Shades of 2014 – William Buck Premier

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Andrew Leonard
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A discussed on VAFA Tragics this week, should we be surprised to see last year’s Grand Finalists both without a win after the opening two rounds? St Bedes/Mentone may have had a win by Round 2, but perhaps the die was already cast on their season. To following weeks told the story as both Xavs and the Tigers struggled to win games and just short of the halfway point both were in the bottom two. As we know the Tigers never really left the clutches of the relegation zone. It is of course too early to predict the same for either Collegians or Blacks but both clubs would be conscious of the fact that they need a win soon. What a weekend to do it. It is a wonder privilege and honour for all VAFA players to experience an ANZAC Day commemoration ceremony, listening to the Last Post and Reveille then singing the Advance Australia Fair, before taking your position to play the game we love. It will be engrossing stuff.

Old Trinity hadn’t beaten Collegians at the Trott since the mid 2000s. So the fact the T’s won the arm wrestle low scoring match is yet another feather in the cap of Adam Andrews and his chosen 22. Old Trinity’s ball movement on the outside was again the difference, their field kicking is quite brilliant at the moment. Significantly the T’s have won two games missing Weatherson who is still a couple of weeks away. Jack Hunt has become more than a dangerous forward that kicks goals on both feet. His link up play through the midfield is also beneficial. The Howell boys were also impressive as was Jake Steinhart for a second successive week. The home side could have and probably should have pinched this one. A final quarter splurge of 4.5 wasn’t enough. Nick Corp kicked three and Sam Hibbins was influential in the loss that leaves them 0-2.

Let’s make one thing clear. The send off rule in the VAFA is a good thing. It is one of the many things stands us apart from other competitions. However I can’t help but feel that a report that sees one player sent off for 12 minutes playing time is too much of a penalty for the other 17 players left on the field. By no means did De La Salle lose their lead because of a report, but with only one left on the bench, being down to 17 had an impact in the final quarter capitulation to Old Scotch. De La had three simple chances to potentially ice the game and put the margin beyond five goals. All were missed. The Cardinals at home were always going to charge to the line. Regardless of the number of players on the field there is no way of assigning a percentage of importance to being a player down. Nevertheless, William Buck Premier clubs are elite teams and the sides know how to exploit a plus one situation. It’s why a 7 man backline often does so well. A good win for Old Scotch, a tough loss for De La. The rest… to be discussed.

Old Carey’s stocks have risen off the back of their opening two rounds, but it is their win against the reigning premiers that should have other clubs take note. Carey are a very good football side, their tackling pressure, work ethic and skills in close and on the outside were all first rate against Blacks. The Panthers controlled all of this game save for a 10 minute patch at the start of the last. So long credited for their ‘top-6’ on this evidence it should be a top 10, however, more importantly the rest of the side contributed too. Blacks have their own issues, starved of first used by the absence of Willingham, the Blacks lost clearance after clearance. Put simply Mahon needs more help in the middle.

St Bernard’s demolition of Old Xaverians, has been described to me by multiple people in one of two ways. Firstly those who think this was one of the poorer Old Xavs showings of the past decade and secondly there are those that said, this was a scary St Bernard’s side that was missing a host of players, so how on earth will they all get back in the 22? Whichever side you are on there is no denying that Xavs were poor and St Bernard’s were good. The introduction of Adam Campbell to fill the void left by Chad Jones showed immediate benefits as Campbell marked most of the ball directed his way and importantly converted his chances (5 goals). Adam Bentick is now the complete Amateur footballer. I will go early and say Woodrow form, but realistically Bentick is the best clearance player in the section and his running capacity has him winning enough ball on the outside too. Alex McLeod’s game was also impressive whilst for Xavs the names were harder to find. Matt Handley kicked his customary four but when he was upfield rucking, there were little alternative avenues to goal.

Uni Blues unfurled both flags of 2014 and duly salted them in fine style on the field. Beaumaris were in this game for large periods of the first half, controlling the ball and cutting Blues open through the middle of the ground with precise fast kicking. Unfortunately the Sharks didn’t always convert their chances when they came. Blues have good players on every line and whilst their skills were a little off early, eventually the sheer weight of good ball users and fitness in getting numbers to the contest shone through. Blues were in control going into the last, but a six goal final term simple gave them a percentage boost.

Enjoy this week’s ANZAC Day fixtures. Take a moment to remember that many of the men that fell on the battlefield at Gallipoli were the same age and younger than the footballers you will watch after the ceremonies at your ground. Lest We Forget.

Tips

University Blacks v University Blues
Old Carey v Old Trinity
Old Scotch v Collegians
Old Xaverians v De La Salle
St Bernards v Beaumaris