The Menages won comfortably, the Seniors were gallant and the Crocodiles ended their season in a Grand Final that didn’t go their way. But the Reserves go tomorrow in a hot clash with OMs and there’s always next weekend on the horizon.
RED ‘n’ BLACKS PUSH BLUES BUT FALL SHORT IN 2ND SEMI
Finals are tough to win, and the X-Men entered the day raging underdogs against a minor premier that had twice despatched them during the year. Today, however, the result was in doubt until beyond the 30 minute mark of the final term when Uni Blues kicked away to a 15 point lead, the biggest margin of the afternoon. Xavs had the final say with a consolation goal and the Varsity won the Elsternwick contest by 9 points.
The swirling breeze did neither team any favours, and each might have converted more shots on another day. Still, VAFA headquarters in September is rarely a place of calm, and players must usually battle the elements as well as their opponents.
In a game that had plenty of grit and some superb highlights, Xavs had much of the possession in the final stanza, but couldn’t quite draw the twin calicos enough times to establish a winning lead. Failure to convert can be fatal against a team as loaded with talent as Blues are. When the Red ‘n Blacks didn’t grab the game, the Varsity did, making the most of crucial opportunities.
No-one likes to lose a final, but the double chance affords a second chance, and several Xavs’ players who missed recent weeks will be better for the gallop today.
After Blues had opened the scoring with a light breeze, Denis Symeopoulos smashed one through off the carpet. Both teams were wayward, but the pressure was intense. Xavs went to the first break confident their second term would better than their first.
They began slowly, getting their share of the ball, but added three in the second stanza, all in time on. A slashing effort from Chris Margin brought the crowd to life, Hamish Cullity was on the end of a hanball and goaled from a congested stoppage and then right on half-time, Marcus Stavrou popped through his first and the X-Men went to the locker room ahead for the first time.
Kicking to the scoreboard in the third, Symeopoulos and then Mick Batten snapped beautifully and then Tom Anderson booted the goal of the afternoon, a classic nose over the ball, collect in traffic and snap that had split the centre. Xavs led by ten points, but it was the best of times and the worst of times as the Varsity responded to take the lead before they went to the lemons.
Xavs looked the likely winner when Tom Gilbert goaled early, and eight minutes later, Matt Handley got on the board. But then, despite plenty of forays forward, the Red and Blacks momentum faded, with several shots going close, but not close enough. The minor premier seized several moments and built an unassailable lead before Matt Margin closed out the scoring for the afternoon.
Blues were understandably happy about breaking their finals hoodoo. Winners are grinners, and the rest can please themselves. But this season is not done yet, not by a long shot.
University Blues 2.5-17 3.8-25 7.11-53 11.15-81
Old Xaverians 1.3-9 4.5-29 7.7-49 10.12-72
Goal Kickers: D. Symeopoulos 2, C. Margin, T. Gilbert, T. Anderson, M. Handley, M. Batten, M. Margin, H. Cullity, M. Stavrou
Best Players: M. Stavrou, T. Anderson, C. Margin, T. Gilbert, M. Merlo, F. Pearce
TIGHT EARLY, BUT XAVS WIN AND ADVANCE TO THE DANCE
Old Xaverians overcame inaccurate kicking with the breeze to run out 24 point winners over SKOB in today’s second semi-final at Elsternwick.
The first term was a tense affair, but tight defence by the Red ‘n’ Blacks prevented too much damage as the Kevs enjoyed first use. When they switched ends, Tom McClusky’s Menages failed to capitalise on their boundless opportunities, but kicked away to a 13 point lead at the half.
The Red ‘n ‘ Blacks won it in the third term, booting 4.2 to 2.3, a splendid effort in the swirling breeze. The yips around the sticks returned in the last, but Kevs did not threaten until the result was obvious.
It was a grand team effort from a team that followed instructions to the letter and never let up before the final siren. Ash Sorrenti was a live-wire all day, but he had plenty of assistance from Charlie Kennedy, James McElhinney, Sams Grigg and Franklyn and Truck Speakman.
A week’s rest is the immediate reward, but another grand final provided them with a great opportunity to strike early on the last day of the VAFA season.
Old Xaverians 1.2-8 2.8-20 6.10-46 7.17-59
St Kevins OB 1.0-6 1.1-7 3.4-22 5.5-35
Goal Kickers: M. Cain 2, M. Tempone, C. Kennedy, J. Hanger, A. Sorrenti, S. Grigg
Best Players: A. Sorrenti, J. McElhinney, S. Grigg, S. Franklyn, C. Kennedy, M. Speakman
Thanks to Eugene Smarrelli for the fabulous game pics. Click and enjoy.
BRAVE DILES FALL AT THE LAST
The Reptiles ended their season with a defeat in a Grand Final against old rival Hawthorn. That’s the sad news, but the efforts of this team to work their way into contention and then to win two finals was superb.
Today, they looked good early, and held the Spartans reasonably well before being over-run in the third term. The Green Hose won the final term, but it was too little, too late, sadly, and a return to the dais must wait at least another year.
Hawthorn 2.4-16 3.8-26 9.8-62 11.9-75
Old Xaverians 1.1-7 1.3-9 2.7-19 5.10-40