By Will Hunter
ROUND 10 PREVIEW
Mordialloc V Dingley (Ben Kavanagh Reserve)
The two fierce rivals will again renew hostilities this week with the Bloods and Dingoes set to play off for the 2018 Pride Cup.
Dingley were victorious in the most recent clash in Round 1, holding out the fast-finishing Bloods in a thriller at Souter Oval, however, much has transpired in the ensuring 11 weeks.
Following two consecutive losses to start the season, Mordialloc has embarked on a sizzling seven-game winning run that sees them currently top the Division 1 ladder with a percentage on 173.65%.
The reigning premiers, meanwhile, have been beset by injury which has greatly tested their depth. Consequently, they have lost four of their last five games and slipped to sixth on the ladder, with their percentage sitting below 100 for the first time in years.
While clashes between the Dingoes and the Bloods – who have contested two of the last three Division 1 Grand Finals – have traditionally been highly anticipated encounters, the current form of the two sides has taken some of the intrigue from this Saturday’s battle.
Mordialloc will run out as heavy favourites, however, much like Carlton and Collingwood in the AFL, expect Dingley to lift for the occasion and put in a performance against its rival that belies its current ranking.
Mordialloc by 20 points.
Cheltenham V Chelsea Heights (Jack Barker Oval)
The previous meeting produced a shock result as the Division 2 premier Chelsea Heights celebrated its promotion with a first-up upset over a wasteful Cheltenham at Beazley Reserve.
It’s difficult to envisage a repeat result when the two sides lock horns again at Jack Barker Oval this week.
The depleted Heighters have saluted just once since that victory over the Rosellas and remain locked in a fight with the Colts to avoid relegation.
Cheltenham will take plenty of confidence from their away victory over the fancied Saints last week and should record another comfortable win here as it sets its sights on fifth spot.
Cheltenham by 33 points.
St Pauls V Bentleigh (McKinnon Reserve)
Regardless of their respective ladder positions, the Battle of Bentleigh is always a clash to look forward to. The fact that both sides are inside the top four and firmly in finals contention only heightens the sense of occasion.
The third-placed Dogs have a two-game break on their local rivals, who sit just one rung below them on the ladder, and it is a gap the Demons would be desperate to bridge.
St Pauls possess terrific running power and outstanding fitness, regularly running over sides late in games. If they are allowed any space on the outside, they should move the ball quickly enough to give Steve Muller and co the best opportunity to post a winning score.
Bentleigh have had been below their best for much of the season to date, with their forward failing to fire – they are the only side in the top seven who are yet to register 500 points after nine matches. However, what they have lacked in offensive proficiency they have made up for with their defensive efforts, and they will look to stifle the hard-running St Pauls at every opportunity.
This looms as a tremendous contest, but the home ground advantage should see the Doggies claim the four points and further ensconce themselves in the top three.
St Pauls by three points.
St Kilda City V Port Melbourne Colts (Peanut Farm)
After a disappointing final-term fade out against the Rosellas last week, the Saints will be keen to make amends when they host Port Colts in a local derby at the Peanut Farm
The previous meeting between these two old South East Suburban FL foes resulted in a comprehensive victory under lights to St Kilda City, which in many respects set the tone for the season so far.
The Colts are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, with a one-point win over the Oaks their only positive result, while the fifth-placed City have emerged as a legitimate finals contender with a host of recruits playing an impressive brand of football.
The Saints should bounce back in style here.
St Kilda City by 41 points.
Oakleigh District V East Malvern (Princes Highway Reserve)
After an indifferent start to the season, Oakleigh District has since emerged as the most improved team in the competition over the last month and a half.
Winless from its first four starts, the Oaks have since found their groove, winning four of their last five games – including three in succession – to remarkably sit just percentage outside of the top five.
However, it will be a tough ask for them to maintain their run when it hosts the formidable East Malvern.
The white-hot Panthers continue to assert its dominance over other sides, winning its last three matches by an average margin of 52 points as it builds towards a tilt at the minor premiership.
Unfortunately, despite all the hype and positivity surrounding Oakleigh District’s form at the moment, East Malvern are simply a class above.
East Malvern by 36 points.