Raiders Secure No.1 Seed.
Wolves Scrape Past CCU.
Barbarians Playoff Bound.
Week 14 saw 2 very defensive battles, 1 score fest and a Quarterback Carousel to rival the Cleveland Browns. We also welcomed some spring weather for the first time.
Enjoy the game reviews and take a week off, you deserve it.
Melton Wolves – 8 Defeated Casey Cardinia United – 6
This was meant to be a nothing game but someone should have told the defenses of both teams this news. With the Wolves already having secured 2nd place and CCU just looking to build towards next season, this game was a chance for Melton to see how a different QB could perform and the defense to keep improving. For CCU it was to get a final win for the year and more game experience for the rookies.
As expected the Wolves rested QB #7 Matthew Krul, although he was suited up at game time. QB #10 Mathew Davies started the game under centre and they were also without their leading TD Receptor WR #88 Daniel Mansueto. A few key players on defense, mainly on the D Line, also sat out this game due to unavailability and in readiness for the semi’s.
The first play from scrimmage set the tone for the Wolves when the exchange between Davies and RB #17 Thomas Shutt was fumbled and recovered by CCU. This would be the 1st of 5 fumbles on the day for Melton. The very next play saw CCU QB #16 Reid Hoskins throw a pick to CB #31 Andy Palermo and return possession to Melton.
After a few changes of possession CCU opened the scoring late in the 1st qtr with a 28yd strike by Hiskins. The 2pt conversion was no good and CCU had the early lead like they did in the 1st meeting earlier in the season. The Wolves only score in the half was on a Safety by the pressure of the Defense which held the CCU running game to negative yardage in the 1st half, and only allowed 30yds in the 2nd half. They had Hiskins and QB #3 Caleb Tsalacopoulos, who also saw some action, constantly under pressure forcing them to throw a couple of picks, including 2 to Wolves DB #12 John Gálvez.
The Wolves running game was going ok besides some big losses but the passing game wasn’t working for them. The Defense was definitely keeping them in this game. The CCU Defense just didn’t let the Wolves get into any kind of rhythm which might be the reason why we saw Krul start the 2nd half.
It was late in the 3rd qtr that Melton’s Offense began to click and move the ball. It was in the beginning of the 4th qtr that Krul ran one in for 20yds to finish off the drive, but the 2pt conversion pass was incomplete and Melton led 8-6 with plenty of time remaining.
A couple of key pass breakups by Wolves LB #13 Daren Tutai saw a late CCU drive stalled but an INT thrown by Krul on the very next play undid the Defenses good work and handed CCU an opportunity to hit the scoreboard. With just over 2 minutes remaining in the game, CCU was forced to Punt putting Melton deep in their own half. Just 2 plays later WR/RB #24 Sharleam Baker had the ball stripped from his hands in a pile of players and CCU came up with the ball inside the red zone.
In a very tense 1:30 on the clock, CCU tried to get the ball to a receiver in the end zone but no one could make a clear catch and the Wolves held on to win. Not a very good game offensively but for the old school fans of Defense it was tense and physical.
Offense of the Wolves had 180yds with 156yds on the ground while CCU had 159yds with 129yds coming through the air.
Northern Raiders – 41 Defeated Western Crusaders II – 20
Another game that meant nothing and a chance to try things out with no real consequences if it didn’t work. Even though a potential loss by the Raiders would see them lose the no.1 seed to the Wolves, the Raiders were never really troubled by the Crusaders. Raiders QB #5 Jack Pattison saw limited time in this game and RB #10 Jesse Spiropoulos was rested again with a persistent knee problem.
The Raiders jumped to an early 14-0 lead before the Crusaders scored a TD of their own cutting the lead. That’s as close as the Crusaders got to the Raiders. After the first 2 successful drives, the Raiders benched Pattison in favour of Coach and OL/DL #73 Joshua Faure as QB for the rest of the game. He finished the day with 123yds in the air with a TD and 32yds on the ground and a score. Maybe he has found a new position for next season?
The running game was back at it’s brutal best with RB/WR #24 Ben Norton rushing for 157yds and 2 TD’s, adding to his already impressive season total. He also had 72yds receiving and a TD. RB #23 Daniel Strangis played a solid support role adding 132yds rushing to the team total of just under 400yds on the ground.
Defensively the Raiders controlled the Crusader outside run game forcing them to air it out often. QB #12 Edward James was the starter for the Crusaders replacing QB #13 Nathan Tang. Tang did come into the game around half time and managed to hit a few targets and passed for 2 TD’s. Raiders veteran LB #21 Brad Hall chipped in with 2 INT’s and 8 Tackles while DE/LB #80 Matt Jermy caused trouble in the Crusader backfield registering 3 sacks. All the rookies were given valuable playing time by both sides in preparation for the finals.
Monash Barbarians – 6 Defeated Bendigo Dragons – 0
‘Win and you are in” was the motto of the day for these 2 clubs. A draw would also find the Barbarians make it in but the Dragons had to win. Saying this was a defensive-minded game would turn out to be an understatement as Defense controlled the game.
The only score in the game was to the Barbarians after an injured QB #29 Richard Truong scrambled and then found WR #4 Anton Maksoutov in the corner of the end zone to end the 1st half. The 2pt conversion was fumbled and deemed no good to leave the score at 6-0.
The D Line was the MVP of the day keeping the Dragons from scoring. In particular the efforts of DL #91 Declan McKenzie and DL #97 Jared Lealofi.
Bendigo had a solid finish to the year and will have to look to next season to redeem themselves after failing as preseason championship favourites. Recruiting in a country town can’t be easy so they would hope that all players from this year returned and brought along new rookies.