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Eastland’s In and Under column returns this week, Media Manager Ryan Long gives you his key takeaways from the latest weekend of local footy.


New Year, New Division, Great Improvements


Both Doncaster and Lilydale, have started off the 2024 season in new divisions with plenty of promise.


Both clubs have won consecutive games in the last two weeks after tough seasons on the field in 2023.


Doncaster went on the road this week, defeating North Ringwood at Quambee Reserve by 18 points. The Sharks hurt the Saints via the turnover game, capitalising on their mistakes, with 48 per cent of their score source coming off turnovers. 


Tristan Van Driel backed up his 5-goal performance last week with another five goals in the victory. Van Driel had 24 disposals to go along with his five majors. A great start to the season in new colours, after moving from Balwyn last season.


Angelo Rambaldi, another key star to the line-up, was once again influential from his 29 disposals, averaging 19 kicks per game this season.


The Sharks are looking to make it three on the trot this weekend when they face the reigning premiers, Mitcham, at Schramms Reserve.


As for Lilydale, their move into Division Two has seen the club find their feet.


The opening three rounds of the season before they broke through for a special drought-breaking win, showcased the potential of their young list. After some near misses, they’ve played two four-quarter performances against the Jets and Bears for back-to-back wins.


Mitch De Franceschi was fantastic around the contest in last weekend’s win over The Basin, with 21 disposals and 10 tackles. Riley Clausen and Patrick Klep both led the way as the major ball winners for the Falcons, with 24 and 23 disposals respectively.


Winning the inside battle, Lilydale had 12 extra Inside 50’s and 11 more clearances than The Basin. Their pressure without the footy was just as impressive, laying 23 more tackles than the Bears.


It’s a big test this weekend when they host Ringwood but the young group is continuing to build off that momentum which makes this a very exciting time at the club. 



The closest Division Four competition we’ve seen?


In recent memory, there’s been a significant difference between the top side of Division Four and the bottom.


This year, after five rounds, it may be the closest we’ve seen Division Four in quite some time. There’s no clear front runner with the entire top four of Scoresby, Whitehorse, Chirnside Park and Kilsyth all locked on three wins each. 


On their day, any of the top four sides look like a premiership contender. 


Whitehorse’s big win on the weekend against Scoresby shows the advantage of their uniquely shaped ground, one they play at exceptionally well. Daniel Horvat starred with seven majors, having a shoot-out with Scoresby’s Adam Amin who booted another 7, taking his tally to 31 after five rounds.


Tom Young has also been one of the leading goal-kickers of the division in the opening month, he’s finished with at least five majors in each contest. 


Playing Coach Andrew Haining certainly hasn’t lost his touch on the field and will be a vital key in the success of the Pioneers going forward in 2024.


One of the biggest surprises of the weekend came at Forest Hill Reserve where the Zebras took on every challenge presented to them, coming away with an impressive 24-point win over Chirnside Park. 


It’s been a transition period for the club with a new coach, and a young list with many players coming up from their Under 19’s program. Sonny Doherty starred this week for the Zebras. After getting a taste of senior football over the last two seasons, he put together his best performance of the season to date in a great win for the club.




Benchmark of the Senior Women’s Competition


It’s top-quality Women’s football of the highest order this Saturday when the Eastern Devils host South Croydon at Mulgrave Reserve.


A premier division clash between the two top sides is set to be a classic. 


Both the Devils and Dogs have started their 2024 season campaigns off with a 3-0 start, possessing a strong ability to hit the scoreboard through multiple avenues to goals. Taylah Black and Tanikka Martin have 19 goals between them from a South Croydon perspective, while Shelley Beggs and Nicole Price have combined for 19 themselves for the Devils.


The two clubs met in the Grand Final in 2022, with the Devils winning the first of their back-to-back flags. 


Despite all results of their matchups going in favour of the Eastern Devils, the two clubs have gone head-to-head in some fantastic contests over the last couple of seasons.


A big day this Saturday at Mulgrave Reserve, the Division Three reserves teams will play off at 10:40 am before the two Premier Division senior teams run out at 12:30 pm.

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