Xavs, Shaw draw 1-1

Posted on - Latest News, Premier Men's, Featured

By Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead

St Kevin’s were arguably the most intriguing storyline heading into the weekend on the back of a change in senior coach two days prior to their clash with Collegians. As released by VAFA Media on Friday morning, Jon Edgar stepped aside with six matches remaining in the season and his co-coach of the 2015 premiership season, Daniel Harford, would take the reins on match day. As is stipulated in St Kevin’s media release, Edgar and SKOB reached an impasse regarding a sought-after guarantee for the 2017 season – and constitutionally SKOB are required to advertise for a coach at the end of each season – so the decision was made to part ways.

On match day, it was simple; Collegians needed to win to give genuine hope of a finals berth, while SKOB sought victory to stave off relegation. It was the latter which eventuated at Harry Trott Oval as SKOB recorded their first win in three rounds, running over the Lions by six goals. After a relatively even first term, SKOB kicked into action with three goals to one in the second. Gerard Gleeson was the catalyst as he nailed two goals and completed a number of contested grabs, while Will Coates and Ash Morris offered continual rebound from defence. Kel Williams was also fantastic in the back half and his athleticism and ability to run down opponents from behind with his enviable wing span something to be admired. Despite the elite run and carry of Julian Eimutus and another standout performance from Will Tardif, the Lions struggled to produce regular scoring opportunities capable of keeping them in the game in the second half. It was just the second loss at the Trott for the Lions this season, and SKOB’s 80 points was the highest of any opponent this year and leagues above their average of 48 against on home soil.

Old Xaverians reaped just reward for a month of formidable football as they entered the top four (third) for the first time since Round 5 on the back of their 38-point win against De La Salle. Brendan Goss and Matt Handley’s combined 10 majors were even more impressive given Goss hadn’t registered one to the half and Handley sat off the fourth term with a severely broken nose. They’ve now kicked 76 goals between them for the season, and helped Xavs surpass De La as the highest scoring attack in William Buck Premier with an average of 86ppg. Captain, John Shaw, produced his most elite performance since returning from injury in Round 11 and gave De La Salle and Antony Forato something to think about heading into the business end of the season. Forato won the Round 2 night game battle and Shaw just drew even. If these two sides meet in September, the Shaw-Forato show could sell its own tickets. Forato still managed two goals and Tom Humphrey stood tall but the Xavs defensive pressure proved too much as De La suffered its third consecutive loss. After sitting atop the ladder two rounds ago, De La has now fallen outside the top four and the return of Adrian Indovino (VFL commitments pending) and former Woodrow medallist, Matt Fieldsend, is of the highest importance.

Old Melburnians applied further pressure to the top four as they claimed the scalp of University Blacks in a thrilling 16-point come-from-behind victory at Sportscover Arena. Trailing by 15 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Will Thompson nailed two quick goals to give OMs the ascendancy and they ultimately never looked back as fan-favourite, Al Armstrong, added two more and increased his total to four for the match. Matt Thomas was a bull through the midfield and Nick De Steiger controlled the ruck contest for the majority of the day. The Blacks will be disappointed with the loss and fall two spots to fourth. While Bede Mahon, Hugh Curnow and Joel Ernest delivered as per usual, the OMs fourth-term pressure was irrepressible and the Blacks seemed to run out of answers; unusual, but irregular and not something we should get used to. The Blacks are a genuine force in 2016.

The T’s surged to second spot on the ladder and can safely argue the down period they suffered from Rounds 7 to 11 is over. It was a low-scoring affair at Uni Oval, but a solid defensive effort from the T’s back half held firm in the fourth and allowed their side a five-point victory and second consecutive win. Brendan Iezzi’s return has been nothing short of phenomenal; tearing his acl, mcl and meniscus last year and returning with two possible BOG performances. Henry Winter, Seb Nicolosi and Alex Polidoros are vacating in a warmer climate, but a number of T’s fringe players stepped up to fill the void magnificently. Of particular importance over the weekend was Harry Thompson, a young 19-year-old who rucked for 85% of the game and held his own against Cam Williams, constantly giving the likes of Jack Hunt first use. The T’s were relentless in their use of the corridor and the risk-taking football ultimately paid dividends as they claimed their second consecutive win against the Blues by less than a goal. Connor Lappin and Piers Flanagan were the Blues’ best, but Tom MacKenzie’s (flu) late omission alongside Tim Gaeppen’s ongoing injury, meant Tom Quinn had it all to do. However, with the Blacks and De La both going down, the Blues remain a game clear on top.

St Bernard’s proved too strong for Old Carey at Carey Sports Complex, defeating them by 48 points and keeping their hopes of remaining in William Buck Premier alive. Josh Hedley starred in a BOG performance and Tom Sullivan strengthened his Woodrow Medal chances for the Snow Dogs, while Ben Smithwick and Lachlan McLeod fought bravely for the Panthers. It was an all-round performance from the Snow Dogs, but I want to touch on two goals in the third quarter which stole the show. Chris Peart embodied his inner Diego Maradona as he strategically worked his way from the midfield around a bevy of Panthers players and used his elite left boot to launch from 50m. Just minutes after Peart’s stunner, Old Carey’s, Sam Cust, roved from the stoppage and unloaded an off-balance, check side from 40m capable of bringing a smile to Eddie’s face. For further proof, check the VAFA HQ Facebook page.

Round 14 Tips

Old Trinity vs Old Carey

University Blues vs De La Salle

St Bernard’s vs Collegians

St Kevin’s vs Old Melburnians

Old Xaverians vs University Blacks

Feature photo: Ari Hatzis