MEGT U19 Premier: Sharks circle but Xavs prevail in thriller

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Under 19s, Finals

By Jon Donohoe – @jdonohoe12

It was preliminary final day for the Under 19s, and in Premier section it was a mouth-watering battle between the Old Xaverians and Beaumaris at Waverley Oval. At stake was a spot in the Grand Final against St.Bernards. It was a cracking first term, tight heavily contested and both teams came out hot and ready to go, throwing their bodies around in a typical finals like atmosphere. Beaumaris got the first of the day before the Old Xavs responded through key forward Tom Wynne. It was goal for goal in the first term and it ended with Beaumaris leading by eight points. The Xavs responded to Callinan’s call for more defensive pressure, kicking two goals to zip and taking the momentum into half time. It was a tight tussle in the first half and both teams had positives and negatives, however, both coaches would have been reasonably happy with their chargers.

The premiership quarter was by far the most exciting of the game with plenty of goals and intense pressure acts. Beaumaris had the better of the Old Xaverians early in the third term getting out to a four-goal lead at one stage with McLaren, Lucas and Gibbens firing. It looked like Beaumaris were ready to stun the competition. However, football is a funny game and the Kew boys started to get first hands to the football and wrestled back the ascendency through Troiani, Morris and Vander Haar who all stood up when it was needed, kicking four goals in five minutes to lead by one point at the final change. It was a typical finals atmosphere in the third term, with both sides throwing everything at the contest and the coaches having to hold their nerve.

Going into the final term, both sides’ supporters were nervous and one team was 25 minutes away from a date with St.Bernards. The message from both camps was along the same lines: do it for the jumper, do it for your teammates and leave nothing out there. It was hot early but the Old Xavs started to get clean ball in the middle and drive the ball forward to the powerful Sam Cleeve and Tom Wynne who were outstanding all day, kicking 3 and 4 goals respectively. Todd Vander Haar really imposed himself on the contest and was the Xavs best player throughout the day and it was his ball use and poise under pressure that really shone. Beaumaris toiled hard right up until the final siren, but a miraculous goal from James Agius sealed the Old Xavs passage to the decider in a game that truly lived up to the finals hype. The Old Xaverians took the game by 28 points, however as the old cliché goes, the scoreboard did not reflect how closely the game truly was.

Grand Final Preview

Well, the stage is set; two teams, one game, the biggest of this season. It’s the day everybody plays football for. St. Bernards take on Old Xaverians at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham in what will be a belter. I have no doubt the intensity will be through the roof and both teams’ grit and determination will be on show. Bernards looking to go back to back while the Old Xavs looking for their first premiership since 2012.

It will be a real battle of the midfields, with the likes of Delzoppo, Hughes, Vague crucial if Bernards are to get the job done. They will also need the continued output from Sibbald and Considine, both of whom have stood up in big games this season.

For the Xavs, it is up to Vander Haar, Morris, Troiani, Cleeve and Ongrato to ensure that Bernards don’t win the midfield battle. Each of them are ball winners with Ongrato being one of the most crucial down back trying to stop the Bernards forwards from getting on top. Their fadeout in the semi was a worrying aspect of their loss, however they will be confident in approaching this contest.

It will be a cracking contest and a tough one as all grand finals are. The way I see it, the team who goes harder and stronger for longer will win it, and I cannot wait for that midfield battle.

Old Xaverians by 4pts in one of the great Grand Finals of our time.

Medal: James Agius

St Bernards v Old Xaverians