It’s all about backing yourself in William Buck Premier

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Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead

Backing yourself is a key ingredient to success in Australian Rules football. Coaching, playing, and as it turns out, even tipping require the utmost confidence if you are to come out on top.

After analysing past performances, combining the strength of recruitment with the loss of personnel on all 10 lists and anticipating future results, I predicted my final four William Buck Premier sides for the 2017 season: Old Xaverians, Collegians, Old Trinity and St Kevin’s.

After Round 1, however, I failed to back two of my initial finalists and fell flat with just two out of a possible five correct tips.

While I’d justify my selections of De La Salle and University Blacks on the back of strong performances for most of their respective games in Round 1, my failure to back my initial judgement of those I anticipated would make finals led me to correctly predict less than 50% in Round 2.

St Kevin’s showcased the utmost confidence in their pre-season recruitment policy and have since started the season with impressive victories over University Blues and De La Salle. Tall timber was the main ingredient coming into SKOB with the well-publicised enlistment of Jay Schulz, Mark Jamar and Mitch Brown but having defeated the fast-paced De La by four goals at Waverley Oval, pace seems not the slightest issue. After kicking just one goal in the first term, the engine room of Ben Dowd and Nick Wood accelerated and helped SKOB to 12 of the next 19 goals while somewhat negating the running power of De La on home soil. Despite their second consecutive loss, De La will certainly hit their straps in coming weeks with Adrian Indovino’s four goals to close out the match as promising as the ball-winning ability of Jason Tutt and the Williams brothers.

Collegians were of similar tenacity prior to the season, knowing full well the type of player they wanted to attract in a bid to improve upon their seventh-place finish in 2016. Shane Joyce and his coaching staff were prepared to be bold and are yet to lose a game in the opening two rounds following their 23-point victory over Uni Blacks. While Lachie Ferguson and Corey Cassidy impressed for the second straight week with two goals apiece, it was another recruit, Nick Dixon, who stood out, booting three majors in a best-on-ground performance. Lions star, Sam Hibbins, spoke with VAFA Media prior to the season’s commencement and said Dixon was the one to watch of all the Lions’ recruit, labelling him as “something special”. The Blacks were ahead at half time for the second straight game but fell away over the last two quarters as the Lions took control. Continuing with the theme of backing yourself, Blacks forward, Lochie Dornauf, would be brimming with confidence after bagging another six goals and kicking more than half of his side’s score. Josh Steadman impressed in the ruck and when the Blacks string together a full four quarters, they will threaten the four with their elite list and coaching staff.

A new coach and new game plan reaped the reward of four points for University Blues as they defeated Beaumaris by 48 points at Uni Oval. After going down to SKOB in Round 1, the Blues’ stars stood up with Kieran Harper (four), Tom Quinn (four), Tim Geappen (four), Ross Young (three) and Jeremy Mugavin (two) combining for all 17 of the Blues’ goals. Despite making the preliminary final last year, the Blues often lacked potency in front of goal and averaged just 65 points in the regular season (eighth in William Buck Premier). The new-look game plan under James Walker helped them to 109 points in Round 2, having scored that high on just one occasion in the 2016 (113 vs Old Carey in Round 11). Beaumaris had just three less scoring shots than the Blues and outscored them in the final quarter which should breed confidence heading into Round 3. If not for Q2 and Q3 where they were outscored 57-13, the Sharks were well and truly in the game. Rob Cathcart and Dylan Gabron-Uhe were the best of the Sharks, while Stephen Milne (three) continues to cause headaches for small defenders. Despite being four weeks out, the Round 6 match-up between Old Trinity’s Luke Pacconi and Milne makes for a mouth-watering prospect.

A team void of any self-doubt with regards to their style of game play, Old Trinity defeated St Bedes/Mentone Tigers by 38 points at Daley Oval. Arguably the best exponent of what can be achieved with the dose of self-belief that comes from playing your own way is Luther Juric. Juric, who can do things on the field few others can, has taken his game to another level over the past 12 months and led from the front as the T’s piled on 11 second-half goals to the Tigers’ four. Ed Weatherson took the bulk of the responsibility in front of goal this week with four, while Jack Osborn backed up his impressive Round 1 performance in the ruck with three. The Tigers’ performance was reminiscent of Round 1 as they led their opponent throughout stretches of the match but gave up the lead when it mattered most. The signs have been good for the Tigers throughout both matches, with Michael Barnes and Chris Mangoni starting the season in form.

Old Xaverians rarely show signs of anything but self-confidence and it paid dividends when they held off Old Melburnians in a three-point thriller at Sportscover Arena. It’s a trait which has helped obtained 13 premierships since 1995 and it was on show again against a talented OMs unit. Xavs trailed at half-time but a seven-goal third term gave them the ascendancy and, despite a fourth-quarter surge from OMs, they held on to remain undefeated two rounds into their premiership defence. Denis Symeopoulos (three) stood out with his run and carry, while Nick Daish and Al Armstrong (three) led the charge for OMs. After an eventful Round 1 clash against Beaumaris, OMs will be buoyed to come within a kick given their position at three quarter time, but the thought of leading for more than half the game will add fire to their third-round match-up against De La Salle.