Crusaders Sweep Falcons.
Dragons Win In Final Minutes.
Week 11 saw our real first taste of winter football………..It’s meant to be Spring.
Another week of weather from the movie ‘Frozen’ will see more skills put to the test in the upcoming games, which includes a juicy 1 V 2 match-up early Sunday morning in Officer.
The chase for 4th just got more interesting. Who wants it the most?
Saturday 9th September – Namatjira Reserve, South Clayton – 10:30am
Western Crusaders II (6-3) 3rd Place vs Monash Barbarians (4-4-1) 4th Place
Last time they met: Crusaders 8 Barbarians 18
Have the Crusaders finally found that winning formula? After scrounging up a win over Bendigo before the bye they have come out and scored 46 points against one of the better defenses.
I arrived at Crusader Park with my 3yo son on Father’s Day to catch a little bit of the game. Safe to say I was shocked when I read the half time score 32-8 in favour of the home team. Unfortunately, my 3yo doesn’t have the same enthusiasm for the game as his dad does, so all I could go on was cheers from the Falcons sideline while I looked back from the banks of the Maribyrnong river. It gave me the understanding that they were mounting a massive 2nd half comeback.
Just as the heavens opened up and I ran for the car from the playground, I quickly ran back to see the score now was 40-28 with the falcons driving with 5 minutes left to play in the game. With an extensive lead at the half it was evident that the falcons were going to run out of time, which they did, falling to the Crusaders 46-36. Not a lot shown by the defense allowing 28 2nd half points. Mentally they may have put the cue in the rack but luckily they had enough points on the board. Considering the conditions this would have been an exciting offensive minded game to have seen in full.
Numbers on the sideline look to be pretty good for the Cru which can only mean they mean business in their first season. They find themselves in 3rd place with the same record as the Wolves. A win here may see them jump into 2nd spot and a possible fairy tale end to their inaugural season.
After showing some real promise 2 weeks ago against Melton the Barbarians were given a footballing lesson by the Raiders. They were never in it with the half time score of 30-0 reflecting exactly that. The defense was exploited allowing over 300yds rushing and close to 150yds passing. Now I know the Raiders are a strong side and are rightfully title favourites at this stage but surely the Barbarians had the talent to compete after the first victory. Not this week, losing the game 55-0, proving that numbers on the sideline doesn’t always turn into points on the scoreboard.
With Ballarat and Bendigo breathing down their necks this is a must win for the Barbarians, as is every game from this point on. If this game was played before the bye I’d easily say the Barbs had this game, however last weeks form sends me in the other direction with a Crusaders Victory.
Prediction – Crusaders 24 Barbarians 16
Sunday 10th September – Lakeside Recreation Reserve, Pakenham – 10:30am
Melton Wolves (6-3) 2nd Place vs Northern Raiders (9-1) 1st Place
Last time they met: Wolves 21 Raiders 27
The Wolves have had the luxury or disadvantage of having 2 weeks off from Football. Come approximately 1pm on Sunday we will know which it was. The Wolves know they have a huge job in front of them stopping the Raiders potent run game, the extra week to set a game plan to stop it could help.
The last time these teams met Melton had to come back from a 20 point deficit to narrowly lose. They will not want to let the opposition get a lead like that again if they have any chance of winning. Once again QB #7 Matthew Krul will be the main scoring threat and he should be back refreshed from the extended break with new boots. RB #17 Thomas Shutt and RB #46 Sikaleti Mataafa will look to have an impact so the Defense doesn’t just focus on Krul. Shutt has shown improvement every week and Mataafa is a bulldozer moving piles downfield.
The defense will want to show the Raiders who’s boss from the outset. With a couple of new hard hitting additions and a solid D Line we should see a tough, physical affair.
The Raiders have not missed a beat since week 5. Low on player numbers but high on talent and heart they have dominated everyone that they have come up against. Last week we saw this dominance continue and almost surprise most of us. Although I figured they’d get the W against the Barbs, I didn’t expect to see such a one sided score line against a team on the improve. A score of 55-0 is a statement in itself to Melton and the rest of the competition. “You have to be at your absolute best to beat us”.
The usual suspects performed well again with RB #10 Jesse Spiropoulos scoring on 2 runs and RB #24 Ben Norton adding 2 as well. QB #5 Jack Pattison finally got to air it out and had 2 passing TD’s which included 1 to rookie WR #22 Siddhanta Gurung for his first of the year. Pattison also hit WR #14 Ash Talbot for a score and also ran one in himself for his first for the season.
The defense was at it’s devastating best with LB #7 Victor Utumapu having double digit tackles and a QB sack or 3. He was joined by veteran LB #21 Brad Hall who also had multiple tackles and a sack or 2 to his name. They were both helped by the play of OL/DL combo of #56 Kane Taylor and head coach #73 Joshua Faure who were dominant on both sides of the ball. The Raiders were so far in front that Faure even threw a completion to Spiropoulos which is the feature photo of this article. It also highlights their dominance with the Barbarian player in the shot.
An easy win here will show that no one is going to beat them. A loss will give Melton a massive boost in confidence knowing they can mix it with the big boys in just their second season. The passing game of the Raiders might have to step it up a notch, especially if the Wolves can limit the damage the run game has caused all season.
This game has the League Executives drooling with excitement with a possible preview of this years Div 2 Championship game. It easily earns ‘GAME OF THE WEEK’ and possibly the season. Let’s just hope it lives up to that title.
Prediction – Wolves ?? Raiders ??
Sunday 10th September – Lakeside Recreation Reserve, Pakenham – 2:00pm
Casey Cardinia United (0-9) Last Place vs Ballarat Falcons (4-6) 5th Place
Last time they met: CCU 0 Falcons 9
The good news is that CCU managed to have enough players to play against the Dragons. The bad news is they lost for the 9th time this season with a score of 22-0. The game looked to be heading for a draw until the final 2 minutes when it all unraveled very quickly, allowing 22 points to be scored.
They find themselves possibly in with a chance this week if they play to their full potential. Playing at home may see better player numbers on the day. Unfortunately I just don’t see them winning for the rest of the year.
The Falcons are desperate for a win. This is another club struggling with numbers but as the Raiders have shown, this is no excuse. A failed drive just before half time against the Crusaders saw them down heavily 32-8 in the wet and windy conditions. The Falcons came out firing in the 2nd half scoring 28 points but allowing the Cru to score 2 more times, putting the game out of their reach with a score of 46-36. This was the most Ballarat had scored all year but also the highest score they allowed for the year.
A long trip west shouldn’t hamper the Falcons and I think they will get that spark back and run out winners against the cellar dwellers.
Prediction – CCU 14 Falcons 20
BYE – Bendigo Dragons (3-6-1) 6th Place.
Win number 3 for the season only just came in the last 2 minutes of the game against CCU. A score of 0-0 until the Dragons squeezed out 22 points. That win keeps them in touch with the top 4 and what seemed impossible a few weeks ago is now a reality. They will be hoping that CCU and Crusaders can do them a favour so they don’t lose touch.