As Brian Waldron reminds me weekly and will no doubt continue to say on the VAFA Podcast, it’s far too early to be making bold predictions after three rounds. However, it’s interesting to note that at 5pm on Saturday, three teams – St Kevin’s, Old Brighton and Collegians – could be 3-0. This is a form line (from the previous three completed seasons) that puts teams in the same position as St Kevin’s OB of 2017, 2018 and Uni Blues of 2019, all of which played off in the Grand Final and won the William Buck Premier Men’s title.
Despite these very early numerical advantages on the ladder and the argument that “stats don’t lie” what we’ve seen from the opening two rounds of the 2022 season, the competition is already tighter and more contested than in recent years.
Five of the opening 10 games have been decided by three goals or less (with the biggest margin being 50 points in Round 1). No team has kicked over 100 points.
In comparison to Round 2, 2021, five times a team had scored 100+ and two games from 10 were decided by less than seven points with Old Xaverians the clear standout ahead of the rest.
Round 3 is fascinating with many twists, turns and changes to all the data we’re about to spit out for your perusing!
University Blues know the position Old Brighton could find themselves in on Saturday night. The Tonners are one of the form-sides going into their clash, coming off a win for the ages against Old Xaverians, they meet the 2019 premiers with a full head of confidence having won both encounters last year by 46 and 42 points.
For those heading bayside it will be fascinating to see how Petrus Olivier and Elliot Le Grice back up their performance against Ayce Cordy at ruck battles in the absence of Lachie Filipovic. You can also keep an eye on how Brighton go about curtailing the influence of Sam Grimley in the Uni forward line? (12 goals from 2 games).
Speaking of goals, in 2021 the red and blue were the #1 side for outscoring opponents in the final quarter, Blues were one of the sides to feel the wrath of that momentum, if it happens again this weekend, it will leave Brighton fans thinking of the AFL version of the red and the blue in last year’s Grand Final.
2017 and 2018 saw St Kevin’s start the year 3-0, going on to win back to back Premierships, while this is a completely different Skobs outfit, Plugga Lynch knows all about the importance of stringing early wins together in a William Buck Premiers season.
St Kevin’s didn’t have the opportunity to meet Caulfield Grammarians in 2021, you need to go back to August 22, 2015 (2,436 days) since they last played against one another. Cal Matheson, Connor Ross and Will Barker were part of the action that day but that’s about as far as the links back into the history books go.
The Fields have been slow to start 2022, much like 2021. No doubt there’ll have been some added focus on goalkicking down at Glenhuntly Oval over the Easter break and we’ll see a more accurate Caulfield take to the field.
It took to Round 4 for the Fields to break the William Buck Premier duck in 2021, with Julian Dobosz on song in front of goal they’ll definitely get enough looks at goal to kick a winning score. However, continuing the theme of 2021 for this encounter, St Kevin’s defence is an impenetrable brick wall, with neither OM’s or Old Scotch able to kick 50 points in the opening 2 rounds.
Collegians have been the surprise of the 3 sides so far to be sitting 2-0 to start the year, after the year from hell in 2021 they walk into this match primed and ready for action, against Old Scotch, a side they’ve beaten in their past 4 encounters.
In what will be the first game at Harry Trott oval this weekend, momentum is the most important thing to obtain in the modern game and they enter Saturday coming off a 7-goal final term in Round 2.
The Old Scotch defence had their hands full with Sam Grimley in round 1, coach Mark Gnatt may have had a few sleepless nights this week working out how they’re going to combat co-captain Dave Mirra who is arguably the best player in the competition.
Will the experience of Jelbart and Franetic get Scotch over the line or can Jared Rivers rally the purple army and get his troops to a 3-0 start?
At the other end of the table, St Bernard’s and Old Trinity are staring at a 0-3 start and for one of these sides that’s the stark reality when they face off.
Anzac weekend is a special weekend at the Snowdogs with the club placing great emphasis on the importance and significance of the weekend.
From a results point of view across this particular weekend, St Bernard’s are 6-1 since 2014 and playing the wide expanses of the Snakepit will work in their favour. The relatively young sides are both finding their feet as they go through a regeneration phase of playing lists and coming to terms with the most effective way to play their footy.
The battle of the young rucks Zac O’Halloran vs. Harry Thompson is the obvious pick of the match-ups to be watching from the moment the first bounce takes place.
Old Xaverians and Old Melburnians sit 1-1 on the ladder, there may be more interest in the narrative off the field in the build up with OM’s coach Paul Satterley coming up against his old side for the first time since he last coached them in 2019.
When the ball is bounced, none of that matters as Melburnians will do all they can to stop the influence of the Xavier midfield and scoring power.
The red and black mafia were stung by the 3 point loss to Old Brighton, they’ll be adding Aaron Vandenberg back into the 22 after he was a late withdrawal. The tantalising midfield match up of Xav’s captain Marcus Stavrou coming up against the wrecking ball Gus Borthwick is worth putting an isolated camera on itself.
Much like Collegians, OM’s came from behind at 3 quarter time with a barnstorming 6 goal final quarter and will be hoping that momentum rolls into the start of this match having kicked just 1 goal in their opening quarters so far in 2022.
While 3-0 is the perfect start for Old Brighton, Collegians and St Kevin’s and history puts them in the box seat at this very early stage of the season, already we’ve seen momentum swings, come-from-behind victories, tight scoring and the only thing you can predict is that no matter what happens on the weekend, Brian Waldron will still refuse to make a bold prediction.