The round 12 clash between two traditional rivals saw Old Xaverians play their most complete game of the season to date, eclipsing, then over-running Old Scotch at Toorak Park.
The Red Men had won four straight. That the first of these had been a narrow win over the Xaverians escaped just a few, and the expectations of another close tussle were high, though much of the mid-week chatter had installed Old Scotch as clear favourites.
Xavs opened with the light breeze and dominated the early proceedings. Their forward thrusts lacked precision, however, and several chances went begging. First-gamer Lucas Socchio and Cauley Beetham goaled from set shots to get the ball rolling, but the ascendancy was lost as the visitors made the most of their few meaningful attacking forays with two goals in time-on. Slapped hard, the Claret and Stout hit back almost immediately. Tom Anderson slotted a long from in front of the grandstand and Socchio slipped through his second.
Xavs matched the two goals scored by the Cardinals in the second term, with majors coming from Jason Holmes and Matt Handley. The tight defense and great pressure from the midfield was making it difficult for the Scotch playmakers to find room. The run of Fraser Pearce, Chris Margin and Luke Bissett put the pressure back on the visitors and Xavs went to the break unlucky not to be further ahead.
The Caledonians opened the scoring in the third term, but methodical forward play saw Mitch Parker draw twin calicos after he received a pinpoint pass from Louis Tiernan. Denis Symeopolous snapped an over-the-shoulder beauty with his left, and to cap the term, Tomi Johnston hit Handley lace out. The big fellow went back, adjusted his sock and calmly sent the ball sailing through the tall pegs.
The final term was one way traffic, with the X-Men maintaining full steam and threatening a massive blow-out. Only wayward kicking kept the margin as close as it was. Handley kicked his fourth, while Soccio added another pair to bookend his first term return.
The result provided a much-needed boost for the Red 'n' Blacks, who have too often this campaign let games slip away. Ben Kennedy played his 100th game and did it in style whether playing forward or on the ball. Just as encouraging were the performances of the three debutants. Ben 'Pony" Banting showed plenty in the ruck, providing ample back-up for Jason Holmes and allowing greater forward flexibility. Mitch Parker was solid, hitting the ball and opponents hard and proving a threat near the sticks.
However, the day belonged to Lucas Soccio. One year ago exactly, a Year 12 kid, whose APS season had been ruined by injury, trotted out for his debut in Sam Shaw's U19 team. By the season end, he had delivered match-winning performances in both the second semi and the grand final. Injury has limited his contributions so far this year, but nothing could stop him yesterday.
Old Xaverians 4.5-29 6.10-46 10.14-74 13.19-97
Old Scotch 2.4-16 4.5-29 6.5-41 6.7-43
Goal Kickers: M. Handley 4, L. Soccio 4, C. Beetham, T. Anderson, M. Parker, D. Symeopoulos, J. Holmes
Best Players: F. Pearce, C. Beetham, B. Kennedy, L. Tiernan, L. Soccio, D. Symeopoulos