With six Home and Away rounds remaining in the VFL, nine sides remain in contention for finals. Coburg can still mathematically make the eight though that appears unlikely. Most interest centres on Port Melbourne’s quest for back-to-back premierships and who the likely challengers may be.
Currently 1st, 11 Wins 2 Losses
Bye, Frankston [A], Blues [H], Geelong [H], Collingwood [A], Sandringham [H].
Under Brett Lovett the Casey Scorpions have been the surprise packet of the VFL and with a good run home can finish with 14-15 wins. Casey should have a good spread of Melbourne players available for finals and a home final in week one will give the Scorpions every chance to make at least the Preliminary Final.
Verdict: The Scorpions VFL list is thin and despite playing finals at Casey Fields it wouldn’t surprise to the see Casey bow out in straight sets.
2nd, 10 Wins 3 Losses
Blues [A], Williamstown [A], Box Hill [H], Bendigo [H], Nth Ballarat [A].
With Foxtel Cup duties completed, Port Melbourne can now solely focus on winning back-to-back premierships. Port will start favourites in all remaining games and with a superior percentage can regain top spot from the Scorpions.
Verdict: Few hiccups of late but can still see the Borough playing off in the Grand Final. Garry Ayres has managed the work load of his senior players and expect Port Melbourne to lift a cog once the September action begins.
3rd, 9 Wins 4 Losses
Williamstown [A], Box Hill [A], Bye, Nth Ballarat [H], Blues [A], Collingwood [A].
Werribee need to win every game to have any chance of finishing in the top two. Nonetheless looks assured of a top four spot and a genuine tilt at an elusive premiership.
Verdict: Looms as the greatest challenger to Port Melbourne. Having defeated Casey by 78 points in their Round 14 clash, the experienced Tiger outfit won’t be daunted by playing a first week final at Casey Fields and are the form side of the VFL with seven wins from their last eight outings. Fitting Hansen, Tarrant, Warren, Mckinley, & Daw into the same side will test the balance of the Tigers line up.
4th, 9 Wins 4 Losses
Bye, Nth Ballarat [A], Bendigo [H], Casey [A], Coburg [H], Williamstown [H]
The VFL Cats have a tough run home but with a superior percentage to Bendigo they are likely to hold onto to fourth spot.
Verdict: The fortune of the AFL Cats will play a big role in determining how far Geelong will go into the VFL finals. Geelong’s AFL side has a tough run home and could miss the finals for the first time since 2006; ironically Geelong played off in the VFL Grand Final that year. Geelong’s VFL team have a crack each week and I would expect them to play off in the Preliminary Final.
5th, 8 Wins 5 Losses
Sandringham [H], Geelong [A], Collingwood [H], Bye, Port Melbourne [A], Box Hill [H].
Bendigo has been another of the surprise packets in 2012. Will need to win remaining home games to retain position on the ladder.
Verdict: Injury aside, Bendigo has the talent to make a preliminary final, though much will depend on the attitude towards finals of alignment partner, Essendon. The Bombers should make it to at least the second week of AFL finals, which is Preliminary Final week in the VFL so can’t see, the Bombers placing any restrictions on player availability.
Box Hill Hawks
6th, 7 Wins 6 Losses
Collingwood [A], Werribee [H], Coburg [H], Port Melbourne [A], Bye, Bendigo [A]
Similarly tough draw to Bendigo. Should remain in the eight but could slip a place with Sandringham having an easier run home.
Verdict: The Hawks don’t have a strong VFL list and like Casey will rely heavily on their AFL players to make an impact in the finals. Expect Box Hill to make an early exit from the September action.
7th, 7 Wins 6 Losses
Bendigo [A], Bye, Frankston [H], Collingwood [H], Williamstown [A], Casey [A].
Likely to finish with 9-10 wins. Soft home draw compounded by difficult away games, Bendigo game is an 8 point game.
Verdict: The Zebra’s have been hit and miss in 2012 and can’t see them going any further than the second week of finals.
8th, 7 Wins 7 Losses
Coburg [A], Bye, Geelong [H], Werribee [A], Bye, Port Melbourne [H].
Toughest draw of sides competing for spot in the eight. Only consolation is that games against Geelong and Port Melbourne are at home. Coburg is a must win game and only game in which the Roosters will start favourite.
Verdict: North Ballarat’s mid-season improvement has coincided with the inclusion of several North Melbourne players who were either playing AFL or injured. Tough draw could see them miss the finals and if they make it the Roosters are likely to bow out in the first week of the finals.
9th, 6 Wins 1 Draw 6 Losses
Werribee [H], Port Melbourne [H], Bye, Blues [H], Sandringham [H], Geelong [A].
Also have a tough draw but home games will help in quest for finals spot. 34 points may be enough for the Seagulls to squeeze into eighth spot.
Verdict: At their best the Seagulls could make the eight and win a first week final, though with talk of a split between Williamstown and the Western Bulldogs, it’s hard to see the Seagulls making a late season tilt at the flag from the bottom half of the eight.
10th, 4 Wins 9 Losses
Nth Ballarat [H], Blues [A], Box Hill [A], Frankston [H], Geelong [A].
Coburg hasn’t got a bad draw but would need to win all remaining games to make the eight. Will struggle to beat Box Hill and Geelong away from home.
Verdict: Mathematically still possible to make the eight but like the Seagulls has off field issues to contend with. Will this Saturday’s match against North Ballarat be the last ever game for the once mighty Coburg Football Club at its home ground?
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