Just two rounds remain for season 2018 before the finals series kicks off!
Some very crucial matches are on the menu for Sunday and contributor Owen Leonard previews the matches that take his fancy.
U/11 Mixed Blue: Mordialloc-Braeside v Caulfield, Walter Galt Reserve Oval 2, 3:30pm
It’s a 1v3 clash, but even so late in the season, the repercussions of this result could be monumental. Caulfield, comfortably atop the ladder, have only lost one game this season and will be preparing for a premiership assault. But while Mordi-Brae sit third, their position inside the four is far from safe. Equal on points with fourth as well as the fifth-placed East Sandringham, who are expected to win this weekend, a loss could mean the ‘Brae relinquish their top-four holding. The Grizzlies will start as favourites with good reason, but expect the home side to come out firing in their top-four defence.
U/12 Mixed Orange: Dingley v Oakleigh, Souter Reserve, 12pm
It’s a simple must-win affair for both clubs. Given the evenness of the U/12 Mixed Orange competition, a Dingley win could see them leapfrog from fifth to third, while an Oakleigh loss could bundle them out of finals contention, with another tough assignment against Waverley next week. Billy Robinson has proved a headache for opposition defences booting 17 goals this season, and Oakleigh will need him at his best to counter the Dingo attack. Whatever the outcome, this game should thrill its audience.
U/13 Mixed Div 5: East Brighton v St Bedes/Mentone, Moorabbin West, 9am
It’s an early start for the 3v5 contest, but players should be raring to go in another game poised to shape the final four. This game is particularly significant for East Brighton, as losing would place their grip on top four contention in serious doubt. After an uncompetitive loss to East Sandringham, the Vampires of East Brighton will need to return to their winning ways exemplified the week prior, with a crushing victory over Ajax. Conversely, St Bedes/Mentone are coming off a 44-point triumph, but suffered a loss at the hands of Murrumbeena in Round 12. With their season on a knife’s edge, expect East Brighton to come to play.
U/14 Mixed Div 4: Highett/Cheltenham v Oakleigh, Highett Reserve Oval 1, 10am
A big game between two of the competition’s heavyweights. With both sides at an 8/1 win/loss ratio, a win to either club would see it remain in the hunt for the coveted first-placed position, currently occupied by Port/South Melbourne. For Highett/Cheltenham, Jack Carter displays their star-power. He leads the league goal-kicking at 29 goals- six more than the next best, while Oakleigh aren’t represented by a player in the comp’s top five goal-kickers despite their monstrous percentage, showing the well-rounded, evenly spread nature of talent in their outfit. This could be a Grand Final preview, so don’t miss it.
U/15 Boys Div 3: Murrumbeena v Mordialloc-Braeside, Murrumbeena Park Oval 1, 3:10
Murrumbeena’s tremendous trio of Thomas Schofield, Mitchell Simmons and Duncan Gardiner- who all sit inside the league’s top five goal-kickers, will need to be at their firing best to hold off Mordi-Brae in the 1v2 clash, who are hot on their heels chasing the prized top-spot. Last time these two met, Mordi-Brae had a strong 19-point win, with Jordan Michell kicking three. It’ll leave the red-and-white stripes with plenty of confidence heading into this potential Grand Final preview, but Murrumbeena will be keen to snag one back on their rivals.
U/16 Boys Div 1: East Sandringham v East Brighton, Boss James Reserve, 11:30am
This game could ultimately come down to a battle of speed, run and fitness on the vast dimensions of the Boss James Reserve. In a 1v2 battle, this could be yet another Grand Final preview in an exciting round of SMJFL footy, with the winner likely to claim a finish in first position for season 2018.
U/17 Boys Div 2: Oakleigh v South Melbourne Districts, WA Scammell Reserve 1:30pm
This match has a flavour of a different kind to those aforementioned. It’s 5v6, in what’s effectively an elimination final. The loser faces near certainty of missing finals, while the winner remains in the hunt. The hosting Oakleigh are level on wins with South Melbourne, but have a notable amount of percentage to makeup. South Melbourne boast a percentage far superior to the fourth-placed Caulfield, meaning a win keeps them well and truly in the race for the flag.
U/18 YG Div 1: Bentleigh v Prahran, Packer Park, 11:45am
For Bentleigh, the answer to the equation is simple- win. But winning will be a prodigious challenge. Prahran- in third place- have lost four games this season, so despite their thus far successful campaign, they can be beaten. Losing for Bentleigh would also mean elimination from the premiership race, so everything is on the line.