Big back half of season awaits Bombers

Steven Kapahnke has held down his ruck role brilliantly for Emerald. 409033 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: 11th

Win-loss record: 1-7

Leading goal kicker: Jared Derksen (10)

Individuals impressing: Ewan Wadsworth, Steven Kapahnke, Mitch Thomas, Noah Van Haren, Michael Richardson.

Points per game: 52.7 (11th)

Points against per game: 88.8 (11th)

Big games to come: R9 v Berwick Springs (A), R15 v Gembrook Cockatoo, R18 v Berwick Springs (H).

Predicted finish: 11th

Making the leap from Division One to Premier Division has been a tough adjustment for the Bombers.

It took six weeks to open the account, the third-longest of any side, and was the first to drop a game to Monbulk, by 31 points in round eight, to head into the midseason break on a lull.

The tide appeared to be turning in a three-week patch where they avoided being blown off the park against Woori Yallock, knocked off Upwey Tecoma and led for much of the contest against Officer before falling short by less than a kick.

The Monbulk result, however, was one of their worst performances on the year, trailing by as many as 44 points in the last quarter.

It’s a loss they simply could not afford, given it was their only meeting in 2024, and may take on even bigger significance later in the year when determining relegation.

Lapses within games have proven to be the biggest killer as they’ve transitioned from the biggest fish in the small pond to a small fish in a larger one.

12 times they’ve conceded five goals or more in a single quarter and eight of their quarters have been goalless, showcasing an inability to sustain four-quarter performances.

Their percentage is the second-lowest in the competition, a significant 13 per cent lower than 10th place Monbulk and nine behind Gembrook Cockatoo in ninth.

They’re the only side to concede 100 points in four different games, all coming in the first six weeks when they played four of last year’s Premier Division finalists in a brutal opening to the campaign.

David Johnson’s fitness – he’s only played five games and kicked six goals – has hamstrung the scoring capacity, with too much left to Jared Derksen and the remainder of the side.

Derksen’s 10 goals is the second-lowest figure of any leading side’s goal kicker though eight weeks, only bettering Berwick Springs’ duo of Kayden Buselli and Jett Kearney.

Nick Russo has looked excellent in his two games since returning from a long-term knee injury, and the midseason additions of Dylan and Jake Cawsey instantly added grunt and experience.

Ewan Wadsworth has been everything advertised as the big inside body in the middle, pairing well with Josh Rich and Jake Pedder in the middle, and Mitch Thomas continues to grow in the back half, having won the club’s best-and-fairest in the premiership year of 2023.

A second clash with Narre Warren and Woori Yallock in the back half of the year will be tough, but two contests against Berwick Springs offer strong opportunities to claim premiership points.

Contests against Gembrook Cockatoo and Pakenham become must-win, if they are to climb out of the bottom three and remain in Premier Division next season.