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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.


Norwood spoil Kyle Martin’s return game

Bulls fans had been waiting almost 18 months to see Kyle Martin back on the field in the blue and yellow. On Saturday Afternoon, Martin returned to the field for the first time since the 2022 Grand Final when Noble Park played Norwood at Mullum Mullum Reserve.


A great return which saw Martin finish as the leading disposal-getter on the ground with 25 disposals, was only spoiled by a young Norwood outfit that held on for their first win of the 2024 season.


On the weekend, the senior Norwood side had a total of eleven teenagers running out onto the field. A transition year for the club, developing the youth and their transition into the senior side has been a focal point for the club in 2024. Some promising signs in the opening five rounds finally all came together for a full four-quarter performance.


Norwood welcomed in Tom Highmore from Port Melbourne, who had an immediate impact, 23 disposals, and five important intercept marks, three of those coming in the final quarter when the game was on the line.


Noble Park hit the front late in the game before James Menzies kicked his third for the afternoon and the match-winner.


For the Bulls, it’s three losses in a row after a strong start to the season. It doesn’t get any easier as they host Blackburn this Saturday, before facing the undefeated Tigers in the annual King’s Birthday clash.


A successful return for Martin was the big positive out of the weekend as well as Bailey Lambert’s impressive eight-goal haul.


Park Orchards hold off Bayswater

The Sharks remain two games clear on top of the Division One ladder after outlasting a gallant Bayswater outfit at home in the Eastland Match of the Round.


Despite a dominant first quarter from the home side, 14 Inside 50s to Two, both sides finished the quarter with two goals each. Unable to capitalise early kept Bayswater in the hunt who evened things up in the second and third quarters as the game remained tight with two points or less the difference at all breaks.


Ben White continues to impress for the Waters, the leading disposal getter on the ground with 33. It’s the fourth time this season that the skipper has had 30 disposals or more, averaging 31 disposals for the season.


When the game was there to be won, the class of Park Orchards shined, starting with Michael Prosenak. A bull through the midfield, Prosenak had 24 disposals, also finishing with three clutch big-time goals for the Sharks.


A 19-point gritty victory marks the seventh straight victory for Park Orchards since re-joining Division One.


Reigning Premiers impress with third Quarter blitz

Mitcham had their biggest win of the 2024 season on the weekend, defeating North Ringwood at home by 85 points. The victory came off the back of a ten-goal to-zip third term. A dominant quarter saw the Tigers win all the key statistics, 22 more inside 50’s than the Saints, 16 more clearances, 30 more disposals and 13 more marks.


They punished the Saints mistakes by foot, who were going at 40% disposal efficiency, the Tigers kicking six of their ten third-quarter goals from turnovers.


Key Forward Jake Parente has returned to his best form over the last fortnight, with eleven goals from the Tigers’ last two encounters.


Defensively, the side was boosted by the return of Josh May and Zach Elms on the weekend. It was May’s first game of the 2024 season, after playing a vital role in last year’s premiership side.


All eyes now move ahead to a crucial two-week block before the King’s Birthday weekend bye when Mitcham takes on the top two teams of the division in Park Orchards and Beaconsfield.


Top-of-the-table clashes

Three Senior Women’s divisions saw three top-of-the-table clashes this weekend.


The Match of the Round out at Surrey Park Reserve saw the Panthers break away in the second half from the Waverley Blues for a 48-point victory. The two sides previously met in the Division Two Preliminary Final last season in which the Panthers came away with the victory.


What will impress the Surrey Park faithful is the deep list of goal kickers, four players kicking two majors each. At the other end of the ground, their defensive set-up worked wonders, keeping a strong Waverley Blues forward line to just two goals. The side has conceded only 35 points across five rounds, an average of just seven points per game.


Despite the result, the Waverley Blues will take plenty of learnings out of the contest as they prepare for this weekend’s clash with Blackburn. Emma White was brilliant for the side across the four quarters and Elise Hoole kicked two goals for the game, having kicked at least one goal in each game this season.


In Division Three, Mooroolbark continued their unbeaten run with a six-goal victory over the Eastern Devils. Similar to Surrey Park, it’s been the defence that’s impressed most in the opening five rounds. Only 24 points conceded for the season, in all but two quarters, Mooroolbark have held their oppositions goalless.


Having played both Under 18’s and Senior footy last season, Ruby Haberfield has been outstanding over the last couple of weeks. She’s been well assisted by the likes of Bella McMaster and Jordyn Forrest, both regulars in the side’s best players each week.


The Division Four top-of-the-table clash was a tale of two halves. Ferntree Gully led by five goals at Half Time before the Devils kicked the next six of seven goals in a thriller at Templeton Reserve. The Eagles held on for a one-point victory to remain undefeated after Round Five.


Both sides will take out plenty of positives from the clash, both possessing young talented lists. They both sit inside the top four, alongside Warrandyte and Bayswater. All four clubs have introduced or re-introduced their senior women’s teams in the last two seasons.

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