Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
Finals football is a different beast. With the spike in intensity, it requires a calm head and supreme execution of skills, and it’s safe to say Old Trinity exhibited that in spades when they defeated Old Brighton by 40 points on Sunday afternoon. The T’s entered the elimination final on a four-game winning streak and continued that form with five goals to one in the opening term. Jake Steinhart set the tone early with a bomb from outside 50 before Anthony Scott, Luther Juric, Harry Tinney and Sam Joyce each found the scoreboard. The Tonners were forced to play catch-up thereafter and, despite a slight window where they kicked the first two goals of the third term, it proved far too steep a hill to climb. The T’s showcased corridor football in its purest, carving it up through the middle of the ground via the sublime foot skills of Jack Hunt, Scott and Steinhart, giving Ed Weatherson, Seb Nicolosi and Tinney every chance of applying scoreboard pressure. The young Tonners outfit will take lessons learnt, particularly from the fourth term when the game was ultimately over, as they reload for 2019 under the captaincy of their two most composed and disciplined players, Harry Hill and Dylan Verney. They took VAFA supporters on an incredible ride throughout the 2018 season and they are primed for another assault on the VAFA’s top section next year. As for the T’s, they must feel as though they are a genuine chance in this weekend’s preliminary final against St Kevin’s OB after SKOB fell short against Collegians in the second semi-final.
Collegians will compete in their second consecutive William Buck Premier Grand Final and for their first flag since 2012 after they defeated SKOB by seven points on Saturday. The Lions led by 23 points at three quarter time and kicked the first goal of the fourth via the boot of star forward Lachie Ferguson, until SKOB fought back to within a point with four straight goals. It was Hugh Johnson who bobbed up for the sealer for the Lions when he soccered one from 12m with just three minutes remaining. Courtney Hylton was incredible as he spent periods in the ruck, while Sam Hibbins and Viv Michie continued their outstanding recent form. George Burbury was silk in the first term and paved the way with the opening two goals of the game. The story of SKOB’s game and the days following were the early injuries to Mitch Brown (concussion), Sam Critchley (ankle) and Stephen Gilham (knee). Brown and Critchley played no further part in the game after the first 18m of the opening term, while Gilham walked off the field for what will likely be the last time in his illustrious career early in the second. The situation certainly didn’t improve for SKOB when James Strauss hobbled off the ground in the third clutching his nether regions, but a short break and a few deep breaths allowed him to return in the fourth. It’s no secret Anthony Lynch is one of the all-time leaders in the VAFA and his performance on Saturday, both in a playing and leadership capacity, was of the utmost professionalism. Despite being undermanned, his belief in his team not once wavered and his ruck work was as dominant a performance you will likely see at Amateur level. The question for SKOB heading into this week’s preliminary final will be who, if any, of their injured played gets up and how big of an impact Tom Jok will have in his return from VFL.
St Kevin’s OB and Old Trinity have met twice throughout the 2018 season with SKOB running out winners on both occasions. Their first meeting in Round 4 was a dominant 42-point win at TH King Oval, but the return clash at the Daley went down to the wire as SKOB came from 13 points down at half time and claimed a thrilling three-point victory. Despite missing key personnel, SKOB are one of the most disciplined and well-structured teams in recent memory, meaning their ability to cover losses through a wholistic team approach is more than possible. However, if Trinity can play on their terms, tearing off half back and carving shapes through the middle of the ground, they are more than capable of winning their fifth game in a row.
Anthony Lynch vs Harry Thompson
Tom Jok vs Anthony Scott
Billy Kanakis vs Luke Pacconi