Gordon and Beaufort slip backwards
With the full force of winter hitting over the weekend Gordon and Beaufort will be particularly chilly camps this week each suffering successive losses and tumbling down the ladder. Two weeks ago the Eagles were on top of the ladder and then they have been demolished by Springbank and last Saturday fell 26 points short against Buninyong. As a result they have dropped back to sixth spot on the ladder and have quite a bit of work ahead of them to get back up into the top four and double chance in the finals, especially as they still have to face Hepburn and Waubra before the end of the home and away season. They should be able to get back on the winners list this week when they host Newlyn at home.
Probably the highlight of the match will be the clash between Newlyn’s key forward Will Young and Gordon’s key defender Mark Gunnell who is returning from being a member of the victorious AFL Victoria Country number 2 side against the VAA last week. If Gunnell is able to play to his normal form it is difficult to see any potent avenue to goal which will give the Cats a chance to gain momentum and notch up their sixth win. Other match ups which will be worth watching will be Tye Murphy and Steve Patterson for the home team against Newlyn’s leading midfielders Nathan Skewes and Daniel Wehrung.
One positive for Gordon which came out of last week’s loss was a return to form of the Watts brothers, Angus and Hamish. They provide two very important tall options for coach Corey Grills and if they can stay in form will add a great deal to Gordon come finals time. The overall strength of Gordon should be enough for them to bounce back to the winners list and potentially move back past Buninyong into fifth spot. Buninyong has its third tough encounter in a row when they have to travel out to Hepburn, but like the home team there is a tremendous incentive to play to the best with the winner remaining secure in third spot and the loser ending up as low as sixth.
Over the past six rounds Ned Gilbert, Sam Turner, Alec Wiltshire and Mark Phelps have all been key players for the Bombers ensuring that they have put together a strong run of performances. In recent years Buninyong has been at its strongest during this stage of the season when their big bodies enables them to impact on games in the wet conditions. This year should be very similar.
This week though they are going to come up against another team who also is made up of players who have the ability to maintain their position over the ball in tight conditions.
Hepburn attracted brothers Ricky and Jason Ferraro to add a perceived lack of strength around the contested ball situations and over the next six weeks they should be able to add to the value which they have already brought to the team. In addition Segifili Asa Leausa, Michael Watt and Joe Malone are demonstrating strong form. Conversely though if Creswick causes the upset then they will sit just two points outside a spot in the eight.
If they are going to make finals then they need to defeat teams who are currently above them on the ladder. This Saturday at home is the ideal chance to make an impact.
With a number of close games featuring in recent weeks another one is promised at Clunes when they host Rokewood Corindhap. Sitting 13th and 14th on the ladder each with three wins there is a big incentive to jump a game clear. Rokewood Corindhap in particular will be keen to reverse a recent run of loses after a positive start to the year. Springbank, Waubra, Learmonth and Ballan are all favoured to add another win to their season’s tally. Hepburn have largely gone forward this year doing the what is need to win most weeks and gradually moving up the ladder after a couple of early losses. At home they will be expected to continue this progress and retain third spot. Bungaree and Dunnstown is always a match which is looked forward to when the clubs from either side of Mt. Warrenheip visits the other. Dunnstown will be frustrated with the loss to Creswick last week which has pushed them back from the opportunity to challenge for the top eight which they had set up a few weeks ago.
Apart from a big loss to Hepburn in round 11 the Towners had been building strong momentum against other league leaders and Saturday against Creswick would have been a match they had pencilled in to win. Victory would have brought them within a game of the Wickers who have a really tough month ahead of them, whereas Dunnstown would be looking towards at least towards a couple of wins across the same period. This week is probably not one of those expected wins with Bungaree remaining on top of the ladder half a game clear of Waubra.
Ashley McDonald continues to prove a key focal point up forward and in recent weeks has kicked a number of big bags of majors. There is a strong chance that Dunnstown coach Justin Abrams will have to swing his most experienced defender Rhys Cahir back to attempt to curb McDonald’s influence. Chase Morgan and another set of brothers Leigh and Matthew Billington are also providing quite a bit of drive for the Demons each week. Dunnstown’s main hope will be if they can build some momentum around the midfield through Mark Stewart, Aaron Sawers and Sam Jenkins.
Creswick’s tough month starts with a home clash against Beaufort who will themselves be desperately attempting to get back into the winners stalls after losses to Buninyong and Hepburn.
Even though they have lost these crucial games they have been very competitive and the loss to Hepburn shown on the ladder masks a strong performance falling just four point short. Beaufort junior Lachlan Pfeifer took another step forward and his undoubted ability is gradually being matched with greater experience at senior level and he may prove to be a major bonus adding to a very strong mid-field. Joe Mason also had his strongest match in a number of weeks, along with Michael Foster.
So whilst the successive losses will be disappointing as it drops them back to eighth they have a key opportunity to put themselves 10 points clear of Creswick.