Pakenham to be put to the test

Jai Rout's absence will leave a hole in the Pakenham forward line. 403698 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe


It’s funny the impact a new division can make.

In their three meetings last season, Emerald, the premiers of Division One in 2023, defeated Officer three times with an average winning margin of 56 points.

Yet coming into Saturday’s clash, Officer feels the favourite.

Both are coming off wins in round six, with Emerald getting the proverbial monkey off its back with a thrilling win over Upwey Tecoma, and Officer holding strong against Gembrook Cockatoo.

A Bombers win could see them climb out of the bottom three, while Officer could rocket into the top six, both depending on the outcomes of other results and percentage.

How Sein Clearihan chooses to approach the Brenton Hillard problem will be one to watch.

Gembrook Cockatoo put a lot of time into Hillard and reaped the rewards with keeping him to one of his quietest games of the season to date.

Will Ewan Wadsworth get the job this week? Or Josh Rich? Time will tell, but stopping the man they call “Mango” will go a long way to netting the Bombers four points.

Pakenham’s trip to Mt Evelyn is yet another eight-point game huge in the context of both sides’ seasons.

Paul Carbis made no secret of the fact that his side needs to start beating those around them on the ladder, and Mt Evelyn fits right into that bracket – the Rovers are seventh, one place behind Pakenham, with the same record through six weeks.

Pakenham’s scoring power – three goals better than their hosts per game – is not insignificant, but injuries are beginning to take their toll for the Lions, and without Jai Rout they’ll need to find another avenue to goal.

It could force Carbis to deploy Jordan Stewart ahead of the ball, but Tom Gamble is also a chance to return from injury.

Gembrook Cockatoo is in for a tough time against Narre Warren, and will hope Michael Firrito can recover from the quad strain that saw him miss the clash with Officer in round six.

Berwick Springs hosts the division’s under the radar flyer in Olinda ferny Creek, and will need a match up to contain former Collingwood defender Matthew Scharenberg.

Woori Yallock’s undefeated streak looks set to continue against Monbulk, while Wandin should have no issues against Upwey Tecoma.

Tips: OFFICER v Emerald, Monbulk v Woori Yallock, Berwick Springs v OLINDA FERNY CREEK, Mt Evelyn v PAKENHAM, Gembrook Cockatoo v NARRE WARREN, WANDIN v Upwey Tecoma.