The top two clear out as the finals race tightens

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Hugh MacLean

Monash Blues and Hampton Rovers have solidified their positions at the top end of the ladder, while results in round seventeen have opened the other finals positions right up.  

Old Ivanhoe know that they cannot afford any unexpected slip-ups in their run into the big end-of-season games, and they were determined not to drop this one.  Marcellin put together a decent run of mid-season form but came into this match having lost four games on the bounce, and they were immediately under pressure at Chelsworth Park scoring a solitary point against three goals in the opening quarter.   

Things got no better for the Eagles and a 47-point three-quarter time lead just about finished this as a contest. Marcellin showed commendable spirit to win the last quarter by a goal, but it was too little too late. Luke Scuderi kicked three goals while Sam Wilcox and Michael Mitris contributed two each to the Old Ivanhoe cause.  Caleb Barry and Lachlan Rush kicked two goals each for Marcellin, with Ry Elphinstone strong.

Old Geelong hosted Monash looking to make a statement, but the Blues were never troubled in this encounter. Having conceded the only five goals of the first quarter Old Geelong knew that they needed to hit back immediately if they were to stay in the contest, but they were only able to kick two goals to Monash’s four as the half-time margin blew out to 50 points.  

Monash were able to coast to the finish line from there, but with Geelong missing their leading goal kicker and their prime movers well held by Monash, they could only kick four goals for the day in a crushing defeat. Nick Argento kicked three goals for Monash, and Billy Robertson and Nick Darling two each.  Only Nick Morwood with two kicked more than one goal for Old Geelong, while Beau Harris was his side’s best on the day.

Old Mentonians needed a win here to continue their charge towards finals, but Ormond spoiled their party at EE Gunn Reserve. The Monders began like steam trains, kicking six goals to two with the first term breeze advantage, but they conceded the only four goals of the second quarter as the Panthers restricted the half-time deficit to just four points. With all to play for the sides went goal-for-goal early in the third quarter but Ormond finished the quarter well to lead by two goals turning for home.  

Ormond took their chances in the final stanza better than Old Mentonians could to run out victorious by 13 points and prove that they are not finished as finals contenders themselves just yet. Zac Benson and Joseph Nowell kicked three goals each for Ormond, with the consistent Dae Szydlik again their best. In-form forwards Darcy Brown and Tom Morecroft also kicked three each for Old Mentonians, with Austin Parker strong for them on the day.

Parkdale took on an in-form UHS-VU needing the four points to stay in touch with the top five, and the University boys certainly gave them the fright of their lives. They dominated territory in the first quarter but squandered that advantage by kicking 1.6. Parkdale stayed with UHS-VU in a good old-fashioned slog with only two goals kicked by each side in the first half, but began to assert its ascendancy in the third term to take an 11-point lead into the last break.  

The game was really broken open in the final quarter, with Parkdale kicking the only seven goals to score a 56-point win that belied the closeness of the match for most of the day. Matt Emmanouil, Liam Purcell and Jai Elcock kicked two goals each for Parkdale with Lloyd Bailey their best. Pat Brookes was excellent for UHS-VU, for whom James Gilfillan registered two majors.

Preston gave the high-flying Hampton Rovers one heck of a scare at Ruthven Reserve, before Hampton kicked the only four goals of the last quarter to secure the victory. The Bullants took advantage of a flat start from a Rovers side missing some key players and suffering early injury blows. Six goals to one in the first quarter was indicative of their dominance, but it woke the Rovers up to the point that they only gave up one more goal for the entire match.  

The key to the result was the third term, where they kicked two goals to one into what was a very strong breeze. This drew Hampton level at the last change and set them up for their final charge to secure the four points. Lachlan Carrigan, Danny Corp and Max Coughlin kicked two goals each for Hampton Rovers, but Chris Perkins in his first game back for seven weeks was easily best on ground. Conor Howard kicked three goals for the gallant Bullants, for whom Oscar Howard and Sotiri Rerakis were best.