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Review of 2012 Grand Finals
The curtain fell on another successful Club XVIII season with the playing of the two Sectional Grand Finals last Sunday at Sportscover Arena. The ground was in excellent condition despite the recent monsoonal rains that Melbourne has experienced.
In Section 1, Old Xaverians regained the premiership cup which they had surrendered to De La Salle in 2011, with a convincing 64 point win over Old Melburnians. The Xaverians have built an enviable record in this competition with sixteen premiership victories since 1992. This was their twentieth Grand Final appearance since 1992. Their single blemish was in 2009 when they finished fourth.
The Xaverians set up their 2012 success when they held Old Melburnians scoreless in the first quarter and led by twenty seven points at the first change. Although inaccuracy in front of goal marred the Xaverian’s second quarter efforts, they led by thirty one points at the long interval. Old Melburnians rallied in the third quarter and outscored their opponents whose lead was trimmed to 27 points at the last change. The last quarter, despite a hiatus of 8 minutes for injury, was dominated by Old Xaverians. They held Old Melburnians scoreless until the last few seconds while adding another six goals themselves to build their lead at the final siren over 10 goals. Old Xaverians become the premiers and champions of Section 1 in 2012. 
Key Old Xaverian forward, James McDonnell had a day to remember as in addition to his Premiership medallion, he collected the King – Landrigan Medal for being named best player in the Grand Final and the Steve Mason Medal for being chosen as the Fairest and Best player in the competition in 2012. Although disappointed with the result in the Grand Final, Old Melburnians can be pleased with their overall efforts in 2012. There is no doubt that they were the major threat to Old Xaverians throughout the season.
Old Geelong have competed in the Club XVIII for over twenty seasons and were finally rewarded with premiership success when they convincingly outplayed Hawthorn to record a 53 point victory. The opening quarter provided an even contest with the scores level at the first change. Inaccuracy prevented a bigger half time lead for Old Geelong, who went in with a slender nine point lead. Hawthorn started the second half with enthusiasm and kept the ball in their forward line for many minutes. This was a pyrrhic rally as Hawthorn added a single goal before Old Geelong regained their momentum and added four unanswered goals to give themselves a 31 point buffer at three quarter time. In the last quarter, Hawthorn could muster little resistance as Old Geelong continued to build their lead until the final siren sounded to signify Old Geelong’s first Club XVIII premiership. 
Tom Waters of Old Geelong was adjudged best player in the Grand Final. Another to play well for the premiers was tall American ruckman Zac Taylor (like his 19th century namesake the 12th US President, Zac played like a leader of men), he consistently won hit outs and marked well around the ground. It was another disappointing Grand Final for Hawthorn who enjoyed a successful season despite losing their second consecutive Grand Final. Their club received a boost with two of their players tying for the competition Fairest and Best player; Nicholas Criticos and Constantinos Terzoglou congratulations on great seasons. Raymond Steer from Therry Penola was presented with his award for being the section’s leading goal kicker. It is now time for me to lay down my pen and to read the offerings of my literary colleagues and to hope our editor will call me forth in April 2013.

Today marks the end of another successful season for the Club XV111 competitions. Deservedly the two best performed teams in section 1 meet to decide the Premiership. In Section 2, percentage has determined the finishing order with the top three teams. The two weeks of finals played to date have further refined the finishing order so that the two teams, who have played the best finals football have won the right to contest in today’s Grand Final.
All three Preliminary Finals, which were played on a very wet and soppy Sportscover Arena, produced passages of fiercely competitive football. Unfortunately the defeated teams were unable to sustain the standard required for victory and as a consequence the closest result was a five goal margin. 
Old Melburnians withstood a spirited third quarter revival by North Old Boys/ St Pats whose inaccuracy up forward cost them dearly. Their multiple posters did not help either! At the last change Old Melburnians led by 21 points and it appeared their defenders were facing a torrid last quarter. They proved equal to the challenge and with an additional four goals to two the Navy Blues recorded a 30 point victory.
Prahran/ Assumption were without their star Jason Storer who had not recovered from the injury he sustained in last week’s semi final. His absence, together with players short of match practice and others with niggling injuries proved a handicap to the Four Blues who after a competitive opening quarter wilted under the pressure applied by the undefeated Old Xaverians. The Xaverians, through a six goal to one second quarter led by 50 points at half time. The second half saw them increase the margin to that of 63 points by the final siren.
In Section 2, Old Geelong started well against Therry Penola whose fortunes never overcame their four goal lead they had conceded to Old Geelong at the first change. As the game progressed, the bigger the Old Geelong lead became. Therry Penola’s only goal came at the Glenhuntly Road End in the third quarter, which was won by Old Geelong who kicked another three goals to hold a 50 point lead at three quarter time. Again, they outscored the disappointing Lions, who added only a minor score before the game finished with Old Geelong 68 points ahead.
Today in Section 1 Old Xaverians and Old Melburnians have clearly been the two strongest sides in the competition. We must congratulate Old Xaverians who made their 21st straight Club XVIII Grand Final, they remain undefeated whilst Old Melburnians two defeats were in the hands of the Xaverians. The high standard Round 1 game saw Old Xaverians triumph by ten points and in Round 13 on the Junction Oval the Xaverians won by nine points. Today, I believe that the big ground will suit Old Xaverians the better and their match last week probably was not as enervating for them as was the closer Old Melburnians Preliminary Final. The Xaverian defence stood firm last week and was the springboard for many counterattacks. Today they must do well again to quell the twin peaks of the Melburnians in Theodore Code and Angus Clark. Conversely the Old Xaverians have proven match winners with their key forwards James McDonnell and Matthew Green whose high marking was a feature of last week’s game. The Old Xaverians enter this game confident that they can go through 2012 undefeated. 
In Section 2, Hawthorn and Old Geelong will contest for the Premiership. These teams have played twice this season with Hawthorn having the upper hand on the OG’s with two victories by 71 and 38 points respectively. Another factor favouring Hawthorn is the fact their players rested last Sunday while their opponents ran in the mud and slush around Sportscover Arena. Hawthorn have been the trend setters all season whereas Old Geelong has built momentum as the season has progressed. Their players will be anxious to make Tim Bayles 200th game one to remember. The big ground should suit Old Geelong for the better providing their fitness holds up. Many Hawthorn players will carry memories of their 2011 Grand Final defeat and each of these factors could have a bearing on the game outcome.  In predicting the winner is a task fraught with danger and I expect a titanic struggle which Hawthorn will triumph … just!!  
The first day of finals saw contrasting results which included one sided games, a late finishing burst and a come from behind nail biting finish. The scene now turns to Sportscover Arena for the next two weeks as the season concludes.
Section 1 at Sportscover Arena started on an exciting note when North Old Boys/ St Pat’s came from three goals down to snatch a three point victory over Prahran/ Assumption. The Combine started better and led at the first change before Prahran/ Assumption took the ascendancy and lead until late in the last quarter. A crucial point in the combine comeback was the injury to Prahran/ Assumption dynamo, Jason Storer. Inaccuracy proved detrimental to Prahran/ Assumption as North Old Boys / St Pat’s triumphed with fewer scoring shots.

The other two games were one sided affairs in which the two home and away leaders, Old Xaverians and Old Melburnians, easily accounted for their opposition. Old Melburnians never allowed St Bernard’s into their match which the Melburnians won by 83 points. Old Xaverians set up their 84 point victory over 2011 Premiers De La Salle with a strong opening quarter which gave them a 19 point lead at the first change. The Crocodiles went further ahead in the second quarter and led by 45 points at half time. De La Salle scored a solitary goal in half a match while Old Xaverians continued to dominate until the final siren. 

The First Semi Final in Section 2 provided a good contest between Old Geelong and Richmond Cardinals. Old Geelong drew away in the last quarter to win by 25 points. The Cardinals inability to score at the northern end proved costly as they trailed by a mere four points at the last change. A tense last quarter which was anticipated was not to be. In retrospect the O.G.’s first quarter effort against the wind proved to be basis for their first final’s victory.

The Second Semi Final between Hawthorn and Therry Penola was a hard fought affair in which Hawthorn set up their victory with four unanswered first quarter goals. Therry Penola was forced into playing catch up football which left them 31 points in arrears at half time. After half time, Hawthorn’s superior aerial strength and pace around the ground left the tiring Therry Penola players in their wake when they added another eight goals to two to record a 67 point victory.

In Section 1 Preliminary Finals, this season’s four leading teams have won the right to play today. In the midday match second placed Old Melburnians meet North Old Boy’s/ St Pat’s who came from behind to win last Sunday. In their only meeting this season, Old Melburnians won by 75 points. Their leading goal kicker, Theodore Coad outscored the combine himself that day and with six goals last week, he showed he will be a force to be reckoned with today. North Old Boy’s / St Pat’s seem to have the ability to play well under pressure, although when their fortunes go awry their scoring dries up as instanced by their efforts against both Old Melburnians and Old Xaverians this season.  I select Old Melburnians to win this game comfortably.
Undefeated Old Xaverians play Prahran / Assumption who faltered near the end of last Sunday’s Final. Is it a case of “No Storer, no Prahran / Assumption?” We will know by the end of this game. These sides met in Round 3 when the Old Xaverians won by 59 points over the markedly inaccurate Four Blues. The Xaverians that day shared their goal scoring among nine players and today I can foresee something similar happening as James McDonnell and Matthew Green will prove too big and strong for the Prahran / Assumption defenders. The big Sportscover Arena will be another factor in determining the result, because while the Xaverians scored an easy victory last Sunday, the Four Blues faltered when the game was theirs for the taking. I am in no doubt Old Xaverians will win this match. 

In their only meeting this season, in Round 5 Old Geelong defeated Therry Penola by a mere two points. A repeat of this close contest will set the scene for an exciting day’s football. From what I saw last Sunday, I favour Old Geelong to win again because I expect their big men led by Zac Taylor to prove too fast for the bigger but slower Therry Penola followers. Further the wide expanses of Sportscover Arena will favour Old Geelong because of their experience on Como Park. Star Therry Penola forward, Ray Steer had a Semi Final to forget and he will be anxious to prove his goal kicking worth today. If given latitude, he could kick Therry Penola to victory.

A taste of history
The home and away season is now consigned to history and over the next three Sunday, Club XV111 followers anticipate an exciting final series. 
Round 15 results especially in Section 1 served to show the marked discrepancies which exist in the talent of several sides. Old Melburnians had 39 points to spare when they defeated Ivanhoe for whom injuries prevented the continuation of early season promise.  Down by the seaside, Williamstown CYMS ended their season of injury with a spirited display against third placed, North Old Boys/ St Pats who had to fight hard to shake off the Seagulls in the last quarter after holding a three point lead at the last change. Match fitness prevailed and the combine went on to victory by 23 points. The remaining matches were really one sided and the three finalists who prevailed were under minimum pressure as revealed by the scores.  Nick “Toyed” with his Therry Penola opponents and kicked nine goals as St Bernard’s recorded a 170 point win over Therry Penola. Prahran/ Assumption had their day in the sun as they held Fitzroy scoreless for three quarters and allowed the Roy Boys only two minor scores in the second quarter. The Four Blues went on to win by 170 points. In the afternoon game at Victoria Park Kew, Old Xaverians continued on their winning way with victory by 119 points over Monash Blues, who haven’t enjoyed a successful season. De La Salle had the Bye.
In an early morning encounter, Bulleen Templestowe revealed what might have been when they proved competitive against Therry Penola, who prevailed by 27 points. Veteran forward Ray Steer was again prominent with five goals. Hawthorn returned to Section leadership when they held Richmond Snakes to a solitary goal which came in the last quarter, while scoring twenty one majors themselves. For the 131 point victors, George Dellaportas received dual accolades by kicking six goals and was named best on ground. In the second half, Kew proved no match for Richmond Cardinals who led throughout en route to the final winning margin of 115 points. At half time, it seemed Old Paradians were on their way to a big win over Eley Park, who trailed by 46 points. This feeling was confirmed at three quarter time as the Paradians still led by 38 points. This scenario altered in the last quarter as Eley Park finished very strongly and ran all over the tired Paradians, who in the words of their Club President, “Just fell in”. Their margin was cut to a mere 14 points. The superior players for Old Paradians included: Taylor Mills, Nick Brice and James Rossiter. Eley Park was well served by Lee White, Nicholas Greenhalf and Shakya Wolokh. Old Geelong  scored a 177 point win over UHS/VU who only scored three times during the match.
Section 1 sees a new final’s format with three games scheduled for Sports Cover Arena. In the early morning game, North Old Boy’s/ St Pat’s play Prahran/ Assumption. Their only meeting this season was in Round 5 when the combine defeated the four blues by five points. North Old Boys/ St Pat’s are an enigmatic team, whose form fluctuates markedly. They have suffered heavy defeats but have recorded significant victories. Alternatively, Prahran/ Assumption in typical fashion started slowly and have built momentum as the season progressed. I favour Prahran/ Assumption to win as I can’t see the combine holding Storer, Farrell, Berger and Ploenges throughout the match. Old Melburnians play St Bernard’s. Old Melburnians won at their only meeting in round six this season by 47 points. Judging on recent performances, St Bernard’s have built their strength while Old Melburnians have continued on their winning way. In making my selection, I am aware that Old Melburnians do not have a consistent record of performances at Sports Cover Arena. qually how will St Bernard’s stars shine on the wide and wind swept wings of thr VAFA headquarters? I select Old Melburnians purely because of their consistent record.
The afternoon game sees last season’s Grand Finalists Old Xaverians and De La Salle matched against each other. Since that memorable August victory, De La Salle has twice and have succumbed to the might of the Old Xaverians. In Round 2, the Xaverians won by 24 points and in Round 13 they triumphed by 86 points after an remarkable display of skill. I retain vivid memories of that display and I cannot see, De La Salle being able to reverse that result from three weeks ago. I expect another Old Xaverian triumph.
The Section 2 semi Finals are at Central Reserve and should provide entertaining football. In the first Semi Final, Old Geelong after many season’s will play in their first Club XV111 final series as will their opponents the Richmond Central Cardinals. The teams have met once during the season in round six when Old Geelong won comfortably by 26 points. Last Saturday, the Cardinals started slowly and took until the second half to gain ascendancy. They cannot afford to do this today as Old Geelong have shown themselves to be formidable opponents. The large ground should definitely favour Old Geelong, who are my selection because they have the better 2012 record between the two sides and a proven goal kicker in Timothy Bayles.
To select the winner of the Second Semi Final is a difficult task because the big Central Reserve will test the stamina of both sides. Hawthorn and Therry Penola have met twice this season, with honours even. Hawthorn won at home in Round 6 by 70 points, whilst two weeks ago in very heavy conditions Therry Penola won by 27 points against a very inaccurate Hawthorn, who really are the “bench mark” of the Section. The two sides have reliable avenues to goal, with Ray Steer kicking 90 goals for Therry Penola, whilst Timothy Demetriou and George Dellaportas have kicked 86 for Hawthorn. My judgement has been that the big ground will suit Therry Penola more, but Hawthorn’s youthful exuberance could counteract Therry Penola’s experience on bigger arenas. Virtually on the toss of a coin, I select Hawthorn.  

Weather conditions determined results across the board in Round 14, this led to several of the lowest scoring games for many seasons.
Section 1 results reflected the comparative strength of most sides in 2012. My tipping skills were exposed by Williamstown CYMS who proved too strong for bottom side Therry Penola, eventually winning by 54 points. De La Salle suffered another loss when they went down to Old Melburnians by 21 points in a very low scoring game. De La dropped to sixth and has a bye before facing Old Xaverians in the semi finals. Fitzroy started well against North Old Boys / St Pat’s and at quarter time an upset result was on the cards. The Combine clawed their way back and led by the minimum margin at half time. At the final change they had doubled their lead to two points. Then as has happened in several games this year, Fitzroy was unable to sustain pressure in the final stanza as North Old Boys / St Pat’s powered to victory by 28 points. Ivanhoe versus St Bernard’s was virtually decided in the opening quarter when St Bernard’s kicked nine goals to one. As the game progressed, St Bernard’s lead continued to increase, finally resting at 115 points at the final siren. Prahran / Assumption issued a warning to their finals opponents. Playing at Monash University they defeated the Blues by 65 points. Old Xaverians enjoyed the Bye.
By defeating Eley Park by 10 points, UHS-VU lifted themselves from the foot of the Section 2 ladder. Kew in a form reversal, were far too strong for Old Paradians, who lost by 46 points in the early morning match. Richmond Central had mixed results in their double header. The Snakes were defeated by Old Geelong by 45 points; whilst in the afternoon game, the Cardinals had 11 points to spare against Bulleen Templestowe. A week is a long time in football the experts tell us. Hawthorn found this to be factual when they went from chocolates to boiled lollies against Therry Penola whose 27 point win took them to Section leadership over the vanquished Hawthorn. The Hawk’s solitary goal was in stark contrast to their 31 goal tally in Round 13.
The final round looks to have few surprises to conclude another interesting home and away season. I expect North Old Boys/ St Pat’s to defeat Williamstown CYMS again and to hold third place. Similarly I expect undefeated leaders Old Xaverians to defeat Monash Blues in their early morning match. Old Melburnians should again defeat Ivanhoe, who are missing their injured stars. Prahran/ Assumption will endeavour to build percentage at the expense of Fitzroy. The ‘Roys do not have the depth of talent nor the four quarter stamina required to defeat the Four Blues who are finals bound. St Bernard’s should record another convincing win over a keen but unsuccessful Therry Penola. De La Salle have the bye as they prepare for next Sunday.
Section 2 leaders Therry Penola should defeat Bulleen Templestowe whose early success was stopped by a high number of injuries. Hawthorn must make amends for last week’s aberration and should do so by defeating Richmond Snakes. Eley Park travel north west to meet Old Paradians, whose lack of players has hindered their recent progress. Which team to select poses a problem. Home ground advantage is the only reason for my selection of Old Paradians. Richmond Cardinals should be talented enough to defeat Kew at Victoria Park and the Cardinals likely opponent next Sunday Old Geelong, should tune up for their first ever final with victory over UHS-VU.

Two Rounds remain and in each Section although the finalists are known, the final places remain in doubt, which does add interest in the run home. 
Despite inaccurate kicking, Ivanhoe managed to defeat Williamstown CYMS by 11 points in  a very close contest. After an even first quarter between neighbours and fierce rivals, North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s and Therry Penola, the third placed North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s surged ahead and continued to increase their lead as the game progressed with a final margin of 52 points. Second placed Old Melburnians had a comfortable win by 68 points over Monash Blues. The game between leaders Old Xaverians and fourth placed De La Salle was over as a contest by the first change when the Xaverians held a five goal lead. Ten more goals were piled on by Xavs as the undefeated team exerted continued pressure on last season’s premiers. De la Salle, to their credit, came back after half time and matched Xaverians in the second half scoring although the massive first half Xaverian onslaught enabled them to win by 86 points. Sixth placed St Bernards took until the second quarter to shake off Fitzroy, once on top, St Bernard’s extended the final winning margin to 103 points, which built their percentage by 12%. Prahran/ Assumption who had the bye rose up a place to fourth.
Leaders, Hawthorn had a day out against Eley Park, whose only goal was kicked in the opening quarter. Eley Park were convincingly outplayed throughout the game as Hawthorn kicked a huge score of 31 goals before they won by the unreal margin of 192 points. The surprise result was the 55 point victory by second placed Therry Penola over fourth placed Richmond Cardinals. Inaccuracy was the order of the day for the Cardinals, whose only goals were kicked in the first quarter. The blatant inaccuracy must be a concern to Coach, Tim Pritchard, with the semi final just two weeks away. UHS / VU outlasted Kew to record their second win of the season. Kew, who had held a 10 point lead at half time, suffered from player shortage and could not cope with the last quarter surge of the “Combine”, who went on to record a 25 point victory. Old Geelong received a forfeit from Old Paradians as did Richmond Snakes from Bulleen Templestowe.
The positions in the Section 1 top six should change as a result of today’s games. I expect old Melburnians to defeat De La Salle even though the match is on Darling Park. North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s should consolidate third place by defeating Fitzroy at Brunswick Street. St Bernard’s should be talented enough to defeat Ivanhoe and so put themselves in position to rise to fifth place and so avoid the Old Xaverians in the Semi Final. Prahran/ Assumption, despite not playing in Round 13, should possess the talent required to defeat Monash Blues on the University’s Frearson Oval. The afternoon match should provide a close contest as injury riddled Williamstown CYMS visit 12th placed Therry Penola, who are often difficult to defeat at home. Without any great confidence I am selecting Therry Penola. Leaders, Old Xaverians have the bye.
The enigmatic Eley Park host UHS / VU, whose enthusiasm continues weekly, despite their lack of success. Eley Park will wish to erase memories of last week with a win today. I select UHS / VU, who despite lack of success really are more consistent than Eley Park. In the early game, Old Paradians visit Kew. Neither team takes much form into this contest and the small Victoria Park should help those players’ whose match fitness is suspect. Kew have wilted in their last two outings and will find the Paradians competitive. With no great confidence, I select Old Paradians. In the afternoon match, the Richmond Cardinals have the opportunity to regain momentum against Bulleen Templestowe whose form has evaporated since their early season wins, I select the Cardinals. Old Geelong should win well against the Richmond Snakes. In a likely semi final preview, leaders Hawthorn visit second placed Therry Penola on a ground that many well credentialed teams have been defeated over the years.  The Therry Penola defence has the best record in the section and their forwards led by Ray Steer have been very active.  I expect a high standard contest and favour Therry Penola to win narrowly.

Results in the unpredictable Round 12, served to intensify the quest for finals’ positions in both Sections.
North Old Boy’s/ St Patrick’s were undaunted by the home ground reputation enjoyed by Ivanhoe. The “Combine” players proved too tall and too fast for Ivanhoe and they were never in danger of losing the game even though their final term effort must concern co – coaches Messrs  Dinan and Tehan who will apply their legal disciplines to solve the problem. The final margin was 57 points in favour of North Old Boy’s/ St Patrick’s. 
Only two points separated Old Xaverians and Old Melburnians at half time in their top of the table clash on the Junction Oval. The third term saw the Xaverians build a 15 point lead by the last change. The Melburnians managed to cut the deficit by six points as the fortunes fluctuated in the last quarter before the Xaverians triumphed by nine points. Old Melburnians were well served by Theodore Code with six goals. In Ignatian terms, Theodore had gained glory but his team lost!! 
The Darling Park tenants, De La Salle and Prahran/ Assumption staged a close contest in which the “Four Blues” greater accuracy enabled them to hold the lead for the last three quarters on their way to victory by 31 points. Again the “Four Blues” had Jason Storer, Mark Ploenges and Craig Berger among their best. A sterling last quarter effort saw Therry Penola win their first match with a seven point win over Fitzroy who again wilted at the business end of the game. St Bernard’s won by forfeit from Williamstown C.Y.M.S. and Monash Blues had the Bye..
In a high scoring match, Eley Park scored by 19 points over a remarkably accurate Bulleen Templestowe. After trailing by 15 points at half time, Eley Park took control in the third stanza and led by 19 points at the last change.
 This was also the final margin as the teams were equal scorers in the final quarter. In an early morning match, Hawthorn regained composure and outplayed Old Geelong to win by 38 points. The defeat saw Old Geelong slide to third. The first half of the Kew versus Richmond “Snakes” match provided an equal contest.  
Then after half time, the “Snakes” took control as their pace and accurate kicking came to the fore. By the last change, the “Snakes” had eliminated their four point half time deficit and had gone to a 30 point lead, upon which they built in the last quarter before winning, by 45 points. Richmond “Cardinals” led throughout against Old Paradians, who trailed by 13 points at the long interval. After an even third quarter, the “Cardinals” were stung into action by stern words by Coach Tim. Pritchard and Manager, “Sandy” Robertson. They responded by then holding the Paradians scoreless and by recording victory by 48 points. Therry Penola moved back to second place with a 71 point win over University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T. Ruckman and past pupil, Adam Carroll and veteran goalsneak, Ray. Steer (8 goals) were among the Therry Penola best.
Ivanhoe should record their first win in many Rounds by defeating Williamstown C.Y.M.S., whose season has been ravaged by injury. St Bernard’s should be able to gain valuable percentage at the expense of Fitzroy, who struggle to play out a full match.  Old Melburnians  should comfortably defeat Monash Blues and third placed North Old Boys/St Patrick’s should build valuable percentage by defeating near neighbours, Therry Penola .On form, Old Xaverians should be able to reverse the result of the 2011 Grand Final by defeating De La Salle. Prahran/ Assumption has the Bye.
Despite their recent good form, I cannot see Eley Park having the necessary skill to defeat leaders, Hawthorn.  University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T. have proven competitive without being able to attain more than one win. On the other hand, Kew proved uncompetitive after half time last week. Today on the bigger Brens Oval, I select the “Green and Tans” to defeat the brown and gold of Kew. Old Geelong should win well over Old Paradians whose running fitness will be tested on the wide wings of Como Park. 
Although Bulleen Templestowe’s season has not gone to plan, they should take the points against a confident Richmond “Snakes”. The afternoon match should provide a guide to the finals as fourth placed Richmond “Cardinals” play second placed Therry Penola. The “Cardinals” if they are going to win must play out the four quarters unlike what they did at Bundoora last Saturday. I also doubt that the “Snakes” can nullify Ray. Steer for the whole match and Adam Carroll should control the aerial duels to give Therry Penola runners first use of the ball.  
Results in Round 11 further complicated the quest for the Section 1 final six as two of the leading six easily defeated another two of the current top six. In Section 2, the fact that the Cardinals defeated Hawthorn, has all but decided the top four.
In an afternoon game, De La Salle easily defeated North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s by 66 points to put the Combine in danger of dropping to fifth place.  In a spirited and bruising encounter, Monash Blues overcame a big first quarter deficit when they kicked five unanswered goals in the second quarter to go to half time with an 11 point lead. The second half saw the Blues score another five goals to one kicked by Fitzroy, who finished thirty four points in arrears. Ruckman, Bill Geary, the Chapman Brothers and Rojah Jayaweera were stand out players for Monash. Undefeated leaders, Old Xaverians powered to a decisive win over sixth placed St Bernard’s, who kicked a sole goal as the Xaverians powered to a 153 point victory. 
Prahran/ Assumption virtually extinguished any flicker of hope that Ivanhoe harboured for a semi final match, when the “four blues” started a big day for their Club with a 75 point victory Old Melburnians biggest problem against Therry Penola could well have to locate the Fawkner Reserve. Once on the ground, the Old Melburnians were in complete control as they won by one hundred and thirty nine points. Williamstown C.Y.M.S. won on a forfeit from Old Ivanhoe.
The highlight of the Section 2 results was the fact that the Richmond Cardinals were able to do as they thought they could and that was defeat Hawthorn. As a contest this match was evening the number of scoring shots each had. The Hawthorn inaccuracy really was the major factor in their 24 point loss. Kew, too were really inaccurate against Bulleen Templestowe. The Kew margin of 43 points would have been greater if their accuracy had been better. 
Third placed Therry Penola easily won a one sided match against Richmond “Snakes”, who for the second successive week, only managed one goal. Therry Penola won by 153 points. After Old Paradians held an 11 point lead at half time, University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T. fought back and at the last change led by six points. Not to be denied, the Paradians regained the ascendancy and outscored the Combine in the last quarter to gain victory by four points. Eley Park forfeited to Old Geelong.
Tipping winners in this Round is a hazardous occupation because teams, whose Clubs are in a Premier Division can play fringe area players from their Reserves as well as injury returnees, who need match practice. Here goes!!!
North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s travel to Ivanhoe, whereby a visiting team hasn’t been defeated there since 1934. The Combine, despite some serious reversals, should defeat Ivanhoe, whose form has really tapered off over the past few Rounds. Monash Blues should win well again over Old Ivanhoe, who are not enjoying a successful season. The long awaited rematch between the two leading teams is on today. Old Melburnians just failed to upset Old Xaverians in Round 1 and neither one has been challenged over the intervening ten Rounds. Both are big and strong and each has a forward line capable of kicking big scores. Accuracy will be a key as it was in Round 1. At home I favour the Old Xaverians to win narrowly. 
Fellow tenants Prahran/ Assumption and De La Salle meet on Darling Park with the winner likely to fill third place at the season’s end. Recent form does prompt me to select Prahran/ Assumption because they have dual avenues to goal through Craig Berger and Mark Ploenges. A titanic struggle seems likely from which the “Four Blues” will just emerge victorious. St Bernard’s should regain lost momentum today by defeating the injury ravaged Williamstown C.Y.M.S. Fitzroy each time I have watched them have not been able to maintain pressure for long periods. Today, I am selecting Therry Penola to record their first win at the expense of Fitzroy.
Bulleen Templestowe should score a much needed win by defeating Eley Park, who are finding success elusive. A possible Grand Final rehearsal will be seen in the early game between Hawthorn and Old Geelong. The small Rathmine’s Reserve will suit Hawthorn ad will give them an advantage. Old Geelong will
 prove a worthy opponent and will take advantage of any repeated inaccuracy by Hawthorn forwards Kew should win again by defeating the Richmond “Snakes”, who have not been able to apply scoreboard pressure for some weeks. Richmond “Cardinals” now have their sights on the coveted double chance and should move closer to this lure by defeating Old Paradians. Therry Penola should record another big victory by defeating University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T.
With five Rounds remaining, it seems that the finalists in each Section will be those teams currently holding the leading positions. What remains to be decided is the finishing order of these two groups.
Ivanhoe, who missed several star players, were no match for De La Salle whose one hundred and ten point win strengthened their grip on fourth place and maintained hopes for an even higher finish. Hamish Christie again kicked North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s towards their twenty point win over Monash Blues. The Christie Contribution virtually equaled the Monash total score.  Fitzroy gained some respite from their unspectacular season when they proved too strong for Old Ivanhoe, who finished ninety three points in arrears. 
Old Xaverians were impressive in their relentless pursuit of victory against Therry Penola, who despite their lack of success never surrendered although held scoreless for three quarters by the far bigger and more talented “Crocodiles” who won by two hundred and twenty points. James McDonnell starred in the noon day sun (and wind), with sixteen goals.
 In the early game, at St Bernard’s College, Prahran/ Assumption started a black day for the “Four Blues”, who lost their three matches. St Bernard’s proved too strong and won by twenty five points. Williamstown C.Y.M.S. forfeited to Old Melburnians.
Old Geelong continued on their way to their first Club XV111 final with a sixty nine point win over Bulleen Templestowe whose finals’ hopes are now all but extinguished. Tim. Bayles, the Old Geelong full forward, outscored the “Bullants” as he kicked seven goals. Richmond “Cardinals” dominated played against Eley Park, who suffered a ninety seven point defeat. 
This victory has virtually sealed the “Cardinals” place in the four. Undefeated leaders, Hawthorn won against University High School/ V.U.T. by one hundred and eight points.  Again the overall evenness of the Hawthorn side was demonstrated. Garvey Oval goals were as valuable as gold as the Old Paradians and Richmond “Snakes” battled for supremacy at Bundoora. 
A match winning third quarter effort paved the way for the thirty eight point Paradian victory. Therry Penola, with uncanny accuracy, defeated Kew by ninety four points. Again Ray. Steer led the Therry Penola forward lines with nine goals.
Two of the less successful sides in 2012 meet on the Fearon Reserve when Old Ivanhoe visit Williamstown C.Y.M.S. Home ground advantage should prove decisive and I forecast a Williamstown C.Y. victory. There is a “double header” to be played on Darling Park today. 
In the 11.40 a.m. match, Prahran Assumption should be talented enough to defeat Ivanhoe, who despite some valiant efforts, has fallen short of defeating teams above them on the ladder. At 2 p.m., De La Salle play North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s with third place the winner’s prize. I select De La Salle who impressed last Round as they will prove too strong for the lighter Combine players. Monash Blues travel to Fitzroy, where the home side will be confident of winning successive matches. Despite Monash, not enjoying much success, I select them to narrowly defeat Fitzroy. 
In an early game, undefeated leaders, Old Xaverians should win again at the expense of sixth placed St Bernard’s, who lack the depth of talent necessary to defeat the undefeated!! Old Melburnians face another “great trek” north when they journey to Oak Park to meet the enthusiastic but winless Therry Penola. From my observations of each side, I feel the home side face another torrid two hours as the Melburnians will be too tall and too fast and so will take the four points.
Kew host the out of form Bulleen Templestowe, who through personnel changes have not continued their early season form. I will take a punt here and select Kew to win. Old Geelong should have another big win by defeating Eley Park on the wide wings of Como Park. Bartlett Reserve will hold two matches today.
 At 11.40 the Richmond “Snakes” play third placed Therry Penola. I have seen each team over the past two Rounds and am in no doubt Therry Penola will win again. In the afternoon game, The “Cardinals” face a big challenge to defeat Hawthorn: a challenge none of the other eight teams has met successfully. Form does point to another Hawthorn victory, which I believe will be achieved. Old Paradians visit University High School/ V.U.T. and provided the Bundoora boys concentrate on winning and disposing of the ball, they should return home with the four points.
Round 9 results again revealed the widening gap which exists between the sides in each Section. In five games the losing side had a scoreless quarter while in another four games the losing side scored a goal or less in a quarter.
In Section 1, Ivanhoe had a percentage and morale boosting win by 95 points over Monash Blues whose deficit increased in each quarter. The “‘Hoers”, who are now out of the six on percentage, certainly are contributing to their Club’s successful season. Prahran/ Assumption faltered in the last quarter but still defeated Therry Penola by 102 points. Did tiredness slow the older legs? Factually the “Four Blues” rise up the ladder has been greatly helped by the continuing good form and accurate kicking of Jason Storer (another Mason Medal in the offing?), Craig Berger and the traveling man, Mark Ploenges. Old Xaverians were never threatened by Fitzroy, who finished 169 points in arrears. A seven goal opening burst in the Gillon “glue” set up a 43 point win for third placed, North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s over Williamstown C.Y.M.S. To their credit the inaccurate “C.Ys” only lost by their first quarter deficit. Although St Bernard’s went to an early lead, De La Salle led by 16 points at the long interval en route to victory by 34 points. Old Ivanhoe forfeited to Old Melburnians.
In an early match undefeated leaders, Hawthorn over powered Bulleen Templestowe and won by 93 points. A feature of Hawthorn’s success is the evenness of their team, as instanced by their spread of goal kickers and good players each week. Kew started in top gear against Eley Park and virtually was assured of success as the “Brown and Golds” led forty eight points to nil at the first change. A good last quarter effort saw Kew go on to win by 70. Again Kew was well served by former VAFA. employee, Darcy Gallagher – Lyon, who has been consistently among their better players. Old Geelong and the Cardinals played a fierce and physical contest in which Old Geelong’s first quarter efforts set up their 26 point victory. American recruit, Zac Taylor was the stand out player for Old Geelong, who are now seemingly assured of their first Club XVIII final appearance!! In slippery conditions on a dreary Bundoora morning, Therry Penola were never in danger of losing to Old Paradians especially with leading forward, Ray. Steer booting seven goals as Therry Penola recorded victory by 65  points. Richmond “Snakes” started slowly against UHS / VU who led at quarter time. The game remained very close until a big last quarter effort propelled the “Snakes” to victory by 26 points.
Old Melburnians may take a while to hone their skills against Williamstown C.Y.M.S. on the windy Fearon Reserve. None the less I expect the “ O.M.s to win as having seen each side over the past two Rounds, I believe the “O.M.s” will be too tall and skilful for the “C.Y.s”. In an early game, fourth placed De La Salle visit Ivanhoe, who are on the cusp of success or … Victory is vital to each team in the context of seasonal success. I favour De La Salle, whose match fitness could be the determining factor in the result. Monash Blues had their biggest success this season last week and today they travel way out to Brunswick where the confident North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s await them. The “Combine” looked good last week in heavy conditions against Williamstown C.Y.M.S. and with third place at stake; I favour them to win again today. Neither Fitzroy nor Old Ivanhoe have much form to recommend them in today’s clash. I select Old Ivanhoe without any confidence and simply because they will be playing at home on a ground where the foliage and white fence can confuse the unfamiliar.  First plays twelfth when Old Xaverians host Therry Penola. The visitors will try hard but the “Crocodiles” seem assured of a big victory. Prahran/ Assumption must again travel to the “great north west where all the rovers go” (Paterson). They will find St Bernard’s formidable opponents who are fighting to stay in the top six and will do so with victory. The “Four Blues” have shown great recent form thanks to the continued dominance of their veterans, who are striving for the success that always, eluded their side in its glory years. I select Prahran/ Assumption but won’t be surprised if St Bernard’s take the points.
Recent form suggests Old Geelong will defeat Bulleen Templestowe. Despite the strange surroundings Old Geelong should have the talent to win. The Richmond “Cardinals” will ensure a final four spot with victory today against Eley Park. They should achieve this goal with comfort.  First meets tenth when University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T. visit Hawthorn. Hawthorn should record another big win as the “Green and Tans” do not have enough talent to extend the unbeaten leaders. In another early game, Old Paradians should again defeat Richmond “Snakes”, most of whom have never played at Bundoora where the winds and ball bounce vary from that encountered in the inner suburbs. Therry Penola, at home, should keep their double chances alive by defeating Kew.  
Changing fourtunes
The quest for finals qualification certainly intensified last week through some surprise results caused by weather vagaries and injuries to club personnel. There were three changes to the top six in Division 1 and four changes to the Division 2 top four.
Ivanhoe defeated the injury ravaged Williamstown CYMS by fifty four points in the early game on the Fearon Reserve. Their early morning trip to West Essendon proved trouble free for Old Melburnians as they comfortably defeated St Bernard’s by forty seven points. Fitzroy led North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s for three quarters and started the final stanza with a nineteen point buffer. What happened over the next twenty two minutes will be the subject of debate in the legal chambers of Messrs Tehan and Dynon, who engineered a comeback of Lazarian proportions as the home side held Fitzroy scoreless until a kick after the siren yielded their only score for the quarter. North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s with six unanswered goals ran out winners by thirteen points. Old Ivanhoe rose to tenth place through their sixty four point win over Therry Penola, who now remains the only team without a win. Prahran/ Assumption won the battle of Darling Park with a fourteen point win over inaccurate co tenants, De La Salle. The win lifted the "Four Blues" into sixth place. Undefeated leaders, Old Xaverians were untroubled out in Clayton where they triumphed over Monash Blues by eighty six points.
Hawthorn maintained their unblemished record when, despite inaccuracy, they defeated Therry Penola by seventy points. The loss saw Therry Penola drop from second to fourth on the ladder. Eley Park made it two wins on the trot when they defeated Old Paradians by twenty five points. Shortage of players and injuries depleted Bulleen Templestowe who could manage only one goal in the face of an avalanche of Richmond Central "Cardinal’s scoring. The Cardinals won by one hundred and fifty five points. Only inaccurate kicking prevented a wider margin. The Richmond Central "Snakes" must have felt like their Irish reptilian antecedents when the Scot Patrick banish them from the "Emerald Isle" Only this lot had nowhere to escape before the final siren. For Old Geelong (now in second place), this was their finest hour with a two hundred and sixty seven point win. UHS-VU achieved a long awaited first victory when they finished twenty six points ahead of Kew.
St Bernard’s should consolidate their top six position by defeating the disappointing Fitzroy. I expect North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s to be too strong for Old Ivanhoe especially on the Gillon Oval. The early game between Old Melburnians and De La Salle should reveal much about the comparative strength of each side. When judged on 2012 achievements, Old Melburnians are my selection. I select Prahran/ Assumption to win again at the expense of Monash Blues, who are not enjoying a successful season. Ivanhoe should remain in the race for a final six berth by defeating the yet to win Therry Penola in today’s afternoon match. The early start at the Fearon Oval should hold no fear for undefeated leaders, Old Xaverians, who will be too talented for a depleted Williamstown CYMS.
Eley Park Sharks should make it three wins on the trot today by defeating the winless Richmond Central "Snakes" Undefeated leaders Hawthorn should win again at the expense of Kew. Old Geelong, now entrenched in second place, have the opportunity this morning to consolidate their position by defeating Old Paradians. Few Old Geelong players will have played at Bundoora, where the winds and ball bounce differ from those encountered at Como, so an upset result could occur! The Therry Penola versus Bulleen Templestowe match outcome could prove vital come August. Both suffered losses last Round and today’s loser will drop behind the top four teams. At the Fawkner Reserve, I select Therry Penola. Third placed Richmond Central "Cardinals" should prove too strong for UHS-VU.
With Norm Nugent this week far from the madding crowd, here is his expurgated and potted history of the Clubbies.
The genesis of Club XVIII took place prior to the 1971 season when Adrian Fisher, (De La Salle), Steve Mason (Power House) and Andrew Caithness (Old Scotch) formulated a competition for players who were not eligible for or able to play regularly in the Reserves competitions. 
The name was taken from the popular Club XI organized by the Melbourne Cricket Club and was a stand-alone competition until it affiliated with the VAFA for Season 1987.
In 1986, the VAFA had begun a "G Section" with 6 teams, four of which were one team clubs. Old Carey, now in Premier Division, competed in the first G Section, along with Monash Whites (now part of the Blues), GTV9, Parkside, Williamstown CYMS and Eltham Old Collegians. With the coming of the Club XVIII teams in 1987, G Section was expanded to twelve teams and H Section was formed with eleven teams competing. Seventeen of these teams were from clubs that are still members of the VAFA. Gone from the ranks are: State Bank, CBC St Kilda (who morphed into Prahran Assumption and Glen Eira respectively), Bloods, GTV9, Parkside and Port Colts.
Several changes in format followed over the next five seasons as the number of participating clubs continued to grow. With the development and continued growth of the Thirds competitions, 2012 has seen Club XVIII revert to a two section competition with twenty two teams participating.
Over the forty two seasons, Club XVIII has attracted much publicity and once provided the VAFA with the means to bring new clubs into the Association. Rupertswood now in Premier C, Eltham (Division 2), St Francis Xavier (Division 3), Chadstone, Mt Lilydale, Eley Park and Box Hill North (all in Division 4) are constituent clubs who came via the Clubbies.
The fact that training regimes are less stringent than in the senior sections has enabled many players to continue playing. A.F.L. executives Gillon McLachlan, Adrian Anderson and Andrew Dillon all played Club XVIII before retiring from the field. Australian Crawl band members James Reyne and the late Brad Robinson played with Bloods. Actors Peter O’Brien, (Old Melburnians), Gary Sweet (Port Colts) and Blair McDonough (Collegians) and comedian Russell Gilbert (Fitzroy) have all been keen participants. Gary Sweet showed his football talent when he won the 1987 Mason Medal as the Best and Fairest in G Section. Brownlow Medalist Brian Wilson played with Power House and Woodrow Medalist Glenn Cox (Marcellin) started his VAFA career in Club XVIII. Football commentator Craig Hutchinson was a solid Prahran player.
David Wittey, who had played 24 games with St Kilda, was drafted by Sydney, from Bloods in 1990. Another Club XVIII draftee in the future seems a remote possibility!!
Senior umpire Tom Windlow, who started his career in Club XVIII, has progressed to umpire the 2011 Premier C Grand Final. Other VAFA personalities to have umpired Clubbies’ games include Paul Fahey, who moved from coaching Old Ivanhoe in Premier section. The 1992 Woodrow Medalist, Paul Matton (Therry Penola), Sheffield Shield cricketer Gerard Dowling (Old Paradians) and former Melbourne Reserves coach Martin Cross also have been prominent umpires. The Club XVIII umpiring organisation has been undertaken by three men only. Alan Woff, who had a VFL umpiring background, became the first coordinator of umpires. Then came Tony Gleeson, who is still umpiring after many years in New York. Present mentor David Windlow, who helped me greatly with this article, is currently in his fortieth season as an umpire, after playing with Power House for the first two seasons of Club XVIII.
On the field, the Old Xaverians have dominated the competition by winning 17 premierships since 1992. In addition they have been defeated in another four Grand Finals. Their epic battle with Blues in the 2008 Grand Final is readily recalled by all present (and by many thousands who claim they were). The scores were tied as the final siren sounded. The Varsity managed to gain a nineteen point lead in extra time to win the premiership. The Xavs have been known as the "Crocodiles" and worn green hose since the early days, when they secured a sponsorship from leading fashion label of the era La Coste.
Section 1 results in Round 4 showed that the powerful established teams are again proving forces to be reckoned with. Other results served to intensify the quest for the other leading spots.
The closest result was the four point win by Williamstown CYMS over St Bernard’s, who fell to sixth place. Their win took the CYs to fifth place despite their comparatively weak percentage. De La Salle had a huge win over Therry Penola, who could only offer token opposition as the reigning premiers won by one hundred and ninety two points. Prahran/Assumption showed a welcome return to form when it defeated Fitzroy by one hundred and twenty one points. The Four Blues’ victory showed how poor a judge of form I am!! Second placed Old Melburnians were largely untroubled out in Clayton where the “Dark Blues” defeated Monash Blues by thirty one points. My prediction of an Ivanhoe victory proved very inaccurate as North Old Boys/St Patrick’s better form returned and enabled them to defeat Ivanhoe by forty four points. Leaders, Old Xaverians were untroubled to defeat the yet-to-win Old Ivanhoe by one hundred and forty eight points.
Section 2 results were all as I predicted. These ten teams seem to have sorted themselves into leading, middle and struggling groups. Undefeated teams, Hawthorn and Therry Penola had comfortable wins; Hawthorn over the Richmond Central “Cardinals” by fifty six points and Therry Penola by eighty six points over Kew. Bulleen Templestowe defeated a determined University High School Old Boys/ V.U.T. by seventy nine points. The “Bullants”, who led throughout found their visitors competitive. Old Geelong enjoyed their eastern visit which produced the victory which propelled them into third place. The vanquished Eley Park are finding the standard required difficult to attain as they lost by one hundred and sixty points. In the afternoon match Old Paradians defeated Richmond Central “Snakes” by twenty three points.
This week, De la Salle should record another win at Chelsworth Park over Old Ivanhoe, who have yet to win. Old Melburnians should comfortably account for Fitzroy, whose effort last Round disappointed. Old Xaverians, in my opinion, will prove too fast and too fit for Ivanhoe, who rely on Tim Sheahan for drive. Prahran/ Assumption will move into the top six with a win over North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s whose form is hard to determine. At home, with multiple avenues to goal through Sam Cooper, the much traveled Mark Ploenges and evergreen Jason Storer, I believe Prahran /Assumption will win this game. In the afternoon match, St Bernard’s should return to the winning list against Therry Penola, who remain winless. Monash Blues again face an early morning trek across the suburbs to Williamstown where the local side will be all out to consolidate its grip on a top six position. On form shown to date, I favour Williamstown C.Y.M.S.
Bulleen Templestowe should continue on its winning way with victory over Kew. Hawthorn should win their early morning game at Old Paradians. I cannot see the Paradians having the talent to defeat the early premiership favourites. Second plays third in the match of the day at John Fawkner Reserve when Old Geelong visit Therry Penola. The ground has been a graveyard for many visiting clubs over many seasons and although Old Geelong has shown capability, I select Therry Penola, who remain unbeaten. UHS-VU enters its game against Eley Park confident of a first win. In the two games, I have watched UHS-VU, I have noticed improvement in skill and endeavour and I believe it will win today as Eley Park have little form to recommend them. This afternoon, the Battle of Bartlett Reserve will be contested between the Cardinals and the Snakes of Richmond Central. Form over the four Rounds played leads me to select the “Cardinals”.

Taking shape
With twenty per cent of the season played, the ladders have taken shape with only three of the twenty-two competitors undefeated. Conditions experienced during Round 3 games may have contributed to some unexpected results as the comparative ability of the competitors became more apparent.   
In Section 1, the big surprise (at least to me) was St Bernard’s forty-seven point defeat of Monash Blues for whom the “Great Trek” and early morning start must have added  to the Snow Dogs’ on field supremacy. 
At Darling Park, Old Xaverians maintained its unbeaten record with a fifty-nine point win over Prahran/ Assumption, whose poor form must be causing concerns around Toorak Park. 
In the afternoon game, De La Salle moved into fifth place through its forty point win over Williamstown CYMS. De La Salle’s accuracy was a feature of the game, which sent the CYs tumbling to seventh place. 
Fitzroy won its first game with a fifteen point margin over Therry Penola, which remains winless. 
In the 3079 showdown, Ivanhoe, with Tim Sheahan outscoring Old Ivanhoe himself, moved up to sixth place through their forty six point victory. 
North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s lead in the competition was short lived because through their seventy five point defeat by Old Melburnians, the Brunswick based side slid to third place.   
In Section 2, two of my five selections proved wrong. Old Geelong, whose form is a tipster’s nightmare, easily defeated the previously unbeaten Bulleen Templestowe by eighty eight points. At Bundoora, Kew proved me a poor judge when they won their first game by beating Old Paradians by eight points. Richmond Central Cardinals moved to third place with a one hundred and six point win over Eley Park.
Unbeaten Therry Penola kicked the Section Sweep when they inflicted a one hundred and twenty two point defeat on Richmond Central Snakes. Forward, Raymond Steer had a day out for Therry Penola by kicking nine goals. Leader Hawthorn was much too strong for UHS-VU whose players were again unable to apply scoreboard pressure as Hawthorn won by one hundred and twelve points.   
TODAY: Section 1: Two early morning games are scheduled i.e. Williamstown C.Y.M.S. and St Bernard’s and Therry Penola playing De La Salle. I favour Williamstown CYMS mainly through its home ground advantage. De La Salle should consolidate their top six position by recording a big win over Therry Penola, who languish eleventh. Old Melburnians should continue on their winning way against Monash Blues even though the game is at the University. Ivanhoe, with Tim Sheahan dominant up forward, should account for North Old Boys/ St Patrick’s even on the Gillon Reserve. First meets twelfth when Old Xaverians host Old Ivanhoe. It would surely be one of the all time VAFA upsets if Old Ivanhoe were to win this game. Prahran Assumption journey to Clifton Hill to play Fitzroy. The Four Blues bring little form to this game although their long standing stars Craig Berger and Jason Storer are capable of troubling Fitzroy. At home I select Fitzroy … just!   
Section 2: Bulleen-Templestowe should regain “that winning feeling” today by defeating UHS-VU. Old Geelong travels out east to meet Eley Park, which is yet to win. This is one game Old Geelong should win. I select them despite an uneasy feeling based on Old Geelong’s enigmatic record. In what could be a final preview, Richmond Central Cardinals journey to Hawthorn, who certainly must be flag favourites. Hawthorn is my selection although the margin should give a good guide to the Cardinals’ rating in the Section. Therry Penola journey to Kew where they should prove too talented for the home side. Richmond Central Snakes welcome Old Paradians to the Bartlett Oval. The Paradians disappointed last week and today, I suspect they will just take the four points after a dour struggle.