The South West Football League looks set for one of its most even and interesting rounds this week.
In an amazing coincidence, this round will see every team play against the team that sits either directly above or below it on the ladder.
The quirk in the draw means that most games will have implications for finals positions, and presumably, that all the games will be pretty evenly matched.
Check out our preview of the week’s games and let us know who you think will win.
Busselton vs Augusta Margaret River
The game between Busselton and Augusta Margaret River shapes as arguably the most important of the round.
The teams are separated by just one win and sit in sixth and fifth position on the ladder respectively. After a disappointing result last week against Harvey Brunswick Leschenault, Busselton needs a win to keep its finals chances alive – especially with tough games against Donnybrook and South Bunbury to come.
On the other hand, a win for the Hawks would go a long way towards securing their place in the finals. And the Hawks will come in with confidence after claiming wins in three of their last four – including wins over fellow contenders Eaton and South Bunbury.
The Hawks will be hoping for more good performances out of midfielders Mitch Lynn and Seve Grantis, who have been the team’s best in each of the last two games. Matt Jukes has also been good since his return with injury, with eight goals in the last two weeks.
Busselton will need its forward line to fire this week if its to have a chance. The Magpies had been getting great service out of Aidan Fraser, Jed Kemp and Steve Cameron during their run of good results, but the three combined for just the one goal last week.
With its season likely on the line, Busselton will need a 33 point win in order to leapfrog Augusta Margaret River into fifth place.
However, the Hawks have shown a tendency to hit their straps late in the season and will probably be too strong.
Prediction: Augusta Margaret River by 22 points.
Harvey Bulls vs Collie Eagles
The Collie Eagles will travel up the highway to Harvey in a battle between the teams that sit on the bottom of the ladder.
Last time the teams met, the Bulls ran over the top of the Eagles on their home deck in a thrilling game and the Eagles will be looking to return the favour this week.
The Eagles played one of their best games of the season last week against Carey Park but the question will be if they can back it up, especially considering they followed their upset win over Donnybrook with their two worst performances of the year.
The Eagles midfield moved the ball smoothly and the forward line looked dangerous, which will hold them in good stead against a Harvey team that concedes an average of 82 points a game.
The Bulls are a young team that has started to fade late into the season. Known for their high-scoring shootouts early in the season, the Bulls have failed score 45 points in a game for the last four weeks – although three of those games were against top five sides.
Harvey will be relishing a chance to add to its two wins for the season, while the Eagles will be looking to build on their attacking work against a leaky Bulls defense.
Prediction: Collie Eagles by 31 points.
Carey Park vs Harvey Brunswick Leschenault
Harvey Brunswick Leschenault’s surprise win over Busselton last week saw it climb to seventh on the ladder and a win over Carey Park could see it climb further and put itself firmly in the race for fifth spot.
The key to the Lions’ win was their defensive work, where they kept Busselton scoreless for three quarters. The Lions have consistently relied on their defense throughout the year and it has stood up, with only South Bunbury and Donnybrook conceding less across the season.
But the Lions will be looking to improve their scoring as the season heats up late in the season. The Lions have kicked just 23 goals over the last five weeks – an average of less than five goals a game.
Accuracy is partly to blame as the Lions have kicked 50 behinds across the same period, so they will need to straighten up in front of goal if they’re looking to kick a winning score.
Carey Park has been facing its own troubles as of late. The Panthers have lost six of their past seven – with just a one-point win over Harvey in that time – and haven’t scored more than 55 points in a game over the past month.
Both teams will be looking for their forwards to hit the scoreboard this week, but the Lions’ midfield strength looks to be too strong for the fading Panthers.
Prediction: Harvey Brunswick Leschenault by 15 points.
Eaton Boomers vs Donnybrook
The top of the ladder clash between Donnybrook and Eaton will have an added dimension this week, with both teams looking to bounce back from disappointing results.
The Boomers gave up a 10 point three quarter time lead to lose by 21 points to the Hawks, while the Dons were outclassed from the start in the 27 point loss to Bunbury.
The key battle in the game will be the contest between the Eaton forwards and the Donnybrook defense.
The Dons come into the game having conceded an average of just 53 points a game, while the Boomers are the league’s leading scorers with an average of 79 points a game.
The benchmark will be whether the Boomers’ forward line – led by the league’s leading goal kicker Brandon Jetta, who has kicked 15 goals over the last three weeks – can put 10 goals past the Dons.
Donnybrook has lost all three games where it has conceded 10 while Eaton is undefeated in the eight games it reached the mark.
Prediction: Eaton Boomers by one point.
Bunbury vs South Bunbury
The round’s final game sees third-placed Bunbury take on fourth-placed South Bunbury for the Syd Jackson – Max McGuire Cup.
Bunbury has been on a tear as of late – winning its last four games, including a pair of comfortable wins over top five teams Augusta Margaret River and Donnybrook.
The key to the Bulldogs rise has been the improved forward line. The Bulldogs have been buoyed by the form of Matt Martin (14 goals in last four games) and Brett Peake (nine goals in last two games), which has seen their average score jump from 64 points a game to 79 over the last month.
However South Bunbury will be coming into the game with confidence after recording two of their three biggest wins for the season over the past fortnight – although they came over the bottom two teams on the ladder.
It will be interesting to see whether the Tigers will be able to maintain their form when they face a tougher test in the Bulldogs, especially considering the Tigers have a 2-4 record against the other teams in the top five.
South Bunbury has conceded the second least amount of points this season – just 56 points a game – but its defense will be tested this weekend in another game that will probably go down to the wire.
Prediction: Bunbury by four points.
Read more about the 2018 South West Football League season: