MATCH OF THE ROUND
THERE’S plenty on the line for Eaglehawk and South Bendigo tomorrow when they meet at Canterbury Park.
It’s a battle of third versus fourth and the prize for the winner is significant – the double chance.
Who’d have thought a month ago when Eaglehawk sat six points clear at the top of the ladder that come round 18 the Hawks would be facing a must-win game to hold on to a double chance, and could still miss the finals?
And who’d have thought after round 12 when the Bloods had just lost their fourth game in a row by more than 40 points that they would be back in a position by round 18 to challenge for a top-three finish?
But that’s the scenario, with the Bloods having won three of their past four games, while the Hawks have dropped three in a row as they endure a late-season slump.
When they met in round nine at the QEO, the Hawks produced their most complete performance of the season with an 82-point thumping of the Bloods.
However, the Hawks’ past three games have been a long way from what they showed that day.
UNDER THE PUMP
Take your pick of Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Sandhurst and Gisborne – they can all still finish sixth and miss the finals.
However, considering Sandhurst will start red-hot favourites against Maryborough at the QEO and Eaglehawk’s percentage of 125.4 should keep it in the five – regardless of its result tomorrow – it’s South Bendigo and Gisborne with the most heat on them entering round 18.
Should the Bloods lose, they will drop out of the top five if Sandhurst and Gisborne both win their matches, in which they are favourites.
As for sixth-placed Gisborne playing in the finals, all it can worry about is beating Castlemaine and then hope other results – namely Eaglehawk beating South Bendigo or Maryborough upsetting Sandhurst – goes its way.
Well done to Strathfieldsaye on securing its first minor premiership in just its fifth season in the BFL.
The Storm have shown ladder improvement every season, finishing 9th (2009), 7th (2010), 6th (2011), 4th (2012) and now 1st in 2013.
The new club appeared to be taking a massive gamble back in 2008 when they chose to bypass the Heathcote District league and step straight into the BFL, but it’s a decision that has been vindicated.
THE FINAL WORD
What a finish to one of the most enthralling home and away seasons in BFL history, with three of the matches having finals implications.
None more so than the Eaglehawk-South Bendigo clash, with the winner to gain the crucial double chance, while there’s also a strong case that the Bloods will miss the finals if beaten.
At Camp Reserve, Gisborne must beat Castlemaine to be any chance of making the finals.
It’s no gimme for Gisborne as the Magpies have been no pushovers at home and were the better side for the last three quarters against South Bendigo last week.
Needing to win to shore up a finals berth, Sandhurst should be far too strong for Maryborough at the QEO. None of the bottom three sides – of which Maryborough is one – have got within 56 points of the Dragons this year.
In the only game of round 18 that doesn’t have any impact on the top five, Strathfieldsaye hosts Kangaroo Flat in a top versus bottom clash.
Surely, the Storm won’t lose to the bottom side again like they did against Castlemaine in round 13.