FINALS WEEK 2 PREVIEW
Second Semi Final – St Pauls V East Malvern
Saturday 8 September – Springvale Reserve
Meetings in 2018
Round 3 –
East Malvern 7.12-54 def by St Pauls 14.10-94
Round 12 –
St Pauls 8.18-66 def East Malvern 7.8-50
Minor premiers St Pauls begin their finals campaign on Saturday when they take on East Malvern in the blockbuster Second Semi Final, with the winner to become the first team through to the Division 1 Grand Final.
And by 5pm, we may have a clearer indication of the eventual premier in what has otherwise been a very even season.
The Doggies took bragging rights in both previous clashes this season, with the twin offensive threats of Steve Muller and Matt Kreymborg standing up the lead their side to victory on each occasion. If the Panthers are to be any chance of victory here, they will need to find a way to stop both of these stars, which will limit the Doggies scoring output.
This, however, will be no easy feat, particularly with blokes like Curtis Murfett, Lachie Butler and the Herbstreit boys in good touch further up the ground.
On the other hand, the East Malvern on-ball brigade is one of the most talented in the competition. Experienced campaigners Steve Brewer and Ryan Mullett are no strangers to the big stage and as such are primed to make a big impact, while the likes of Luke Duffy, Jack Hammond and coach Nathan Robinson all add to their midfield depth.
St Pauls ruckman Nick Halliday was BOG when these two sides last met, dominating in the absence of superstar Chris Carey. With the Port Melbourne big man back in the Panthers’ side, the lion-hearted Halliday will certainly have his work cut out for him trying to curb Carey’s influence.
Last season’s disappointing straight-sets exit will no doubt serve as motivation heading into Saturday’s match, however, with another year of development within the group and a harder edge to the side, there is no question the Dogs are much better placed to go all the way than this time last year.
In addition, the week off to freshen up will be of great benefit and St Pauls will be primed for a standout performance on Saturday. And while they may just have the Panthers’ measure in this one, a return bout in a fortnight’s time is a very real possibility.
St Pauls by 12 points.
First Semi Final – Mordialloc V Dingley
Sunday 9 September – Springvale Reserve
Meetings in 2018
Round 1 –
Dingley 8.8-56 def Mordialloc 6.8-44
Round 10 –
Mordialloc 8.8-56 def Dingley 7.6-48
Fierce rivals Mordialloc and Dingley will again resume hostilities in the cut-throat First Semi Final on Sunday.
The Bloods and the Dingoes have met in two of the last three Grand Finals and a bumper crowd can be expected at Springvale to watch the two powerhouse clubs fight to remain in the premiership race.
There are few greater rivalries that the one these two sides have built over the last few years. Very few results are decided by large margins – indeed, the teams were separated by two kicks or less in both head to head meetings in 2018 – and the overall head to head record reads 10-9 Dingley’s way since 2009.
The Dingoes may have finished the season in fifth place, but as we have seen with the last two AFL premiers, home and away standings count for nothing come September; it’s all about hitting peak for at just the right time, and there is no team in better form than Dingley right now.
They are timing their run to perfection, having won it’s last eight matches in a row and are looking ominous heading into the pointy end of the season.
Mordialloc, meanwhile, have lost five of its last of its last six matches with an average score of less than 40 points per game. Last week’s tally of three majors for the match, including a goalless second half, doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence, and against a Dingoes defensive structure that is one of the best in the competition, it is hard to see where a winning score is going to come from.
Up the other end, Daniel Farmer has proved a vital target, slotting 13 goals in his last three games. But while the classy forward has the capacity to swing any game in Dingley’s favour, he is by no means the only one, with Kane Davidson and Robbie Rusan also showcasing their ability to impact the scoreboard throughout the season.
The Bloods will be desperately hoping to recapture some of its midseason form – a run that included 11 consecutive wins – and will be relying heavily on its established stars in Luke Barnhoorn, Danny Nicholls, James Morris and skipper Todd Bastion to lead the way.
While Mordialloc will be desperate to bounce back from last week’s loss and avoid a straight-sets finals exit, the Dingoes will be too strong across the board and keep its dream for a fairy-tale fourth straight crown alive.
Dingley by 29 points.