The Regular Season has finally come to a close for 2016. It’s been a long season that has included 3 Byes (Not including this weekend) a number of thumpings by the top team Silverbacks and 4 draws, 3 involving the Raiders. We also saw the toll the long season had on some teams with the Gladiators having to forfeit at least 1 game and the final quarter in another. Despite the notable difference between the top 2 teams and the rest, I would consider this to have been a very successful year for Division 2 Gridiron in Victoria.
#1 Pakenham Silverbacks (12-0)
The men in Green continued on from their successful 2015 season (Division 2 Champions) and beat all that came before them. They piled on a total of 526 points to their opposition 84 points which included 4 shutouts. The only team to really match them for talent was the Bendigo Dragons with a total score of 44 points to 32 in the 2 games they played. You could say the Silverbacks went through a mid season slump (If you can call it that) with a couple of close battles, but they still managed to get the W on their way to finishing undefeated. There is a definite argument that no matter what happens in the playoffs, the Green Machine will move up to Division 1.
#2 Bendigo Dragons (9-2-1)
With the dominance of the Silverbacks, the Dragons found themselves to be the clear 2nd best team in the division. It came as a surprise to most when the Dragons drew with the Raiders, having seen and played on the field in Ballarat that day, I know why it was a 0-0 game. Despite the minor hiccup the Dragons were never really tested, rolling into 2nd spot. The Dragons are not loaded with numbers but their endeavour and team spirit are something to be proud of. Can they defeat the Silverbacks and take out the title? The Dragons may also find themselves moving up to Div 1 if they succeed.
#3 Northern Raiders (5-4-3)
The boys from the North were looking to establish themselves as a force in 2016, with hopes of challenging for the championship. They recruited well and were ready to show the league what they were capable of. An opening night win against newcomers Melton gave everyone an idea of where the Raiders were headed. Unfortunately, due to injuries, the Raiders had glimpses of brilliance and less than great performances. Not knowing the history of GV, I think it’s safe to say the Raiders hold the record with 3 Drawn games in one season.
#4 Monash Barbarians (6-6)
Jekyll and Hyde is probably the best way to describe the Barbarians year. Last years runner up started out slowly with a 10-0 win over Melton. The coaching staff of the Barbs were not very happy with the effort. It wasn’t really until week 5 we thought maybe, just maybe the Barbarians are finding the form that got them to last years championship game. Week 7 came the real sign of improvement with a 6 point loss to the Silverbacks but after that the season took another slide. It included a 30-28 shoot out with the Newbie Wolves, which they got out of jail with. They disposed of Ballarat and then unconvincingly defeated Gippsland and were handed a 63-0 drubbing in their final game against the team they face in week 1 of the Playoffs. A very mixed bag of results hence a 6-6 win/loss record. I suppose that’s going to happen when your better players are in the Division 1 Warriors side.
#5 Ballarat Falcons (3-8-1)
The Teal Tide Falcons started the season with renewed hope, especially after defeating their rivals the Gladiators in heart stopping circumstance in week 1. The real surprise came when they matched it with the Raiders in week 3, holding on for the draw. The season then delivered 2 massive defeats to the top 2 teams having 60 points scored against them in each game. The Falcons could not quite match the standards of the top 4 sides but they did defeat the 2 teams below them, until week 14 where they imploded in a flag frenzy against the Melton Wolves, losing 34-0 after trailing just 6-0 at halftime. Safe to say this is going to be a massive rivalry in years to come, the Falcons won’t want to start next year the way they finished.
#6 Gippsland Gladiators (2-9-1)
It must be hard keeping a team together for so many years when the signs from this season show the Gladiators are going to struggle. I hope it’s not the case as we need the boys in Purple in this competition. Injuries, forfeits and electing not to borrow players was the theme for the Glads. A shock loss to Melton early on set the tone for the rest of the year, although they did get revenge in their last game for 2016, ensuring they stayed out of last place. Will we see the boys from Morwell again next year? I bloody hope so.
#7 Melton Wolves (2-10)
We pretty much expected the first year for the Wolves to be tough, considering 90% of the players were rookies. One player had never even watched an NFL game before pulling on the pads. This was a season of learning and growing with 2 victories that could well have been 3. Week 6 was the inaugural victory on a day that most people would want to just stay home. A 30-28 shootout with Monash is when the real improvement, at least offensively, was shown. A couple of heavy defeats to the top 2 and an emphatic 34-0 drubbing of their Highway rivals Ballarat, sees the Wolves heading into next year with renewed hope and an eye on moving up the standings. A solid off season of recruiting will go a long way to making this happen.