By Ben Pollard
The first week of the 2013 SMJFL Finals Series – proudly supported by Colbrow Homecare – is upon us! Let’s take a look at the teams involved in this week’s match-ups and how they got to this point…
Further down, we also review the second week of the Under 15 Girls finals series and look ahead to this weekend’s Preliminary Finals.
Under 11 East
(1) East Sandringham (13-1) vs (2) Brighton Beach (12-2)
(3) Ormond (10-4) vs (4) South Melbourne White (8-6)
Top-placed East Sandringham appears to have the wood on its three finals rivals, given the Zebbies’ only defeat of the season was to fifth-placed Beaumaris Sharks. Their one clash with this week’s opponent Brighton Beach was in Round 9, when East Sandy held the Kangaroos to just one goal in a 21-point win. Ormond thrashed their semi final opponent South Melbourne White by 45 points in Round 3, but more recently gave up a halftime lead to lose by six points to the Districts in Round 12.
Under 11 West
(1) Dingley Black (11-3) vs (2) St Peters (11-3)
(3) St Kilda City Black (11-3) vs (4) Prahran Blue (10-4)
A VERY tight division, this one – St Kilda City Black missed out on the double chance by just 8.1 percentage points. Dingley Black may be minor premiers, but its opponent this week, St Peters, toppled the Dingoes by 26 points in Round 10. If St Peters boys Tom Johnson and Tim Russo produce similar performances this time around, they’ll be hard to beat… Prahran Blue will have to work hard this week to reverse the last result they had against St Kilda, when the Saints – led by three Zac Murphy goals – accounted for them by 10 points in Round 10.
Under 11 South
(1) St Kilda City Red (13-1) vs (2) East Brighton Vampires (12-2)
(3) East Malvern White (12-2) vs (4) Highett (11-3)
We have a mouthwatering match-up between St Kilda City Red and East Brighton Vampires this week – the Saints’ only loss of 2013 came to the Vamps back in Round 10. Jacob Clough was the star for East Brighton that day with three goals, but despite a 24-point loss, St Kilda still had one more scoring shot than their opponents – if they can adjust the radar in front of goal, this semi final might have a different result… As for the other semi, East Malvern White defeated its opponent Highett by 39 points in Round 5 and considering the Knights missed the double chance by only 7.0 percentage points, they could be a smoky for the division title.
Under 11 North
(1) East Sandringham (13-1) vs (2) Murrumbeena Gold (12-2)
(3) St Pauls (9-5) vs (4) Ajax Comets (8-6)
East Sandringham and Murrumbeena Gold seemingly have this division at their mercy… Their last meeting in Round 11 was a classic, with the Zebbies holding off a second-half Beena fightback to claim victory by a point, avenging the loss that Murrumbeena served to them in Round 4 – their only defeat of the year. Beena’s only other loss came to third-placed St Pauls, who could prove dangerous if they get past Ajax Comets this week. It’ll be a tough ask though, as the Comets pipped them by two points just last week – a perfect finals dress rehearsal!
Under 11 Blue
(1) Cheltenham Dale (11-3) vs (2) Mordialloc-Braeside White (11-3)
(3) St Peters (9-5) vs (4) Dingley Red (5-9)
Who goes in as favourite in their semi final – Cheltenham Dale or Mordialloc-Braeside White? … Who knows?! Mordi-Brae had comfortable early-season victories over the Panthers, but Chelt struck back most recently in Round 13, defeating their nemesis by 29 points as Daniel Stokes-Beeston and Dale Haycroft ran amok. Third-placed St Peters owns victories over both top two teams, but may have enough trouble getting past Dingley Red. Despite finishing four games lower than St Peters, the Dingoes defeated them once and got within four points in another match!
Under 12 East
(1) Beaumaris Sharks (12-2) vs (2) East Brighton Vampires Red (11-3)
(3) Prahran Red (10-4) vs (4) East Brighton Vampires White (7-7)
Funnily enough, the two losses suffered by minor premier Beaumaris Sharks were to teams not competing in this finals series… Does that mean the Sharks have nothing to fear? Well, they’ve beaten their semi final opponent East Brighton Vampires Red twice already this year and the other two finalists twice each as well, but we all know crazy things happen come finals time! East Brighton Vampires White would fancy their chances of an upset in the other semi, having beaten Prahran Red once by 19 points and recording a loss by just two points in their other clash.
Under 12 West
(1) Highett (12-1-1) vs (2) Cheltenham Williams (11-3)
(3) Waverley Park Brown (8-4-2) vs (4) Beaumaris Great Whites (7-6-1)
It’s safe to say these four finalists are closely matched… In fact, there have been three draws in games between them this season! Waverley Park Brown would want to keep its supporting from chewing off more fingernails this week, after two draws already in 2013 – one against its semi final opponent, Beaumaris Great Whites. Hawk nails were safe last round though when Waverley Park had an easier time against Beauy, winning by 35 points in a good finals dress rehearsal. The top Dogs in this division, Highett, also had a tune-up against this week’s opponent in Round 14, defeating Cheltenham Williams by 12 points. Question is: Will the form stand up?
Under 12 South
(1) St Pauls (12-1) vs (2) Dingley Black (9-5)
(3) East Sandringham (8-5) vs (4) Prahran Blue (8-6)
Can anyone stop the runaway St Pauls train? The ladder leaders have won 11 straight matches since losing to Prahran Blue in Round 2 and ended up three and a half games clear of second on the ladder. In Round 12 against semi final opponent Dingley Black, St Pauls showed its ability to fight, coming from a point down at the last break to win by 17, with Mackenzie Turley and Jackson Hannah (three goals) putting in stellar showings. Prahran Blue had a big confidence boost ahead of their clash with East Sandringham this week, smashing the Zebs by 38 points on Sunday afternoon.
Under 12 North
(1) Oakleigh (13-1) vs (2) Waverley Park Gold (10-4)
(3) Mordialloc-Braeside Red (9-4) vs (4) Northvale (8-5)
The Oakleigh-Waverley Park Gold showdown should be a cracker, if their Round 13 encounter was anything to go by… That day in a low-scoring affair, the Dragons nearly watched their 13-point halftime lead evaporate, but held on to grind out a five-point win after a Waverley Park comeback. Tom Gillard was superb for Oakleigh and Josh Webb kicked both the Hawks’ goals, but who will help their team claim a finals victory this weekend? Mordialloc-Braeside Red would love a crack at one of them next week – after two regular season triumphs over Northvale, the Mustangs surely go in to their semi final as favourites.
Under 12 Blue
(1) Bentleigh (12-2) vs (2) Dingley Red (11-3)
(3) St Kilda City Red (11-3) vs (4) Ajax Stars (9-5)
Division leader Bentleigh didn’t start the season off in great fashion, dropping two of its first three games, but boy have the Demons made a charge since then… The minor premiers have rattled off 11 in a row, including an 18-point Round 10 victory over Dingley Red, their opponent this week. Ajax Stars would be thanking their lucky stars they made it through to the finals, just holding Mordialloc-Braeside Colts out of fourth place on percentage. After securing their spot in the August dance, the Stars now run into St Kilda City Red, a team that squeaked over the line against them by five points in Round 9.
Under 13 Division 1
(1) East Sandringham (13-1) vs (2) Beaumaris Sharks (11-3)
(3) St Kilda City Black (10-4) vs (4) Mordialloc-Braeside (7-7)
You can lock this in, folks: East Sandringham vs Beaumaris Sharks will be a corker. The Zebs lost just the one game in a very impressive 2013 season but of course, it was to the Sharks. Despite a dominant season, East Sandy would be nervous ahead of this one… On that day in Round 11, Beauy defeated them rather comprehensively – while the margin was 25 points, the Sharks also had 10 extra scoring shots. St Kilda City Black kept their semi final opponent, Mordialloc-Braeside to just four behinds in an eight-goal victory two weeks ago, but the Saints won’t want to get too far ahead of themselves – complacency kills you in finals!
Under 13 Division 2
(1) Prahran Red (11-1) vs (2) Murrumbeena Gold (9-2-1)
(3) St Pauls (5-6-1) vs (4) Ajax Comets (5-7)
Prahran Red and Murrumbeena Gold have simply run away from the chasing pack in this division. After losing to Beena in Round 2 by two points, the ladder leaders got their revenge by eight points in Round 9. James Rowbottom was Prahran’s best in both those games, while Noah Cunningham featured prominently for Beena on each occasion – those boys might have a big say on how this clash pans out too… St Pauls and Ajax Comets defeated each other once during the regular season, but a 60-point St Pauls triumph in Round 13 might give the best guide on who’ll win here.
Under 13 Division 3
(1) Bentleigh (13-1) vs (2) Beaumaris Great Whites (10-4)
(3) Dingley Black (9-5) vs (4) East Sandringham (9-5)
The Under 13 Division 3 premiership may just be Bentleigh’s for the taking… The Demons dispatched their semi final opponent Beaumaris Great Whites by 55 points just five games ago and their only conqueror this year was South Melbourne District, which missed the finals on percentage – cue a sigh of relief! Could the other semi final be in the bag too? Dingley Black dominated East Sandringham the last time they met, to the tune of 46 points in Round 10. And for the record, both these teams also lost to South Melbourne during the year – more sighs of relief going around!
Under 13 Division 4
(1) Northvale (13-1) vs (2) Oakleigh (13-1)
(3) Beaumaris Black Tails (7-7) vs (4) Mordialloc-Braeside Red (5-8-1)
Epic battle ahoy! Northvale and Oakleigh meet this weekend after two incredible seasons in which both teams lost only once – to each other. Northvale thrashed the Dragons by 50 points in Round 9, but Oakleigh bounced back just last week in a two-point thriller. The key players include Northvale’s Lachlan Cabello, the leading goalkicker in the division who has booted four goals in the teams’ two clashes, while Oakleigh boys Maurice Smith and Tom Gray have starred in both matches too. As for the other semi, Beaumaris Black Tails have a 2-1 record over Mordialloc-Braeside Red this season… Read into that what you will!
Under 13 Division 5
(1) Caulfield Bears (14-0) vs (2) East Sandringham (10-4)
(3) East Malvern Knights (10-4) vs (4) Prahran Blue (8-6)
The big story in Under 13 Division 5 will be about whether Caulfield Bears can keep a dream undefeated season alive. Their first finals test comes against East Sandringham, a team the Bears have devoured by 60 points and 55 points during the regular season. In fact, the closest any of the finalists got to Caulfield this year was when fourth-placed Prahran Blue ran them to 21 points in Round 3… But, will the August pressure turn the Bears into cubs?!
U15 Girls Semi Final 1:
(4) East Sandringham East 9.11 (65) def (5) Waverley Park Hawks 0.2 (2)
The Zebbie girls had a day out at Moorleigh Reserve on Sunday morning, crushing the Hawks by 63 points to set up a Preliminary Final against East Brighton Vampirettes. Laura Amelung and Brooke Foster both kicked two goals for East Sandy, who now meet a team that has defeated them twice this season, but by only 10 and seven points. Get to Moorleigh this Sunday night at 6.30, because this clash should be a close one!
U15 Girls Semi Final 2:
(3) Highett 4.4 (28) def (6) Mordialloc-Braeside 3.5 (23)
The Highett girls have advanced to a Preliminary Final, but only after suffering a big scare from a brave Mordialloc-Braeside outfit at Moorleigh Reserve on Sunday. In a decisive third quarter, the Bulldogs broke open a very even contest with two goals to nil, establishing a 15-point lead at the last change. But Mordi-Brae wasn’t done with yet… Two goals to one in the final term caused a few nervous moments for the Dogs, but they had done enough to secure victory. Their next task is a daunting one: a Preliminary Final at 5pm this Sunday at Moorleigh against minor premier St Peters, a team that has had the wood on Highett twice already this year.