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Friday, 24 May, 2019,21:19

NFNL Division 3 Preview: Round 5


Doug Long takes a look ahead to the Northern Football Netball League’s Division 3 today.

Last week’s action saw two thrillers and two big wins in a memorable round of football.

The match was in the balance after the siren rang when Old Eltham Collegians visited Mill Park Lakes Reserve to play South Morang.

The Turtles were a point in front. Lion Nathan Tassell’s long-range shot after the siren went through for a behind and each team walked away with two premiership points.

With each team a chance to grab the four points prior to the kick, they both may have felt like losers at the end, but the two points might be useful later in the season.

The 8.14 (62) to 9.8 (62) result indicates that a win is not far away for Old Eltham Collegians.

“We didn’t have a bench for the last quarter and a half, so we couldn’t hang on long enough to claim the win,” Old Eltham Collegians coach John Garrard said.

The Turtles were inaccurate in front of goal for the second week in a row. Garrard liked the work of Travis Stevens in defence and Matt Quinton in the ruck.

Mitch Dickson was best for South Morang for the second-consecutive match. Dickson scored two goals, as did Luke Nicol.

“Not a good day,” South Morang coach Gary Hall said. “We’re just struggling at the moment with a lot of injuries and players that are out of form.”

Laurimar led the much-anticipated twilight game by two points at A.E. Cracknell Reserve against Panton Hill in the dying stages. A Redback kick from wide out registered a behind and the siren then sounded.

The Power had managed to fight back from 31 points down at the first break to grab a great come from behind 11.9 (75) to 9.20 (74) win, with Jake Richards best afield.

Heidelberg West moved to the top of the ladder courtesy of a huge 99-point win over Lalor at Heidelberg Park. Coincidentally, this was the Hawks’ exact margin the last time they played – in the last round of the 2018 season.

The Hawks had six multiple goal kickers and put the game away with a ten-goal second term after holding just a five-point advantage at quarter time.

“Really pleased with the contributions from our co-captains Jarryd Coulson and Ben Kennan, along with Jake Grimshaw and Zac Tranter,” Heidelberg West coach Cam van Florestein said.

van Florestein noted that Grimshaw and Tranter have had significant injuries to deal with in recent seasons, but both are thriving now after solid pre-seasons.

It wasn’t a happy return to Heidelberg Park for Bloods coach Gary Cutler against the team he coached for the previous two seasons.

Sam Rexhepi booted three for Lalor to follow on from his bag of seven the previous week. Robert Todd, another player to have his injury concerns in 2018, kicked two majors.

Mernda came away with a huge 118-point win over Reservoir at Waterview Recreation Reserve. The Demons served notice the previous week that a win was close when losing by a kick to Laurimar and had ten players amongst the goals.

“When we got going, we looked impressive moving the footy,” Mernda coach Paul Derrick said.

Derrick mentioned his side had four first-gamers and eight under-19 players in the team on the day. Brandyn Burgess, Tyson Sparkes and Ryan Kannegiesser were among the best.

It was a horror day for the Mustangs – losing heavily for the second week running to a previously winless team. Captain Reece Miller played his best game for the season, while Emrys Black did well in the ruck.

“We are looking to work hard on the training track to fix our deficiencies,” Reservoir coach David Nelson said, who also praised Mernda’s transitional running.

The ladder after four rounds has Heidelberg West on top for the first-ever time in third division, with four wins from four as it goes to the bye. Laurimar is second with four wins as well.

Two games back, but with a game in hand, are both Panton Hill and Kilmore. Outside the four sit South Morang, Mernda and Lalor – all with one victory, but the Lions are fifth courtesy of a draw.

Old Eltham Collegians are eighth with two premiership points, while Reservoir sits last and is winless.

Round 5 in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 coincides with Pat Cronin Foundation Round – which is dedicated to honouring the life of Pat Cronin and aims to raise awareness to prevent coward punch attacks.

The round is highlighted by a clash of neighbours Mernda and South Morang at Waterview Recreation Reserve. The winner will be at the brink of the top-four.

The Lions recorded two victories over the Demons in 2018 – by two and 10 points, both of which were low-scoring affairs.

Another close game looks on the cards, although Mernda is coming into the game with some momentum and the Demons would fancy their chances of recording back-to-back wins on their home deck.

Lalor hosts Panton Hill at Lalor Reserve and, based on the year’s results to date, it will be a tough assignment for the Bloods.

The Redbacks won the 2018 clashes by 80 and 100 points and will be keen to atone for the narrow loss last round to Laurimar. It’s a must-win game as they seek to stay in touch with the top-two.

Lalor will also be keen to lift after not showing enough for Gary Cutler against his old team Heidelberg West last weekend. A win would be a bonus and a huge upset.

Kilmore comes off the bye to host Reservoir at J.J. Clancy Reserve. It will be a chance for the Blues to consolidate their spot in the top-four after consecutive away wins before their Round 4 bye.

Kilmore defeated the Mustangs convincingly in their 2018 clashes. Reservoir players will be looking for improvement on their recent form as the club rebuild continues.

Laurimar makes its initial trip to Eltham College to play Old Eltham Collegians. The Turtles have been edging closer to their first win in recent weeks, but this will be a tough assignment for them.

The Power has begun 2019 much better than 2018 – when they dropped their first three games. They will be looking to bank a win which would take them back to top spot on the ladder.

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