Division 3:The impossible made possible

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

By Gavin Southern – @gavsouthern

The ‘twitterverse’ was running hot last Saturday for the Division 3 Grand Final that was played at Trevor Barker Oval Sandringham, where the impossible became possible.

Blustery conditions met the two sides however discounting that, it was almost the perfect day for football. The Animals won the toss and took the wind for the first quarter. After a Scott Hulm goal, Animal key forwards were held by multiple Magpie defenders and found it very hard to get a kick but they were able to sneak two goals just before quarter time to go in with a seven-point lead. Listening at the quarter time huddle, West Brunswick Coach Angus Hamilton was pleased with the way the game was being played and felt it was on their terms. The second quarter saw the Magpies take some advantage with the wind, and their defence was just as good restricting the Animals to just the solitary point. Third quarter finally saw the ESL’s forwards break free in the third to kick 5 goals and set up a 26 point lead at the end of what was supposed to be the premiership quarter. In the context of the game, this looked like an insurmountable lead. Wests had different ideas and attacked relentlessly missing a few shots but pegged back the lead having the ball in their forward line for most of the last quarter. Bill Irving’s marks again were a highlight. Whilst West Brunswick kicking 4.6 in a defensive match was pretty astounding, it was over-shadowed as they AGAIN made the impossible possible, restricting the highest scoring team to just the 3 points in the final quarter and a one point lead. In the last 30 seconds, the Animals had a shot on goal but it bounced along the scoring area and out and the siren sounded. The best for the Animals in a great battle was on baller Nath Baranello, who earned man of the match honours and kicked 2 goals in an epic battle. Chris Beluszar had a quiet day despite his 2 goals. For the Magpies, Dylan Muscat and Billie Irving kicked two goals each. Evan “Red” Lloyd commanded the back-line and a Congratulations to playing president, Anthony Gibson, who announced his retirement and his tenure with the club. What a way to go out. 

Leading up to the Grand Final between Emmaus St. Leo’s and West Brunswick last Saturday I posed some questions, which turned out to ring true.

“If it’s low scoring, could it play into the Magpies hands?” – The scoreline of 53-54 in favour of the Magpies resulted in the lowest score for the year by the Animals (previously 82 points in their clash with Aquinas) and 3 points for a 4th quarter is certainly not something anybody would have predicted. A 54 point outing for the Magpies was their second lowest for the year which only just beat their round eight score line of 41 points which funnily enough happened in their game with the Animals. Before Saturday, the Animals averaged 129 points a game and the expectation was that the side would inevitably get into a rhythm, which just did not happen. 

The strengths of both sides is the ESL forward line/WB backline. – The ESL’s forward line of Harding, Beluszar, Hillman, Robin, Lalor and Hill scored 3 goals in total. Whilst the defence, led by Cormac Cashin, Evan “Red” Lloyd, Warwick Baker and co. dictated the terms throughout the day.

Can the Animals utilise the ball from kick-outs and clearances coming out? – Anthony Ballard was one of ESL’s shining lights down back and was able to repel most forward entries but the back-line as a collective, did not hit as many targets up the ground as they would have liked.

Can Magpie Owen Taylor, restrict the influence of Jon O’Connor in the ruck? – In short, the answer was, YES.

The Animals have been sensational all season, finishing the home and away fixture on top of the ladder and without a loss. Despite their loss, the boys from Emmaus should hold their heads high after a fantastic season and look forward to having an impact alongside West Brunswick in Division 2 next year. Coming down to join Division 3, we will see South Melbourne Districts and Elsternwick.

And that is a wrap for season 2015, thank you to all those who read my column on a weekly basis. Enjoy the rest of the year!