SHARKS HOLD ON, CATS STUN DEVILS
By PADDY GRINDLAY
Point Cook Centrals’ hope of an undefeated season was nearly over, thanks to a determined Parkside in what was a low-scoring yet gripping affair at Henry Turner Reserve.
The ladder-leading Sharks scraping by with a four-point victory in Road Safety Round.
After conceding three goals to none in the first term, memories of Round 7 arose for the Magpies, where they were clobbered by 11 goals after starting poorly.
But Jackson Lesko and Samuel Dukic starred, dragging the Parksiders back into the match. Lesko’s four goals on Saturday underlined a particularly brilliant stretch of football for the forward, who has kicked 20 goals over the last six games and 33 for the season.
Jackson Barrett added to the Magpies’ effort, but the Sharks, who had never quite been challenged to this extent over the course of the season, held the lead at every break. Jordan Bennett (four goals) continued a hot scoring stretch of his own, while Kwar Ater and the ever-consistent Nathan Williams were prolific.
With all their guile needed, the Sharks had a nine-point lead going into the final term and held on to scrape by 9.7 (61) to 8.9 (57) in a possible Grand Final preview.
While the Magpies would be devastated, their slim loss proves they can mix it with the Sharks, who have looked close to untouchable in 2022, while its second position on the ladder looks much stronger after Round 14 as North Footscray dropped a crucial match to Albion.
The Devils, who comfortably took care of business against the Cats earlier this year, kicked just one goal after half time in a Ben Doll masterclass, with the Albion power forward kicking five goals in the 9.10. (64) to 7.11. (53) win.
Albion trailed by 13-points at the half but raged home, with dominant midfielder Darcy McPherson running riot while Doll made a mockery of the Devils’ backline.
Despite three goals to Jordan Eitler and a midfield clinic from Samuel Kater, the Devils fell away and are now three wins behind the Magpies with four games left in the season.
View this post on Instagram
One team eyeing off third spot on the ladder is Wyndhamvale, who geared up for a last month push by pumping winless West Footscray in a handy percentage boost, 25.19. (169) to 2.5. (17).
Mathiang Kak was best-on-ground with six goals, with Jayme Gilmore adding five and Matthew Paul four.
James Daly also starred for the Falcons, while Ethan Murphy and Kane Liossis stood tall for the Roosters.
Two games behind the Devils, the Falcons have Albion, Newport and Glen Orden a game behind, with Albion marginally ahead on percentage.
Finally, despite conceding six goals to zero in the final term after a win looked certain, Newport have halted a losing skid by holding on to a seven-point win at home over Glen Orden.
The Hawks raced back into the game after trailing by a remarkable 47 points at three quarter time, holding Newport not only goalless but scoreless as Joshua McDonald (three goals), Ashleigh Peters (two) and Daniel Rosenzweig (two) almost pulled off an unlikely comeback.
Nayef Hamad and four-goal forward Mustafa Mesto held firm for the home side, who were lucky to escape with four points, the Hawks falling agonisingly short to fall 10.13 (73) to 12.8 (80).
With the race for spots three and four heating up, all eyes will be on North Footscray’s clash with Newport at Hansen Reserve. A win to Newport not only could propel the side into fourth but would bring the Devils further back to the chasing pack.
Wyndhamvale has its work cut out with a visit to Henry Turner Reserve and the Magpies looming, while Albion should get the chocolates when they travel to West Footscray.
Glen Orden have a monster challenge with Point Cook Centrals to face on their stomping ground at Featherbrook Reserve.