Finals Preview: Men's Football
Qualifying Final – Cranbourne Eagles v St Paul’s McKinnon – Saturday 27 August, 2:10pm RSEA Park Moorabbin
With spring around the corner and the return of SFNL football to RSEA Park that can only mean one thing, it’s finals time in Division 1.
The action finally gets underway this weekend with Cranbourne and St Paul’s McKinnon duking it out for a Semi-Final berth against Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon.
Both clubs have enjoyed fantastic seasons to date and have earnt themselves the crucial double chance, which could prove vital given how tight the competition is.
Cranbourne announced themselves as a genuine force early in the season and with just four losses to their name, many view them as the Rosellas main flag threat.
The side has built some solid form in the past fortnight, kicking 44 goals in their past two outings to register big wins.
Marc Holt is a big key to the club's premiership chances, with the spearhead bagging 63 goals from his 18 matches up forward.
While by his own standards he’s been quietish in the past month he showed earlier in the season once he gets on top, he’s incredibly difficult to stop.
Kirk Dickson has also proved to be a reliable contributor in front of the big sticks with 38 goals, while Ryan Jones enters this clash in top shape with nine goals from his past three appearances.
With the Sherrin in hand Jake Carosella and Zak Roscoe have done the damage, both averaging over 25 disposals and five clearances per game.
St Paul’s have rebounded from an inconsistent 2021, jumping into the top three to build a great platform to launch for another tilt at a flag.
The 2018 premiers boast the premier forward of the competition with Stephen Muller slotting 75 majors from his 17 matches.
Muller’s deadly accuracy has been a highlight, the sharpshooter converting 72% of his scoring opportunities to rarely waste a chance.
Matt O’Brien, James Sziller and Matthew Kreymborg have starred with ball in hand, all three averaging over 21 touches per game.
The last meeting between these two clubs was an absolute cracker, with the Eagles pipping the Doggies late with a thrilling two-point triumph in Round 11.
While St Paul’s have walked away with defeat on both occasions against the Eagles, they’ll enter with great belief that they have the arsenal to turn the tables on the biggest stage.
This should be an absolute belter of a contest and well worth the price of admission if in the neighborhood.
While it’s not curtains for the loser, neither club will be eager to take a detour on route to their final destination.
Elimination Final – Dingley v St Kilda city – Sunday 28 August, 2:10pm RSEA Park Moorabbin
An enormous clash awaits Division 1 fans on Sunday afternoon, with one of Dingley and St Kilda City facing the prospect of crashing out of the 2022 finals campaign in an explosive start to the cutthroat contests.
Who would have thought at the halfway mark of the season that it would be Dingley who would finish in fourth spot ahead the Saints, who just last weekend was playing for a spot inside the top three.
The Saints fell narrowly to the premiership favourites Cheltenham and as result slipped down to fifth place, highlighting just how even the competition is.
The untimely loss means they’ll have to take the long road to premiership glory, but their path could be blocked from the outset with Dingley a formidable opponent first up.
The Dingoes have been in sensational touch with five wins on the bounce and their last defeat came back in Round 13 against the Saints at the Peanut Farm.
The team hasn’t looked back since then and will be confident of putting in a much better show when they clash again at Moorabbin.
Justin Van Unen tops the goal kicking for the club with 40 majors, while Dan Farmer and Rory Goldsmith have consistently hit the scoreboard with 57 goals between them.
Seasoned stars Lucas Walmsley and Jackson Peet have put together cracking seasons once again, while Nathan Freeman has provided some spark since signing on with an average of 30 touches in his five games.
There’s quality across the park wherever you look on both sides, with Freeman just one of several ex-AFL alumni including City’s Dane Swan, Aaron Edwards and James Magner to name a few.
Those names are worth the price of admission alone but fans will certainly get their money’s worth with two evenly matched sides desperate to keep their season alive.
The duo of Swan and Edwards will key to the Saints fortunes but even the former champions couldn’t get their side over the line last weekend.
If the Saints want to progress, they’ll need everyone to contribute and play their role.
With so little between the sides, it may come down to whoever takes their chances in front of goal and withstands the pressure of finals football.
Whatever the result come 5pm, one of the big players in the competition will be eliminated for season 2022.
Semi Final 2 – Chelsea Heights v Doveton Doves – Saturday 27 August, 2:10pm Ben Kavanagh Reserve
The winner between Chelsea Heights and Doveton books their place in the 2022 Division 2 Grand Final with a massive Semi-Final clash in store at Mordialloc.
The two premier sides of the competition meet for the third time this season, and many believe that this could be the main act in a fortnights time.
Of course, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before then with both teams needing to keep their eye firmly on the ball.
The Doves got their final campaign off to the perfect start with a dominant second half leading them to a ten-goal victory over Keysborough.
It was a dour first half with only three majors between both sides before the Doves exploded in premiership quarter with ten goals blowing the contest wide open.
The Doves had plenty of contributors on the day, with ten individual goal kickers a great sign of their forward potency with no player kicking more than two goals in the triumph.
Jake Ingaliso was in ripping touch to claim best on ground, while Josiah Kyle and Dylan Chapman played their role to a tee.
Chelsea Heights enjoyed the perks of finishing top with a week off and will be recharged and ready to hit the ground running from the first bounce.
They did taste defeat for only the second time when they took to the field last, but with nothing on the line and finals around the corner it was no surprise they were going through the motions.
Still they can’t afford to be caught napping and we’ve seen it many times before where a week off can actually be detrimental to team’s form.
With their opponents entering in high spirits, the Demons will be determined to show them who’s boss.
While the season rolls on for the loser, the prospect of a week off to go with a Grand Final berth is something both clubs will be desperately craving.
Semi Final 1 – Keysborough v Caulfield – Sunday 28 August, 2:10pm Ben Kavanagh Reserve
Sunday’s action in Division 2 promises to deliver when Keysborough and Caulfield face off in an elimination blockbuster at Ben Kavanagh Reserve.
The Burras premiership hopes took a blow last weekend with a ten-goal drubbing to the Doves that is sure to play on their mind.
After holding firm for the first half the Burras were simply no match for their opponents, with a devastating third quarter onslaught leaving them out of answers.
They’ll need to regroup quickly with their season on the line and there’s no doubt there’s enough quality in this outfit to turn the tide.
Mark Di Blasio and Nicholas Beer fought hard all afternoon for the Burras, while Ryan Goodes cracked in all game in his return to the side.
Caulfield enter this clash on top of the ground after their convincing 50-point elimination final triumph over East Brighton.
The result is the Bears fifth win on the bounce and they’ll be aiming to keep their unbeaten streak alive for three more matches.
Like the Burras, the Bears were locked in a dour opening half last weekend before they turned the game on its head with a six-goal blitz in the third quarter.
James Backway did most of the damage up forward with five goals, with no other player registering multiple majors for the victors.
Nicholas Schumann and Thomas Heagney were in terrific touch for the winners and they’ll need to keep the ball rolling if the Bears are to keep their premiership dream alive.
This game promises to be a belter of a contest and with no tomorrow for the loser expect to see some typical finals intensity on show right from the first siren.
The Bears took the spoils by 11-points back in their Round 10 encounter but all of that means little once the scoreboard starts again here.
With both sides fairly evenly matched, expect this one to go right down to the wire regardless of who gets up.
Preliminary Final - Black Rock v Ashwood – Sunday 28 August, 2:10pm Jack Barker Oval
A Grand Final berth is the prize in the contest between Black Rock and Ashwood on Sunday afternoon.
Both clubs have taken different paths to get this point, but now they’re here with everything to play for.
The Jets came out firing in their Semi-Final against Beena with four of the first five goals, before being outplayed in the middle two quarters to surrender the lead and ultimately the match.
They’ll be desperate to avoid a similar fadeout here and with everything at stake should throw the kitchen sink right from the get go.
Joseph Brennan was a positive last week booting three goals, along with Byron Wright who also jagged three majors to be one of Black Rock’s best.
Stuart Wines put in another dominant performance and the coaching staff will be hoping that their star players turn up in the right frame of mind.
Ashwood overcame a slow start to grind out a gritty 7-point win over CPL in their knockout clash and the Magpies will be eyeing off a similar result in their quest to take on Murrumbeena for premiership glory.
The Pies were no sure thing to make it this far after a turbulent end to the home and away fixtures, but toughed it out to recapture some form when it mattered most.
Mason Morgan turned heads with another best afield effort, dominating the day to play an instrumental role in the Pies victory.
Sharpshooter Jack Purcell chipped in with two majors, while Joshua Cardamone hit the scoreboard with three goals alongside plenty of the Sherrin.
The Pies head in as slight underdogs, but can certainly match it with the Jets if they get their game going.
This was evident in their Round 13 meeting with only two-points separating the sides at the final siren.
While both sides will be hoping for a slightly less stressful afternoon, the neutral fan will be eager for another grandstand finish.
Preliminary Final - Lyndhurst v Hallam – Saturday 27 August, 2:10pm Power Reserve
A spot in the Grand Final against Frankston is on the line when Lyndhurst and Hallam meet in the massive preliminary final clash at Power Reserve.
The Lightning had a red hot crack against the Dolphins last weekend, trailing by just three-points at the three quarter time break before succumbing in the last stanza to fall gallantly by 20-points.
They get another chance this weekend and whilst they didn’t get the win there was plenty of positives to take for the team.
In particular their second quarter, after a scoreless opening term, saw the side pile on eight goals to rattle the best defensive unit in the competition.
Hamish Browning stood up under finals pressure with four goals and Tyson Sparkes was superb with two majors.
Serial ball winners Jason Twite and David Ford were at their best and they’ll need to back up again this weekend if they are to secure their third Grand Final appearance since 2018.
They’ll be looking for Jarryd McGrath to make an impact this weekend after the spearhead was held goalless for just the fourth time this season.
The Hawks enter this clash after a stunning first quarter effort set up their knockout victory over South Mornington.
Facing the inform Tigers, the Hawks couldn’t have scripted a better start with the scoreboard reading 8.2-50 v 0.0-0 at the quarter time siren.
With one foot in the preliminary final, the Hawks eased off a touch in the second half but still ran out comfortable winners by seven goals.
Jack Sharlassian and Mitchell Wood had their eye in up forward with six goals between them, while Jonathan Daly and Corey Fritze continued their strong form into the cut-throat environment of finals.
These two clubs have faced off twice this season with the Lightning taking the spoils on both occasions.
With more expectations and pressure on the men in orange, the Hawks won’t mind entering this clash as underdogs with nothing to lose.
If they can produce a similar effort to their first quarter last weekend, we could be in for a thrilling contest.