William Buck Premier: Spanner in the works

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By Andrew Leonard – @Lennytalk

De La Salle has thrown a spanner in the works. At the half waypoint of the year they were destined for Premier B. Now they seem destined for finals. What’s more, we know they can match it with the best. That’s what they did last week. Defeating Old Trinity at their own game, De La Salle ran and carried and moved the ball at pace all over the Daley Oval to record a sixth win in seven weeks. De La Salle’s resurgence is one of the stories of the season and the much talked about preseason speculation of the rise of De La has come to fruition. The challenge doesn’t get any easier; with the top side St Bernard’s to visit the Dairy Bell this week. If De La is to pull off a miracle and make the finals they simply have to keep winning. Every game is an elimination final, but on current form, who would deny them?

Perhaps Old Trinity suffered the loss they had to had to re-calibrate before September, but to not have a score on the board and be trailing by six goals would have been slightly concerning for Adam Andrews. The T’s have developed a bit of habit of slow starts in recent weeks. It’s a habit they would want to break before finals. We know they are a great second half side and that was again on show as they charged home against De La Salle. Come finals, if a team has a five goal break, what is to stop them putting 18 men behind the ball and just locking the game down? Despite the response from Old Trinity it was really only a wasteful De La that kept them in it. The visitors had 27 scoring shots to 13 for the day. Adrian Indovino’s star continues to rise with a five-goal haul, but Antony Forato’s tap work has become the standard in William Buck Premier.

Uni Blacks ended a four game losing streak with what proved to be a dominant win over Old Xaverians. Conversely, Old Xavs are now on a three game losing streak. Both sides are just a game outside the four, but given their form over the course of the year were either to sneak in, it is hard to see them doing much damage. Nevertheless, Blacks were certainly impressive. Jordan Foster kicked six goals and was the beneficiary of the work of Charlie Richardson and co. Peter O’Rourke continues to look dangerous forward, but is simply menacing in defence. Xavs were plagued by inaccuracy and with every behind, the game slipped further from them. It has been a re-building year at Xavs. Youngsters have been given a go and that can only be a good thing for the red and black in years to come.

St Bernard’s are a super impressive side. Sitting down to watch them the first thing I noticed was the number of players that wear their socks up. What does that mean? Nothing really, but it is certainly unusual these days and it makes players look faster and stronger. In many cases the Snowdogs are just that, but it was their disposal and transfer from defence that hurt Old Scotch the most. The Cardinals had been galvanised in the past few weeks, so this loomed as a danger game, for the ladder leaders. Three goals in the first five minutes showed their intent early. Adam Bentick continues to lead from the front in his clearance work, but it’s his ability to drift forward and kick goals that hurts opposition more. Averaging almost a goal a game is a huge lift on his past two seasons. St Bernard’s spread the load again; eleven Snowdogs kicked goals on the day. Old Scotch battled manfully and rallied late, but St Bernards were equal to the task.

Collegians did what they needed to do against Beaumaris, although they probably had the opportunity to win by more. A 96 point win is nothing to sneeze at, but kicking 16.20 is a wasteful outcome when every goal matters in their bid to pick up percentage on Old Scotch. Nonetheless, Collegians can be pleased with kicking over 100 points for the first time this year. There are enough well known names in the Lions side for them to be confident in winning their last two matches. A win might be all the confidence they need and the way Old Carey are travelling this week; it is very much a possibility. Beaumaris sent their youngsters back to their U19s and suffered accordingly. The Sharks have two more encounters to sign off on a poor season.

It would be great to see Ross Young add a Woodrow Medal to his bulging trophy cabinet. His slow start to the year may prevent that happening, but his last month has been clinical. In fact all the Blues’ star talent has stood up and when they do, there is little surprise to the side’s form line. Five goals in each of the first three quarters put the game beyond Old Carey. It was Blue’s eighth straight win over the Panthers. Should Old Carey somehow hold onto their fourth spot to make a first finals appearance in William Buck Premier, then they will face Blues again. On this evidence, it is hard to see them challenging the Students. Uni Blues are building form nicely and I fear for the loser of the second semi that could face Blues in a prelim. There is a long way to go before that eventuates of course, but it’s worth noting now. Carey’s performance was highlighted by their terrible disposal; upgraded pressure from their opponents or a lack of confidence has beset the side. A tough road trip to play a desperate Collegians this week will determine their season.

On a final note, congratulations to all clubs and particularly Simon Hogan (Blacks) and Scott Sherwen (Old Scotch) and their committee of players that are Thick & Thin. Personally it is an initiative that resonates and I am glad the team managed to pull this off. It’s a great that our community are leading the way in the simple idea to #StartTheConvo.

Tips

Old Xaverians v Old Trinity
Collegians v Old Carey
De La Salle v St Bernards
University Blues v Old Scotch
Beaumaris v University Blacks