The Red and Black mafia make a mid-season statement

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There was plenty of hype in the build up to Old Xaverians travelling out to Brighton Beach Oval to face off against Old Brighton. Much centred around incoming AFL CEO, Andrew Dillon being part of the coverage on KommunityTV and RSN Xtra.

Other significant angles of note was the form line of both sides leading into the contest, and the evenness of each team on the ladder. The Tonners went into the contest with 10 changes from the round 8 side, while the Old Xaverians made three, one of those a forced change with Charlie MacIsaac elevated to Footscray in the VFL.

The red and black mafia won the toss, and kicked with the aide of the strong breeze in the opening term. A near 40 minute opening stanza saw Xav’s finish with 5.8 after Hamish Dick kicked the opening goal of the contest. Brighton, unable to capitalise to full extent during the second term trailed by 29 points at half-time.

Bouyed by the return of the captain Marcus Stavrou, Xav’s put the foot down in the third term with another 5.6 to extend the margin to an insurmountable 62 points.

The final margin finished at 48 points, with Old Brighton finishing the game with five goals in the final term. There was plenty of vigour in the contest with both sides now sitting at five wins, and four losses.

Four losses from their past five matches, the challengers don’t get any easier for Old Brighton. Off to Melbourne Uni next week to face the University Blues. While the Old Xaverians are heading to St Kevin’s College to face the reigning premiers.

St Kevin’s victory over Old Scotch allows all VAFA historians to put down the record books after searching high and low for the last time the side lost four games in a row. Overcoming the Cardinals at TH King Oval by 11 points.

After the Cardinals got the jump on SKOB, the second term saw St Kevin’s pull the margin back to a point at half time. Trailing by 14 points at three quarter time, St Kevin’s were able to use the breeze to full effect with five goals to one in the final term to get back on the winners list.

After making his North Melbourne VFL debut last weekend, Sam Tucker was back in St Kevin’s colours, and put in a best on ground performance. Jack Darmody was busy in the forward line with two goals. While Luke Winter has incredibly elevated his game to another level in 2023, off the back of his Rising Star season of 2022. A big collision with Doug Lawrence, saw both players come from the ground. Winter returned and kicked the go ahead goal for the home side.

Old Scotch will naturally be disappointed to lose, but certainly won’t be disheartened. Serving it up to the benchmark of the competition. Ryan Valentine kicked 3 goals, Rhys Galvin returned from the VFL and was amongst the best. There’s plenty Mark Gnatt will take away from this game, that will motivate him and his team next weekend when they take on Old Haileybury at the Cave.

Old Melburnians have been taken on a rollercoaster ride, after five losses they now have four wins next to their name and equal with Old Brighton. Against Caulfield Grammarians both sides kicked all their goals except for one, to one end of the ground.

The wind coming off the racecourse made it a near impossible end of the ground to score at.

The Fields opened up a 30 point lead at quarter time, the margin cut down by OM’s and then the lead taken by six points at half time. A third term blitz by the Fields, before the OM’s best quarter of the season saw them slam home nine final quarter goals to come from 36 points down and win by 21 points.

The game itself almost encapsulated the season to date for Paul Satterley’s men. Lachie Haysman, the stand in captain in the absence of Jackson Paine performed to his productive best. Ben Harding continued his dominance around the midfield, the number one player in the game for disposals and clearances.

Johnny Roysmith was outstanding with three goals.

Caulfield did plenty right to get ahead of the OM’s, had it not been for inaccuracy in front of goal during periods of dominance, perhaps the story would be different. Matt Clarkson was named the best player for the Fields, Jasper Rouget kicked two goals, along with Jack Ellwood.

Caulfield will face off against University Blacks in Round 10, in search of their second win of the season. Old Melburnians will welcome Collegians to Elsternwick Park. The nightmares of Round 5 are still present, but they’re looking far more formidable this time around then a month ago.

Collegians were inaccurate in front of goal against University Blacks but it mattered little as they set up the victory with a four goal to nothing first quarter. Against the breeze they were able to hold the Blacks to just three goals in the second term.

Dave Mirra returned for his first game since Round 6, kicking four goals and Will Pocknee continued his goalkicking run with another three. 20 for the season. Sam Sofrinidis was named best on ground, supported by Lachie Ferguson. The Lions were bouyant going into the game, and even moreso when word filtered down into the rooms that the King, Kenny Ong had been elevated into the Big V squad by Greg Hutchison earlier in the morning.

Matt Grocott has become a shining light for Dale Bower’s side, his last five matches he has kicked 18 goals. Another three for the day made him a tough match up for the Collegians defence. Ben Stephenson is putting together a nice string of form.

After back-to-back losses, the Blacks will be out to get back on the winners list against Caulfield next weekend.

University Blues had to wait until the final term to hit GO against Old Haileybury. And, when they hit that go button, it was as impressive as they’ve been all year. Leading by seven points at three quarter time, eight final quarter goals saw them double their score and put the final margin at 46 points. Not reflective of the impressive nature of Old Haileybury.

Sam Grimley was back, along with his kicking boots, as promised by Guy Martyn. Five goals for the Uni Blues power forward. Supported by James Paterson who’s stood up in his absence. Will Carrington was a strong performer in the ruck while Corey Rich is having a terrific individual season at Old Haileybury.

Old Haileybury were finally able to debut Sam Gilbert, the former Saint who had some off-season struggles getting out of Bonbeach, by his own admission and the clubs had to do an additional body of work to be right for the rigours of the VAFA, pulled through his first match with a goal. Castan Racunica, a young star with plenty of promise, in his second senior game for the season kicked two goals and was also named amongst the best.

Round 10 will see Old Haileybury head out to Old Scotch while University Blues are looking for their sixth win in a row as they face Old Brighton at home.

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