Werribee and Port Melbourne will both be looking to bounce back from a tough couple of weeks when they lock horns at RAMS Arena in Craigieburn on Sunday.
Sunday, July 30
11am and 2pm at RAMS Arena, Craigieburn
The Story So Far
The VFL finals race is starting to heat up, with places six to nine all locked on 28 points. That makes the remaining five games of the home-and-away season crucial for eighth-placed Werribee, which has lost its last two and needs to notch a win this weekend to ensure it maintains its place in the top eight by the end of the round.
Port Melbourne is also chasing victory to shore up its spot in the top four given it now sits just half a game clear of Richmond. The Borough flew out of the blocks to start the season at 5-0 but enters the weekend having lost its last two matches and three of its last five.
The two sides have served up plenty of tight contests in recent times, none more so than when they met at a mud-soaked North Port Oval in round 14 last year. Werribee took a one-point advantage into the main break that day before Port Melbourne overcame its inaccurate early kicking to grind out a seven-point win.
- The Werribee midfield will need to be on top of its game to contain Eli Templeton, Toby Pinwill, and Tom O’Sullivan, who are all enjoying stellar seasons and racking up the touches in the middle week to week. Templeton enters the weekend’s contest coming off a particularly impressive performance against Williamstown, the former Saint picking up 28 disposals and taking 11 marks, while Pinwill brings a whopping 183 games of VFL experience to the table.
- The task won’t be any easier for Werribee’s defensive outfit, which will have to do battle with one of the competition’s more powerful forward lines. With respective tallies of 29 and 26 goals, Dylan Conway and Jordan Lisle currently sit second and fourth on the goalkicking leaderboard, while the returning Robin Nahas brings AFL experience and the ability to sneak a few with his pressure at ground level.
- Dom Brew’s reputation as one of the top tacklers in the VFL continues to grow, the Werribee midfielder’s 15 tackles against Box Hill on the weekend moving him to sixth in the season tally despite having only played six matches. He will square off against a worthy adversary in Shannen Lange, who laid 13 tackles for the Borough against the Seagulls and has played a key defensive midfield role for his side this year.
- As might be expected of an All-Australian ruckman, Todd Goldstein proved a welcome addition to the Werribee lineup last week. His 52 hitouts placed him second in the league standings for the round, and a similar performance this week could go a long way to giving the Tigers the upper hand at the stoppages.
- Isaac Conway looks set to line up for Port Melbourne in his first game against his old side, the former Brisbane Lions rookie having made the move to North Port Oval this year after two seasons at Werribee and looking in good touch for his new club.
The Bottom Line
Port Melbourne is the second-ranked side in the VFL for uncontested possessions, so limiting its ability to find space and move the ball quickly from defence to attack will be crucial to Werribee’s chances. It will mean matching the spread of the Borough’s hard-running midfield, but it will also require the Tigers to bring a physicality and aggression to the stoppages to prevent their rivals taking control of the contested ball and gaining first use.