Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
After four rounds of William Buck Premier football, we have a front-runner. Old Trinity remain the sole undefeated unit in the VAFA’s top section on the back of their 33-point win against De La Salle at Daley Oval. Despite strong winds assisting the city end, the T’s ultimately ignored the weather-induced disadvantage by kicking five straight against the breeze in the opening term as in-form star, Alex Polidoros, sent through three of his five first-half goals. Henry Winter gave his midfielders first use all day in the ruck, while Jack Osborn made the most of the big man’s first-class delivery in a best-on-ground performance. While De La stayed within a couple of kicks until the final 15 minutes of the match, the T’s regained composure – and subsequently momentum – each time they looked threatened by the fast-paced De La run and carry. Jake Williams’ speed, ball use and decision making is a cut above and he could arguably have picked up two votes for De La, while Tom Humphrey continued his breathtaking start to the year as he quietened Polidoros in the second half. The T’s are looking ominous four rounds into the season, with two-time Woodrow medallist, Brendan Iezzi, 2014 Coaches MVP, Harry Tinney, and 2015 Rising Star nominee, Seb Nicolosi, set to return later in the year. De La will buoyed by their first three and a half quarters on enemy territory and if they can get Adrian Indovino, Matt Fieldsend and Antony Forato back this year, will meet the T’s come September.
St Kevin’s registered their first win for the season with a hard-fought nine-point victory against University Blacks at Uni Oval. Welcoming back Stephen Gilham, Steven Salopek, Jordan Gysberts and Kelvin Williams to the fold certainly assisted SKOB, but it was the six-goal effort from Billy Kanakis which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides. The Blacks are now 1-3 and seventh on the William Buck Premier ladder but have not been blown out of the water in any of their losses against Old Trinity (no shame), Uni Blues (just 14 points) or SKOB (a kick and a half). They had more inside 50s than SKOB over the weekend but their ball use entering attack was inefficient. When they resolve those disposal errors and increase their efficiency in the forward half, the Blacks will win more than they lose. As for SKOB, this win could be the kick-start their season required and a 4-5 record by midseason is a definite possibility with matches against Collegians, Old Carey, St Bernard’s and Uni Blues coming up.
Old Xaverians flew from fifth to second on the ladder following their 64-point victory over Old Carey at Toorak Park. The Handley (three)/Goss (four) combination proved difficult for defenders again as they registered seven of their side’s 17 on the back of eight last week against SKOB. Highlighting the damage they’re currently causing in front of goal, Handley leads the goal-kicking with 16 from his four outings, while Goss is equal-third on 11. Steve Freemantle was the Panthers’ best in his 100th game for the Club and Sam Cust continued the stunning form he’s showcased throughout the first few rounds with two goals alongside Mitch Nixon’s three. The Johnston’s, Clay and Tomi, were among the Xav’s best yet again, while Denis Symeopoulos continued his improvement and has quickly become a mainstay in their star-studded midfield.
Collegians recorded their second win for the season with a 36-point victory against University Blues in a low-scoring affair at Harry Trott Oval. Keeping the Blues to just one major for the day, the Lions’ experience of Courtney Hylton, Will Tardif, Thomas Penberthy and Trent Zimbachs came to the fore yet again, while Julian Eimutis continued his stunning start to the season. The previously undefeated Blues are battling injury to a degree unlike most Clubs at the moment, with Marshall Rippon and Cam Williams sidelined from last round, while Tom Mackenzie went down in the first term. Tim Geappen and Jack Townley remain out and Dale Hinkley suited up for Collingwood’s VFL side. If the Blues can get through the next month without further issues and regain some of their stars, expect them to be back in the winner’s column sooner rather than later.
Old Melburnians remain the story of the year after they held on to defeat a fast-finishing St Bernard’s by nine points at Sportscover Arena. Leading by 29 points at the last break, a Nathan Kazuro and Tom Sullivan-led Snow Dogs put in a sensational 3.6 to 0.2 last-term effort, but the margin proved too steep a hill to climb. Matt Thomas made it back-to-back standout performances for OMs, with his grunt work a big reason for the OMs continual improvement in 2016. Al Armstrong returned with his third consecutive bag of three and Josh Freezer was all class. OMs sit third on the ladder after a 3-1 start and from this point on will no longer surprise; they are genuine finals contenders. Nick De Steiger is emerging as a star ruckman, while Tom Paule and Justin De Steiger are weekly performers. The Snow Dogs’ last term will serve them well heading into their clash with Old Carey this weekend as they take the momentum and run with it.
Round 5 Tips
Old Trinity vs University Blues
University Blacks vs Old Xaverians
St Bernard’s vs Old Carey
St Kevin’s vs Collegians
De La Salle vs Old Melburnians