WERRIBEE coach Scott West admits affiliate North Melbourne will have a great influence over whether the Tigers can go all the way in the VFL finals this month in what is expected to be a ripper September for the competition given the even spread of teams in the mix.
The Casey Scorpions are already feeling the heat with their partner Melbourne set to rip apart their chances in September once again despite a season full of promise. The Scorpions are on top of the ladder but copped a belting to the hands of the Northern Blues by 40-points on Saturday in a surprise upset.
The Demons withdrew midfielder James Magner and may opt for a reoccurrence of this when other players go off for surgery earlier than expected.
West, a former Melbourne assistant coach, has seen Casey’s flag hopes diminish in recent seasons because of the Demons have opted to either rest or put players into pre-season surgery. It has meant that Casey had to rely on its VFL list rather than the affiliation that had made it so successful during the season.
‘I think it’s a little bit of an unknown about what the policy of the senior team is. Do they rest players playing on the next day? There’s a lot ifs and buts in selection at VFL level because you’re weighted on carry-overs, injuries, restings which seem to be happening a lot more. It will still get more interesting to see how clubs manage their players going into the end of the year, especially those that won’t play finals,” West said.
“Whether they pull them out for surgery or whatever they do to manage their own AFL list.”
“I don’t know what the precedence has been with that but I certainly know from having been at Melbourne, they lost a fair few players in recent years in the end because of blokes being put in for surgery. The Kangaroos are going well at the moment and hopefully they will continue that. Obviously it helps us out,” he said.
The Tigers have a well balanced list but have relied greatly upon North’s Ben McKinley up forward, Majak Daw in the ruck, Cameron Pedersen around the ground and Ben Speight in the midfield among others this season.
Casey coach Brett Lovett touched on the topic earlier in the season and was confident that his team had enough VFL depth to cover the potential loss of Melbourne talent.
Box Hill is another team that will be relying a lot on Hawthorn’s list in order to get them to the finals which isn’t a certainty despite its encouraging 24-point win over Coburg.
Skipper Daniel Pratt was important for the Hawks, returning to form with five goals.
“He’s been down a little bit over the past couple of weeks so we needed him to step up and play well and we thought he was good and moved pretty freely and that’s probably the result of a couple of better weeks on the training track for Daniel,” Box Hill coach Damian Carroll said.
Matt Jones was best afield, exemplifying his rise in the game since the start of the season.
“He’s a good player, we think he’s really come along well for us and developed over the course of the season. His run’s really important and 31 touches and three goals is a terrific return,” he said.
The Hawks were without David Mirra, Danny Hughes and Luke Lowden, who has been sidelined through injury for the rest of the season in a major blow.
Bendigo is one team that is feeling the heat from its AFL partner Essendon and its rising injury toll.
Suddenly Bendigo is on the verge of slipping out of the top eight after a 13-point loss to Collingwood at home.
The Gold was a top four chance just three weeks ago.
Geelong dented North Ballarat’s chances with an 11-point win over the Roosters at Eureka Stadium in the wet conditions.
The Cats, amazingly, are shooting for the stars and may grab top spot if they defeat Casey and Box Hill knocks off Port this week.
Sandringham consolidated its spot in the top eight with a 43-point win over Frankston.
Hero of the week: Troy Selwood (Geelong) – While Jordan Schroder was the ultimate hero for the Cats with three goals including the match-winner, it was Selwood who got the Cats going in the final term and scrapped a goal from nowhere to put them in front in the final term against the Roosters. He loves the tough conditions.
Villain(s) of the week: Melbourne’s coaching staff – It appears Casey’s season is going down the toilet. The Demons are likely to follow the same trend and put players into surgery very early. Could be a straight sets exit and there’s nothing coach Brett Lovett can do about it. Both previous coaches Peter German and Brad Gotch had the same frustration.
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