By Will Hunter
ROUND 5 PREVIEW
East Malvern V Chelsea Heights (Dunlop Reserve)
It was an impressive performance from the Heighters last week, who stood toe-to-toe with Dingley for much of the afternoon. But while they will certainly test sides on their home deck, their challenge is to maintain that level of competitiveness away from Beazley Reserve.
The Panthers continue to impress, and another comprehensive victory last week sees them move back into the top three. If they continue this rich run of form, then there is no reason why they can’t contend for the flag.
While Chelsea Heights will have the tenacity and endeavour to match it with East Malvern, they may perhaps lack the class and polish to stay with them for four quarters.
East Malvern by 31 points.
Port Melbourne Colts V Cheltenham (JL Murphy Reserve)
The Rosellas had been widely-tipped to return to finals football in 2018, but their start to the season has been nothing short of disastrous. They remain winless after four games and have failed to fire a shot after half time in its previous two matches – they’ve been outscored 20 goals to two after half time in both games – which is a real concern.
An 0-5 start would make it very difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to continue their season beyond Round 18, making this clash against the Colts an absolute must-win for the club.
Although they have just one win to their credit, Port have been competitive in most of its contests this season and are particularly hard to play at the Portress, where several fancied visiting sides have left with their tails between their legs.
There is no doubt that of the two sides, Cheltenham has the better list on paper, but whether they can execute on the small ground remains to be seen. They should be too strong here, but don’t be surprised by another Colts boilover.
Cheltenham by six points.
St Kilda City V Mordialloc (Peanut Farm)
After passing their first big test in Bentleigh last Saturday, the Saints face another premiership challenger this week in Mordialloc.
The Bloods have some early teething issues under a new coach with a new game style and several new recruits, but, like the Demons, there is plenty of improvement left in this team as the players begin to jell as a group and adjust to the new system.
But St Kilda City’s stocks continue to rise following their run of impressive performances and victory here may elevate them to premiership contender status. They are getting plenty of value from their new recruits, but they will need to bring the defensive A-game in order to stop Mordi’s twin towers of Steve Tolongs and James Morris, who have combined for 24 goals so far this year.
City will no doubt give this one a red-hot crack, but if Mordialloc can click and bring their best footy, they will be too good for the Saints.
Mordialloc by 15 points.
Oakleigh District V St Pauls (Princes Highway Reserve)
While its great to see the Districts employ a youth-driven rebuild, rather than plug holes with experienced and expensive recruits, the club may see some short-term pain on the road to long-term gain.
The Dogs have taken a similar approach in blooding their Under 19 kids recent seasons, and are now starting to reap the rewards. They continue to impress in 2018 and have emerged as one of the likely challengers to Dingley’s title, which is an example the Oaks will be looking to follow.
In the interim, unfortunately, it could be another tough day at the office for the home side.
St Pauls by 40 points.
Dingley V Bentleigh (Souter Oval)
It hasn’t been the greatest of starts for the Demons, who sit 2-2 after losses to the Dogs and the Saints, however, as they proved last year, it’s what you do in the back half of the year that counts.
We have seen patches of brilliant footy from Bentleigh in 2018, but the challenge for them is to maintain it for a full four quarters. If they can do that this week against Dingley, then they are in with a real chance of causing an upset.
But the Dingoes have a formidable record against the Demons, winning nine of the last 10 matches dating back to 2014. This kind of historical dominance is hard to ignore.
This looms as a cracking contest between two sides expected to feature near the pointy end of the ladder, but Dingley’s midfield group perhaps shades the Demons’ in both class and depth, which should propel them to yet another victory.
Dingley by 20 points.