12 Apr '03
NEW LOOK XAVS RAISE THE BAR
This grand-final replay had none of the hype or talk of revenge that often accompanies these occasions, but in defeating a strong St Bernards, the Old Xaverians have again raised the bar of expectation.
The Trinity result was greeted with a sense of relief by some and a feeling of de rigueur by others, but none would have argued that this round two clash with the reigning premier would be the acid test. Prognostications were rare, thoughthe few who did dare stick out their necks did so with somewhat less confidence than in years previous, and the generous odds about a Xavs victory interested only few.
There was even atypical silence from Hypocrite Hill, whose habitués are customarily among the first to offer discernment, laudatory or otherwise, on the chances or performances of their team. With so many players missing from the team that went down to St Bernards in September last, the approach was clearly to wait and see.
In the locker room, however, there was apparently no such apprehension among a team that seems determined to keep the Old Xaverians at the top of the tree.
The first half was a tough battle, with Ockleshaw, McInerney and Skidmore ever prominent in the clinches and the run of the Xavs younger brigade proving a constant threat. The 14 point deficit at the long break was not for want of effort, rather the home team’s inability to apply scoreboard pressure and a couple of untimely errors that allowed Bernards easy goals.
The resolute Xaverians stunned the favourites in the third quarter. Kicking into the breeze, they rammed home five majors without reply before St Bernards steadied to trail by only 9 points at lemon time.
The final stanza promised a tight tussle and indeed it began that way. But powered by the relentless running of Scanlan and Drake, who rucked his way to his finest ever performance, the sangfroid of first-gamer Ryan, the class of Chatfield and the reliability of seasoned stagers Ford, Holmes, the Xavs put the game beyond doubt by the 20 minute mark.
The vanquished St Bernards will no doubt relish the opportunity to host the return encounter at the Snakepit in late June. By then, we should know whether the Xaverians are merely a young team capable of the occasional upset or a more serious contender. For the most part, the Magi of the Mound are reserving their judgment, but are nonetheless anticipating the weeks ahead with some confidence. On Saturday’s showing, it is not misplaced.
Ace Cub Reporter Chris Vernuccio was at the game:
An inspiring second half comeback propelled Old Xaverians to the winners’ list in a hard fought, often scrappy, affair against reigning premiers St. Bernards at Toorak Park. Led by Tim Ockleshaw and James Drake, Old Xaverians turned a 14-point half-time deficit into a confidence-building 27-point win.
The Old Xaverian supporters went into raptures as their side knocked off their grand final conquerors in an effort that pleased coach Michael Sholly. “St. Bernard’s seem to be the benchmark. The pressure was on and we were able to keep running through the whole game. We were two or three goals down at half-time and an inexperienced side could have gone either way but they decided to keep going and run hard and that’s pleasing.”
Ockleshaw’s performance was worthy of man-of-the-match honours. He showed his team mates the way by running hard through the midfield and with pin-point disposal into the forward line. His desperation and ball handling allowed for quick movements of the ball into his side’s attacking zone.
At one stage during the second term, Old Xavs were able to reduce the margin to three points with goals to James McDonnell and John Pasceri, but two late goals to Neeson of St. Bernard’s brought the margin out to 14 points at the main break.
Enter James Drake. From the moment he scored Old Xaverians’ first goal for the match, there was no looking back. He found possessions at will and gave the Xavs great run out of the centre.
Coincidentally enough, it was both Drake and Ockleshaw who set the wheels in motion for Old Xavs early in the second half. From a boundary throw-in in the Xavs half-forward line, Drake won the tap which Ockleshaw swooped on before slotting through a goal with a left-foot snap, bringing the difference back to eight points.
Both Ockleshaw and Drake drew praise from team mate Matthew Holmes, “Timmy Ockleshaw was brilliant. I thought James Drake controlled the ruck. He positioned himself well, kicked behind the play and took some telling marks in the backline.”
After a quiet first quarter, McInerney had the ball on a string to number among Old Xavs best. He looked to get the ball moving at every opportunity by playing on, winning centre clearances and running hard through the corridor.
It was he that put the result beyond doubt with a goal in the last term to extend the lead by 14 points.
OLD XAVERIANS 1.0 4.3 10.5 13.14 (92)
ST BERNARDS 3.3 6.5 8.8 9.11 (65)
Goals: James McDonnell 3, Nick McInerney 2, David Landrigan 2, James Drake, John Pasceri, John Bowen, Adam Chatfield, Peter Ryan, Tim Ockleshaw.
Best: James Drake, Tim Ockleshaw, McInerney, James Scanlan, Lachlan Ford, Stuart Ross
THE WORD FROM THE THIRDS: Xavs kick Trins’ shins
The Xavs stamped their authority on the match from the first bounce despite kicking into a stiff breeze in the first quarter. Dave Rennex and Matty Walsh dominated the midfield, with excellent efforts from Jonnie McLean and Chris Knott. The back-line, led by Captain Chris Warry, General Michael Ralph and the impressive James Dynon not only denied Trinity scoring chances but also won the ball and created opportunities for our forwards.
Up forward Daniel Stonker Stoney and Troy Shooter Gleeson were prominent early and a four goal to one first quarter into the breeze really set up a victory.
Trinity stacked the back half in the second quarter, which caused the Xavs some difficulties. However, Walsh continually straightened the side up and displayed leadership to the mid fielders. The visitors still managed another three goals, two of which came from Rennex. Matt Rodgers had an immediate impact with his tackling and attack on the ball and Nick Quinn started to show some of the form he displayed last year.
The third quarter once again evidenced Xavs ability to score against the breeze. With the OX forwards given room to move, three goals to one was a positive return for the quarter. Goalsneak Marcus Milne Quinn scored 2 goals and Shooter added another to his tally.
The final quarter return of 1.5 didn't reflect the Xavs overall effort in the term. The tackling of Joe McGrath on the half back flank was a highlight, as was the solo effort of Rocket Rod Calhaem, who despite dropping an early mark, burst through a pack, shrugged numerous tackles, had a run and sent the ball deep into the forward line.
It was a polished performance from the Xavs, who displayed great discipline in sometimes trying conditions.
Unfortunately, after dominating in the ruck all day, Simon McCarthy sustained severe facial injuries requiring hospitalisation as a result of some uncoordinated shepherding.
The injuries recovered sufficiently for Waxy to make it to the golf course by Sunday, allegedly taking a taxi directly to the first tee from the emergency ward.
OLD XAVERIANS 4.3 7.6 10.7 11.12 (78)
OLD TRINITY 2.0 2.0 2.1 3.1 (19)
Goals: Troy Gleeson, Dave Rennex 3, Marcus Quinn 2, Ainsworth, O'Callaghan, N Quinn
Best: Dave Rennex, Matt Walsh, John Dynon, Daniel Stoney, Joe McGrath, Simon McCarthy
OLD XAVERIANS 4.5 4.7 5.7 6.8 (44)
ST. BERNARDS 1.3 6.8 8.8 12.12 (84)
Goals: Joshua Young 2, A.E. Jones, Andy Biddlecombe, Rich Carey
Best: Luke Howard, Kenton Hall, Richard Coughlan, Andrew Oswald, Nick Hulett, Chris Santalucia.
OLD XAVERIANS 3.7 6.18 10.22 19.27 (141)
COLLEGIANS 0.1 0.4 1.4 1.4 (10)
Goals: Rob George 4, Chris Carrodus 3, Ben Perry 2, Damien Dalton 2, Michael Ward 2, Pat Hall 2, Greg Erskine 2.
Best: Chris Carrodus, Greg Erskine, Michael Jones, Ben Perry, Mark Davies, Damien Dalton.
OLD XAVERIANS 2.3 3.7 4.7 7.9 (51)
SKOB 2.2 6.6 8.8 11.8 (74)
Goals: Sam Freer 2, Ciaran Nolen 2.
Best: Tim O’Meara, Jeremy McDonnell, Andrew Barrett, Peter Chapman, Oliver Gidley, Sam Freer.
BANYULE 3.7 6.8 8.11 11.14 (80)
OLD XAVERIANS 1.0 4.0 6.2 9.3 (57)
Goals: Tom McInerney 4, Quinn 2.
Best: Ryan Silvagni, Stephen Ryan, Matthew Kenfield, Nicholas Trescowthick, Ted Rubira, Simon Montgomery.