Batten down the hatches, Old Xav’s throw chaos into the top 4

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It was always going to happen, wasn’t it?

A round of footy in William Buck Premier never goes to complete script. The Old Xaverians can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. In their centenary year very little has seemingly gone their way. However, this win over the University Blues might be the making of the side for 2024.

President of the club Matt Cosgrave told VAFA Media at half-time he was worried about his ticker getting through another intense half of footy like the first one, coupled with the anxiety that threatened the Xav’s fight to stay in William Buck Premier.

Despite his beloved Demons going down to Carlton, Cossie would have rested well last night.

Xav’s brought the intensity and the pressure. As the rain started almost at the same time of the game, they settled the better against a side fighting for a top two chance keeping Blues goalless in the first term, and kicking two of their own.

Michael Batten can lay claim to being the spiritual leader of the team, he provided the spark in the first half around the ball and would go on to finish with three goals for the day.

Even though the Blues trailed by as much as 30 points during the second term, they fought their way back into the contests with back-to-back goals to Will Carrington, and Mo Akoch closing the gap to three points at the final change.

Taking into account the way the season has played out, and what’s left in the year, you would have been forgiven for thinking the Blues would storm the castle and run away with the points. The red and black mafia wouldn’t be denied, Denis Symeopoulos and Dan Robinson willed themselves to every contest, Marcus Stavrou played a captains game, and Jack Boyd has dispelled any myths that big fella’s can only win hitouts.

A killer blow to the Blues who went down by 25 points, and fall from second to fourth with a fortnight to go. Old Xaverians are safe. Even if the most pessimistic of people believe that not to be the case. Old Haileybury is the next challenge in a fortnight.

In the relegation zone it’s starting to get even tighter. Collegians will likely finish as the minor premiers in 2023. Two games ahead of Old Scotch, St Kevin’s and University Blues. With a percentage line of 184.31% – It makes for fine reading. However, for fans of the Lions, your September starts early. After this weekend’s bye, St Kevin’s in Round 17, Old Scotch in Round 18. A massive fortnight before the finals.

The 52 point victory over Old Haileybury was a professional one. Turn up, bank the four points, move onto next week and hope there’s no injuries in the process. The Bloods recognised club champion Nick Gooda who played game 150, they looked up for the fight early on in the contest, but unable to generate enough forward entries to trouble the Lions.

At the other end of the ground, Will Pocknee continues this incredible run in front of goal. Another four majors to his name, Dave Mirra back in the side and kicked three. 38 goals from 13 games this year for Pocknee. Incredible to think before this year between 2014-2022 he had played 34 senior games and kicked 11 goals in total. Jared Rivers and the purple army have unlocked this caged Lion in 2023.

Old Haileybury are clutching to eighth spot by the skin of their teeth. 2.95% ahead of Old Melburnians in ninth. Old Xaverians and St Kevin’s is the last two games for Daniel Ward’s side. They will need to win one, they’ll want to win both, but relying on percentage to stay alive is a risky game to play.

St Kevin’s and Old Melburnians didn’t reach any great heights as a spectacle. The reigning premiers got the job done by 33 points with most of the damage done on the scoreboard during the third term. Keeping the OM’s goalless in the first quarter, the margin stayed at 11 points at the main change before SKOB pulled away.

Paddy Kerr with another four goals. He now has 11 from his past three outings and for all the focus the Collegians forward line is getting, the premiership full-forward of 2022 is starting to get motoring. Will Coates is doing similar in the ruck. Without Mitch Wallis and Luke Winter, Sandringham’s VFL captain Anthony Seaton was able to slot into the team as well as two more debutants Ethan Bowden and Christian Woolrich.

Sitting in third with 7% the gap to Old Scotch in second, the most successful team in this era will take this weekend’s break to full advantage and then set up the biggest ding-dong battle of 2023, Collegians in Round 17 at the TH King.

Importantly for Old Melburnians, despite the loss, they weren’t blown out of the water and they stay well within touching distance of Old Haileybury. University Blues in a fortnight before finishing with Caulfield Grammarians in the game that will decide their fate.

Like Old Haileybury, they need and have to win one, they’ll want to win both. Percentage will not be enough to have them in the VAFA’s topflight in 2024.

Percentage, at this stage, is enough for Old Scotch to lay claim to second spot on the ladder. Back on the winners list after last weeks loss to St Kevin’s, this weekend a 60 point victory over University Blacks.

A 5-goal opening quarter started the day on a strong note for the Cardinals. Despite the Blacks’ best efforts, they were unable to bridge the gap by half time. After the main break, the Cardinals went to work with another eight goals, most impressive was the nature of the defence holding Uni Blacks to just one more goal during that time.

Ryan Valentine and Tyler Sellers, future stars of the VFL combined for six of the 16 goals the Cardinals kicked. If they’re too remain in this side for September, they’re going to be tough to beat.

Sam Grant fought out of his division against Josh Steadman and took the points. Ben Hays and Brodie Easton patrolling the half-back flanks and wings. The learnings from seven days ago, on show at the Melbourne Uni.

Caulfield Grammarians and Collegians are the final two games for Scotch. Victory in Round 17 could see them lock into a top two position.

Blacks will be disappointed with the final result, they’ve had plenty to like in the second half of the season. Old Brighton at Brighton Beach Oval the next assignment before finishing with traditional rivals Uni Blues in Round 18.

Incredibly, Old Brighton’s season still has a pulse. It’s a small one, can barely be heard, but it’s still there. Putting Caulfield Grammarians away to the tune of 105 points.

They’re two games and 4% behind University Blues. Should they win their final two matches, and the world comes crashing down for Uni Blues, the Tonners could well feature in September. They’ve done it before.

Jordan Segar and Kai Dimattina combined for six goals against the Fields. Darby Hipwell and Tom Blamires both welcomed returns from Sandringham. Oli Lowe turned into an enemy of his Sandy teammates returning to the Fields line up.

Whilst a positive for Caulfield was seeing Oscar Roberts make his VFL debut for Port Melbourne, it left the Fields even more vulnerable down in defence.

A strong first quarter before Old Brighton got on top, 17 goals to two after quarter time.

Uni Blacks and the Old Xaverians are the last two games for Old Brighton. Old Scotch and Old Melburnians the remaining games for the Fields.

One last bye before the business end of the year. A chance for us all to take stock. And still, we are no closer to knowing who’s going to finish where.

Photo: Ari Hatzis; Old Xaverians FC