If the fallouts of Round 7 were the ice-cream, then Round 8 was the cherry on top because it had all the ingredients which made for thrilling spectating and resulted in great footy.
University Blacks headed to Carey Sports Complex in what promised to be a challenging day against the ladder leaders Old Carey. The home ground advantage held true for the Panthers as they led the Blacks by four points at the main break, though it was more likely the Blacks inability to convert, scoring 1.12, which gave this buffer. The third quarter proved telling as the Blacks stormed with seven goals to the Panthers one, revealing weaknesses in the home side’s game and perhaps the players resolve as they gave away seven undisciplined 25m penalties when their resilience was needed most. The Panthers outscored the visitors in the final term, but it was too little too late as the Blacks went on to a 26-point victory. The return of Lachlan Huntington (4) did not go unnoticed for the winners, while Joshua Steadman backed up with another best performance. Kristian Jaksch matched Huntington’s four majors, retaining his top spot on the goalkicking leader-board, while Tom Jepson was recognised as best for the first time this season.
They tell you not to judge a book by its cover, so if you judged Ajax on their 6 game losing streak heading into their match-up against Monash Blues, you would have had quite the surprise when they smashed out a 50-point first quarter and ran away with an eight goal win. In what was a much needed morale boosting performance, the Jackas boasted eight goalkickers, five of which scored two or more, while their defensive pressure hindered the Blues to just 22 points in the first half. For the Blues, it was their 13 goal letup in the first half which stole the game, because their 6.11 second half to Ajax’s 4.10 showed spirit and scoring ability, albeit inaccurate. Toby Lipton (2), Nicholas Lewis and Zachary Fleisher were in the best for the Jackas, while Jake Meade was influential for the Blues with three majors and Charlie Rossetti was awarded BOG.
Now a game clear of fifth placed Beaumaris, Caulfield Grammarians did everything right to cement their finals contention after entering a 46-point win over Parkdale Vultures. With only a goal in it at the first break, the Fields upped the ante in the second kicking 7.7 to the Vultures 1.1, asserting their claim on the match. The visitors displayed their determination in the second half, outscoring the Fields 6.1 to 5.6, but it simply wasn’t enough to alleviate the 47-point deficit from half time. Keegan Stewart was lively up forward for Caulfield, kicking four majors, while the consistent Jack Wallace was determined number one after consecutive rounds in the best group. For the Vultures, it was Jarrod Munday who was BOG in his first senior game for the side this season, with Adam Knight and Nathan Papatsanis (3) in support.
Old Haileyburians’ perseverance finally paid dividends in Round 7 when they knocked back Mazenod to attain their first victory for the 2018 season. Old Haileybury drew blood early in the piece, achieving 31 points by the first break which stretched to 56 points at half time – a score which remarkably trumped their average total match score (54.5 points) for the season to date. The Nodders had fight in the final term, eclipsing their 3.6 three quarter score with 5.5 in the fourth but, like so many of the matches in Round 8, the damage had already been done. The Bloods names Durras Seccull as their best, while John Nicolopoulos (4), Brodie Steele and Lachlan Treverton were also recognised. In his second game of senior footy for the season, John-Paul Van Rensburg elevated his impressive Round 7 display earning himself the Nodders BOG title.
It seems I have underestimated St Bernards dominance at the Snake Pit yet again as they gave top four hopeful, Beaumaris, a 93-point trouncing in front of their home crowd. The Snow Dogs were on song from the opening bounce, limiting the Sharks to just a solitary goal each quarter for the first three terms, all while pilling on 97 points through their 10 individual goal kickers. Shaun Clarke (4), BOG Tom Sullivan (3) and Michael Caven (3) were particular destructive in front of goals, while Adam Bentick (2) and Simon Caven were imposing around the ground. James Taylor was the Sharks best, while Lewis Diggins and Matthew Petering were also listed in the away side’s top players.
Beaumaris will be glad to be back at Shark Park in Round 9 after successive losses to finals favourites St Bernards (93 point loss) and Old Carey (12 point loss). Hosting Monash Blues, the Sharks will be confident if they can apply their usual defensive pressure and limit the Blues’ forward entries, and if their spread of goalkickers can impact the scoreboard.
A convincing win against Monash Blues was the best preparation Ajax could have in the lead up to their encounter with the now second placed Old Carey. The Jackas would take away a lot of positives from their second win of the season, particularly their eight goal fast start and scoreboard pressure for the first half, yet they will need this in spades if they are to overcome the perhaps frazzled Panthers. The Panthers, more than likely, will be on the hunt for retribution, so equal is the likelihood that they unleash their scoring finesse through Kristian Jaksch and do some real percentage damage to reclaim the top position.
Though the middle-of-the-table match up between Parkdale Vultures and Mazenod will have no impact on the top dogs of the Premier B pack, the contest is sure to be fierce as each side look to distance themselves from the bottom rungs of the ladder. The Vultures (6th), who leap-frogged the Nodders (8th) on the ladder in Round 6, are just four points and 9.87% clear of the visitors, keeping in mind that the Nodders are yet to play Monash Blues.
St Bernards will be opposed as Premier B leaders when they travel to Glenhuntly Oval to face fourth placed Caulfield Grammarians. The Fields are in impressive form, but they need to continue this display against their fellow finals challengers if they want to go deep into the season. Away from the Snake Pit, the Fields are in the best possible position to cause an upset.
Up and about after claiming their first victory of 2018, the Bloods will need to summon their upmost best to threaten Uni Blacks at Melbourne Uni. Hot off their win against Old Carey, Uni Blacks are undeniably a force to be reckoned with, while Old Haileyburians will be looking to string together successive wins.