Having watched University Blues dismantle Old Melburnians in three quarters last week, whether verbalised or not, they were considered the team best equipped to possibly dethrone St Kevin’s OB in 2019. Their top-end talent is unrivalled with eight former AFL-listed players running around, the early-season internal improvement of Tom Quinn, Marshall Rippon, Dan Batarilo and Connor Lappin has been monumental & Heath Jamieson may be the coach they’ve been crying out for with his unassuming approach to the game.
After Round 4, however, Old Xaverians proved they’ve designed and successfully implemented a game plan capable of taking them to the dizzying heights of 2016. After building a reputation as a contested beast over the past half-decade, Xavs are transitioning from defence as cleanly and quickly as Collegians, they’re harassing the ball carrier as ruthlessly as SKOB and they’re entering 50 with flawless precision. Matt Handley, Brendan Goss, Rohan Bewick and Matt Margin would form an imposing forward line at any club but when they’re on the end of delivery from Hayden Troiani, Cauley Beetham and Campbell Lane, it’s easy to see why they’ve combined for 42 goals in four games.
On Saturday, the four combined for 15 goals as Old Xavs defeated De La Salle by 86 points at Toorak Park. De La kicked three of the opening four goals of the game before Xavs launched into attack mode with the final six of the quarter. There was little the depleted De La outfit could do as Bewick moved forward and nailed three goals in 10 minutes while Cauley Beetham curtailed Hugh Nicholson’s influence after he had 10 disposals in the first term. Beetham held Nicholson to 13 touches in the final three terms but, more impressively, gathered 40 of his own. Beetham is arguably the most difficult match-up in the VAFA as his combined size and aerobic capacity is near-on impossible to match from a midfielders’ perspective. Alex Trigar, James Dalbosco, Hamish Cullity and Thomas Hart impressed across half back and through the midfield, with the young stars buying into Paul Satterley’s game plan as seamlessly as their elder statesmen. De La welcomed Tom Humphrey back from injury and his return is of the utmost importance given his on-field leadership and the fact De La have given up more points defensively (107.5ppg) than any other side.
Old Brighton moved into fourth spot on the ladder with a 31-point victory over Collegians. The game was ultimately decided in the first half with the Tonners kicking seven goals to two before inaccuracy destroyed any chance of a Lions’ comeback as they managed 2.13 to 2.1 in the last 50 minutes of the game. Harry Hill (23 disposals and three goals) and Anthony Zimmerman (25) led an all-star Brighton outfit that, dependant on VFL availability, could certainly go further than their semi-final appearance in 2018. Lachie Ferguson kicked three of the Lions’ four goals while Sir Vivian Michie played a lone hand through the midfield with 33 disposals and 14 clearances. Taylor Hunt and Trent Zimbachs were important inclusions for the Lions as they await the return of Courtney Hylton this week.
Despite sitting in fifth spot on the ladder, St Kevin’s OB remain the team to beat in 2019 because we are well aware of what the reigning champions are capable of producing at any given moment. It was in the second half where SKOB kicked eight goals to six and held off Old Trinity to the tune of 19 points at the Daley Oval. SKOB’s midfield stars aligned when the game was there to be won, with Lachie Sullivan (17), Nick Wood (13) and Gerard Gleeson (12) combining for 42 disposals between them in the second half. Sullivan was particularly influential in his first game back from the VFL as he kicked two goals from his 27 touches. Alex Emery, Callum Goldby and debutant Oliver Stella were standouts for the T’s after they’d lost Sam Joyce, Gabe Hamilton, Kris Spassopoulos and Ed Weatherson from the week prior.
In the top-of-the-table clash at Uni Oval, it was University Blues who defeated St Bernard’s by 65 points and ultimately claimed top spot on the William Buck Premier ladder. The Snow Dogs jumped the Blues with four unanswered goals in the first term but with 17 goals to two thereafter, it’s safe to say the Blues found their form. Connor Lappin continued his elite early-season form down back for the Blues and was a major part of the reason the Snow Dogs went goalless in the second half. He may have only had eight disposals this week, but it mattered little as Ayce Cordy top-scored with four goals and took his season tally to 15, while Tom Young registered a game-high 28 touches. After Round 3, the Snow Dogs had just 145 points kicked against them at 48.3ppg and 62 points less than next best. They still rank number one defensively but at 64.25ppg following the Blues’ onslaught.
Old Melburnians bounced back from a disappointing outing against Uni Blues with a 13-point victory over Old Carey. OMs bounced out of the gates with three of the first four goals but, just as importantly, stuck with the Panthers eight goals apiece after falling away in the final three terms last week. Tom Cameron was unstoppable with three goals from 19 disposals and his nine inside 50’s were a season-high. Cameron is of the utmost importance structurally as he can sweep as well as anybody across half back, run through the midfield and go forward to kick goals. Marc Lock (33) and Sam Cust (22) were standouts for the Panthers as the team continues to find ways to remain in games for lengthy periods.