By William Balme – @balmey21
No matter how much you dislike a certain side, seeing a team go through the year without a win is not a great look. It doesn’t reflect well on the competition and the club itself. That’s why I managed a wry grin when I saw that Yarra Valley had pulled off their first win of the season against NOBS/St Pats. The Bushrangers have had a torrid season this year and will have to restart their attack on the VAFA in Division 2 in 2016; however grabbing a win before they push onto Mad Monday would be hugely relieving for the exasperated coaching staff and playing group. Additionally, Ormond tightened their grip on premiership favouritism with a strong last quarter display in their win over Kew and Bulleen kept their hopes of survival alive with a massive upset over 3rd placed Old Geelong.
We start our recap with the Clive Dubya for the round 16 contest between ladder leaders Ormond (1st) and Kew (2nd). Earlier in the season it was Kew who demolished Ormond at E. E. Gunn in one of the most impressive performances of the season. This time it was Ormond who maintained the rage and kicked away to a 39 point win. The scoreboard certainly doesn’t reflect how pressurised the contest was, as the scores were even at ¾ time. Furthermore, only 5 goals were kicked up until the final change showing how scrappy the conditions were under foot at Victoria Park. Neither side was particularly formidable in attack, presenting itself more as a curtain raiser to the Australia-New Zealand Rugby Union clash than a game between the two top sides. The dynamic of the game changed in the final 15 minutes as Ormond’s hard running midfielders and flankers turned the screws and ran over the Bears. Matthew Oaten was particularly strong in defence for Ormond, whilst William Simon was one of the catalysts for their late charge. Dimitri Fasoulis was my personal pick for best on ground, damaging on the rebound and in attack. For Kew, Henderson was outstanding in defence, putting the clamps on Tahana whilst Margaritas and Jones tried hard. What did we learn? Well, Bulleen beating Old Geelong means that these two will more than likely meet in three weeks time. That’s exciting.
Returning to Yarra Valley’s first win for the season, it was a consolidated effort from the struggling Bushrangers that saw them overrun a tired and depleted NOBS/St Pats side. Yarra Valley controlled proceedings for much of the game; with only a third quarter burst giving the Griffons some hope. Simon Yeo’s job on Matt Keown was remarkable, and proved the decisive figure in the clash. Jordan Canham kicked 3 as the home dressing rooms at Doncaster Reserve nearly had the roof blown off with a passionate rendition of the club theme song. For the Griffons, it is clear that they will not make the finals this year and they have quite a few issues to sort through if they desire to become a force again. Chris Horsley kicked 4 goals and Nick Holt worked tirelessly to keep them in the contest but it wasn’t to be in a most disappointing loss for the club.
In one of the biggest upsets of the season (perhaps only bettered by Bulleen’s win over St Mary’s Salesian), Bulleen enhanced their giant killer credentials with a victory over Old Geelong by 5 points. Old Geelong will be ruing their implosive accuracy on goal in the last quarter, kicking 3.8 to Bulleen’s 4.1. They had every chance to threaten second spot with a win, but it was Cherbakof who was once again unbelievable, kicking 7 goals. The man won the game off his own boot and has averaged more than 4 goals a game this season. He wasn’t alone in the Ted Ajani special, with Paul Florance and Jack Cowell also pivotal in the win. For Old Geelong, it will be a matter of what went wrong. The loss has prevented them from equaling Kew’s points tally in the bid to steal 2nd spot. Dan Freeman was their best, and Bird kicked 3 in place of the negated Wood who couldn’t get one between the big sticks.
After Prahran’s finals chances had ended last week in their loss to Old Geelong, it was Whitefriars who became the lone soldier to threaten St Mary’s Salesian’s hold on 4th. As unlikely as it seemed, with the game in the balance at Toorak Park, the ‘Friars dared to dream. Unfortunately, from half time a rejuvenated Prahran Assumption swiftly drew their sword and decapitated all hopes of a Whitefriars’ rendezvous with September. Rick Ellis was the Two Blues’ focal point in attack, kicking 6, with strong support from John Robbins who booted 3. Alex Simpson also starred in the 36-point win. For Whitefriars, Sean Currie kicked 2 and was awarded the six-pack as his side now plays only for their own personal pride.
St Mary’s Salesian controlled proceedings from start to finish in a scrappy affair at Ferndale Park. Old Mentonians proved an honest opponent for the 4th placed side, but could not match the class of Darcy Grant and ‘Bucky’ Puruntatameri who kicked 5, and returned to his electrifying best. It wasn’t champagne football but the win has secured a 3rd successive finals appearance for the club. Kyle Conlon backed his strong performance against Kew with another 4 goals for the OMs as Strange went bump in the night. The ever-consistent Cameron Butler was commendable in defence once again for SMS.
Willie Bee’s Clive Waterhouse MOTR for Round 17
Clive likes Toorak Park, as there is always plenty of talent on offer both on and off the field. Prahran Assumption is playing purely for pride, however the twos’ game between the two clubs is a serious focal point. Clive is tipping two from two for the St Mary’s Salesian boys, but in very tight affairs.
St Mary’s Salesian by 11 points.
Old Geelong v NOBS/St Pats
Yarra Valley v Ormond
Prahran Assumption v St Mary’s Salesian
Old Mentonians v Whitefriars
Kew v Bulleen Templestowe