By Kyle Power
SO we finally reach the halfway point of the Goulburn Valley Football League season and what a second half of the year it promises to be. As much conjecture about the fixture rolls on the chance for some teams to make a play for a flag starts now.
Benalla, the runner-up from last year’s dramatic grand final loss to the Shepparton Swans, is one side that I think will push deep again in September. Their run home is favourable considering they play some sides below them on the ladder and some sides who are vying for top six honours, with a dominant Josh Mellington and damaging midfield, the sky’s the limit for the Saints.
Rochester who remain undefeated heading into the bye are the real surprise packets, they are knocking over milestones at will with their best start to a season in history and also diminishing last seasons’ 11 wins for the home and away fixture. James Flaherty with a wealth of West Australian Football League experience has been a messiah at Tigerland with an expected minor premiership being theirs to lose.
Mooroopna would be concerned with their recent run of losses losing the last two against finals sides Benalla and Rochester, however the loss to the Tigers last weekend showed some positive signs that they can compete with the top sides for longer but now need to be better. The evenness of the competition has seen the Cats slip from third in round nine, to now sit equal sixth, with percentage splitting Seymour and Mansfield, so winning games is a must at the Cattery.
The Shepparton Swans are playing nice football at the moment but not great football as they prepare to defend their title. Justin Maddern missing the last couple of weeks with a back complaint hasn’t troubled the Swans with Kaiden Antonowicz filling the void up forward, whose best footy is played in attack.
Two crunch games coming up against Kyabram and Mansfield with both being at home, if they can pinch both victories the Swannies will be back in town.
Kyabram and Euroa are going along nicely in second and fifth positions respectively. The Bombers are winning games they need to, however their lapses in concentration throughout games, particularly against Seymour and Shepparton, will need to be worked on as the nitty gritty part of the year comes, they’ll be exposed.
Justin Sherman’s leadership on and off the field has been superb, with a mentoring role from Ken Sheldon placing them nicely for a genuine tilt at a flag. Euroa similar to the Bombers fade in and out of games and giving up leads is starting to hurt them, should be higher then the ladder suggests and need more leaders to stand up with the impressive Playing Coach, Nathan Gilliland leading the way.
Seymour along with Mansfield will battle it out for a finals spot, with Mansfield leading the way just by winning six of their last eight matches and in good form, four out of their next eight games are at home in the high country so they are not out of it. Seymour will be treating every game as a final from now on.
Shepparton United, Echuca, Shepparton and Tatura all fall into the ‘out of finals mix’ calculation with United being disappointing and would have hoped for a finals berth at start of year. Shepparton continue to improve. Echuca with their midfield should have more wins and Tatura is having a season from hell yet to record a win and losing badly against Benalla in Round 11.