Wombats start run to finals
Lancaster football officials will be hoping the Kyabram District League powerhouse’s 58-point win against Nagambie on Saturday catapults it into the final six rounds of the home and away season.
The Wombats sit sixth on the ladder, with six wins from the opening 10 games of the season, an unfamiliar place for the club which has been a dominant force in recent seasons.
Lancaster was a 15.14 (104) to 7.4 (56) winner against Nagambie on Saturday, unveiling two mid-season recruits in the match.
The Wombats will need to win almost all of those six remaining games to force its way back into the top four, and the vital double chance associated with a place in the top half of the final eight.
This weekend the Wombats tackle Dookie, which has plenty to lose itself.
Dookie is ranked eighth on the ladder and a loss could leave it exposed to ninth ranked Girgarre and 10th ranked Nagambie (both one game behind).
The Wombats have Violet Town (fifth), before a stretch of matches that include only one of the top eight teams — Undera (12th), Girgarre (9th), Rushworth (13th) and Dookie again.
Jake Mills, who joined the club from Northcote Park last year and has played only a handful of games this season, attracted former Northcote Park teammates Sam Aanensen and Cameron Simpson to Lancaster.
Simpson was a strong midfield performer with both Northcote Park and Montmercy in the Northern Football League, as a goalkicking mid-fielder.
Aanensen, who played at full-forward and in the ruck on Saturday, kicked 50 goals with Ivanhoe in the Amateurs.
Neither has played in the past 12 months and will be expected to improve in coming weeks.
Zed Besim’s three-goal best on ground display took his season goalkicking tally to 19, while Mills also kicked three goals, among eight Wombats goalkickers.
Merrigum has dropped to seventh on the ladder after Shepparton East kicked 15 second-half goals to register a 95-point win.
It was the Bulldogs second worst defeat of the year, having lost to Dookie in round three by 116 points.
Merrigum has top of the ladder, and undefeated Avenel this weekend in its tough run to the wire. It also faces fourth ranked Stanhope and, in a quirk of the draw, third ranked Murchison Toolamba (twice) in the final six matches of the season.
Midfield star Jack Sinclair was responsible for three of the Bulldogs majors in the 24.10 (154) to 10.9 (69) defeat, taking his tally to 23 majors for the season.
Most of the Bulldogs goals this season have come from midfielders that push forward, with Ryan Martin (17 goals) also regularly pushing forward.
Merrigum had no answer to Shepparton East key forward Ryan Pfeiffer (eight goals), while Tom McCluskey was best afield with four goals from the midfield.
Percentage will play a part in the final wash up of the KDL finals, so Stanhope did itself no harm with a 155-point win against 11th ranked Tallygaroopna.
Stanhope is a game clear in fourth position with six matches to play and will face bottom ranked Longwood on Saturday with the chance to further enhance that percentage ranking.
It is a different story a week later when the Stanhope faces Shepparton East and Avenel, the top two teams, in successive weeks.
Wins in four of the next six weeks, however, may be enough for it to secure the double chance.
Chris Gleeson’s last two weeks in attack have turned the club’s fortunes. He hadn’t scored a goal since round two, but has kicked 12 in the last two weeks.
Gleeson has only played seven games this year, but was given plenty of supply by Luke and Ryan Semmel on the weekend.
Tomas Rennie took his goalkicking total to 21 for the year with four on the weekend, while Jye Adamson doubled his season tally with four goals (six for the season).
Girgarre has left itself with plenty of work to do in the final six weeks after losing to eighth ranked Dookie, by 26 points on Saturday.
The Kangaroos need an upset win against fifth ranked Violet Town to kick start a charge to the finals, because in the final five weeks they face only one team above them on the ladder (Lancaster).
A half-time deficit 18 points was not advanced too much by Dookie as Kangaroos Jordan Clarke and ruckman Byron Dryden kept Girgarre in the match.
The Kangaroos managed only 8.5 (53) to Dookie’s 12.15 (87), with coach Damien Cupido restricted to two goals for the afternoon.
Classy mid-fielder Jarrod Kellock, who has featured in the team’s best players in all of his six games this season, will be important to that final month of football.
The former Glenelg player will need to influence an upset against either Violet Town or Lancaster for the Kangaroos to step into the top eight.