SMJFL action returns after a fortnight off! Awaiting this weekend are 488 eager teams, ready to do battle and commence the final month of the season with a bang. Our feature games this Sunday will be the most anticipated of the league and our local scribe Owen Leonard runs his eyes over the key battles of Round 11 in the Pepper Money Preview.
U/17 Div 1: Beaumaris v Highett/Cheltenham Black, 2:50 at Banksia Reserve
The second-placed Beaumaris host the ladder-leading Highett/Cheltenham in a mouth-watering, top-of-the-table blockbuster on Sunday afternoon at Banksia Reserve, or ‘Shark Park’ as Beaumaris locals prefer. Highett/Cheltenham, who have only lost the one game this season, face a strong defensive challenge against the Sharks, who are spearheaded by league-leading goalkicker Kyle Yorke. Yorke has booted 25 goals from just six appearances, and is yet to face the rampaging CHOGS, despite this weekend’s matchup being the third of the year. On the flipside, Highett/Cheltenham boast three of the top five leading goalkickers in the comp- with Campbell James (20 goals), as well as Jack Bowey and James Eadie (13 each) causing headaches for opposition defences throughout the season. Beaumaris will be looking to cement their place in the top two, while Highett/Cheltenham have the opportunity to break away from the rest of the competition. Expect a fierce, high quality contest.
U/18 Girls Div 1: St Peters v Brighton Beach, 10am at Moorleigh Reserve
St Peters will this weekend test themselves against the true benchmark of the competition in Brighton Beach, who hold an impressive 8-1 record alongside an intimidating percentage of 326.24. It shapes as an important battle for the St Peters girls, who are chasing a top-two finish and a win would lift them into flag contention. But that will be no easy feat, with Brighton Beach- whose sole blemish came in the opening round of the season- on an eight-game winning streak. Carlie Cochrane, who sits fourth among the league’s goalkickers, will be pivotal to St Peters’ chances. They’ll have a point to prove, too, after going down to Brighton Beach by 90 points earlier this year.
U/16 Girls Div 1: Port Melbourne v East Malvern, 1:30 at Murphy Reserve- Aanenson Oval
The third-placed Port Melbourne face competition leaders East Malvern in a similar clash to the U/18 St Peters v Brighton Beach battle. While Port Melbourne are a game outside of the top two, the undefeated East Malvern have a firm grip on the competition and will look to extend their impeccable record. The Port Melbourne defence faces its greatest challenge yet, when it tackles the league’s top three leading goalkickers in Holly Searby, Abbi Moloney and Elizabeth McNamara. Expect a dangerous Port Melbourne to challenge the ferocious East Malvern line-up.
U/14 Mixed Div 2: St Paul’s McKinnon v Highett/Cheltenham, 12pm at McKinnon Reserve
It’s 4v2, in an important contest for both clubs, who have their sights firmly planted on the all-important top four finish. Moreover, a rivalry between these two sides seems to have built over the season. St Paul’s McKinnon hearts were broken in their round six affair, when they were denied- to the tune of two points- by Highett/Cheltenham. This match, however, will be hosted by St Paul’s McKinnon, who will be confident in familiarity. Expect another thrilling game.
U/12 Mixed Blue: South Melbourne v Brighton Beach, 9am at Albert Park- Oval 11
Top of the table clash between the all conquering South Melbourne and the second placed Brighton Beach is the big match at Albert Park this Sunday. With East Brighton and Beaumaris snapping at their heals, Brighton Beach need a good showing to keep both teams at bay. South Melbourne have been irresistible in 2018 so far and at home they will be confident in continuing their unbeaten run! Charles Steen has been in great goal kicking form for the Kangaroos and if he gets good delivery from his mids, could reek havoc on the South Melbourne defenders. The swans have a number of goalkickers making it very difficult for opposition. Charlie Boston, Louie Montgomery, Murphy Reid and Tyler Bouwman have been peppering the big sticks in 2018 and will be looking to keep up their form to keep Brighton Beach at bay.