An excellent round of matches with a couple of unexpected results last week has highlighted just how close the 2017 season is shaping up in the Central Highlands FL. The top six clubs are separated by just two wins and some expected top contenders are sitting just one game behind this. In the feature match of round six, 2016 runner up Buninyong were finally able to record their third win of the season defeating the previously undefeated Waubra by just five points in match which featured a great deal of inaccuracy in front of goal. However the Bombers would not have been too worried about this wayward kicking at the end of the day. Ned Gilbert is having another great season and was backed up by a club junior Jacob Coxall who is starting to show that he is going to have a strong influence on the league in coming years.
The bonus for Buninyong with their slow start to the year is that they have played a number of the other teams already in the top eight so they should be able to commence a climb back up the ladder in coming weeks and a fourth win will be expected this coming week when they host Rokewood Corindhap who have been competitive but have just one win along with an early season bye.
So far the Grasshoppers have been able to be competitive against all teams for a long period of the game but then can not just keep up the effort. Against Gordon last week they were within 19 points at three quarter time following an outstanding third quarter when they scored five goals to two but could not come home with the same intensity. In the two previous games against Daylesford and Bungaree similar results occurred and Jarrod Thompson will be trying to find a way of getting a consistent four quarter performance and set up a potential upset.
Sam Chapman is showing some of the talent which had him in the Geelong VFL side a number of years ago and Aaron Gercovich is playing very well week in and week out. Ben Harris has probably been Rokewood Corindhap’s most consistent player since they joined the CHFL and his form has been excellent over recent weeks along with Sam Cameron who is settling well into the club after transferring from Dunnstown this year. Whilst Rokewood Corindhap is showing improvement this year it is difficult to see that they will be able to win in enough positions to really challenge Buninyong this week. Liam Rigby, Jarrod Morgan and Beau Guest should be able to control the football through the midfield and set up a comfortable win for Buninyong.
The other unexpected result last Saturday was Carngham Linton being able to withstand Newlyn’s efforts to achieve a three point win to record a second victory after last year’s season long drought for the Saints.
They now set up a very interesting clash with Daylesford who are coming off a loss to Creswick in a match they would have initially marked down as a likely win.
Carngham Linton’s efforts so far have been featuring steady performances with no stars standing out but everyone making sure that they complete the role which they have been given. Daylesford have some real talent with a number of their younger players, Joel Cowan, Cam Lovig, Zac Tisdale and Cameron Ralph all show periods where they can control the match but this year they don’t appear to be able to do it for long enough periods. An early win over Hepburn looked to set up a super year but a big loss to Waubra and now this lapse against Creswick will be puzzling the Bulldogs. These losses have them sitting tenth on the ladder and they must make sure that they don’t drop another match which they are expected to win or they could find it difficult to fight their way back into the top eight.
The risk of dropping off the pace with another loss should be enough to ensure that Daylesford shut Carngham Linton out of the game.
After three successive losses Gordon have got back in the winners list with a strong individual effort by Ash Munari who kicked seven goals against Rokewood Corindhap virtually single handed setting up the victory. An important addition to the Eagles line up was Tom Langford who is on the Richmond VFL list and was recruited by Gordon and strengthens their line up significantly. On paper Gordon still look to be as good as any team in the competition but they need to now match it with a run of wins.
This might prove to be a disadvantage for this week’s opponent Skipton who held their own for a half against Bungaree on Saturday but then were blown out of the game in a five minute period late in the third quarter. Tom Breed, Sam Lehman and Brett Conroy battled hard against a Demon’s side which has many out at present with injury, but eventually they found the weight of numbers against them to be too much.
Bungaree’s Dave Benson completely dominated the match and virtually looked as if he could get the ball whenever he decided that he wanted it. At best it is hard to see Skipton doing anything more that have a similar result against Gordon this week.
Gordon has in recent years shown themselves to be able to really dominate the lower level clubs at home and there appears to be a real risk of this happening again.
Newlyn and Clunes each have just one win for the year to this stage and both will be desperate to get another win after what each will class as below par performances last week.
Newlyn has good inside midfielders in Daniel Wehrung, Luke Prendergast and Dylan Fishwick but they are lacking height up forward so cannot put enough pressure on opponents on the scoreboard. They have to work hard for any score. This midfield might be enough though to control the match against Clunes who has struggled in recent weeks.
Jessie Baird has been their most productive player and does have the talent to test the Newlyn backline if Clunes is able to get him close to goal and provide the football into his area often enough. Lachlan Hull, Ryan Thompson and Matthew Wrigley will have key roles in attempting to get some control over the game and set up scoring chances for the Magpies.
The feature match of the round is one vs two on the ladder; Springbank vs Beaufort at Wallace. Both are undefeated but Springbank might feel as if they have been on holidays as they have not played in two weeks due to interleague and then the bye. Some feel that breaks of this type make it difficult for a club but it might also prove a bonus as Springbank’s players from the representative side have had just the week off and should be ready to go. Beaufort have not put a foot wrong at this stage and to be undefeated after probably having the toughest start to the season of any club in the league highlights their continued improvement. Mick Foster has been in excellent form all year and he has the experience to direct and lead the half backs and mid field which is dominating for the Crows. A key in this clash will be which team is able to get a forward to take control of their attack, will it be the Tigers Tom Eltringham or Jack Duke for Beaufort. Duke had his most productive match of the year last week with five goals and his mobility creates plenty of headaches when his able to set up close to goal. A likely match for him is Justin Simpson who is probably most suited in the league to blanket any mobile forward. Eltringham at the other end provides a similar dilemma for the Beaufort backs.
He generally needs to have a mobile defender allocated to him, but veteran Damien Day is probably going to first chance to stop the league’s leading goal kicker. Bungaree will need to be at their best to quell a Creswick who will now be playing with renewed confidence after defeating Daylesford. Ballan have faced a number of the top sides in recent weeks and found the task very difficult. It will be no easier this week when they line up against a rebounding Waubra and Dunnstown will also be hard pressed to control Hepburn who are in great form at present.