By David Chalmers – @DAChalmers81
It seems Premier B put their kicking boots back on in Round 14. In contrast to last week, when it was pointed out that only one team managed to kick more goals than behinds, this week there were several more positive score lines. Some interesting gaps have opened up in the Premier B ladder, and while anything is mathematically possible (even St Kevins being knocked off the top!), things look pretty settled as we head into the final month of the home and away season. There’s the four game gap between St Kevins and the Tigers in first and second. The door to the finals could be quickly closing with a current two-game gap between Old Melburnians and AJAX in fifth. The relegation battle seems to be becoming a three-horse race, with Parkdale in eighth stuck two games behind Hampton in seventh.
Back in Round 4, Fitzroy snagged their first win of the season against Mazenod. The margin was less than a goal at the last change but the Roys stormed home with an eight-goal final quarter. This time around it was an easier day for Fitzroy. They led from start to finish and ran away with a 45 point win, to inflict Mazenod’s seventh straight defeat. Daniel Bisetto kicked six for the winners and he was joined among the best players by Matthew Kyrioussis and Luke Baker. Mazenod made six changes to the side that got within eight points of the Vultures in Round 13. Corey Martino and Jacob Murdock made their season debuts and Murdock was impressive with five goals first up. Damian Byrne and Jaydyn Hill also made their debuts in recent weeks and continued their good form against the Roys. Fitzroy’s next match is against Hampton Rovers, both of whom are currently stuck above the relegation zone but out of reach of the top four.
St Bede’s/Mentone have celebrated Paul Wintle’s 300th game in style, with a come-from-behind victory against Old Melburnians. The contest was everything we expect from the teams sitting second and third on the ladder and leaves the Tigers sitting outright second. The OM’s held a 14 point lead at the main break thanks to a five goal second quarter and still held a narrow lead at three-quarter time. The Tigers came to life in the final term, kicking seven goals to one and claiming a five goal win. Josh Freezer and Stuart Watson were best on for the OM’s while Tom Hywood continued his consistent form in front of goal. James Murnane and Luke Velluto combined for seven goals for the Tigers while 300 gamer Wintle and the Tyquin boys were also among the best. Next up, the Tigers take on Parkdale at the Vultures Nest, while Old Melburnians host the Tonners in another top four clash.
AJAX hit some good form in recent weeks. They won three in a row and were knocking on the door of the top four, then they came up against St Kevins. Whatever the pre-match chatter, I’m sure the main goal was to avoid a repeat of their Round 6 match which saw the SKOBs get up by 94 points. Against an unchanged Jackas line up, St Kevins opened up a 14-point lead at quarter time, but AJAX hit back to trail by seven points at the main break. As often happens, the SKOBs found an extra gear and kicked six goals to the Jackas three in the third term, giving them a five-goal buffer. AJAX was unable to bridge the gap in the final quarter and St Kevins increased the final margin to 41 points. Regular contributors David Fayman (four goals) and Jake Lew (two) were prominent for the Jackas, while Adam Caplan and Justin Berkowitz also featured. Stephen Gilham returned after a week off to kick five goals, while Phil Edgar (three goals), Brad McCann and Nick Wood also played important roles in the SKOBs 14th straight victory, which came after being heavily challenged by the Rovers the week before.
The Hampton Rovers pushed St Kevins to within three goals last week and they continued their late season momentum against a hapless Caulfield side, who have now lost nine in a row. The match featured the senior debuts of Rovers Zach Donald and Jandre Olivier; the latter impressed with his work in the ruck and finished with two goals to his name. A seven-goal to three opening term set the standard for the contest and the Rovers just kept piling them on, finishing with their highest score for the season. Leigh Fletcher, Harry Hill and Mark Devereaux were best on ground for the Rovers and they featured 13 individual goalkickers, including Daniel Corp and Ed Turner with four goals and Matthew Robbins with three. For Caulfield, Charlie Logan, Aiden Clarke and Lloyd Everett all returned and made good contributions. The Rovers join Fitzroy and AJAX in that weird “twilight zone”, two games above relegation but also three games outside finals.
Old Brighton escaped with a 10 point win against the visiting Parkdale Vultures, despite a third quarter during which they kicked just eight behinds and trailed at the final change. As it was a still day, there was no rhyme or reason for the Tonners inaccuracy, and it got to the point where players were looking to pass off rather than have a shot for goal themselves. The Tonners started well, and opened up an early 13 point lead. However, the Vultures fought back, kicking six goals to two during the middle stages of the game thanks largely to the work of James Salouris and Charlie Dillon. Nathan Ng also returned to the side and kicked two goals. For the Tonners, Ben Jarick battled hard in the ruck and Ben Gadsden pushed himself to the limit, trying to lift his teammates. Marcel Bruin was being heavily tagged and he did not return after hobbling off at half-time. The Vultures led by four points heading into the final quarter and the Tonners needed someone to stand up. Coroneos, Jakobi and Gadsden were all important contributors and in the end they managed to get over the line after a five goal final term. The win leaves the Tonners in third position, level with Old Melburnians who happen to be their next opponent. The Vultures are stuck in the relegation zone in eighth position, two games adrift of the Rovers and they host the Tigers in Round 15.
Fitzroy v Hampton Rovers
AJAX v Caulfield Grammarians
Parkdale Vultures v St Bedes/Mentone Tigers
Old Melburnians v Old Brighton
St Kevins v Mazenod