YOUR DIVISION 2, 2017 CHAMPIONS ARE…….
THE NORTHERN RAIDERS GRIDIRON CLUB.
Sun, sand and some hard hitting defense was on display Saturday morning.
So if you weren’t privy to the information you would not have been aware that the Championship game ran the risk of not actually going ahead out at MacPherson Park in Melton. Why you ask? Well in the councils wisdom, they dumped a tonne of sand on the ground and poorly spread it out. It looked more like a beach had sprung out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. It begs the question, did they not know or care there was a big event on? It couldn’t have waited another day or 2? Due to the hard work of some Melton Wolves volunteers and a number of the actual players who worked until midnight to get the majority of the sand up, the game could go ahead as planned.
So let’s extend our middle fingers to the Melton Council and say “Thank You”.
After previous meetings between these 2 sides there was hope that we would see a few Touchdowns in this match-up. We only got to see 1 and that was just before half time. The Raiders had the first opportunity to capitalise on a Wolves turnover on the second play of the game, a fumble by RB #17 Thomas Shutt, however a Field Goal attempt by All-Victorian K #20 Damon Acquaviva was no good. That was the story of the day for Melton, turnovers cost them dearly, especially when you commit 8 of them.
After a second missed Field Goal attempt by Acquaviva it looked like the game was going to remain scoreless for the first half. The Wolves almost scored on a pass that was dropped by WR #88 Daniel Mansueto in the end zone, that being their only real scoring opportunity for the game. The Raiders got close and then another 15yd’s closer due to an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Wolves bench. Eventually running in from a few yards out. The XP was good and we went into the half with the score 7-0.
The Raiders knew what they needed to do and that was stop QB #7 Matthew Krul and that’s exactly what they did. He threw 2 uncharacteristic Interceptions and had a fumble on a play he should have probably just taken the loss on. They also took away his running and scrambling ability which is what earned him the League MVP award.
The fact the Wolves defense was on the field far more often than they should have, the Raiders running game began to gain momentum. Short passes to RB #10 Jesse Spiropoulos in the flat and runs up the middle by RB #23 Daniel Strangis kept the chains moving and the Wolves defense on the field. The Raiders eventually sealed the game with a Acquaviva field goal with 2 minutes remaining. The Wolves tried their best to get the ball downfield quickly but it was all too late. The game ended with a Sack of Krul and the celebrations began. The Raiders were Championship VII winners.
Congratulations to everyone at the Northern Raiders. Good luck in Division 1 next season.
Now it’s time for a grading of how each team went in the 2017 Season. Before I do I need to thank a few people who fed me information so I could do the reviews of the games and other write ups. Without it I would have had no content.
Joshua Faure – Northern Raiders
Daniel Sanderson – Monash Barbarians
Eddie Carey – Ballarat Falcons
Didn’t get a lot from the following but thanks for the information you did give me.
Western Crusaders Gridiron Club
Ash ???? – Casey Cardinia United
Thomas Prince – Bendigo Dragons
NOTE – Records include Finals.
2017 Season Grades
Northern Raiders (Record 12-2) Champions.
Grade – A
You can’t do better than a championship. With only 2 losses for the year they found that form in the final that made them the number 1 team all year. Powerful running game but will need to work on the passing game to cut it in Div 1.
Melton Wolves (Record 10-4) Runners up.
Grade – A-
From dead last to playing off for a championship in just their 2nd season in GV. Full of rookies who now have a season of experience. Running game is solid but the passing game needs some work. Expect to see them back even bigger and better next season.
Western Crusaders II (Record 7-6) 3rd Place.
Grade – B
Plenty of rookies here as well, including the league Rookie Of The Year. Will no doubt recruit more players after the success of the Division 1 side. Great effort to finish 3rd with less preparation than other clubs.
Monash Barbarians (Record 6-6-1) 4th Place.
Grade – C
Despite having a very capable QB they struggled to put points on the board. The defense were pretty solid all year with just 1 blowout to the eventual champions. They will be up there again no doubt.
Bendigo Dragons (Record 4-7-1) 5th Place.
Grade – D
What most considered to be the favourite to win the championship were well off the mark. Started to come together late and just missed the finals. Really need to find themselves a QB but the running game will be their strong point. Were heading for an E at one stage.
Ballarat Falcons (Record 4-8) 6th Place.
Grade – C+
Most would have placed them about here at the start of the year. They shocked everyone starting the season at 4-1. Unfortunately to lack of numbers and players playing entire games, they lost 7 more but were always in it. Passing game was good and will get better. Running game can’t rely on one guy who has to play both ways.
Casey Cardinia United (Record 1-11) Last Place.
Grade – E+
What a terrible start to the year for this club. Amalgamation and then everyone leaves. They were decimated in numbers and had to forfeit a game. Had a very good win against Ballarat but really a season to forget for this once powerful side. Have some talent to build on.
A final thanks to everyone who read my articles and voted in all the polls. I’ll be back next year with my preview of the 2018 Season.