The race to avoid relegation is heating up

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Moving weekend, did it go to the pre-game script?

I’m not so sure.

Old Melburnians have kept their hopes of staying in William Buck Premier well and truly alive. A thumping 53 point win over Old Xaverians closed the percentage gap on Old Haileybury in eighth spot.

The return to the side of 2022 Woodrow Medallist Gus Borthwick was a pleasant surprise when the team was released. Even more impressive is the best on ground performance he put in. A 5-goal haul for the best player in the 2022 season. Alongside Borthwick, the return to the side of Ed Nichols, Tom Cameron, Dylan Clarke and George Hurley-Wellington.

Paul Satterley would have had a nice smile on Thursday night at team selection. The smile would have been greater when finally, at quarter time, the Old Melburnians had a lead. For the first time this year. They went on to extend the lead to 40 points at half-time and never looked back from there.

A big 24 hours for the Old Xaverians with coach James Byrne announcing he would be stepping down at the end of this season. It’s been a year like no other for Xav’s, the retirements of significant players over summer, 17 debutants, and no home base has all played a factor in the season.

Four losses in a row, and they’ve slipped to seventh, an unwanted record for the red and black mafia. They head back to the College next week to tackle the University Blues. A game clear, and stronger percentage over Old Haileybury and Old Melburnians. Next week is an all important contest before they face Old Haileybury in Round 17.

The fight to stay alive in William Buck Premier continues next week when OM’s face off against St Kevin’s before meeting University Blues. The two sides that rubber stamped their premiership credentials this weekend.

In the RSN Xtra2 Match of the Day, the build up to Old Scotch and St Kevin’s was at fever-pitch. A perfect Saturday at Camberwell Sports Ground. Both sides listed at almost full-strength.

Once the ball was bounced, St Kevin’s put together their strongest four quarter performance of the year. Following on from last weeks thumping of Caulfield Grammarians, SKOB took each moment in the game and made it their very own.

The first quarter, albeit contested still saw the travellers have seven shots at goal, to the Cardinals two. Paddy Kerr proving to be the strong man in the opening stanza. The second term set up the victory with seven goals to one. This time, Sam Tucker the focal point in the forward half.

Sam Grant had the task of rucking against the SKOB stalwart Will Coates. Cam Hodges was a constant force around the ball. The St Kevin’s back six, led by Michael Pisker and Jack Andriske were prominent in not allowing James Tarrant, Ryan Valentine and Henry Brown the space they desire to show their tricks.

Jordan Clarke held his own in the Cardinals defence, and tried his best to provide the spark for the home-side. On the scoreboard, the second half was much more even, but the damage was well and truly done.

This St Kevin’s side is starting to hum, and when they hum, the rest of the competition must take notice. The final three games for the reigning premiers are all at the TH King Oval. Starting off with Old Melburnians next weekend.

Old Scotch will face off against University Blacks at Melbourne Uni Oval. The Blacks have gone 5-1 in the last six weeks. One of the form sides of the competition.

It’s been a brilliant turnaround in the season for University Blacks. At the end of Round 9 they sat in eighth spot 2-7 with a percentage of 74. This morning they wake up in sixth spot, 7-8 with a percentage of 91.

Old Haileybury the latest team to feel the force of the Blacks. A seven goal opening term to open up a 30 point lead, which they maintained into half-time was the catalyst. The margin blew out to an insurmountable 59 points at the final change.

Matt Grocott and Nick Hey have worked into this season as the dynamic duo of the forward line that has probably gone under the radar. Combining for seven goals for the day, for the season they’ve kicked 51.

Even with Lachie Riley, and Will Fordham, Old Haileybury weren’t able to get the game on their terms which leaves them vulnerable in the run to the conclusion of the home and away season.

It will be a fun night at the Uni Blacks end of year best and fairest count as Dale Bower reads the votes, a mix of Campbell Moorfield, Hugh Curnow, Lachie Knight, and Josh Steadman will all feature prominently, like they did on Saturday.

The Bloods have the toughest task in footy next weekend, Collegians at the Harry Trott Oval. Although, if Old Brighton proved anything yesterday, it’s that they can be tamed. Uni Blacks are back home for two of their final three matches, a win in round 16 will give them an 8-8 split.

Old Brighton fans have been waiting in the wings for a day like the one they had. Collegians walked into Brighton Beach Oval on a high, with eight wins in a row next to their name, nine was on the cards.

The Tonners relish these opportunities, backs against the wall. Odds stacked well and truly in favour of the opposition. It’s what they do best. A tight first quarter, inaccurate in front of goal was straightened up through the second and third terms to hold and 18 point lead at the final change.

A position they were in against St Kevin’s in Round 13. This time they were able to withstand the Lions final push and hold on to record an eight point victory which keeps the smallest of pulses on the season pumping.

Max Kennedy back from Coburg was instrumental, Archie May on debut kicked two goals for the home side and without Will Mayhood, Lachie Filipovic and Felix Flockhart were able to stretch the Lions for height around the ball.

One rotation down early on with Viv Michie out of the game amplified the situation. Sam Hibbins continues his good form through the midfield, stepping up further in Michie’s absence with two goals to boot.

Will Pocknee (3 goals) and Ed Greene now move past Dave Mirra for the competitions sharpshooter award with three weeks to go.

The Lions can lock up top spot with a win over Old Haileybury next week, Old Brighton have to win every game in the final three if they want to be any chance of featuring in September. They’re off to Glen Huntly Oval to face off against Caulfield.

University Blues were asked a challenge in this column last week. Win against Caulfield Grammarians to not be discounted, and win well.

Guy Martyn read it, Guy Martyn responded.

The margin of 104 points could have been greater had it not been for inaccuracy. Big man Sam Grimley threatening to kick double digits but Grimley’s radar has been somewhat faulty in 2023. 6 goals, 9 behinds and a couple that went wayward. Apart from Grimley, eight other players were able to get onto the scoresheet in a positive sign for Marto.

The Blues have been on the end of two hidings this year from top four sides which has put a significant dent in the percentage. This weekend they’re able to climb back up to 120% and stay a game ahead of Old Scotch and St Kevin’s.

Maybe second spot is for them with Old Xaverians their next encounter this Saturday. Perhaps the biggest frustration for the Blues, in back to back weeks the reserves have been unable to play the minutes, given opposition sides forfeiting.

Matt Buntine, and Jack Webster fought on valiantly. Jasper Rouget was set the task of rucking against Ayce Cordy in his return game. The Fields have shown glimpses and patches this year, the last fortnight has been a tough slog.

The end is near for the Fields in 2023, Old Brighton is the next match up, in their final home game for the season.