Northern Football Netball League reporter Doug Long takes a look ahead to this weekend’s Division 3 matches.
The ladder is beginning to take shape after Round 16 action in Division 3.
Mernda led all day and hung on to win by eight points. While it was a bit close for comfort, the Demons claimed the much needed four points – with Brad Dimech a standout.
“Our fate is in our own hands,” Mernda coach Paul Derrick said. “Winning the next two games – it’s tough, but not impossible.”
Regular top players Isaac Edgar and Daniel Moore did well for the Bloods, as did Daniel Langborne in his first senior game for the year, alongside brothers Jarrod and Jake.
“Hopefully, we can finish off with a fortnight of competitive performances,” Lalor coach Dean Grainger said.
The win gave the Redbacks a healthy percentage boost – with Matthew Byron booting 12 goals and Rhys Boyden 10 in the 227-point victory. Taylann Luckman played his best game for the Mustangs.
The win was set up by South Morang booting eight goals to two in the middle terms. The result sees the Lions safely in third place as they go to the bye, ahead of a Round 18 clash.
Laurimar hosted Kilmore at Laurimar Reserve and kept its finals chances alive with an impressive 69-point win, led by Noel Murray and Vian Swanepoel.
The Power’s performance was a pleasing turn-around from a disappointing loss to the Lions at Mill Park Lakes Reserve the previous week and keeps them in the finals picture.
The ladder has St Mary’s clear on top by three games after its Round 16 bye. Panton Hill is second on ten wins. South Morang also has ten wins but trails the Redbacks by 24 percentage points. The Lions play St Mary’s at Whatmough Park after this week’s bye.
Mernda is a game back in fourth place with a percentage of 116.61. The Demons sit a game ahead of Laurimar whose percentage is 102.97.
The equation for the Demons is simple – win both games and they will play finals. However, if they drop one or more, then percentage may come into play. Mernda plays the top-two in the run home, while Laurimar plays the bottom-two teams.
A key match-up in Round 17 action of Division 3 is Lalor having back-to-back homes games when hosting Laurimar at Lalor Reserve.
The Power can potentially be in the top-four with a win. This would require Mernda to lose and for the two margins to add up to 90 or more approximately.
However, the Bloods almost caused a major upset last week at the same venue and would be keen to claim the scalp of a potential finalist.
St Mary’s comes off the bye and travels to Waterview Recreation Reserve to play Mernda. The Burra are expected to be hot favourites despite having less incentive in the match – having already sewn up top spot.
Based on recent form, it would be hard to tip the Demons, particularly after losing by close to triple-digits in the last meeting between the side. But they won’t leave anything out on the park in this encounter.
Reservoir hosts Heidelberg West at Crispe Park in a match that has no bearing on the finals. However, both teams would like to finish the season well and the Hawks have the chance to move up a ladder position with a win.
The Mustangs have announced that coach Aaron Collins will coach out the season and then David Nelson will take the reins in 2019.
It has been a difficult period for Reservoir since they re-joined the league in 2017 – with virtually all the 2015 premiership players missing when the club re-formed. But they have survived, and the reserves team will feature in the 2018 finals series.
Panton Hill makes its first journey to J.J. Clancy Reserve to clash with Kilmore. A win for the Redbacks will seal the double chance, so they have plenty of incentive.
But the Blues upset a top four-team two weeks earlier and would be keen to finish their season with a win. Kilmore has the round 18 bye.