William Buck Premier: Sharks Fanning’d

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By Andrew Leonard – @Lennytalk

After three tumultuous seasons, we will bid farewell to Beaumaris from the top section of the VAFA. As is so often the case with the bottom side, the Sharks are set for an inglorious exit. Their big loss to Old Trinity reminiscent of Mick Fanning delivering a knock out blow, albeit Beaumaris were up against a team of Fannings. The Sharks have had five different coaches in their time in William Buck Premier, regardless of which way you spin it, that can’t have been ideal. This year has been more cathartic. Yes, there have been losses, but there hasn’t been a coach walk out. Injuries have cruelled and the kids have been played. The Sharks will be back.

Old Carey has hit a wall. For much of this season they were the clear-cut alternative to the to top two. Since the departure of Sam Cust and the loss of Jarrod Reid, the Panthers have struggled. The draw to De La was the start, and at two goals up late in that game, they should have won. There is no shame in losing to Old Trinity, but the Panthers completely controlled that game in the first half. However the loss to Old Scotch is a concern. A season that promised so much is quickly falling flat. Old Scotch ended Carey’s finals prospects in 2012 in thrilling circumstances. This time round it was more clinical. Sure, their finals chances are not over, but to lose in this manner doesn’t allow for much optimism.

One team that might offer a little more come September should they be able to make it is De La Salle. Last week I anointed them the form side of the competition, and their dismantling of Collegians did little to dispel that notion.  The true test for De La Salle comes in the next fortnight. They face Old Trinity away and St Bernard’s at home. If they pull off those wins, then they deserve to make it. Paul Satterly will no doubt be telling his troops to only worry about what they can control. If results go their way in other matches then they have it all to play for.

Collegians are in a mess. A game from safety and a percentage that would make even the most optimistic of supporters blush. Last year they made a sterling run to the grand final on the good form of their veterans and the high standard of their youth. This year, their experienced players are not firing and too much has been left to too few. It’s hard to write them off yet, but they are on the path to being the second team in a row to have been runner up one year and relegated the next.

Two weeks ago, William Balme on VAFA Tragics suggested Xavs might not win another game for the year and miss a second straight finals series in a row. That would be the first time since 1989-90 that Xavs have missed back-to-back finals! Xavs have been highly competitive, but they have lacked that killer blow. Matt Handley has been the key, and at various times, Marcus Allan and John Shaw have delivered match-winning games, but the next line of talent is not quite ready to dominate.

That leaves MUFC and the top two without a commentary on. The top two have locked in a 2nd Semi date and given their match ups this year, it promises to be a beauty. Blacks will not defend their title this year. They may still sneak into the four, but they are not at the level required to counter all that the top two have to offer. Blues on the other hand do have what it takes to match it with the top two, but they are still susceptible to teams that bring their A-game.

Jordan Clarke is a seriously good player. Old Scotch had his services for the first time this year and he rewarded them with three goals. He wasn’t the reason Old Scotch beat Old Carey, but he was a factor in the win. The obvious reason was the Cardinals won the contested ball, executed their skills better and when they didn’t have the Sherrin, Scotch applied exhilarating defensive pressure on Carey across the ground, so much so that the Panthers turned it over repeatedly in dangerous places.

De La Salle stamped their authority on this contest early and whilst Collegians showed some fight either side of the quarter time break the reality is they were never in this contest. Harrison added another three goals and Adrian Indovino booted four, whilst Matt Fieldsend again had plenty of the ball.

Seb Nicolosi has been spoken about on these pages before but his transformation into pivotal cog in the Old Trinity forward setup was completed with a career high seven-goal haul against Beaumaris.  The fact he and many of his teammates are still eligible under 19 players is irrelevant in this green machine. Despite the seven goals, Nicolosi couldn’t quite take BOG honours. Again it was Jakob Steinhart who made the wing his own.

St Bernard’s forward line is bristling with talent and would be feared by most sides in community footy and given the Brisbane Lions lack of key position players, they would be more than serviceable against them too. Merrington (3), Jones (2) and Gleeson all booted goals, but so too did Simon Caven. The centre half back has been spending more and more time in the forward half, just to give opposition coaches yet another headache. Blacks were never really out of this game, but playing catch up from a five goal to none opening quarter was always against them.

Uni Blues couldn’t shake Old Xaverians until the last quarter. After trailing by a goal at the last change, Xavs, were in touch as they sought a first ever win in their red clash jumper. Blues had the answers though; they piled on five goals to none to make this win look a lot easier than it was. Summers and Young have been the catalysts in recent weeks, but the efforts of Rippon, Williams and Mugavin cannot be denied. It’s a State midfield and one that possibly has the ability to take it to the top two. Blues now have third spot and it looks theirs to lose.

Tips

Old Scotch v St Bernards
Old Carey v Uni Blues
Old Trinity v De La Salle
Collegians v Beaumaris
Uni Blacks v Old Xaverians