Showdown for Stonecats and Sharks

An early-season showdown between the previous year’s grand finalists is always an intriguing proposition and today’s game between Frankston YCW and Bonbeach will be no exception. There’s no getting away from it, the Stonecats slaughtered the Sharks on Sunday September 17 last year kicking 21 goals to five on their way to a 102-point victory... View Article

An early-season showdown between the previous year’s grand finalists is always an intriguing proposition and today’s game between Frankston YCW and Bonbeach will be no exception.

There’s no getting away from it, the Stonecats slaughtered the Sharks on Sunday September 17 last year kicking 21 goals to five on their way to a 102-point victory that rubber-stamped their standing as one of the great MPNFL teams of all time.

And they’re in familiar territory once again, gunning for an eighth title in nine years from the top of the ladder after round two.

So, what can the Sharks do to turn this around?

Coach Steve Hughes would appear to have all the keys to success at his disposal with Matt Douglas leading a stern defence, ruckman Dylan Jones feeding a talented midfield led by Jackson Casey and Shane McDonald, while key forwards Jo Fisscher and Trent Dennis-Lane provide an interesting combination for opposition defenders to quell.

The Sharks were comprehensively outplayed by Edi-Asp in round one before riding a fast start to a 23-point win over an inaccurate Rosebud last week.

So how are the Sharks travelling heading into the toughest test in local football – the Stonecats at Jubilee Park?

“Last week (Rosebud) was certainly a step in the right direction because we were scratchy in round one, second to the footy, undisciplined, and the five-goal margin probably flattered us a bit,” was Hughes’ honest appraisal.

“We got our hands on the footy last week, structured up much better and moved the ball with greater efficiency. But this is the biggest challenge in the MPNFL and YCW look like they’re up for the fight again.”

The Stonecats were always going to find things difficult against Seaford last week, more mentally than anything else, after the massive build-up and impeccable performance against Sorrento in round one.

They were trying to back-up perfection – and don’t forget the six-day break!

But they showed all the guts and determination you would expect from a champion team in the final quarter, kicking 6.5 to 1.2 to turn a 21-point deficit into a 12-point victory.

Josh Butland and Paul Minchington were ever-present dangers for the winners while Lachlan Street and Jake Lovett continued impressive starts to the season.

Hughes acknowledged that after last year’s grand final defeat the Sharks had used the Stonecats as a template to improve. VFL players Myke Cook, Mitch Gent and Luke Verma will all play enough games to qualify for the finals if the Sharks happen to make it.

“I think they (YCW) had 10 players of VFL quality playing in their side on grand final day and we identified the fact that we needed to improve in that area,” Hughes said.

“Obviously the development of our younger players is crucially important but to have that top-end class is going to help us going forward. It’s a model that has worked for them so why not give it a try.”

Bonbeach needs to step things up from its first two performances, and they probably will, but it’s the Stonecats to make it three straight with a three-goal victory.

Rosebud will hit the Nepean Highway and turn left for the only time this season when the Buds trek to David McFarlane Reserve to take on Sorrento.

Coach Adrian McBean would have taken a one-one start to the season, with a 10-point victory over Mornington and a 23-point loss to Bonbeach more than acceptable performances.

The Buds probably owed their goal kicking to their victory over the Bulldogs and can claim inaccuracy as a key cause of defeat against the Sharks.

They kicked 12.5 after being 10.1 at three-quarter time against the Doggies and kicked a wayward 7.15 against the Sharks.

Less scoring shots than the opposition in round one equals victory – more scoring shots in round two equals defeat – go figure this funny game of sport we call football!

“We missed crucial opportunities early and started poorly last week but I was proud of the way we fought back against quality opposition,” said Rosebud coach Adrian McBean.

“What impressed me was our trademark was clear to see, our work rate and ability to compete was there and that comes down to good on-field leadership. Greg (skipper Bentley) is a fantastic leader.”

McBean said his team was thoroughly enjoying the step up to Division One football.

“The bodies are bigger and stronger, the brand of football is structured and of a high standard, there is no rest this season with every week a great challenge,” he said.

“The evenness probably means that nine or 10 games will get you in –  so every game of footy is crucial.

“Sorrento is in the same boat as us this week, one and one, and there should be a big crowd on hand to watch a cracking game of football.”

Sean and Keegan Downie were impressive for the Buds last week, showing their interleague squad selection was well deserved, while skipper Bentley and Josh Harris have hit the ground running in 2018.

Sorrento has had a very interesting start to the season.

Do we put any credence on their round-one disaster against Frankston YCW or do we sit back and admire a brave effort to bounce back against Mt Eliza last week?

The Sorras were facing a 0-2 start to the season but showed enormous character to hold off the Redlegs by six points in a thriller.

Chris Dawes, Leigh Poholke and Zach Byrns did most of the damage last week and will be key focus points for the navy blues again today.

This one could go either way but expect Sorrento to get home by three to four goals on their home deck.

Frankston Bombers is a really interesting team to assess, but we’ll get more of a gauge on its true credentials when it hosts Seaford at Greg Beck Oval this afternoon.

The Bombers came from the clouds to lose by two points to Mt Eliza in round one before repeating the final-quarter surge to run over the top of Mornington last week.

The Bombers didn’t have anyone in particular go nuts, it was more of an even team performance with 10 players contributing to a 16-goal scorecard.

Jarrad Grant proved his mix of height and pace will be a tough match up this season with three goals, while the likes of Josh Chapman, Dale Sutton, Koby Villis and Zach Longham all chimed in at important times.

Those strong last quarters will give the Bombers confidence if things are tight at three-quarter time against the Tigers, who surrendered a 19-point lead at the same stage against YCW last week.

Matt Terech has lived up to his billing as a strong and dominant ruckman while Nick Braun, Ben Howlett and Matt Herbert have given coach Ben Murphy some tremendous service in the early rounds for the Tigers.

You get the feeling we will look back on this one as a key juncture in the season for both teams – a win would be a fantastic confidence boost for both clubs.

It’s the Tigers to get the choccies by 13 points.

Mt Eliza hits its home ground at Emil Madsen Reserve for the first time this season when it rolls out the red carpet for Pines.

The Redlegs have been involved in two thrillers so far this season, winning by two points against Frankston Bombers in round one before falling six points short against Sorrento.

Coach Troy Shannon will be disappointed his team hasn’t started two-zip – but the realist in him will be pretty happy with a more than competitive start to 2018.

Jordan Moncrieff was impressive with four goals against tough opposition last week, while Ben Landry, Sam Gill and Daniel Gormley will look to trouble the Pythons after hitting top form.

Pines just fell short against Seaford before being comprehensively outplayed for three quarters against Edi-Asp last week.

Paddy Swayn will be impressed that his team fought the game out to the end, cutting a 42-point deficit back to 10 points at the final siren against the Eagles.

But now they need to do it for four quarters.

EV Shade Medallist Paul Scanlon is once again leading the way, with Corey Ash, Jonathon Hughes and Jacob Boyle all very handy accomplices.

Pines needs a win like this to spark its season.

Lose and it falls to 0-3 – and two games behind the Mounties – while a win brings it right back into contention. This will be hard, fast and tough footy early – and expect a close finish at the end.

We’ll go for Pines to resurrect its season by a thrilling two points.

And Edi-Asp will look to make it three from three when the Eagles welcome Mornington to Regents Park.

The Eagles look to be a very well-balanced outfit that have dominated their opposition over the first two rounds. They kicked out to a 50-point lead against Bonbeach in round one and were seven goals ahead of Pines at three-quarter time before pulling the pin once again.

The lack of killer instinct is about the only downside for coach Graeme Yeats right now.

The Eagles were already potent, but the inclusion of former Noble Park star Brett Dore has increased that potency to new levels.

Dore has been one of the best power forwards in the strong Eastern Football League for a number of seasons now and will give the Eagles a real focal point and a presence going forward.

He will certainly straighten them up.

Mornington sits at the bottom of the ladder but, with a percentage of 85.64, is certainly proving to be no pushover.

Rosebud got the better of the Doggies in round one before Simon Goosey’s boys relinquished a 10-point lead at three-quarter time against the Bombers last week.

Broden Bird lit up Alexandra Park with five majors while Tom Hobbs, Kalen Bird and Joel Miller were prime movers for the Bulldogs.

But this is their biggest challenge this season.

The Eagles – as Eagles should – are flying at the moment and look an early contender to go deep into September this year.

They cant afford to make a mistake here and they’ll get the job done – running away this time – by 33 points.