SKOB’s offensive arsenal an ominous warning

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By Nick Armistead

When three matches are decided by two points or less, one by two goals and another has 45 kicked between the two competing sides, you know it’s been a good weekend of William Buck Premier football.

The Old Melburnians’ 2016 story – which has captured my attention like no other – added another chapter over the weekend after they held on to defeat Old Xaverians in a two-point thriller at Toorak Park and subsequently claim second position on the William Buck Premier ladder. Nick De Steiger’s game has gone to the next level this year, with the athletic ruckman dominating every ruck contest in the absence of Old Xaverians skipper, John Shaw, and using his improved tank to regularly drop back and intercept the oppositions’ forward thrusts. Al Armstrong’s first quarter set up the victory for OMs as he bagged three of his five goals, including a 55m goal of the year contender from the wrong flank for a left footer. While all teams are missing key personnel due to injury, Xavs are the worst affected at present with their leadership group of Shaw (c), Ben Kennedy (vc) and Dan Noonan (vc) all sidelined. Their defence was strong and they switched with ease but due to the likes of Tyson Thomas and Michael Darvell also missing, they regularly broke down between the arcs with no Tom Lynch-type half-forward/mid offering linkage between defence and attack. Jay Bruno and Nick Wynne were standout performers, while Cauley Beetham shut down in-form OMs midfielder Matt Thomas.

St Kevin’s produced a performance capable of inflicting damage on any side in the competition, kicking 31 goals on their way to a 113-point win against Old Carey. While Steven Salopek was unavailable to play, Rohan Bail led from the front and consistently hit up SKOB goal kickers Stephen Gilham (six), Kel Williams (five), Billy Kanakis (five) and Jordan Gysberts (four). Put simply, they were too strong, too fast and too good for the young and generally inexperienced Panthers outfit. Sitting 2-4 and with Salopek re-joining the group this week, SKOB are on the road to sustained success and their ferocious offensive onslaught may be the start of a scary period for all sides facing them in the coming weeks. Despite the comprehensive loss, it was the Panthers’ strongest offensive effort for the season as they kicked 14 goals and posted the second-highest score in Round 6 of William Buck Premier. Jacob Murphy was solid up forward with three goals, while Sam Cust delivered another standout performance after being named in the Big V senior squad of 44 last week.

Collegians’ brick wall defence was on show for three quarters against Old Trinity at Harry Trott Oval, before a six-goal to two final term gave the undisputable William Buck Premier leaders their sixth win in a row. Christos Manoussakis led from the front for the T’s, bagging two goals from the midfield and inspiring his teammates to an improved fourth-quarter effort. Jack Osborn – alongside De Steiger – is arguably the most improved player thus far in the VAFA’s top section, with his ability to run all day and increased disposal efficiency at the forefront of the T’s run of victories. Goal kicking phenomenon, Seb Nicolosi, returned from injury for his first outing of the season, but struggled for accuracy and finished with six behinds. While the T’s are running hot, their third quarters will need to be addressed heading into the second third of the season as they average just one a half goals during that period. Lindsay Apted and Tom Penberthy’s form continues to standout for the Lions after they were among the best again.

Another close game and another victory for University Blues. Trailing St Bernard’s by 17 points at three quarter time, the Blues fired in the last as they booted five goals to two and recorded their fourth win for the season. With just six minutes remaining on the clock, the Blues hit the front and shut the game down with a multitude of stoppages. Jack Townley’s return from last year’s shocking broken neck was the highlight of the match, with the key defensive post a big reason for the Blues’ success on the day. Tom Sullivan’s form is second-to-none at the moment as he continues to rack up disposals at will and use his explosive pace to break away from congestion and give the Snow Dogs’ forwards regular opportunities inside 50. Chris Hughes was the main recipient in attack for the Snow Dogs with three goals, while Jacob Bevanda kicked two.

While the T’s continue to register W’s, SKOB look ominous and OMs assert their authority on all whom they face, there is a Cam Roberts-led Uni side who seem to be clicking in more ways than one. University Blacks recorded their second consecutive victory with one of the more exciting finishes you are likely to see, barring Sam Lloyd-esque post-siren heroics. In his 100th game for the Club, skipper and Big V representative, Bede Mahon, punched through the winning point with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock against De La Salle. Lochy Dornauf increased his season’s goal kicking tally to 16 with a bag of five, reiterating the importance of his offseason inclusion to the club. While they still sit sixth and a game outside the four, the Blacks are looking awfully ominous and could be the smoky to contend when the sound of finals arrive. Sam Williams and his attractive left boot continued its dominance for De La, while Adrian Indovino mirrored the three he kicked last week.

Round 7 Tips

Old Carey vs De La Salle

University Blacks vs St Bernard’s

Old Melburnians vs Collegians

St Kevin’s vs Old Trinity

Old Xaverians vs University Blues