HAPPINESS AND HEARTBREAK

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In another amazing weekend, in an extraordinary year of VAFA football, four teams lost their grand finals by a point, while De La Salle fell by three points in a preliminary that was seemingly theirs for the taking.
In a wild one at Sandy, before a magnificent crowd, Beaumaris turned the tables on Caulfield Grammarians and got home by the narrowest. The Sharks were 45 points down at the first break, but they worked their way back into the game in the second. The Fields failed to take advantage of the breeze in the third, and Beauy was just twop points adrift at the lemons. The final stanza was a nailbiter. In the end, the Sharks got home by a point to claim the Premier C crown.
After a tight first half in the Div 3 Grand Final, St John’s went to the final break four goals ahead of La Trobe University. It wasn’t enough. The Trobers stormed home, booting five goals, winning back-to-back flags and leaving the JOCS with second prize.
In U19N(2), Ivanhoe survived a spirited fghtback in the fourth term to hold on by a point, while UHS-VU/F won the U18 (2) pennant with a one point win over St Bernard’s, who attacked constantly in the late stages but couldn’t force a score to even it up.    
Monash Gryphons, who waited twenty years for their first flag, had to wait just three more hours for its second. The afternoon, and indeed the season, has been a triumph for coach Richard Osborne and the hard-working committee who bounced back after demotion last year.
Congratulations to those premiership teams and also to Werribee (Div 1), Banyule (who won the Div2 /2R double) and also those who tasted the glory of victory in the reserves or under-age competitions. The Elsternwick crowd has seen many amazing performances from Xavs over the past decade and a half, but their preliminary final performance yesterday had their most seasoned die-hards picking up their jaws from the floor after they won their way into another grand final.
The Red ‘n’ Blacks were all over DLS in the first term, but much of their goal advantage was put down to wind. However, for nearly twenty minutes of the second period, their backline held firm. Matthew Moore went ballistic for five minutes and the Dees played out the half with confidence.
That confidence soared in the third when they outran Xavs, who had seen all of their momentum evaporate under the fierce pressure of the Blue and Gold’s running game. DLS trailed by just three points at the last turn and the bookies were keeping them safe. There wasn’t much smiling going on among the Xavs crowd, though Handley drew first blood and Xavs led by 9 points. Just minutes later, after Pickett, Pollard and J Moloney goaled in a frenzy, the Dees led by nine. Allan pulled one back at the twelve minute mark and suddenly Xavs looked the better team. Defences held sway until the 21 minute mark when Handley grabbed one in a pack and kicked truly to put the reigning premier back in front. The Red and Blacks attacked again, full of run and Gidley had a chance from twenty-five to boot the sealer. Instead, he began a chain of kicks that took the ball across the ground and back to the grandstand wing. Finally, there was a contest, but it was Luke Howard, one week shy of the anniversary of his Jock Nelson Medal win, who leapt and smashed the Sherrin into the fence. The resultant throw-in signalled curtains for De La and another grand final for Old Xaverians, who will chase their first back to back flag since 2000. Collegians, of course, will have plenty to say about that.