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Gulls meet a fork in the road

May 16, 2023

By Sports Desk


Cranbourne will hope it’s a case of history repeating itself.

For the first time since round 14 and 15 last year, 16 and 30 July, the Eagles have had back-to-back losses.

From there, Cranbourne found its groove, outscoring their opponents 56 goals to 13 in the last three weeks of the home and away season.

The only remaining loss was a qualifying final to Cheltenham before the Eagles stormed home in the grand final.

This season, the losses have come against premiership favourites Cheltenham, and sixth-placed St Paul’s McKinnon in between the bye.

The Cheltenham game was an ugly one which would have hardened the group, firmly demonstrating the level to be at come September.

The loss to the Doggies was a surprise one, kept goalless in the second half after leading by 20 points at the big break.

Steve O’Brien’s men have Port Melbourne this Saturday and will be desperate to get the four points and reclaim second spot on the ladder.

While they have fallen to third, destiny remains for now in Cranbourne’s hands, as they face Springvale Districts on the run home.

A loss on Saturday, though, and Dingley will likely go past them, underlining the importance of bouncing back.

Port Melbourne got the better of them earlier in the season in an excellent match of footy.

The high scoring loss was due to poor discipline at junctures of the game they could ill afford to concede.

Such lapses could have grave consequences this time around.

Brandon Osborne will hope to replicate his performance on Chan Hargraves, who he kept to one goal last time.

The midfield will face another enormous test, against the experience of Port Melbourne, but it was Harley Bennell who gave the Colts a point of difference this time and he’ll be absent on Saturday.

Port will, however, have fire in the belly themselves, for St Paul’s winning on the weekend has loosened its grip on a top five spot.

Both teams have plenty to play for in a ladder-shaping match.


Division 1: CRANBOURNE v Port Melbourne Colts, BENTLEIGH v Mordialloc, CHELTENHAM v Springvale Districts, ST PAUL’S McKINNON v Chelsea Heights, DINGLEY V ST KILDA CITY

Division 2: Black Rock v EAST MALVERN, DOVETON DOVES v Caulfield, HAMPTON PARK v Skye, Highett v MURRUMBEENA, KEYSBOROUGH v East Brighton


The premiership defence of Tooradin-Dalmore meets a fork in the road on Saturday when the reigning champs hit the bitumen to take on top-of-the-table Inverloch-Kongwak.

Veer left at Winning St and the Seagulls are a huge chance of finishing top two and earning a coveted double-chance in September.

But take the alternative rout; that bumpy old Losing Boulevard…and the Seagulls are set for a long and arduous trek in order to defend their crown.

You get the feeling we’ll look back on this round-16 clash as the season-defining moment for the Gulls.

These two met on a shocking day for footy at Tooradin in round 11…just prior to the bye…and it was Inverloch’s midfield that set the scene for victory.

Tooradin-gun Brent Macaffer looked hampered with a back complaint that day, and then missed round 12 through injury, but has bounced back to his imperious best…particularly over the last fortnight.

The challenge for Macaffer, Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds, Liam Adams, Andrew Proctor and ruck Will Lumby is to at least break even in the pivot.

That will provide Julian Suarez, Stewie Scanlon, Brad Butler…and Adam Oxley on occasions…with some better looks than they had in round 11.

But it won’t be an easy task, because Inverloch’s midfield is really well balanced.

Oscar Toussaint is a star of the competition – a genuine goal-kicking mid – while the name Andy Soumilas has sent a shiver up opposition players for the best part of two decades.

Throw in Ethan Park, Will Hams and the under-rated Lachlan Scott and you can start to imagine what Macaffer and Co are up against.

It will be very tough in the clinches on Saturday, as Clinton McCaughan and Marcus Toussaint look to assert ruck dominance over Lumby.

This will be a great game of footy as Tooradin looks to test itself against a quality opponent for the last time heading into finals.

But it’s a test they will just fall short in…with Inverloch to win by five points.

It will be a special occasion at Cora Lynn on Saturday as the Cobras celebrate the career of four-time premiership player – three as captain – Tim Payne.

The Cobras match against Phillip Island provides a fitting backdrop to game 300 for Payne…who first played seniors at the age of 16.

This week’s contest – between second and fifth – really means something, and that’s when the Cobras’ skipper has been at his absolute best.

The Cobras matched motors with the Bulldogs for three quarters – at Cowes in round nine – but a 7.3 to 1.1 third term gave the home side the impetus for a 31-point victory.

Payne and the key-defenders did their job well that day, keeping the Bulldogs big-boys quiet, but five goals to Billy Taylor, and three to Orlando Kane-Gillard buried the Cobras in brutal fashion.

And speaking of goal-kickers, Cobras’ ace Nathan Gardiner is coming off a 12-goal haul against Garfield last week and is in peak-form and ready to take on the Doggies.

He has 85 goals, with three home-and-away games remaining…so a nice little handful would certainly help his cause as he chases 100 goals for the season.

Emotion and spirit, taking on the highest scoring team in the WGFNC this year – this really is mouth-watering.

But it’s the Bulldogs class to get it home…by 13 hard-fought points!

In other games this week, Nar Nar Goon will have an easy time of things at home against Korumburra-Bena, while Warragul Industrials will look to make it three wins on the bounce against Dalyston.

This is the venue where the Dusties lost an extra-time preliminary final against Phillip Island last year…so expect some sweat and goosebumps when they drive into the ground on Saturday.

Kooweerup will chalk up win number five against a battling but brave Bunyip, while Garfield hosts Kilcunda-Bass in what appears to be a very even contest.

Expect the class of Taylor Gibson, Nathan Foote and Dale Gawley to get the Panthers home in a tight one.

TIPS – Round 16

Cora Lynn v PHILLIP ISLAND, Dalyston v WARRAGUL INDUSTRIALS, Garfield v KILCUNDA-BASS, INVERLOCH-KONGWAK v Tooradin-Dalmore, KOOWEERUP v Bunyip, NAR NAR GOON v Korumburra-Bena.


It’s a good time of year to have a bye in the Outer East Premier Division.

Fresh off an important win against Pakenham in round 14, Upwey Tecoma will put its feet up and cash-in another four points on the table.

Unless Pakenham can do the unthinkable and thrash Wandin to the point of improving its percentage by 20, the Tigers will hold on to fourth for yet another week.

But should Wandin do as expected, and beat the Lions, Pakenham risk falling out of the top five all-together.

It adds another layer of importance to Mt Evelyn’s game against Monbulk, with the winner likely to snatch Pakenham’s spot in the five.

Both the Rovers and Hawks are tied on 24 points, one game back from Pakenham’s 28 and all three within six percentage points of one-another.

Had Mt Evelyn kicked straight in the corresponding clash back in round six, they would have got the better of Monbulk, having taken 24 shots on goal to 19.

Expect the Rovers to be breathing fire in the return bout, having been sorely beaten at home last week, while Monbulk will be fresh from a week off.

At Gembrook, the Brookers’ fight to keep their spot in Premier Division faces another significant hurdle in the form of Woori Yallock.

The earlier clash between these two netted the Brookers its most recent win at the end of May, with fortunes taking a sour turn in the two months since.

By contrast, Woori Yallock has lost just twice in that period, to the clear two contenders in Narre Warren and Wandin, as they prepare to go one-better than they did in 2022 with finals approaching.

A win would mean plenty for Brad Coller’s side, currently at the foot of the table and seeking to retain its place in the top flight.

Meanwhile, Narre Warren head to Olinda Ferny Creek to tackle a resurgent Bloods side.

Despite winning just one of their last three, the Bloods have taken the fight right up to Wandin and Woori Yallock in recent weeks before thrashing Mt Evelyn by 10 goals at home in round 14.

Will Howe kicked 11 when the sides last met in a 145-point win to the Magpies at home, but it would be a shock to hear that he had the same freedom in this one.


Second place will be up for grabs in Berwick Springs’ clash with Seville at Mick Morland Reserve.

Seville thrashed the Titans by 108 points in round 13 meaning the Titans will be out for revenge.

With one less fixture in the season, a win carries more weight for the Titans due to the implementation of match ratio percentage in the Division One table.

The winner will be in the box-seat to finish in the top two and earn a double-chance in the first week of the finals, but with three rounds of football to come after round 15, there’s still plenty of wriggle-room.

While in the middle of the table, Officer and Healesville’s scrap for fourth continues at separate venues where both sides are expected to bag another victory.

Officer head to Belgrave while Healesville welcome Hallam, with wins taking both to seven wins and an even match ratio percentage.

Emerald will watch the chaos unfold from top spot as they enjoy a week off.


Premier Division: Gembrook Cockatoo v WOORI YALLOCK, Pakenham v WANDIN, MT EVELYN v Monbulk, Olinda Ferny Creek v NARRE WARREN.

Division One: HEALESVILLE v Hallam, Belgrave v OFFICER, BERWICK SPRINGS v Seville.