Division 3: Magpies or Animals?

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Division 3 Men's, Finals

By Gavin Southern – @gavsouthern

Emmaus St. Leo’s were able to account for Aquinas un-scathed and Aquinas tried hard all day but, simply don’t have the firepower. West Brunswick just harassed the Hawks for four quarters. Hawthorn struggled with the wind and the Magpies forward pressure. Well, we’ve been predicting this match-up since halfway through the year. The best defence will face off against the best attack. The stage is set for that “One day in September” and a game to remember. To the semis:

S/F 1: Emmaus St. Leo’s defeated Aquinas

Good conditions at Garvey Oval Bundoora. The Bloods with their backs to the wall managed to grab their only lead with the first point of the game. The Animals were keen to dominate from the first bounce with Ryan Harding looking good early and looking fit. In the second, the Animals continued their dominance, however they kicked seven points straight before scoring three goals at the end of the quarter to Aquinas’ one point. A 48-point lead at the long break, saw Aquinas come out and attempt to change the momentum but the Animals defence stood firm, only letting Aquinas 2 goals in 3 quarters. The Animals put in a great four-quarter performance to brew a 94-point victory with Callum Hogan (BOG) and Will Carpenter leading the defence. Ryan Harding led all scorers with seven goals, helped out by Lalor, McIvor, Paul Baranello and Will Hillman with two goals each. Most of Aquinas’ stars were quiet however, Michael Jess (one goal) and Phil Jurkovsky (one goal) stood out. Billy O’Loughlin was the only multiple goal-scorer for the Bloods. The Animals are riding high with one more hurdle to leap over.

S/F 2: West Brunswick defeated Hawthorn 

A sunny day, with wind interrupting was the flavour of the day at Meade Reserve, the same ground where West Brunswick and Hawthorn had battled it out for the Division 4 Grand Final just 12 months earlier. Hawthorn was kicking to the train station end and into a genuine 6-7-goal breeze. I thought the Hawks had actually settled earlier but they still couldn’t get passed the CHB line, led by Cormac Cashi as they struggled into the wind. The Magpies were blazing and not looking for targets until Dylan Muscat marked from 25 out. Up by two goals, the Magpies then tried to kick scores from outside the arc but the wind took the ball through the points every time. Hawthorn were really struggling with kick-outs, not using the huddle and trying to pinpoint targets on the flanks. The Magpies slowly built confidence as the game progressed and finished the last 10 minutes of the first kicking 5-3 and a 7-11 to zero scoreline. Hawthorn Coach, Luke Mather, implored the Hawks at quarter time and had belief, as you should. After Muscat’s goal, the Hawks got going in the second, sticking to the game plan, and two huge goals from Sam Gold (BOG and 3 goals) outside the arc reduced the margin to 28 at the half. Going into the third, the sun left us and the quarter started slowly. The Hawks scored the first into the breeze, but the Magpies were then able to capitalise. Strong Bill Irving marks (three goals), a goal from Cormac Cashin, streaming through from the backline in conjunction with three late ones from the Magpies got the lead out passed 11 goals. By the fourth, the wind petered out and so did the game with the Magpies coming out 54 point victors. Warwick Baker was best for the Magpies.


It’s great to see the VAFA came out with the times and venue so quickly for this weeks Grand Finals. You will struggle to find a better ground for the Division 3 Grand Final than at Trevor Barker Oval, Sandringham this Sunday. 

I know both coaches, Al Sutherland and Angus Hamilton had a good look at their opposition last week and BOTH have massive tasks on how to best attack the match. I’m at a loss to predict a winner but to choose one I’ve had to ask myself some questions:

Emmaus St. Leo’s has averaged 129 points a game in the home/away season and it’s up to 140 for the finals. The defence has also improved allowing opposition scoring an average of 60 HA and just the 48 for finals. West Brunswick are 105 HA and 100 for finals and have maintained their defence at 48-50. This can be the story here alone. If it’s low scoring, could this play into the Magpies hands?

The strengths of both sides is the ESL forward line/WB backline. ESL’s forward line of Harding, Beluszar, Hillman, Robin, Lalor and Hill are all proven goal-kickers. Not all of them need to be firing to win. West Brunny has a history of playing a spare and their backline has been a wall all year. Which structure best suits? Do you tag Magpie, Cormac Cashin in defence?

At the other end, the West Brunswick forward line put tremendous pressure on their opposition and has kicked more than half of their score from turnovers. Can the Animals utilise the ball from kick-outs and clearances coming out?

Can Magpie Owen Taylor, restrict the influence of Jon O’Connor/Ballard (or Hawa) in the ruck?

Then there’s battle of the midfield, it’s 50/50 but, at the end of the day, Emmaus St. Leo’s have done nothing to change my vote. I’m tipping the Animals


Lastly, after completing my first year as a scribe, I wanted to take the time to thank a few people that have made my life easier during the season. Thanks to Andrew Leonard for his support. William Balme, for his support and stepping in for me round 11. Also, a big thank-you to the people who contributed during the year from the Div 3 sides: Dr. Mack (ESL), Coach Angus Hamilton (WB), Pat Clancy (Haw), Kane Fitzpatrick (SU), Sam Woollard (LTU) and John Alexandridis (EP)

Good Luck to both sides.

Emmaus St. Leo’s Vs. West Brunswick