Simon Lethlean reminded his players at half time that the EFL teams play on grounds much smaller than Visy Park and that the VAFA side, would have more in the tank than their rivals at the end. So it proved to be. An arm wrestle until three quarter time gave no indication of the game breaking open the way it did with seven final quarter goals to nil, resulting in the VAFA defeating the EFL by 46 points in the final match of the AFL Victoria Metro Championships.
Lethlean mentioned Cherry Street (it’s Cherry Road) – where the majority of the EFL’s squad and their coach ply their trade for Balwyn – in his half time address to the VAFA, reminding the players that “we are fitter than them, we play on bigger grounds, use our run, use our class”.
Whilst it didn’t make the difference in the third term, the seeds were sown and eventually bore fruit in the final quarter as Murphy Ambrose, Brendan Goss (both Old Xaverians) and Tom Paule (Old Melburnians) were on the end of VAFA counter attacks or EFL errors to kick goals that first became breathing space but ended up becoming a rout.
Murphy Ambrose won the best on ground medal for the VAFA for his three goals, consistent run and moments of brilliance. Goss was a concern for the opposition from the get go. At one point Goss had the entire VAFA score before a goal to Paule on half time gave the VAFA an 8 point buffer at the main break. Goss ended the match with the same score as the EFL combined (5.4).
Earlier Tom Roach displayed what a good pick up he will be for Old Carey whilst a Matt Handley (Old Xaverians) chase the length of the wing, resulting in a turnover was just one example of many fantastic pressure acts that the VAFA put on the EFL.
Whilst the VAFA failed to kick a goal in the opening quarter they were by no means out of the contest as the EFL butchered the ball going inside 50. It was a sign of things to come. The performances of Tom Caven (St Bernard’s), Jack Townley (University Blues) and Will Tardiff (Collegians) in thwarting the EFL attacks were magnified by their willingness to take the game on and run the ball out of defence.
There were no passengers in a mighty performance for the Big V. The final margin may have been flattering considering the close nature of the contest to three quarter time but is was no more than the VAFA team deserved. The pressure and tackling, particularly in the forward half of the ground, was magnificent. Paule, Joel Rice (Old Carey), Brendan Iezzi (Old Trinity), Matt Fieldsend (De La Salle), Trent Zimbachs (Collegians) and Ben Smithwick (Old Carey) hunted their opponents in packs.
Ambrose and Bede Mahon (University Blacks) were given jobs on the Eastern’s best ball winners and both curtailed their influence and were ball winners in their own right.
James Jorgensen (Collegians) and Anthony Lynch (St Kevins OB) were mighty in the ruck all day. Both players conceded many centimetres to the opposition tandem, but both were involved in pivotal moments of play, either intercepting marks or laying a crunching tackle.
The skipper Adam Bentick (St Bernard’s) was well held early, but he, along with Simon Hogan (University Blacks) and Chris Waller (Old Xaverians) worked their way into the match and started to win the clearances and plenty of the ball too.
Lach McQueen-Miscamble (Old Carey) was awarded the Best VAFA Player Award from the EFL coaching panel and Tom Paule was awarded the Spirit of the Big V Award from the VAFA panel.
In the earlier matches the Northern Football League defeated the Essendon Distrrict FL by 37 points whilst Western Region FL beat the Southern FL by 36 points.
All in all it was a magnificent performance from the VAFA. The Eastern Football League were very confident coming into this game and their supporters openly declared they would rightfully be the number one competition at the conclusion of the day. However this was far from the case and their attention will now be on a third/fourth play off the next time the AFL Victoria Metro Championships take place.
With three wins from three matches against the EFL in the past six years and winning the past two matches against AFL Victoria Country and AFL Sydney the VAFA continued a proud tradition. The VAFA’s strong representative program and indeed the fantastic history of the Big V proved to everyone what most Amateur people know. The VAFA is the number one community football competition in Victoria, if not Australia.
VAFA: 0.1, 3.3, 5.8, 12.8.(80)
EFL: 2.1, 2.1, 5.3, 5.4.(34)
VAFA Goals: Goss 5, Ambrose 3, Paule 2, Handley 2. EFL Goals: : L. Barker 2, D. King , L. Williams , S. Tregear
VAFA Best: Ambrose, Paule, Goss, Mahon, Roach, Tardiff. EFL Best: S. Taylor, T. Gilchrist, S. Tregear, S. Kemperman, J. Chirgwin, L. Barker
VAFA Best Player: Murphy Ambrose (Old Xaverians)
Spirit of the Big V: Tom Paule (Old Meburnians)
EFL Best VAFA Player: Lachlan McQueen-Miscamble (Old Carey)