This week’s round of Peter Jackson VFL action features a number of matches where defeat could prove extremely costly for finals’ calculations, writes Mitch Wynd.
The match between Casey Demons and the Northern Blues shapes up as the one where most can be won and lost depending on the results from the weekend.
Last time these two sides faced each other, it was the Northern Blues who claimed the victory by 55 points. Kristian Jaksch led the way up forward with 5.2 as the Blues led all day, and eyed a possible triple-figure victory at one point early in the final quarter. Sam Kerridge had 30 disposals for the Blues while Alex Neal-Bullen and James Harmes both had 34 disposals each for the Demons.
The Blues have been down, but they are certainly not out. A win this weekend will keep them in the hunt for finals, as Collingwood and Sandringham start to contend for the same position. Casey have won three straight after the bye, and are trying to put pressure on Richmond and Port Melbourne for the all-important fourth place and double chance. Two seasons on the line in this match.
Other matches this round include:
GEELONG v RICHMOND (12th v 5th)
LAST TIME THEY MET – Richmond 18.18.126 vs. Geelong 12.5.77 – 2017 Round 9 @ Punt Road Oval
Richmond are one of several teams looking to take fourth place and earn the double chance. Geelong, meanwhile, are likely to remain in 12th after what has been a challenging season. A positive to take out of 2017 so far for the Cats had been the form of James Tsitas. From 15 matches, he had averaged 25.1 disposals per match with 10.6 contested per match, but will miss the rest of the season through injury, meaning the Cats will need to find a replacement ball user through the middle.
PORT MELBOURNE v COBURG (4th v 13th)
LAST TIME THEY MET – Coburg 8.6.54 vs. Port Melbourne 18.10.118 – 2017 Round 9 @ Piranha Park
Port Melbourne have been a team that like to control possession, particularly by foot. Eli Templeton (254) and Damian Mascitti (225) are in positions one and two when it comes to kicks in the league, and unsurprisingly, Port Melbourne feature highly in the marks category (1489). Coach Gary Ayres will lead the team for the 200th time.
Coburg, by contrast, are the second-lowest kicking (2574) team in the league, with a game style markedly different to the Borough. The Lions will be aiming for at least one more win this season to farewell coach Peter German, who will step down at year’s end.
ESSENDON v BOX HILL HAWKS (7th v 1st)
LAST TIME THEY MET – Essendon 15.5.95 vs. Box Hill 13.14.92 – 2016 Round 15 @ Windy Hill
Essendon are in the busy lower region of the top eight that is being hotly contested by several clubs. A victory over the top-placed Box Hill Hawks would not only help them maintain, but would give them the confidence that a big scalp ahead of finals time brings.
Box Hill have been fantastic this season, and with the finals quickly approaching, they cannot afford any late slip-ups that would undo much of their good work. Williamstown are lurking as the major challengers to Box Hill’s top spot on the ladder, and the pressure is on the Hawks to maintain their form.
COLLINGWOOD v NORTH BALLARAT (10th v 14th)
LAST TIME THEY MET – North Ballarat 2.7.19 vs. Collingwood 13.12.90 – 2016 Round 14 @ MARS Stadium
Collingwood have struggled at times this year, and yet they continue to deliver big results when up against teams that are fancied to beat them. Now a genuine threat to break into the top eight, the Magpies have the competitions’ leading goal kicker in Kayle Kirby, and lead all other teams in disposals.
North Ballarat, however, are the competition’s second-lowest scorers and lowest in terms of total disposals. They’ve had a tough season, but have shown signs that they can compete with their opposition winning a number of quarters over recent months.
WILLIAMSTOWN v WERRIBEE (2nd v 8th)
LAST TIME THEY MET – Werribee 9.9.63 vs. Williamstown 20.17.137 – 2016 Round 5 @ Avalon Airport Oval
Williamstown are looking for victory to keep them nipping at the heels of Box Hill, hoping that any slip-up from the ladder leaders can see them take their place on top of the ladder. The Seagulls lead the competition in a few key stats – clearances (690), inside-50s (876), and contested possessions (2406). These stats back up Williamstown’s good performances this season, they go in hard, get their hands on the ball and effectively get it forward. It will be a big milestone day for the Seagulls with captain Ben Jolley playing game 250 and coach Andy Collins in charge for his 200th VFL game.
Werribee though, have the individual leader for both clearances (96) and inside-50s (78) in Matt Hanson. He also comes in second for tackles (114), and fourth for contested possessions (189), indicating that he likes it best in the rough and tumble of the contest.
BYES – Footscray, Sandringham