By Will Hunter
ROUND 9 PREVIEW
Mordialloc V Bentleigh (Ben Kavanagh Reserve)
After six wins in succession, and another demolition job last week, the Bloods are flying high and will enter this week’s clash with the Demons chock full of confidence.
The Demons, while still firmly in the frame for a finals appearance, were given a reality check last Saturday against the improving Oakleigh District, a loss they would be keen to bounce back from.
The absence of Mitch Smart is a huge loss for Bentleigh, and it presents a golden opportunity for improving first-year Mordi ruckman Buddy Spohn to assert himself on the contest and provide his on-ball brigade with first use from the stoppages.
The Bentleigh midfield possesses enough talent to cause Mordi problems, but its forward line has failed to fire this year, with their total of 451 points for ranked sixth in the competition. Mordialloc has had no such issues kicking winning scores, so expect the rampant Bloods to notch their seventh straight win.
Mordialloc by 31 points.
St Pauls V Chelsea Heights (McKinnon Reserve)
The Dogs showed plenty of spirit last week to withstand the Cheltenham challenge and come away from JBO with the four points, with their superior fitness a big factor in their second-half resurrection.
And after securing win number six, they continue to show they deserve to be included in premiership discussions as we approach the halfway point of the season.
Meanwhile things aren’t quite as rosy down at Beazley Reserve, with several key injuries exposing the Heighters’ lack of depth. Second last and with the lowest percentage in the competition, the side will find themselves locked in a tight battle to avoid relegation in the back half of the season.
Their situation is unlikely to improve this week as they travel to the kennel to take on the fleet-footed Dogs, who will run them off their feet and record a comfortable victory.
St Pauls by 26 points.
Port Melbourne Colts V East Malvern (JL Murphy Reserve)
With just one win from its first eight games, the Colts are desperate for a second victory that would hoist the club off the bottom of the ladder. However, it is unlikely to come this week as it hosts one of the competition benchmarks in East Malvern.
The second-placed Panthers continue to impress and will view this as clash as an opportunity to bolster its percentage, which will assist in its fight for the minor premiership.
East Malvern to win convincingly, with towering ruckman Chris Carey likely to have a field day.
East Malvern by 38 points.
St Kilda City V Cheltenham (Peanut Farm)
It was a vastly improved effort from the Rosellas last weekend, albeit without success. That they showed an ability to match it with one of the competition’s top sides in St Pauls will mean they travel to the Peanut Farm with the belief that if they bring their A-game, they will likely come away with the four points.
St Kilda City are no push-overs, especially at home, and anything less than 100% effort and intensity from the visitors will result in them returning to Cheltenham with their tails between their legs.
The Saints have plenty of leg speed, and the Rosellas will need to shut down their outside run if they are to claim the four points. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen too many four-quarter performances from Chelt this season, so this could result in yet another honourable loss for them.
St Kilda City by 11 points.
Oakleigh District V Dingley (Princes Highway Reserve)
The Oaks have begun to hit a bit of form, and with recent victories over Bentleigh and St Pauls in the last month, they are not only elevating themselves above the relegation battle, but also forging a bit of a reputation as a giant-killer.
As such, this looms as a real danger game for the Dingoes, who cannot afford any complacency when they make the trip to Princes Highway Reserve.
Dingley find themselves in sixth place, having lost three on the trot before last week’s hard-fought victory over the Colts, and would love another victory here to keep touch with the top five before tough assignments against Mordi and St Pauls in the coming weeks.
They aren’t firing on all cylinders at the minute, Dingley, and the Oaks won’t get too many better opportunities to knock off the reigning premier than this. That said, it still would take a brave punter to write off the Dingoes.
Dingley by seven points.