Wins to the Ones, Twos, Menages, Pat's Pups, the Crocs and the Frantastics made it a Saturday to savour. The U23s were beaten in the inter-club derby, the Shaw Things fell on the last kick of the day and the Young Ones, despite playing well, were outlasted in their final game of the year by finalist Kew. Six from eight? We'll take that.
VICTORY AT THE VARSITY: RED 'N' BLACKS BEST BLUES
Too often they have come unstuck under the spires. Not today. Old Xaverians won its first on the Main against Uni Blues since 2013, withstanding and repelling a late charge at improbable win from the home team.
From the outset, the visitors played the ground as if they owned it, pressuring, tackling and running their way to an impressive first quarter advantage. Matthew Margin snapped the opener in the first minute, a towering beauty from deep in the pavilion pocket that brought the team and the crowd to life. More forays forward followed without result and Blues levelled at eight minutes. But that was it for the home team. Lucas Soccio, Matt Handley, Fraser Pearce and Alex Browne all kicked truly. When Blues won the ball, they were allowed no space and little time before they were subjected to a swarm of bodies wearing red jumpers. Under constant threat, the Varsity laid 21 tackles. Xavs had more time with the ball, but laid a mammoth 35.
The second term saw Blues bounce back. For the first half of the stanza, it was they who wrested back the momentum, booting two goals and looking more like the team that beat St Kevin's in recent weeks. But Xavs hit back and the big mo was theirs again, though too many relatively easy chances wet begging, as they had done in the first term. Luke Bisset closed the quarter with a set shot from close range and 23 points separated the teams as they trudged to the sheds.
Eight minutes into the third term, Robbie Ralph marked in the spot from where Matt Margin had opened the day's scoring. The son of the slaughter-man had proved damaging in the first half, building on his strong showing last week. Pushed up against the fence by the umpire and taunted by the man on the mark, Kenny booted it high and hard and it sailed over the goal umpire's hat. Xavs attacked for much of the quarter, but only Fraser Pearce could split the sticks among a splurge of sprayed chances. Blues cobbled together two majors from fewer opportunities, but Xavs went to to the lemons with a 25 point advantage.
Uni Blues have enjoyed some strong final terms this campaign, but this one started badly when Matt Handley slotted his second from a sharp angle. Again, the pendulum swung with the home team threatening and adding another pair. Just 13 minutes gone and the margin was into 14 points. Four minutes later, Soccio steamrolled his way through a pack, picked off the tap from the stoppage and banged it through. Blues would not lie down, however, but the Xavs' back six held firm. In time-on, the home team scored twice. Nerves were back on edge. Eight points the margin, with minutes left to play, and both teams down on rotations. Xavs attacked for the final time. Tomi Johnston, best man on the ground, lined them up and kicked it through as the siren spluttered.
Cauley Beetham, the best run-with player in the comp, claimed another scalp, while big Homer Holmes gave the on-ball brigade plenty of fodder. Chris Margin and Fraser Pearce provided plenty of silk, while Dan Noonan and Louis Tiernan were stars in defence. There was some nice aerial work from Tim Golds and Kenny Ralph, and some great crumbing from Soccio and the tireless Clay Johnston.
For the first time this year, the Xavs collected points in consecutive weeks. They go to the final break next week in fifth position, with the possibility of finishing as high as fourth and as low as tenth. University Blues are in exactly the same boat. Nothing in this crazy season is anywhere near yet settled. But the A380s are in the sky and the Red 'n' Black passengers are inward bound. For everyone else, rest, and then go again.
University Blues 1.0-6 3.2-20 5.5-35 9.11-65
Old Xaverians 5.3-33 6.7-43 8.12-60 11.13-79
Goal Kickers: M. Handley 2, F. Pearce 2, L. Soccio 2, R. Ralph, T. Johnston, L. Bisset, A. Browne, M. Margin
Best Players: T. Johnston, C. Margin, J. Holmes, C. Beetham, F. Pearce, L. Tiernan
SLOW START, BUT XAVS RUMBLE OVER OLD RIVAL
A five-goal deficit at the first change for a team that had dropped two in a row was not exactly what the doctor had ordered, especially when the opponent was old rival Uni Blues.
The two teams have fought some epic battles over the past decade and most of these contests have been nail-biters. Not this one, it seemed.
The second stanza changed the course of the game, and the second half saw the Red 'n' Blacks roar home to win by 16 points.
Mitch Parker and Milky Forrest were very handy around the sticks, as was Paddy Phillips, who was adjudged best on ground.
A week's rest awaits, and a rematch with DLS, which beat the Xavs in Round 2 and has been travelling well since.
University Blues 6.4-40 6.6-42 7.7-49 11.10-76
Old Xaverians 1.3-9 5.7-37 8.10-58 13.14-92
Goal Kickers: M. Parker 3, J. Forrest 3, P. Phillips 2, C. Kennedy, M. Hess , L. Rogan, C. Woodley, L. Denton
Best Players: P. Phillips, E. Lachal, T. Amad, C. Woodley, L. Denton, J. Anderson
MENAGES TOP 23s IN BATTLE OF BULLEEN
Inaccuracy cruelled the chances of the U23s, with the Menages kicking straighter and winning their second home and away battle of the year by an even six goals.
Finals await both teams. The Menages are now eight points clear of the 23s at the top of the ladder and their next contest will likely come in the double chance second semi-final.
Old Xaverians Red 0.3-3 1.6-12 3.9-27 5.11-41
Old Xaverians Black 1.0-6 3.2-20 8.3-51 12.5-77
OLD XAVERIANS RED
Goal Kickers: A. Maric, S. Cleeve, C. Wilson, W. Mantesso, A. Amato
Best Players: C. Wilson, C. Bishop, W. Mantesso, A. Amato, P. Darrer, P. Long
OLD XAVERIANS BLACK
Goal Kickers: A. Sorrenti 2, J. Preece 2, J. Bergin 2, M. Cain 2, S. Grigg, F. Lane, A. Cannon, S. Vanderkley
Best Players: H. Sleeman, A. Sorrenti, J. Hanger, D. Prowse, J. Bergin, V. Crisafi
UNDER 19 PREMIER
SHAW THINGS COME HOME HARD BUT LOSE ON LAST KICK
After a slow start, the Old Xavs worked their way back into the contest against likely finalist Old Scotch. Still trailing by 17 points at the lemons, the Red 'n' Blacks found their best in the final term, adding 6.4.
But the Cards hit back with a goal on the siren to steal the game. Jack Unger played his best game of the year, while Lucas Agnoletto booted three in a strong performance.
Next week, the Shaw Things face Beaumaris on the road. Beyond that, another trip to Caulfield before a R18 home clash with De La Salle.
Old Xaverians 1.2-8 3.4-22 6.9-45 12.13-85
Old Scotch 5.2-32 5.7-37 9.8-62 13.9-87
Goal Kickers: L. Agnoletto 3, T. Simmons 2, D. Jones 2, B. Scala 2, S. Turner 2, A. MacIsaac
Best Players: J. Unger, L. Agnoletto, M. Batten, A. MacIsaac, L. Watt, E. Ralph
U19 PREMIER RESERVES
CATANIA-MANIA SINKS SCOTCHIES
The Cardinals led early, but fell victim to a stunning 9 goal performance from Jack Catania, Gus Lachal booted four and was accorded BOG honours as Pat's Pups kept pace with the Cardinals, whom they will meet again in R18, and probably a week later in the second semi-final.
Old Xaverians 1.2-8 7.2-44 9.4-58 14.8-92
Old Scotch 4.3-27 5.8-38 7.9-51 11.9-75
Goal Kickers: J. Catania 9, G. Lachal 4, J. Christopher
Best Players: G. Lachal, H. Willems, A. Eden-Lachowicz, J. Catania, J. Skene
THIRDS DIVISION 4
CROCS BACK IN BUSINESS
Al Wood slotted three in a BOG performance as the Reptiles swamped the Unicorns at Bulleen. Harry Lachal also booted three in the rout, which stabilised the Xavs' position on the premiership ladder. Next week, a tun-up against lowly West Brunswick, and then finals, with the first date being a clash with the hated Hawthorn Spartans.
Old Xaverians 3.6-24 8.12-60 14.17-101 19.23-137
MHSOB Green 2.0-12 4.4-28 7.5-47 9.8-62
Goal Kickers: A. Wood 3, H. Lachal 3, B. Lyon 3, H. Nidam 2, J. Silk 2, T. Silk 2, M. McLean, W. Vogiazopoulos, D. Hyne, O. Keogh
Best Players: A. Wood, H. Nidam, B. Lyon, O. Keogh, D. Hyne, R. Gallagher
FRUSTRATING FINAL TILT FOR THE YOUNG ONES
The Old Xaverians matched it most of the way with finalist Kew, but were overpowered in the end, dropping to a 25 point loss. So the curtain has come down on the WOX second season, where results never matched the infectious enthusiasm of the team. There was, to be sure, some sound improvement under some trying circumstances, and all coaches, officials and players should be congratulated on their contributions.
After the game, skipper Emily Archer announced she would be hanging up the boots due to work commitments. We can only hope she has a change of heart or a change of job!
Coach Young reported:
A great last game for both teams today where we had the 44 players on the field play tough, attacking, competitive football. The best part was that we displayed so many of the skills and plays that we have been working on all season. We were doing the team things, protecting each other and attacking the ball and taking the opposition on. The reds secured the win and the blacks fell just short but Kew were worried for most of the game.
The improvements that players have made over the season are remarkable and you should all be very proud that every week you all went out there and played hard, tough, but fair footy.
Footy is a very hard game - physically, skill wise and also mentally and the character that you all displayed through the wins and more importantly through the loses really defines a group and those loses can break apart some groups - but not us, not Xavs.
Congratulations to all for having the courage to front up to training and games each week and put your bodies on the line for the team. Well done all!
Kew AFC 2.0-12 3.4-22 7.8-50 9.10-64
Old Xaverians 2.0-12 3.1-19 6.1-37 6.3-39
Goal Kickers: A. Keith, A. Rhodes, C. Rooks, A. Nichols, K. Mullins, A. Benifer
Best Players: G. Henderson, A. Benifer, C. Pittard, A. Rhodes, C. Rooks, E. Archer
WOMEN PREMIER RESERVES
FRANTASTICS WIN THEIR SECOND
The WOX Red team celebrated their biggest win of the year with a 23 point victory over Kew yesterday.
The Xavs looked winners from early on, with players all over the park performing well and the forward line functioning beautifully.
Congratulations to all players and coach Fran Moodie and her band of helpers. The team displayed great improvement over the year and never lost heart.
In true Xaverian spirit, this team never gave up all year, despite significant challenges.
Kew AFC 1.0-6 1.0-6 2.2-14 2.2-14
Old Xaverians 1.5-11 2.6-18 3.7-25 5.7-37
Goal Kickers: I. Villani 2, S. Ongarello 2, M. Casey
Best Players: C. Psyhogios, I. Villani, G. Cleaver, M. Purdon, G. Purchase