By David Chalmers – @DAChalmers81
It looks like Premier B needs a couple of applications of ‘Selleys No-More-Gaps,’ as the ladder after Round 14 has gaps appearing all over the place after the weekend’s action. Genuine mid-winter conditions meant that it was the lowest scoring and most inaccurate round of the season so far, with just 76 goals kicked at 40% accuracy. Remarkably, exactly a quarter of those goals came from just two quarters of footy, with Hampton and Old Haileybury combining for a ten goal last quarter and Beaumaris and Old Scotch kicked nine in their final term. Three of the game were won by the teams lower on the ladder, with Hampton (10th) getting over the Bloods (9th) with a last minute goal from Nathan Smith, Fitzroy (5th) holding on against the Tigers (2nd) and Old Brighton (8th) delivering the biggest margin of the round against Parkdale (7th).
It wasn’t pretty, but Old Brighton continued their late season resurgence with a 50-point win over Parkdale. The Vultures managed just one goal for the game, kicked in the last quarter by Tom Redmond. Kicking with the wind in the first term, early goas from Michael Slater, Andre Olivier and Dan Anthony gave the Tonners a five goal lead at quarter time. Mariani, Stuart Hooy and Hill added three more in the second while keeping the Vultures to three behinds. Neither team could manage a goal in the third term, before Redmond finally broke through for the Vultures in the last and Olivier added a late one for the Tonners, who have now won four in a row and leapfrog Ajax and Parkdale into sixth spot. Old Brighton scribe Andrew Mullett called the performance “their most persistent four quarters for the season.”
St Bede’s/Mentone suffered a blow in their quest to stay in touch for top spot, after going down to an in-form Fitzroy unit. In Sam Baker’s 150th game, the Roys started with the wind and dominated the opening term, but could only manage 4.8 in difficult conditions. Matthew Kyroussis kicked their first from a set shot and was followed a few minutes later by Luke Edwards, who cleverly intercepted a Tigers defensive clearance and kicked truly. Thirteen minutes in, the rain started coming in sideways and six minutes later, in true Melbourne fashion, the sun came out. Max Stella then took advantage of some defensive fumbling and soccered one through in the goal square. Daniel Bisetto won the prize for quickest reflexes when, after a long kick to the goal square, the ball bounced off a couple of defenders, bounced into his arms and he found himself with a gift right on the goal line. The Tigers only goal for the quarter came from Chris Richards at the 27 minute mark and it was a highlight of the day. The Tigers got back in the game in the second quarter and there was just a goal in it at half time. The Roys dominated the third term and once again had 12 scoring shots but could only manage 2.10, resulting in a 15-point lead at the final break. The Roys held on in the last, putting them firmly in the hunt for a top four spot.
You wouldn’t normally think of ninth v tenth as a ‘crucial contest.’ Both teams are mired in the relegation zone, but the Hampton v Old Haileybury clash had consequences for both teams, regardless of which way the result went. A Bloods win would have at least kept them in touch with the teams above and would have consigned the Rovers to being three games behind in tenth spot. Similarly to the Beaumaris v Old Scotch game, both teams had managed just eight goals to three-quarter time with the Bloods compounding their woes with 13 behinds. The Rovers had fewer scoring shots but thanks to their superior accuracy, held a four-point lead at the final change. The turnaround in the final term was staggering, as both teams grasped the importance of getting a win. The first twenty minutes yielded eight goals before both teams finally kicked a behind. Shane Valenti, Corey Connelly and Adam Weekes all contributed for the Bloods and they led by nine points late in the game. Leigh Fletcher and Ned Fallon struck early on for the Rovers and spearhead Nathan Smith found himself with a free late in the game. He duly slotted it and the Rovers held on to win by four points.
Monash went into their clash with Ajax as one of the form teams, having won four of their past five games, while Ajax bounced back last week against Hampton, stopping a two game slide. The Blues got off to a better start, kicking four goals and holding the Jackas scoreless. Ajax levelled up the second quarter but were held goalless in the third, resulting in a 44-point deficit at three-quarter time. They added some respectability to the scoreboard in the final term, kicking four goals and getting within 24 points at the final siren. Monash forwards Andre Headberry and Nick Petering are both in the Premier B goalkicking top ten, and they were in the action again on this day.
Beaumaris and Old Scotch faced off again, with the Cardinals looking for a different result to their 120-69 drubbing in round 8. The contest was close all day, with a scoreless second term from Old Scotch giving the Sharks a slight advantage at the main break. Old Scotch had more scoring shots in the third quarter but could only manage 2.5, leaving them 12 points behind at three-quarter time. Both teams had scored just ten goals between them in the first three quarters and it was like a different game in the last. The goals came thick and fast, and it was goal-for-goal the whole quarter. Milne (3), Daniel Gribbin and Lachlan Boyd scored for the Sharks, while for the Cardinals Matthew Seed, Lachlan Byrne-Jones and Jack Bull got on the board. Beaumaris held on for a 19-point win and have consolidated top spot after losing it briefly to the Tigers back in Round 11.
Round 15 presents a fascinating mix of contests. There are a couple of ‘top v bottom’ match-ups (Sharks v Rovers, Tigers v Bloods) but the other three are all between clubs close on the ladder which could go either way. Old Brighton (6th) will be going for five in a row against Old Scotch (3rd), Monash (4th) and Fitzroy (5th) will be looking to push further clear of the pack, and Parkdale (8th) and Ajax (7th) find themselves in the ‘neutral zone’: clear of relegation but a couple of games shy of finals action.
Round 15 Tips
Beaumaris v Hampton
St Bede’s/Mentone Tigers v Old Haileybury
Old Scotch v Old Brighton
Monash v Fitzroy
Parkdale v Ajax