2018 AFL Ontario D1 Mid-Season Review Pt 2
Only a month’s worth of regular season footy remains and every team still has something to play for – be it pride, a finals spot or September seeding. How will it shake out? In the order of the ladder…
Credit where it’s due – the Swans have been impressive in 2018. Undefeated as we enter the final month, they’ve turned Manotick Polo Club into a fortress, with only the Rebels getting within 10 goals in a 58-point game way back in Round 5. Whilst it’s understood that visiting sides may struggle to field their best team, Ottawa can only ever play the opposition in front of them. With a perfect season on the line they are still to see the Eagles and Roos, and must navigate a tough road-trip to face the Rebels in Round 13. A home prelim beckons.
The league’s other undefeated team are the Eagles, who used a 39-0 fourth quarter against the Rebels in Round 9 to preserve their spotless record. We’ll know a lot more about their premiership chances after this weekend’s clash with the Swans in Ottawa (as we will the home team), however it does feel like the top-four are biding their time until September. Famed for pulling it together just in time for finals, Azza’s men must not get complacent if they harbour genuine aspirations of going back-to-back.
An interesting month sees the Roos drop to third, a position they look locked into barring the unforeseen. Drubbings of the Blues and Dees bracketed a meek performance against the Eagles and a genuine contest from the Dingos, with their Friday-heavy schedule seemingly robbing them of players on more than one occasion. A decent showing away to the Swans in the penultimate round would firm their flag chances in the eyes of most, however with this game likely being a dead rubber we can’t help but feel their eyes are set on grander things.
Most wouldn’t have slotted the Rebels fourth with a month to go before the season began, but here we are. Losing to every team above them but beating all those below, the Rebs are delicately poised to make a run come September. Perhaps starting finals action as outsiders will be a blessing? Their Round 13 clash with the Swans at Humber South shapes as a real litmus test – win this (or go close) and the rest of the competition will be on notice.
No easy-beats in 2018, the Dingos appear firmly entrenched in the top-six as we round the season’s final bend. Taking care of business when they have to, a win against the Gargs in Guelph in Round 10 will cement their return to post-season action – although this will not be easy. Hanging tough against the Roos in Round 8 shows they’ve got what it takes to dig in against the better sides, a trait which may see them give someone a headache come September.
Grand River Gargoyles
A return to finals action is seemingly within reach for the Gargs. A much tougher outfit in 2018, they have banked wins against Hamilton and Central in the past month, slotting them into sixth with a month to go. A win at home this weekend to the Dingos will go a long way to locking up a spot in the bottom half of the playoff bracket, as their other remaining fixtures include the more-fancied Roos and Swans.
A poor month sees the Wildcats at jeopardy of missing out on a finals berth in 2018. Following a disappointing loss to the Gargs they were soundly beaten by the Eagles at Mohawk Park, and are now at risk of being on the outside looking in come September. They need a miracle against either the Roos or Rebels in the coming fortnight to keep in touch of the top-six.
High Park Demons
Despite still being winless, the Dees have shown improvements as the season has worn on. No longer pushovers unable to score, a stronger presence on match day has yielded encouraging performances against the Wildcats and Roos. With not a lot to play for for either team, their Round 11 clash with the Blues will decide the spoon.
The season’s end can’t come soon enough for the Blues. Mercilessly beaten week-in, week-out, the only ray of light peeking through the clouds now is the winnable August 18 match-up with the Dees mentioned above.