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The race to the finals is well and truly underway in the AFL Canberra Third Grade competition as six clubs take the turn on to the premiership straight.

With only five rounds remaining before the top four teams battle it out in their quest to lift the silverware, we cast our eye over your club’s season so far, and forecast what lays ahead in the ‘Race to the Finals’.

 

Woden Blues

Current Ladder Position: 1st (10 wins, 1 loss, 224.85%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Lee Campbell (21)

What’s worked?

The Blues are more than deserving of first place on the competition table, having only one loss on their record for 2015. Boasting the best forward line in the competition, Woden have been dominant right across the park. Statistically, their attack is the competitions best, and defence is bettered only by ANU.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

Arguably the only thing that hasn’t gone to plan is a two-point loss to the Griffins in the early stages of the season. Following that loss, the Blues have comfortably swept all before them.

High Point

Whilst it is hard to pick a single high point in a standout year like this for the Blues, their Round 1 victory over fierce rivals Molonglo would have to be one. Trailing for most of the game, the Blues stole the game with a goal inside the final two minutes to celebrate the club’s 20th anniversary.

Low Point

A two-point loss to ANU in Round 4 is the only blip on an otherwise perfect season for the Blues. A four goals to two third term helped ANU to victory, but Woden well and truly made amends the next time around with a 51-point thumping of the Griffins.

Current Best and Fairest

Jarrod Conway: In a dominant year so far for the Blues, Conway has stood out as one of the most consistent performers, being named in the Best on Ground seven times in eleven outings. Five other players have been named in the Best on five occasions each.

Forecast

The Blues have one hand on the Third Grade minor premiership, currently sitting two wins clear of second-placed ANU. A major semi-final appearance is almost guaranteed, which would leave them just one win away from a place in the Grand Final. You would be hard pressed to write off a Woden appearance on September 5.

 

ANU Griffins

Current Ladder Position: 2nd (8 wins, 2 losses, 185.41%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Garry Earl-Spurr (30)

What’s worked?

The Griffins entered season 2015 as competition favourites following a stint in the top grade last year. Last year was a tough one for ANU, who took a massive step up in competition and finished with just two wins. This year, their percentage is at a healthy 185.41%, suggesting that dropping back to Third Grade has worked wonders for the club. The Griffins have conceded the least amount of points in the competition thus far, and defence goes a long way to winning finals football.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

The ease with which the Griffins were pushed aside by the competition front-runners last time they met might be of concern moving in to the business end of the season, but two wins since then has the Griffins primed for a title push.

High Point

Following two losses and a tight win over Batemans Bay, a 110-point drubbing of the Magpies in Round 11 has given the Griffins some much needed momentum heading in to the business end of the season.

Low Point

Unbeaten after seven rounds, the low point for the Griffins would have to be their two consecutive losses suffered at the hands of ADFA/RMC and Woden in Rounds 8 and 9 respectively, which has seen Woden edge ahead in the race for the minor premiership.

Current Best and Fairest

Daniel Discipio: Discipio has been named in the Griffins’ best six times in just eight games this season. The midfielder is currently in red-hot form, being judged as one of the best afield in his past four outings.

Forecast

Currently second on the table, the Griffins are on track for a meeting with Woden in the major semi-final which would secure an invaluable second chance in August. The experience gained from their Division One stint last season could prove invaluable come finals time.

 

ADFA/RMC Rams

Current Ladder Position: 3rd (6 wins, 3 losses, 100.15%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Harrison Mexted (11)

What’s worked?

The running game of the Rams is the best in the competition, helping them to overrun opposition sides when the going gets tough. The Rams are able to hurt the opposition with the imposing midfield they have at their disposal, stacked full of representative players.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

The Rams’ three losses have all come against the competition’s top two sides, which may leave the side turning out in a sudden death minor semi-final. A win over one of the two ladder leaders before the regular season comes to a close could work wonders for the side’s confidence.

High Point

A four-game winning streak from Rounds 7 to 10 saw the Rams knock off the second-placed Griffins and three more finals contenders. The six-point victory over Molonglo suggests that this is a side that knows how to get over the line in tight contests.

Low Point

A 103-point loss at the hands of the Blues in Round 6 was a bitter pill to swallow for the Rams, who came in to the game on the back of two consecutive wins. ADFA/RMC have only suffered one loss since then, suggesting that the clash may have flicked a switch for the finals contenders.

Current Best and Fairest

Jake Howard: The AFL Canberra representative has been named in the Rams’ Best five times in seven appearances in 2015. Thomas Barr has four times been named in the Best, and is followed by no less than six players that have been named in the Best on three occasions.

Forecast

Another side that will benefit from Division One experience in 2014, the Rams have shown that they are more than capable of winning tight games. Boasting a host of representative players, the Rams are the fittest side in the competition, which will come in handy as they face the daunting prospect of six games in five weeks heading in to the finals series.

Molonglo Juggernauts

Current Ladder Position: 4th (3 wins, 7 losses, 90.05%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Ray Jackson (39)

What’s worked?

At their best, the Juggernauts have proven more than able to match it with the best in the competition on the back of their improving defensive pressure. Previous performances suggest that they are capable of grinding out a victory, which could come in handy in the final weeks of the regular season.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

Molonglo have matched it with the top sides in the competition, but have struggled to put a four quarter performance in, with small lapses costing them games. Molonglo’s depth has been tested in 2015 following an enormous turnover of playing stock following a successful 2014 campaign. In a rebuilding year for the Juggernauts, injuries to three of the side’s most experienced players has also threatened to derail their finals aspirations.

High Point

A character building win on the road for Trevor Treloar’s men in Round 6 against Batemans Bay was labelled by the coach as one of the toughest wins he has seen in his time at the club. Finishing with just two men on the bench, the Juggernauts held on for a sixteen point victory.

Low Point

The Juggernauts were given a lesson in kicking to advantage in Round 11 as they suffered a loss to the Seahawks away from home. Batemans Bay collected the points to stay alive in the competition, with the Juggernauts now facing a dogfight to secure a finals spot.

Current Best and Fairest

Too close to call: Nick Blencowe has been a revelation since joining the club, being named in the Best six times in six appearance. Simon McPherson and Ray Jackson join him as six-time vote getters in a tight tussle for the top gong.

Forecast

The Juggernauts have a golden opportunity to secure a top four spot in the final five rounds, as they only play one more top two side in the regular season. However, the side will need to consistently put a four quarter performance together if they are to have any chance of advancing deep in to the finals.

 

Batemans Bay Seahawks

Current Ladder Position: 5th (3 wins, 8 losses, 83.56%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Brendan Marshall (26)

What’s worked?

Captain/Coach Sam Millynn altered his game plan ahead of the side’s clash with UC in Round 8 in an effort to play a more direct brand of football, and to date his troops have reaped the rewards, winning three of their last five games in the race to the finals.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

A tough start to the season that saw the Seahawks only win one of their opening nine matches of the 2015 season has threatened their finals hopes. Two recent wins have them back in contention, but they must now overcome an unfavourable draw to snare a spot in the four.

High Point

Back-to-back wins in their last two encounters against Molonglo and the Magpies have seen the Seahawks scrape back in to finals contention as they draw level with the Juggernauts on 12 competition points heading in to the high pressure final five rounds of the season.

Low Point

A six-game losing streak to start the season dented the Seahawks finals hopes from the get-go, and could prove costly if the side is to miss out on a finals berth. Three times the boys from the Bay fell less than three goals short.

Current Best and Fairest

Luke Dudley: Seven times has Dudley been named in the side’s Best in eleven matches this season. Josh Mulrooney and Ross Hummel are hot on his heels, both enjoying stellar seasons for the Seahawks.

Forecast

A tough run home for the Seahawks sees them play each of the top four teams once, with one bye. It will be a tough ask for Batemans Bay to make the finals from here, but they have already proven that they can lift to win with their season on the line. Finals contenders for sure.

 

University of Canberra Magpies

Current Ladder Position: 6th (1 win, 10 losses, 36.40%)

Leading Goal Kicker: Alexander Maskell-Knight (12)

What’s worked?

Whilst the results have not favoured the Magpies, there can be no denying that they put themselves in good positions throughout the contest. Often the Magpies start well and lock themselves in a tight battle with the opposition. The Magpies muster up a lot of counter-attacking football, but are unable to convert on the scoreboard.

What hasn’t gone to plan?

A win in Round 1 has been followed by ten consecutive losses, and it would take a miracle for the Magpies to sneak in to the finals from here. The Belconnen club was hit by a wave of injuries early in the season, leaving UC’s playing stocks depleted for quite some time, as indicated by the scoreboard in various encounters.

High Point

The high point for the Magpies in 2015 would undoubtedly be their lone win, coming in Round 1 over the Seahawks. The side’s leading goal kicker Alexander Maskell-Knight slotted five majors to propel his side to victory.

Low Point

In what has been a tough year for UC, the low point would surely be Round 5’s 143-point loss to ladder leaders Woden, in which the Magpies could only manage two behinds.

Current Best and Fairest

Joshua Visser: Visser has enjoyed a standout season for the Magpies, being named in the black, teal and white’s best seven times in just nine appearances. Visser has been a fantastic with his attack on the ball, and his defensive pressure on opponents.

Forecast

The Magpies face an uphill battle to make the finals with just the solitary win to their name, and it doesn’t get any easier as the draw pits them against the top two teams in the final two rounds of the regular season. UC may be resigned to spoiling the finals hopes of other top four contenders.

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ARTICLE WRITTEN FOR AFL CANBERRA

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