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ROUND 13 REVIEW
In a Round 13 where two of the top four in the top division flexed their muscle against lower opposition, and two of the bottom four played a thrilling draw, it was a bunch of Division 1 newcomers that stormed to the top of the ladder for the first time.
Hampton Park and Keysborough clashed in the early battle, with Hampton Park storming out of the gates to lead by seven at the first change. Both sides made changes to their structure at quarter time, and little by little Keysborough began to come into the game in a clash where the toughness and physicality didn’t relent. There were smooth passages of play from both sides but the strength of the Keysborough defence, expertly marshalled by Lesina Hunt, that allowed the Burras to chip away at the margin, and it was fitting that neither side finished the loser in a 39-39 draw.
Heatherton were in the mood to take no prisoners in a clinical demolition of a depleted St Pauls unit. The premiers are starting to get closer to having their strongest side available, although Jaya Blandthorn and Bayley Mifsud are still to return, and there was just too much talent on the court for the Saints to cope with. The early skirmishes went Heatherton’s way, leading to an 18-5 advantage at the first change, and at 41-12 at the main break the four points were already locked away. With Nat Billings running riot in the circle and Brie Reichmann slotting into the side seamlessly, Heatherton extended their lead in every quarter to win by 72-24.
Fourth-placed Caulfield were similarly clinical in disposing of the St Kilda City challenge by 63-18. Again, City had to fill holes due to injury and unavailability, with no recognised goal shooter and regular goal attack Rosie Augl having to play further afield. Caulfield needed to field another different shooting combination with Caitlyn Ashby moving up from Division 2 to partner Sophie O’Shea, and between them they shot the lights out. They capitalised on strong play in the mid-court to net the first 10 goals of the match, and their hard running and slick combinations were evident right to the final siren in a comprehensive victory.
The match of the round was undoubtedly between the top two sides, and famous sporting rivals Dingley and Mordialloc. These two sides hate losing to each other and this was evident right from the first pass. Mordialloc’s feeds into their goal circle were not giving them maximum return early, and Dingley transitioned the ball brilliantly, but Mordialloc hit back late in the quarter to finish 11-10 down. Scores were locked at 17-17 before Dingley scored the last four goals of the first half to lead 21-17 at the main break. Mordialloc have proved to be one of the best third quarter sides in the division, and again here this is where they hit the accelerator as Leisa Higgins came into wing defence and set up numerous opportunities. Mordialloc hit the lead late in the third term and were not to be headed again as they closed out a 36-32 win full of strength and merit.
Mordialloc thus head Division 1 for the first time on 44 points from Dingley and Heatherton on 40. Caulfield on 32 points will make up the top four and have secured their finals berth with two matches remaining. The top four sides play the bottom four next week, which should mean that Dingley play Heatherton in the final round for the double chance.
Division 2 is no less interesting. Long term leaders Cheltenham have steadied after two recent losses. This week saw them way too good for Dingley Red, probably ending their finals aspirations with a 56-25 win. A favourable draw over the last two weeks should see them hold the minor premiership, but Heatherton and Caulfield are only four points back should they slip up. This week Heatherton were too classy for fourth placed Murrumbeena, winning by 48-39, while Caulfield toppled Clayton by 41-28. Dingley Gold’s 48-43 win over Keysborough and South Yarra’s 53-33 eclipse of Keysborough leave them only four points shy of fourth spot and feeling like they are still a chance of playing in the big games in August.
St Kilda City have taken over the competition lead in Division 3 after previous leaders Dingley Gold were beaten 38-32 by fifth-placed Cheltenham. City’s 57-22 defeat of Bentleigh gives them a two-point advantage with Dingley Red, who beat Mordialloc by 57-46, a further two points adrift. Heatherton beat Black Rock by 42-28 in a match which gave the Tunners fourth place. The Jetballers are now sixth, but still well in touch, and with all contenders having some tricky fixtures over the last two rounds of the home and away season it would take a brave pundit to try and predict the outcome of this division. In the final game of the round, Caulfield beat Lyndale by 32-12.
Murrumbeena are now three wins clear at the top of Division 4, and thus have secured the minor premiership by beating third placed CPL by 62-38. Heatherton Black remain second but may see their 36-35 loss to South Yarra as a missed opportunity to kick a game clear. Caulfield Yellow beat Heatherton White by 52-39 to stay fourth and all but end White’s finals hopes. The final four looks set as South Yarra would have to do what no side has done all season and beat Murrumbeena in round fourteen to stay in the hunt. Springvale Districts remain a mathematical chance to play finals, albeit a very slim one, after beating Caulfield Blue by 45-32, while Mordialloc beat Hampton Park by 49-29 and Keysborough were too good for St Kilda City, winning by 37-27.
The tight race that is Division 5 looks like going right down to the wire. Lyndhurst (60-34 winners over East Brighton), and Oakleigh District (who beat Highett by 49-36), are now virtually assured of finals action, and with both having matches they will feel that they should win in the last two rounds loo favoured for the double chance. Dingley Gold beat Aspendale convincingly by 53-33, which leaves them third and Aspendale four points further back in fourth. East Brighton are level with Aspendale on 38 points and given that they play Dingley Gold and Aspendale in the last two rounds they have their destiny in their hands. Cheltenham beat Dingley Red by 42-28, Heatherton beat Black Rock by 42-30 and St Kilda City beat St Pauls by 38-20 to round out the week’s action.
Mordialloc Red remain undefeated in Division 6, having beaten South Yarra by 50-27 this week. Doveton Eagles however are still snapping at their heels, their 52-24 win over Caulfield leaving them just four points astern. Keysborough’s 28-24 win over Dingley leaves them hoping that Doveton will slip up against the two Mordialloc teams in the next two weeks to allow them into second place. Meanwhile Lyndale and Clayton are locked in a battle for fourth place. Lyndale’s 44-15 win over St Kilda City gives them a four point advantage, while Clayton kept touch by beating Bentleigh by 35-13. These two sides play each other in two weeks time in what could be a shootout for fourth place. Mordialloc White beat Hallam by 38-22 to complete the round.
Another unbeaten side is Lyndhurst in Division 7, and they moved to within touching distance of securing the minor premiership with a 48-19 trouncing of Springvale Districts. Murrumbeena beat Dingley to jump ahead of them into second place, 46-40 being the margin. Murrumbeena would have to win their last two games and hope that Lyndhurst lose their last two to have any chance of taking the minor premiership. Fourth placed Hampton lost to fifth placed East Brighton by 59-35, but still retain a four-point buffer over their vanquishers. Elsewhere in the division Aspendale beat Mount Waverley by 46-41, CPL beat Cheltenham by 47-35, and Doveton Eagles beat Heatherton by 42-34.
Lyndale needed to beat top side Hallam Red to keep their finals hopes alive. They accepted this challenge and delivered, winning comfortably by 42-29, and while they still sit eight points behind Hallam Yellow in the race for fourth spot, the two sides will meet in the last round in what yet could be a finals shootout. Lyndhurst beat Keysborough by 45-23 to position themselves as the main challenger to the Hallam Red crown, while Hallam Yellow kept Lyndale at arm’s length for another week by beating Oakleigh District by 52-26. Third-placed Highett put their feet up this week with the bye.
South Yarra are all but certain of the double chance, and finish Round 13 at the top of Division 9 after a thrilling 39-38 victory over third-placed Lyndhurst. Heatherton are now six points clear of the Lightning in second place after beating Springvale Districts Red by 42-33, and can secure second spot if they beat Lyndhurst in this coming round. Black Rock’s 23-20 win over Springvale Districts Blue made certain of their finals berth, while Dingley beat Clayton by 46-14 in the division’s other clash.