Around the Grounds with Hilly: Round 17

Around the Grounds with Hilly: Round 17

18th August 2023

The top five for the Hampden League finals series is now locked, with the emerging Port Fairy Seagulls knocked out of the race. It is terrific to see Cobden and Terang Mortlake locking in their positions for the finals, it will be each team’s first appearance since 2017 and 2015 respectively. Despite not registering a finals berth, the next two weeks for the likes of Hamilton will be important in finishing strongly to help access a strong senior coach in 2024.

The Eastern Teams Finals Bound

Cobden and Terang Mortlake will feature in their first finals campaigns in six and eight years respectively. The Bombers and Bloods were strongly backed at the start of the season to be two of the major improvers in the league, on the back of strong recruiting, welcoming back some A Grade talent. Both sides have had their injury issues throughout the season, but it feels like each list is becoming more healthier in readiness for the finals. There is one thing we can expect during the finals series with both clubs, and that is strong crowds, especially wearing the red and black, as well as the royal blue and red as both clubs have a significant following and great support from their local communities. From a neutral Hampden League supporter, this a terrific outcome for the competition. 

Maskell Medal Predictor

The 2023 Maskell Medal could be one of the closest we witness for some time as there are many standouts this season that could contend for the coveted award. Some of the names that I feel will poll well include Port Fairy duo Kaine Mercovich and Matt Sully, Cobden midfielder Pat Smith, Terang Mortlake young gun Ryley Hutchins along with his skipper Joey Arundell. I firmly believe Jarryd Lewis from the North Warrnambool Eagles could surge hard in the second half of the season, playing some career best football across half back. Koroit’s Paddy O’Sullivan has had a standout season playing in the midfield as well as forward, Camperdown star Cameron Spence will feature after another consistent season while Shannon Beks has been excellent across the season for the Roosters. It will be interesting on what happens over the next two rounds but I think no matter what, the count will be one that is extremely tight and exciting.

Stevens VFL Domination

In this column throughout the 2023 season, I have mentioned a number of times how well South Warrnambool pair George Stevens and Luamon Lual are going with either the GWV Rebels or Vic Country. Last weekend, George had the opportunity to line up with the Geelong Cats in the VFL, and let’s just say, he didn’t disappoint. The big bodied midfielder had a game high 29 disposals and 5 marks in the team’s loss to Colingwood. It has been interesting reading some of the phantom drafts and not seeing George in the top 25. Surely his form in the VFL, his outstanding numbers in the Coates League as well as his invitation to the upcoming Draft Combine would excite clubs and see George go a lot earlier in the draft. To be honest, no matter where he ends up next season, George will be one of the hardest working and in my mind, could be a 200 game AFL player. 

Round 17 Tips

Koroit vs Terang Mortlake – It was a thriller last time they met, we could be in for deja vu. The Saints lose a little quality due to Coates League commitments while the Bloods are edging so close to being full strength. The result is huge for both teams in regard to the double chance. It promises to be a great match coming up and I think Terang Mortlake can reverse the result this time around. 

Warrnambool vs North Warrnambool  – Warrnambool are hoping to finish the season under first year coach Dan O’Keeffe on a high and he welcomes back some key players in Weymouth and Cody. After last weekend, North Warrnambool will have good momentum from last weeks thriller against the Roosters. Though the Blues bring in quality, I think North Warrnambool are preparing well for another finals campaign. 

South Warrnambool vs Cobden – After a little mishap and some key personnel away, I think South Warrnambool will be setting themselves for a strong two weeks before a first week bye in the finals. The Friendlies is usually a fortress and whilst Cobden are in good form, it might be a win for the Roosters. 

Camperdown vs Hamilton – Both sides will be looking to finish the season on a winning note. Camperdown’s form has been very sound whilst in patches last weekend, Hamilton pushed Koroit. An entertaining match coming up with the Magpies likely to get the four points.

Port Fairy vs Portland – Port Fairy have been an exciting team this year to watch, a far cry from their 2022 list and performances. Portland have shown some great signs in the back half of the year. I think Port Fairy will be too strong in this fixture.

See you at the Footy


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