Eastland In + Under – Week 16

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By Matt Fotia

Local football means a lot to all of us and here at the EFNL we’re committed to giving you the analysis it deserves in the weekly Eastland In and Under column, where Media Manager Matt Fotia gives you his three key takeaways from the weekend that was.

 

  1. All class from Carrigan

Saturday’s Division Three top of the table clash confirmed a couple of things.

First, the Waverley Blues are going to take some beating in the race for the 2022 Premiership.

And secondly, that Darcy Carrigan is the best player in Division.

Carrigan, since moving to Coldstream from Croydon in his late junior years, is Coldstream through and through, having played around 200 club games given his time in the Under 19s, a small spattering of Reserves and 123 senior games.

Carrigan has been up to the senior standard since making his debut back in 2013 and has always been a forward-thinking player, averaging over a goal a game since his debut.

He snagged his 137th career major on the weekend when booted three goals from his 29 disposals, in a gallant Coldstream loss.

Since 2017 he has been incredibly consistent, named in the Cougars best players 49 times from a possible 74, kicking 107 goals.

His work rate is second to none, rarely heading to the bench despite getting plenty of ball at both ends of the ground – Carrigan averages over six inside 50’s and three rebound 50’s per game – and his awareness is next level, often a step ahead of his own teammates as he bites off a seemingly dangerous corridor kick, or surges inside 50 for a handball receive and long-range goal.

Not blessed with above average height or a power lifter’s build, Carrigan’s attack on the football and sheer determination still leaves his as one of the tougher inside midfielders in the Division, complementing his endurance and skill beautifully.

With a season average of 28.8 disposals – 10 contested – 6.7 clearances, 6.5 inside 50’s, 4.7 tackles and 5 score involvements a game, Carrigan is well on course to add to his 2018 Division Four league medal, despite allegedly carrying a fairly serious ankle injury.

Carrigan is one of those players who you would love to see up in the topflight for a season or two, to see whether his game stands up against the competition’s best, but his loyalty to Coldstream is another very admirable trait.

And who knows, the way he’s playing, Coldstream might continue to rise through the EFNL ranks themselves.

 

  1. What next for Whitehorse

Whitehorse successfully kept themselves in Division Three for another season on Saturday, with a strong win over Glen Waverley making it almost mathematically impossible for the Pioneers to be relegated, unless Fairpark produce a miracle this weekend against Warrandyte.

The Pioneers were aiming for finals when the season kicked off after a busy transfer window but have fallen a fair way short of the Division Three top four, currently sitting a game clear in sixth spot, four games behind 4th placed Donvale, but that doesn’t mean 2022 wasn’t a minor success.

Whitehorse finished up the truncated 2021 season in eighth position with three wins from 12 games, with a fairly one-dimensional attack (61.6 points per game) and an indifferent defence (86.2 points against per game).

With two games left in 2022 the Pioneers have scored five wins and have closed the gap between their for and against, currently averaging 70.2 points for a game, conceding around 77. Their percentage has also shot into the 90’s, up almost 20% from last season.

They’ve found a young forward to build their offence around in Daniel Horvat – who has 34 goals this season – and have added some more spread to their attack, with 25 players hitting the scoreboard this year.

2022 has also seen the Pioneers grab wins over Donvale (4th), Coldstream (3rd) and push Warrandyte (2nd) and Waverley Blues (1st) to their limits.

One thing that looms large for Whitehorse and their eventual improvement is their inability to win on the road. Springfield Park is a unique ground – dubbed the D for its odd wings – and they are clearly a much better side when gracing the ‘D’, owning a 5-2 record from their home fixtures this season. 2021 wasn’t as impressive, but they did get two of their three wins at home.

Contrastingly Whitehorse have won just one of their past 13 away games, with their last successful car trip coming against Fairpark last season, when they snuck home thanks to some accurate goal kicking.

So, the equation is simple for the folks from the ‘D’. Want to make finals?

Start winning on the road.

 

  1. And then there were three.

The race for fifth spot in Division Two remains wide open after another critical round of results, with The Basin faltering against East Burwood, Templestowe getting their second set of points over Boronia, Mulgrave dropping out after a shock loss to Knox and Heathmont putting Oakleigh to the sword.

The Jets are currently sitting in fifth on the ladder following a big two weeks against Knox and Oakleigh which saw their percentage improve drastically but have the weakest case of the three clubs on paper to player finals football.

Heathmont are yet to score a win against any of the top four – although they play East Burwood this weekend – and have lost both games to Boronia (4th) by an average of 64 points.

The Jets have failed to really get any synergy into their game this season. Their defence is the best of three competing clubs, but they lack a standout forward, experience and big bodies – both in terms of strength around the contest and aerial threat.

Heathmont will either need to buck the trend against the Rams this weekend, or hope the Dockers knock off The Basin, setting up their Round 18 clash with Templestowe as a play-off for fifth spot.

Templestowe have come from the wilderness to sit sixth on the ladder but are looking the most likely to match up against Boronia in the Division Two elimination final in a few weeks’ time.

Unlike Heathmont they’ve got a decent record against the top four, having beaten Boronia twice, defeated Ringwood on the road and lost to East Burwood after a buzzer beater from Ed McCutchan.

The Dockers best 22 is up there with any side in the division, with the likes of Cameron Cloke (32 goals), Matthew Nagel (23), Alex Brown, Michael Fogarty, Nick Batsanis, Toby Ryan, Max Otten, and Jai Hardwick leading lights on paper, allowing their second layer to blossom.

Their form over the past month has been very impressive, with four straight wins by an average of 32 points setting them up for a big last fortnight.

Win this weekend and they’ll put The Basin out of the running before welcoming Heathmont in an aforementioned play-off.

Down in seventh sit The Basin, who only have themselves to blame for the position they find themselves in, after some close early season losses set them on a dodgy path.

Boronia won’t want the Bears to sneak into the five given they’ve not been able to knock them off this season, and the top three will be wary of the Bears midfield firepower – Hallo, Gee, Goumas et al, should they finish up in fifth.

With Mitcham hosting the Division Two Finals this season The Basin become an even bigger threat given their strong performances at home this season – a notable small venue – most notably their big win over East Burwood back in Round Seven.

Win this weekend against Templestowe and The Bears should be fine – assuming Heathmont don’t beat both East Burwood and Templestowe – given their final fixture is against a Mulgrave side who fell out of the running this week.

We only know one thing for certain in the race for fifth in Division Two though, and that’s who Boronia will be cheering home.

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