By David Chalmers – @DAChalmers81
And so we reach the pointy end of the Premier B season with the completion of Round 18. St Kevin’s completed a remarkable 18-0 season with a 97-point demolition of Old Brighton. The Tonners just managed to hold on to fourth spot ahead of Ajax by virtue of a superior percentage. St Bede’s/Mentone dispatched Caulfield by 80 points, which was assisted by a seven goal to one final term. Luke Velluto kicked four for the Tigers to finish second on the goalkicking, ten behind Jake Lew. Old Melburnians sealed third position and overcame a slow start to defeat Fitzroy by 15 points. The battle of the two promoted sides of 2015, Rovers v Vultures, ended in a 41-point victory to Parkdale. This lifted them from relegation territory and gave the Rovers their fourth loss in a row to finish the season. Mazenod found themselves relegated after falling to Ajax by two goals. I have reviewed Ajax, Fitzroy and Hampton’s seasons and previewed the two finals below. Next week I will review Parkdale, Mazenod and Caulfield.
AJAX (5th, 10-8): The Jackas finished the season with a rush. They overcame Mazenod by two goals in Round 18, which was their sixth win in eight games. This resulted in them finishing equal with fourth-placed Tonners, but an inferior percentage meant they just missed out on finals action. They replicated their win-loss record and ladder position from 2014. Jake Lew won the league goalkicking with 69 goals and he was assisted by David Fayman (27) and Adam Caplan (23). Caplan also represented the VAFA in the U23 team, along with Nick Lewis in the U19 team.
Fitzroy (6th, 8-10): The Roys finished their season with a 15-point loss to Old Melburnians. They got off to a sluggish start, losing five of their first six games, then recovered somewhat to win three in a row. The Roys spent the latter part of the season around the middle of the ladder and just couldn’t find any consistency. Their sixth place finish meant they improved two games and two ladder positions on 2014. Rory Angiollela (Prem B-Div 4) and Daniel Bisetto (Prem B-Div 4) both represented the VAFA during the year. Corbin Stevic (38 goals) and Bisetto (23) were their leading goalkickers.
Hampton (7th, 6-12): The Rovers were promoted from Premier C and spent most of the season hanging around just outside the top four, never quite managing to bridge the gap. They suffered a disappointing second half of the season, finishing with four losses in a row and eight of their last 10, perhaps a consequence of having to use 56 players during the season, more than any other Premier B team. Adam McNeil (Prem B-Div 4) and Daniel Corp (Prem B-Div 4) represented the VAFA during the season and their leading goalkickers were Daniel Corp (32), Matthew Robbins (28) and Ed Turner (22). Captain Leigh Fletcher and Richard Atkins also had very consistent seasons.
Semi Final: St Kevins (1st, 18-0) v St Bedes/Mentone (2nd, 14-4)
The SKOBs and Tigers were clearly the top two teams in Premier B in 2015. The SKOBs completed a remarkable 18-0 season with a 97-point demolition of Old Brighton. They have spent ten years in Premier B and it would take a mammoth effort for someone to stop them from finally moving up to Premier division in 2016. The SKOBs have won by an average of 75 points and 10 of those wins have been by 80+ points. The Tigers won seven in a row and 10 of 11 to finish the season, and this streak was only interrupted by a 92-point loss, ironically to St Kevins. The two teams opened the season at Brindisi St and on that day the SKOBs got up by four points. The rematch was slightly more one-sided, nine goals to one in the last quarter giving SKOBs a 92-point victory. It is hard to go past picking St Kevins to win their way through to the Premier B Grand Final.
Semi Final: Old Melburnians (3rd, 12-6) v Old Brighton (4th, 10-8)
I find picking the winner of this final to be a significantly harder task. Both teams have spent the entire season inside the top four, but the ride seems to have been a fair bit smoother for the OMs who have won seven out of ten, and seem to have flown under the radar. They have improved one game and one ladder position on 2014. Following Old Brighton’s progress has been like riding a rollercoaster. They were the team to beat early on, spending the first four weeks on top. They proceeded to lose four out of five, won three in a row, then the last six or seven weeks have been win-loss-win-loss, finishing with 4-point and 97-point losses against the top two teams. The season series is split: the Tonners won by 55 in Round 8 but were beaten by 15 in the rematch. An interesting stat is how both teams fare in the close ones. When the result is three goals or under, the Tonners have won 2 of 7 whereas the OMs have won 4 of 6. Keeping all this in mind, I’m picking Old Melburnians to get up, but not with any sense of overwhelming confidence.
St Kevins v St Bedes/Mentone
Old Melburnians v Old Brighton