By Jason Barbin
Finals have finally arrived and the four sides set to play this weekend will be champing at the bit to take home a win, with all games being played at Meade Reserve in Clayton. Keysie and Caulfield will fight for a chance to play Chelsea Heights next week, while it’s do or die for Murrumbeena and Skye.
Keysborough v Caulfield (Meade Reserve)
Saturday 2nd September - 2:15pm
Round 5 –
Keysborough 4.10 (34) def Caulfield 3.8 (26) at Keysborough Reserve
Round 16 –
Keysborough 8.9 (57) def Caulfield 5.8 (38) at Koornang Park
What a ripping game this will be.
Both sides put on a clinic in firepower during their Round 20 matches and those from Chelsea Heights who will no doubt be attending the match, will be watching carefully to learn all they can.
But if the previous meetings between these sides is anything to go by, this match is likely to be low scoring and a hard grind.
Both sides finished with 13 wins for the year and boast a number of influential players that will likely shape the result on Saturday afternoon.
For the Burra, Chris Bryan and Tim Werner have formed possible the best forward duo in the competition and have combined to kick 87 goals between them, including 15 last week.
They’ve been joined by the likes of star Geoffrey Humphreys, who has had another strong year.
While those players will likely garner most of the attention, keep an eye out for the likes of Riet Pal and Cory Hargreaves who have impressed multiple times across the season.
One player missing however will be former coach Ryan Goodes, who suffered multiple cheekbone fractures last week. While his midfield presence and leadership will be sorely missed, it allows another player to stand up in his stead.
For Caulfield, while it hasn’t been a particularly high scoring team at times, the likes of Chris Dove looms as a dangerous option inside 50, having booted 26 majors on the year.
The big strength for the Bears however, is depth across the field with guys like Brandon Turner, Chris Lewis and Harris Lanyon playing starring roles while big man Adam Ballard is a force in the ruck.
But like Keysborough, Caulfield boast more than a handful of good players, with Tom Heagney and Jake Buggy enjoying strong seasons.
Expect this match to go down to the wire with both sides putting everything on the line.
Keysborough by 10 points.
Murrumbeena v Skye (Meade Reserve)
Sunday 3rd September - 2:15pm
Round 7 –
Skye 14.8 (92) def Murrumbeena 11.9 (75) at Murrumbeena Park
Round 18 –
Murrumbeena 13.10 (88) def Skye 7.9 (51) at Carrum Downs Recreation Reserve
I’m not sure what to make of this match.
Skye started the year in excellent fashion, but poor form and an injury to Matt Haverfield has seen it drop off from a top three contender to a fifth place finisher.
Form wise, it hasn’t been good for the Bombers, losers of three of their last five matches with one win, albeit against minor premiership Chelsea Heights, and the called off match against Keysborough.
Of those losses, two have come at the hands of bottom six sides in Highett and Springvale Districts with the third against Sunday’s opponent.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Skye, with boom recruit Stephen Hawkins capable of kicking a bag of goals, having finished with 49 on the year while ably supported by Brett Dawson with 24.
Jess Elms and James Bateman have enjoyed strong finishes for the year and join Nathan McConville as the ones to keep an eye on for the Bombers.
Marc Frizell has been super consistent and is a good midfield player while Tim Barr continues to improve.
For Murrumbeena, its form has been a polar opposite to that of Skye’s, winners of six in a row with victories against Keysborough, Skye and East Brighton among them.
A slow start hurt their top three chances early, but the Beena have arguably been the in-form team during the second half of the season and will be favourites going into this match.
Jake Semmel’s return to the Beena Arena has been incredibly successful with the hard nut midfielder among the best in all but two of his side’s matches and he looms as the X-factor for Murrumbeena.
Chris Evans and Darcy Hargrave have also enjoyed excellent seasons, while former St Pauls’ star Liam Wilson knows all about how to perform come September.
Alaster Bradley has proven a capable target inside the forward arc during the year, finishing with 27 goals, while Rhys Clayton (19 goals) and Eduardo Espinosa (16 goals) have provided support.
It’s hard to ignore the form both sides have displayed in the lead up to the finals, which is why I’ll be tipping Murrumbeena, but Skye will be no pushover.
Murrumbeena by seven points.