Dragons Breathe Life Into Season.
Unfit CCU Forfeit.
Barbarians Clip Falcons Wings.
Upsets and Forfeits were the formula for the weekend in Div 2. Upsets are a good thing where as forfeits are a blemish on the League.
What will week 10 bring?
A full schedule of games would be a good start.
Saturday 19th August – Ranger Field, Croydon – 10:30am
Ballarat Falcons (4-4) 5th Place V Northern Raiders (7-1) 1st Place
After a tough loss the week before and dropping 2 places in the standings, the Falcons were looking to claw their way back up with a victory over the Barbarians at Royal Parade. A loss here would drop them back even further and out of the top 4. There was definitely a lot to play for in this battle.
Early on they found themselves behind by a score of 8-0 but in true Ballarat style they came back hard with impressive runs by RB #21 Peter McKay as well as big plays on defense and Special Teams. As well as the hands of the usual suspects WR #81 Eddie Carey and QB come WR #18 Duncan McIntosh.
They welcomed the return of Punter #92 Paul Jones who kicked them out of trouble and forcing the opposition to make mistakes trying to catch his long bombs. They hit the front half way through the 3rd qtr after two failed 2pt conversions with the score now 12-8 and looking like they might go on with it. That was short lived when the Barbs scored again right before the end of the 3rd.
The Falcons hit the front after a bruising TD run by McKay but with over 9 minutes left in the game anything could happen. Minutes later the opposition scored another TD and a successful 2pt conversion which had the Falcons trailing 22-18. Neither team could score again and the Falcons found themselves outside the top 4 for the first time this season.
The Raiders didn’t even break a sweat last week as their opponents finally fell victim to the dreaded forfeit. Not ideal for a team looking to make improvements to their already dominating game plan, but hey! at least no one got injured.
They will look to shut down the Falcons early preventing them from scoring as Ballarat are a confidence team. The running game will once again be the force that Ballarat will need to stop so DE #69 David Parker will need to be at his dominating best, the LB’s will have to be ultra aggressive to prevent large gains on the outside runs. The Falcons will need their key receivers to catch pretty much everything that gets thrown in their direction, before the Raiders pick it off, to have any chance of winning this.
As a non bias view I see the Raiders winning easily but as a volunteer of another club, I’m kinda hoping the Falcons pull out a major upset.
Prediction: Falcons 7 Raiders 28
Sunday 20th August – MacPherson Park Recreation Reserve, Melton -10:30am
Western Crusaders II (4-3) 4th Place V Bendigo Dragons (2-5-1) 6th Place
Western Crusaders had a week off but they will get their confidence from the previous weeks battle against CCU. They will also be feeling confident after the Div 1 side defeated their bogey side of the last few years. The winds are changing in Footscray, it no longer smells of just Vietnamese food.
Wow!!!!! Bendigo…….just WOW!!!! FINALLY you showed some real grit, determination and breathed some life into a season that looked like it was going nowhere. Although you were up against a side that didn’t have their star QB in the game until after half time, it was still a good display of defense and hard running up the middle.
They didn’t set the world on fire with classy QB play (2 yds passing) as they were down to their 3rd QB that’s actually their preferred RB #11 Harrison Luke. He did what he had to do which was hand off to the big RB’s. A new RB option emerged when #32 Nicholas Kastellorizios was thrown into the attack. His bursts up the middle were impressive creating havoc for the Wolves defense and helping his team to 148yds rushing on the day.
Defensively the Dragons were all over the Wolves offense like an annoying rash. Their usually prolific running game went nowhere and passing, well there just wasn’t enough time for their first time starter to pass. With a suspect TD in the final 6 seconds of the half, the Dragons took the lead. At this point, the game was not anything to brag about but it was pretty physical out there.
Bendigo was able to add a 28yard Field Goal midway in the 3rd qtr after a flurry of big runs making the score 9-0. A change of QB by the opposition saw a more familiar site with a 52yd scramble for the score, the XP was good and suddenly it looked like the Dragons were vulnerable once again.
After a few desperate minutes at the end, the Dragons were able to defend the end zone and caused the 2nd biggest upset of the season winning 9-7. Surely that made the 2hr drive back home a lot more enjoyable.
In the first meeting, Bendigo blew a 10-0 lead and the Crusaders had their 2nd win of the year. Will this happen again or have the Dragons finally found what they have been missing for the first 9 weeks? Division 1 hadn’t started then so I think this might make 2 wins in a row for Bendigo. If the Crusaders can slow down the running game of Bendigo and give their own QB some time to pass, they may squeeze out a win in a close game.
Prediction: Crusaders 16 Dragons 18
Sunday 20th August – MacPherson Park Recreation Reserve, Melton – 2:00pm
Melton Wolves (5-3) 2nd Place V Monash Barbarians (4-2-1) 3rd Place
The Wolves had the opportunity to get a game clear of the rest of the pack (pun definitely intended) with a win over the struggling Dragons. Most would have penciled in the win for Melton, most wouldn’t have known that QB #7 Matthew Krul wouldn’t be starting. That immediately changed the shape of the game as back up QB #10 Mathew Davies had his first ever start in a game as well as his first reps for the season, unfortunately, it showed.
From the outset, the Dragons were all over the Wolves running game and passing was almost impossible from the constant pressure from the D line. Davies did complete 3 passes for short gains but was let down by a fumble after a 12yd reception on one of them. At the half they had only gained 10yds of total offense. The defense held up their own for the most part of the 1st half but bad field position wasn’t ideal for the constant barrage of run plays. DE #52 Nathan Fankhauser had 6 tackles in the half and looked dominant.
The beginning of the 3rd qtr saw the defense on the field and again the run game of Bendigo put pressure on them. After marching most of the way down field they held the Dragons to a 28yd field goal and starting QB #7 Matthew Krul took over the offense. Krul immediately had an impact running 52yds for the score and the XP was converted. Melton had found the spark they’d been lacking in the first half. The score was now 7-9 in favour of Bendigo.
Although the offense was able to move the ball more and the defense held the Dragons to no more scores, they required a big play or two but no one was able to put their hand up for that job. Krul constantly aired it out with no luck, he ran well as always and in a very tense last 2 minutes the Wolves failed to find the end zone, losing 7-9 but remaining in 2nd spot. After having rushed for -8yds in the first half as a team, Krul managed 100yds himself on 7 carries.
Monash took on Ballarat in far better form than the last meeting they had earlier in the year. A win would put them in the top 4 and a loss would keep them out. Hopefully the bye week didn’t have any negative effect on them.
Early on in the contest they took an 8-0 lead but as expected the opposition came back hard to take a 12-8 lead midway through the 3rd qtr. Monash were heavily relying on the run game with QB #29 Richie Truong being the main guy again. His scrambling ability is up there with the best, managing to avoid sacks and turn what would normally be large losses into gains. RB #42 Montell Wickremasinghe, RB #22 Johnny Chen and RB #16 Jack Hulley were the support cast for Truong.
In the dying seconds of the 3rd they hit back with a rushing TD to Wickremasinghe then completed the comeback with a QB sneak to Truong sealing the deal with a 22-18 victory. On defense CB #40 Dan Edwards was best, breaking up a number of passes.
The Barbs face still one of the better run defenses in the competition. The scrambling ability of Truong will play a major role as well as the form of Wickremasinghe. The receivers will have to hold onto catches which has proven difficult so far. The Wolves will hope that Krul will be able to start on Sunday and will want to start strongly on defense. Special teams may play a big role in deciding the outcome of this match up.
I’m predicting a very close contest that might see more than 50 points scored. Could we even see another draw?
Prediction: Wolves ?? Barbarians ??
BYE – CCU.
It happened, like most seasons the F word has appeared once again.
FORFEIT. Due to injuries and the availability of some players due to work commitments
My season preview stated that the merger of Pakenham Silverbacks and Berwick Miners was a good move. I think I’ve been proven drastically wrong and that maybe I should keep my opinions to myself, but where is the fun in that? How can a club lose 80% of their Championship winning starting lineup in just one off season?
A strong recruiting drive for next year will go a long way in saving this young club from going the way of the Gippsland Gladiators, or suffer the same fate as far too many clubs have in the 33 year history of Gridiron Victoria. Maybe the League need to take more control at club level, they probably don’t have the manpower or time to do so considering it is an Amateur sport and that’s a discussion for another time, best left to people who know more of the goings on than I do.