While we’re pleased to have consistent football back in our lives, the opening five rounds have thrown up different trends, momentum swings, low scores, upset victories and even a prospective question to grumpy Brian Waldron about who the coach of the year might be.
Whichever ground you’re at this weekend there’s plenty to absorb coming from each contest and plenty to look forward to. We’ll endeavour to pinpoint what will happen, and what won’t happen in round six of the William Buck Premier season, which signals the conclusion of the opening third of the season.
Without doubt, Old Scotch and Old Xaverians is the VAFA’s greatest rivalry. These two sides absolutely hate each other and many times over the years the tension has flared between these rivals.
On Saturday it will be a different looking Old Scotch side under Mark Gnatt, for too long the Cardinals have been bullied and beaten up by their arch-nemesis, that won’t happen this weekend.
What will happen from an Old Scotch perspective is Andy Jelbart will lead from the front, ably supported by Arion Richter-Salter through the half-back flank and midfield, Jesse Castan will continue to impress in the ruck. Facing up against Stavrou, Beetham and Tom Hart through the midfield.
What won’t happen is a margin similar to recent contests between the two, Old Xav’s have an 11-3 lead in the head-to-head battle, with an average winning margin of 48 points, it will be a lot tighter than that come the final siren at Camberwell Sports Park.
Where it could well be won for the Xaverians is in the opening term (Ranked #1 for first quarter scores), they’ve been fast-starters each week and James Byrne will be expecting them to stay ahead for the full four quarters should the opening quarter trend continue. Old Scotch can use this as a mini-final, as a win here could push them into the top 4, a spot that not many would have had picked during the pre-season crystal ball selection period.
Speaking of mini-final’s, there’s a precursor to September at Harry Trott Oval as former Melbourne Demon, Jared Rivers (coach of Collegians) faces up against former Melbourne Demon, Greg Hutchison (coach of Old Brighton).
The Tonners are coming off a comprehensive victory against Caulfield while Collegians are hoping their previous fortnight of losses doesn’t continue. What will happen is Old Brighton rejig their forward line structure without Will Lewis as the mainstay, opening the door to be more unpredictable coming out of their midfield as they look to get goals from Michael Karayannis, Anthony Zimmerman and even Jordan Segar.
What won’t happen is Max Kennedy, the newcomer to the Old Brighton midfield being able to roam free around stoppages, expect someone from the purple army to keep him closely checked while they’ll want to put some time into monitoring the movements of Harry Hill.
On the flipside of the midfield battle, Josh Watson and Kenny Ong have the ability and the capacity to get the sherrin into the hands of Dave Mirra and Ed Greene very quickly from centre bounce stoppages.
For the victors of this game, a spot in the top four is cemented, the loser will be left licking their wounds and back with the pack. There’s plenty on the line in this one.
The RSN Carnival Match of the Day heads to Glen Huntly Oval as Caulfield Grammarians play host to University Blues. Last year these sides went 1-1 in the head-to-head battles with wins away from their home ground.
Last Saturday saw Uni come away with an upset win over Old Melburnians to get their season back on track, all without Cordy, Fasolo, Harper, Young and Kennedy-Harris. We’ll have to wait until 2pm Saturday if Guy Martyn pulls any of the stars back into the line-up to pile on the pain for the Fields.
What will happen is Julian Dobosz will feel freer at home and Caulfield will look to hit him up on the lead, within range of goal he is as dangerous as any forward in the league. Isaac Morrisby another who if he gets off the chain is damaging, averaging two goals a game.
What won’t happen unfortunately is a match-up between Sam Dorevitch and Sam Grimley, the Fields general in defence will miss this game through concussion protocols, Simon “Punchy” Williams may have had a few sleepless nights figuring out how to curb the influence of the leading goalkicker in William Buck Premier.
In a worrying trend at St Bernard’s, scoring more than 50 points is becoming an issue through the opening third of the season. Even more concerning for the Snowdogs is how measly and tight St Kevin’s defence is, they’re conceding just 46 points per game.
What will happen, that trend will continue as the SKOB 18-man press comes into full effect at T H King oval and the experience of the St Bernard’s side is even further impacted with the retirement of Nathan Kazuro, and Charlie Vague still two weeks away from returning.
What won’t happen, Paul Groves and the St Bernard’s coaching staff won’t roll over, the coach has the ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and this might be his finest hour if he’s able to find a something from his old Western Bulldogs colleague and St Bede’s Premiership coach, a Luke Beveridge style theme for the Snowdogs to lean into.
The final game of Round 6 is at the home of the VAFA. Elsternwick Park hosts the matchup between Old Melburnians and Old Trinity. A win for OM’s sets up Paul Satterley’s team for a big tilt at the title ahead the next block of games, they will be ruing last weekend’s result, having had 7 days to think about how they were stifled by Uni Blues after half time.
What will happen is the OM’s getting off to a stronger start in the opening quarter, they are ranked #10 for scores in opening terms and won’t want to find themselves chasing down the T’s if the green and gold get their tails up early.
Old Trinity are hoping to welcome back Alex Polidoris into their forward line, adding another avenue to goal. If he plays, what we hope to happen is a shootout between him at one end, and Al Armstrong at the other, two VAFA stalwarts who know where the goals are.
All the predictions tend to get thrown out the window as soon as the ball is bounced.
What I am confident of saying is that what will happen on Saturday is great, tight, tough footy played in the right spirit that will leave us wanting more!