A pulse at the Bloods as Collegians secure the minor premiership

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Round 17 is in the book.

The top four is set. The minor premiership is heading to Harry Trott Oval. At the bottom end of the table, Old Haileybury went a long way to securing a spot in William Buck Premier in 2024. A fascinating Saturday for the penultimate round of the home and away season.

The game billed as the potential Grand Final preview at TH King Oval went the way of Collegians over the arch-rival St Kevin’s. While the scoring didn’t reach any great heights, the pressure and intensity around the footy was that reminiscent of the finals like atmosphere these two sides have created in the past.

It’s been a home and away season of redemption for Collegians against St Kevin’s after last years straight-sets exit. 2016 the last time they won at TH King Oval. Even longer since they’ve won both home and away fixtures.

Dave Mirra opened the scoring 90 seconds into the piece before St Kevin’s got the ascendancy for a majority of the opening term without being able to capitalise in front of goal. Holding onto a 1-point advantage, right on the cusp of quarter time, Will Mayhood took a strong mark at the top of the goalsquare and gave the Lions the lead going into the first change.

The second term started the way the first one did, a Lions goal to Mirra inside 90 seconds, before another one opened up a 3-goal buffer. St Kevin’s unable to bridge that margin for the remainder of the afternoon. With Collegians producing a barnstorming final term to record a 25 point win and keep St Kevin’s to their lowest score at home since Round 3, 2021 vs. Old Xaverians.

Almost every time SKOB attempted to get the ball inside their forward 50, Sam Sofronidis repelled the attack to send the Lions forward. In a best on ground display, Sof has been a key reason why Collegians are sitting on top of the ladder and will go into next weeks match against Old Scotch as the man the Cardinals have to nullify if they want to earn the right to a double chance in September.

After an early season injury that saw Tom Jok miss a fair chunk of matches, he was back to his absolute best yesterday, clearances, follow up from handballs, running bounces, contested marking. It’s the Tom Jok the fans, and VAFA Media loves to see. Unfortunately he was unable to carry the reigning premiers over the line.

St Kevin’s are still in the hunt to finish in second spot, however will need other results to go their way. That’s not in the thinking of Anthony Lynch, he will only be focused on his side getting back on the winners list next week against Old Haileybury.

Old Haileybury have given themselves the best possible chance to stay alive in William Buck Premier with a 19 point win over the Old Xaverians.

A strong opening half saw the Bloods open up a 26 point lead at the main change, through the work of Andreas Stefanakis, James Magner and Sam Loewe. Six goals for the day coming from the boots of Stefanakis and Magner, in a master and apprentice type showing.

The inclusions of Will Fordham and Lachie Riley helped to strengthen the line up of Haileybury’s.

Throughout the third term the Old Xaverians fought back to get within a goal with the ever classy Charlie MacIsaac kicking two, and captain Marcus Stavrou accumulating disposal through the midfield.

With more on the line for the home side, Daniel Ward’s men were able to pull away, play out the minutes and secure the most important four points of their season to date.

They are a game and 4% clear of the Old Melburnians. Heading into the last round they’re off to the TH King Oval. The opening game this year they pushed St Kevin’s to within a point. This is as good as a final for them, it will be played in September so no doubt all fans of Old Haileybury will be travelling out to Glen Iris for this one.

Old Melburnians welcomed back in a handy quartet for their must win match against the University Blues. Tom Cameron and Dylan Clarke from Port Melbourne, Gus Borthwick after his injury, and George Hurley-Wellington.

With a double chance still well and truly alive, University Blues were on the back foot at quarter time trailing by nine points to OM’s fighting to avoid relegation.

Stung into action during the second term, the Blues kicked seven goals to open up a 17 point lead at the main change which extended to an insurmountable 43 at three quarter time.

OM’s didn’t die wondering and closed the gap to within 15 points at the final siren. It keeps their percentage close enough to Old Haileybury with their final round match up against Caulfield to come, a side who have been beaten three weeks in a row by over 100 points.

Jackson Paine has led tirelessly all year, and walked off the ground with four goals to his name. Lachie Haysman his support with three and part of the best.

The Blues had to respond after their loss to the Old Xaverians a fortnight ago. The big men of the forward line Grimley and Carrington kicked seven goals between them, the latter being awarded best on ground honours. A win in the final round over their rivals University Blacks, and a loss for Old Scotch will see this side secure a double chance. If Blacks are able to spoil the party, it will be a knockout final against St Kevin’s that awaits them.

Old Scotch went into the round in second spot with a percentage of 144. They wake up this morning still in second spot with a percentage of 161. They had to perform the way they did against Caulfield Grammarians if they’re to be considered a genuine premiership contender.

Everything went perfectly for the Cardinals. 15 goals in the first half, 15 goals in the second half. The forward trio of James Tarrant, Henry Brown and Ryan Valentine combined for eight between them. The midfield brigade wouldn’t be denied either with Andy Jelbart leading the way with four goals. 15 individual goalscorers for the day, it may be a new record at Old Scotch in a single game.

Despite the percentage climb, and the focus on it. It won’t matter in the slightest given the enormity of the game next week against the Lions. A final before the finals for the Cardinals.

Three weeks ago, the Cardinals didn’t take their moments against St Kevin’s. They took every moment on offer against the Fields, and will walk into the Trott next week sky-high with confidence.

University Blacks ended the dream of Old Brighton to make a late charge for September. The Tonners start to the game was professional, keeping Blacks goalless in the first quarter, and with only two to half-time.

The tables turned completely after half-time. Seven goals to two in favour of Blacks to come off the Brighton Beach Oval as 19 point winners.

Nick Hey and Matt Grocott kicked four of the nine goals. Ben Pryor a lone hand for Old Brighton with three from the seven.

24 shots at goal throughout the afternoon for Dale Bower’s men suggest they had enough looks at the goal, and the final margin could have been greater. This side has find plenty in the back half of the year, and a win next week to finish the season will have them in the middle of the table with 9 wins, and 9 losses after a slow start to 2023.

Old Brighton will be disappointed. The game has mirrored the season. A strong opening month of 2023, before falling away with injuries, and travel, and opposition sides hunting them at home.

They finish the season next week at Como Park against the Old Xaverians. University Blacks head back home for one last dance with University Blues, and they’d love to end their hopes of a double chance.