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Round 5 – Car crashes, musical ballads and… Footy!

It is a rare occurrence to be involved in a car accident on the way to a game and even rarer to play afterwards, but for Peninsula’s Harry Whitty that’s exactly what happened before the game against the undefeated PEGS at Mt Eliza. Amazingly Whitty managed to recover and kick three goals in the Pirates 35 point victory. The contest was willing early with Peninsula winning the ball in tight but failing to kick straight, keeping PEGS in it. However unlike Marcellin the week before, the Pirates’ profligate kicking didn’t let PEGS in the door as their run from half-back, Ben Southam and ball-magnet Stefan Barbour put the visitors under constant pressure.  PEGS tried hard and made the most of their opportunities but were beaten by a more determined opponent – David Flaherty and Liam Fitzgerald were their best. 

At the Boneyard, NOBS/St Pats ran into a rampant Marcellin who were looking to rebound after a wasteful loss to PEGS and unlike Harry Whitty, they came off second best. While the game was competitive early, Marcellin emphasised a four-quarter effort as they turned a 16 point quarter time lead into a 135 point demolition thanks to dominant work around the ground from Simon Abrahams, Jake Symes and a brilliant team contribution up forward with seven players kicking three goals or more. For the Nobbers Jack Hume and Josh Cassell battled all day under the barrage of Marcellin possession, but they’ll need to get more out of their Division 1 premiership side to turn around their fortunes. 

Banyule’s attempt at Mr. Big’s ‘To be with you’ on VAFA TV’s Search for a Star was a brave performance – full of effort, but lacking in execution. The same couldn’t be said in their loss to Old Camberwell. After failing to run out their match against Old Ivanhoe, the Wellers focused on work rate at training and brought impressive intensity in the first half to build a game breaking 45 point half-time lead. Small forward Jack Duke kicked eight goals, Alister Lloyd was moved to CHB with great results and midfielder Ben Hart racked up stats to ensure the Wellers first win. Jake Truefeldt and Matt Holmes were named best on a bad day for the visitors.

In my tips I predicted a ten goal win to the home side in the Monash Blues and Oakleigh encounter at Clayton and it looked to be heading that way early. Oakleigh were made to pay for missing chances with first use of the ‘Monash Doctor’ kicking 1.6 to 4.2 in the opening term. The Ashes young brigade have been the force behind their unbeaten start to the year and first-year forward Nick Petering, returning midfielder Andrew Young and Captain Sam Baring continued the trend setting up a match winning 56 point half-time lead. Pleasingly for the Krushers they won the second half to reduce the final margin to 33 points with Pat Ioannidis and Kevin Holden doing their best to prove my forecasted margin wrong. In a season that hasn’t offered much for the Krushers, perhaps they’ll view this as a turning point in the battle to stay up.

Old Ivanhoe would have taken confidence from their drought-breaking win over Old Camberwell into their match at Central Reserve against Mazenod. However it was soon a matter of ‘catch me if you can’ as the home side flew out of the gates to lead by a staggering 43 points at quarter time. Injuries to two Nodders just before quarter time turned the game into a dogfight with Old Ivanhoe keen to use their fitness acquired through their off season regime to full effect. Indeed the visitors finished strongly with former Demon Chris Johnson and Michael Del Monte helping mount a fierce fight back. Mazenod steadied to win thanks to the midfield prowess of Dave Chamberlain and excellent defence of Sam Reed and Jace Kelly.

This week the Pirates travel to Central Reserve to take on the dogged Nodders. If car accidents can’t keep them down, what can? I’m tipping the seasoned Mazenod outfit, but Peninsula will make them earn it. NOBs/St Pats will work hard on the track to turn their form around but that will be difficult to execute against another opponent keen to rebound in PEGS, who should get up. The Wellers will need to shift another gear if they’re to beat Marcellin at Bulleen. Marcellin to win in a hard-fought tussle. The Ashes will continue their winning ways at the Bear Cave unless Banyule can find more contributors across the ground. At Oakleigh can the Krushers carry their second half form against the Ashes into their clash with Old Ivanhoe? My tip is Old Ivanhoe in a tricky match-up.

Round 4 – Old Ivanhoe break their drought

If a week is a long time in footy, twelve months must feel like an eternity for the Old Ivanhoe faithful that have waited since Round 4, 2012 to taste victory. Their 1973 premiership 40-year reunion took place before their clash with Old Camberwell and Pine Lodge was buzzing as both sides put on a frenetic yet error riddled opening quarter. Old Ivanhoe’s emphasis was on pressure acts and it showed as the match wore on with Nick Gieschen leading the defence and their midfield implementing a zone making it difficult for the Wellsmen to hit a target. The home side’s pressure led to a sea of goals in the last for a relieving, drought breaking 53 point win. Zac Keane was a constant target up forward in a great team performance for Old Ivanhoe and Simon Bennett was again a general down back for the visitors.

PEGS hosted the in-form Marcellin in a duel of two undefeated sides at a wind swept Keilor Park. The Eagles dominated possession and kept the home side scoreless in the opening quarter but were wasteful in front of goal, kicking 1.7 to only lead by 13. The home side made them pay in the second, kicking straighter with the wind at their backs to lead by two goals at the half. The lead see-sawed in the second half as PEGS kicked five goals to one in the final quarter to overcome a three goal deficit and win by eight points thanks to outstanding work from Daniel Flaherty around the ground. 150 gamer Trent Skurrie and 100 gamer Ryan Jones pressured the visitors all day for PEGS while Jake Symes and Simon Abrahams were solid for the Eagles. 

The Monash Blues are doing as their lecturers do by teaching everyone (myself included) a lesson so far this year and the competition are taking note as they defeated Peninsula at Mt Eliza. The Pirates again stormed out of the blocks and opened up a handy 17 point lead at half time through the great work of Harry Whitty and the pressure from Tom Stainforth. However the Blues put on a withering third quarter slamming on 7.7 to 1.1 before again keeping their opponents at bay for a wonderful away win to put them top of the table. Andrews Hickey and Young did the damage for the visitors up forward with Baring again solid in defence.

NOBs-St Pats traveled to the Bear Cave where a large crowd witnessed a great contest. Banyule began with a howling northerly gale at their backs and had a four goal lead at the first break, yet the Nobbers took their chances with the wind and went in at half time three points in front. Unfortunately for the winless Nobbers this pattern didn’t continue in the second half with Banyule again skipping out to a four goal lead before hanging on strongly to win by 19 points. The Bears continue to find assistance for key man Adam Barclay up forward with Michael Italia kicking five and Luke Giles causing headaches through the midfield. A highlight for the Nobbers was the return of Peter Sleep who kicked 3 goals and the form of Matt Keown. 

Oakleigh have found the going tough so far in 2013 with the top 4 in their Best & Fairest of 2012 gone and a further 6 senior players electing to chase money elsewhere. In the battle at home against Mazenod the Krushers failed to capitalize on the strong wind assistance kicking a total of 2.10 in their quarters with the wind. The Nodders then punished the Krushers, Aaron Holmes setting the game alight with three goals in the second term before his side ran away with it, eventually winning by 59 points. Gus Patti was prominent all day, and Rees Thomas had the ball on a string up forward for Mazenod. Pat Ioannidis and Gary Bennett fought admirably all day for the vanquished Krushers. 

Today I’ll be venturing down to Mt Eliza to witness the Pirates take on PEGS. The battle between Peninsula’s potent attack and PEGS’ miserly defence will be the key to this match – the Pirates to win by two goals against the tight game specialists. Old Camberwell will look to get on the board against the Bears at the Barnyard – Banyule to win by four goals unless the Wellsmen can turn their form around. The Nobbers will be channeling positive thoughts ahead of their tough game against Marcellin but I’m tipping the Eagles who look too strong on current form. Mazenod host Old Ivanhoe who should take confidence from their drought breaking victory into this week’s game and I’m backing them to upset the home side in a close match. Monash Blues should retain top spot through defeating suburban rivals Oakleigh by ten goals.

Round 3 – Teams rise from the ashes
The opening matches of the season have seen a series of teams stage daring fight backs from poor starts. PEGS, Peninsula and Mazenod were three such sides to continue the trend by missing the start and saluting at the finishing post in Round 2. Is fitness a factor, or is the wind somehow getting stronger in the second half?
Another side that has Phoenix-like attributes (for different reasons) is the Monash Blues whose storied resurrection from the depths of relegation continued with a 57 point win at NOBs-St Pats. The home side unfurled their Division 1 flag but were quickly suffering a premiership hangover with the Ashes leading by 44 at half time. The visitors won the contests in tight and their forwards in Gareth and James Taylor benefited booting seven between them. Captain Sam Baring again led a great defensive performance. Mark Dunlop and Christian Ryan provided drive for the Nobbers, who will be looking to sober up with a winning feeling this week.
At Bulleen, Marcellin were dominant all day over a disappointing Oakleigh. Buoyant after beating Mazenod away in round 1, the Eagles started confidently and led by six goals at the long break thanks to the midfield prowess of reigning Premier C B&F winner Jarrod Carlson. The home side then went for the kill kicking 16 goals to 2 for a percentage boosting 123 point win, talisman Daniel Jones kicking seven. Chris Mercuri, Tim Scott and Luke Diadone worked hard for Oakleigh on a day they’d rather forget with all Krushers teams suffering heavy losses. The emphasis must now be on tightening up defensively for the Krushers to avoid the dreaded ‘double drop’.
The Bear Cave was rocking early as Banyule took advantage of the wind skipping out to a 20-point quarter time lead over finalist Mazenod. A great contest then ensued as the Nodders controlled much of the play and slowly ground down the home side, hitting the front late in the third. Byron Bonner then snuck forward kicking two sealers in the last for a confidence boosting 22 point victory. Mazenod’s defenders were the key to their success with Sam Reed and debutant Steve Welsford keeping the Bears targets quiet. Michael Italia and Luke French were the best for Banyule.
A thriller took place at Chelsworth Park as Old Ivanhoe, searching for their first win since early last year, burst out of the blocks at home with a 25 point half time lead through great work from Hayden Heta in the midfield and Adrian Del Monte up forward. PEGS then lifted their work rate and slammed on six goals to one, to lead at the last break before kicking the winner with 10 seconds left in the match to win by three points. Jake Williams was PEGS best kicking three goals in his second game for the club. PEGS have now won both games by a total of 10 points while Old Ivanhoe have lost theirs by a total of 8 – that’s why Premier C is the ‘crunch section’!
At Gordon Barnard Reserve, Old Camberwell set out to redeem themselves against Peninsula after a tight loss in round 1. Opening up a 34 point quarter time lead while keeping the visitors goalless. However the Pirates crew, lead by Harry Whity and Shaun Payze up forward, fought back admirably in the second quarter to be within a kick at the long break. A fantastic battle then took place in the second half, with the lead seesawing before Peninsula ran out nine point winners. The Wellers disappointment of the close loss would be tempered slightly by Robert Deev’s great game and the continuing good form of Simon Bennett. Stefan Barbour and the Grigg brothers (Stuart and Thomas) were among the best for the victors who are laying the foundation for an assault on the Premier C finals.
There are some rip snorting clashes this week with a couple of local rivalries and evenly matched contests lined up. At Chelsworth Park Old Ivanhoe takes on Old Camberwell in an eastern suburbs derby. Both sides have had two close losses and will be desperate to get on the board – I’m tipping Old Ivanhoe for a close drought breaking win. Conversely two undefeated sides in PEGS and Marcellin do battle at Keilor Park – PEGS will fight hard but Marcellin’s depth should just get them home here.  The two surprise packets in Peninsula and Monash Blues go head-to-head at Mt Eliza – the Ashes have outperformed expectations but I can’t tip against the Pirates at home in their current form. The Bears should inflict more pain on NOBs-St Pats who will miss their Captain Ezard for another week, and Mazenod should comfortably account for Oakleigh who are already in a bit of trouble.