FOUR rounds to play and going by the numbers nine teams still in the running for the Ballarat Football League finals. Could he be a key
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Five are locked in and have been for some time.
What order Lake Wendouree, Bacchus Marsh, Sunbury, Redan and North Ballarat City is anyone’s guess.
The most fascinating battle is for sixth. What a conundrum. East Point and reigning premier Darley for quite a while looked to have this tussle to themselves. It was just a matter of one of them putting a run of wins together.
With neither able to do this though, Melton has hung around and suddenly jumped past the duelling Kangaroos and Devils to claim sixth position.
Then on top of that Ballarat has crept up on them to be within one win – and a huge lump of percentage away from sixth. Only an extremely optimistic Swans supporter would give Ballarat any hope of bridging the gap. It would have to win all four games, including clashes with Bacchus Marsh and Redan, and this looks out of the question.
So who will make the cut? Melton (28 points), Darley (28) or East Point (24, with best percentage).
Here is the outcome if games run to ladder positions:
MELTON: round 15, bye (4 points – 32); round 16, Bacchus Marsh (loss – 32); round 17, East Point (win – 36); round 18, North Ballarat City (loss – 36).
DARLEY: round 15, bye (4 points – 32); round 16, North Ballarat City (loss – 32); round 17, Melton South (win – 36); round 18, Sunbury (loss – 36).
EAST POINT: round 15: North Ballarat City (loss – 24); round 16, Ballarat (win – 24); round 17, Melton (loss – 28); round 18, Sebastopol (win – 32).
In this scenario it goes down percentage between Melton and Darley, and right now this could go either way. This season has been far too intriguing for the home and away series to finish in such a predictable way.
The round 17 clash between East and Melton is the wildcard. If East Point wins it will play finals.
NORTH BALLARAT CITY v EAST POINT
at Eureka Stadium, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: North Ballarat City 13.10 (88) v East Point 10.15 (75)
NORTH BALLARAT CITY (5th): coach Jordyn Burke, who sits out the second week of a suspension, liked what he saw from his players in their win over Lake Wendouree last round. Now he wants to see that type of performance consistently through to the finals. Ben Simpson is back from the Roosters in the VFL. Derrick Micallef is again the potential match-winner.
EAST POINT (8th): the Kangaroos can give their finals hopes a massive boost with a win here and it is not out of the question. East has played better than its record suggests. It badly lacks a couple of big marking forwards - something the return Brad Whittaker will help with. Its strength is in the midfield through Nick Hind, Aden Nestor, Daniel Tung, Jono Lanyon and Ben Lusby (back from the Roosters) and they could match-up well.
PREDICTION: North Ballarat City
MELTON SOUTH v BALLARAT
at Melton Rec Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Ballarat 16.14 (110) d Melton South 7.6 (48), round 11
MELTON SOUTH (11th): the Panthers were completely out of sorts in the mud at Sebastopol, but this did not stop BFL representative ruckman Ben Sortino and captain Shaun White, who was in everything, showing their class. They will be even more effective with Marc Dransman and Daniel Leggett on better ground. This could be their last chance to break the duck and at home will throw everything at it.
BALLARAT (9th): the Swans took the game from Melton South in the first quarter last time they met and coach Ash Baker is hoping superiority at stoppages allows them to repeat the dose. Ballarat loses youngsters Bailey Van De Heuvel and Will Garner to St Patrick's College (Herald Sun Shield), and Glen Coleman to the Roosters (VFL), but recalls James Quayle and Bailey Fraser, calls up Ash Madder, and gives first-year player Brendan Smith his first game.
SEBASTOPOL v REDAN
at Alfredton, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Redan 15.12 (102) d Sebastopol 4.8 (32), round 10
SEBASTOPOL (10th): while not many teams enjoy playing in the mud, the Burra will miss not having another opportunity on their home ground. Their mudlark-like skills have given them wins over Darley and Melton South. Sebastopol has a solid enough game plan for any conditions, but is still some way from having the spread of talent to challenge the likes of the experienced Redan. Youngster Ben Hutt in among inclusions.
REDAN (4th): with six wins in its past seven outings, the Lions continue to build. Dean Mathews (groin) is a big loss though as is Brenton Riordan (knee). Veteran Leigh Ryall is being rested and Josh Webster is back with the Roosters. However, Redan's inclusions are massive with Liam Hoy, picked up from the Roosters this year, playing his first game after being overseas; Matt Colbert back after 12 months off with injury; and.Damien Horbury and Jacob Short other inclusions.
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