Published on Thursday, August 30, 2018
Author : Ben Pascuzz nfnl.org.au
SECOND SEMI FINAL – ELTHAM V LOWER PLENTY
A place in the A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 grand final is up for grabs when Eltham takes on Lower Plenty in the second semi final at Epping Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
It is a match-up that was expected to come to fruition since very early on in the season, and despite both sides suffering minor slip-ups in recent weeks, both have proven themselves to be premiership contenders from the outset of 2018.
Eltham has been the most dominant side throughout the 2018 campaign, opening the season with an incredible 15-game winning streak, before closing out the year with losses in two of its final three games.
Having been demoted by percentage from Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 last season, the Panthers certainly have been determined to get themselves straight back into the top flight and are in prime position to claim their first piece of silverware since winning the Division 2 flag in 2002.
Star recruit and former Collingwood premiership player Brent Macaffer has proven his worth this season. The star midfielder has dominated the competition with his ability to win the hard ball, as well as provide first-class delivery into his side’s forward line.
Ben Montanaro, Tim Currie and Anton Woods have all been key contributors to the Panthers’ season as well, whilst the consistency from Lewis Glasgow has been outstanding, with his hard-nosed attitude aiding his side’s success.
Sadly, a knee injury will see Tom Rogers miss the finals series – a major blow given the consistent season he has put together.
Lower Plenty also enters the game in slightly patchY form, having lost two of its past three regular season games against fellow finalists Banyule and Thomastown – either of which they would meet in a preliminary final should they lose the second semi.
Head-to-head form isn’t on Lower Plenty’s side entering this week’s match. The Bears have failed to defeat the Panthers in their previous two encounters this season, losing by 36 points in Round 8 and eight points in Round 12.
Despite this, a lot can be taken out of the nail-biting loss back in Round 12, which inspired Ben Turner’s side to win its next three games in a row and play a brand of football that certainly showed it is capable of achieving premiership glory this year.
Tom Keys has been Lower Plenty’s standout performer throughout the season. Keys has been used in a range of roles yet leads the team’s goal kicking with 36 for the season, as well as being named in his side’s best more than any other player.
It can be argued that skipper Patrick Flynn is Lower’s barometer. When he succumbed to a knee injury earlier in the season, Lower went on to lose its first two games whilst he was on the sidelines.
When Flynn has been playing and been a prominent force in the ruck, Lower has more than often won the match. A dominant showing by the big man this week could go a long way towards his side securing the first place in the grand final.
A host of youngsters have again proven their worth for Lower Plenty, with Ben Paterson and Jordan Sacco once again producing fantastic home and away campaigns.