Two rounds into the VAFA season and we have three clubs that didn’t play William Buck Premier finals in 2018 occupying the top three spots, while three who did play finals are sitting in the bottom three positions without a win between them.
St Bernard’s, who sit in top spot on the ladder, re-ignited their rivalry with Old Carey in Saturday’s Premier B Grand Final Replay, and it was ultimately the opening 17 minutes that won them the game. The Snow Dogs were irrepressible in the opening term with Chris Peart’s seven disposals and Connor Riley’s six giving their forwards elite delivery as Luke Di Lizio, Jack McNamara, Riley and Zac O’Halloran kicked the opening four goals in six minutes. The Snow Dogs added another two before the Panthers finally hit back and stemmed the flow of play late in the term. From there, the game lulled as neither side could capitalise on their forward 50 entries and just another nine goals were kicked for the day. Peart (23) and Riley (23) led the way for the Snow Dogs, while Sam Cust (32) and Matt King (29) were influential across half back for the Panthers. Simon Caven was the standout as he kept Kristian Jaksch to just one goal, winning the one-on-one battles and sticking with the power forward on the move. The Panthers had three late withdrawals to deal with; including, Guy Dickson, James Gaff and Liam Mackie – but will be buoyed by the outstanding contribution of debutant Oscar White.
Old Xaverians are back and it was confirmed with a 17-point victory over St Kevin’s OB at Toorak Park. It was the first time since Round 11 in 2016 Xavs had defeated the two-time premiers and it was exciting to see their former AFL stars lead the charge. Rohan Bewick might have six Woodrow votes to his name after two weeks, with his 28 disposals and two goals coming after 30 and three in Round 1. Jason Holmes was outstanding through the ruck with 58 hit outs, while former VFL-listed player Jordan Kelly was best afield. With wins against OM’s and SKOB to start the season, and with Will Hams yet to debut, 2019 is shaping as a promising finals-bound (I don’t care how early it is) campaign for Xavs. Jarrad Waite did his utmost to lift SKOB with five goals from eight marks and 17 disposals which makes it eight majors for the year. Billy Kanakis returned from VFL duties and produced 27 disposals, while Jack Holden was in attack mode with a game-high nine tackles. While Mitch Brown and Kanakis came into the side, SKOB were missing Nick Wood, Zac Ginies, James Strauss and Gerard Gleeson from their Round 1 outfit.
After struggling to run games out in 2018, Uni Blues showcased their improved collective tank as they defeated Old Trinity by 26 points at Uni Oval. The Blues trailed every statistical category outside of tackles and handballs at half time but continued to apply pressure with 26 more kicks, six more inside 50’s and three more marks resulting in six more goals in the second half. The Blues scored 76% of the time when entering 50 in the third and fourth terms compared to the T’s 53%. Dan Batarilo kicked four goals, including three in the second half, while Tom Young had 20 disposals and five inside 50’s. Sam Joyce helped the T’s to their first half lead with three goals, while Gabe Hamilton gathered 22 possessions in his first game for the season. Unfortunately, Jack Hunt went down with injury during the second term after they lost star forward Seb Nicolosi in Round 1 but will welcome Harry Tinney back into the fold after Easter.
De La Salle fought off a late charge from Old Brighton and held on by 10 points for their first win of the season. Leading by 14 points at the last break, Ryan McDonough increased De La’s lead within the first two minutes of the fourth before three consecutive goals to Tonners Raury Bolger, Will Lewis and Fraser Gregson brought the margin to within one point at the 19m mark. De La had the run of the play thereafter and it was Sean Fisher who solidified the victory with his third goal for the day. Statistically, De La had less disposals, less inside 50’s and 26 less tackles, but proved far more efficient when entering 50 as they hit the scoreboard 90% of the time. Michael Griechen (22) and Hugh Nicholson (21) found plenty of it for De La, while Nic Pavlou (29) and Tom Fisher (26) kicked two goals each for the Tonners to go alongside their game-high possession tallies. The Tonners have now lost two games by just 10 points each and face last year’s grand finalists in the next two games.
After a disappointing Round 1 showing against Xavs, Old Melburnians got their 2019 season underway with a dominant five-goal win over Collegians. Leading by 10 points at half time, OM’s booted six goals to two in a match-winning third term with George Hurley-Wellington kicking three of his four goals within a six-minute period. Despite being less effective when going forward, the sheer weight of numbers (45-29 i50’s) allowed OM’s the extra chances on goal required to notch their first win of the year. Gus Borthwick led the charge with 21 disposals for OM’s while Hurley-Wellington is all but assured three votes thanks to his 18 disposals and four majors. Nik Papadopoulos kicked his second bag of three for the Lions and Sam Hibbins was outstanding with two goals and 21 possessions. On a positive note, Collegians welcomed back Corey Cassidy and Kalem Post as they continue to await the return of several other key personnel.