By Nick Armistead
The Easter break has given us time to reflect on an eventful Round 1, with three come-from-behind victories trumped by an abandoned match resulting in the splitting of premiership points.
Beaumaris and Old Melburnians were the talk of the past two weeks after their match was abandoned with 16 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Sharks leading by 10 points. Due to lightning strikes from inclement weather conditions in the bay area, umpires deemed it a risk to player safety and subsequently abandoned play.
In accordance with article 62 of the VAFA Rules, the allocation of premiership points in the event of any match abandoned by the field umpire is the responsibility of the VAFA Board, with their decision to split the points and allocate two each to both Beaumaris and Old Melburnians.
There were only two outcomes realistically possible: the full four premiership points awarded to Beaumaris OR two points split between both competing sides with the 10-point margin adjudged an insufficient lead at that point in the game to rule in favour of the Sharks. With the points split, both sides are fifth and sixth on the ladder. The final score of 49-39 will remain for percentage purposes.
As discussed on VAFA Tragics last week, a possible method of removing any discretion from the ruling of premiership point distribution following a game abandoned due to lightning would be implementing a policy whereby the team in front at any stage after half-time would be deemed the winner. It’s an impossible task to ‘predict’ an outcome in Australian Rules football but a black-and-white system would, at the very least, remove any ambiguity from the situation.
Old Trinity was comprehensively outplayed in the first two terms against University Blacks and trailed by as much as 41 points before an inspired second half gave them a two-point victory at Uni Oval. It was all Blacks after the 10-minute mark of the first quarter as Lochie Dornauf showcased his improved tank and bag of tricks with three first-quarter goals on his way to a total of six. After taking his game to a new level in 2016, Jack Osborn entered the ruck in the second half against Josh Steadman and held his own as the extra midfielder required in tough, tiring conditions. Ben Howell, Gabe Hamilton and Seb Nicolosi (four goals) each stood up during the T’s eight-goal second half, while Alistair Robbins and Harry Allen were outstanding for the Blacks.
Collegians showcased similar resiliency in their 19-point come-from-behind victory against St Bedes/Mentone Tigers after they overturned a 27-point deficit at quarter time. Lachie Ferguson was elite in trying conditions and his four majors were an example of the goal-kicking prowess he offers a Lions attack often lacking in 2016. The scorecard would be a delightful read for Lions recruitment staff with Corey Cassidy, Kalem Post and Kyle Emley each registering a goal, while Kenny Ong kicked two after playing just four matches for the Lions last year. On the other hand, the Tigers proved they will not lay down in 2017 as Simon Richards and Kieran Arthur led from the front.
St Kevin’s were the most interesting side pre-round 1 with their high profile recruits the talk of William Buck Premier. Mark Jamar was sidelined for the first match but Mitch Brown and Jay Schulz offered a new-look forward structure while Stephen Gilham lined up down back before hobbling off with injury in the first half. It could not have started any better for Brown as he opened the scoring with a 60m bomb in the opening minutes. SKOB was rarely threatened as the match wore on, with Nick Wood and Round 1 Grill’d Rising Star nominee, Lachlan Sullivan, bagging three goals each. Wood’s influence was not restricted to the scoreboard as he won plenty of the ball and placed himself front of the line for three Woodrow votes. Despite welcoming Kieran Harper in for his first game and Ross Young back to the fold, the Blues were often unclean with the ball as they struggled to cope with SKOB’s defensive pressure. However, they will be buoyed by the influence Cam Williams and Harper (three goals) had on the match.
The reigning premiers sent home eight unanswered goals in the final term to run over De La Salle by 36 points under lights at Toorak Park. Trailing by 15 at the last break, the Xavs put the foot down with young gun Bill Gowers at the forefront of the final quarter onslaught. After failing to poll a vote in the Woodrow Medal count last year, it will be interesting to see if the umpires reward Tomi Johnston or Gowers as both raised their hand with a three-vote performance. David Convery and Jordan Bull were the best for De La, who will be looking to rectify their loss of legs when they face off with SKOB at home this weekend.