5 Games of the Round this week in William Buck Premier

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Andrew Leonard

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The ANZAC Day games told us a little more about this year’s protagonists, but I expect this week to tell us a lot more. We have the four teams in the four all playing each other this week, which is good news for the rest of the comp that have fallen slightly off the pace in the early going. We know that Old Trinity and Old Scotch are playing well, as a team and for each other as their opening three wins have determined but their match up this week will declare which of the two have improved the most over the pre-season. I have a feeling the T’s might take some extra ammunition into their match after the Cardinals denied them a finals opportunity last year when they dropped 12 played for their Round 18 dead rubber against Collegians. That many of the fresh faces that came into the side that night are now performing well for Old Scotch will not be lost on Mark Passador. Blues and St Bernard’s should be a corker at Uni Oval but what about the Grand Final rematch of Blacks and Collegians? One side will be 0-4 (save a draw) and that in itself is tantalising. The other two matches shape as opportunities for the four clubs to jump out from the pack and confirm that the four is not set as was suggested to me earlier this week. Wow, it’s only round 4.

Whether we overhype the Melbourne Uni Derby is to be discussed another time, but when Channel 7 does a feature story on the Melbourne University Football Club in their ANZAC Day coverage of the Bombers and Pies, you start to understand just why this is such a big fixture. Blacks started the better, but as has been the way in recent weeks, they failed to capitalise on their possession and territory control. Blues took control of the stoppages and whilst they conceded a lot of Blacks possession in the defensive half, they closed in with venom on their opponents as Blacks sought to cross halfway. Jeremy Mugavin has become and elite midfielder and his work ethic and drive of Cam Williams in the ruck allowed the likes of Xavier McMahon to present as a key avenue to goal. There is a lot to like about Blues – they are the team to beat on evidence to hand this year… but it is only round 4. Blacks’ structure is completely out. Missing are Lahy, Laurie, Willingham, Weekley, Slabbert, Blake and Kruse from their premiership side. Yes all sides lose players but it is worth noting that there is a gun from every line missing from the Blacks lineup at present.

De La Salle never held the lead over Old Xaverians between the first and last sirens in a pulsating thriller at Toorak Park. Yet it was the La Sallians who left the field with the four points after a Leigh Harrison goal after the siren saw them pinch the win from a shattered Old Xaverians. Whether it was wasted opportunities to kill the game off earlier or the perseverance of De La Salle to stay in the game will be debated depending on where your colours lie. The unknown though is what would have happened if Michael Hannan didn’t injure his knee just seconds before the ball was pumped inside 45 allowing Harrison to mark unopposed. Whatever the full extent of the injury, we all wish him a speedy recovery. Unbelievable way to win a game, but De Salle are not complaining. Never has there been a more cherished four points in round 3.

Old Trinity and Old Carey in their previous encounters at this level have played some absolute classics. Given the early going and Carey’s early ascendancy we were on track for another. Enter Harry Tinney, Brendan Iezzi and Ben Howell who stole the show in a third quarter to savour for the T’s as they fired five goals to none past the Panthers to take control of the game. In years gone by the Panthers normally rallied against Old Trinity to pinch a miraculaous win. This time the rain was against them. Oh and Old Trinity have added a few kilos to their fighting weight these days too. Not quite heavyweights yet, but they are in a different class these days.

Beaumaris were excellent for most of their match against St Bernard’s it’s just that the Snowdogs were better. They pump the ball inside 50 as much as any other team and most importantly they have the scoring options to take advantage of that delivery. Goal kicking might be a concern but some things never change in football. Alex Boyse has made one of the brightest starts to the season of any player in the comp and again his good form was on show. Ben Considine was a magnet for the footy too. Most impressive for the Bernies at present is how they spread the load. It’s scary stuff when it all clicks.

Old Scotch are definitely the team that has surprised me the most this year. I can’t help but be impressed with their team running, disposal under pressure and the improvement of players throughout their squad. They don’t quite have the pomp of a St Bernard’s or Blues at this stage, but they are super efficient. Unlike Collegians, who whilst they had a lot of the ball, turned it over. So often the crucial kick didn’t put the ball to the advantage of their teammate and with the Cardinals team defence they were able to run it away. Congrats also to one of the mainstays of that defence in Adam Houlihan on a thoroughly well deserved 100 games for the Cardinals.

Sometimes you wish we could schedule the games at different time slots so that we could watch all five games this week. Collegians have yet to secure a Friday night opponent but lets hope they do soon as the 2015 season keeps throwing up fantastic games each week.

University Blues v St Bernards

Beaumaris v Old Xaverians

Old Trinity v Old Scotch

De La Salle v Old Carey

Collegians v University Blacks

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