Pavlou masterclass paves path for Tonners

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Jake Morris

Another superstar showing from Tonners gun Nick Pavlou has willed his side to a thrilling victory as they downed SKOB to recapture fourth from Collegians and keep their September aspirations alive and kicking. The Blues and Xavs officially booked their finals tickets with strong wins, while the OM’s and Snow Dogs both fell flat, making their quest to feature in September even more difficult.

54 disposals, 46 kicks, 11 marks, 16 clearances, nine inside-50’s and two goals just for good measure. Nick Pavlou had himself more than a day out at Brighton Beach Oval as he elevated Old Brighton to a heart-stopping four-point win over St Kevin’s OB to leap back into the top-four for the first time since Round 4. Along with Pavlou, on-ballers Anthony Zimmerman (28 disposals) and Elliot Le Grice (26 disposals) helped push their side to a comfortable 41-point lead early in the final term. True to their name, SKOB staged a considerable fightback in the fourth which saw them kick the final six-goals of the match, and dwindle the margin all the way back to single digits with just a minute to play. Brighton held firm but not without a fright, as the premier class of SKOB, led by Nick Wood (26 disposals, nine clearances) and Mitch Brown (23 disposals, 1 goal), almost gifted them one of the more memorable victories of the year.

As the Tonners survived and took fourth position, Collegians were the unlucky casualty to drop to fifth as they fell by 50 points to ladder-leaders University Blues at Harry Trott. The midfield pairing of Marshall Rippon (29 disposals) and Cam O’Shea (25 disposals) was instrumental in keeping the ball out of their opponents grasp, while three majors apiece from Dan Batarilo and Joseph Macula helped the Blues secure just their fourth win at Harry Trott in 17 tries. Alex Croft booted three for Collegians, while Sam Hibbins and Ben Darrou each had 26 touches in a disappointing result for club legend Trent Zimbachs’ 250th game.

Despite being kept goalless the past fortnight, De La Salle big man Sam Fisher chose a brilliant afternoon to return to form and bag four-majors as his side arguably ended St Bernard’s season in a gritty nine-point win at Waverley Oval. Sitting in ninth and a game inside the relegation zone, Hugh Nicholson (30 disposals) and Jake Williams (25 disposals, 9 i50s) put on a fantastic display at a time of year when wins come at a premium for De La. An incredible 41 touches from Snow Dogs superstar, Adam Bentick, and three majors from Michael Caven up-forward wasn’t enough as St Bernard’s once again come up short in their quest for September action – now sitting six-points adrift of the fourth placed Tonners with three weeks to play.

A Jason Holmes rucking masterclass was the catalyst of Old Xaverians 39-point victory over Old Carey at Casey Sports. 63 hit-outs from the Xavs big man, along with 29 disposals from Matt Merlo and 27 from Sam Ralph, helped their side use a final quarter flurry (6.0 to 1.2) to balloon their slim five-point lead to near 40 in a convincing win. Denis Symeopoulos and Jack Hewitt each kicked two for Xavs, while Kristian Jaksch kicked three for Carey who were gallant for the first three quarters of the day, and can be proud of their performance against one of the premier sides in the section.

Nullifying De La’s victory with a strong win of their own was Old Trinity, as they downed a disappointing Old Melburnians by four points to keep themselves above the dreaded relegation zone. Jakob Steinhart (27 disposals) and Jack Hunt (25 disposals) were both instrumental through the middle of the ground for the T’s, while the balanced scoring of Harry Tinney, Alex Polidoros, Gabriel Hamilton and Oliver Scott, each kicking two, allowed their side to have the mark of unpredictability going forward. Alex Armstrong kicked four for the OMs, who like St Bernard’s, fall six points back of a top-four spot, and will need to shock SKOB this weekend to remain in the hunt for an unlikely finals finish.