St Kilda City V St Pauls
ROUND 16 PREVIEW
By Will Hunter
With the top three teams all odds-on to secure the double chance, the four-way battle is heating up for the two remaining finals spots, and several games this week may go a long way to determining who will extend their season post Round 18.
All of the focus this week has rightly been on the off-field aspects and community-wide implications of this massive Pride Cup clash, so it’s easy to forget the on-field result is also vitally important in the context of shaping the composition of the 2017 finals series.
The Saints are knocking on the door of the top five, and need to continue to win games to keep the pressure on the sides above it. With the third-placed St Pauls entering this clash on the back of two straight losses, City will no doubt feel it is a massive chance to cause another upset here.
St Pauls, meanwhile, have performed so well throughout the season, it’s hard to envisage them dropping three in a row. The Dogs will have too much class through the midfield for their Saints counterparts, and should sneak home in a close one.
St Pauls by eight points.
This week is essentially a mini-elimination final for Bentleigh as it hosts fellow finals aspirant Oakleigh District at Arthur Street.
A game and percentage behind the fifth-placed Oaks, a loss here would ensure the Demons’ September fate is reliant as much on other results as it is on a win over East Malvern next week, a difficult enough task in isolation.
A win here is just as important for Oakleigh with crunch matches against Mordialloc and the Panthers to close out the home and away season.
Both sides appear pretty evenly matched, which means we will likely see a hard-fought, thrilling contest. Bentleigh would be acutely aware of the situation that confronts them, and if they can get close to a full-strength side out on the park, they will be good enough to keep their season well and truly alive with a narrow victory at home.
Bentleigh by four points.
Last week’s upset win over St Pauls was not only a welcome return to form, but another reminder of what season 2017 could have been for Cheltenham.
The victory was their second over a top-three opponent, with the Rosellas shock winners in their previous encounter with Mordialloc back in Round 7.
So much has transpired for both clubs since that fateful afternoon, and the Bloods would be champing at the bit to exact revenge on Chelt. Sitting pretty atop the Division 1 ladder, and in the box seat to claim the minor premiership, Mordi are very well placed to do just that.
Through the agency of their hard-bodied ball winners, Mordialloc should get the chocolates, but the Rosellas will make them earn it.
Mordialloc by 27 points.
Port Melbourne Colts V Clayton (JL Murphy Reserve)
Port but will be looking to snap a seven-match losing streak on Saturday when the winless Clayton comes to town.
The Colts have averaged just 40 points for per game in that time, and have sorely missed star goalkicker Mitch Clarke, who injured his ACL in Round 3.
Conversely, this is perhaps Clayton’s last realistic chance to break its 2017 duck, particularly after improved performances in recent weeks.
The Clays could be competitive on the small confines of JL Murphy, which is not too dissimilar in size to their own narrow home deck at Meade Reserve, but the Colt’s home record will see it record its fifth win for the season.
Port Melbourne Colts by 38 points.
Despite several star players still to return to the senior line up, Dingley continues to get the job done week in, week out as it chases top spot.
While its performances throughout the year have again been of the exemplary standard we have come to expect from the Dingoes, its form over the last few weeks has been devastating, winning its last six games by an average of nearly 10 goals.
East Malvern, meanwhile, clings to fourth spot on the back of its healthy percentage, but needs to keep the wins coming to ensure it sees September action.
The Panthers’ up and down season is best exemplified in its run of alternating wins and losses since Round 8. The Dingoes have proved to be a far more consistent performer, and will record a strong victory and ensure East Malvern’s unique streak continues.
Dingley by 25 points.
ROUND 18 PREVIEW
By Jason Barbin
Three rounds left in the Division 2 home and away season and with fifth spot still up for grabs, there is plenty to keep an eye on.
Game of the Round
Fourth plays fifth in what should be a fantastic game of football out an Bomberland, crucial for both sides but more so for the visitors.
Murrumbeena sit on equal points with sixth-placed East Brighton, but has a chance to go a game clear prior to its clash with the Vampires next week.
While Skye is still in the hunt for a top three spot, it’s unlikely to eventuate as it sits two games behind Keysborough in third.
An upset could be on the cards here.
Murrumbeena by two points.
The Bears tackle the Districts in what is realistically a nothing game for either side.
Caulfield has effectively locked in a spot in the top three come season’s end, but as it sits equal with Keysborough on points, a win here would keep it ahead.
Springvale are effectively stuck in no mans land, can’t make finals, but can’t be relegated making this a good time to rest any players with niggles.
Caulfield by 30 points.
This game could yield an interesting result if you take into consideration the strong likelihood Chelsea Heights has the minor premiership all wrapped up.
A sizeable Lions win, despite being somewhat unlikely against the Heighters, coupled with a sizeable Murrumbeena loss could see Mount Waverley jump into the fifth.
It gives the Lions all the motivation in the world to win and win big, but I can’t see them toppling Chelsea Heights.
Chelsea Heights by 21 points.
This game presents Hampton’s very last role of the dice in terms of its finals hopes, meaning a loss in this game and its season over.
But even though their opponent is a top three side, the result isn’t written in stone, as the Hammers have slightly more motivation to win this game.
While it can happen, its unlikely Keysborough will drop out of the top three, but second spot still remains up for grabs.
Keysborough by 17 points.
This game will be played for pride with neither side able to make significant movements up the ladder.
A win for Highett will likely see it jump into ninth spot with current occupants Springvale Districts taking on Caulfield.
Heatherton has only one win for the season, but would dearly like to get win number two in its final home game for the year.
Heatherton by two points.
BYE: East Brighton
ROUND 17 PREVIEW
By Andrew Paloczi
Although Lyndale is out of finals contention, the Pumas can strike a dramatic blow before their season draws to a close.
Having broken into the top five, opponent Black Rock must continue to play the positive footy that got it there.
Lyndale will be itching to claim a high-profile scalp. It’s possible, but unlikely.
Currently fourth on the ladder, Endeavour Hills can snatch third place if Doveton stumbles.
The Kangaroos are unlikely to trouble the Falcons.
This game could get ugly as South Yarra takes out its frustrations on Sandown.
The Yarras couldn’t match a hungry Ashwood last round and were dispatched from the top five. South Yarra is now reliant on a slip up from Black Rock to resurrect finals hopes.
Expect the Yarras to maintain pressure on the Jets with an emphatic win over Sandown.
Hallam and Doveton each face bottom sides in round 18 and will be keen to prepare for finals with a quality hitout this weekend.
The stakes are higher for Doveton as it must win to stave off a challenge from Endeavour Hills.
A loss could consign the Eagles to an elimination final.
When the sides clashed in Round 6 it was a 79-point win to Hallam, with Doveton fielding an understrength lineup.
The Eagles will present a sterner test this time, but there is no reason to tip against the Hawks.
After a lull, partly the result of injuries, Ashwood is hitting its stride in the lead up to the finals.
Lyndhurst can make the Magpies work hard.
Lightning went down by only 21 points last time it met Ashwood.
It is likely to be a competitive game, but expect the Magpies to get the job done again.
CPL should rack up its fourth win of the season against Dandenong.
However, a win for the Redlegs is an outside chance and would be a massive boost to the club.
It would most likely lift Dandenong off the bottom of the ladder, given its percentage is significantly better than Sandown’s.
ROUND 16 PREVIEW
By Britt Goldsmith
Bentleigh will take on a confident Oakleigh after their previous victory over Dingley, and St Pauls have a challenge ahead as they face top-placed St Kilda City at the Peanut Farm.
Hampton and Skye will clash at the Peterson Street Reserve after tough losses in Round 15, and Endeavour Hills will host Parkmore / Springvale at the Barry Simon Reserve.
Hallam will be aiming for their seventh consecutive win against Doveton at home, and Dingley will be looking to pick up the pieces against a thriving Cheltenham after their recent loss to Oakleigh.