August has arrived and with it comes the Big V finals, a great time for Victoria’s senior state league as we get set to enjoy up to five weeks of hoops under pressure in the quest of crowning six senior champions.
Some finals are already underway in the youth divisions, but for all of the senior divisions we’re ready to roll from this week. Let’s take a look at each division and what could unfold in the weeks ahead.
Top 6 - Corio Bay, Waverley, Ringwood, Knox, Eltham, McKinnon.
The Stingrays and Falcons will sit and wait for their semi-final opponents and no doubt watch on with great interest, especially the Knox and Eltham match-up. The Wildcats are the wildcards this year, they hit the playoffs with 13 straight wins and have reached triple figures in seven of those 13 games. Unlike last year’s shock loss, Ringwood should get past McKinnon, which would send them to a semi-final showdown with Waverley. All things point to a grand final featuring Corio Bay and Waverley, but if Eltham gets past Knox get set for a very interesting match-up with possibly Corio Bay. And at no stage underestimate Ringwood, you just know they will throw everything at it.
Title Tip: Waverley over Corio Bay
MVP Tip: Matt Hodgson
Dark Horse: Eltham
Top 6 - Hume City, Knox, Ringwood, Sth Peninsula, Waverley, Bulleen.
The Broncos finished with a 21-1 record, which included 19 straight wins heading into August and they look the team to beat. Interestingly, as much as we talk about Knox’s supreme defence, it actually ranks second behind Hume City. The eliminations will feature Ringwood against Bulleen and Sth Peninsula hosting Waverley. The Hawks should have too much firepower at home for Bulleen, but if the Hawks can’t hold the Pearce ladies an upset is looming. Down in Rosebud, Waverley is more than capable of taking down a Sharks outfit that hit the finals with four losses from their last five games. Whatever happens over the next few weeks, it’s very difficult to see anything but a Hume City and Knox showdown in the grand final.
Title Tip: Hume City over Knox
MVP Tip: Colleen Planeta
Dark Horse: Waverley
Top 8 - Blackburn, Warrnambool, Casey, Melton, Latrobe CIty, Shepparton, Sunbury, Mildura.
The Big V’s biggest division has a changed finals format this season (much better) and will follow the AFL top-8 system. Hard to see any team coming from the bottom half of those eight teams, they all look a clear step below the top four. Blackburn is clearly the fairytale story of the season, the all-Aussie brigade hit the finals with 21 straight wins and no team could be more deserving of winning the title. To do that you’d think they’ll need to get past Warrnambool at some stage, hopefully that match-up occurring in the GF series. Casey is an interesting unit loaded with experience and is seemingly sneaking under the radar and remain more than capable of getting through. As is the case in the AFL, this year’s winner will definitely come from the top four with the top two favourites to make it to the big dance.
Title Tip: Blackburn over Warrnambool
MVP Tip: Nathan Sobey
Dark Horse: Melton
Top 6 - Sunbury, Geelong, Latrobe City, Western Port, Mildura, Camberwell.
Always a tough division, but this season there has been one clear leader - Sunbury. The Jets recruited arguably the best team we’ve ever seen at this level and the title is their’s to lose. With a 20-0 record in the regular season, Sunbury has won every game (except one) by double digits and will coast to the title. It’s more a case of who they’ll meet that is of interest? Camberwell snuck into the finals and will need plenty to go right if they hope to get past Latrobe City in the eliminations, while Western Port will feel a little nervous when Mildura comes to visit. The Heat pose as an interesting team - they can certainly score, but their defence leeks far too many points and unless they tighten up …. well, they say defence wins titles for a reason. With Sunbury and Geelong waiting for their semi-final opponents, the opening week of the finals might be the most exciting in a division that has one clear leader - Sunbury. Lights out.
Title Tip: Sunbury over anyone
MVP Tip: Monique Stevens
Dark Horse: Latrobe City
Top 5 - Western Port, Pakenham, Coburg, Mornington, Collingwood
A division that really is wide open given all five teams are susceptible to stretches of bad form, while on the flipside they all have strengths that could lead to a championship if they can put it all together over the month. The Steelers have put together a fantastic regular season and at their best they have a suffocating defence, which could prove telling in big games, however if the likes of Pakenham or Mornington can open things up the Steelers may struggle to find enough points. Speaking of Mornington, a poor end to the regular season sees them having to do things the hard way from here, a great test if they truly are championship material. Coburg can’t be discounted but will need a lot to go right, while Collingwood’s first taste of finals will probably be a fun, yet short experience.
Title Tip: Western Port over Pakenham
MVP Tip: Ricki Deehan
Dark Horse: Mornington
Top 5 - Casey, Mornington, Blackburn, Coburg, Melbourne University
Nothing against Coburg and Melbourne University, both have shown some good patches this season, but from here they are making up the numbers as the top three teams are a level above and that will quickly become evident. The margin between Casey, Mornington and Blackburn is minimal. Most would have expected the Cavs and Vikings to lead the way this season, but the Breakers have definitely been the surprise packet and could go all the way. Defensively, Casey look the goods and incredibly went 9-0 on the road during the regular season, while Blackburn has the scoring power to get the job done. It’s a race in three and what a race it will be.
Title Tip: Blackburn over Casey
MVP Tip: Tara Bohanna
Dark Horse: Mornington (not much of a darkhorse, just covering bases!)
The Final Whistle is an opinion based article and contains views and opinions that are the authors and not necessarily Big V's.