Long way to go

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Andrew Leonard
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The famous round six mark of the season has arrived and the final four are according to many locked away already. Although that perception doesn’t add up. You have to go back to 2012 for the last time the four didn’t alter from the Round 6 lineup to that which took part in September. In both of the past two years, there were two changes to the four. In 2011, Old Carey were in the four but slipped by round 18. All we can conclude is that it’s highly likely half of the current four is settled. Although which two? This is the most even year I can recall. At the other end of the spectrum in each of the past five years there has been at least one change to the bottom two relegation spots from round 6 to round 18. The only year there wasn’t a change was in 2013 when both Old Carey and Uni Blues were in the bottom two and both were unable to escape. Ipso facto, that suggests one of De La Salle and Beaumaris are likely to be in that bottom two by the end of this year. It’s not an exact science but as we know history has a way of repeating itself.

Both De La Salle and Beaumaris are in that unfortunate predicament of playing reasonably well, not getting blown away, but both are unable to close out opportunities and find a way to win. As we have seen with Old Trinity, winning is a habit which the T’s went back to Premier B to learn and have applied to their return to William Buck Premier. Unfortunately so is losing and at present De La Salle have a losing habit. The best place to reverse that trend is at home, but De La are struggling on that front too. Old Trinity remind me of Geelong in their pomp. They use the corridor and take the game on. Their skills for the most part are good enough to find a teammate and they transition the ball better than just about anyone. They did this against De la Salle. De La had patches of producing the same style but would often turn the ball over and the punishment at the other end was brutal. Whilst De La fought valiantly the T’s bat deeper. Jack Hunt was back amongst the goals and have a look at Polidoros’ entry for goal of the year.

It’s harder to explain Beaumaris’ situation. They have a key forward in Daniel Gribbin that is kicking goals. They have enough good players, but when you look at their stats, they seemingly don’t control the ball for long enough periods. The standard of football has improved dramatically in Premier in recent seasons and the need to spot up targets and not turn the ball over is vital. Old Xavs and Collegiens mastered the switch and carry across half back and getting the ball into the hands of players that are in space and not under pressure is vital. Blacks did this last year and in the past fortnight have returned to a run and carry game that saw them have so much success last year. The way they moved the ball from the back half was crisp and lethal. Beaumaris battled but goals were often workmanlike. On the few occasions they did move the ball through the middle the Sharks looked as good as anyone. Bede Mahon’s return to form has coincided with Blacks winning in the past two. Hugh Curnow was also important in this win that sees Blacks move to eighth.

Collegians have put a nice little run together in recent weeks, rolling both Uni outfits and now the high flying St Bernards. Just as they did last year, the slow starters at the Trott have found their groove and on this evidence, it was again their clearance work that was the difference. Will Tardif kicked three goals all in the Lions dominant second term. Collegians established a lead they would never surrender. Nick Corp also booted three for the day and he is becoming the player Collegians were hoping he would, creating as many if not more chances for those around him. Andrew Merrington slotted four majors but despite never being out of the game, St Bernard’s were unable to overhaul Collegians. Nathan Giles the barometer for the Lions in recent weeks as again was amongst the best.

Old Xaverians were never going to repeat the performance of last week and they came out all guns blazing against a depleted Uni Blues. Summers, Young and Williams were late withdrawals for Blues, but they were still in this game for longer than they should have been. Profligate kicking continues to haunt sides and this week it was Xavs turn to miss seemingly easy shots. Xavs could have put the game beyond doubt at half time, but 4.9 in the first was followed by 0.5 in the second. Xavs ball movement was better this week and their better players stood up too. They still have key defensive issues as five goals from Xavier McMahon would testify. Xavs only have one Handley and at present he seems to be playing wherever Xavs need him most at that point in the game.

Old Scotch and Old Carey was a physical contest that would have ensured both sides took it easy on the track this week. The tackling was fierce, the game on a knife edge for most of the four quarters. Carey kicked a couple of late goals in the third to make the break and a sequence of behinds to start the last had the locals believe the Cardinals would overhaul the Panthers. The game was somewhat soured by a couple of sending off’s – one for each team – but if anything the 17 versus with both benches a man down just made this all the more enthralling. Jack Bull was everywhere for Old Scotch, and whilst he again led their goal kicking he was also guilty of missing a couple of chances. Carey won this because their kicking into their forward line was better and they had key forwards that took contested marks. Morgan Evans finished with five goals, whilst Reid should have done likewise.

Beaumaris v Collegians

De La Salle v University Blacks

Old Carey v St Bernards

University Blues v Old Trinity

Old Xaverians v Old Scotch