We’re right at the business end of the home and away season now and at the conclusion of round 16 we could have the five finalists all but locked in.
Dingley V East Brighton (Souter Oval)
This top-of-the-table clash is undoubtedly the game of the round. Both teams have an impressive array of ball-winning midfielders, which will make the centre square battle a potentially match-winning one. East Brighton’s defence has also been rock solid this year, and they will need to be at their very best to stop the league’s leading goal kicker Dean Francis. But with an opportunity to go eight points clear in the race for the minor premiership, I would expect Dingley to get the chocolates.
Bentleigh V Cheltenham (Bentleigh Reserve)
Hard to see Bentleigh making the finals given they are two games outside the five, however their efforts in the last few weeks have been exemplary. But given the way Cheltenham dismantled East Malvern last week, I reckon they will be too good for the Demons.
East Malvern V St Pauls (Dunlop Reserve)
Given the Panthers are fighting for a finals berth, last week’s massive loss was a huge blow. The equation for them now is simple – one more loss and they are cooked. Unfortunately they come up against arguably the competition’s most in-form side in St Pauls this week, and the Doggies should win this one pretty emphatically.
St Kilda City V Chelsea Heights (Peanut Farm)
I was impressed with the fight and endeavour shown by St Kilda City last week, and they are a chance to cause an upset here if they replicate those efforts on Saturday. But the Heighters are just one win away from booking themselves a ticket to September, and with that in the back of their minds they should get the job done.
Clayton V Heatherton (Meade Reserve)
This is Heatherton’s best chance to claim their first victory of 2014, and indeed maybe their last chance given they play top three sides in the final two rounds. Could genuinely go either way this result, but I’ll tip Clayton at home in a nail-biter.
DIVISION 2 -ROUND 16 Preview
with Jason Barbin
Caulfield vs Hampton (Koornang Park Reserve)
3rd plays 4th in what is one of the games of the round. These two teams have surprised a few this season, and this is a potential finals match up in the making. Both sides boast young midfields with plenty to prove as well as solid forward targets. Both teams have impressed so far this season and it is difficult to split them. Home ground advantage may be enough for the Bears.
Caulfield by 2 points
Murrumbeena vs Mordialloc (Murrumbeena Park)
I feel like I keep saying this every week but this is a must win game for Murrumbeena if they are to play finals. A loss here and it’s all over for them. Unfortunately they come up against the best side in Division 2 and a team that is able to kick a big score, something Murrumbeena have struggled to do at times this season. The Beena have been brave the last month but this matchup may spell an end to their finals chances.
Mordialloc by 25 points
Doveton vs Springvale Districts (Power Reserve)
Springvale need a lot of things to go their way if they are going to play finals. Winning this game is one of them and they play a side with nothing to lose and plenty to prove in Doveton. The Eagles have proved to be competitive this season without the wins on the board. This is a danger game for Springy but they have the talent to win this one.
Springvale by 17 points
Oakleigh District vs Skye (Princess Highway Reserve)
Another tough game for Oakleigh against the inform Skye team but they proved against Mordialloc that they can run with the best on their day. I still think Oakleigh are the dark horse for the flag if they make the finals. Skye have been great all year and go into this one as favourites. But Oakleigh are capable of an upset and I think with a finals spot on the line, they will cause one. Game of the round.
Oakleigh by 6 points
Moorabbin vs Highett (Widdop Crescent Reserve)
This is a massive game for Highett. With the teams above them all playing each other, this is their chance to put themselves in prime position for the final place in the top 5. With crucial games against Oakleigh and Skye to finish of the home and away season, a big win here is needed to put themselves ahead of Oakleigh and potentially into a finals spot.
Highett by 19 points
DIVISION 3-ROUND 17 Preview
with Andrew Paloczi
With all the teams in the top five winning in round 16, it is now official that those teams will all be part of the finals action.
There is plenty to look forward to in the lead up to the finals. In round 17, third-placed Lyndale hosts the team immediately below it on the ladder, Black Rock. This looks like the match of the round and is likely to be played with finals-like intensity, between two premiership contenders. A toss of the coin came up in Lyndale’s favour.
Hallam visits Edinburgh Reserve and the Hawks will struggle to match it with the Cobras.
South Yarra is at home, and Dandenong is the challenger. The Lions start favourites, but the Redlegs are in with a realistic chance to win.
Ashwood travels to Roy Dore Reserve to take on CPL. The Lions should win, but when the Magpies play their best footy they can make it tough for any opponent, as demonstrated by their victory over the Mountain Lions this season.
Endeavour Hills plays at Barry Simon Reserve against Mount Waverley. The Falcons’ feathers are likely to fly, and a win of 100 points plus is within the Mountain Lions’ grasp.