Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
For 16 weeks of the Division 3 season, two teams sat inside the top two positions on the ladder as both UHS-VU and Power House led all-comers in one dominant year.
The two sides continued their form throughout finals met in the decider, with UHS-VU proving too strong for Power House at Sportscover Arena, running out 21-point winners. Led by four goals and a best-on-ground display from Brandon Jackson, the Vultures kicked out to a 27-point lead at the first break and kept the House at an arm’s length for the remainder of match. The Vultures’ win ended a nine-year run in Division 3, claiming their first senior premiership since 2007.
The Vultures lost just three games throughout the season (in the last four rounds) but finished below the House heading into finals. It mattered little as the Vultures reclaimed their outstanding form and defeated the House by 44 points in the second semi-final. Captain and CHB, Nick Devereux, led the stingiest defence in the competition averaging 59 points against, while their closest rival and grand final opponent allowed 74.5. Esubalew Ramsay continued to development into an outstanding senior footballer and polled 16 votes to finish fourth in the Hutchinson Medal count, while Mitch Sweeney booted 63 goals; including, six bags of five or more.
Power House did little wrong in their pursuit of Division 3 glory, dropping just two games for the season and averaging 104ppg. Their boom recruit and full forward, Nick Nagel, registered 75 goals from 15 home and away games and the return of midfielder, Sam Confait, alongside stalwart, Adam Collet, had all the makings of a premiership-winning season. Unfortunately for the House, they stalled against the Vultures twice throughout finals but will still make the move to Division 2 for the first time in nine years. Ben Circosta was outstanding through the midfield, while Team of the Year CHB, Fiachra O’Deasmhunaigh, claimed the team’s best and fairest for his breakout season.
Rounding out the top four were Swinburne University and Westbourne Grammarians; two sides who underwent significant improvement in 2017. The Razorbacks’ offence improved exponentially and averaged 96ppg at an increase of 21 from 2016. Ben Higgins was the main contributor in front of goal with 59 while recruit, Daniel Close (33), Jackson Manning (30) and Richard Lugg (30) each finished in the 30s. Ruckman, David Thwaites, was a standout as evidenced by his 16 Hutchinson Medal votes.
As for Westbourne, they were unable to match it with the House in the preliminary final, going down by 42 points one week after accounting for the Razorbacks by a goal. A Round 18 win against UHS-VU and two losses to the House by an average of 6.5 points throughout the home and away fixture proved the Warriors are capable of mixing it with the best. Chris Hudson was named Hutchinson Medallist following a standout year in the ruck, while young gun, Michael Culliver, came third and showcased leadership qualities capable of captaining the club in the coming years.
Canterbury and La Trobe University had lists capable of playing finals but inconsistency at crucial times throughout the season meant they finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Cobra, Thomas Lowden, finished runner-up in the Hutchinson Medal, while Jonathon Neville and Mitch Gleeson roamed the Trobers’ forward line successfully as they combined for 80 goals.
Four consecutive losses at the start of the season made it difficult for Richmond Central to make inroads towards finals despite boasting leading goal kicker, Jake Munro. Round 17 and 18 summed up the Snakes inconsistent year as they defeated South Melbourne Districts by 93 points only to go down to the Cobras by 118 in the last game of the year. Cam Pullen was a dynamo through the midfield and led all teammates with nine votes.
Point Cook managed seven wins but the club’s committee decided it was in the best interest of the club to leave the VAFA and join the WRFL at the conclusion of the season. With one of the largest junior programs in Victoria, the club stated retention of talented young players was too difficult in the VAFA given travel and the offerings of rival western clubs in a competitive region, ending an eight-year affiliation with our Association.
As such, just one team will be relegated to Division 4 in a bid to create a consistent 10-team structure in our senior sections, meaning Albert Park will remain in Division 3 despite finishing ninth with four wins. Unfortunately, South Melbourne Districts will still head to Division 4 after being unable to win a game in a seriously tough season for the Swans.
VB Zanin Medallist: Brandon Jackson (UHS-VU)
P Hutchinson Medallist: Chris Hudson (Westbourne Grammarians)
Leading Goal Kicker: Jake Munro (Richmond Central) – 73