By Norm Nugent
Semi Finals 2016
Round 15 matches yielded no surprise results; despite one sided score lines and a guide for today’s finals.
Review of Round 15
Brunswick/ North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s showed what might have been with a forty eight point victory over a disappointing Prahran/ Assumption, for whom Round 15 brought three Club losses.
Hawthorn stamped themselves as the side to beat when they led throughout against Old Xaverians to record victory by fifty five points. Again the spread of talent available to the “Spartans” was evidenced by the fact their fifteen goals were shared between nine players.
For a team confident of deep participation in the finals, the stark inaccuracy by Richmond Central forwards must give great cause for concern. Melbourne High School started the better and lead at the first change. In the second quarter despite glaring inaccuracy, Richmond Central took the lead by half time only to relinquish it by three quarter time. Richmond Central regained control in the last when despite continued inaccuracy, they built their lead to twenty eight points by the final siren.
Nicholas Orchard , named best by Melbourne High, followed in the family tradition established by his father, Tony.
St Francis Xavier continued their fine recent form when they outplayed South Mornington and won by one hundred and seven points. Goal kicking forwards stood out in this game. For St Francis, Brendan O’Hara and Peter Van Dam each kicked four. Conversely, Robert Wilson kicked four of the five South Mornington goals.
Third placed Monash Blues defeated Monash Gryphons by forty nine points to establish favouritism for today’s Semi Final. The Blues, who led throughout, had nine goal kickers including Seb. Poole, who kicked five.
Old Geelong quickly established a big lead over Swinburne University and continued to widen it as the match progressed. Their winning margin was one hundred and nine points.
West Brunswick won the minor premiership when they defeated a disappointing University High School/ V.U.T. by one hundred and nineteen points.
Second Semi final
Hawthorn and Old Xaverians, without doubt the two dominant teams over the last two seasons meet today for the right to move straight into the Grand Final. Hawthorn has had the upper hand in their previous meetings this season and so will rightly start favourites today. especially as the game is at Rathmine’s Reserve. Old Xaverians, play well in big games and today I am sure David Landrigan will reveal aspects of the “Crocodile” game plan not previously shown against Hawthorn. The spread of talent in the Hawthorn mid field and forward line has proven a real strength this season. It is difficult to assess the quality of defenders in each side because in the minor Rounds the ball has not gone often to their territory.
Given their home ground advantage as well as their success in earlier 2016 meetings, Hawthorn are my selection.
First Semi Final
Richmond Central have won the right to host this morning’s game against St Francis Xavier, which will give them renewed confidence following their lack lustre performance last Saturday. In home and away meetings this season each won at home. St Francis triumphed in round 3 aided by Jarrad Roberts eight goals. On the Bartlett Reserve, Richmond Central won by twenty two points in a low scoring match.
Recent form favours St Francis, but I am sure this advantage will be off set by “The Cardinal’s” home advantage. It is difficult to select the winner as I can envisage strong points in the play of each side. At home I select Richmond Central although a St Francis victory would come as no surprise.
Second Semi Final
The two strongest teams in the competition, west Brunswick and Old Geelong meet this morning on the Ransford Oval. The smaller ground will not allow Old Geelong the freedom of movement they appreciate on Como Park. Also the distraction of rail and road transport will bring another strange aspect to Old Geelong players. During 2016, these two teams have played each other three times with West Brunswick winning in Rounds 8 and 12. In Round 3, Old Geelong triumphed by thirty points mainly through Josh Archer’s nine goals. The game should provide a close contest and I select West Brunswick, whose recent form has been very good and because of their home ground advantage.
First Semi Final
Monash Blues host their Caulfield “Cousins”, the Gryphons in the fourth meeting between the teams in 2016. The Blues have won all three home and away games with similar score lines although to be fair the Gryphons improved in each game. It is difficult to go past the Blues whose seasonal form has been the better. A Gryphon victory will surprise more given the game is on the Blue’s turf. Monash Blues should win comfortably.