New dimension added to burgeoning rivalry

The rivalry between Berwick Springs and Emerald will resume on Saturday in a grand final rematch from 2023. 361017 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

A grand final replay from 2023 will give a greater indication of what 2025 had to offer when two of the Outer East Football Netball Premier Division’s relegation battlers collide at Mick Morland Reserve on Saturday afternoon.

Glorious Spring sunshine in Healesville last September was the backdrop for an emphatic Emerald win in the Division One decider against Berwick Springs in a match that was effectively over at quarter time, as the Bombers took a 28-point lead into the first break and continued on their merry way to the premiership.

Crunching physical efforts from Mitch Thomas, Rogan Goonan and Jared Derksen in the opening stages were a harbinger of things to come for the Titans, overawed by the occasion against a side hell-bent on making amends for an extra time loss in the semi-final a fortnight prior.

The circumstances could hardly be more different as the combatants prepare to lock horns for the first time since the grand final on Saturday, with both fighting now for their lives in the competition’s top flight.

Occupying the bottom two rungs of the ladder, both need to escape the bottom three by season’s end, should they wish to remain in Premier Division.

These are opportunities that both sides simply cannot afford to miss, and Emerald know this all too well, having dropped four points to fellow bottom three side, Monbulk, in its last contest.

Despite the changes in personnel from last September, the crushing nature of the defeat will no doubt continue to sting those in Berwick Springs blue and green.

Whether they have enough firepower to match Emerald’s up front, however, will go a long way to determining the outcome.

The Bombers average nearly two more goals per game, and that’s with David Johnson only contributing six in his five games so far.

Having not featured since round six due to a bicep injury, the Titans will be hoping he remains on the sidelines, after his six goals in the grand final earned him best-on-ground honours.

Other contests of note in round nine include Officer hosting Monbulk, in a golden chance for the Kangaroos to work their way back into the top six, while Gembrook Cockatoo will be eager to snap a five-game losing streak when it hosts Upwey Tecoma.

Pakenham faces one of the competition’s biggest tests when it heads to Woori Yallock, and Narre Warren will be looking for a ninth win on the trot against Mt Evelyn.

Should both Narre Warren and Woori Yallock salute, it will set up a mouth-watering contest between the two in round 10, where both will enter the contest undefeated.

TIPS: OFFICER v Monbulk, Mt Evelyn v NARRE WARREN, WANDIN v Olinda Ferny Creek, Gembrook Cockatoo v UPWEY TECOMA, WOORI YALLOCK v Pakenham, Berwick Springs v EMERALD.