ROUND 11 PREVIEW
Hampton Park vs Endeavour Hills (Robert Booth Reserve)
Top-of-the-table Hampton Park faces a genuine challenge this week in the form of Endeavour Hills.
When the Redbacks visited the Falcons’ nest in early May, the visitors claimed a 16-point win.
Although beaten, Endeavour Hills finished with four more scoring shots than the accurate Hampton Park.
The Falcons briefly led in the final term.
Both squads have since been affected by injuries and the sides will have a somewhat different complexion this time around.
Falcons’ star Byron Hoe is still sidelined after dislocating his shoulder in the Round 7 clash with Hallam.
Endeavour Hills’ coach Rob Dipper is having to make a few forced changes at the selection table each week
He suggested his side was missing about six first-choice players last round against Black Rock.
But Redbacks’ coach Jason Chapple has also had to find injury-enforced replacements for prominent players.
Michael Henry, Kane Bloxsidge and competition leading goal scorer Nathan Carver are a few players recently out of action for Hampton Park.
Still, both Endeavour Hills and Hampton Park have the depth to ensure they put a competitive side on the park every time.
This promises to be a ripper of a match and it could go either way.
Endeavour Hills will embrace the challenge of attempting to be the first SFNL side to knock off the Redbacks at Robert Booth Reserve.
The Falcons are capable of achieving that feat, and their fitness ensures they won’t be daunted by the large playing surface.
Still, Hampton Park has earned the right to start as favourite, albeit a narrow one.
Black Rock vs Heatherton (MacDonald Reserve)
Heatherton should have claimed the four points when it hosted Black Rock early in the season.
However, a triple fifty-metre penalty to Daniel Kick afforded the backline star a chance to boot the winning goal.
He broke Tunners’ hearts, enabling Black Rock to celebrate a five-point win.
Heatherton president John ‘Beany’ Bennett has since referred to the match several times during his appearances on The 5th Quarter radio program, making it clear he believes the wrong side won.
Although the Tunners’ lack of discipline proved costly, Beany was right to feel his side was at times unlucky.
He is no doubt eagerly awaiting this return bout with Black Rock, this time in Jets’ territory.
Heatherton coach Shayne Sheedy recently indicated on air that with finals beyond reach, he is making it a focus for the Tunners to claim fifth spot.
Black Rock has occupied that position for many weeks and sits a win and percentage ahead of the sixth-placed Tunners.
The chance to be the best of the non-finalists along with the residual rivalry from the sides’ thrilling Round 4 encounter will ensure a fierce battle again this time.
Black Rock has versatility in the ruck and is often able to compete in the clearances with sides in the top four.
The Jets’ midfielders should have an edge over their Tunners’ rivals, but need to sharpen up their delivery to the forward line.
Although yet to beat a top four side this season, Black Rock has not been toppled by a team currently in the bottom half of the ladder.
For that reason the Jets start favourites, but it should be close.
Springvale Districts vs Hallam (Springvale Reserve)
Hallam continues to show some promising signs in what is a difficult season for the club.
Last week, youngster Dylan Grayson fought hard in a Hawks’ side badly beaten by Ashwood.
He was one of a strong crop of Under 19s players at Hallam in 2017 and his retention is important for the club’s long-term hopes.
Skipper Jonathan Daly and Rory McIvor play at a consistently high level and set a standard many in the team are as yet unable to match.
Against other sides in the lower section of the ladder, the Hawks have shown an ability to compete.
They went close to winning against South Yarra and Heatherton.
However, against teams destined for the finals, this season’s much-depleted Hallam list understandably has no answers.
Unfortunately, this week’s fixture is particularly unkind to the Hawks, scheduling them to face an all but impossible obstacle in the form of Springvale Districts.
The Demons won the first meeting of these sides by 204 points, managing an eye-watering 59 scoring shots to Hallam’s paltry five.
You’d hope it won’t get worse than that this time, but a triple figure win to the Demons seems all but guaranteed.
Ashwood vs South Yarra (Essex Heights Reserve)
Ashwood proved an anti-social visitor in Round 4, dispatching South Yarra by 82 points despite having to contend with the peculiar challenges of Fritsch Holzer Park.
On that occasion, Dale Carroll slotted seven goals and his brother Paddy was best afield.
Unfortunately for the Yarras, those two were running hot last week against Hallam.
There is no shortage of in-form Magpies and it is hard to imagine South Yarra containing enough of them to produce a competitive spectacle.
Ashwood should win comfortably and will leapfrog Endeavour Hills to grab third spot on the ladder should the Falcons stumble against Hampton Park.