SWFL round fourteen preview: Finals race still open with five weeks to go

Busselton will be looking to continue its good run of form when it hosts Carey Park in what is shaping up to be an important game for both teams. Photo: Ashley Bolt.
Busselton will be looking to continue its good run of form when it hosts Carey Park in what is shaping up to be an important game for both teams. Photo: Ashley Bolt.

With just five games to go in the 2018 South West Football League season, the make up of finals is still no clearer.

Technically all of the 10 teams in the competition can make finals, but realistically there’s still eight teams fighting for the.top five spots on the ladder come the end of the season.

This week will feature a couple of games that look to have some importance to finals positions, with Busselton hosting Carey Park and Augusta Margaret River travelling to Bunbury. 

Check out our preview of the round’s games and let us know who you think will win.

Harvey Bulls vs Donnybrook

The round’s opening game will be a big test for the young Harvey Bulls team when it hosts the ladder leader Donnybrook on Saturday.

The Bulls sit in last place in the ladder and while not mathematically out finals contention, their chances are as good as done.

Despite their early season tendency to get into shootouts with their opponents, the Bulls have found scoring tougher in recent times and have kicked 10 goals in game just once in the last month.

They’ll be hard pressed to hit that mark again this weekend, when they face the league’s strongest defensive team.

The Dons have conceded almost 100 points less than any other team over the season and haven’t conceded 10 goals in a game since round two.

However they’ve had their own scoring difficulties of late and will feel the loss of important midfielder Jace Cormack, who will be representing the state.

The Dons haven’t been in great form lately, but should feel comfortable of cementing their spot on top of the ladder with a win over Harvey.

Prediction: Donnybrook by 25 points.

The Harvey Bulls have a tough test this week as they host ladder leader Donnybrook. Photo: Sophie Elliott.

The Harvey Bulls have a tough test this week as they host ladder leader Donnybrook. Photo: Sophie Elliott.

Busselton vs Carey Park

Possibly the most interesting game of the round is the clash between Busselton and Carey Park at Sir Stewart Bovell Park.

Both teams sit one game out of the finals positions, but their seasons have taken different paths.

The Panthers got off to a strong start to the season but have lost their way in recent weeks, having lost four of their last five games.

Their free-flowing play which saw them as the highest scoring team over the first six rounds has dried up and they’ve managed just nine goals over the last two weeks.

Busselton, on the other hand, is a team on the rise. Last week’s dominant win over Collie – which was the Magpies’ third in the last four weeks – has the team sitting in sixth.

An improved forward line has been the key, with the Magpies scoring at least 60 points in each of the last four games despite reaching the mark just three times in the first nine weeks of the season.

With Busselton’s potent forward line and Carey Park’s recent history of conceding big scores, the Magpies would have to be confident of improving their finals chances this weekend.

Prediction: Busselton by 33 points.

Eaton Boomers vs Harvey Brunswick Leschenault

The Eaton Boomers host Harvey Brunswick Leschenault in what could be a make-or-break game for the Lions.

Their disappointing loss to Bunbury last week saw them drop to seventh position on the ladder and they’ll face arguably the biggest test in the competition at the moment – the in-form Boomers.

The Boomers are not only on a five-game winning streak, but they are also coming off both the season’s highest score and biggest win in the 94 point thrashing of Carey Park last weekend.

Eaton has shown over the past month and a half that it just has too much firepower up forward for most teams to contain. The Boomers have scored 200 points more over the season than any other team in the competition and are averaging a whopping 103 points a game over the past five rounds.

The Lions will also be hampered with two of their most important players, ruck Mitch Andrews and midfielder Jesse Crichton, representing the state country team in South Australia.

The Lions will put up a strong fight, but the quality of the Boomers will likely be too much.

Prediction: Eaton Boomers by 64 points.

Bunbury has bounced back from a poor run with two wins, which have the Bulldogs into third position ahead of their clash with Augusta Margaret River. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Bunbury has bounced back from a poor run with two wins, which have the Bulldogs into third position ahead of their clash with Augusta Margaret River. Photo: Thomas Munday.

Bunbury vs Augusta Margaret River

Sunday’s game between Bunbury and Augusta Margaret River may be the hardest pick from round 14.

Both teams come into the game sitting in the top five after winning their last two games, with the Bulldogs claiming wins over Carey Park and Harvey Brunswick Leschenault and the Hawks over South Bunbury and Harvey.

The Bulldogs wins have come on the back of improved defensive performances, having conceded their two lowest scores of the season over the last two weeks.

The Hawks have similarly improved their defensive performance, conceding just six goals in each of the last two games.

With both teams standing up defensively and both missing important forwards over the last few weeks – Brett Peake for Bunbury and Matt Jukes for Augusta Margaret River – it looks likely to be a hard-fought, low-scoring game.

It seems likely that the game will come down to whichever midfield performs better on the day, giving their forwards more opportunities.

Prediction: Bunbury by 10 points.

South Bunbury vs Collie Eagles

South Bunbury has slipped from second on the ladder to fourth after two narrow losses against Augusta Margaret River and Donnybrook.

The Tigers will also be missing two of their most important players in Liam McKenna and Leigh Kohlmann, which force them to find new avenues to goal.

The result of the game will be determined by which Collie team decides to turn up on the day.

The Eagles backed up their best performance of the season against Donnybrook with the worst performance in the club’s short history on the weekend.

The Eagles were kept goalless, admittedly in poor conditions, and will be looking to see some key players bounce back from disappointing games.

While the Eagles can’t be ruled out, this game looks like it’s set for the Tigers to end their two game losing run.

Prediction: South Bunbury by 22 points.

Catch up on round 13 of the 2018 South West Football League season: