Round 12 looms as season-defining in Meadows Greyhounds Division 1, with all five matches likely to have big implications on the top-five heading into the final third of the year.
Picking five winners in any given round has proved to be a near impossible task throughout the season. However, a two-game and percentage gap will separate the top and bottom half of the ladder should the higher-placed side win each of this weekend’s matches.
Northcote Park continues to establish itself as the side to beat and now faces another test of its credentials when it travels to Yulong Reserve to face Bundoora.
The Cougars’ firepower was again on display in Round 11 when they booted a triple-digit score for the ninth time this season to down West Preston-Lakeside by 31 points at J.E. Moore Park.
Matt McLennan’s side did its damage early, racing to a four-goal lead in the opening 10 minutes. The Cougars kept their host to just one major in the first half and were able to thwart a final-quarter challenge by the Roosters, with Jordan Perry’s long-range goal late in the last quarter the icing on the cake.
After four consecutive three-goal matches, Jackson Starcevich took the game by the scruff of the neck to help his side push one-game clear at the top of the ladder. The imposing forward marked everything that came his way and slotted a season-best seven goals.
Ash Close also enjoyed another strong game, Perry and Bronik Davies won plenty of the ball at ground level, while Julian Violato was a pillar in defence and took many important intercept marks.
Bundoora heads into the top-three clash off the back of arguably its best performance of the season after romping to a 73-point win over Hurstbridge in what had loomed as a danger game at Ben Frilay Oval.
Leading by 31 points at half time, the Bulls made sure of their second-consecutive win during the third quarter when they piled on six goals to one to take a 66-point advantage into three quarter time.
Big men Matthew Dennis and Isaac Muller dominated the aerial battle, with Muller finishing with four goals in his best haul since joining the Bulls last year. Gary Moorcroft netted six goals for the second-straight week, while Nathan Thomas was extremely damaging.
The victory propelled the Bulls back into third place on the ladder and the next fortnight looms as vital in their quest to secure a double chance in the finals, with matches against top-two sides Northcote Park and Macleod.
Greensborough and Heidelberg square off at War Memorial Park where the winner takes a monumental step forward in its bid to play finals football.
Despite being held goalless in the last quarter, Greensborough held out a wayward Macleod to score its sixth win in succession last Saturday. A four-goal to one third term gave the Boro a 24-point lead at the last change and helped the club notch a positive win-loss ratio for the first time in 2017.
Dan McLinden played his best game of the season, with he and Nick Riddle outstanding in the defensive half. Jason Rogers and Ricky Mullins led the midfield while Billy Bedford was the Boro’s only multiple goal scorer and continued to show good signs.
This week’s match will be Robert Hyde’s last in charge before travelling overseas and handing the reins over to Mick Harford. The two have worked closely throughout the opening three months of the season and the transition is likely to be seamless.
A flying start against Whittlesea ensured Heidelberg made a swift return to the winners’ list in Round 11. The Tigers booted 8.0 in the first quarter to storm out to a 35-point advantage at the first break.
The ensuing three quarters were much closer, however the reigning premiers were never troubled in the 43-point triumph, as they improved their record to 5-7. The Tigers’ elite continued their strong form with Sam Gilmore and Tom Sullivan best, while Jordan Treloar slotted four goals.
This week’s match looms as the Tigers’ most important thus far in 2017. A win could edge them inside the top-five for the first time this season, however a loss could leave their finals chances hanging by a thread.
The stakes are just as high when Montmorency hosts West Preston-Lakeside at Montmorency Park, with the match pitting the competition’s sixth-placed side against the team in fourth spot.
Despite Jesse Donaldson’s late withdrawal, Montmorency welcomed back a host of key players last week as it proved far too strong for Eltham for the second time this season. The Magpies stretched their lead at every break in the impressive 46-point win.
Bobby Lamanna put in an inspirational effort to be named best afield, while Stephen McCallum and Ben Walton (four goals) each had an impact in their return to the Magpies’ line-up. Walton’s performance was particularly impressive in his first match of the season.
At 5-6, Montmorency has done exceptionally well to remain in the finals race despite being depleted by injuries and unavailability to key players over the past two months.
There is no question that the club’s top-end talent is as good as any in the competition and the Magpies should be confident their best can contend in the back end of the year.
Despite looking a chance midway through the last quarter, West Preston-Lakeside was unable to score a second come-from-behind win over Northcote Park. The Roosters did manage to close within 18 points after trailing by close to ten goals during the third term.
The result saw the Roosters slip outside the top-three at the expense of Bundoora and a win this week is vital to both stay in the hunt for a double chance, but also to sure up the club’s place inside the top-five.
Andrew Walker and Luke Lirosi each found plenty of the football last week, while Ahmed Saad kicked his second six-goal haul against the Cougars. His side didn’t have an answer at the opposite end for Jackson Starcevich as it slipped to its third home loss of the season.
Macleod celebrates its 70-year anniversary and will don a heritage jumper when it hosts Eltham at De Winton Park.
Macleod enters the clash on the back of two-straight defeats after last week falling short of Greensborough. The result gave Northcote Park a big advantage in the race for this year’s minor premiership.
Despite not playing their best football, the Roos let slip a golden opportunity to take the four points at War Memorial Park – booting 5.19 for the day. It meant they fell six points short of victory, despite recording nine more scoring shots.
Shane Doherty played a great game on the wing and had support from Hamish Paynter and Ned McKeown. Defender Brad Leggett was also solid, while Hayden Manuel played his best game at senior level.
Macleod will be a warm favourite to return to winning ways this week but will be weary of an Eltham side which took the points when the sides last meet in Round 6 – coming from four goals down to win by eight points.
The Panthers are firmly entrenched in the fight to avoid relegation after last week slipping to their eighth defeat of the year. Despite notching one more win than Whittlesea, they now have the lowest percentage in the competition.
Senior coach Paul King acknowledged the threat of relegation during the week and said his side was keeping positive as it strives to remain in the top-flight – where it has competed since 2003.
The club’s injury curse continued last week with Michael Still hobbled by a groin injury, while an elbow dislocation to Marcus Cantwell left the Panthers completely undersized against Montmorency’s in-form talls.
Whittlesea can push off the bottom of the ladder with a win over Hurstbridge, however it is the visitors who will take favouritism into the match at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
The Eagles showed improved form during the final three quarters in last week’s loss at Heidelberg, however the damage had been done in the opening term, when the home side piled on eight of the opening ten goals.
Reigning best and fairest Jai Robinson continues to lead by example and was again a shining light in defeat for Whittlesea, while Chris Horman had a season-best game in defence. Clancy Bland’s strong marking was back on display as the youngster and Justin Sherman combined for seven majors.
If the Eagles can emulate their second-half form over four quarters they are sure to trouble sides in the back part of the year.
A week after producing its best win of the season, Hurstbridge came back to Earth with a thud when soundly beaten by an impressive Bundoora. With coach Trevor Little absent, the Bridges had few answers for the Bulls in their biggest defeat since returning to the top flight.
Jack Grimes continued his outstanding form, with the former Melbourne skipper once again his side’s best player. Grimes capped his performance with a season-best three goals and would be the leading candidate to take out the Bridges’ best and fairest at this point of the year.
A win this weekend would all but secure Hurstbridge’s place in Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 for 2018 and would also keep it in the finals hunt. The Bridges take positive reinforcement into the game after romping to a 45-point win in their Round 6 clash against the Eagles.