By Andrew Leonard – @Lennytalk
Outside of the rampaging top two, De La Salle is the form side of William Buck Premier. Unbeaten in their past five outings, amazingly De La can still play in September. Collegians, St Bernard’s, Old Trinity and Beaumaris stand in their way. It’s a tough run and the prospect of playing finals will rely heavily on two of Old Carey, Uni Blues or Old Xaverians slipping up, but nevertheless Paul Satterly’s side have shown remarkable resilience to turn their season around.
If they somehow were to keep winning and sneak into the four, De La Salle would be a couple of wins away from playing in the first Grand Final in almost 50 years not to be played at Elsternwick Park. Yes, this year’s William Buck Premier decider will be at Ikon Park, or the venue formerly known as Princes Park. The ground is first class, the amenities will be a step up for the players and spectators alike, but will the crowds swell? After a trial of separating the Grand Final on it’s own weekend, we return to the Sunday following the Prem B and C matches the day before. Hopefully that final weekend is a festival of VAFA football and a growth in crowd will swell numbers to mark it a success.
Back to Round 14 musings. De La held sway over Uni Blacks at every change, but it wasn’t until the final quarter where they were able to break free. Leigh Harrison booted four majors and Matt Fieldsend’s form line is directly proportional with that of his side. De La getting the drive from midfield via Fieldsend and Gotch that they craved. Jordan Quaile is just about the most improved player in William Buck Premier. Carrying the Blacks midefield burden it has been a breakout month. Unfortunately the return of Charlie Richardson from suspension didn’t give Blacks the boost they needed.
Old Carey were firing on all cylinders and Old Trinty simply couldn’t get their hands on the ball. The clearance work of Carey’s mids set this game on course in the first half to give the visiting Panthers a four-goal half time edge. Old Trinity are the best second half side in the comp and when the first clearance of the second half went their way, Alex Polidoros duly converted the chance inside a minute. Trinity had cut the deficit to three points within five minutes of brilliant football. Harry Tinney started to get the ball and when he went on a weaving run to kick a goal in the final quarter it was hard to see Old Carey winning. Cam Howat ran just as hard and Joel Rice was prominent, but again it was the bigger bodies of Old Trinity that torched Carey at the contest in the second half. Jakob Steinhart has made the outer wing his own at the Daley and again he was dominant. I wonder if he will scout the wings at Ikon Park before September?
What has happened to Collegians? Well they haven’t won a game since the Queen’s Birthday bye. Their season form reads three straight losses, five straight wins, now three straight losses to be back in the bottom two after they went down to Uni Blues. In Shura Taft’s 200th club game, the little master could only manage one goal and whilst Nick Corp kicked five, it has been Collegians lack of scoring power that has cost them this year. Blues on the other hand are up and about again after their own mini slump. Marshall Rippon has taken his game to the next level and his two way running has been a feature for Blues in recent weeks. Collegians were in this game, but Blues always felt most likely. Enter Paddy Hayes, three goals in a 10-minute burst in the last quarter gave Blues all the momentum they needed. Hayes finished with four, as Blues took the points and moved back into fourth spot.
The scoreline at three quarter time of Beaumaris and Old Scotch read like it was a game featuring the bottom two clubs. Both sides had three goals each and the Sharks led by a point with 30 minutes of football remaining. Then finally all the chip, chip, chip kicks started to become long fast ball movement and the Cardinals were in attack again and again. The visitors kicked an incredible 8.13 in the final quarter to blow the Sharks out of the water, and most likely back to Premier B next year. Hugo Perry was a key for the Cardinals, his propensity to send the ball deep inside and play on commenced a sequence of scoring for the Cardinals that was as unexpected as it was transfixing. Beaumaris look to have run their race. As is so often the case, a depleted outfit with too many eligible U19 players has simply run out of gas. There are still chances left, but the Sharks must now win their remaining four games, which, given their recent run, would be Houdini like.
Old Xaverians were on track for another memorable win at the Snakepit for much of their contest against St Bernards. It wasn’t until just a few minutes to go that the Xavs cause seemed lost. The home side booted 5.6 to 2.1 in the final quarter to break Xaverian hearts. That was not before a fantastic four-goal haul to Andrew Mathis. The Thirds/Reserves player in his first senior game of the year became the vital alternative to Matt Handley, who also kicked four goals. At the other end, Xav’s defensive deficiencies against tall forwards were again exposed. Chad Jones booted six goals and Tom Gleeson and Alex Boyse proved challenging matchups as they darted around the forward arcs for the Snowdogs. Mitch Hannan though was the standout contributor as he booted three goals and was involved in many more score involvements. This week Blues and Xavs battle it out for a place in the four, whilst Old Carey simply must beat Old Scotch if they are to play finals for the first time. De La Salle can continue their run and heap more misery on Collegians, whilst the top two will again collect wins.
Old Carey v Old Scotch
Beaumaris v Old Trinity
University Blues v Old Xaverians
St Bernards v University Blacks
De La Salle v Collegians