By Will Hunter
This weekend sees two blockbuster finals clashes between fierce rivals, and by 5:00pm on Saturday afternoon we will have the first of two 2017 Grand Finalists confirmed.
SECOND SEMI FINAL
Dingley V Mordialloc (Springvale Reserve)
Saturday 9 September - 2:15pm
Round 13 -
Dingley 12.7 (79) def Mordialloc 10.13 (73)
Round 4 -
Mordialloc 8.6 (54) def Dingley 7.10 (52)
Matches in the Southern Football Netball League don’t come much bigger than Dingley and Mordialloc derbies.
It is a titanic rivalry that is fast reaching iconic status given the recent history between the two powerhouse clubs. Four of the last six matches have been decided by one straight kick or less, with another of these contests featuring a 12-point differential at the final siren.
This week the two sides will write the latest chapter in their storied rivalry, and with a Grand Final berth on the line, the stakes has risen ten-fold.
As we have seen through the season, these teams are difficult to split. The Bloods’ powerfully-built midfield unit featuring the likes of Danny Nicholls, Jordan Derbyshire and Todd Bastion did a number on St Pauls last week with their physicality at the contest. But add in the polish of blokes like Aaron Kneebone and Tom Curry and you have an onball group that is equally damaging on both the inside and the outside of the contest.
Dingley also features a star-studded array of midfielders, with the likes of Lucas Walmsley, Jackson Peet, Josh Ferguson and Chris Horton-Milne all able to blow a game open with 10 minutes of brilliance. The will make for an exciting battle in the centre of Springvale Reserve, particularly given the form of the two opposing ruckmen in Tom McMahon (Mordialloc) and Troy McKenzie (Dingley).
But key to this match is the Dingoes’ star forward Calhan McQueen. The Division 1 leading goalkicker missed the last match between these two sides with an ankle complaint back in Round 13, and there is no doubt Dingley are a vastly better side with ‘The Dream’ leading out of the goalsquare.
Mordialloc, meanwhile, has its own arsenal of forward line weaponry, with Steve Tolongs, James Morris and Matt Ravenall all capable of booting a bag on their day, and the Dingoes defenders, including Andrew Frost and Jack Clausen, will need to work hard to keep them all contained.
This match should again go right down to the wire. The Bloods are in tremendous form, and have several big-game players that can swing the match firmly in their favour. But with the week off to freshen up, Dingley coach Shane Morwood will his charges primed and ready to fire on Saturday, which should see them home in another classic.
Dingley by four points.
FIRST SEMI FINAL
St Pauls V Bentleigh (Springvale Reserve)
Sunday 10 September - 2:15pm
Round 10 -
St Pauls 12.8 (80) def Bentleigh 10.9 (69)
Round 1 -
Bentleigh 8.6 (54) def St Pauls 5.10 (40)
Fierce local rivals Bentleigh and St Pauls again go head to head this Sunday, and with only one of these two sides to continue their season beyond this weekend, expect no love to be lost between them.
St Pauls announced themselves as the real deal after their upset away victory over Mordialloc in Round 5, a status solidified by a come-from-behind win over the Dingoes a month later. But they had their colours lowered by the Bloods for the second time in successive meetings in last week’s Qualifying Final, the young pups simply unable to match it with their hardness around the contest.
Expect to see Bentleigh employ a similarly physical approach on Sunday.
The Demons tackled like men possessed in the final term of their victory over East Malvern, limiting the amount of outside ball the Panthers’ playmakers could get their hands on. If they can again increase the amount of stoppages, and bottle the ball up at every opportunity, then it will make it difficult for the Dogs to showcase their trademark run and spread, which is their best chance of victory on the huge Springvale venue.
Assisting the effervescent young pups with be hard-bodies of experienced stars Matt Kreymborg, Keiran Knox and Brad Gilder. All three have had outstanding seasons, and will need to be at their best to get their side over the line. Skipper Harley Ambrose is also set to return to the senior line up after making a successful comeback from a hamstring injury in the reserves last week, and will greatly bolster the Dogs’ midfield strength.
Conversely, Bentleigh’s star ball-winners in Scott Lawry, Sam McGarry, Jackson Meredith and Brody Lawford all fired last week, but the two most important players in the Demons’ side on Sunday will be Mitchell Smart and Matt Troutbeck. Smart’s size and athleticism gives him a distinct aerial advantage over his St Pauls counterparts, which will assist in giving his teammates first use from the stoppages, while versatile spearhead Troutbeck has booted 15 goals in his last three games and is capable of winning games of his own boot, as he displayed last week. Young St Pauls defender Will Clarke is enjoying a breakout season and may spend some time on him through the day, but he will need plenty of support from his teammates to keep the in-form Demon quiet.
This is another contest that could go either way, but the strength and experience of the Demons may hold them in good stead.
Bentleigh by 10 points.