There was thunder, lightning and plenty of rain at Toorak Park on Saturday night, but the real storm came when the weather cleared and the Red and Black machine hit top gear.
Trailing by 15 points at the lemons, with the visitors full of run, the Red and Blacks took stock and found run and connectivity that had previously eluded them, managing eleven shots to zero in a final term rout.
The first half of the contest was an even affair, though the home team might have made more of their opportunities in the opening stanza. Only Nick Wynne, who always seems to sneak forward and kick a goal against DLS, and Denis Symeopoulos, who slotted truly from a set shot, registered full points.
De La Salle worked their way back into the game and had the better of the second term, though a goal to Goss on the half-time siren pushed the Xavs lead back out to seven points.
The long break had a more positive effect of the Blue and Golds, who hit the ball harder, and made the Xavs pay severely for their third quarter errors. In slippery conditions, DLS was first to the ball and rewarded for their desire with ample protection from the umpires.
Getting on top and staying on top are two separate endeavours, the latter an entirely more difficult task. And so it proved in the last. The Red and Blacks took over the scrimmages and stopped plays, their clean hands at the contest ensuring the ball came out quickly to teammates with new-found run.
De La Salle found little to stop the onslaught and their few forays forward were not only repelled, but served as springboards for further Xaverian thrusts. Once the gates opened, the goals came in a rush.
The Red and Blacks took the lead and never looked back, adding seven goals in eighteen minutes. Billy Gowers nailed two on the run, Louis Tiernan added one from a remarkable le kick bicyclette and Tomi Johnston smashed a loose ground ball home and went looking for the corner flag.
Wise heads understand that four solid quarters will win more games than will spectacular recoveries from a three-quarter time deficit, but the Xavs will be happy to take the four points. But on the night that premiership coaches Pat Hawkins and Ted Woodruff unfurled the 2016 pennant, Xavs avoided their tradition of raising the flag and lowering the colours, with a withering finish that was pretty to watch.
Ed note: The team wore black armbands in memory of club stalwarts Jack Scanlan and Michael Hennessy, and Dulcie Kennedy, father of John Jr and grandmother of team vice-captain Ben Kennedy.