In the ultimate Premier B decider at Elsternwick Park, the minor premier’s, St Bernard’s, capped off their brilliant 2018 campaign with a resounding 83-point victory over Old Carey.
Our top two senior sides took to the field following the Premier B Reserve Grand Final curtain-raiser between the victorious Beaumaris and University Blacks, and a tight first-term ensued. Alex McLeod got the ball rolling for the Snow Dogs, slotting the first two consecutive majors, before young gun Charlie Thompson, returning from VFL duties, slotted the Panthers’ first. GT Moore Medallist, Chad Jones, was also lively, which included a fantastic contested mark in the pocket, and managed to convert his first major from his third attempt in the dying minutes of the first term. Despite only kicking one goal to St Bernard’s four, there were positive indicators for Michael Tarrant’s Panthers after the first quarter as they led the centre clearances and would look to impose that upper-hand to greater effect later in the match.
Trailing by a very manageable three goals at quarter time, the Panthers looked prime to eat away at the 18-point deficit but the Bernard’s midfield cavalry in Adam Bentick and Tom Sullivan well and truly arrived in the second, with the duo showcasing their elite work-rate and impact around stoppages to full-effect. Though many in the Snow Dogs’ line-up proved their valour in the second, including fantastic intercept work by Chris and Mitch Hughes, great ruck-work from Shaun Clark and Zach O’Halloran, and lace-outs from Nick Cooke, you simply could not overlook the aforementioned Jones who put on a three-goal exhibition, including a brilliant banana on the run from 45-metres out, or our Ian Cordner Medallist, Tom Sullivan’s, awe-inspiring, multiple-bounce, snag which showcased his elite speed.
More than 10 goals in their favour by the time the third quarter rolled around, and the Snow Dogs continued to assert themselves in the latter-half. Though wet conditions threatened to dampen the likelihood of a Panther’s turnaround, Sam Crocker ended Carey’s almost two-quarter goal-drought and the defensive efforts by Jason Ashby, Henry Schade and Andrew Sloan was to be commended in keeping the Snow Dogs to their lowest scoring term for the day. For St Bernard’s, the depth to their talent was again at the forefront as Charlie Vague found his line in front of goals and Jack McNamara was strong around the ground.
With a 72-point advantage before their final quarter of 2018 commenced, Mark ‘Bomber’ Riley’s entourage saluted Premier B with gusto as they ran out 83-point victors thanks to a 4.7 final term. For Old Carey, who continued to fight in the last with three additional goals thanks to Morgan Evans (1), Zander Adam (1) and Ben Smithwick (1), it was undoubtedly a disappointing outcome to a great year, though bigger and better things await this side in the VAFA’s highest level of men’s competition in 2018; William Buck Premier.
For the mighty Snow Dogs, who’s final performance summarised their 2018 season to a tee, their sublime performance shed absolute light to how exceptional they are in so many facets of their game, including the talent of their top-end and rising stars, as well as their coaching staff and leadership team. If they can continue this form into 2019, they will be more than competitive in William Buck Premier.
The Premier B reserves contest paralleled with the seniors outcome, considering Beaumaris held runners-up University Blacks to 4.10 for the match, three goals of which were scored in the latter half. For the 37-point premiers, Matt Lovejoy (2), Timothy Jeans (2), Dylan Gabron-Uhe (1) and BOG medal recipient, Benjamin O’Brien, were absolute standouts, while Henry Bennett and Douglas Arnold were valiant in defeat.