Round 16/17: Men's Football Preview

Division 1 – Round 16:

There’s only three crucial weeks to go with several season shaping clashes ahead, before the real games begin in Division 1.

It’s a crucial couple of weeks for Cranbourne, with their early season form evaporating following just one victory in their past month. 

Now locked on eleven wins with St Paul’s and St Kilda City, the Eagles find themselves in a battle to secure a double chance. 

Their low point of the season came last week, enduring a 70-point shellacking against the Rosellas to receive a brutal reality check ahead of September. 

The team ventures out to Ben Kavanagh Reserve to face Mordialloc this weekend and will be determined to dig themselves out of their hole. 

Some key areas the group needs to address are contest ball and inside 50’s after they were slaughtered against the Rosellas in both departments. 

The Bloodhounds have battled of late, suffering five straight losses and they were put to the sword last Saturday against Dingley.

With a fired up Eagles out to turn their fortunes around, the home side could be in for another tough day at the office. 

Dingley have their sights set on a third win in a row when they make the trip to Arthur Street to face Bentleigh. 

The resurgent Dingoes sounded a warning to the rest of the competition with their win over Cranbourne and backed it up with last rounds drubbing of Mordialloc. 

They’ll have several sides above them sweating, with no contender likely to be thrilled at the prospect of facing them in September. 

It’s a story we’ve seen from the Dingoes before who have a knack of peaking at the right time of the season. 

Nathan Freeman, as expected, has been a cut above since pulling the boots on but he’ll be hoping his got his kicking boots packed this week after a return of 1.6 against the Bloodhounds. 

Usual suspects Lucas Walmsley (37 touches) and Jackson Peet (28 touches) both put together polished performances and fans at the Den will be optimistic their side can cause some damage.

The second bottom Demons should give them few issues but they’ll need to limit Ben Cooper’s influence after he racked up a lazy 45 touches last week. 

Springvale Districts need everything to go right from here to play finals but will be confident of chalking up win number eight when they travel to Dunlop Reserve to face East Malvern.

The Districts put up a solid fight against the Doggies last week but were outclassed when the visitors went to another level. 

Now a game and half outside the top five, the Demons need some results to fall their way to keep their season alive. 

Despite the likelihood of missing out, it’s been a decent first season since promotion and they’ll be looking to square their win-loss record to 8-8 by the final siren this Saturday.

Matt Wetering is a welcome addition after being squeezed out of Collingwood’s VFL side and Tyrone Vickery rarely goes a week without hitting the scoreboard. 

The Panthers haven’t had much to cheer about and have three weeks left in their hunt for a victory.

The breakthrough looked to be on the cards when they trailed by under a kick with a quarter to play against the Colts, but they ran out of puff to finish four goals short.

Ed Sim was superb however, collecting 36 touches to earn a spot in the back-pocket in the GameFace team of the week. 

Cheltenham is looking the team to beat and they’ll enter their home clash against Port Melbourne firm favourites to pile on another victory.

The Rosellas have not tasted defeat since Round 2 and quite simply would’ve forgotten what defeat tastes like. 

Their domination of Cranbourne last week was ominous and they look primed and hungry for premiership success. 

Of course, there’s still plenty of water to go under the bridge but you’d be a brave person to tip against them at this point in the season. 

They punished the Eagles on turnover last week, generating 30 scoring shots from opposition errors with their pressure and contested ball the blueprint to the win. 

They certainly need to clean up their goal-kicking however, with just 13 goals converted from 38 scoring shots.

It’s something that could come back to bite them later if they’re not careful and it’s cost club's finals in the past.

The Colts have been in reasonable touch in the past month, with their only loss in that stretch a narrow 11-point defeat to the Doggies. 

While admittedly they weren’t overly impressive against the Panthers last round, they’ve shown there’s plenty of potential on the list.

As good as they’ve been however, it’s unlikely that they’ll walk away with a win here.

The best is saved until last when St Paul’s McKinnon and St Kilda City square off in a mouthwatering blockbuster that could shape both clubs September paths. 

Both outfits are locked on 11 wins each, with the winner likely to take a huge stride towards securing a double chance in finals.

The Doggies have occupied a spot in the top three for the majority of the season but now face a real test against one of the hottest teams in the competition.

The Saints have been the major talking point in the second half of the season, notching up five wins since Round 9 to emerge as a legitimate Premiership contender. 

You may have heard about some former AFL stars running around in the red, white and black, with former Brownlow and Coleman medalists headlining the act.

While Dane Swan is no certainty to pull the boots on every week, he’s very much invested in the Saints and will have a big role to play in September. 

But while Swan, Fev and Edwards attract all the fanfare it was another former AFL player who stood out last weekend with James Magner amassing 36 disposals in an excellent performance. 

Throw in Luke Potts and Tyrell Lafituanai and it’s no wonder that the Saints are firing on all cyclinders. 

Not to be outdone, the Doggies have an extremely talented and evenly spread playing group and they’ll be quietly confident when they run out on their home turf this weekend. 

Stephen Muller booted five goals last round to lead the competition goal-scorers with 61 majors, while Nic Stathopoulos racked up 20 touches to go with his four goals. 

These two sides met back in Round 7 with the Dogs demolishing the Saints by six-goals but much has changed since then.

With everything to play for, expect this to be a fierce contest right from the first bounce. 

Division 2 – Round 17: 

There’s plenty on the line in the final fortnight of home and away fixtures in Division 2, with several spots inside the top five far from locked in. 

Hampton Park can remarkably secure a finals spot with victory this weekend, something that looked unthinkable just over a month ago.

The Redbacks have stitched together four wins on the trot and last week’s thrilling four-point victory over East Brighton tipped the scales of qualifying in their favour. 

Saturday’s clash against Caulfield will be a huge test but with the bye in their last round, the Redbacks should throw absolutely everything they have at the home side. 

The Bears have produced back-to-back solid performances of late and will be looking to continue to build with finals around the corner.

James Backway was in superb touch last weekend, producing a best afield performance with seven goals while Chris Smith booted half a dozen in a typical showing. 

Last time these two sides met it was an absolute thriller with the Bears triumphing by two-points.

With so much at stake, this should be a cracking contest in what could make or break the Redbacks season. 

Doveton appear to be safe inside the top two but they’ll still be out to put in a good show when they host Highett at Robinson Reserve. 

A win here would confirm the double chance for the Doves and they’ll be eager to ramp things up ahead of September action.

They were too slick for Skye last round with Travis Woodfield and Max Sheppard doing the damage on the scoreboard and with Sherrin in hand. 

Highett hung around for the first half before getting beaten up by the Bears last weekend and they’ll be eager to finish the year on a positive note. 

William Barron continued his excellent form for the Dogs and Jacob Duscher should once again poll well in the clubs Best and Fairest. 

Chelsea Heights can all but lock in the minor premiership when they travel to Ross Street Reserve to face Heatherton. 

The Demons are in ominous touch having rolled quality sides Keysborough, Doveton and Caulfield in their past three matches. 

They were challenged against the Burras last week but stepped up when it mattered in the last quarter to notch up their 13th win of the year. 

Brad Gilder found the big sticks four times to take his average goals per game to 3.5, while former AFL Demon Luke Tapscott produced another dominant display. 

The Demons have the luxury of being able to manage a few legs when they face the winless Tonners, but should be wary not to flirt with their form too much.

Round 17 action draws to a close at Rowley Allan Reserve with another one-sided contest between Keysborough and Skye on the cards. 

Whilst they didn’t take the points against the ladder leaders last week, the Burras will walk away quietly confident that they’re not far off having challenged them deep into the final stanza.

They will however be a touch concerned with their reliance on Matt Carnelley and Thomas Shaw up forward, the pair combining to kick all nine of the team’s goals. 

If they can find a few more consistent contributors on the scoreboard, it may be the final piece in the puzzle. 

Skye once again showed glimpses last round against the Doves but found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard for the 13th time this year.

Unfortunately for them, a similar result is likely here. 

East Brighton has the week off to lick their wounds, with a nervous watch on the Redbacks result to see if they have any chance of featuring in finals action.

Division 3 – Round 17:

Division 3’s season of twists and turns continued last weekend and we are set for a grandstand finish to the home and away season.

Endeavour Hills kept their campaign alive with a superb and heart stopping two-point win over Carrum Patterson Lakes last round. 

The result is massive for the Falcons who have given themselves a fighting chance to qualify, sitting just two points adrift with two huge clashes remaining. 

It’s an extremely difficult run home with Black Rock at MacDonald Reserve this weekend, but the team will take great confidence from their triumph over CPL. 

They’ll also be buoyed by the fact they got the job done by four-goals in their Round 10 encounter against the Jets. 

The home side snapped their mini form slump with a solid 13-point win over the Saints last week and need just one more victory to lock in a double chance.

Ned Fallon was in good touch up forward with four goals last Saturday and Stuart Wines added another dominant display to his impressive block of form.

With the stakes so high for both clubs, expect this to be played at finals like intensity right from the first bounce. 

Murrumbeena will be out to take another stride towards securing the minor premiership when they host Clayton on Saturday afternoon. 

The Lions made it four wins a row after South Yarra forfeited and will be looking to keep the ball rolling in the lead up to September. 

Steve Tolongs has been a focal point up forward all season with 58 goals for Beena, and the star forward will have good memories coming up against Clayton after he booted 11 goals in the Round 3 encounter.

Clayton’s difficult season is near the end and they’ll be looking cause the home side a mighty scare when the ball is bounced at Beena Arena. 

Carrum Patterson Lakes need to pick themselves up and respond quickly after last week’s shattering two-point loss to the Falcons.

The result leaves CPL’s season in the balance and they have no choice but to win if they want to feature in finals action. 

While their run home leaves them in the box seat to clinch a finals berth, they’ll want to enter in top shape as opposed to falling over the line.

They made mincemeat of the Yarras back in Round 10 and will be determined to repeat the dose when they take the field at Roy Dore Reserve. 

Narre South’s finals aspirations are hanging by a thread after they suffered a devastating 13-point loss to the Jets last weekend. 

The Saints destiny is now out of their hands with several results needing to fall their way if they are to make it.

Before that comes into the play the Saints must take care of what they can control, the scoreboard.

With two challenging fixtures against Ashwood and Endeavour Hills, the odds are certainly stacked against them.

Their first assignment takes placed this weekend against the Magpies at Strathaird Reserve and we’ll know if the Saints are still marching on come the final siren.

The visitors have no such issues, having locked themselves into finals qualification with a solid hit out against Clayton last weekend.

While a top two finish seems unlikely from here, the Pies will be determined to continue their momentum in the lead up to September. 

Division 4 – Round 17:

With just two rounds left in the home and away season, things are heating up amongst the contenders in the top four.

Lyndhurst suddenly find themselves in a fight to keep a spot in the top two after they were pipped by four points against the Tigers last week.

While the loss is far from ideal, it could be the jolt in the arm the club needs ahead of a massive finals campaign. 

Their strong percentage and favourable run home should see them stitch up the double chance, which would be reward for yet another excellent season.

Without looking too far ahead, the team will be focusing on rebounding here and should have no such worries against the Pumas. 

It’s a top four clash when Hallam and Frankston duke it out at Hallam Reserve. 

While the Hawks are most likely to claim an elimination final spot, they still have faint hopes of securing the double chance sitting just one game behind second spot. 

For that to be any hope they must achieve the herculean task of knocking off the undefeated Dolphins. 

Frankston flexed their muscles with a crushing 178-point win over the Hammers last round, with Josh Kerrigan and Richard Mathers combining for 17 of the Dolphins 28 goals. 

The club has been far and away the best team all season and has barely been challenged in their unbeaten run. 

While they will enter the finals series as almost unbackable premiership favourites, that does not mean they are certainties for the flag, as we know finals is a different ball game altogether. 

Dandenong will be looking to finish the season strong and record their second win in a row when they travel to the Toolbox to face Hampton.

The Redlegs have put together a decent campaign for 2022 and with coach Mick Lawrence signing on for next season, there’s plenty to like as they head into 2023.

A win here would take their overall record to 8-9 and they’d be looking to square the ledger in the last round of the year. 

Joshua Luke Lawrence was the star of the show last week with seven goals and Antonio Gonzalez was also instrumental with two snags. 

The Hammers, like most sides this season, had one to forget against Frankston last week and will be looking to respond when they run out onto their home turf. 

While it may not have any implications on finals, the clash between Doveton and Cerberus is crucial for both clubs with the loser destined for the dreaded wooden spoon.

Both sides have endured some heavy losses in a tough season and will be primed at the prospect of singing the song for just the second time this year.

Their only meeting took place back in Round 8 with the Three-Headed Dogs triumphing off the back of a ten-goal haul for Jake Hinder.

Hinder has not pulled on the boots since and the Eagles will be determined to put up a better fight on their home deck.

South Mornington signaled they won’t be making up the numbers following a gripping four-point win over Lyndhurst last week.

The result keeps the Tigers slim top four hopes alive and they’ll be hoping for a few teams to fall over in the run home.

The visitors make the trip north to face Moorabbin at Widdop Crescent Reserve this Saturday, a venue where they’ll be looking to pile on a big score. 

The Kangaroos have been in decent touch, with four wins from their past six, but have suffered big losses against top four sides. 

If the Tigers can run away big winners here and the week after, they could set themselves up for an unlikely top two berth.

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