Bata up! Blues hit form as top 5 emerges in William Buck Premier Men’s

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Nick Armistead

Four rounds into the William Buck Premier Men’s season and a small gap is emerging between the top five and bottom five teams. While most pundits predicted a finals push from Uni Blues, Old Xaverians and St Kevin’s OB, the improvement of Old Brighton and Old Melburnians has seemingly opened the race to at least five sides.

In the RSN Carnival Match of the Round, it was Uni Blues who allayed any fears of complacency when they defeated Old Xaverians by four points at Toorak Park. Xavs, who were undefeated heading into the match, were untouchable in the first term as they controlled proceedings through Dan Robinson and Grant Valles. They did, however, fail to capitalise on early chances and left the door ajar for the Blues with a 17-point QT lead. The Blues settled with three goals to one in the second term before a three-goal blitz from debutant and former Collingwood forward, Alex Fasolo, gave them a 19-point lead heading into the final term. Julian Soccio and Marcus Stavrou did their utmost to will Xavs across the line, but the experience of Cam O’Shea, Meyrick Buchanan and a dominant four-goal display from Dan Batarilo was enough to help the Blues hold on. Xavs were without Rohan Bewick for the best part of three quarters after he suffered concussion, while Blues midfielder Jay Kennedy-Harris injured his hamstring after Kieran Harper withdrew earlier in the day due to illness.

While Fasolo debuted for Blues, it was former number one draft pick, Jack Watts, who donned the Old Brighton jumper for the first time in their eight-point victory over Collegians. The former Brighton Grammar student kicked two goals for the Tonners as they willed themselves over the line on the back of a BOG performance from Anthony Zimmerman. Will Lewis slotted four goals and moved into third spot on the goal kicking leader board behind Bewick and Tom Boyd with 12, while Zimmer added three. After losing ruck John Meesen, Nathan Boucher, Dan Orgill and Al Fahie from the team that defeated Scotch in Round 3, the Lions blooded three debutants, Flynn Siassios, Nicholas Canny and Tom Conron. Josh Watson was outstanding yet again as the 18-year-old backed up last week’s Rising Star performance, while Ollie Jackson booted three goals.

The only reason Josh Watson is not considered Rising Star favourite after four rounds is because Old Melburnians’ Ed Nichols continues to take the competition by storm after kicking four goals in the OM’s 56-point win over St Bernard’s. Nichols led the charge as OM’s piled on eight goals to two in the opening term and made it too difficult for the young Snow Dogs. Sean Hetherington dished out his strongest performance since joining OM’s, while Gus Borthwick was terrific once again. It was a tough day for the Snow Dogs prior to the first bounce with senior coach Paul Groves sitting the game out with illness and Mick Hedley taking the reins. Dominic Sullivan kicked three for the second week in a row, and Sam Woods was named their best. It was an historic day for Bernard’s as four sets of brothers played in the senior side – Marcus Holland and Luke Holland, Chris and Mitch Hughes, Lachlan and Jordan Farrell, and Hudson and Jackson Barrett.

Back in the winner’s column and back in style for St Kevin’ OB as they defeated Old Scotch by 55 points at McQueen Park. Despite inaccuracy plaguing them in front of goal for the third week in a row (they’ve now kicked 32.59 for the season), SKOB were far too strong with Sam Cameron, Josh Wallis and Tom Jok leading from the front. Tom Boyd kicked three goals and joined Rohan Bewick at the top of the leader board on 13, while Scotch struggled to score with just five majors. It is the third consecutive game where the Cards have kicked less then 50 points, but they will be buoyed by the performances of Aidan Franetic and Ben Hays, and vice-captain Andy Jelbart who delivered his best game for the season.

Potentially having buried the lead, Caulfield Grammarians ended a 34-year winless run in Premier/A Grade as they defeated Old Trinity by 84 points at the Daley Oval. Having last tasted success in 1987, it was the twin towers up forward who led the charge for the Fields with Brett Eddy (6) and Julian Dobosz (4) showcasing their combined prowess for the first time this season. Isaac Morrisby also kicked four goals while Nick Baltas was best afield. Following Alex Polidoros’s debut for North Melbourne VFL, the T’s fielded likely their youngest-ever side with Ed Weatherson, Luke Pacconi, Ben Howell, Gabe Hamilton, James Spassopoulos, Callum Pohl and Harry Thompson their only real experience among young talent. Weatherson was outstanding with four goals while Hamilton returned after suffering a leg injury in their Round 2 Friday night clash against OM’s.