Round 18/Semi Finals: Men's Football Preview

Division 1 – Round 18:

The conclusion of the home and away season signals the end of the line for five clubs and the beginning of finals preparation for the remaining five. 

Bentleigh’s season comes to a close when they take on Cranbourne at Bentleigh Reserve to get the round under way. 

The Demons are coming off just their third win of the season after a cracking final quarter against the Bloodhounds gave them a convincing 40-point triumph. 

Dan O’Loughlin starred with five goals and Luke Nunn was in top form. 

The home side will be looking to finish the year with the vibes up but they’ll have their work cut out coming up against the mighty Eagles. 

Cranbourne are locked and loaded for a big finals campaign and made a compelling statement last Saturday with a thumping 153-point demolition of the Colts. 

The team had seven players hit the scoreboard more than once in the 25-goal performance and they’ll be looking to keep the ball rolling when they make the long trip to Arthur Street.

Dingley are looking dangerous as ever and look good to notch up their fifth win on the bounce when they travel to Dunlop Reserve to face East Malvern.

Their win over St Paul’s last weekend has blown the ladder wide open, with a logjam between several sides between second and fifth. 

While they need everything to go right to snatch a double chance, they can finish everywhere between third and fifth, a remarkable effort given their entire season looked to be on the canvas two months ago.

Make no mistake, even if they land in a knockout final, much like the Tigers in the AFL, no one will be eager to cross their path in a do or die clash.

The Panthers have had the year from hell and zero respite appears to be in store when they host one of the inform sides to end the season.

Port Melbourne Colts and Springvale Districts pull on the boots for one final time in 2022 when they meet at JL Murphy Reserve. 

The home side have endured some pain in the past fortnight, with consecutive drubbings against Cheltenham and Cranbourne, and will be looking to end their season on a positive note. 

Between Round 12 and 15 they appeared to be on track for a strong end to their campaign, with three wins from four weeks, before it all crumbled in dramatic style. 

The Districts promotion to Division 1, despite not featuring in finals, has been respectable and if they can square their win-loss ledger to 9-9 the club can be quite satisfied with a good base to build on.

Former AFL big man Tyrone VIckery finishes as the club’s leading goal-kicker, currently on 44 majors, with Alex Derzekos next best on 27. 

With premiership points inconsequential, both sides will be playing for pride when they hit the turf for the last time this year.

It may not seem it, but St Paul’s McKinnon clash against Mordialloc is perhaps one of their biggest games of the season. 

While on paper the contest against the eighth placed Bloodhounds is nothing to ride home about, the home side’s top three hopes are on the line with the match playing a big part in their finals destiny.

A loss against the Dingoes last weekend couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Doggies, tumbling out of third to be in serious danger of missing out on the double chance. 

With the Saints and Dingoes lurking near them, the Doggies must get the job done and hope for some other results to go their way to claim the coveted double chance. 

It’s a sign of just how even the contenders are, given you could make claims for all five sides in the finals equation as flag fancies. 

Obviously it’s not the end of the world if the Doggies miss out on a double chance but it would be a kick in the guts given they’ve occupied the spot for the majority of the year. 

The Bloodhounds season has fizzled out after seven losses in a row, including a 40-point belting to Bentleigh last Saturday.

Travelling to face a hungry and determined Doggies outfit, they could still be set for some more pain one final time. 

The match of the round takes place over at the Peanut Farm as St Kilda City aim to bring down Cheltenham to wrap up the home and away season.

It’s a massive occasion for the Saints with the objective simple, win and hope they’ve done enough to earn a double chance.

Holding just a 6% buffer over the fourth placed Dogs, there’s an entirely possible scenario where the Saints win and actually slip outside the top three. 

They’ll enter in top shape however, after they toyed with East Malvern to run out with a 134-point win last weekend.

Aaron Edwards showed why he’s one of the marquee players of the league with a big bag of 12 goals and Tevita Hallett-Tauali'l was also in fine form with three goals. 

The Rosellas winning streak is now up to 15 games and it’s honestly hard to see them dropping a game if they play to their potential. 

Will McTaggart returned to the side with a bang last weekend with six goals and Oliver Moran was excellent with two goals. 

With the minor premiership sewn up for the Rosellas there’s minimal ramifications on the line but they’ll be eager to spoil the Saints top three chances. 

Division 2 – Finals Week One:

Qualifying Final – Doveton Doves v Keysborough – Saturday 20 August, 2:15pm Ben Kavanagh Reserve

Doveton and Keysborough get the finals action underway when they battle it out for a showdown against Chelsea Heights next week.

With both sides earning the double chance it’s not season over if either stumble here, but no one wants to take the long road in finals. 

The Doves have hit the ground running since their admission to the SFNL and have impressed many in their 13-3 home and away season.

The club looked to be on track for the minor premiership until they stumbled with two losses in their last month.

One of those defeats came last week against the Bears by 20 points and the team will be determined to move on quickly and get their finals campaign off to the perfect start. 

The Doves have been not only one of the best offensive sides, averaging 96 points per game, but they are also extremely well drilled defensively, letting through an average of just 48 points per outing.

This defensive profile should suit them in finals when scoring becomes a premium against the tougher teams in a high stakes environment. 

Michael Cardamone has stood up in the forward line with 46 majors so far this season, while Travis Woodfield is averaging two snags per game with 33 goals next to his name.

The Burras find themselves once again in premiership contention after a typically productive season and will be looking to make their mark early in their finals campaign. 

They disposed of teams outside of finals in the final two home and away fixtures and are now ready for a far greater challenge. 

While the offence is not as potent as the Doves, averaging 80 points per game, their defence holds up extremely well with their average points conceded of 52 the third best in the competition. 

Up forward they’ll be counting on their goals coming from Thomas Shaw and Matt Carnelley, with the duo combining for 103 goals to date. 

These two sides have met twice this season with honors even and their Round 11 encounter was an absolute thriller with the Burras claiming a five-point win to inflict the Doves first loss of the season.

If this contest follows a similar script, fans are in for an absolute treat.

Elimination Final – Caulfield Bears v East Brighton – Sunday 21 August, 2:15pm Ben Kavanagh Reserve

The first knock out clash in the Division 2 finals series takes place between two traditional foes in Caulfield and East Brighton.

Last weekend this matchup appeared to be long odds with the Vampires needing to knock off the competition front runners, Chelsea Heights, to qualify for finals. 

But in a stunning effort, the men in red and white fought hard right from the first bounce to give them a legitimate shot of inflicting the Demons second loss of the year.

With a slender three-quarter time lead the Vampires dug deep in the last and came home with a wet sail to notch up their best win of the year and keep their season alive. 

The club will be banking on keeping this fighting spirit alive when they make the trip down Nepean Highway to Mordialloc this Sunday.

Jack Rennex and Cale Love-Linay have led the way in front of the big sticks with 31 and 22 goals respectively, while Kai Love-Linay has starred all season and chipped in with 15 majors.

The Bears are on a hot streak with four wins in a row, including an impressive 20-point victory over the Doves last weekend. 

They’ll enter this clash quietly confident and have shown right throughout the season that they can beat anyone on their day.

Given they finished only one game outside the top four many fans would be tipping them to get the job done, but given the Vampires result last weekend they cannot afford to take them lightly. 

Chris Lewis and Jacob Buggy had produced superb seasons for the Bears thus far and Chris Smith has topped the club’s goalkicking once again with 46 majors from 13 matches.

These two clubs have locked horns twice this season with each grabbing a win, the Bears taking the spoils in their last encounter by eight goals. 

If you had to put your money on one side, the Bears would be the favourites but as we know finals is a whole new ball game where anything can happen.

Division 3 – Finals Week One:

Semi Final 2 – Murrumbeena v Black Rock – Saturday 20 August, 2:15pm Jack Barker Oval

The two best sides in Division 3 face off for a spot in the Grand Final when Murrumbeena and Black Rock make the trip to Cheltenham to start the finals with a bang.

On paper this is a fairly even contest with both clubs enduring just four home and away defeats each, and both will enter confident of getting the job done. 

The Lions are in sensational nick, winning their last six games including the Round 14 clash against the Jets.

They finished the home and away season in style last weekend, smashing fellow finalist Ashwood by 12-goals to be in cherry ripe shape for a tilt at the flag. 

Steve Tolongs has been a sensation up forward, with six goals last round taking his tally to 66 majors to sit second on the league’s goal-kicking tally.

Lucas Cloke has also put together a solid season with 20 goals and several noteworthy performances. 

After a horror year last season, it would be a remarkable feat if the Lions were the first side to progress through to the Grand Final.

Black Rock however, will be keen to write their own fairytale.

The Jets enter off the back of three wins and look to be building a nice head of steam just in time for the pressure cooker environment of finals. 

It’s been a great campaign thus far for the Rockers and they’ll be looking to take one step closer to premiership glory.

Byron Wright has been the focal point up forward with 49 goals for the side, with Ned Fallon not far behind with 38 majors for 2022.

With Sherrin in hand it’s been Daniel Kick, Callum Reid and Stuart Wines who have done the damage and the trio will be key cogs to the Jets machine.

The one thing that could play on the team’s mind is the fact that two of their four losses this season have come against the Lions.

If ever there was a time to get the monkey off the back, this would be a great week to do it.

This should be a ripping contest between two evenly matched teams and those who venture down to Jack Barker are sure to be treated to a close encounter that could go down to the wire.

Semi Final 1 – Ashwood v Carrum Patterson Lakes – Sunday 21 August, 2:15pm Jack Barker Oval 

Someone’s season will come to a close at the final siren on Sunday when Ashwood and Carrum Patterson Lakes battle it out in their elimination final. 

In a contest that could go either way, Division 3 fans can expect another tight tussle with no clear-cut favourite between the two clubs. 

The Magpies have won four of their past five matches but were humbled by Beena last weekend to the tune of 71-points. 

They’ll have to move on quickly with their season on the line but it will be interesting to see if the result dents their confidence at all. 

Jack Purcell leads the club’s goal-kicking with 54 majors and will be a key player in the Pies gameplan.

Michael Decorrado (33 goals) and Josh Cardamone (24 goals) will also have important roles to play, while Michael Olden has put together an excellent season and will look to continue his strong form.

CPL have been superb since moving up from Division 4 and a finals appearance straight off the bat is a great achievement no matter what happens from here. 

Despite sitting inside the top four for the majority of the year the Lions stumbled late, at one stage falling to sixth, but showed their character to dig themselves out of their slump and secure fourth spot.

The team is the third best offensive side in the competition, with an average of 87 points per game. 

Coming up against a defensive unit who only concedes 55 points per game, it will be fascinating to see which style holds up best under finals pressure. 

They’ll be relying on Anthony Giuliano to get on top up forward, with the club’s leading goal kicker snagging 57 goals to this point.

Rohan Bleeker has also starred this season with 43 goals and Alex Wilson has also provided a spark during various stages of the year with 21 majors.

If the Lions are to move into the next week of finals, they’ll need all of their big guns firing. 

The last time these two clubs met was back in Round 12, with the Pies getting over the line in a thrilling contest by 11-points. 

If this clash follows a similar script, there’ll be plenty of fans on their edge of their seat. 

Division 4 – Finals Week One:

Semi Final 2 – Frankston v Lyndhurst – Saturday 20 August, 2:15pm Power Reserve 

A spot in the 2022 Division 4 Grand Final is up for grabs when Frankston and Lyndhurst meet once again at Power Reserve. 

The Dolphins enter as red-hot favourites, not only for this game but for the flag, after a stunning season where they are yet to taste defeat.

Many believe in the philosophy you need to get a loss out of the way before finals, but Frankston have been so dominant that they have rarely trailed at any point this season.

They have recorded 11 triple figure wins this year, with their narrowest victory 13 points back in Round 3 against South Mornington. 

Their firepower up forward has been downright scary, averaging 150+ points per outing to regularly pulverize teams to a pulp. 

Richard Mathers leads the league for goal-kicking with 79 majors and will be a major talking point in the opposition’s pre-game planning.

The problem for the Lightning is the Dolphins are similar to whack a mole, you knock one player on the head and another one pops up.

It’s this evenness across the field that has made them such a formidable opponent in 2022. 

The Lightning have plenty of stars of their own and find themselves once again the second seed heading into a finals campaign. 

They challenged the Dolphins on both occasions this season but have ultimately fallen by comfortable margins of 42 and 49 points respectively. 

The fact that a seven-goal win was considered a challenge, shows just how dominant the Dolphins have been.

If the underdogs can win their fair share of the footy, they have some reliable goal kicking options up forward in Jarryd McGrath (78 goals) and Hamish Browning (56 goals).

McGrath has been too hot to handle in the past fortnight with 16 goals and the Lightning will hope he continues this form against the competition front runners.

On paper the Dolphins are the superior side but with the pressure cooker environment of finals, we’ll see if that has any impact on their mindset and game style. 

The Lightning’s best chance may be a dour scrap with the hope that the pressure gets to the Dolphins if the game is on the line deep in the contest.

Semi Final 1 – South Mornington v Hallam – Sunday 21 August, 2:15pm Power Reserve 

After 18 grueling rounds, it’s do or die when South Mornington and Hallam clash in a knockout final at Power Reserve. 

Both sides will enter confident of getting the job done after impressive campaigns to this point but as we all know only one team can progress.

The Tigers will enter as slight favourites having won their past six games and they were ruthless last weekend with a 171-point shellacking of Doveton. 

Their forwards have been firing on all cylinders of late, kicking 62 goals in the past fortnight. 

Admittedly they dined out on lowly teams but their ruthless edge should hold them in good stead for finals intensity.

They’ll be relying on Josh Abela (69 goals) and Jordan Waite (43 goals) to fire up forward once again, with Abela in excellent touch with 16 goals in his past two appearances. 

The Hawks rebounded last weekend with a convincing win over Dandenong and will need to bring their best right from the first bounce.

Jack Sharlassian holds the key for the Hawks forward fifty, slotting 53 goals to be the club’s leading goal-kicker ahead of Jonathan Daly, Nathan Jerram and Rory McIvor all on 18 majors.

It’s been a successful mix for the majority of the season with the team averaging 94 points per game.

The last meeting between these two clubs back in Round 11 was an absolute thriller with the Tigers clinging onto a two-point win at Citation Reserve.

Much of this contest will fall at the key forwards' feet and whichever side takes their chances up forward, will go a long way to keeping their season alive.

Regardless of the result, this should be a cracking contest right from the first bounce.

League Partners