HomeSportFootballNFNL Round 13 Div 3 Preview

NFNL Round 13 Div 3 Preview

You’ve busted a gut for close to 100 minutes, but your side is destined to lose. Do you drop your bundle in the final stages of the game, or do you fight it out?

It’s a question many players will face over the final six weeks of the home and away season in the Northern Football/Netball League (NFNL) Division 3 competition.

The obvious answer is to fight out the game, but as we all know, the tired mind thinks very differently.

With just percentage separating second to sixth after 12 rounds, the question appears more poignant this NFNL Division 1 season than any campaign in recent memory.

It could well be the ability in the face of defeat to deny your opponent a late goal, or, conversely, to sneak a few consolation goals in a losing effort that ultimately determines who plays finals and who misses out.

Round 13 is very much a season-defining round with the top-six sides all facing off against each other. It is headlined by the second grand final rematch of the year, when Bundoora makes the trip to De Winton Park to take on Macleod.

It appears a formality that Macleod will win its second-consecutive minor premiership, with its cushion at the top now four wins and percentage. They Roos can use the next six weeks to prepare for another finals campaign in the hope of improving on runners-up finishes over the past two years.

With a list of outs that included skipper Justin White, Ben Lennon, Nick Lynch, Reid Brandt, Chris Long and Billy Barden – the Roos were still able to secure their 11th win on the trot last weekend, downing Greensborough by 25 points at War Memorial Park.

Trailing by six points at half time, the ladder-leader was again able to break the game open in the third quarter – piling on five goals to two to open an 18-point lead. Since Round 7 the Roos have averaged 35 points in the third quarter, while conceding an average of just 9.

Anthony Doherty was the star last weekend, booting three goals and having a hand in multiple others to ensure his side’s winning streak continued. Jack Langford continued his good month, while Liam Brandt, Hamish Paynter and Lucas Hobbs won plenty of the ball.

Bundoora is very much shaping as the Roos’ biggest threat for the premiership and will take a five-game winning streak into this weekend’s clash after last week outlasting West Preston-Lakeside by 20 points at Yulong Reserve.

Despite West Preston-Lakeside seemingly having the upper-hand in a tight first half, the Bulls were able to stick tough and took a narrow four-point lead into half time. The arm wrestle continued in the third, with the Bulls turning for home three points ahead.

Bundoora was able to edge clear in the final quarter with five of the last seven goals. The result helped the Bulls push into third spot – four places higher than where they would have landed had they lost the match.

Peter Hood was best afield in his most impressive performance since crossing from the Fitzroy Stars, while Nathan Thomas was back to his best and capped his showing with three classy goals. Todd Hughes also kicked three, which was crucial in the absence of Gary Moorcroft.

Greensborough hosts Northcote Park in an outing that sees second take on fifth. The Cougars were 36 points to the good when the sides met in Round 9, however since then the Boro has displayed the better form.

With Jack Johnston, Charlie Molyneux, Dan McLinden, Josh Callaway, Matthew Haynes and Josh Grubb still out of the senior side, Greensborough was still within a kick of Macleod at the 18-minute mark of the fourth quarter last week – before being sunk by three late goals.

The result ended a run of three-straight wins for the Boro, although they still managed to hold on to second place on the ladder on the back of other results throughout the competition in Round 12.

Last week’s match was the first time this season the Boro have conceded 100 points in a match, with the 62 points coughed up after the main break the most they club has conceded in a half since North Heidelberg piled on 11 goals in the opening half of their Round 4 match.

Despite that, Nick Riddle was outstanding in defence and thwarted many Macleod attacking forays, while Ben Pannam played his best game at senior level and finished with three goals. Billy Murphy was again electrifying and kicked two outstanding goals.

Northcote Park bounced back quickly from a poor Round 11 loss by accounting for Whittlesea by 26 points at Bill Lawry Oval – improving its win-loss record to 7-5.

Ahead by 15 points at the main break, the Cougars put the result beyond doubt in the third quarter when they piled on seven goals to push the margin out to 34 points.

Ash Close was a constant threat in attack and finished with six majors to move into third place on the goal kicking table. It was his fourth bag of five goals or more for the season and pushed him within one goal of topping last year’s 38-goal tally – in six fewer games.

Luke Svarc was among the Cougars best players for the third week running, while youngsters Harrison Reid and Michael Amad again showed they are up to the grade with solid performances.

Heidelberg and North Heidelberg meet at Warringal Park for the second derby of the season, with both sides taking 7-5 records into the game. The home side may feel it has a score to settle after the Bulldogs romped to a 55-point win in Round 7.

Heidelberg secured its second win on the trot last week by taking down Hurstbridge in a shootout at Ben Frilay Oval. The Tigers booted a season-high 18.16 (124), which was the first time they have hit triple figures this year.

Ryan Stone and Chaz Sargeant (four goals) were pivotal in getting their side across the line in an entertaining game that saw 20 goals kicked after half time – a dozen of which went to the away side.

Giulian Fable and Jesse Cucinotta enjoyed their best matches at senior level for the Tigers, while Sam Grimley’s six-goal haul equalled his season best and brought him within four goals of topping his 2017 tally of 36 goals.

North Heidelberg continues to amaze in its first season back in the top flight and is now in fourth place as it aims to become the first reigning Division 2 premier to play finals in Division 1 the following year.

With six wins from its past seven starts, the belief at the Kennel is sky high and there is no reason the club can’t be a major contender in the finals should it be able to lock-in a place in the top-five by season’s end.

The Bulldogs put in a complete performance last weekend and won all four quarters to finish with a 64-point win over Montmorency – their biggest winning margin of the season.

It was the stars who led the way, with Brent Harvey, Liam Hunt and Brandon Bailey all among the best players, while Shane Harvey added four goals to open a two-goal buffer atop the goal kicking table. He was one of 11 goal kickers.

West Preston-Lakeside has slipped to seventh place on the ladder ahead of what now becomes a crunch game against Hurstbridge at J.E. Moore Park.

The Roosters were the biggest loser last weekend, sliding from third to seventh following their 20-point loss to Bundoora. A win would have pushed the Roosters into second spot. It’s a testament to the eveness of the competition that one result can have such an impact on the ladder.

Despite their current ladder position, the Roosters appear very much a premiership contender. Their sixth defeats have come at an average margin of just 13 points, with their biggest loss just 23 points. It means their percentage stands at a healthy 140.31 – second only to Macleod.

Last week Nathan Valladares and Mark Kovacevic both returned to the side and were among the best against the Bulls, while Jackson Clarke and Sam Glover continued strong campaigns.

Hurstbridge continues to loom as a dangerous opponent for sides fighting for a finals place, despite its losing streak extending to seven games following last week’s defeat at the hands of Heidelberg.

After a slow start, the Bridges produced a strong second quarter – booting five goals to close within two points of the Tigers. It was a 10-minute patch prior to three quarter time which proved costly, and ultimately led to the visitors claiming a 28-point win.

Travis Cloke was a big presence and capped a solid performance with three majors, while Riley Reading, Ryan Jackson and Jack Donnelly also provided good support.

Montmorency and Whittlesea will both be desperate to end long losing streaks when they square off at Montmorency Park. The Magpies have lost their past four, while the Eagles’ winless run extends to ten matches.

Montmorency has slipped two wins outside the top five and is starring down the barrel of a fourth-consecutive season without finals football. Since beating West Preston-Lakeside in Round 5, the Magpies have won just two matches – both against sides placed ninth and tenth on the ladder.

Last week they were no match for North Heidelberg – going down by 64 points in a one-sided game at Shelley Reserve. The Magpies were held goalless in two quarters and succumbed to their third loss by more than 10 goals this season.

The one positive was the performance of Blake Murphy, who played his best game at senior level in his ninth game. Ben Kennedy and Sam Binion yet again tried to inspire their side, while Jake Potter also played well.

Whittlesea has shown signs of improvement over the past fortnight and will view this week’s game as a winnable one as it looks to avoid relegation and earn a fourth-consecutive season in the top flight.

The Eagles produced three competitive quarters against Northcote Park but were made to pay for a poor third term – where the home side piled on seven of their 16 goals for the afternoon.

Paul Higgins was lively around goals and finished with a team-high four majors, while Clancy Bland kicked two majors in his return to the side after missing the loss to Greensborough a week earlier. Blake Watson also impressed as 23rd man and featured among the best players.

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