Big job ahead for Titans to preserve place in Premier

Luke Morrell has taken his opportunities at Berwick Springs this season. 410442 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

With no Outer East Football Netball in the region over the weekend, it’s time to look back at what has transpired so far in Premier Division, team-by-team.


Ladder position: 12th

Win-loss record: 1-7

Leading goalkicker: Kayden Buselli, Jett Kearney (8)

Individuals impressing: Michael Misso, Matt Soutter-Smith, Luke Morrell, Rhys Fletcher, Riley Hillman.

Points per game: 41.5 (12th)

Points against per game: 96.1 (12th)

Big games to come: R9 v Emerald (H), R12 v Gembrook Cockatoo (A), R18 v Emerald (A).

Predicted finish: 10th

Very little has gone right for the Titans in 2024.

A year of new beginnings and a new venture in Premier Division has failed to deliver on the possibilities, leaving them staring down the barrel to remain in the top flight in 2025.

With a large contingent of senior players that propelled them near-instant contention in Division One departing the club in the offseason, and a coaching handover to a pair of senior midfielders new to the main job, Berwick Springs faced as many questions as anyone in an ambition to prove its worth in Premier Division.

And sitting at 1-7 through eight weeks, the solutions have not been satisfactory.

It started with heartbreak on the eve of the season with Hayden Stagg tearing his ACL and the injuries have mounted ever since, while failing to put winning scores on the board.

Chris Johnson, Brodie Warlond, Mitch Brown, Justin Markulija and James Misso have all missed games, leading to issues in continuity and familiarity as the players adjust to Stagg and Johnson’s game plan.

They conceded a 20-point lead at the final break in round one against Gembrook Cockatoo, and relinquished momentum at the end of the third term in round two against Pakenham by not scoring in the fourth quarter, and conceding 3.5.

The loss to Mt Evelyn in round five made it two losses in the opening five weeks where they relinquished a three-quarter-time lead, no doubt a knife into the heart for morale.

Put simply, an average of six goals per game is not going to win many contests.

Kayden Buselli and Jett Kearney have been left wanting for support in the forward line, despite a strong midfield winning its share of possession.

All too often the small forwards and half forwards will be sucked too far up the ground to support the backs, leaving them out of position and disorganised on turnover.

The gap between points scored and points conceded is wider than any other side’s despite a backline of senior players holding the fort behind the ball under immense pressure.

Recruits Matt Souter-Smith, Brodie McConnell and Cameron Miller gelled instantly with Warlond, Riley Hillman and Jayden Malek to keep the Titans in a handful of contests, such as games against Gembrook Cockatoo, Pakenham, Mt Evelyn and the breakthrough win over Olinda Ferny Creek.

Their draw has been one of the toughest in the competition, as one of three sides to have faced Wandin, Woori Yallock and Narre Warren in the first three weeks, and yet to battle fellow relegation contenders Monbulk or Emerald.

They face both in the next three weeks at Mick Morland Reserve, and don’t play a side currently in the top six until round 14, presenting a golden opportunity to kick the season into gear.

Should the Titans avoid relegation, they’ll need to defeat both Emerald and Monbulk, and likely pinch four points from Gembrook Cockatoo, to close the gap between eighth and ninth.

Three 100-point losses, however, have been a hammer blow to their percentage, which may prove a decisive factor.

The return clash with Emerald in round 18 may decide both clubs’ plans for 2025.