PREVIEW – ROUND 4
CRANBOURNE v BEACONSFIELD
REIGNING premier Beaconsfield and its big-name recruit Beau Dowler face a huge challenge this week when they travel to Casey Fields to take on Cranbourne in the SEFL match-of-the-day.
Clint ‘Boof’ Evans and his side like to fly under the radar, we all know that, but the signing of Dowler, combined with a 13-game winning streak that dates back to Round 12 last year means the number-one mantle sits firmly on its back.
This is what teams work for, to get to the top; the real challenge for Beaconsfield now is to stay there.
And Cranbourne is the first to go hunting in a replay of last year’s grand final.
When assessing this game forget all about Beaconsfield’s first three wins of the season, against Berwick, Hampton Park and Doveton, because this, well this is the first time Beacy face an opponent which takes its number-one title as a personal slur.
Cranbourne has always had Beacy’s measure over the last four or five years, but the pendulum, well it swung in a big way last year.
Beaconsfield seemed to work out the secret to success against Cranbourne.
Downed by 10 point in its Round 6 engagement at Casey Fields, Boof and his boys returned serve with a nine-goal victory at Holm Park Road before two comprehensive wins, in the qualifying final, and then the one that really matters.
Those victories were based on a relentless attack on Cranbourne’s ball carriers like Luke Bee-Hugo, Daniel Baker and Brad Hermans, while Curtis Barker and Max Gearon were made accountable around the contest.
Cranbourne’s midfield all need to be accountable again this week… remembering that Beaconsfield’s midfield kicked 11 of 14 goals in last year’s title decider.
The inclusion of a fit and firing Mat Fletcher will really help Cranny’s cause this week; he can duck and weave, find space, and then hit targets with his exquisite skills. He needs to hurt Beacy going forward, either hitting the scoreboard himself or with his lace-out delivery to Marc Holt and Michael Theodoridis.
Holt will be unbelievably keen to put this stamp on this contest. The champ has been out of the spotlight so far this season, missing the first two rounds through injury and then being held goalless against Tooradin in Round 3.
Forget all that team stuff, the big-man has an ego, and he needs it fed. His team is being challenged, and so is he, with a big-name to rival his up the other end.
The inclusion of Dowler is an absolutely massive coup for Beacy, who already has Taylor Joyce and Chris Worner in fine form up forward, that pair now with the luxury of sliding down the opposition’s hit list.
Dowler has class, there’s no doubt about that, but he will need to be at the top of his game this week against the human-shadow Brandon Osborne. Yossie doesn’t like fanfare, he likes scalps, and Dowler’s would sit comfortably alongside every other opponent he has ever played against… he never gets beaten!
What a cracker this should be.
Will Simon Goosey’s team defence stand up, or will Beaconsfield’s all-over-the-ground depth claim its 14th victim on the trot?
It’s Beaconsfield by four goals.
ROC v BERWICK
BERWICK’s maturity as a football side will be tested this week when the Wickers make the short trip down the Princes Highway to take on ROC at Starling Road.
If 2014 taught us one thing about the Wickers, it’s that they are capable of the absolutely magnificent but also of stumbling when least expected.
Last week’s epic victory over Narre Warren came almost 12 months to the day after the Wickers defeated Cranbourne at Casey Fields… and that put their name up in lights.
The Wickers then struggled with the glare, unable to defeat a fellow finals contender for the remainder of the home-and-away season.
But this side looks different.
The inclusion of key recruits, Ash Smith, Michael Riseley, Michael Johnson and Ben Kearns has given Rhys Nisbet the perfect top-up to what was already a talented, but young list. Prospects like Jo West, Ryan Hillard, Lucas Jellyman-Turner and Brody Connelly have started the season well, while the stocks of Jake Yields… well they continue to rise!
The young man had a big decision to make at the 17-minute mark of the third quarter against Narre last week.
Confronted with a bouncing ball and an eye-to-eye head-to-head clash with veteran George Angelopoulos, Yields kept his eyes on the ball, hit the contest hard, and emerged with the Sherrin.
It was an inspiring act of courage and showed why the youngster is held in such high regard at Edwin Flack Reserve.
The Wickers need to be careful this week because the Kangaroos are more than capable of springing a surprise.
They haven’t showed it yet, but they are better than last year when they pushed the Wickers to 11-points in a game that could have gone either way.
The ageless Ben Tivendale has been in stellar form this season, Matthew Clarke appears to be back to his best in front of goal but the Kangas need to start taking advantage of the work of Dylan Chapman in the ruck if they want to win this game.
This one will be a lot closer than expected, but it’s Berwick by 13 points.
NARRE WARREN v TOORADIN
TOORADIN will need to overcome some serious mental scars if it’s to defeat Narre Warren at Fox Road on Saturday.
The Seagulls were basically pushed around and bullied by the Magpies last year, to the tune of 139 points in Round 5, and then fared only slightly better in a 127-point defeat at Kalora Park.
For Tooradin to gain the respect it is craving, Lachie Gillespie and his boys need to make sure those three-figure defeats – of which there were four last year – stop and stop now.
The Seagulls will still be bleeding about their one-point defeat to Doveton in Round 1, and should be keen to atone for what was poor effort under lights, against Cranbourne on Anzac Day.
The return of their super-star midfielder, Matt Wade, will certainly help their cause, while the form of Rory Hillis, Michael Wallace, Adam Galea and Kyle Van Der Pluym gives them cause for optimism.
Youngsters like Kris Sabbatucci. Jesse Hand, Troy Dolan and Jordan Kelly will need to be ready to stand firm this week against a Magpie outfit coming off back-to-back losses against Pakenham and Berwick.
For the first time in a long time the Magpies didn’t look confident last week, out-pressured by a Wickers outfit that just wouldn’t relent. Dylan Quirk kept the Magpies in the match, while classy left-footer Dale Gawley and running-machine Andy Vella tried their best to the very end.
Gillespie will need to decide whether Michael Wallace, who did a great job on Marc Holt against Cranbourne, or skipper Adam Galea, get the tough job on Kerem Baskaya at full-back, while a bit of research on how Berwick stopped the Magpies’ run out of defence would also add some hope.
It’s the Magpies by 64 points.
DOVETON v HAMPTON PARK
DOVETON coach Shannon Henwood learnt from the best last week and will look to put those lessons to work against Hampton Park at Robinson Oval.
The Doves certainly weren’t disgraced against Beaconsfield, especially considering they had to make a staggering seven changes to their side that played ROC a fortnight earlier.
Gone was the goal-scoring power and smarts of Michael Henry and Callum Pattie, the brute strength of Frank D’Agostino in the ruck while Simon Black would have been more than handy in defence, instead sitting two games out through suspension.
All things considered, the Doves did well to match the Eagles on the scoreboard with 20 scoring shots apiece.
Hampton Park’s biggest concern this week will be how to limit the effect of Doveton ruckman Russell Gabriel, who showed his quality with a standout performance against Beaconsfield’s Scott Meyer last week.
Gabriel, an imposing force, faces up again to Billy Thomas, the Redbacks’ number-one ruckman who is gaining a solid reputation around the league. The pair had a good contest in the SEFL season-opener at Hampton Park on Good Friday and look destined to do so again.
Hampton Park has some class, with the Allen boys, Ash and Nathan, joining Adam Koe, Luke O’Brien, Nathan Carver and Nathan Dawes on a list that is gradually improving and is far more competitive than those of the last few years.
Doveton just can’t afford a slip-up here. After this encounter, it has a bye before a tough stretch of games against Pakenham, Narre Warren, Berwick and Cranbourne.
There’s just too much at stake… it’s the Doves comfortably.