William Buck Premier: Drawing conclusions

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By Andrew Leonard – @Lennytalk

With the exception of the Uni Derby, last week was supposed to be an easy round to predict. Not until the final quarter were the underdogs of Old Scotch, Collegians put to bed, while at Bulleen, De La Salle offered up another performance that indicates they are not quite ready to descend to Premier B. De La Salle’s draw with Old Carey changes the game in William Buck Premier significantly. Old Carey’s second draw of the year hurts them. The extra two points were a buffer to percentage calculations and with Uni Blues win over Blacks and De La Salle’s continued resurgence, there are six clubs legitimately still chasing two spots. De La on the other hand already had a strong percentage considering their win-loss tally. Their bid to avoid the drop is building momentum and this takes them two points clear of the Cardinals, but regardless this will feel like two points lost.

The unfortunate thing about football is that regardless of what happens in the proceeding 100 minutes, we tend to scrutinise the final minutes of a match when the result is close. Decisions by players, coaches and umpires alike are all reviewed to learn what could be done next time a similar scenario presents itself. I would put my house on Ben Smithwick to kick a crucial goal from 30 meters out almost directly in front. Smithwick got up gingerly though after being awarded a free kick and subsequently missed the goal that would have given his side a five-point advantage. There were still a couple of minutes of play remaining but this was the last score of the game leaving the sides deadlocked. Could he have cited injury and allowed someone else to take the kick? Maybe. Perhaps he will do this  next time should the same scenario present. Despite this, Old Carey will probably feel more aggrieved at the tenuous free kick given to Adrian Indovino before the ball could return to the center. De La had goaled to be within six points and as footballers do, a push and shove ensued, only for the umpire to then award another kick to De La Salle from the top of the goal square. It was a crushing blow. A player should have to be dumped to the ground, struck or similar in order for that type of free kick to be paid. Regardless of the above incidents, this was a highly skilled game. De La will trouble more sides on the run home, Carey probably need three wins to guarantee a first finals appearance.

No matter where they are on the ladder, it’s sure to be a spirited contest. That phrase permeated the air at University Oval pre-match. The fact that Blacks and Blues were 5th and 6th respectively indicated that their ladder positions were indeed relevant and finals were on the line. Blacks seemed to have the edge in endeavor, but the class of Blues shone through. Blues established control in the second term through both skill and a little bit of luck. Blues seemed to score easily whilst Blacks had to graft opportunities. Despite this, the contest was willing and Blacks were seemingly only a goal away from being right in the match. That goal took too long to come. Blues led by Marshall Rippon and Ross Young in the midfield and Sean Carr and Piers Flanagan of the flanks, were simply too clinical. Jordan Quaile was everywhere for Blacks, and Andrew Willingham was a welcome return in the ruck. For all the hype however, the second half of the game meandered on and on. With Blues in control, by the 10-minute mark of the last quarter most in the large crowd in attendance were wishing the final siren could be sounded so that cool drinks could be drunk and stories exchanged in the magnificent pavvy.

Old Xaverians enjoyed the biggest win of the round, making life more and more difficult for Beaumaris to extend beyond their three year sojourn in William Buck Premier. The Sharks must enjoy playing the first half of football at Toorak Park, because again they were right in the contest. Xavs though again put their foot to the floor in the second half. Matt Handley kicked another five goals and he was ably supported by Marcus Allan who kicked four majors. In fact Allan was everywhere for Xavs. as was an old hand and star Nick Wynne, relieved of Richmond VFL duties. Tom Dean must be hurting as he continues to fight for the Sharks, but there are not enough Deans to plug the leaks. The win for Xavs means fourth spot is retained for a second straight week.

They have done it again. An inaccurate Old Trinity overran their opponents in the final quarter, again. The victim this time was a luckless Old Scotch. The Cardinals were on track for a great win that would revitalise their year, however the T’s continued to push forward in numbers in order to secure the win. Old Trinity were inaccurate throughout and their sheer weight of numbers with inside 50’s meant enough scoring opportunities presented themselves in the win. Ned Hunt led from the front in midfield, whilst again the goal kicking load was shared.

Collegians are in a rut. The Lions fell to a fifth straight loss to St Bernards, but they didn’t go down without a fight. Collegians pushed St Bernards all the way at the Snakepit, a ground the visitors have traditionally played well. Despite their efforts, Collegians just can’t kick a winning score at the moment. Not once this year have Collegians kicked more than 100 points in a game and so it was again in this match. Collegians managed just eight goals for the game. St Bernard’s only kicked nine themselves, but they did have 12 more scoring shots. It was really only the Snowdogs inaccuracy that kept this game within reach for so long. Tom Sullivan is building his form nicely and Simon Caven continues to put together a brilliant season for the ladder leaders.


Beaumaris v Old Scotch

Old Trinity v Old Carey

Collegians v Uni Blues

Uni Blacks v De La Salle

St Bernards v Old Xaverians