Grand Final rematch brings genuine cause for excitement this weekend

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Joe Pignataro

The match ups heading into Round 3 of the William Buck Premier season make me wish we could split the round from Friday night, through to Sunday. So we could get to as many of these contests as possible.

All part of the theme this weekend sees a Grand Final rematch, the replay of the 2022 preliminary final, a pure footy rivalry. Will a dominant run of victories continue at Elsternwick Park and can Old Xaverians win at Glen Huntly Oval for the first time in over a decade? 

Starting at the Harry Trott Oval. Collegians are the most exciting team to watch in the VAFA’s top-flight, if you’re a fan of the run and gun fast footy. If you are more inclined to the tough, grunt, brashness in footy, then Old Brighton is your pick of the bunch.

This weekend the rematch of the 2022 preliminary final takes centre stage, the Lions at home for the first time this year. Old Brighton keen to keep a strong formline against the purple army going. Since coming up to William Buck Premier in 2018, the Tonners lead the head-to-head battle five wins to two. At the Trott, three wins from four starts. 

Collegians lost Ben Woodful before the bounce last weekend against Old Scotch. However, regained Dave Mirra. Jared Rivers has put his trust in fresh faces and new names to keep the momentum of 2022 rolling into 2023. Al Fahie, Nick Canny, Will D’Amico are all biding their time in the reserves, awaiting a call up if required. 

Old Brighton have started the year with games against the newcomers to A-Section, Uni Blacks and Old Haileybury. Collegians pose a genuine Premiership threat to the Tonners. The team they bundled out of September. Lochie Filipovic kicked multiple goals in the reserves, is this the weekend Dan Donati unleashes him in the 2pm timeslot? 

The RSN Xtra Match of the Day will come from Melbourne University as University Blacks try to exact revenge on Old Haileybury. 2022 is well and truly in the past. Grand Final day lives on only in memory. 

Blacks will see this contest as a chance to open up the wins column in 2023. For much of the afternoon against arch-rivals University Blues, they had control of the ball, control of the air, and control at the contest. Unable to capitalise in front of goal was the sides biggest let down. 

The opening fortnight for Old Haileybury hasn’t been kind to them, the reigning premiers St Kevin’s in week one, the runners up Old Brighton in week two. Daniel Ward’s men match up really well against Blacks, beating them twice from the past three matches at Melbourne Uni Oval. 

Munro, Rich, all Seccull boys had the bragging rights in 2022. 2023 is a whole new ball game, Steadman, Moorfield, Ernest and co won’t have forgotten, and they’ll be out to make sure it won’t happen again. 

The match will also be live streamed on KommunityTV, with the double-header commencing with the Reserves match at 11:40am, followed by the Seniors at 2:00pm. Watch the stream here.

Speaking of 2022, the season opened with a bang for Old Scotch. A final quarter blitz in the wet with Aiden Franetic making himself the hero against University Blues. The return bout came after the double bye, at the time the Blues were stripped of Premiership points. 

The Cardinals it can be argued got the Blues when they were ripe for the picking. The only hole (after a fortnight) you can pick out of this Blues outfit in 2023 is the accuracy in front of goal. A staggering 15.35 (125) is how Guy Martyn’s men have started the year, last year’s sharpshooter Sam Grimley has kicked 4.8. 

Round two was a similar story for Old Scotch who butchered the footy in front of goal, 2.6 in the final quarter as chances went begging. The forward line of the Cardinals will be out to flip the script on the scoring, but also make the Blues defensive stocks (Gleeson, Stephens, O’Shea, Young) more accountable. 

Sam Grant was a late withdrawal last week due to injury. If he isn’t able to get up for this weekend, Blues may see this as an opportunity to stretch the talls of Old Scotch by recalling former Cardinal, Will Carrington to pair with Ayce Cordy in the middle of the ground. 


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When the footy Gods smile on you, they really smile. St Kevin’s must have the strongest of connections with those gods at the moment. Three premierships in four seasons, a tight-knit bunch of players, currently on a 10-game winning streak, it’s the stuff of legend. 

And against Old Melburnians, it’s a similar scoreline. SKOB have won 10 of the previous 11 matches against the old dark navy blues. It doesn’t seem to matter what ground, what time of the year, the players in or out of the team, against OM’s, they get the job done. 

Old Melburnians have started this year with two losses. Both games they’ve been right in the contest at 3 quarter time. Outscored by nine goals across the final quarters to Uni Blues and Old Xaverians. 

There’s been a significant change in personnel under Paul Satterley, the team is currently a mirror image to how they started 2022. Just two wins from their past eight matches. Satts won’t hit the panic button if they fall to 0-3 on Saturday, but the experienced campaigner will know how tough it is to chase down the leading pack if they do. 

Plugger Lynch won’t rest on his laurels, after an opening round scare to Old Haileybury, Caulfield followed up to stay with the reigning premiers for three quarters. He is well aware his side is the hunted, and opposition sides are throwing everything at them. 

Despite the head-to-head record, they’ll need to be at their best, because once the ball is bounced on Saturday, previous history counts for nothing. 

To round out this history lesson, Old Xaverians are in some form of drought against Caulfield Grammarians. Having not won at Glen Huntly Oval since 2012. In the games they’ve played against the Fields since, the blue and white have walked away winners. 

Julian Dobosz has proven to be a handful in previous encounters, he found his way onto the scoreboard last week which will give the boy from Tassie plenty of confidence. 

The man with the best name in footy Ingo Dammersmith returned from the VFL to play in the side last weekend, if he isn’t recalled to higher honours it might be a nice little side show to the main course if he faces off against fellow VFL youngster Tommy McRae. 

Billy Gowers will miss this contest, Dan Robinson however, was a handy inclusion in James Byrnes’ side and knows how to find the footy. Charlie MacIsaac is a handful in the forward line when he is on song. 

Caulfield, despite falling away to St Kevin’s, will take confidence from the patches of footy where the game was on their terms. It’s a different Fields side to 2022, but the experienced names of Jack Edwards, Tom O’Sullivan, Pat Bannister, Harry Schaffer, Matt Buntine and Julian Dobosz hold them in good stead.