By Andrew Paloczi
ROUND 9 PREVIEW
Black Rock vs South Yarra (MacDonald Reserve)
Black Rock’s finals chances appear dashed.
Still, pride is on the line when the Jets host South Yarra.
Yarras’ co-captains Scott Stegehuis and Mark Symons lead by example and regularly feature in their side’s best.
They are excellent leaders of a South Yarra squad short on depth.
This week, if the Yarras break even in the centre they may test Black Rock’s backline stocks.
The Jets have missed the sure hands and defensive nous of Daniel Kick in the last three rounds.
Efforts by this scribe to establish what has happened to the defensive pillar or when he may return have so far been unsuccessful.
Cooper Ferries has a broken hand, further testing Black Rock’s backline depth and structure.
Still, the Yarras lack the key position players to really stretch the Jets.
Expect a comfortable win for Black Rock, although perhaps not by as much as the 57-point triumph it managed against South Yarra in Round 2.
Hampton Park vs Ashwood (Robert Booth Reserve)
When Ashwood hosted Hampton Park early this season, the Magpies managed the first goal.
After that it was all Redbacks as they charged to a 55-point win.
You can’t write Ashwood off as it has some classy players on all lines and never gives up.
However, a three-goal win over struggling Black Rock last round suggests the Magpies need to lift significantly to threaten Hampton Park.
Hampton Park and Springvale Districts continue to look likely grand finalists and Ashwood is yet to get the better of either of these sides.
For all the Magpies’ tenacity, there is no justification for tipping against the Redbacks at their home fortress.
Hampton Park is yet to taste defeat at Robert Booth Reserve since joining SFNL company.
Heatherton vs Hallam (Ross Street Reserve)
Although sixth with just a couple of wins, there have been some good signs for Heatherton recently.
The Tunners impressed with their refusal to give in against Endeavour Hills last round and at one stage threatened to cause an upset.
One of Heatherton’s 2018 wins came against this week’s adversary, Hallam.
The Hawks were outclassed by 65 points then and are unlikely to get any closer to the Tunners at Ross Street Reserve.
Springvale Districts vs Endeavour Hills (Springvale Reserve)
Early this season Endeavour Hills made a statement with a win over grand final fancy Springvale Districts, dispelling suggestions of a two-horse race in Division 3.
This time the sides meet on Demons’ territory.
The Falcons’ depth will be tested by injuries, with a few good players recently out of action.
One Endeavour Hills’ star certain to miss is Byron Hoe, having dislocated his shoulder in the round 7 clash with Hallam.
He was excellent last time against the Demons and his ball-winning ability and sure disposal will be missed.
However, Springvale Districts will be wary, with Endeavour Hills having overcome injury setbacks in Round 2, edging out the Demons despite running out of substitutes.
Endeavour Hills’ players pride themselves on fitness and this should make them competitive on the vast playing surface at Springvale Reserve.
Nonetheless, the Demons start as favourites at home, but it will be an entertaining battle.