NORTHERN RAIDERS V MELTON WOLVES
SATURDAY OCTOBER 14th 2017 @ 11:00am
MACPHERSON PARK, MELTON
It is finally here. After months of preseason training and 12 games of football over 14 weeks (excluding League-wide BYE’s). We have come down to the final 2 teams. Who will win Championship VII?
These 2 clubs proved that they were the best in 2017 and fittingly play off to determine the champion of Division 2. The Raiders make a return to the big dance after last years disappointing loss and the Melton Wolves, in just their 2nd season are there for the first time, looking to follow in the footsteps of the Pakenham Silverbacks who won in just their 2nd season.
2017 HEAD TO HEAD
Week 5 – Raiders 27 defeated Wolves 21
Week 12 – Raiders 14 lost to Wolves 27
The Raiders enjoyed a season where they led all comers on top of the table for the entire season. A hiccup early on, they were never really tested except by the team they face this Saturday morning. They finished the season with a record of 10 wins and 2 losses and rightfully go into the game as favourites, despite a narrow win in the Semi Final. This will be their 3rd Championship appearance as they won the inaugural Division 2 Championship game 6 years ago.
Key to defeating the Raiders
Simple. Stop the outside run. The problem is with so many weapons in the running game you may stop 1 or 2 but can you stop all of them? The secondary will have to be alert if the run is taken away.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB #12 Jamie Di Cicco
Depending on where he lines up. He may be called upon to replace the injured Ben Norton or start under centre. Will be interesting to see how the Raiders use him as he missed the majority of the year with a broken hand.
QB #5 Jack Pattison
Took over from the injured Di Cicco and performed pretty well for his first season in the Senior side after coming from the Junior ranks. Can run and has a reasonably accurate arm when he’s not under pressure.
RB/WR #24 Ben Norton
Injured early last week. Will be interesting to see if he plays and if he will be fit enough to have an impact. The Raiders need him to play.
RB #10 Jesse Spiropoulos
Looked to struggle a little bit last week and will be hoping to be at his best for this game. He missed the last game against Melton and scored 2 TD’s in their first meeting.
LB #7 Victor Utumapu
A key anchor in the Raiders defense. Hard hitting and can force a fumble. Will have a hard time controlling the Wolves QB but up for the challenge.
FS #31 Mark Padula
Hard hitting safety who is rarely beaten in the air. Should be a good match up against the Wolves Receivers.
DL/OL #56 Kane Taylor
Plays on both sides of the ball and rarely comes off for a rest. A key to the running game. Unsung hero.
What a fantastic season by this 2nd year club. Only winning 2 games last season to having a season where they had 9 wins and 3 losses. With more than half a team of rookies they should be proud of themselves no matter what happens this weekend. The Wolves made history last week with being the 1st Melton Gridiron team to make a Championship game and having the 1st female Head Coach to get a men’s team to a Championship game. They could be considered as favourites.
Key to defeating the Wolves
Don’t let the QB get away from the pass rush. Taking the run away from Krul will force him to pass more. Question is, how do you stop someone who seems to always find a way out of trouble?
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB #7 Matthew Krul
Favourite for the League MVP. Krul is a scoring machine and will be looking to get into the end zone every time he touches the ball. Can turn a possible loss into a huge gain or Touch Down.
RB #17 Thomas Shutt
The rookie RB has grown in confidence with every game, taking big hits and driving for more yards. Don’t expect to see him score lots but he helps get those chains moving.
WR #88 Daniel Mansueto
Was averaging a TD catch in every game before a late season form slump. Looks to be back at his best catching just about everything that comes his way. Very good hands and seems to get open regularly.
OL #72 Luke Zammit
The best of the Wolves O Lineman. Has a history with the Raiders having played juniors. Aggressive run blocker who would want to perform well against his old club.
DE #57 Michael Lucchiari
An experienced leader on the D line and the teams sack leader. Also performs XP and FG duties. Had a Punt of 79yd’s during the year also.
SS #21 Markus Spiteri
Joined the team mid season and has been a solid performer since. A ball hawk who has a knack of killing a run play at the line of scrimmage.
LB #13 Daren Tutai
Small in stature but huge in heart and biceps. A menace on the outside run and finds a way to the QB. Likes a fumble recovery.
For my last score prediction for 2017 I’m picking this to be better than the Vic Bowl, well at least a lot closer. This one will go to OVER TIME.
Scores will be 21 – 21 at the end of the regulation time. The Raiders will win it with a Field Goal in the dying seconds of the OT period.
I’d put money on it but I don’t want to be banned for life.