Well Premier B, you keep throwing up surprises. In what was supposed to be a straightforward round for picking a winner, upset wins to Fitzroy and AJAX have thrown the competition wide open. Every team now has at least two wins, and just two wins separate third through to tenth on the ladder.
Let’s start with AJAX. It seems I may have underestimated them. I watched them capitulate last week against St Kevins and was genuinely fearful of what they would experience when they ventured to The Beach to face an Old Brighton unit hellbent on atonement after two losses. The Jackas were boosted by the return of quality players Ash Burstin and Dean Rotenberg and they matched the Tonners all day. AJAX held a two goal lead at half time, but the Tonners fought back in the third, setting up a huge last quarter. Accuracy in front of goal proved the difference, as the Jackas kicked 5.1 to 3.2 to run out with a win that was only nine points, but could prove significant in the context of their season. Old Brighton spearhead Dan Anthony was held to one goal for the day, while Jakobi, Verney and Bruin all battled hard. Despite losing three in a row, the Tonners stay in the top four and face Old Melburnians at home. AJAX are back at home against Hampton.
Coming off an 88 point win over Mazenod, St Bedes/Mentone would have been full of confidence when they headed to Brunswick Street with a largely unchanged line up to take on Fitzroy. The Roys included three players for their 2015 debut, took the early advantage with a six goal first quarter, but by half time the Tigers had clawed back to within a point. Fitzroy kicked away again in the third, but one wondered whether a 14 point lead would be enough, given the Tigers penchant for big last quarters. The two teams had the same number of scoring shots in a big final quarter but accuracy won the day, and in this game it was Fitzroy with five goals to one who ran out with a 34 point win. The Tigers had three players who have kicked five goals or more in recent weeks and significantly for Fitzroy, Barnes, Pat Tyquin and Luke Velluto were all well-held. Fitzroy also had several targets up forward, with Angiolella, Stevic and Doherty all kicking three goals. Up next for Fitzroy is a trip to the Vultures Nest while the Tigers have the chance to bounce back against Caulfield.
Old Melburnians (4th) and Hampton (5th) had both won their last two matches and met at the Junction Oval in an “eight point” clash. The Rovers made five changes to their line-up and were without captain Leigh Fletcher and Kyle Docherty who have both been in excellent form in recent weeks. The match was never a contest, with the OMs starting with eleven scoring shots to two to lead by four goals at quarter time. They extended their lead at every break to finish 89 point winners. Adam McNeil and Daniel Corp led the way again for the Rovers while OMs were well served by Patrick Garschagen with four goals in his second game for the season, and Chris Wischer with two goals in his 2015 debut. The win lifts the OMs to second on the ladder, while Hampton remain fifth but are now joined by the Nodders and the Jackas on three wins.
St Kevins continued on their merry way with a 76 point victory over Caulfield at TH King. Just like the Rovers, Caulfield made five changes and were without spearhead Keegan Stewart and regular contributor Tom Small, while St Kevins were boosted by the return of the Salopeks. SKOBs opened with a six goal to one quarter, but Caulfield stayed with the Premier B benchmark through the middle stages of the game. If the ‘Fields thought they were still in the game they were sadly mistaken, as St Kevins stepped up another gear and unleashed the season’s first ten-goal quarter to capture their seventh straight victory and remain at the top of Premier B. Fourteen SKOBs players contributed to the scoreboard, while Louis O’Keefe stepped up in the absence of Keegan Stewart to kick seven goals for Caulfield.
It was Founders Day at Mazenod College, and Central Reserve stood empty and desolate while the match between the Nodders and Parkdale was played on the College Oval. Both teams were coming from opposite ends of the results spectrum; the Vultures scored an upset win over Old Brighton, while Mazenod went down by 88 points to the Tigers. The Nodders kicked the first goal but the Vultures started the game stronger. Reid Irvine took a strong grab and had a couple of shots but could not convert successfully. Six Parkdale scoring shots yielded only one goal and the Vultures went to the first break one point behind. The pattern of the second quarter was almost identical to the first. Mazenod struck first through Josh Cowan, then the Vultures had plenty of shots on goal without success, once again managing just 1.5. Charlie Dillon was busy in the middle for the Vultures and Grant Lofthouse kept giving Mazenod opportunities. The third term was remarkable. It seemed every player put their kicking boots on and the first 22 minutes of the quarter saw nine goals kicked without a miss. A burst of four unanswered Nodders goals in four minutes, including three from Dalton, gave them a 28 point lead and it seemed like the result may have been decided. However, somehow the Vultures arrested the momentum back and kicked the last three of the quarter to being the margin back to eight points. The Vultures scored the first of the last through Nathan Ng and it was game on. The umpires seemed to put the whistle away; as a result the tempo lifted and play was characterised by ferocious tackling on both sides. The Vultures hit the front late in the game through goals to Papatsanis and Glascott but when Josh Cowan kicked his third, the Nodders were a point up. From there, the Nodders forced stoppages all over the ground. The Vultures had one last forward thrust, but it was successfully repelled by the Mazenod defence and they held on for a Founders Day victory to remember.
AJAX v Hampton Rovers
Caulfield Gr. v St Bedes/Mentone Tigers
Mazenod v St Kevins OB
Old Brighton v Old Melburnians
Parkdale v Fitzroy