Brin Duggan – @BrinDuggan
|A. Thornton (JOCS)
|A. Cloke (OAK)
|T. Scott (OAK)
|A. Romanyk (PEGS)
|M. Dolan (SMS)
|M. Nitas (Friars)
|M. Hine (Ormond)
|G. Costas (JOCS) – C
|J. op’t Hoog (SMS)
|B. Hannah (PEGS)
|J. Lenhart (PEGS)
|B. Atkins (Ormond)
|J. Simon (Ormond)
|R. Jepson (Preston)
|A. Bussell (SMS)
|R. Baddeley (PEGS)
|R. Blackmore-Moore (Hoes)
|J. Egglestone (Therry)
|C. Ford (NOBS)
|A. Hands (Friars)
|T. Dudgeon (SMS)
|S. Thomas (NOBS)
|E. Leyden (SMS)
The second week of Division 1 finals had something about it a certain feeling. that, combined with the fact the AFL was back on after the controversial bye round before finals and the general vibe was unlike anything else.
The aura surrounding the Ormond v PEGS game had this feel and threatened to be special. Ormond were carrying incredible form to finish the minor rounds and put up a brave fight against SMS last week, despite destiny working against them. PEGS decimated Oakleigh last week and rolled in brimming with confidence.
The Ormond supporters came out in droves and took up their usual spot behind their goals making defensive life all the more difficult. The siren went to signal the start and things were kicked off through a decisive Robert Baddeley hit out (which turned out to be a theme of the first half). PEGS broke through first but the majority of this quarter was played between the arcs. PEGS had more of the play but Jeremy Simon was a standout in defense keeping Adrian Romanyk down despite PEGS targeting his hot boot. As the siren sounded PEGS led by nine. But for some resounding defensive efforts from Andrew Khallouf and James Lenhart, this was a completely even contest.
The second quarter started off similarly. PEGS had the run of the green but Ormond were holding the fort. Romanyk was a continual threat up forward and could have had a bag already if not for some wayward kicking. Despite the continued dominance of PEGS big man, Robert Baddeley, it was Ormond defensive utility, Hamish Ramsay, that turned the game and inspired the Monders by thwarting countless Bomber attacks. His teammates, Ethan Hanley and Tom Buckley jumped on board the Monder train and ran freely through the middle, playing a huge part in Ormond kicking three goals in four minutes and getting themselves right back in the game. In stepped PEGS speedster Cam LIvori. Livori got the Bombers back on track and they kicked the final two goals of the quarter to quash the Ormond challenge. Despite Ormond dominating most of the quarter, the late goals saw PEGS head into the main break up by 12.
After half time, it was again Livori that got PEGS going. A sensational one handed pick up at speed and miraculous goal from the pocket had PEGS running on top of the ground. The Bombers were peppering the Ormond goal and the back six of the Monders, despite their best efforts, showed signs of exhaustion. Despite the dominance of Ethan Hanley, Ormond could not penetrate the PEGS defence who repeatedly gobbled up the long Ormond kicks down the line. Tylar Vujanic was flying at everything and proving to be an unstoppable aerial presence. This time it was PEGS who let Ormond back in the game. Despite the PEGS early dominance, two goals in a row gave the Monders a sniff. Matt Martinov moved into the ruck, combated the dominance of Baddeley and played a big part in the resurgence. However, a late goal from PEGS half-back, Brett Hannah, held Ormond at bay. At three quarter time PEGS led by 16.
The biggest quarter of the year for both sides started off with an Ormond goal through Sam Mason, reducing the lead to nine. That was as close as they would get, though. Through the sustained work of Vujanic and Khallouf as well as the constant forward threat of Romanyk, the Ormond dam was breached. Four goals in a row to PEGS ballooned the lead out to 34-points and put the result beyond doubt. PEGS eventually stormed into the Grand Final by 27-points.
Despite solid defensive contributions from Jeremy Simon and Hamish Ramsay, Adrian Romanyk booted five majors (from about 12 shots). Baddeley was named PEGS best for his dominant ruck work link up work while Tylar Vujanic’s tireless aerial efforts were acknowledged.
For Ormond, they are stuck in Division 1 for another year and will be bitterly disappointed to not have won a final. Ethan Hanley had the ball on a string for much of the game and should be happy with his performance, Jeremy Simon did a great job on Romanyk until he went down in the third quarter and Boyd Upstill held Trent Skurrie to one goal.
The result sets up a huge encounter between minor premiers SMS and their kryptonite this year, PEGS. Of the three games the Saints lost this year, two of them came against PEGS.
Undoubtedly, the Bomber defence has the Saints’ number. Defensive pillars, Andrew Khallouf and James Lenhart play well against Saints forward line and have contributed to reducing SMS to an average of 85 points against them, well below their season average of 107. That being said, in their Round 18 match-up, Dan Ryan and Manny Dolan combined for eight goals.
SMS will also be drawing upon their defence in their hopes to win. In Round 18, Skurrie and Romanyk booted 10 of PEGS’s 15 goals as they got a hold of the Saints defence which was under a huge amount of pressure from repeat forward 50 entries. If the back line is expected to hold up their end it will come down to midfield pressure from Tim Dudgeon and his support cast to give the defence a chance. Jos op’t Hoog will need to play a huge part if SMS are to win. He can dominate a wing or play a Mr. Fix-It role wherever he needs if PEGS get on top somewhere.
This game will come down to the wire, both sides can hurt you on the scoreboard but have match-winning defenders as well. Although, I think this will be decided by one of the four gun forwards Romanyk, Skurrie, Dolan or Ryan kicking five plus goals. Of those four, Romanyk has 14 in two weeks and looks the most likely, but I am backing in Manny Dolan to bring it home for the Saints. SMS by three points by way of a late Dolan goal.