By Mitch op’t Hoog
Round 1 in Premier C proved to be an eye-opening round for all punters. Both teams from Premier B made an immediate impact on their new competition, while Caulfield Grammarians bounced back after a sour end to 2016 and Old Mentonians exacted revenge in the 2016 Division 1 Grand Final rematch.
Caulfield Grammarians returned to form in Round 1, putting the disappointment of a straight sets finals exit behind them and comfortably accounting for Old Ivanhoe 128-44. The first quarter was a hard-fought struggle for both sides, as you’d expect from round one, and score was locked at 19 apiece at the first break. However, for the final three quarters Caulfield took complete control, slamming home 16 goals to Ivanhoe’s 3. Four Grammarians players managed three goals each, with Tom Small, Will Barker, Will Osborn and Louis O’Keefe peppering the scoreboard. Timothy Nixon was outstanding for the winning team, giving a best-on-ground performance for the Fields. For the losing side, it wasn’t all bad signs with Hayden Heta kicking three goals in a standout performance. After round one, Caulfield have solidified their position as flag favourites in 2017.
In what’s proving to be a lasting rivalry, Old Mentonians were playing for more than just the four points in the 2016 Division 1 Grand Final rematch against Old Geelong. The Panthers managed to reverse the result of last year’s Grand Final and registered a nail-biting seven-point win. Mentonians never led by more than seven points at any change and Old Geelong continuously threatened to take back the lead. Both sides went toe-to-toe for the full four quarters and gave the spectators at Keysborough Playing Fields the tight grand final rematch they all wanted. Former St Bedes/Mentone Tigers player, James Dalzotta, kicked six goals on debut for the Panthers while Billy Chapman was impressive all day. Jock Grimshaw, Hugh McKay, Callum Wood and John Simpson played their roles and kicked three majors each for the Ogs. This blossoming rivalry should provide us with plenty to talk about throughout the year as both teams look to make their mark in VAFA premier football.
After dropping down from Premier B, Old Haileybury wasted no time to assert their intentions in Premier C and proved too strong for Williamstown CYMS, recording a 23-point victory. With seven scoring shots to two in the opening term, the CYs failed to capitalise on their early dominance and were leading by just five points at the first break. Haileybury sent through six goals to four in the second quarter, which proved to be the difference as they kept the CYs at an arm’s length for the remainder of the game. Corey Rich opened his account with a bag of four goals for the Bloods, while Jackson Arthur was judged best afield. In what Williamstown will put down as a missed opportunity, Benjamin Deller and Jack Gray were outstanding kicking three goals each in the losing side. After the Easter break, Williamstown will look to dust themselves off in round two and not let another opportunity like this go begging.
Four goals to one in the final term helped the away team, Old Camberwell, to a 17-point come-from-behind victory over Marcellin. The Wellers shot out to a 13-point first quarter lead, before the Eagles clicked back into gear and slotted nine goals to six over the second and third term. It was a dominant final stanza led by six-goal star Nicholas Adamson who secured the Wells an important win in Round 1. Joe Arnold was named best afield for Camberwell, with Matthew Molloy and Daniel McMahon putting in standout performers for the Eagles. While Camberwell got the win, there were strong signs for both teams, and they’ll both look to build on those positive signs in round two.
The final match of round one was between Hampton Rovers and Kew AFC, and much like Haileybury, Hampton left no illusions as to their desire to return to Premier B. Thanks to a five-goal haul from Nicholas Pavlou, Hampton recorded an emphatic 75-point victory at Victoria Park. A strong start proved the difference; with Hampton driving home 12 goals to two in the first half to set up the big win. For the Bears, Andrew Brazzale played a lone hand up forward slotting three of his teams five goals. Adam McNeil, stalwart Leigh Fletcher and young gun Roland De Biase lead the charge for the winning team and were dominant all day.
In Round 2, there are some more enticing match ups for us to dissect and with the insights provided from Round 1, tipping should be a little bit easier this time around. With both teams coming off nice wins, Hampton Rovers come up against Old Mentonians. It will be interesting to see how Mentonians perform against an established premier opponent, but I think Hampton will prove to be too strong. Kew will look to bounce back from a big loss as they travel away from home to take on Marcellin; I’m tipping Marcellin to open their account for 2017. Old Geelong at home will face Williamstown and with the home ground advantage i’m going for Old Geelong in a nail-biter. Old Haileyburians face off against in form Caulfield Grammarians in what I’m putting down as the match of the round; I think Caulfield should hold off Haileybury and record a tight win. Finally, Old Ivanhoe will look to lick their wounds and get their first win for the year against Old Camberwell. I’m tipping Old Camberwell to make it 2-0 to start their season in the best possible way.