The CHFL senior goal kicking race, the Shane Everard Goal Kicking Award, came alive last weekend when Tom Eltringham booted a massive 12 goals for Springbank against Skipton.
After being away for an extended period during the year he had dropped behind a number of others after leading early in the year.
Now though he is just one goal behind Waubra’s Tim Boyle who is one short of the half century. Third and fourth in the race, Ash Munari from Gordon and Beaufort’s Lachlan Murray are just four behind on 45 goals. Boyle has just one match remaining to break clear of the chasing pack as Waubra has the bye in the final round. He will be hoping to feast on the Clunes defence. Clunes have steady key defenders in Matthew Wrigley and Daniel Milne who will work hard all day but they don’t have the class of the former Hawthorn player and Tim Boyle has a real chance to add to his tally. Eltringham and Munari will be operating at either ends of the ground when their two clubs meet at Gordon.
Eltringham will have a tough task trying to break clear of the league’s premier stopper in Mark Gunnell.
Whilst Ash Munari is likely to have either Matt Tyler or Justin Simpson trying to close him down. Each of these are going to be tremendous battles which will be vital in a match that Gordon must win if they are to be able to usurp Buninyong’s spot in fourth spot. Most pleasing for Gordon is gradual return of some of their key players that have been missing in recent weeks with injury. Jye Cousins added some run to the Eagles in their comfortable 42 point victory over Bungaree last week. In addition he has the ability to score goals which assists in taking some of the pressure off Mick Nolan and Chris McGuigan.
It is rare for opposition clubs to have three quick small defenders to match with this group if they get in form.
Cam Richardson is also running into solid form leading into the finals a period of the year where he has shown in the past that he can turn matches. He will be vital during the finals as he will provide an additional marking option in attack, an area where Gordon have been exposed in some of the big matches in recent years. Springbank will be aiming to virtually secure top spot on the ladder with their 14 win of the year. Samuel Cue and Simon Quinlan are both in strong form and their experience and ability to carry out a set task takes away many headaches for the coaching staff.
Nick Couch is another who is in much better form this season, with his body holding up very well. He has been plagued by injuries throughout his career but he is looking much fitter and is adding a great deal to the strength of the midfield and defensive forwards for the Tigers.
This will be a super match as both teams have a great deal to play for, Gordon the double chance and Springbank to hold onto top spot.
A loss to Springbank could see them finish in third spot and lose the advantage of getting the Saturday preliminary final and a seven day break. Three weeks ago it looked a long shot for Dunnstown to make the finals however they have done everything which they can and most importantly they keep winning. Their 43 point defeat of Learmonth was emphatic and was the first victory against a team in the eight in two seasons. Learmonth remained in the eight on the back of Buninyong being too good for Daylesford but the Towners are now just the one match behind the Lakies and Bulldogs albeit quite a distance behind in percentage. Learmonth’s hold onto the eight though will probably end this week when they will struggle to get close to Beaufort.
Then in the final round they face another top side, third placed Hepburn. Something very dramatic will need to occur for Learmonth to defeat either of these and end up remaining on the seven wins for the year. Dunnstown have to ensure that they win both matches, this week against Newlyn, who have just the three wins and it is unlikely that they will be strong enough to stop the Towners sprint towards finals.
However it will not be enough for Dunnstown to just win, they need to add almost 20 percent to catch Daylesford. Daylesford have the opportunity to keep themselves a game clear of Dunnstown when they host Ballan. The Blues have had a reasonable season with the five wins but not been able to really put enough pressure on teams above them apart from an early season win over Dunnstown. If you cannot make the finals then most clubs like to be able to say they have shaped the finals and the Blues can do this if they are able to upset Daylesford. The Bulldogs will have to start as favourites though based on two competitive performances against Buninyong and Gordon in the past fortnight. If Daylesford secure their eighth win they will still not be completely safe for finals action but they will be very close to securing another chance to play off for a premiership. Creswick jumped Rokewood Corindhap kicking six goals into a strong wind in the first quarter last week. The five goal lead at quarter time proved to be effectively the difference at the end of the match. Ryan Knowles was a late addition to the Creswick team and his experience and ability to find space created an important four goals for the visitors. Along with his forward cunning the Wicker’s were able to hold firm thanks to the class of Ryan Pompe and Caleb Hepworth who provided the steadying influence in the backline when it was needed. Each of them have the ability to select the correct option and free up a runner taking the ball well into the forward line, forcing the Rokewood Corindhap to work it all the way back. These key players will again be the difference when Creswick plays Skipton this week. Matt Miller and Tyson Randall also are able to gain enough of the football to create to many problems for Skipton to find a way to achieve their first win of the season. Rokewood Corindhap this week faces their former Lexton Plains FL foe in Carngham Linton and both will be desperate to find a way to add another win to their season’s tally. They each have two wins but overall it would be expected that Rokewood Corindhap will have more winners to be able to get that extra victory. The Grasshoppers appear to have more players who win in their position. Caius Ballenger found it much harder last week against Creswick and he is clearly still recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered early in the season, but he will require the Saints to assign a good player to hold him in check.
Sam Chapman has been a class player and whenever he gets the ball it usually results in an excellent opportunity for whoever he provides the ball to. Unfortunately far too often it the second possession after this which breaks down and the scoring opportunity is missed. Ben Reese has had an excellent year and he is able take control of many contests and this week his influence on the game is likely to be significant. In addition to the matches in the seniors on Saturday one of the great days of the CHFL will take place on Sunday with the Under 12 Lightning Premiership at Doug Lindsay Reserve, Creswick.
Over the past decade the Lighting Premiership has developed into a day equal to the Preliminary Finals with more than a thousand people in attendance. Both Football and Netball premierships are held on the day involving more than 500 players who are doing all they can to bring another premiership to their club who they are so proud to represent. This is a free entry day and everyone who comes along for the first time is amazed at the complete involvement of the youngest players in the league. This is their day and they make the most of it. There are five games of either football or netball from 10.30am through until the finish of the football grand final at 3.15pm.