Can Thunder strike thrice? Boroondara hopes to slay M-League Dragons

BOROONDARA Thunder will hope to pile on more pain to Darebin Dragons in the Men’s Premier grade of M-League as Round 8 takes place tonight. The Thunder are coming off back-to-back wins, while the Dragons search for their first victory of the season, though will be buoyed by the fact they only lost to the Thunder by a goal earlier in the season. In the Premier Mixed grade, mid-table sides Melbourne Quakes and NNE Vipers face-off with the Quakes eyeing off a remarkable fourth win on the trot.


Round 9: (At 7:00pm)

Netblacks vs. Ariels – Court 1
Altona Falcons vs. St Therese – Court 2
Boroondara Thunder vs. Darebin Dragons – Court 6
Bye: City Heat

Boroondara Thunder are eyeing off a three-peat of victories and a potential top four spot after nine rounds when they come up against last placed Darebin Dragons in the Premier Men’s competition. The Thunder enter the match after a big 18-goal victory over Ariels, and narrow one-goal victory against an understrength Netblacks in the past two weeks.

The wins were crucial considering they followed back-to-back thumpings against Altona Falcons and St Therese, with the Thunder’s only other win being a one-goal triumph in Round 2 against the Dragons. Darebin will take confidence from that match given its winless season, having taken on the top two sides in the past fortnight, losing to City Heat and St Therese by 35 and 16 goals respectively.

Boroondara Thunder’s shooting partnership of David Chisholm and Brayden Pastore are working well together, with Taurin Eimermacher feeding them impactful balls into the circle. With Hadley Dixon in the midcourt and Terron King capable to playing at both ends, the Thunder have some ‘Plan B’s if their initial lineup does not work. The Dragons will be hoping the likes of Alexander Nichols and Julian Taylor can fire in the shooting circle with Steve McCallum and Finlay Gustus having big challenges in midcourt.

Top side City Heat have a three-game gap on the rest of the league as the Heat firms towards being the minor premier, having their bye in Round 9. A second and third battle between St Therese and Altona Falcons looks like being the pick of the round, while Netblacks return to the court after their second bye to take on Ariels in a must-win contest for both sides.


Round 9: (At 9:40pm)

LTU vs. Parkville Panthers – Court 1
Melbourne Quakes vs. NNE Vipers – Court 2
Ariels vs. Geelong – Court 6
Altona Falcons vs. Eastside Sonics – Court 7
Bye: Valley Wolves

Melbourne Quakes are moving up in the M-League Premier Mixed competition, sitting fourth after seven games with three wins and four losses. The Quakes will tackle the NNE Vipers who have the same record to-date, but boast a worst percentage, and therefore are down in sixth. Valley Wolves – who have the four wins but also a bye this round – are in seventh, showcasing the mid-table logjam of four sides logistically battling for one spot.

Melbourne Quakes had a forgettable start to the season, losing their first four games and looking in serious trouble. After a renewed confidence-boosting win over Eastside Sonics in Round 5, the Quakes have gone on a three-game winning streak. Having not lost since November 2, Melbourne defeated LTU in Round 6 by nine goals, then crushed Valley Wolves by 25 goals in an unforgettable win in Round 7. After a bye last round, the Quakes are raring to go in Round 9.

By comparison, the NNE Vipers were able to bounce back against the cellar dwellers Eastside Sonics in Round 8 with a dominant 37-goal victory. That was a much-needed win having lost to Geelong and Parkville the fortnight before. They have also picked up victories over Ariels and Valley Wolves, and if they can pick up a win tonight, then it would mark the Vipers’ first top four win of the season.

NNE Vipers remain a chance for finals having only really been blown away once – by Parkville – with Ben Bruitzman a standout in centre. Bridget Ryan and Michael Dower are able to control the shooting circle, with Dan King a reliable figurehead in defence. Sam Dugan has showcased his versatility to play anywhere on the court, which will help the Vipers remain vigilant in the match.

By comparison, the Quakes have no shortage of key players, with Annabelle Gorman and David Chisholm in the shooting circle, and Jed Christian able to roll forward or remain in the midcourt. Ronan Pring has been a consistent defence, while Catie Kennedy and Simon Cartwright provide support in the back half. They should go in as favourites given form, but it looms as the closest match of the round.

In the other matches, LTU will be up against it trying to snatch fourth back, with a huge task up against Parkville Panthers on the main Court 1. Parkville is on top by a couple of games and looking like the team to beat once again, and atone for its shock grand final loss last season. Reigning premiers Geelong will be heavily fancied against Ariels on Court 6, while third placed Altona Falcons – who took down Geelong last round – should not have any issues against the winless Eastside Sonics on Court 7.

In the Junior M-League, the 17 and Under grade is the only one going ahead for Round 9, with WDNA taking on Peninsula Waves, while Darebin has the challenge of trying to take down the red-hot St Therese. The 14 and Under division is on a league-enforced bye due to lack of court availability.

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