DEAKIN MID-SEASON REVIEW #2

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 By Matt Fotia

Whilst an enforced fortnight hiatus from action was never in anyone’s ideal planning, the competition break has given clubs time to take stock, look at what’s working, what isn’t working and figure out how they can hit the ground running when the EFNL returns.

And if you’re outside the inner sanctum, don’t stress, cause we’ve done it too in our Deakin University Mid-Season Reviews.

Blackburn

Pos: 5th(Premier)

W-L: 3-3

Percentage: 110%

For (Rank): 83.1 Points Per Game (4th)

Against (Rank): 75.8 (6th)

Leading Goalkicker: Ryan Bathie (15)

Best + Fairest Leader: Mackenzie Doriean

The 2019 Runners Up are doing just enough at the moment.

Yet to win a game at home, albeit against three pretty strong teams, the Burners have an unblemished away record to thank for their spot in the top five – which won’t be enough following a covid induced season reshuffle – but will want to kick into gear after the break.

Statistically the Burners are trending well and will be anxiously waiting the return of star forward Jake Hammond.

The Burners lead the competition in Inside 50’s – Box Hill listed youngster Mackenzie Doriean averages 6.5 a game to go with 18.5 disposals and 4.8 tackles – and know that Hammond will turn those entries into goals.

Games against Norwood and Vermont loom large for the Burners if they’re to make another assault on the premiership.

Grade – C

East Ringwood

Pos: 2nd (Division One)

W-L: 6-1

Percentage: 189%

For (Rank): 86.4(2nd)

Against (Rank): 45.4(1st)

Leading Goalkicker: Alex McIntosh (13)

Best + Fairest Leader: Joshua Weightman

The watertight Roos are looking the goods in 2021. No side has scored more than 59 points against East Ringwood this season and Ben Osborne’s men have taken some big scalps on their journey so far.

Round One’s win over Croydon was a big kickstart to the year and their nail-biting victory over Mooroolbark showed just how good their defence is. Their attack isn’t half bad either, barring the finish.

East Ringwood average 25 scoring shots a game in 2021 but are going at 49.1% in front of the big ones – straighten that up and they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Their age demographic is good too, with the likes of Sahaf Ali (6 goals, 3 times in best), Jackson Weatherill and Marcus Kane learning off the likes of James Belo (13 goals), Joshua Weightman, Dale Walker and Chris Cerni.

Grade – A

Knox

Pos: 7th (Division Two)

W-L: 1-6

Percentage: 50%

For (Rank): 44.1(7th)

Against (Rank): 86.8 (7th)

Leading Goalkicker: Lachlan Stuckey (4)

Best + Fairest Leader: Mitchell Greaves

Thank Christ for Mitchell Greaves.

The Knox star has been one of, if not the only, shining light for the Falcons in 2021 as they’ve sunk to 7th in Division Two. The Win/Loss ratio won’t be the main problem for coach Brendan Whitecross – they’re playing in a tough division – rather the margin between them and the six teams above them.

They’ve kicked over six goals on just one occasion and no player has more than four goals for the season, a pretty alarming stat for a club like Knox.

Reports from other coaches are that the margin is a bit of lie when it comes to the difference between Knox and the top six, but the Falcons will want to show that on the scoreboard after the break.

Grade – D

Ferntree Gully

Pos: 2nd (Division Three)

W-L: 5-1

Percentage: 137%

For (Rank): 93.3 (2nd)

Against (Rank): 68 (3rd)

Leading Goalkicker: Kieran Gray (14)

Best + Fairest Leader: Kieran Gray

The Eagles are motoring along just fine.

Just the one slip up against top of the table Warrandyte for the lads from Wally Tew, whilst the rest of their performances have been fairly eye-catching.

A 10 goal win over the Waverley Blues was nice, whilst having 26 scoring shots against the miserly Donvale defence was even better. Kieran Gray has been ultra-impressive, kicking 14 goals and appearing in the best four times out of six, whilst Daniel De Ieso continues to get the job done.

Young star Corey Preston has been a cut above when he’s played but expect him to spend more time at Eastern Ranges than Ferntree Gully for the remainder of the year, given he nominated for the mid-season draft.

The club is heading in the right direction all over the board, with their Reserves (3rd) and Under 19’s (2nd) also in the hunt for the flag.

Grade – A

Croydon North MLOC

Pos: 7th (Division Four)

W-L: 1-5

Percentage: 26%

For (Rank): 39.3 (8th)

Against (Rank): 148.8 (7th)

Leading Goalkicker: Samuel D’Argenio (8)

Best + Fairest Leader: Zac Leacy

All about that win against Nunawading for the time being and the momentum it created should hopefully kickstart this club.

Arguably more impressive was their effort against Forest Hill the following week, when they matched the Zebras for lengthy periods of the game. The most important thing for the back half of the year is to make sure they don’t let this opportunity slip and live off that one win.

Zac Leacy, Connor Penman, Mark Harrison and Sam Currie have stood up week in, week out, whilst Darcy Price is giving his skipper a run for his money in the goal kicking stakes.

With almost a full quota of sides across both sports (just missing an Under 19’s) the atmosphere at the club is something to admire given the club is still in its infancy.

Grade – A

Fairpark

Pos: 9th

W-L: 0-6

Percentage: 54%

For (Rank): 52.8(9th)

Against (Rank): 98.3(9th)

Leading Goalkicker: Ben Dadswell (7)

Best + Fairest Leader: Cooper Bevis-Chedgey

One of a few clubs who had all of the energy sapped out of the club in 2020, and you can’t help but think how the club would be sitting if they’d been able to roll into the season off the back of that premiership.

The last minute departure of James Gough has been a killer, with the Lions really struggling in front of the sticks – they’re yet to have a game where they’ve kicked more goals than behinds in 2021.

They have been in games, most notably their Round Three game against Scoresby where they trailed by one point at halftime but kicked 0.9 to 4.6 after half time and their Round Six duel with Warrandyte, where the Lions were 16 points up at the main break before going down by 11 points.

Hopefully they’ve spent this break taking a collective deep breath and can use their performances against Scoresby and Warrandyte to drive them once we return.

After all, they’re just one win behind 8th.

Grade – D

Lilydale

Pos: 9th (Division One)

W-L: 1-6

Percentage: 48%

For (Rank): 49 (10th)

Against (Rank): 101.5 (10th)

Leading Goalkicker: Eden Champion (7)

Best + Fairest Leader: Jordan Jaworski

The end of this generational cycle has hit Lilydale right between the eyes.

Their departure list was well noted and can be used as an excuse, but their lack of depth has been exposed with the majority of its new playing list coming straight from the Under 19’s.

First year Coach Brendan Fulton has had to step away for personal reasons which adds salt to the wound, but they can take solace from the fact their youth is talented, if not match hardened.

The likes of Champion, Riley Clausen, Jackson Flint and Jack Nichols are reasons for fans to be optimistic for the long term future, but in the meantime, they’ll be hoping to tighten up the defence with the Falcons having conceded four 100+ scores in seven rounds.

The break came at the right time for the folks at the LSO.

Grade – D

Doncaster

Pos: 10th (Premier)

W-L: 1-4

Percentage: 57%

For (Rank): 60 (11th)

Against (Rank): 105 (10th)

Leading Goalkicker: Kyle Viccars (10)

Best + Fairest Leader: Jake Spencer

If Lilydale are happy the break came when it did, Doncaster will be fuming, as the Sharks looked to be finding their feet in season 2021 before the circuit breaker, with a number of key names poised to return.

Their 1-4 record includes games against the 2019 premier, runner up and the current ladder leaders. In two of those games the Sharks were up to their necks at half time.

Ex-Melbourne Ruckman Jake Spencer has taken all before him this year, with the big man averaging 46.2 hit-outs per game to go with his 21 disposals and 6.8 clearances. James Munks has also impressed, with the versatile marking wingman kicking two goals a game to go with his 4.4 marks and 3.4 Inside 50’s.

Grade – C

Doncaster East

Pos: 8th (Premier)

W-L: 1-4

Percentage: 88%

For (Rank): 75.6(6th)

Against (Rank): 85.6(9th)

Leading Goalkicker: Samuel Rowe (16)

Best + Fairest Leader: Jackson Green

What could’ve been Lions fans.

Doncaster East started the year with a very convincing win, against their local rivals, and two losses under a kick. They had many wondering whether a finals charge was on the cards. Maybe it was, but unfortunately the fortnight that followed has left them more worried about the other end of the table.

Steve Buckle will be a little bit concerned about the points against column, with the Lions shipping almost 15 goals a game in 2021. This might be down to their game-style, but could also be down to the fact they’ve played three of the top five.

Recruits Sam Rowe and Jackson Green have been impressive in their debut seasons, with the latter averaging 19 disposals, 5.4 clearances, 5 inside 50’s and 5 tackles a game. The Lions are also the number one contested mark side in the Division, averaging 16.4 a game. Jake Summers and Simon White lead the way on that front with 4.3 and 3.5 per game respectively.

The Lions have the list to stay up comfortably, but as they well know, football isn’t decided on paper.

Grade – B-

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