However impressive the key forwards have been, the ball sadly doesn’t magically appear in their hands week in week out.  The work rate of guys such as Harrison Carter, Michael Wheeler and Jordan Dear are a major reason for the side’s success through the first half of the campaign.

Another great win on the weekend of 122 points makes the Cobras the undeniable favourites in division three, sitting atop the ladder with only one loss and having three players inside the top 6 goal kickers in the comp sets this team from the east up to not just play finals, but dominate.

2. Swinburne show their hand as a Division 3 quality side

It’s never easy to move up a division no matter how successful you’ve been in the past.  It’s just not easy.  For Swinburne University, the beginning of their season has been a mixture of being in games until the final moments or being blown out from the start and having to make it to that sweet release of the final siren… not this time.

Now keep in mind that round 7 is a direct replay from the opening round of the season, which is where Power House came up big winners by 82 points against Swinburne.  To set the scene even more, Swinburne was staring down the barrel of a big loss to the Animals last week compared to Power House’s 10 point triumph over the Snakes, so every man and his dog would have understood a sluggish mentality from the Swinburne outfit.

But the great thing about football is statistics are just on a piece of paper, and Swinburne rolled up their sleeves and walked onto St James Park with one goal and one only: see ball get ball.

Power House was caught out early by quick movement and unrelenting pressure on a Saturday afternoon, never being able to take the lead away from Nathaniel Symes side who marched their way into their first win of the year and more importantly, off the bottom of the division three ladder.

The win is massive not just for the confidence of the players but also the context of the season, now sitting just one win behind Richmond to get themselves out of the relegation zone and also to push their case for a few other wins given Power House sits just outside finals contention themselves.

3. The Animals own Elsternwick in 2023

The Wattle Park Animals for me are the greatest wild card in the competition.  When they are at their best, they rival the likes of Canterbury and Hawthorn but at times can be caught sleeping in the second half of games.

Round 7 presented the club with the opportunity to truly put the league on notice given their massive win over Elsternwick to kick off the season at home was the headline of that opening round, it was important to see how both sides would fare.

Elsternwick has shown glimpses of brilliance this season, but when it comes to the Animals their fluent ball movement and run and carry seems to get mitigated by the inside pressure and willingness to go through the corridor when required by the Animals.

As a result, the Animals proved that round 1 was no fluke and no anomaly of not just beating top sides but being able to run away with games, kicking their way to a 27 point win to cement themselves in the top four at the half way marker.

Last year Elsternwick played finals and although it didn’t go the way Peter Higgenboth and his men had hoped, they were a genuine threat and will continue to be if they can work out a way to bring out their best week in week out.  For Wattle Park, they were the hard luck side of 2022 just missing finals after some solid football, but this year there will be no stone unturned as they march their way to September.

4. Division 3 is Poetic Chaos

I’ve made a point a few times this season that there are levels to Division 3 in terms of the quality of teams and players on a weekly basis.

Is it harsh? Maybe.  However, I certainly know when I’m wrong and this week proved to me that on any given day and any given week, the bottom sides in this league can strike the fear of life into their rivals.

Swinburne Uni this week stepped up to say okay look, we know we got beaten in a big way in round 6 but we’ve had 6 nights of good sleep and big dreams to come and knock of arguably a finals side in Power House.

Further to that, each and every week a side that takes on Richmond, and I am aware that this week wasn’t their best, but you can’t ever pencil it in as an automatic four points.

They nearly managed to hold out Power House last week, and have been in the game week in week out against some big competition.  Heading into round 8 against the Animals, you can make an argument for Zac Jardines men, much the same as Rick Nolans La Trobe side.

Coming up from Division 4 alongside Swinburne, the side has taken some heavy losses to begin their Division 3 campaign however the likes of Matty Ogle in front of goals and Iryoung Fan through the middle offers ambition the team can regroup in the second half and steal some wins along the way.

5. Hawthorn may be the most rounded team in Division 3

Now, I’ve always been big on Hawthorn.

The team is quite possibly the most well rounded in the competition in terms of talent at every pocket of the oval, and this season it seems to be falling into place nicely for coach Mark Murray.

Last year the Hawks had three players inside the league’s best team, and this season they only seem to be elevating their game play and smarts around the side.

Charlie Boots off the backline plays the quarterback role for this side like he is Tom Brady reincarnated in the eastern suburbs, slow but deadly.  In the forward half, Justin Raiti and Will Meehan continue to deviate sides when given the chance.

Their midfield run and carry is second to none and if given an inch they are taking a mile.  They sit second on the ladder for a reason and this side will be sitting and relishing the opportunity to take another crack at the Cobras in two rounds time.

6. Who is leading the P Hutchinson through 7 rounds

In 2022, the Best & Fairest Medal belonged to Jack Hamilton of Parkside, and right behind him were two of the division’s best in Nick Szabo of the Cobras and Harry Davis from the Animals.

Given Hamilton no longer is in the division, the race for the medal was cracked wide open, and an assumed injury or some time away at the moment for Szabo means Harry Davis on paper was one to watch this season, and boy what a spectacle the midfielder has been.

He’s missed a few games this season but of those he’s played he’s been recognised as best on ground twice and only missed the votes once.  He is the leader, engine room and soul of the Animals and is doing all he can to help this side get to the finals and push for a flag whilst maybe collecting league honours all at the same time.

In the division at the moment, there are only three players to have polled six times in the season, two of which having only played six games.

Hawthorn’s Luke McLeod and Power House’s Harry Officer have been stand-outs for their respective clubs in 2023.  McLeod is one of the pieces of the well-rounded Hawks that keeps the ball moving the way it does, while for Power House, Officer has been a breakout for the side in 2023.

The last of the three who have polled votes is Elsternwick’s Dylan Jones, who last season finished equal fifth in the medal count just 7 votes behind eventual winner Jack Hamilton.  Jones has been damaging all season long and given last year the man who featured the most in the clubs best took out the medal could mean Jones is trending to go even better in 2023.

7. The crystal ball is telling me… 

If I cast my eyes ahead for the remainder of the season, there’s one consistent key to the division three program.

Every week any team can win, and that’s just about the most exciting thing in football.  Swinburne’s huge breakthrough in round 7 proves enough that this division is brimming with football talent and at any given moment, it can be awoken like a sleeping giant and put to great use.

At the top going to the big dance, for me it’s the Cobras and either the Hawks or Animals to do battle for Division 3 supremacy.  That’s not to say the likes of Power House and Elsternwick can’t be there to have their shot at the title, but those two sides to me are the scariest to come up against each and every week.

Next week brings with it a great fresh challenge for most sides with the match of the round being Power House taking on Canterbury with a redemption arc as big as any this season for Power House against the competition leaders.