Published on June 14, 2019 2:44 am

PREVIEW: VFL Round 11

Aaron Fetter previews Round 11 of the Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL season, which sees a host of traditional rivals do battle and a competition favourite reach a big milestone.

CLICK HERE to view the Round 11 VFL teams

CLICK HERE for the media coverage

 

RICHMOND vs COBURG – Saturday 11am @ Holm Park (Casey Radio)

 

FORM THIS SEASON

Richmond (1st, 8-1) quickly put its round 9 shock loss to North Melbourne behind it, kicking away from a gallant Geelong to maintain its four-point buffer at the top of the VFL ladder. Coburg (14th, 1-8) slumped to its sixth straight loss after falling 17 points short against Northern Blues in the Battle of Bell Street. It was their fourth defeat under three goals this season.

 

KEY QUESTION

If Coburg starts well are they a sneaky chance? The Lions have been super competitive in patches this season, but untimely lapses have cost them at least four wins, three against current top eight teams. They’ve been slow starters which hasn’t helped their cause, but Richmond could be ripe for the picking. They themselves have been slow out of the blocks over the past month and the injury toll at AFL level has tested their depth. The Lions have been a more attacking side this season and are ranked inside the top eight for points scored. Sam Lowson’s injury hurt, but they’ve found an instant hit in Hedley Smith who kicked five goals on debut last week. Richmond’s engine room is likely to be young and will come up against a strong Coburg midfield who boast three players in the top seven for disposals in the competition; Marcus Lentini (av. 27.9), Luke Bunker (24) and Lochie Dickson (24). The unfamiliar surrounds of Beaconsfield may throw up a surprise or two.

KEY STAT

If history is anything to go by, then Coburg should brace for impact. Richmond has won the past three encounters against the Lions by an average margin of 77.6 points. The Lions have markedly improved and matured under Leigh Adams and will enter this clash with genuine belief, regardless of what the history books say.

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NORTHERN BLUES vs FOOTSCRAY – Saturday 1 pm @ IKON Park (Video stream / SEN 2)

 

FORM THIS SEASON

The Northern Blues (7th, 5-3) were challenged by Coburg in this season’s edition of the Battle of Bell Street but held on for an important 17-point win in the club’s heritage-themed fixture. The result snapped a two-game losing streak and kept them half a game inside the top eight. Before the bye, Footscray (5th, 5-1-2) tasted defeat for the first time since round four after Geelong stole a one-point win in a low-scoring tussle at Whitten Oval.

 

KEY QUESTION

Can the Blues’ threatening forward line dominate the Dogs’ stingy defence? Footscray has proven difficult to score heavily against this season, conceding 61.3 points a game, the third least in the competition. Fletcher Roberts, Lewis Young and VFL-listed pair Josh Prudden and Reuben William have been pivotal cogs in the Bulldogs’ dour defence. But they’ll be tested against the Blues who this round boast a host of natural goalkickers. Pat Kerr is third on the VFL goalkicking table, while Tom De Koning, Alex Fasolo, Jack Silvagni, Darcy Lang and Jesse Palmer loom as a dangerous attacking mix.

 

KEY STAT

The past three fixtures between these sides have been played at Ikon Park and they’ve been absolute thrillers. Round 13 last year, the Dogs prevailed by a straight kick, round 16, 2017 they won by 13 points and round 16, 2016 it was the Blues who claimed victory by six points. This clash is flushed with AFL talent. Expect a high quality and typically tight contest.

 

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ESSENDON vs BOX HILL – Saturday 2 pm @ Windy Hill (3WBC)

 

FORM THIS SEASON

Since opening the season with four consecutive wins, Essendon’s (3rd, 6-2) form has been inconsistent. Before the bye, they got the points over the Northern Blues after a three-quarter arm wrestle. Also coming off the break, the reigning premiers Box Hill (9th, 4-1-3) are yet to hit their straps and are situated outside the top eight with three losses and a draw to their name.

KEY QUESTION

Can the Hawks disturb the Dons’ balance? Despite sitting third on the ladder behind Port Melbourne and Richmond, Essendon has been arguably the most balanced side so far this season. They are the number one ranked team in attack and defence. An even spread of contributors up forward has helped them average an unrivalled 97.6 points a game, and the likes of Mitch Brown, swingmen Aaron Francis and Jordan Ridley, along with goalkicking midfielders David Myers and Trent Mynott will cause some headaches for a Box Hill back six missing intercept king Kaiden Brand. At the other end of the ground, the Dons are the only side to average less than ten goals against a game. The combination of veterans Michael Hartley, Matt Dea and Ben McNiece, together with developing trio Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Marty Gleeson and Aaron Heppell makes for a well-balanced defensive unit.

 

KEY STAT

Second-year rangy forward Jackson Ross has kicked 19 goals in seven games for the Hawks and is second in the ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal race behind Port Melbourne’s Jordan Lisle. If his consistent VFL goalkicking form continues, an AFL debut won’t be far away.

 

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FRANKSTON vs NORTH MELBOURNE – Sunday 2pm @ Skybus Stadium

 

FORM THIS SEASON

Frankston (15th, 0-8) are bottom and winless, but a super competitive five-week block has them on the cusp of a drought-breaking victory. Danny Ryan’s men were within a goal of Port Melbourne at half-time last round, but were overwhelmed after that. Similarly, North Melbourne (13th, 2-7) has had an improved stretch of form after starting the season with five losses, but have only two wins to show for it.

KEY QUESTION

Will we see a repeat of round 3 last year? Frankston marked its return to the VFL in 2018 with an old-fashioned shootout (129 – 116) against North Melbourne at home to record its first of two wins for the season. In 2019 the Dolphins and Roos are the only two sides who have leaked over 100 points a game. Despite averaging less than 50 points an outing, a league-low, can the Dolphins break the shackles and kick a winning score?

 

KEY STAT

Former Kangaroo Will Fordham has been one of Frankston’s most consistent contributors this season, matching it in the middle with more credentialed opposition. He’s averaging 23 disposals a game and is coming off his best performance for the year; 29 disposals, eight marks, five tackles and a goal against a star-studded Port Melbourne engine room.

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SANDRINGHAM vs WERRIBEE – SUNDAY 2.10pm @ Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval (Southern FM & Casey Radio)

 

FORM THIS SEASON

Narrow losses in rounds 6 and 7 to Port Melbourne and Footscray respectively evened the win/loss ratio for Werribee (6th, 5-3) after a strong start to the season, but consecutive wins against Frankston and Casey before the bye has positioned the club for an assault on the top four. After heavy defeats in the opening two rounds, Sandringham (8th, 5-3) has bounced back and held its nerve, winning five of their past six games by an average margin of under 10 points.

 

KEY QUESTION

Can Sandy’s ‘Big Three’ be stopped?
A few big names have dropped off St Kilda’s injury list recently and have returned via the VFL to build up towards a senior return. On Sunday, Werribee will have to contend with Jake Carlisle, Dan Hannebery and Max King, among a group of up to 13 AFL-listed players. Carlisle will play his first game at any level this season after recovering from a back injury and will undoubtedly be a force down back. Hannebery made his return before the bye and was dominant on the inside, gathering 27 disposals and laying five tackles. The much-hyped King has made an instant impact, booting 10 goals in his first four games back from an ACL injury, with his contested marking a feature.

KEY STAT

Werribee’s on-ball brigade of Michael Barlow, Matt Hanson, Tom Gribble, Josh Clayton, Dom Brew and Joe Maishman are ranked fourth in the competition for disposals and have formed one of the most dominant midfield combinations. Similarly, Sandringham’s engine room of David Armitage, Hunter Clark, Brede Seccull, Kade Answerth and Nick Hind have also been a force this season and have benefited from Billy Longer’s dominance in the ruck. But with Longer injured, and Armitage, Clark and Hind called up by St Kilda, will the Zebras have the depth to cover?

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PORT MELBOURNE vs WILLIAMSTOWN – Sunday 2.10pm @ Adcon Stadium

 

FORM THIS SEASON

Port Melbourne (2nd, 7-2) started the season zip and two. Its first loss came in round 1 against Williamstown down at Downer Oval to the tune of ten points. Since, Gary Ayres’ men have strung seven wins in a row and are in outright second spot. Williamstown (4th, 6-3) has put some indifferent form behind it and have won three of the past four by comfortable margins.

KEY QUESTION

Could we be witnessing a grand final preview in June?
One of the VFL’s most enduring rivalries on the biggest day, wouldn’t that be something. And the way the season is progressing it’s certainly not out of the question. Gary Ayres’ juggernaut is gunning for an eighth straight victory, while Andy Collins’ Gulls will be out to snap the Borough’s streak, claim the storied Johnson-Callahan Cup and announce themselves as genuine contenders once again. As is common between these sides, there are multiple subplots. Williamstown’s Willie Wheeler will notch game 150 of a decorated VFL career that has produced multiple best and fairests and team of the year nods, and of course a premiership in 2015. Adding to this tantalising clash will be Willy champion and now Borough Ben Jolley doing battle against his former side for the second time this season.

KEY STAT

This fixture is steeped in history and the record books are in Willy’s favour. They’ve won six of the past eight against the Borough, although have fallen short in the last two meetings at Adcon Stadium. If you’re after a high-scoring, free-flowing clash, look elsewhere. Willy are the number one contested ball team and Port aren’t far behind. No matter the stage of the season, this clash always feels like a final and is played in that spirit. Neither team has cracked the ton in the past seven encounters.

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*ROUND 11 BYE – Casey Demons, Geelong Cats, Collingwood

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