Burning questions in William Buck Premier

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Nick Armistead

Why isn’t anybody talking about the three-peat?

I’ve never understood the uncertainty surrounding St Kevin’s OB in 2019. No, they’re not the same side. They’re consistently missing key personnel at VFL level and yet they’ve still won six of their past seven matches. Over that seven-game stretch they defeated the previously undefeated Uni Blues, they’ve beaten sides pressing for fourth position on the ladder, Old Melburnians and St Bernard’s, and they’ve proved too strong for Trinity – twice! Just some names missing from Saturday’s line-up include Nick Wood, Gerard Gleeson, Mitch Brown, Lachie Sullivan and Jack Holden. Brown, who recently ran the Great Ocean Road Marathon, returned through the reserves last weekend. While these stars haven’t been playing, SKOB has unearthed quality in the form of John Wood and Billy Lloyd while they’ve also seen 28 goals from Jarrad Waite. We know the management of VFL-listed players in the back half of the year will affect many clubs, but if SKOB get it right they will be primed to become the 10th team in VAFA history to win three successive Premier/A Grade flags.

If anything, what are Uni Blues missing?

After former De La Salle President Brian Waldron dubbed Uni Blues the most talented side in VAFA history on the FTLOTG Podcast, they’ve since lost two consecutive matches to Collegians and St Bernard’s. By no means is it panic stations for Blues who still sit second on the ladder with seven wins from their 10 games. However, they have struggled to impact the scoreboard and averaged just 64.5ppg over the past two weeks after kicking 112.25ppg in the first eight rounds. Ayce Cordy’s form can’t be questioned with an average of 68.5 hit outs and 18.5 disposals over the past fortnight, while Marshall Rippon, Connor Lappin and Cam O’Shea are excelling in the defensive 50. Josh Green is a king up forward and their mids are big-bodied, but as a side that relies heavily on clean disposal to ensure quick transition, the Blues must hit targets as they perhaps don’t have elite leg speed capable of breaking lines through the midfield.

Has an injury to a star derailed Collegians’ top 4 aspirations?

After a slow start to the season with injuries and unavailability’s, Collegians have now won five of their past six games and sit in fourth spot on the ladder. However, a suspected MCL injury to star midfielder Viv Michie in Saturday’s game against Old Brighton will certainly hurt the 2017-18 grand finalists’ chances. Michie, who was primed to don another Big V jumper next month, averaged 24.7 disposals over the past six matches and is a key component of their elite midfield trio alongside Sam Hibbins and Courtney Hylton. While they certainly have coverage in the form of talented young players capable of playing a role, can a side really replace someone of Viv’s talent? With Old Carey and Old Trinity over the next two games, the Lions will need to win and win comfortably to give themselves breathing space – something they will probably do.

Are Old Melburnians a legitimate finals threat?

After dishing out their most comprehensive win of the season with a 122-point victory over Old Carey on the weekend, we ask ourselves about OM’s finals hopes. As it stands, OM’s sit in fifth spot on the ladder and just 2.72% behind Collegians in fourth. Of their six wins, OM’s have beaten Collegians, Carey (twice), Bernard’s, De La and Trinity, teams all sitting below them on the ladder at the time. Against the top three sides, they’ve lost all three by an average of 55.7ppg. However, their recent form would give supporters high hopes and, if they are to be considered a top four chance, they need to give the rampaging Xavs a shake this weekend in a game that could decide the date of their post-season trip. Jackson Paine, Tom Paule, Josh Freezer and Gus Borthwick are key to their success and while they’re tracking well, anything is possible.

Where to for Old Trinity?

If you need an example of the depth the injury-riddled T’s are currently running with, you need only look at the score line in the reserves on the weekend where they kicked just one goal and lost to SKOB by 163 points. Their seniors, however, were brave in defeat after leading SKOB at quarter time but trailing away with five goals to nine in the second half. Since drawing with Old Brighton in Round 6, the T’s have lost four games to OM’s, Collegians, De La and SKOB by an average of 25.25ppg. They’ve had opportunities to win most games but fallen away late in the piece. Sitting in ninth spot and a game and a half below De La in eighth, history suggests the T’s need four wins from their last eight to avoid the drop. And it all starts this weekend against the Snow Dogs on the Daley.