ROUND 18 PREVIEW
Chelsea Heights V St Pauls (Beazley Reserve)
With the minor premiership now secure, the Dogs have nothing to lose or gain from this clash and will just be hoping to come through unscathed before a well-earned break next week.
On the other hand, the end cannot come quickly enough for Chelsea Heights, whose season from hell is set to end with the wooden spoon and relegation to Division 2.
While their performance against the second-placed Bloods last week will give the Heighters some hope of an improbable victory, St Pauls are not about to let this one slip as they get set to mount their premiership assault.
St Pauls by 23 points.
Bentleigh V Mordialloc (Bentleigh Reserve)
An intriguing match up between two sides that haven’t exactly shot the lights out in the back of the year.
Now officially out of finals contention, Bentleigh might view 2018 as a bit of a wasted season, given their best side had the capability to contend. Although circumstances dictated that they didn’t get a clear run at it, they have built a foundation for 2019 and beyond by blooding several kids into their senior side.
The Bloods have hit the skids over the last month and a half, but their early body of work has ensured they can secure the double change with victory here over the Demons.
There is no doubt that despite their on-field slump, the Bloods are a more hardened and cohesive unit than the Demons, and they would be keen to put in a positive performance here to rebuild confidence heading into finals.
This is a difficult match to predict given each side’s patchy form, but Mordialloc have much more to play for and this could be a determining factor.
Mordialloc by six points.
East Malvern V Port Melbourne Colts (Dunlop Reserve)
The Colts were beaten soundly by the Dingoes last Saturday, and with the wooden spoon avoided, it appears the club has put the cue back in the rack for season 2018.
East Malvern are sitting pretty in third, four points clear of St Kilda City, and the double chance is theirs for the taking if they get up here at the Zoo on Saturday. More importantly, the Panthers will have their eyes firmly set on the major prize, and would be keen to maintain winning form heading into finals.
With a spot in the top three up for grabs and a vastly superior list, this will be a one-side contest with Port unlikely to provide much resistance.
East Malvern by 51 points.
Cheltenham V St Kilda City (Jack Barker Oval)
With the Rosellas’ finals chances now done and dusted, the club will be hoping to finish off strongly and end the season on a positive note.
However, they come up against a St Kilda City outfit that needs a victory to maintain the pressure on the third-placed East Malvern, with an unlikely slip up from the Panthers to open the door for the Saints to steal the double chance.
But for Saints coach Richard Houston, a greater priority would be ensuring his charges execute their brand of fast-paced transition footy in a final tune up before a likely Elimination Final against the Dingoes next week.
While Cheltenham will go in as underdogs, they have shown in the back half of the year that their best is good enough and St Kilda City simply cannot afford to take them lightly, especially at home. However, the Saints remain a quality football side capable of going all the way, and should have their measure.
St Kilda City by 15 points.
Dingley V Oakleigh District (Souter Oval)
There wouldn’t be many, if any, sides in the league that would feel comfortable facing the Dingoes in the form they are in at the moment.
Their resurrection in the back half of the season, which has been well-documented by this column, has seen the club rise from the ashes to not only qualify for finals, but also re-enter the premiership discussion.
The Districts have had an up-and-down season, but have never shirked and issue and been competitive against higher-ranked opponents. They will no doubt have a red-hot crack again this week, but with lack the all-round class to match it with Dingley.
Dingley by 28 points.