Carey Park will host Busselton in a round nineteen top of the table clash on Saturday evening at Kelly Park, as part of the Dale Alcock Homes South West, Premiership Season.
Carey Park moved to second on the ladder last Saturday after disposing of Donnybrook, while Busselton accounted for Harvey Bulls and remain undefeated after eighteen rounds.
One thing is for sure on Saturday evening though, if Carey Park do defeat Busselton, it will end their winning streak, and if Busselton defeat Carey Park, it will be the first time this season the Panthers have been beaten at home in 2023.
The Panthers who finished eighth in 2022 have been the Cinderella story of the season, and have exceeded all expectations, even that of coach Frank Italiano who hoped to finish the season with a percentage of 100, meaning the team would win as many as they lost. Four weeks from finals, that is no longer an expectation, and the Panthers will be looking to solidify second place by taking down the team which has taken all before them this season.
Busselton, who last year finished fifth after being bundled out of the finals by Harvey Bulls, were always expected to be in the top five in 2023, but no-one would have predicted that they would be undefeated going into this match. It has been evident that teams can match it with Busselton for a half and then in the third and fourth quarters, Busselton find another gear, restrict the opposition from scoring and then go on to win.
In the last eight rounds, Busselton have kicked 49 goals 50 behinds (99 scoring shots) in the second half of matches, while restricting the opposition to 29 goals 14 behinds (43 scoring shots). with only Bunbury and Harvey Brunswick Leschenault outscoring the Magpies in those matches.
The round eight fixture between the two clubs saw Busselton win by nine points, with Carey Park outscoring the Magpies in the second half, with both teams kicking inaccurately.
Both teams were near full strength then, and both will be near full strength for this top of the table clash, which Carey Park need to win to hold of the challenges for second spot and a home final in the first week of the finals. A loss to Busselton and a win to Donnybrook over Bunbury will see Donnybrook move back to second place, with the Panthers also having played one more match to this point, making the result even more crucial for the home team.
With the forecast for fine weather and little wind, there should be no excuses for either side in what promises to be one of the matches of the year so far.
Colts 11.20am, Reserves 1.15pm, Women’s 3.10pm, League 4.40pm
Coverage: Live Scores of all matches on SWFL Facebook Page
THE RUN HOME
Carey Park: Rd20 Eaton (Home), Rd21 Harvey Bulls (Away), Rd22 Bye
Busselton: Rd20 Bye, Rd21 HBL (Home), Rd22 Collie Eagles (Home)