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Wednesday, 24 July, 2019,16:56

NFNL Division 2 Preview: Round 5


Round 5 of the Northern Football Netball League’s Division 2 again sees plenty of crucial battles in what looks an incredible even season across the board.

Last week’s results provided arguably more questions than answers as the top sides try to find their place in the pecking order amongst a very congested ladder.

Banyule remains the only undefeated side in the competition after a month, however the Bears will have their credentials tested this weekend when they take on a thriving Fitzroy Stars fresh off a five-goal win over Eltham.

The upcoming weekend’s action isn’t just important for the sides at the top-end of the ladder, with St Mary’s and Epping locking horns in an outing that will hand either side its first win of the 2019 season.

Arguably the pick of this week’s games takes place at Sir Douglas Nicholls Oval when the Fitzroy Stars tackle undefeated ladder-leader Banyule.

While a match-up between a side at 1-2 against another at 3-0 wouldn’t normally be the most-anticipated match of the round, the manner in which the Stars got their breakthrough win of the season last weekend has added extra spice to this encounter.

After suffering tight losses in their first two games of the season, the Stars were a team on a mission last week and kept the Panthers to just one point in the first quarter.

The visitors went on to lead from start to finish in a convincing display, announcing themselves as a finals contender with the 30-point win. It was in stark contrast to their three defeats to the Panthers last year, which came at an average margin of 105 points.

16-year-old Jordan Proctor produced a stunning debut to be named best afield, ahead of his father Lionel, while skipper Kain rounded out the Proctor dominance with two goals. Recruit Carl Groth was a force in the midfield in his return from a hamstring injury.

Banyule did nothing to harm its tag as the early-season premiership favourite and continued its winning ways against previously unbeaten Watsonia – dominating from the outset to make it three wins from three games.

The result never looked in doubt away at A.K. Lines Reserve, with the Bears piling on eight unanswered goals in the opening term, before completely shutting out the host in the second half when conceding just a single behind in each of the last two quarters.

Tim Martin produced arguably his best game for the club, while Devin McDonald and Brent Stanton also excelled. Mannon Johnston and Jack Langford each kicked three goals – with Langford doing so just two days after being selected in the NFNL representative squad.

The Bears produced the outstanding performance without star forward James Kroussoratis and 2018 Team of the Year defender Daniel Camilleri – proving just how much depth they have through their squad.

Diamond Creek hosts Eltham at Coventry Oval where both sides will be looking to bounce back after disappointing losses in Round 4. The loser will enter next week’s representative bye with an unwanted 2-3 record.

Diamond Creek’s fluctuating form continued last week, when it unsuccessfully travelled to Thomastown – thoroughly outplayed in the opening three terms before a last quarter surge reduced the final margin.

The Creekers trailed by 48 points at three quarter time, but a five-goal to one final term brought the final margin to a respectable 25 points.

Matthew Lewis and Michael Rogneda – in his first game of 2019 – were the shining lights for Diamond Creek, while Nathan Searl kicked his second three-goal haul in as many games. He now has 11 goals in 2019 to top the club’s goal kicking but will miss this week’s match while serving a one-match suspension.

The Panthers were unable to replicate their heroics from a week prior against Whittlesea and never recovered from a poor start in their upset home loss to the Fitzroy Stars at Eltham Central Park.

Jesse King was their only multiple goal scorer with two, while Darcy Vallance and Collingwood VFL star Adam Oxley were among the best in a losing cause, although Oxley’s day finished midway through the last term with what looked a hamstring injury.

After losing just two home and away games on their way to last year’s minor premiership, the Panthers have already matched that tally in 2019 and now travel to a venue where they were beaten in their most recent outing.

Watsonia and Thomastown will both be looking to consolidate their spot in the top-four when they meet at A.K. Lines Reserve. The visiting Bears are likely to start favourites given their recent string of wins.

The Saints suffered their first loss of the season in Round 4 when comfortably beaten by first-placed Banyule in a disappointing performance.

After a two-week layoff the Saints were slow out of the gates and trailed by 48 points at quarter time. The managed just 36 points for the day, with 32 of them coming in the second quarter, in the 61-point defeat.

Daniel Watson was a highlight and continued his good start to the season, while Julian Maloni and Kobe Van Zwienen were their side’s only goal kickers with two goals apiece.

Thomastown had a far more positive outing in Round 4, winning its third game on the trot to move into third spot on the ladder – just percentage off ladder-leader Banyule, although having played one more match.

The Bears were in control throughout the win over Diamond Creek at Main Street Reserve, with a six-goal third term helping the home side reach 100 points by three quarter time – taking a 48-point buffer at the final change.

Anthony Capeci continued his stellar form, with a six-goal haul taking him to the top of the goal kicking list. Ruckman Dylan Chapman made a strong return after missing the Anzac Day win over Fitzroy Stars, while James Rizzolio also brings good form into this week’s game.

St Mary’s and Epping will both be out to end winless starts to the season when they go to battle at Whatmough Park.

The Burra would be kicking themselves after inaccuracy cost them dearly against Whittlesea last week – falling to the Eagles by 28 points in their first trip to the Whittlesea Showgrounds since last year’s Division 3 grand final win.

St Mary’s kicked a wayward 6.21 behinds for the game and recorded seven more scoring shots, but their inaccuracy came to haunt them and potentially cost them what could have been their first ever win in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2.

Myles Guldon looks to have overcome an early season knee scare and slotted three goals to be named among his side’s best players, while young guns Jack Dean and Mitchell Hocking continue to play well beyond their years.

Epping had the bye last weekend but produced its best performance of the year in its last match, despite suffering a 49-point loss to Diamond Creek at Coventry Oval on Anzac Day.

The Blues stuck with their more fancied host in the opening half and trailed by just seven points at half time, but fell away in the second half, when they managed just two more majors.

Corey Middleton, Dallyce Taylor and Joel Carter were named as the Blues’ players best in the loss, while Harry Vincent kicked three goals in his first game for the season.

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