Sport

Benalla’s run to finals

by
August 05, 2017

The Ensign predicts both Benalla Saints footy and netball are headed for the finals, while the Benalla All Blacks footy side, and Goorambat's top footy and netball sides will follow suit.

With just three weeks until the finals in the Goulburn Valley and Ovens and King football netball leagues, the Ensign predicts where each side will triumph and fall in their final matches.

Fraser Walker-Pearce takes the Oracle’s chair and sees some sides winning all remaining matches, while others will be teetering on the edge of finals contention.

For this article, only A-grade sides currently in the top six of their respective league have been used.

FOOTY

GVFL: Benalla Saints — current position: 5th

With the weekend’s loss away to the Shepparton Bears, the Saints sit fifth in the Goulburn Valley Football League.

It is highly unlikely they would miss out on finals footy, but the side is still not safe from missing out.

Seventh-placed Echuca sit 12 points back with three games remaining.

The Saints have three must-win games to end the season in a strong position.

The Saints’ saviours this year have been goal-machine Jarrod Bannister, centurion Nick Warnock, and player-coach Luke Morgan — all of whom will play a big part in reaching the knockout stage with momentum behind them and in good form.

PREDICTIONS:

Rochester (home): win. Mansfield (home): win. Tatura (away): win.

Regular season finish: fourth.

OKFL: Benalla All Blacks — current position: 2nd

The most improved of all Benalla sides this year, the Panthers’ footy side has only slipped up once this season, to the undefeated Tarrawingee.

All other sides in the Ovens and King Football League, bar a three-point win over Glenrowan, have been obliterated by a ruthless Panthers attack and a steadfast, and at times impregnable, defence.

The addition of former Saint, Al Jacka, plus the contributions of the Moran brothers, plus Mick Donehue and Jack Ellis have seen the Panthers fight their way out of numerous tough situations this year.

Which is why the Panthers’ final round-robin matches in Glenrowan, Greta and Whorouly will prove warm-ups for Tarrawingee come finals time.

PREDICTIONS:

Glenrowan (home): win. Greta (away): win. Whorouly (away): win.

Regular season finish: second.

OKFL: Goorambat — current position: 5th

Dogged by injuries to key players this year, the Bats were one of three sides unbeaten in the O and K league up until round nine.

Since then the Bats have fallen to Tarrawingee, local rivals Benalla All Blacks, Whorouly, and most recently were dispatched by Glenrowan on Saturday.

Sam Gladstone, Brett Pollard, and goal threat Cam Symes have all been important figures in the Bats’ fight to remain a premiership hope this season.

They will all have to stand up and be counted if they are to achieve a high finish. It could come down to points percentage for a third place finish if Glenrowan fall to Tarrawingee in round 17.

PREDICTIONS:

Greta (home): win. Bonnie Doon (away): win. Bright (away): win.

Regular season finish: fourth.

Netball

GVNL: Benalla Saints — current position: 4th

The Saints are perilously close to missing out on finals altogether after the weekend’s loss away to the Shepparton Bears.

The Benalla side is just two points clear of seventh-placed Mooroopna, but thankfully have an easy run in the final three games, which will see them overtake Shepparton United, potentially in the last match of the season.

Rochester (11th), Mansfield (12th) and Tatura (10th) should be no contest for the Saints, which would see the side finish on 46 points.

Captain Tylah Marchbank, along with up and coming goal shooters Grace Thomas and Hannah Austin have been important figures in the Saints’ success this year, and will no doubt be heavily relied upon come finals time.

PREDICTIONS:

Rochester (home): win. Mansfield (home): win. Tatura (away): win.

Regular season finish: third.

O&KNL: Goorambat — current position: 5th

The weekend’s win over Glenrowan was vital in terms of keeping the Bats’ final hopes alive this season.

Bright’s loss has helped their case, but there is now a fight on for sixth place, which the Bats could be dragged into if they are not on top of their game.

Sitting perilously in fifth, every remaining game has now become a must-win if they want to retain their spot come finals.

Big-name players in the squad such as the ever-present Brittany Button, captain Olivia Wolff, and goal shooter Kylie Relf will have to come up big to overcome two tough obstacles in Bonnie Doon and Bright (both away games) at the end of the season.

Results will have to be in favour of the Bats in the final three rounds if they are hopeful of a top six finish.

PREDICTIONS:

Greta (home): loss, Bonnie Doon (away): loss, Bright (away): win.

Regular season finish: sixth.

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