It’s a battle between the top-four and bottom-four in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 this week.
The four sides making up the finals positions play against sides currently sitting outside the top-four.
It’s first versus eighth at Cracknell Reserve as top of the table Diamond Creek travels to Panton Hill for a twilight match.
After a preliminary final finish in 2016, the Demons have continued to impress this season and their 22-point victory over Lower Plenty in Round 4 showed they are again a premiership contender.
Chris Moloney was superb against the Bears, while Jess Cosaitis kicked three goals and proved yet again how important he is to Diamond Creek.
Surprisingly, the Demons’ scoring has dropped compared to this time last season, even with Cosaitis in the side. After four games in 2016 the Demons averaged 98 points a match, seven points more than their 2017 average.
It is the Demons defence that has again improved. Last year they had the second stingiest defence and conceded an average of just 65 points a game in the first four rounds. This year the Demons are only conceding 53 points per game.
Panton Hill will have the task of trying to break down the Diamond Creek defence this week, however the Redbacks have only scored more than the Demons’ average of 53 points against twice this season.
Joffa Byron’s side pushed Fitzroy Stars for three quarters in the Round 4 loss at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval and will hope to emulate those opening three terms across four quarters at home this week.
Chris McCabe and Josh Barton were both impressive in their first games for the season, while Mitch Anderson and Scott Conte continue to lead from the front despite a tough start to the year for their side.
Watsonia will be looking to back up when it hosts North Heidelberg at A.K. Lines Reserve.
The Saints notched up their second win of the season with a 79-victory over Lalor in Round 4. The win was highlighted by the performances of Adrian Alfonsi and Jeremy Bennett who combined for nine of the Saints’ 16 goals.
Michael Paske played his best game of the season, while the Saints defence did well to only concede one goal in the second half and eight scoring shots for the match.
North Heidelberg will be looking for its third win on the trot after it held Thomastown to just three goals to record a 94-point victory in its Round 4 home victory.
Jesse and Brody Tardio returned to the Bulldogs line-up showed and continued where they left off to be among their side’s best players, while Leigh Gilbert kicked a match-high five goals.
Arguably the most electrifying team in the competition, the Fitzroy Stars travel to Main Street Reserve to play Thomastown.
The Stars are averaging 116 points per game, and have scored 75 more points than their closest rival. They have shared the load up forward, with their leading goal kicker Nathan Walsh with eight goals. In their last start, the Stars had 10 individual goal kickers.
Recruit Hedley Smith has been a standout, kicking five goals and being among the Stars best on three occasions, while Clinton Edwards has fitted seamlessly back into the Stars’ line-up.
Thomastown slipped to sixth place following its loss to North Heidelberg and must improve this weekend to prove their finals credentials.
Sashe Spiroski was a major positive in the loss to the Bulldogs and played a great defensive role on the dangerous Shane Harvey. Matthew Cupo also gave his all.
These sides have met on six occasions in the past two seasons and it is the Stars who hold a 4-2 record. The positive for Thomastown is that both its wins were at this venue.
The final match of the weekend sees Lower Plenty take on Lalor.
The Bears are on a two-game losing streak and now sit fourth on the table, with a number of the club’s best players currently on the injury list – including Darcy Barden who missed the loss to Diamond Creek.
Young forward Ben Paterson kicked four goals and was their best player on the ground, while Matt Duckworth and Laurie Naismith also had good games.
Despite its long injury list, Lalor will be rueing another disappointing display in front of their loyal fans against Watsonia. The Bloods failed to adjust to the tricky conditions and were comfortably outplayed.
Dual club best and fairest Shane Jacobs was best in the loss to the Saints, while Jhye Baddeley-Kelly’s strong start to the year continued. He now sits equal-third in the Coaches Player of the Year voting.