Wolves knock Falcons off perch.
Not so lucky 7 for CCU.
Dragons slayed by Raiders.
No real close contests last week, just the pecking order being sorted in the standings. The Raiders had an opportunity to solidify themselves as Championship favourites while rivals Ballarat and Melton fought for 2nd spot. The Crusaders looked to follow their Div 1 brothers with a win after losing the past 3.
Week 9 approaches with 3 points separating 2nd from 5th. One loss can be the difference between playoff bound or preparing for next season.
What will your club be doing come October?
Saturday 12th August – DR Atkinson Reserve, Reservoir – 3:00pm
Bendigo Dragons (1-5-1) 6th Place V Melton Wolves (5-2) 2nd place
Last time they met: Dragons 8 Wolves 27
Time for the Dragons to look to next season I say after being shut out again by the Raiders last weekend 26-0. Injuries have not been kind to them and now they face a very strong run defense and running offense in the 2nd place Wolves.
The biggest concern for the Dragons is their QB situation. Who will it be this week? #33 Thomas Prince started the season as the guy but that didn’t work out, he was recalled for the previous week and injured the week just gone. QB #16 Lucas Elliston has been injured and RB #11 Harrison Luke has been filling in on occasion when he is the preferred guy and better suited in the backfield.
The Dragons will be travelling back to the scene of last weeks thumping in Reservoir. Will it be more of the same or will they find something to push the Wolves to breaking point? Their main objective would be to keep the offense on the field for as long as possible considering their low numbers.
The Melton Wolves had the chance to take 2nd spot for themselves with a win over their rival Ballarat Falcons. They were eyeing that spot as well as seeking revenge for the week 1 loss.
The strength of Melton has obviously been the running game. They haven’t really needed the passing game to beat teams and this game wasn’t any different. Late in the 1st qtr after a 18yd Interception return by new recruit SS #21 Markus Spiteri, the Wolves scored on a short run by QB #7 Matthew Krul, an XP by #57 Michael Lucchiari that got picked up in a hurricane wind then fell over the cross bar.
The passing game finally found a target after a 33yd pass to WR #88 Daniel Mansueto that was taken into the end zone for the score and 2pt conversion. After another rushing TD to RB #46 Sikaleti Mataafa the score was 22-0 at the half. It looked like the Wolves were headed to score at least 40 points in this game and rout the opposition. The running game was rolling along with 100yds from 16 carries.
The defense struggled in the 3rd qtr. Either they had taken the foot off the peddle or they weren’t ready to play after the break. They just couldn’t stop the Falcons from moving the ball. With the score now 22-12 after another TD in the opening of the final qtr, the Wolves needed to stamp their authority on the game, however the Falcons recovered an onside kick that Melton just were not ready for. Order was restored when FS #2 Luke Sackl came up with an all important INT.
The offense were able to make another drive killing time off the clock that ended with a 2yd run by Krul and killing any chance of a comeback. The dominating run defense again kept the opponents to under 50yds for the entire game.
It’s obvious what Bendigo has to do to beat Melton but the running game is far too strong with more than 1 option in the backfield. If you limit one of them then you have another to contend with. It will be a tough game in what probably will be muddy conditions.
Prediction – Dragons ?? Wolves ??
(As a Wolves Volunteer and Stats man, I do not predict scores for their games. In case you were wondering).
Saturday 12th August – DR Atkinson Reserve, Reservoir – 6:30pm
Northern Raiders (6-1) 1st place v Casey Cardinia United (0-7) Last place
Last time they met: Raiders 29 CCU 0
The Northern Raider juggernaut continues to roll on. The offense has been on fire ever since the shock loss to the Barbarians in week 4 and the defense has been stingy at best. Another 400+ yard day for the offense (That was just rushing), a further 6 turnovers created by the defense with 5 of them being INT’s, 1 of CB #31 Mark Padula’s 2 INT’s was a pick 6.
Teams can’t find the answer to stopping the running game with Australian Outback representative RB #10 Jesse Spiropoulos running for 123yds and 3 TD’s, taking away the spotlight from normal triple TD scorer WR #24 Ben Norton. Normally LB #7 Vic Utumapu isn’t required to play at RB but with 103yds off just 6 carries, expect to see more of him in the backfield as the season progresses. At LB he added 12 tackles.
So I tipped CCU last week after seeing just how good they were against Melton the previous week. Seems it was just a once off as they stumbled to their 7th straight loss against a struggling Crusader outfit. A far cry from 7-0 last season and firmly on top of the table. This year they are dead last and not looking like that is going to change anytime soon.
The only shining light I have seen is in the play of their young QB #16 Reid Hiskins. Other than that there isn’t much going for them unless DE #2 Richmond is on the field. From all reports he will be playing in this game and may make a bit of a difference to the end scoreline.
I expect this contest to be over by half time and the Raiders to try a few different things on offense. It will all depend on which CCU defense shows up on the night.
Prediction – Raiders 34 CCU 0
Sunday 13th August – Brens Oval Royal Park, Parkville – 10:30am
Monash Barbarians (3-2-1) 5th place V Ballarat Falcons (4-3) 4th place
Last time they met: Barbarians 8 Falcons 14
After a week off, the Barbarians are looking to get their starters healthy and continue the good form they have shown since the win over the Raiders in week 4. QB #29 Richie Truong is getting more confident and looks impressive running the ball and airing it out. He will be hoping that his receivers can hold onto more passes as drops have been killing them of late.
The other offensive weapon they hope will be healthy is RB #42 Montell Wickremasinghe. He adds pace and elusiveness to the backfield as opposed to any other options they have. RB #22 Johnny Chen is the best 2nd option in the backfield and missed the draw against the Dragons two weeks ago.
Defensively they will need to be all over the Falcons receivers as that’s where Ballarat can expose and hurt them. Getting the D Line in the QB’s face more often than not will help their cause.
Ballarat were the lowest on player numbers they have been this year, that’s no excuse for the 28-12 loss last week against Melton in Geelong. Although the biggest loss wasn’t on offense or defense, it was not having the strong leg of #92 Paul Jones as the punting game would have played a big part in the windy conditions.
The offense struggled badly against the Wolves relentless defense in the first half being held to 13 rushing yards and 24yds passing for just 37yds of total offense in the 1st half. QB #20 James Stephens hadn’t faced this kind of pressure since playing the Raiders earlier in the season. He took a huge hit early in the 2nd qtr which saw him leave the field for a play but return.
The second half they looked like a different side, making catches and gaining a few yards on the ground. Before you could blink they had put 12 points on the board and a miraculous comeback was starting to develop. Stephens was getting time in the pocket and hitting WR #13 Mark Hocking, who quite possibly has the best hands in the competition. WR #81 Eddie Carey made a great catch after a deep pass by Stephens, out jumping the DB and bringing the ball down.
Unfortunately due to turnovers the comeback was stalled and they allowed another TD which sealed the game. They managed to gain 134yds in the air and 46yds on the ground. Defensively they did well against the pass but were not able to stop the run of the Wolves again.
Draws are not generally a common occurrence but after seeing 3 last season, don’t be surprised if this is one of them. The weather on the day will play a huge part in who wins this ‘Game of the week’.
Prediction – Barbarians 14 Falcons 14
Finally the slump is over. A 27-6 rout of CCU put the Crusaders back in the top 4 (3rd Place) and now they have the week off which means they may drop after this weekend.