Menzel Injury
The race for finals continued this week with a number of teams moving up the ladder and placing pressure on the eight. Geelong and Port Melbourne’s losses have all but eliminated them from the race for finals but with Coburg just one game away from Casey, their finals race is still alive. Collingwood’s top four hopes were also shot down after they gave up the lead to be defeated by North Ballarat.

Geelong 10. 11. (71) defeated by Box Hill Hawks 19. 7. (121)

Geelong’s hopes of making the finals were cut short by Hawthorn, after a 13-goals-to-five second half set up the Hawks win. Box Hill’s efficiency enabled the win and became a major factor in their ability to run away with the game late in the third quarter.

A big positive for Geelong was Daniel Menzel, who again fired with three goals. He was judged best afield for Geelong with 22 touches and 10 clearances and is nearing his way to a senior call-up. Dawson Simpson was also important, giving Geelong first use of the ball through the middle with 41 hit-outs.

Sam Grimley was pivotal for the Hawks, kicking six goals and couldn’t be stopped despite Geelong’ best efforts. Box Hill senior players Shem Tatupu and Chris Jones were also prolific, finishing with four goals each.

Best
Box Hill Hawks: D. Mirra, J. Simpkin, S. Grimley, A. Litherland, M. O’Donnell, C. Jones
Geelong: D. Menzel, M. Luxford, B. Smedts, D. Gore, P. Burchell, D. Simpson

Leading goal kickers
Box Hill Hawks: Grimley 6, Jones 5, Tatupu 4, Anderson 3
Geelong: Menzel 3

Footscray 12. 12. (84) defeated Port Melbourne 12. 9. (81)

Tom Boyd’s fifth goal edged the Bulldogs over the line and all but ended Port Melbourne’s finals chances. Port Melbourne continued their recent trend of fading out of games, having led by 11 points midway through the final term. Footscray was able to consolidate their spot in the top four by moving a game clear of fifth place.

Boyd was a standout for the Bulldogs with five goals, and with continual improvement to his form he could push for senior selection in the next few weeks.

Mitch Honeychurch and Nathan Hrovat were again among the best and have shown to Luke Beveridge over the past few weeks that they are determined for a senior call-up.

Best
Footscray: M. Honeychurch, N. Hrovat, B. Prismall, T. Boyd, B. Goodes, M. Fuller
Port Melbourne: D. Mascitti, S. Clarke, C. Cain, K. Dove, R. Hogan, T. Pinwill

Leading goal kickers
Footscray: T.Boyd 5
Port Melbourne: Lisle 3

Collingwood 17. 7. (109) defeated by North Ballarat 17. 15. (117)

Collingwood lost their first game at Victoria Park since round 11, 2014 against the Roosters. Led by Ryan Bastinac and Andrew Hooper, the Roosters claimed their fourth successive victory. The Roosters were able to recover from a 25-point three quarter time deficit to come away with the win.

Jesse White was an important forward figure for Collingwood, booting three goals to potentially earn himself a return to the senior side in the next few weeks. Jarrod Witts was named best on ground for Collingwood.

Brent Maccaffer returned to football, playing out the last three quarters of the game after returning from an ACL injury sustained in round 22 of the AFL last year.

Best
North Ballarat: R. Bastinac, A. Hooper, N. Couch, T. Dumont, T. Lockyer, N. Peters
Collingwood: J. Witts, C. Young, R. Pendlebury, T. Armstrong, J. White, J. Taylor

Leading goal kickers
North Ballarat: Hooper 5, Couch 4
Collingwood: White 3

Casey Scorpions 12. 7. (79) defeated by Williamstown 14. 12. (96)

After falling short against Williamstown, Casey are just holding onto their eighth spot for a potential finals berth. Casey challenged Williamstown leading by seven-points early in the last quarter but the class of Williamstown shone through for them to take away a 17-point win and retain second spot on the ladder, leading Sandringham by percentage.

Best
Williamstown:
 B. Jolley, S. Dunell, M. Banner, N. Meese, N. Sing, E. Carr
Casey Scorpions: M. White, B. Stretch, M. Jamar, D. Terlich, N. Page, T. Muir

Leading goalkickers
Williamstown: Dunell 5
Casey Scorpions: Fitzpatrick 4, Page 3

Richmond 5. 4. (34) defeated by Coburg 11. 11. (77)

Coburg surged to a 44-point win over Richmond after a five goal to two final quarter.

Coburg were inaccurate in the first term, kicking 1.5, but after becoming more efficient in front of goal led by 22 points at half time. Coburg’s win takes them to 10th place and just a game away from Casey in eighth position, who they play next week.

Matt Dea (27 disposals) and David Astbury were amongst the Tigers’ best. After a solid few weeks, Astbury will be looking to push for a senior recall before the finals. Chris Knights continues to make a solid return from injury with 28 disposals.

Best
Coburg: M. Hartley, L. Johns, O. Uysal, D. Venditti, C. Morton, D. MacDonald
Richmond: J. Castagna, D. Astbury, M. Dea, M. McDonough, S. Hampson, N. Wynne

Leading goal kickers
Coburg: Johns 4, MacDonald 3, Hill 2
Richmond: McDonough 3

Frankston 7. 9. (51) defeated by Essendon 25. 14. (164)

Essendon boosted their percentage and secured their spot in the finals with a 10 goal fourth quarter leading to a 113-point win over Frankston. The win was Essendon’s biggest score of 2015 and the load was shared with 14 individual goal kickers.

Shaun McKernan was among Essendon’s best despite being rested in the final term. He finished with 22 disposals and a goal. After dominating in the ruck, he is likely to face a senior call-up with the Bombers having some doubt of Jonathan Giles.

The Bomber’s midfield were also standouts with Nick O’Brien having 37 touches and nine clearances, Jordan Schroder accumulating with 36 touches and eight clearances and Daniel Coghlan having 30 possessions along with four goals.

Essendon have a five-day turnaround before facing Footscray on Friday night.

Best
Essendon: D. Coghlan , N. O”Brien , P. Ambrose , J. Schroder , K. Hardingham , S. McKernan
Frankston: N. Tuddenham , J. Pongracic , B. Cavarra , G. Valles , J. Hammond , J. Tynan

Leading goal kickers
Essendon: Hardingham, Coghlan 4, Thompson 3
Frankston: All singles

Northern Blues 9.9 (63) defeated by Sandringham 16. 12. (108)

After keeping the Blues goalless in the third quarter, Sandringham marched on to victory with a strong final term kicking six goals.

The Zebras trailed by 16 points at quarter time, but a six goal to two second quarter helped them to a nine-point half time lead.

For the Blues, Blaine Johnson was among the best, kicking two first-term goals and providing a handful for the Zebras to contain with his ability to win the footy both overhead and at ground level. Liam Jones was also important, making his presence known in the contests and providing a forward target.

Tim Membrey was critical in the Zebra’s comeback, booting two second quarter goals and finishing the day with five. Clint Jones was also pivotal in the revival, amassing 12 disposals for the second quarter and kicking two goals.

Best
Sandringham: C. Jones, T. Membrey, M. Brown, L. Delaney, F. Ray, C. Shenton
Northern Blues: J. Johnston, B. Johnson, T. Wilson, J. Tutt, M. Watson, B. Walsh

Leading goal kickers
Sandringham: Membrey 5, C. Jones 2, Dennis-Lane 2
Northern Blues: Johnson 4