Different day, same result. The U23 Old Xaverians bettered their elders again yesterday, defeating the Menages by 15 points.
The Blacks looked to a big victory after a five-goals-to-none second term sent them to the sheds with a handy lead. But the Reds fought back with five of their own in the third, setting up an exciting final term from which the U23s emerged with all the goals and all of the premiership points.
U23 coach Shane Healy reports:
It was the Blacks v the Reds in a top the table Round 12 Premier Thirds clash - the Reds had a strong win earlier in the season, but both teams have been playing pretty consistently since that time.
Conditions were cool, but pretty much perfect at Stradbroke Park and the crowd was making some real noise, which added to the atmosphere.
For those who haven’t witnessed these games, they are played at a frenetic level, with 48 players (along with coaches and supporters) all dead keen to be the victor.
Both teams were missing vital players for this battle (Owen, Franklyn, Beaton, Bergin) but that didn’t reduce the intensity at all.
The first quarter lacked nothing – some hard hits and tackles, some precision kicking and clever ball movement and an even contest, with the Reds a goal to the good at the first break.
The Blacks got on top in the second quarter, winning the centre clearances consistently with Skene, Close and Haddan giving their team lots of opportunities and forwards in Lane, Dipper and Ongarello converting.
The Reds were rattled, giving away undisciplined free kicks, one resulting in a goal for the Blacks right on half-time to stretch their lead to four goals.
There was plenty of soul-searching for the Reds and when the third quarter began, and we were hoping for a significant improvement. But the Blacks continued to force the ball forward and added two quick goals to stretch the lead to six goals.
There were plenty at Straddie, including the Reds coach, who thought the fat lady was ready to enter the stadium, but the game changed noticeably over the remainder of the third quarter with Fantasia and Curtis getting on top in the ruck and Nugent, Cain, Reed and Bishop beginning to win the ball more often.
The chances began to come for the Reds and by three quarter time, scores were again close. The third quarter was memorable for a Harry Kelly high mark, one of the best you’ll see in suburban football.
The final quarter was intense and both sides were not prepared to give an inch. Unlike our battle with SK Gold a couple of weeks ago, we kicked goals when the chances came, while the Blacks missed some chances, so it was the Reds that got the valuable four points.
With the Reds 2nd and the Blacks 3rd, both teams look set to be dangerous come September.
Congratulations to the 24 from both sides – this was a game of which the club could be proud.
Old Xaverians Black 2.2-14 7.3-45 9.4-58 9.6-60
Old Xaverians Red 3.3-21 3.5-23 8.9-57 11.9-75
OLD XAVERIANS BLACK (MENAGES)
Goal Kickers: A. Ongarello 2, C. Hess 2, F. Lane 2, C. Dipierdomenico 2, A. Sorrenti
Best Players: H. Sleeman, J. Smarrelli, A. Ongarello, A. Sorrenti, M. Skene, G. Haddan
OLD XAVERIANS RED (U23s)
Goal Kickers: H. Kelly 3, A. Amato 2, M. Sharkey, T. Fantasia, J. Buffon, T. Ingham, H. Reed, F. Nugent
Best Players: F. Nugent, H. Kelly, H. Reed, T. Fantasia, B. Curtis, M. Forrest