Posted in Front Page News , Weekend Wraps

By Ben Pollard

It’s finals time in the SMJFL – the best time of the year. The top four teams in the Under 11, 12 and 13 divisions square off in the semi-finals this week, so let’s take a closer look at how they got here…

Radiant Under 11 East

(1) Prahran Red (14-0) vs (2) East Brighton Vampires Red (11-3)

(3) Mordialloc Braeside (10-4) vs (4) East Brighton Vampires White (8-6)

These two match-ups also took place in the very first round. Prahran Red kicked off its amazing undefeated season with a comfortable 23-point win over Vampires Red, while Vampires White took the points against Mordialloc Braeside by 16. Can we read anything into the early form though?  Perhaps not… Mordi Brae reversed the result in Round 6, then won again in Round 13. Meanwhile, Prahran Red’s closest call came against Vampires Red in Round 9, with just one point separating the two! The dream of an undefeated season almost ended right then – can Prahran now keep it going when it matters?

Radiant Under 11 West

(1) East Malvern White (13-1) vs (2) Brighton Beach 2 (11-3)

(3) Waverley Park Brown (11-3) vs (4) Hampton 1 (8-6)

East Malvern White goes into the semi finals on a huge 13-match winning streak… In fact, third-placed Waverley Park Brown was the only team to knock them off this year – by just three points in Round 1. Waverley will be keen to win through against Hampton 1 to possibly have another crack at the ladder leaders, but Hampton smashed Waverley by 43 points in Round 8. East Malvern had the wood over Brighton Beach 2 twice this season, but the Beach got within a point in a Round 10 thriller and their semi final could be another close one.

Radiant Under 11 South

(1) Prahran Blue (11-2-1) vs (2) Highett (11-3)

(3) East Brighton Vampires (9-4-1) vs (4) East Malvern Red (9-5)

We should have two very evenly-matched semi finals here. Round 4 produced a ding-dong battle between Prahran Blue and Highett, with Prahran prevailing by just two points. They got Highett again in Round 12 by 17 points to put them in the box seat to win this week’s match. However, the ladder leaders also lost once to East Malvern Red and drew with East Brighton Vampires, so this could be anyone’s premiership!

Radiant Under 11 North

(1) East Brighton Vampires (11-1) vs (2) Waverley Park Gold (10-3)

(3) Ormond Blue (9-4) vs (4) Caulfield (8-5)

The top two tussled in Round 1, with East Brighton Vampires emerging victorious by seven points, and then again in Round 12 by 17 points. Both teams should be looking out for the dangerous floater in the finals draw though… Caulfield came straight into Radiant Under 11 North in Round 5 and promptly served the Vampires with their only loss of the season, while the Bears also dispatched Waverley by 50 points in Round 8. They’ll be dangerous if they get past Ormond Blue this week.

Radiant Under 11 Blue

(1) Northvale (13-1) vs (2) Dingley Red (11-2-1)

(3) Ajax Stars (11-2-1) vs South Melbourne Red (10-3)

Dingley Red snuck into second spot on percentage from Ajax Stars, but it could’ve been so much different… The two teams drew in Round 1, but the wasteful Ajax booted an inaccurate 5.13 (43) to Dingley’s 6.7 (43)! Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt Ajax against South Melbourne Red, a team they beat by 12 points in Round 4 and by 20 points in Round 6. Northvale dominated all season, including a victory over this week’s opponent Dingley Red by 28 points in Round 10. They should have Dingley’s measure again, but Northvale won’t have forgotten their only lapse of 2012 against South Melbourne in Round 13 – surely it couldn’t happen again!

Under 12 East

(1) East Sandringham (13-1) vs (2) Beaumaris Sharks (13-1)

(3) Cheltenham (9-5) vs Waverley Park Gold (9-5)

What a ripsnorter we’ve got between East Sandringham and Beaumaris Sharks! Both teams finished clear on top with just one loss to their names. Beaumaris’ only loss came against this week’s opponent East Sandy by 31 points in Round 6, while Sandy’s only defeat came at the hands of Waverley Park Gold. It’ll be a close one, and so will the other semi final… Cheltenham got Waverley by four points in Round 3, but Waverley turned it around by 27 points in Round 12. Bring it on!

Under 12 West

(1) St Kilda City Red (12-2) vs (2) East Sandringham 2 (11-3)

(3) Ormond (10-4) vs (4) Prahran Red (10-4)

Finals spots were well earned in Under 12 West, with two teams on 10-4 only missing out on percentage. St Kilda City Red seemingly has the upper hand in their clash, having destroyed East Sandringham by 60 points in Round 5. One of St Kilda’s two losses was against Prahran Red by 30, so the Saints will be hoping Ormond can knock them off in the other semi final. If form is anything to go by, it’s quite possible: Ormond got Prahran Red by nine points in a Round 7 slog.

Under 12 South

(1) St Pauls (12-1-1) vs (2) East Malvern Red (12-2)

(3) South Melbourne White (11-3) vs (4) Prahran Blue (9-5)

St Pauls are in ominous form. After drawing with Under 12 South’s bottom side and losing a close one to Prahran Blue, they’ve won nine straight and will go into their clash with East Malvern Red with confidence. St Pauls took the win by seven points in their previous hard-fought clash in Round 9. South Melbourne White and Prahran Blue look very evenly matched, with South Melbourne claiming a Round 4 victory by just two points against their opponent this week.

Under 12 North

(1) Bentleigh (11-3) vs (2) St Bedes/Mentone Tigers Blue (10-4)

(3) Beaumaris Hammerheads (9-5) vs (4) Ajax Jets (9-5)

A topsy turvy division, this one. Ajax Jets disposed of St Bedes/Mentone Tigers Blue in Round 1; Beaumaris Hammerheads smashed Bentleigh in Round 2 and St Bedes in Round 3; while St Bedes also easily accounted for Bentleigh in Round 4! Try to explain the final ladder positions now… Bentleigh picked things up after Round 6 though, the ladder leaders winning eight on the trot, including victories over all its finals rivals. Ajax had the edge on Beaumaris once, in Round 8 by 13 points. Anything could happen here!

Under 13 Division 1

(1) East Malvern Gold (13-1) vs (2) Beaumaris Sharks (11-3)

(3) East Sandringham (10-4) vs (4) Mt Waverley (8-6)

It would be hard to be more impressive than East Malvern Gold has been this season… They defeated their opponents this week, Beaumaris Sharks, by 41 points in Round 2 and belted everyone else from pillar to post. The only blemish was a three-point revenge win by the Sharks in Round 9, which now makes for an intriguing semi final. Mt Waverley took a while to adjust to Division 1 when they entered in Round 5, but came of age in Round 9 with a strong win over their semi final opponent East Sandringham.

Under 13 Division 2

(1) St Kilda City (11-2) vs (2) Ajax Comets (9-4)

(3) Cheltenham (7-6-1) vs (4) Prahran (7-7)

St Kilda City looks the team to beat in Under 13 Division 2. The only loss the Saints had to a team still in the division was to Cheltenham by 11 points in Round 6. They’ll be glad to have avoided meeting Chelt in the semi finals. Prahran should take it up to Chelt, too; defeating them by three points in Round 7. As for Ajax, the Comets get the chance to immediately avenge a five-point loss suffered at the hands of St Kilda just last week.

Under 13 Division 3

(1) Mt Waverley (12-1) vs Murrumbeena Gold (10-2)

(3) Caulfield (10-3) vs St Bedes/Mentone Tigers (8-5)

You can’t say these four teams don’t deserve to be in the finals – they were far and away the top four in Under 13 Division 3. Mt Waverley slogged out a win in their only meeting with Murrumbeena Gold in Round 8, but was beaten by Caulfield in Round 9 by 22 points. Caulfield also rolled St Bedes/Mentone Tigers twice, but were slaughtered by Murrumbeena in Round 6. Caulfield has improved since then, winning six of seven, and look to be the wildcard in this finals series.

Under 13 Division 4

(1) Dingley Red (13-1) vs East Malvern Blue (11-3)

(3) St Pauls (8-6) vs Hampton (7-7)

Dingley Red and East Malvern Blue look to have this division wrapped up. East Malvern was the only team to topple Dingley this season – in round 2 by a mere two points – but Dingley emphatically turned it around in Round 9. St Pauls and Hampton split their encounters during the home-and-away rounds, with Hampton impressively dismantling St Pauls most recently in Round 9.