ROUND 16 PREVIEW
Bentleigh V Port Melbourne Colts (Bentleigh Reserve)
The wheels are starting to fall off at Arthur Street, and with the Demons having now slipped down to seventh, they are now in real danger of missing out on finals.
However, it has the opportunity to arrest its form slump and get its season back on track this week with a home clash against the ninth-placed Colts travel to Bentleigh Reserve.
Port have found victories difficult to come by in 2018, but after knocking off the Heighters last week, will enter this Saturday’s clash on a high and should give a good account of themselves.
Ultimately, Bentleigh are the better side on paper, and if they are fair dinkum about their finals prospects, they should make a strong statement here.
Bentleigh by 38 points.
Dingley V East Malvern (Souter Oval)
What a phenomenal turnaround it has been for Dingley.
After four wins in their first 11 games, their premiership defence was on life support with finals qualification looking a long shot. However, their last month of footy has been as good as any side’s in the competition, and there will be plenty of top teams that would be nervous coming up against them.
East Malvern this week will be no exception.
The Panthers welcomed superstar ruckman Chris Carey back to the side last Saturday after four weeks in the Port Melbourne and Vic Metro teams – a stretch in which the club managed just one win against the lowly Heighters. As one of the most influential players in the competition, his return could be what sparks East Malvern to recapture their early season form and secure their spot in the top three.
Both sides are in with a real chance this week in what should be an enthralling contest, but the Dingoes’ remarkable form over the last four rounds, coupled with the possible return of Jackson Peet, should get them over the line at home.
Dingley by eight points.
Chelsea Heights V Oakleigh District (Beazley Reserve)
There is little to be gained for either side in this one, with the Oaks out of finals contention, and the Heighters all but assured of relegation – barring a miracle victory over one of the top two sides in the final fortnight of the season.
However, Chelsea Heights will be keen to put in a big performance on Saturday to honour club stalwart Phil Matheson, who will become the first player in the club’s history to reach the 200-game milestone.
In front of a vocal home crowd, they should lift for the occasion, but the Districts have shown plenty of improvement as the season has progressed and should spoil the Heighters’ party as it looks to finish the year strongly.
Oakleigh District by 21 points.
Cheltenham V Mordialloc (Jack Barker Oval)
The Rosellas’ finals dream still has a pulse, and Des Ryan’s men now control their own fate if they are good enough.
The victory last week sees them draw level with the fifth-placed Dingoes on points, however, their percentage does them no favours, meaning they need to keep winning games to have a chance of leapfrogging them into the top five.
But this will be a difficult task, given they face three of the current top four sides in the remaining three matches, beginning with Mordialloc this Saturday.
However, they have picked a good time to face the Bloods, given they will be flat after dropping their last two matches. Cheltenham’s recent record against Mordialloc is also favourable, although the latter took bragging rights in their most recent encounter back in Round 7.
The Bloods will be desperate to return to the winner’s list with an important finals campaign looming, and their form throughout the season suggests they should start favourites in this one. That said, a victory here for the Rosellas would not be a shock.
Mordialloc by 13 points.
St Pauls v St Kilda City (McKinnon Reserve)
The Doggies’ brilliant winning streak, which now stands at an impressive nine on the trot, has seen them move two games clear on top of the ladder and into outright flag favouritism.
But premierships aren’t won in August, and the club will be keen to continue their momentum into next month, beginning with a crunch clash this weekend against St Kilda City.
The Saints had their colours lowered by the rampaging Dingoes, a loss the side will be hoping to bounce back from. They have been impressive throughout the year, City, taking some big scalps along the way, and victory here would set up a blockbuster clash with East Malvern for third spot next week.
Both St Pauls and St Kilda City are two of the most accomplished sides on the outside of the contest, and if they can win the ball in space and move it quickly, they can put their opposition defences under a lot of pressure, particularly given the potency of their respective forward lines.
But the Doggies have shown several times this year, including last week, that they possess the ability to roll the sleeves up and ‘win ugly’ if they need to, which will aid their chances.
In addition, their home ground advantage will also be a big factor, and if there is one lesson this scribe has learned the hard way this season – NEVER tip against St Pauls at the kennel.
St Pauls by 19 points.