By Brinley Duggan
The weekend saw VAFA footy back in full swing, and no thanks to the weather, round one presented us with a mixed bag of results. With some emphatic victories and some tight and tense contests, Division 1 is shaping up to be an interesting race in 2017, and at this stage, there’s still plenty of time for all teams to leave their mark.
Beginning with the Brunswick NOBSPC v Whitefriars game which has some history. It was the reverse of this fixture last year that saw NOBS get up in a game that was integral to their Division 1 survival. Starting 2017 with their end of 2016 attitude, the result mirrored last year’s and the score line was a case of déjà vu for both sides. Friars came out strong and led at the main break, however, from there it was all Brunswick. Piling on 10.4 to just 2.6, Nobs ran the game out to win by 33 points and open their account in 2017. For them, Chris Ford was industrious up forward with three goals while Todd Cleary was named best on ground after a workman like performance led his team to victory. Tim Petts secured a likely early lead in the best and fairest for Whitefriars and Hewitt Murray bombed through three goals in the losing side.
Out West, Therry Penola welcomed freshly demoted Ormond. It was a tough initiation for first year coach, Anthony Palmer whose Therry side trailed by 81-points at three quarter. Therry ended up going down by 58 in what was a resounding performance from Ormond. Monds were impressive all day and will look to continue stamping their authority on Div 1. Thomas Buckley finished with three goals in a dominant best on ground performance and Jeremy Simon was rewarded for his four goal, top scoring effort as second best on ground for the blue and brown. For Therry, Hayden Rowe was excellent and Jarrod Egglestone staked his claims on the LS Pepper Medal, albeit in a losing side.
PEGS and Oakleigh battled it out at Penleigh and Essendon. In Oakleigh’s first Div 1 game in 10 years, PEGS gave them a first quarter reality check and opened up a four-goal quarter time lead. A five goal to one second-quarter saw Oakleigh pull it back to go in all but even at half time. A tight and tense third stanza had us teetering on the edge of our seats. PEGS, however, took control in the final term and managed to account for Oakleigh’s tough midfield. PEGS taking home the chocolates, winning by 24 points. PEGS new recruit Adrian Romanyk was everywhere in front of goals and finished with four majors, while teammate, Robert Baddeley, took up where he left off in 2016 displaying a powerful BOG performance. Shane Borland battled hard all day while Jack Davidson and Tim Scott combined for six goals in a solid performance for Oakleigh.
Newly promoted St. John’s hosted a hopeful St. Mary’s Salesian to usher in their season. Before the JOCs had any chance to respond, they were battered pillar to post, surrendering a 44-point quarter time deficit. A six goal second quarter offered St. Johns some respite but, unfortunately, that’s where it ended. 15 goals in the second half to SMS solidified their 77-point victory. SMS coach, Erwin Leyden, will be more than pleased with the performance of key-forward, Manny Dolan, who blasted home 9 goals in a best on ground performance. Dolan will be looking forward to a big year in front of the sticks. Tim Edwards did his part for the JOCs, kicking six goals in an impressive performance. Liam O’Connor also put in a spirited performance for St Johns, finishing the game BOG for his team.
Our final game of the round one saw Division 1 new boys Preston host Ivanhoe AFC. I don’t think anyone anticipated what was to come, and I’m not just talking about the lightning. Preston piled on 8.5 in the first quarter to head into quarter time with a 45-point lead at quarter time. Unfortunately for the Hoers, it didn’t get any easier from there. A 12 goal second half saw Preston chalk up a 104-point win over their “big footy” fancied rivals. Preston premiership star, Damon Marcon, was in everything as he kicked off his season with six goals. While Daniel Sansonetti, started 2017 off on the right foot being named best afield. Alex Whitehead can hold his head high after his persistent performance for Ivanhoe who, in the face of adversity, was rewarded with best on ground for his team.
Next week sees the renewal of D1 rivalries. SMS take on Brunswick at Ferndale in what looks to be a tantalising affair; I have SMS just a little bit too strong at home and winning by 15 points with Manny Dolan to kick another bag. Ivanhoe host PEGS in a dangerous encounter for the Hoers; I’m tipping PEGS by 50+ points. Whitefriars are welcoming Therry Penola in what is tough to pick for any tipster; I’ll opt for Friars at home to scrape through by 10 points and pinch their first win.
The demoted sides host the promoted sides in the remaining matches. Ormond will look to press their foot down in Div 1 against St Johns and I see them winning this by 40-points. Meanwhile, Oakleigh will tentatively open their doors to Preston, with Oakleigh looking to notch up their first win. I think the Krushers will find the going tough against an in form Bullants; however, with these two teams having never played at this level, it’s almost impossible to predict. I’ll stick my neck out and tip Oakleigh to bounce back and notch up their first W for 2017.
Round 2 Tips:
SMS v Brunswick
Ivanhoe v PEGS
Whitefriars v Therry Penola
Ormond v St. John’s
Oakleigh v Preston