By Will Hunter
ROUND 2 PREVIEW
East Malvern V Mordialloc (Dunlop Reserve)
While it was a positive result for the Panthers to kick off the season, a much sterner test awaits this week in the form of premiership contender Mordialloc.
The Bloods meanwhile were very impressive from quarter time onwards, and worked themselves back into the game on their ability to win the ball through the centre.
Mordi Skipper and clearance king Todd Bastion, who recently returned from overseas, made his return through the twos on the weekend, and may make his return to the seniors this week, further strengthening an already imposing midfield group.
East Malvern has its fair share of quality through the guts, including coach Nathan Robinson and star veteran Ryan Mullett, but they don’t have the depth to match it with the Bloods for four quarters.
Mordialloc by 36 points.
Cheltenham V Bentleigh (Jack Barker Oval)
Over the last few years, these two clubs have established their annual ANZAC Round contest as one of the marquee events on the SFNL calendar, and there will again be plenty of interest in this one.
Both sides find themselves coming off losses to start the season, and they would be keen to open their account here on Saturday afternoon.
Chelt shot themselves in the foot last week with their poor ball use, albeit in difficult conditions, which is an issue that cost them games last year as well, so no doubt that will be addressed during the week. If they are able to limit the turnovers and convert in front of the sticks, they are a big chance to win the game.
Bentleigh, however, have had the wood on the Rosellas for the last couple of seasons, winning four of the past five encounters. They also possess arguably the better side on paper on the back of some aggressive off-season recruiting and should again prove too strong for Chelt on Saturday.
Bentleigh by 15 points.
St Pauls V Dingley (McKinnon Reserve)
Like all champion sides, the Dingoes stepped up when challenged last week, and simply found a way to win the critical moments. It was a performance that they should take plenty of confidence out of.
St Pauls forged a reputation last year as being a quick and nimble young side that cuts sides up with its run and carry, however, it proved last week that it has the ability to grind out contested games in difficult conditions against a quality opponent.
The Dogs were shock winners the last time these two sides met at the Kennel, storming home with six final-term majors to announce themselves as flag contenders. However, a repeat of such a result is unlikely.
Expect the Dogs to again show plenty of heart and character, but the Dingoes may just find a way to win, as they so often do.
Dingley by six points.
St Kilda City V Chelsea Heights (Peanut Farm)
An intriguing clash between two sides that produced shock results last week.
While several pundits may have foreseen a City victory, few could have predicted the manner in which they demolished the Colts on their own dungheap. In doing so, their impressive victory has changed many people’s perceptions of the Saints in season 2018.
The Heighters produced their own stunning performance in upsetting Cheltenham, largely due to their better handling of the conditions at Beazley Reserve. But how they perform at the Peanut Farm – a venue at which they have not tasted victory since 2013 – remains to be seen.
It should be a close contest, but the Saints’ home ground advantage will help them secure the four points.
St Kilda City by 19 points.
Oakleigh District V Port Melbourne Colts (Princes Highway Reserve)
Two sides that will be desperate to atone for lacklustre first-up performances go head to head at Princes Highway Reserve.
Both teams had their issues in front of goal, booting a combined nine goals in Round 1, and this is an area the Oaks and the Colts would be keen to address.
The Colts were taught a lesson by a strong Saints outfit, but still have a couple of players – including the injured Cal Cathcart – to return.
Oakleigh meanwhile have taken a long-term view, blooding a number of kids in its senior side last week, and with that inconsistent performances are to be expected in the short term. But if they can compete like they did in the second half against the Panthers, they should get the chocolates.
Oakleigh District by seven points.