By Nick Armistead
Sign, sealed and delivered, St Kevin’s officially arrived in William Buck Premier over the weekend as they drew blood from the previously undefeated Old Trinity via a 16-point come-from-behind win at TH King Oval. One would have been forgiven for predicting a significantly different result one quarter into the match after the T’s conducted an offensive masterclass, booting eight goals to nil and leading by 49 points. Whether it was the choice words from senior coach Jon Edgar at the quarter time break – bringing into question his chargers’ desire to get to the contest first – or the fact they’d been completely outplayed in every facet of the game and sought redemption, SKOB returned fire with four unanswered goals in the second. Trailing by 26 with one quarter to play, all the big names stood up for SKOB in the last as Jason Salopek, Steven Salopek, Stephen Gilham and Rohan Bail led the six-goal to nil charge. Charlie Ring provided excellent rebound from defence all day, while Dylan Jones won the head-to-head dual with in-form T’s ruckman, Henry Winter, and showcased the value big men can offer side’s in the fast-paced William Buck Premier section. The T’s won’t lose too much sleep on the back of their first loss for the season, but instead will focus their attention on the pair of injuries which left them with two on the bench from half time onwards. Jack Osborn’s three-week departure for work stings given his first-class form this season, but the third-quarter blues are no longer a ‘thing’ after piling on four and the successful return of Harry Tinney will have T’s fans salivating at the thought of how far they will go this year.
Three losses in a row, including the most recent two at home, does not bode well for Old Xaverians and their finals ambitions after succumbing to University Blues in the final four minutes at Toorak Park over the weekend. Missing the trio of John Shaw (c), Dan Noonan (vc) and Ben Kennedy (vc) again, and with Matt Handley requiring stitches above his eye due to an errant spoil, the Xavs lacked the experience required late in the fourth as Blues young guns, Will Cuningham and Joel Maloney, sealed the victory with two late goals. Precariously placed in sixth position and on the same amount of wins as SKOB and Collegians, this weekend’s fixture against a T’s outfit coming off their first loss shapes as their most important in 2016 thus far. The Blues were relentless in terms of possession and could have put the Xavs away earlier had they converted their opportunities in the second and third terms. Despite missing Jack Townley due to a minor Thursday-night injury, Dan Van de Pol and Hugh Vickers-Willis stood tall in the backline and kept the Handley/Goss combo at bay. Tom Quinn kicked his third consecutive bag of three up forward, while star onballer, Marshall Rippon, will be monitored closely over the coming days after he hyperextended his knee at the start of the third and played no further part in the game.
De La Salle reclaimed second spot on the William Buck Premier ladder with a convincing 82-point win against Old Carey. While the De La train and its inability to slow down for longer than one round every three or four weeks gets deserved coverage across VAFA media platforms, it is the return of Adrian Indovino which has gone under the radar. Indovino is a weapon and since returning from injury in Round 5 has produced bags of three, three and four. Alongside Sam Pickett, Leigh Harrison and Tom Nicholls, Indovino forms one pillar of arguably the most intimidating forward line in William Buck Premier. Throw in Hugh ‘x-factor’ Nicholson, Jake Williams and Jacob Gotch, it isn’t any wonder De La has kicked more points than any other side at an average of 98 per match. Old Carey’s defensive woes continued for the second straight week as they have now allowed 350 points in their past two outings. Conversely, they are finding ways to score in bursts, with six of their nine goals coming in the second term.
Old Melburnians were the most recent side to suffer the defensive stranglehold enforced by Collegians, but managed to hit the scoreboard often enough and run out 20-point winners at Sportscover Arena. With just 11 goals kicked for the game, spectators were treated to an old fashioned slog of which no one player kicked more than one major. George Hurley-Wellington is a star and showcased his Big V credentials, while Tom Cameron led from Q1 to Q4. The Lions’ defence is a thing of beauty and averages just 62 points against but unfortunately their attack can only muster 59 points per game seven rounds in. Tom Penberthy gave Big V selectors a reminder of the damage he can do in the ruck, while Matt Jenkinson and Will Johnson’s 2016 output continues to rank elite.
University Blacks are on the march. After suffering three consecutive losses from Rounds 2-4, the Blacks have reversed their fortunes with three wins on the trot and emerged as a genuine contender. Most recently, they staved off a valiant St Bernard’s with five final-term goals to two helping them to a 27-point win at Uni Oval. Bede Mahon and Adam Pitt were irrepressible through the midfield as they garnered possessions at will, while Lochy Dornauf’s two goals and third screamer in as many weeks has him pegged as the form small forward of the competition. Unfortunately, the Snow Dogs remain on the one win and in ninth position, but their forward line has kicked the sixth most points for the season and Tom Sullivan could have 10 votes in the Woodrow Medal count.
Round 8 Tips
Collegians vs Old Carey
Old Trinity vs Old Xaverians
University Blacks vs Old Melburnians
St Bernard’s vs St Kevin’s
De La Salle vs University Blues