David Chalmers – @DAChalmers81
Premier B Round 8 was notable for many reasons: we had our first draw of the season and it was the first time Old Brighton walked away without a win (but are still undefeated). It was also the lowest scoring round (87 goals kicked) and the closest round (average margin 16 points, four results less than 20 points). We also witnessed the first ever win in Premier B for the Peninsula Pirates.
Ajax won their previous two matches against Peninsula and Mazenod, but would face a real test against fellow top four side St Bernards. The Snowdogs pipped Old Scotch in a thriller the previous week, breaking a two-game losing streak. The two sides couldn’t be split at the first break, then the game opened up as St Bernards unleashed a seven goal second term and Ajax kicked four of their own, giving the Snowdogs a three goal break at half time. Ajax fought back with four goals to two in the third, narrowing the gap and setting up a ripper final quarter. The Jackas got off to the perfect start when Brandon Joel kicked long to Jake Lew in the first minute and he got the home side on the board. Charlie Vague replied for St Bernards soon after, then behinds from Zachary Fleisher and Shaun Clarke were the only scores for the next 15 minutes. Goals from Lew and Kane Nissenbaum followed, putting the Jackas in front. St Bernards had a chance in the final minutes but the snap from the stoppage missed the big sticks. Ajax ate up the clock by bottling the ball up in their forward line, before Fayman managed a kick off the ground and somehow it went through, giving the Jackas a match-winning nine-point lead.
While the Ajax v St Bernards contest might have had most of the focus during the week, over at Camberwell Sports Ground there was a little ‘top-of-the-table clash’ going on between Old Brighton and Old Scotch. The Tonners lost Ben Jarick but Hamish Graham came in and was among their best. Old Scotch lost Jordan Clarke and Josh Halsall, who had kicked 28 goals between them so far. Old Brighton had their usual fast start, kicking four goals to one and opening up a handy lead. Old Scotch completely closed the game down in the middle stages, with both sides combining for just ten goals to three quarter time. Matthew Seed got the Scotchies off to the perfect start in the final term, before Lucas Forato retrieved a Cardinals kick-in and replied for Old Brighton. When Patrick Liston goaled, the Tonners looked to be back on top and 21 points clear. From the next centre clearance Josh Tilley kicked truly followed by a contested mark on the goal line from James Sansom. Liston got another one for the Tonners, but from there Old Scotch came storming home in the last ten minutes. Behinds from Dylan Gilbert and Harry Larwill were followed by Sansom’s fourth and in the last minute an Old Scotch kick for goal went out on the full but it was touched off the boot, resulting in a throw in. Josh Tilley roved the stoppage and his hurried snap went sailing through the big sticks, levelling the scores. The final siren sounded not long after and Premier B was gifted its first draw of 2017.
Fitzroy were looking to bounce back from a couple of losses to Monash and Mazenod when they travelled to take on Old Carey. The Roys were without Rory Angiolella but were well served by Sam Baker (one goal, in best) in his first game of the season. The Panthers made five changes to the side that pushed Old Brighton to the limit before losing by four goals. George Curnow returned with two goals and was among the best. Very little separated the sides for the first three quarters, and while the Panthers had more scoring shots, Fitzroy’s accuracy gave them a one-point lead at the final break. Neither side found the goals in the first nine minutes, with Matthew Parker, Julian Turner and Nino Lazzaro all missing chances. Sam Baker and Lazzaro finally broke through for the Roys, finishing off contested marks with majors. The Panthers kept attacking but were unable to find the goals, with Marc Lock missing a tricky snap and Ben Smithwick’s long bomb punched through by the Roys defence. Lazzaro produced a party trick late in the quarter, marking the ball on the boundary and rolling it through an unattended goal square, as Fitzroy claimed a 19-point win and moved to outright fifth, one game outside the top four.
Both Mazenod and Parkdale had some crucial ‘outs’ before their Round 8 contest, with the Nodders missing significant contributors Kieran McKeogh, Damian Byrne and Shaun Lovell, and the Vultures were minus Charlie Dillon and Jack Vorbach. It’s not often a side has two goals to three-quarter time but is still in the contest, but that was the case for Mazenod on this day. The Nodders managed just 1.5 in the second term and 0.6 in the third, yet they had more scoring shots and trailed by just two goals going into the last quarter. The Vultures piled on 6.5 to two behinds in the last to grab a convincing 50-point win and jump from ninth to seventh on the ladder, while Mazenod slip down to eighth. Brad Kovac and Xavier Patti were Mazenod’s goal scorers while Matthew Boland kicked another five for the Vultures, taking his season tally to 19 in four games.
Monash travelled out to Frankston to take on a Peninsula side still searching for their first win of the season. Maddison Hardiman was out for the Blues, while Tom Vaughn came in for his first game of the season and was among the best. Ben Southam returned for the Vultures with one goal and was in the best, while Nick Holland made his season debut with a couple of goals. Monash got the jump and held a narrow lead at the half, before the Pirates produced a three-goal third quarter and held the advantage going into the last. Nick Argento received a free kick and kicked the first of the quarter from the boundary, then Ben Southam replied for the Pirates after a mark and 25m penalty. Charles Cosgriff and Nick Petering both took marks but their shots for goal fell short and were rushed away by the Pirates defence. A goal from Tory Taylor was answered by another one from Argento and another Monash small forward who crumbed the ball-up and snapped successfully. Stuart Grigg had a chance to give the Pirates some breathing space but his shot skewed off to the right. Monash received a free at halfback and bombed it forward, but the Pirates were able to steady. Three stoppages in the final 30 seconds enabled the Pirates to hold on for their first win in Premier B.