Fielders fire in the fourth to secure promotion & GF berth

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

Mitch op’t Hoog – @mitch_hoog

Preliminary finals are always considered some of the best games for the year, no matter what division, grade or code of sport you play. The players know what’s on the line and there’s a real sense of occasion amongst the spectators, especially when you have the possibility of promotion on the line.

For club culture and prosperity, it’s hard to quantify how valuable a promotion can be, particularly in the Premier Sections. From the first bounce it was clear both Marcellin and Caulfield Grammarians were hell bent on securing a spot in Premier B and not letting their opponent get on top early. The first five minutes was riddled with tackles, smothers and stoppages and scarcely entered into either sides forward 50. The willingness to work overtime defensively was typified by two acts in the first quarter: a huge smother at the two-minute mark by Caulfield’s Jack Presnell who sprinted 20 metres to dive in front of a Marcellin kick out of defence and ultimately cause the stoppage; And secondly, six-minutes into the quarter, there was a game-defining chase down tackle by Caulfield’s Jack Wallace, who worked his way from the wing to lay a tackle on a Marcellin player who was about to take a shot on goal. It was acts like these that set the tone early for Caulfield, acts that they were lacking in their loss to Old Haileybury in week one of finals.

Despite Caulfield’s best defensive efforts, however, Marcellin did manage to get the first few scoring shots, though they were scarcely uncontested. The Eagles first three attempts at goal were behinds. In fact, such was the intensity and pressure of the game that it took until the 14th minute mark of the first quarter before the first goal was kicked, which came courtesy of some clever roving off a forward 50 stoppage by Marcellin’s Patrick Howe.

After resetting for another centre bounce, Caulfield managed to stem Marcellin’s attack and controlled the play for the remainder of the first quarter. The Fielders kicked the next three goals of the quarter thanks to Tom Green, Nicholas Fallu and Will Osborn who were each looking active up forward. At quarter time, Caulfield held a handy 11 point lead.

In the second quarter, Caulfield’s dominance carried on as they managed to stifle all of Marcellin’s run out of defence with their intense pressure. As it was Marcellin’s defensive running that worked so well against Williamstown CYMS in their first semi final victory and it was Old Haileybury’s slingshotting out of defence that got the better of Caulfield in their second semi final loss – this pressure inside their forward 50 and around the ground was crucial to Caulfield’s dominance in the first two quarters. The Fielders managed to pile on five goals to two in the second quarter and by halftime they had extended their lead out to a nice 32 point buffer.

After the main break and with a breeze behind them, the Eagles were able to reset and came out firing in the third. They managed to wrestle back some momentum early and got their outside runners involved. Five goals to two in the third term from the Eagles had the game back in the balance.

Up by just 11 points with one quarter to play, no doubt, the Caulfield players would’ve had the previous week’s second semi loss and memories of last year’s straight sets finals losses in the back of their minds – and from the first minute of the final quarter Caulfield quickly showed why many believe they can win it all next week. To put it simply, they dominated. The Fields almost doubled their score from the first three quarters in the last term as they piled on eight goals to Marcellin’s one to power away from the Eagles and record a crushing 59-point win.

Tom Green was the Grammarians most dangerous in front of goals, ending the day with four to his name, while Nick Baltas and Sam Dorevitch both slotted three, Dorevitch claiming best on ground. For the out of luck Eagles, Pat Howe continued his good form kicking two goals and being named their best.

The win is a massive one for the Fielders, as they have been in poll position for the past two seasons to gain promotion into Premier B. And while winning a preliminary final and gaining promotion is a huge boost for the club and its culture, now the ultimate prize in on the line: a premiership! Now they’ve secured promotion for the club, can Caulfield go one further and enjoy the spoils of a flag?

Based on their season and dominant performance in the preliminary final, we definitely know Caulfield are more than capable of going all the way; However, they’ll need to be at their formidable best once again as they’re coming up against the fresh legs of Old Haileybury.

Last time the two teams met was in the second semi final when Old Haileybury comfortably accounted for Caulfield by 25 points. In fact, the Fielders have only lost three games for the year with two of those losses coming against Old Haileybury (including the second semi), so Old Haileybury hold the wood over Caulfield this season. Additionally, the Bloods have had one or two key players returning for finals, including VFL listed player Shane Valenti, so it won’t be an easy task for the Fielders and a victory to the Bloods wouldn’t surprise; certainly not as much as their win did two weeks ago in the second semi final. Having said all this, I’m tipping Caulfield to exact redemption and win by the skin of their teeth.