By Tom Feldgen – @tfeldgen
The unthinkable has happened. It has taken until round 15, however we have finally had a round where all the favourites have been able to clinch victories and this scribe hasn’t been left red-faced. St Mary’s Salesian well and truly kept their finals hopes alive, Old Geelong put their foot to the throat of Whitefriars, Therry Penola outclassed Ivanhoe, Old Mentonians held off the impressive Old Paradians and PEGS did what they do best at The Runway.
Gillon Oval was the setting for a vital match for both St Mary’s Salesian and Brunswick NOBSPC, with the Saints looking to keep in touch with the top four and NOBs fighting to avoid relegation. St Mary’s shot out of the blocks early with a five goal to nil opening term and never really looked back, as they ran out convincing 61-point victors to snap their four-game losing streak. Luke Dykes and Jos Op’T Hogg were the keys in front on goal with three each for the Saints, while James Curwood was sublime. For NOBs, club games record holder Scott Sleep turned the clock back to kick two majors and Pat Kelly played his heart out.
Old Geelong tightened their grip on second spot with a classy 56-point win over Whitefriars. With only 10 points separating the sides at the main interval, it was an electric second half performance that allowed Old Geelong to kick away and end up with a handy percentage boost. Callum Wood was the star for the Ogs, kicking five majors in a best on ground performance, Sam Youngman added four of his own and Harry Graham was another fine contributor. For the Friars, Michael Nitas continued his good form in front of the big sticks with three goals, Tim Baker kicked two and was a strong contributor, while Ryan Tester was their best for the day
Therry Penola handed out a stern reality check to Ivanhoe as they thrashed the Hoes to the tune of 73-points. The Lions responded in emphatic fashion following their tight loss to the Ogs as they once again proved they are a force to be reckoned with. Jarrod Bannister was up to his usual antics with a bag of five as he took his season tally to 56 and sits eight goals ahead of PEGS’ Trent Skurrie. Sidekick Corey Bannister also joined on the action with four of his own and Matthew Costello for the third week in a row produced a magnificent four-quarter display. Mitch Lovell and Reuben Blackmore-Moore flew the flag for the Hoes.
The match of the round was undoubtedly the fierce contest between Old Paradians and Old Mentonians. The Panthers held a slender lead for the majority of the day and were able to stretch their advantage to 17 points at the last break. However, the Raiders kept coming in the last only to fall agonisingly short by three points. The Raiders have been the feel good story of the second half of the season. They have come from clear relegation favourites to be a side that can compete with any team in the competition. Luke Hull and Kyle Conlon were the multiple goal scorers for the Panthers and Douglas Payton was their best. Andrew Souza and Brendan Moylan helped themselves to two each for the Raiders and Sean Miller continued his great form.
PEGS were simply too good for the Division 2 bound Prahran and just did what they had to in order to maintain fourth spot and push forward towards finals. They were irresistible with the wind advantage kicking 10 goals and keeping the Two Blues to the singular behind. Trent Skurrie, Daniel Flaherty and Daniel Cantwell all chimed in with three and Robert Baddeley was a clear best on ground. For the Two Blues, Harry Taylor was their best as he kicked three goals and Adam Sleight fought hard for his two majors.
Round 16 is headlined by a massive clash between the third placed Therry Penola and fourth placed PEGS. The winner will go a long way to securing their spot in the finals while the runner-up will be forced to battle it out with St Mary’s Salesian for the final spot in the four. In what is basically a toss of the coin encounter I believe PEGS will come out on top as they look to exercise their range of goal scoring avenues in what should be an encounter for the ages. In the other fixtures, the Saints should keep their finals dream alive against Ivanhoe, Old Geelong should be too strong for the new and improved Raiders but will be tested, Brunswick NOBSPC simply need to win to keep their hopes of avoiding the drop alive and Old Mentonians are set to run over the Friars.
St Mary’s Salesian vs Ivanhoe
Old Paradians vs Old Geelong
Therry Penola vs PEGS
Prahran-Assumption vs Brunswick NOBSPC
Whitefriars vs Old Mentonians
*Feature photo: Phil Skeggs