Last week I predicted two things: there would be some intriguing results in Round 5 and it would be hard to tip a winner. Both those statements proved true. One thing I’m enjoying about Premier B is the absence of “absolute shellackings” which seem to be prevalent in other sections of the competition. In the wash-up of Round 5, St Kevins pushed clear on top, Fitzroy and Parkdale’s journey off the bottom of the ladder was shortlived and there’s a logjam of clubs in the middle regions.
Hampton had much to play for when they hosted Parkdale in the Premier C Grand Final rematch. Coming off three straight losses they were celebrating triple milestones, with co-captain Leigh Fletcher and last year’s B&F winner Mark Devereaux playing their 200th club game, and Richard Atkins playing his 100th VAFA game. The occasion brought out the best in all three men, with Fletcher and Atkins outstanding and Devereaux chipping in with two goals. The Rovers were up by three at the final change and came home with a huge eight-goal final quarter, giving them a ten goal win. Both Dillons stood out for the Vultures, while Kurt Lopo was impressive in his first game for the season, kicking two goals.
Mazenod fielded an unchanged line-up and posted their highest total for the season so far, kicking 17 goals on their way to a comfortable 33 point win over AJAX. The Nodder’s five-goals-to-nil first quarter put them in the box seat and they were never really troubled. The Jackas had more scoring shots, but accuracy in front of goal proved to be the difference. Ben Phibbs and Josh Cowan continued to lead the way for Mazenod, while AJAX were assisted by regular contributors Jake Lew and Adam Caplan. Roi Abraham kicked a couple in his first game of the year for the Jackas.
Fitzroy had the perfect opportunity to build some momentum on the back of their first win of the season when they faced a struggling Caulfield side who had lost three straight games. However, despite going scoreless in the second quarter and holding a slender “will-it-be-enough?” lead going into the last, Caulfield managed to prevail in difficult conditions. The ‘Fields started with the wind but could only manage 2.8. Remarkably, Caulfield has only scored a goal in the second quarter once so far this season, and the pattern continued. Fortunately for them, the Roys could only manage 3.8, making it a one-kick margin at half time. The ‘Fields found their range in the third, kicking five and setting up a 15 point lead, although they would be kicking against the wind. Disappointingly for Fitzroy, they failed to make the most of their chances and find themselves trailing the pack again. Matthew Gaite was among the Roys best in his first game for the season, while Rory Angiolella found some form. Keegan Stewart was once again the focal point for the ‘Fields, kicking four.
Old Melburnians were hoping to put an ordinary fortnight behind them, but had a daunting task coming up against the in-form St Bedes/Mentone. Even though this showdown was third versus fourth, the two teams couldn’t have had a more contrasting form-line. The Tigers had won three on the trot since their opening round four point loss to St Kevins, while the OM’s suffered a 91-point defeat to SKOBs and then a two-goal loss to the Vultures, in which they kicked 3.10 in the final term and still fell short. The match was close all day, and similarly to the Mazenod-AJAX game, inaccuracy in front of goal proved to be the difference. The Tigers had more scoring shots but trailed at every break, eventually going down by a solitary point. The win was a huge relief for OMs. Both clubs now sitting at 3-2, safe for now, but just one win ahead of a pack of hungry challengers. Michael Wintle made a positive impression in his first game of the season for the Tigers while Hurley-Wellington picked up where he left off for the OMs after a week out of the side.
The new surface at Brighton Beach Oval came up an absolute treat for the top-of-the-table clash between undefeated clubs St Kevins and Old Brighton. A glance at the Reserves game had revealed the wind at the South Road end to be the main factor for the contest ahead. It seemed to be something resembling a vortex and sent the ball from one point-post to the other at crazy angles. It was obvious right from the start that the match was not going to be pretty. The umpires worked overtime in a low scoring first quarter, with lots of stoppages all over the ground. Plugger Lynch scored the first for the match eleven minutes in. St Kevins failed to take advantage of the wind, and when Peter Karayannis goaled for the Tonners late in the quarter, they were only eight points down. Philip Edgar started the second quarter with a huge skyscraper of a grab and Lynch kicked another for the SKOBs, but then the Tonners regrouped and kicked the next five goals to sneak out to a 19 point lead. Kelvin Williams was excellent for St Kevins off half back and Lynch kicked another one late in the quarter to reduce the half time margin to nine points in favour of the Tonners. The SKOBs started the third with three straight behinds before kicking their first ten minutes in through Billy Kanakis. The tempo of the game lifted and it was end-to-end for much of the quarter. Harry Cannon goaled for the Tonners to keep them in the lead, but two quick goals in red time through Nankervis and Parkes gave the SKOBbers a narrow seven point lead at the last change. One got the sense it would not be enough, and when Old Brighton drew level within the first five minutes it was “How far the Tonners?” However, St Kevins showed why they are at the head of the Premier B pack and never gave an inch. Coach Daniel Harford/Jon Edgar moved Kelvin Williams forward in what proved to be a masterstroke. He kicked a goal and assisted in another one to Henry Parkes while the Tonners couldn’t break through at the other end, resulting in an impressive 12 point win to St Kevins which leaves them outright top after five rounds.
Round 6 tips
Hampton Rovers vs Caulfield Gr
St Bedes/Mentone Tigers vs Mazenod OC
Fitzroy vs Old Melburnians
AJAX vs St Kevins OB
Parkdale Vultures vs Old Brighton Gr