By Ben Pollard
Under 14 Division 1
(1) East Malvern Blue (14-0) vs (2) Beaumaris Sharks (13-1)
(3) Mordialloc-Braeside (10-4) vs (4) Hampton (8-5)
We have a heavyweight battle on our hands between undefeated East Malvern Blue and Beaumaris Sharks! The Sharks will be out for revenge after the Knights inflicted their only loss of the season in Round 8. That day, East Malvern came from three points behind at halftime to steamroll Beauy in the second half, winning by 21 points. Star Knights Angus Styles and Lachlan Height will be looking for similarly superb efforts this time around to keep a perfect season alive… In the other semi final, Mordialloc-Braeside meets Hampton, a team that had a big victory over the Mustangs in Round 8. It might be tough to turn the tables on the Rovers in this one!
Under 14 Division 2
(1) South Melbourne White (14-1) vs (2) Prahran (7-8)
(3) Cheltenham Milicia (7-8) vs (4) St Peters (6-9)
One look at the final ladder would indicate this is South Melbourne White’s premiership to lose… The team’s only loss of the season came two weeks ago to Dingley Black – who missed out on fourth spot by 12 percentage points. One would expect the Districts to have gotten that out of their system and be gearing up big time for Prahran this week… The formguide says last time they met, Souths got the chockies by 51 points. And in what should be an intriguing battle, Cheltenham Milicia faces St Peters in the other semi. The Panthers took the points both times they met this season, but only by two points in Round 9 and 24 points in Round 14.
Under 14 Division 3
(1) Bentleigh (9-3-1) vs (2) East Malvern White (9-4)
(3) Murrumbeena Gold (9-4) vs (4) Waverley Park (8-5)
A very even top four should lead to a tight finals series here… Bentleigh may have finished above East Malvern White, but the Knights made short work of the Demons back in Round 10, winning by 58 points on the back of some Bailey Smith magic. Meanwhile, Murrumbeena Gold defeated their semi final opponent Waverley Park twice earlier in the season, but more recently got handed a 34-point defeat by the Hawks in Round 12. Waverley’s Will Ryan played a blinder and Jack Peacock slotted six lazy goals that day!
Under 14 Division 4
(1) South Melbourne Red (11-4) vs (2) Beaumaris Great Whites (11-4)
(3) East Sandringham (11-4) vs (4) Ormond (10-5)
What a crackerjack division! There’s just one game between the top four teams on the ladder and they all finished at least four games ahead of fifth. Proving South Melbourne’s Under 14 stocks are particularly strong, the Districts’ Red team faces Beaumaris Great Whites after finishing first on percentage. And how do you split these teams, when South Melbourne won their first encounter by 12 points and Beauy won the second by 12 as well? It’s a similar story for the other semi final between East Sandringham and Ormond – the two teams split the points 1-1 during the regular season. Good luck picking the premiership winner here, folks!
Under 15 Division 1
(1) East Brighton Vampires (12-2) vs (2) East Malvern Blue (11-3)
(3) St Peters (10-3) vs (4) Murrumbeena Gold (8-6)
East Brighton Vampires will be casting their minds back to Round 11 before their semi final clash with East Malvern Blue this week… After losing their first encounter with the Knights in Round 1, Vampires Tom Wallace, Jesse Maxfield and Alex Mastromanno (five goals) came to the party five matches ago to defeat East Malvern by 38 points. Interestingly, fourth-placed Murrumbeena Gold owns a win over the other three finalists and could be a sneaky flag chance if they get past St Peters in the other semi. Last time out, St Peters got Beena by 11 points, but the Lions had previously knocked them off by 27 points in Round 2.
Under 15 Division 2
(1) Mordialloc-Braeside (12-3) vs (2) Hampton (11-4)
(3) St Bedes/Mentone Tigers (6-8) vs (4) Prahran (6-8)
It’s too easy to say the Mustangs are in a two-horse race with Hampton for the premiership, but that’s the way it’s shaping up… Mordialloc-Braeside lost only one of seven games against the other two finalists, while Hampton won all five against them. As for each other, Mordi-Brae lost to the Rovers once and won the teams’ two other matches – most recently by eight goals in Round 14, when Jack Cunnington was the star Mustang. Despite similar win-loss records, St Bedes/Mentone Tigers’ form against Prahran is damning, with a 66-point win in Round 7 and an 85-point thrashing of their semi final opponent in Round 12. Needless to say, the Tiges will be hard to beat!
Under 15 Division 3
(1) Waverley Park (13-0) vs (2) St Pauls (12-1)
(3) St Peters (11-3) vs (4) East Brighton Vampires (8-6)
Ah yes, the lure of an undefeated season… Will it undo Waverley Park now finals have arrived? The Hawks served St Pauls their only defeat of 2013 when triumphant by 49 points in Round 11, with Alex Muir, Jake Murphy and Jack Robertson (four goals) on fire. They’ll be keen to bank the week off and have some time to think about that potentially perfect season! St Peters has already defeated their opponent this week, East Brighton Vampires, by 13 points in Round 7 and I’m sure they’d welcome another ripper performance from Jake Hibbert and Joel Olsen this time around!
Under 15 Division 4
(1) Oakleigh (9-4-1) vs (2) Ajax Comets (9-6)
(3) Ormond (9-6) vs (4) Caulfield Bears (8-6-1)
Oakleigh faces Ajax Comets in a game the Dragons would be desperate to win… They’ve defeated the Comets twice this season so they would have to be confident, but if they lose this one they may clash with their nemesis, the Caulfield Bears, next week. Caulfield has defeated the ladder leaders twice and drawn with them once already, but the Bears may find it difficult enough just getting past Ormond this week. Ormond has hunted down the Bears twice in 2013, but on the last occasion, Caulfield got within six points at the final siren. Fair dinkum – this could be anyone’s premiership!
Under 16 Division 1
(1) Murrumbeena Gold (14-1) vs (2) Mordialloc-Braeside White (13-2)
(3) St Bedes/Mentone Tigers (8-7) vs (4) South Melbourne District (7-8)
Gee, there have been some ripping battles between Murrumbeena Gold and Mordialloc-Braeside White this season! First time around, Mordi-Brae dished up Beena’s only loss of the year in Round 4, then the Lions hit back with a thrilling one-point win in Round 9 and a 15-point victory in Round 14. Dylan Atkins and Kurt Lopo have been prominent for the Mustangs across these encounters, while Lachlan Walker and Jesse Toniolo starred for Beena in their last match-up – but who will stand up this time? St Bedes/Mentone Tigers probably take favouritism into the other semi final, having knocked off South Melbourne District two times to one this season.
Under 16 Division 2
(1) Ajax (12-3) vs (2) St Peters (11-3)
(3) Beaumaris Sharks (11-4) vs (4) East Malvern Blue (9-6)
If Round 10 was any indication, the Ajax-St Peters semi final is going to come down to the wire! On that day, St Peters coughed up an 11-point lead at three-quarter time to lose by a point, despite four more scoring shots than Ajax… Lee Natsioulas almost dragged St Peters over the line with four goals, but Josh Baron, Ben Kingston and Matthew Levy (four majors) were cool under pressure and delivered a win that helped seal top spot. The loser may have to face Beaumaris next week, given the Sharks had a 19-point win against their semi final opponent, East Malvern Blue, just last week. Beauy defeated the top two in their most recent battles too, so both Ajax and St Peters would be looking over their shoulder warily!
Under 16 Division 3
(1) St Pauls (11-2) vs (2) Dingley (8-5)
(3) Murrumbeena Maroon (6-7) vs (4) Mt Waverley Falcons (5-8)
There are just two teams with positive win-loss records in Under 16 Division 3 and they meet this week. St Pauls has had Dingley’s measure three times already this year, the closest margin between the teams being 33 points. In fact, the only conqueror of St Pauls still in the division is third-placed Murrumbeena Maroon, which caught the ladder leaders napping by four points just last week. If the Lions can roar past Mt Waverley Falcons in the other semi final – as they have done twice in 2013 – they might fancy their chances of another upset a bit further down the line…
Under 17 Division 1
(1) Brighton Rovers (15-0) vs (2) Ormond (10-5)
(3) Beaumaris Sharks (9-6) vs (4) Caulfield Bears (8-7)
What a super season compiled by super-team Brighton Rovers! The closest any rival got to the Rovers was 10 points – a great effort by fourth-placed Caulfield Bears in Round 6, particularly given the next closest margin was 42! Brighton’s semi final opponent Ormond got within 57, 60 and 73 points in their three encounters with the minor premier and would clearly need a monumental turnaround in form to knock them off… Meanwhile, the Beaumaris Sharks-Caulfield Bears semi final promises to be a hard-fought one. Caulfield got the better of Beauy twice out of three games this season, but none of the margins in these matches were greater than 12 points. The question of this finals series will be: Can anyone get close to the Brighton Rovers?!
Under 17 Division 2
(1) Waverley Park/Northvale (12-3) vs (2) St Peters (11-4)
(3) Cheltenham White (9-5-1) vs (4) Dingley (6-8-1)
Another super-team emerges with the minor premiership in the Under 17s! They have first place, yes, but how super will Waverley Park/Northvale prove to be in August? The team has lost three games this year – one to each of the other three finalists… However, they did gain revenge against this week’s opponent St Peters with a 26-point victory last time they met in Round 10. Declan Fowler slammed home five goals for the victors that day, while Jacob Buccella and Daniel Halabut played brilliantly. Cheltenham White finished three games clear of Dingley, but the Dingoes have proven to be Chelt’s bogy team – drawing once and defeating the Panthers by 21 points two weeks ago. At 6-8-1, can Dingley possibly go on a miracle run?!