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BFNL Weekend Preview - Round 7, 2023

Some interesting road trips headline the action of Round 7 as the respective tiers of the BFNL ladder start to take shape as we roll into the second third of the season.

Scoop previews all the major games coming up this weekend.

Bacchus Marsh




Last time they met - Sunbury 109 def. Bacchus Marsh 44 (Clarke Oval, Round 18 2022)

The travelling Lions will have to get it done without their captain and reigning club best and fairest winner in Tyson Lever, with the key defender set to be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks following results of recent foot scans with a specialist.

The absence of Lever in the Lions 56-point loss to the Devils in Round 5 was palpable. Coach Travis Hodgson, eager to kickstart the Lions’ season with a few scalps fell horribly short in their most recent match-up against Darley.

So, the search off the bye for another scalp continues for the Lions against the tenth placed Cobras who are yet to win a game.

Cobras’ coach Jason Williams is under no illusions where his new club is at and can assume some positives knowing his draw doesn't get any harder having already met Sebastopol, Darley and Melton who have lost just one game between them.

Externally, few give the Cobras any chance, but this contest is more about Sunbury than Bacchus Marsh who have been transparent, open and honest with their struggles. The Lions on the other hand, have been tipped to be in the conversation come the business end, but that wouldn't be for the first time.

Sunbury's best is very good. Some resemblance of their ceiling today would see a similar result to their last meeting at Clarke Oval. Anything less than a six-goal win for the Lions would indicate Williams' young Cobras were up for the fight, denying the visitors a game played entirely on their terms.

While little wins within games provide the Williams’ camp with tempered belief and confidence, it pales in comparison to the idea of one and all engaged in song and victory.

The history books tell us Sunbury haven’t conquered at Maddingley Park in 9 years, this may be the chance for the Lions to buck the trend.

Scoop’s tip: Sunbury

East Point




Last time they met - East Point 84 def. by Melton 127
(Eastern Oval, Round 17 2022)

Beware East Point, these Bloods are just cruising in second gear and this game may well be the perfect entree into a Round 8 showdown with fellow undefeated challengers Darley.

While the 43-point separation at their last meet in favour of the Bloods gives every indication the Kangas have significant ground to make up, note the Bloods had just three more scoring shots that day (12.12-20.7). Not to mention the 25-point half time deficit, the greatest the Bloods have endured at the main break since their 2021, Round 8 loss to North Ballarat when they trailed by 27 points.

In fairness the Kangas are considerably younger in 2023 despite enviable top end talent that can match their more fancied opposition, but the further you go down the list, the reigning premiers hold sway with seemingly minimal separation between their best and worst compared to their rivals.

Bloods’ coach Aaron Tymms has spoken highly of the buy-in from his group, eager to make it back-to-back titles but that is always easier said than done. The flag favorites have found themselves trailing at half time in two of their six games before hitting the gas in the third term. Their 'premiership quarters’ have been an example to the competition, their one wood to use a golfing vernacular.

It takes more than a half to take care of the Bloods.

Can the Kangas sustain a performance worthy of an upset? There will be doubts on the reliability of an enigmatic young group who fell short against Redan at home last round.

Regardless, of the result - both sides will gain significant learnings from the hit-out.   

Scoop’s tip: Melton

North Ballarat




Last time they met - Sebastopol 73 def. North Ballarat 47 (Eastern Oval, 2nd Elimination Final 2022)

Sebastopol can make it five wins against the bottom five sides with a win on the road over North Ballarat at MARS Stadium on Saturday. Somehow, that just doesn't sound right, does it?

North Ballarat is currently outside the six with a 3-3 record so far this season. The seventh placed side will want to replicate the early form that saw them lead reigning premiers Melton at half time in Round 4 by 15 points.

The defensive effort to keep the Bloods to three goals in that half should be the blueprint ahead of the clash with the Burra.

Brendan McCartney's boys will need to bring the heat, for this Burra outfit is ready to burst. Dual coaches Luke Kiel and Michael Columbro have been frothing at the mouth for a challenge resembling something like for like, having played only Melton from the top six up to this point.

McCartney has been bullish on the Roosters’ running ability and attack on the footy. Today the Roosters get another opportunity on their home deck to confirm those beliefs worthy of taking down one of the bona fide contenders in 2023. 

We know the Burra got the better of McCartney's men by 15 points in Round 16 last year, but there was very little in it, in fact North Ballarat led at quarter time and shared an equal 20 shots on goal.

But what is daunting for the home side is the seasoned Burra are coming, and loaded with more experience.

It's unlikely the Roosters will hang onto star duo VFL affiliates Sam Glover and Josh Chatfield who combined for eight goals last week as they return to the higher level.

If that is the case, it stands as an almighty challenge for North Ballarat to get the job done without them.    

Scoop’s tip: Sebastopol

Lake Wendouree




Last time they met - Darley 162 def. Lake Wendouree 56
(Darley Park, Round 10 2022)

Expect the Lakers to make some impression on their previous meet against the Devils, labelled by coach Jack Fitzpatrick as their worst performance of last season.

The ninth placed Lakers kept flag contenders Sebastopol to just 10 goals last week on the back of a 102-point win on the road over the Panthers.

But for all the Lakers defensive kudos, they simply can't score. Outside of their win over the Panthers, Fitzpatrick’s boys have managed just 19 goals in four games.

On the flipside, the Devils look to be going from strength with this hit-out posing as the penultimate lead up ahead of a genuine footy audit against the all-conquering, undefeated Bloods.

Devils’ coach Dan Jordan takes nothing for granted with this group, and nor the broader club considering a winless 2021. Since Jordan's appointment the progressive Devils are now 19-7 for win loss including 11 wins from their last 13. Only Melton (12 from 13) have won more over the period.

Given the medium sized nature of the Lakers group, there is little expectation held for their chances albeit at home. The Devils’ 'top end talent', led by reigning Henderson Medalist Brett Bewley (16 goals) and full time addition Billy Myers (19 goals in four games) will prove too much to handle, let alone intercept defender Matty Brett and reborn swingman Darren Leonard.

The Devils hold all the aces ahead of this clash and will get the job done with a bit in hand. Devils’ fans will be hopeful the footy gods are kind, getting through with a win and injury-free ahead of a no excuse showdown against Melton.

But first, they must take care of the Lakers.

Scoop’s tip: Darley

Melton South




Last time they met - Ballarat 107 def. Melton South 16
(Alfredton Recreation Reserve, Round 2 2022)

The Swans have the perfect opportunity to give new season coach Chris Maple his second win in charge when they meet winless Melton South.

The Panthers are a mile off troubling any opposition at the moment, crippled by off-season list turnover and injury. Their 2023 campaign went from bad to worse last week on the end of a season high thrashing at the hands of Darley.

While this week’s result seemingly looms as foregone, the extent of the damage poses a challenge for both coaches.

Can Chris Maple's Swans get the percentage boost they so badly need? Can they turn weight of possession into scores? For the Swans have been held to 40 points or less in four of their six games.

On the flipside, can Jason Hamilton and Ryan Hoy's Panthers get enough reinforcements back to take it up to the Swans? All the hierarchy at Pantherland can ask for is a red hot crack in front of their loyal supporters, the players owe them that at least.

The struggling Panthers had 10-minute patches of competitiveness last week and will look to increase that to near 20 minutes per quarter against the one win Swans.

Ballarat sharpshooter Andrew Hooper will be hoping for some silver service delivery - if forthcoming the former Western Bulldog is capable of kicking a tally in the double digits. I'll limit expectations, and tip Hooper to kick seven. Tipping this variable at least appears the greater challenge than the match result.

While we expect to see some resistance from the Panthers, the focus will be on the Swans ability to capitilise on majority opportunity, especially in front of goal.    

Scoop’s tip: Ballarat