By Tom Feldgen – Division 1 Scribe
Round 11 looked to have at least four fairly clear-cut games that should’ve followed the expected script. Somebody forgot to mention that to the seventh placed Whitefriars and eighth placed Old Paradians who both caused massive boilovers, which well and truly shook up the competition. Old Mentonians look to have their mojo back and are now back on top of the table, while Old Geelong forced their way back into the four with a vital win over Ivanhoe. It’s fair to say another weekend full of twists and turns was had and the premiership race is now as unclear as ever.
Old Geelong was able to make the most of the vast expanses offered at Como Park as they pocketed four crucial premiership points. The Ogs lead at each change and finished with a 25-point lead to end the rousing run of Ivanhoe. George Burbury produced some of his finest to finish with three majors while Josh Hutley and Connor O’Brien were the best for the Ogs. Ed Robinson was dynamic for the Hoes and Reuben Blackmore-Moore and Mitch Lovell were their multiple goal-scorers with two each.
Therry Penola continued their winning ways with a tense 20-point victory over a stubborn Brunswick NOBSPC. It was far from the comfortable victory that the Lions may have thought was on the cards, NOBs made them well and truly earn the points and they can take many positives from this performance as they fight to avoid relegation. Jarrod Bannister made it 16 goals from his last two outings as he booted him six, Brenton Eggleston helped himself to two. Hamish Donohue and Chris Hoban also provided many highlights for the Lions faithful throughout their scintillating games. Jeremy Nettlefold and Patrick Kelly were shining lights for NOBs.
An undermanned Prahran-Assumption succumbed to Old Mentonians who are now back on top after a mid-season lull that followed their colossal start to the season. On a sodden surface at the Keysborough Playing Fields the Panthers showed their class whilst recording a convincing 79-point win. Despite displaying solid work rate throughout the four quarters, the Two-Blues lacked the polish and superior execution of the Panthers. Unsurprisingly their defenders were among the better players, John Simonetta and John Stocker were stoic in the face of a number of opposition forward assaults, while Ben Leske worked hard at centre-half forward. For the Panthers, Oliver Webber and Darcy Brown both added three majors and Tim Wilton was named best on ground.
Amazingly Old Paradians now find themselves out of the relegation zone just two weeks after being winless and on track to “win” the wooden spoon. The Raiders registered a shock five-point triumph over PEGS at the Runway. The Raiders led narrowly at each interval in what was a thrilling, but low-scoring affair. Brent Fairley nailed two vital majors for the visitors, Anthony Tulipano was inspiring and Warren Jeffrey was prolific. For the home side, Trent Skurrie was the sole multiple goal scorer and Brett Hannah fought hard all day.
Whitefriars caused another major upset when they knocked over former ladder leader St Mary’s Salesian. The Friars played a fast-paced, exciting brand of footy over four quarters to record a 22-point win in perfect conditions at Donvale. The Saints were left shocked after the Friars were at their accurate best with 22 goals and eight behinds to finish with a mammoth 140 points next to their name. The crucial win put the Friars two games clear of the relegation zone and pushed the Saints back to third place. Andrew Daou was simply unstoppable up forward, kicking eight majors, Michael Nitas wasn’t far behind with six and Sean Currie was another influential figure for the Friars. Michael Dolan was one of the Saints best as he rammed home four goals and was matched by Stefan Gusts who was also able to leave with his head held high despite the disappointing.
Onto Round 12 and the Bermuda triangle that is Division 1 of the VAFA is set to continue with games that look one way on paper likely to go the other if recent trends continue. This week I am predicting all the visiting teams to salute. The match of the round is undoubtedly St Mary’s Salesian up against the Panthers. The Saints will be desperate to get back on the winners list after a shock loss, however the Panthers should continue their return to form and will have too much firepower for the Saints.
Round 12 Tips
Brunswick NOBSPC v Old Geelong
St Mary’s Salesian v Old Mentonians
Old Paradians v Therry Penola
Prahran-Assumption v Ivanhoe
Whitefriars v PEGS
Photo: Phil Skeggs