Round 22: At A Glance
We look at all of the round 22 matches in the Peter Jackson VFL. A lot is on the line in the final round of the season, with every position from 1 - 9 able to change depending on results.
BENDIGO v BOX HILL HAWKS
Bendigo simply has to win its home game against Box Hill Hawks and it will play finals. But, that’s not as straight forwards as it may sound even though the Gold are playing at its home Queen Elizabeth Oval base. For openers, Bendigo hasn’t won at the QE Oval all season and even more significantly the Gold’s season appears to be in free fall. After winning six in a row mid-season to seemingly set up a legitimate shot of a top four finish, Bendigo has crashed losing its past five games. Admittedly, Bendigo has lost three of the five by 13-points or less, but both Port Melbourne and Geelong have thumped them by 53 and 67-points respectively. The slump has seen Bendigo drop from fifth with a healthy 112 percentage to eighth and its percentage below 100. Obviously, the injury concerns at affiliate club Essendon have had a domino effect at Bendigo. The resolve of all players, both Bendigo and Essendon, will be tested as they face this much win situation. Box Hill Hawks comes off a freshen-up after having the bye last round, and having challenged Port Melbourne before succumbing by three-points at the North Port Oval. The VFL Hawks are assured of playing finals, but they can’t climb into the top four. Box Hill Hawks best outcome rests on it defeating Bendigo and Sandringham losing. Such a scenario would elevate the VFL Hawks to sixth.
NORTH BALLARAT v PORT MELBOURNE
NORTH Ballarat could well know their fate before the ball is bounced at Eureka Stadium for its match against Port Melbourne. If Bendigo defeats Box Hill Hawks on Friday night then the Roosters will be consigned to missing the finals for the first time since 2005. While North Ballarat and Bendigo are equal on premiership points, Bendigo has an 8.8 percentage point buffer over the Roosters. If Bendigo won, North Ballarat would need to defeat Port Melbourne by 25 goals to bridge the percentage gap. North Ballarat comes off a bye after producing arguably its worst performance of the season when Werribee thrashed it by 82-points at Chirnside Park. The Roosters kicked its second ever lowest VFL score – 2.8. Port Melbourne comes off a comfortable 53-point win against Bendigo to keep in- tact its unbeaten home record this season. While they have been invincible at the North Port Oval, Port Melbourne has not travelled well this season. In fact, Port Melbourne has lost four of its past five away games. Its only win on the road in recent months was against Northern Blues in Round 17. Port Melbourne, which is locked on 52 points with Geelong and Casey, needs to win to ensure that it locks away top spot. Coach Gary Ayres isn’t concerned about the title of minor premiers, but he’s well aware that top spot brings with it a home final in the first week of the finals. And, if Port Melbourne wins the Qualifying Final then it will set up a home Preliminary Final. If Port Melbourne’s shocking road record continues then the Borough could easily fall to third if Geelong and Casey both win and that would spell a Qualifying Final away from the cosy confines of the North Port Oval. Should Port Melbourne again stumble on the road, but either Geelong or Casey lose then it will stay in the top two on the ladder given its vastly superior percentage. If Bendigo should lose to Box Hill Hawks then the stage is set for a ripping contest with plenty at stake for both North Ballarat and Port Melbourne.
NORTHERN BLUES v FRANKSTON
BRAGGING rights is all that’s on the line when Northern Blues and Frankston lock horns at Visy Park. Both the VFL Blues and Dolphins are consigned to finishing their football season well ahead of when both clubs would have liked. For Northern Blues it is the first time since 2007 they haven’t played finals and they played in back-to-back Grand Finals and a Preliminary Final in the past three seasons. Frankston will be looking to the match as a means to posting their best season’s record since 2008. The vagaries of the draw have pitted the clubs against each other for the second time within two months. When they last met in Round 15, Northern Blues emerged from its trip to Frankston with an eight-goal win. Northern Blues win against Frankston seemed to ignite a late season revival. After winning just one match in the first 14 rounds, Northern Blues have won four games including the scalps of Casey Scorpions at Casey Fields and Werribee. Adam macron is set to return to the Blues line up this weekend, and will be a handy replacement for round 21 match winner David Ellard, who has been recalled to Carlton’s side.
CASEY SCORPIONS v SANDRINGHAM
CASEY Scorpions can’t drop out of the top four and Sandringham can’t force its way into a double chance scenario.The Scorpions won’t slip below third if they lose, but they could climb into the coveted top two spots if either Port Melbourne or Geelong lose. Casey is locked with Port Melbourne and Geelong on 13 wins, but has the worst percentage of that group. After losing back-to-back games against Northern and Geelong, Casey returned to the winners list last week with a 45-point win against Collingwood. Sandringham, returning to the finals for the first time since 2007, comes off a 66-point loss against Williamstown, its second worst defeat of the season – they lost by 79-points against Werribee in Round 12. But, the Zebras had won its previous three games and they have a score to settle with Casey who took away a four-point win when the clubs last met at Trevor Barker Oval in Round 13.For Sandringham to advance up the ladder they need to defeat Casey and hope that Geelong defeat Williamstown.If both those results happen Sandringham would finish fifth and that would set up an Elimination Final against Bendigo or North Ballarat. If either one of those results don’t happen, then the Zebras Elimination Final opponent would be Box Hill Hawks. Casey cocaptain Kyle Matthews will return for his second senior game in a row, and his presence will be handy for the Scorpions leading into the finals.
GEELONG v WILLIAMSTOWN
A strong case could be made that Geelong and Williamstown are the hottest clubs heading into the finals. Geelong enters the final home and away round on the back of a club record and competition high this season nine game winning streak while the Seagulls have won its past five games. The Cats run stretches back to early June when they toppled Port Melbourne at Simonds Stadium, the venue for this match. They’ve won their past four games at Simonds Stadium although they struggled last round to put away Coburg Tigers before finally posting a 13-point win. During its streak Geelong has climbed from seventh with a percentage of 103 to second with a percentage of 125. Williamstown has regained its mojo after letting slip a Round 14 home game against North Ballarat, a seven point loss that saw the Seagulls drop out of the eight and raise genuine concerns if they would play finals. The Seagulls have regrouped and in a significant way. Included in its latest winning spree is wins against Port Melbourne, Werribee and Sandringham. Such has been the dramatic recovery from Williamstown that they now have a shot of lifting themselves into the top four. For Williamstown to move to fourth, the highest they can ascend, they need to defeat Geelong and then hope former aligned partner Collingwood can do them a favour by defeating Werribee. Such a scenario would see Williamstown and Werribee trade places on the ladder. While Geelong can’t fall out of the top four they also can’t host a final because of commitments at Simonds Stadium. But the Cats know if they win they will, in all likelihood, play a Qualifying Final at a neutral venue. When Geelong and Williamstown last met it was on Easter Sunday at Torquay where the Cats emerged from an enthralling match with a seven-point win. If the Cats win and North Ballarat defeats Port Melbourne then Geelong will climb to the top of the Peter Jackson VFL ladder. This would consign Williamstown to an Elimination Final.
COLLINGWOOD v WERRIBEE
COLLINGWOOD doesn’t have fond memories of playing Werribee which inflicted a thumping 109-point defeat when the clubs met in Round 10. Werribee kicked its season’s highest score – 26.18 – against Collingwood, but that match was at Chirnside Park and this game is at Victoria Park. The VFL Magpies last win at Victoria Park was in Round 14 when they defeated Frankston by 22-points. Last week Collingwood lost its home game against Casey Scorpions by 45-points while Werribee is coming to terms of its own defeat at the hands of Northern Blues. That upset loss ruined any hope Werribee had of finishing in the top two and it put them in a situation where they have to defeat Collingwood to retain the coveted double chance. Victory against Collingwood will cement Werribee into fourth spot and set up a Qualifying Final against either Port Melbourne, Geelong or Casey depending on the results. But, if Collingwood upsets Werribee and Williamstown defeats Geelong then the Tigers will slip to fifth and find themselves in an Elimination Final.
Please note the 23rd Players for this weekend:
Bendigo Gold – Jake Stringer (Bendigo Pioneers, Jumper No. 15)
Box Hill Hawks – Jackson Bolton
Casey Scorpions – Luke Thompson
Collingwood – Tom Hargreaves (Murray Bushrangers, Jumper No. 39)
Frankston – Dale Sutton
Geelong Cats – Lonnie Hampton (Murray Bushrangers, Jumper No. 71)
Northern Blues – Sean Bolger (Northern Knights, Jumper No. 47)
Port Melbourne – Damian Mascitti
Sandringham – Ned Fallon
Werribee Tigers – Willis Flanders (Geelong Falcons, Jumper No. 43)
Williamstown – Shaun Wyatt