STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT

What seemed an opportunity gone begging turned into a challenge accepted and a chance taken, and more importantly, a ride home with four more premiership points in the pocket. 

Xavs travelled to Beaumaris seeking a win against the bottom team. Strengthened by the inclusions of Ted Richards and the return of Jordyn Kelly, Nick Serafini and Murphy Ambrose, the Red 'n' Blacks were hot favourites despite their three consecutive losses. But the seashore and a wind can be a deadly combination, certainly not a catalyst for skills to come to the fore.

The afternoon's proceedings at Banksia Reserve pleased the home supporters for much of the way. The Sharks held sway by 22 points at the last change and though they would be pushing into a strong wind in the final term, there was little to suggest a Xaverian uprising. Attack they had, but rarely with precision, and a final term comeback would require care and accuracy near the sticks. With just four goals in three terms, the Red 'n' Blacks needed at least that on the run home to give them a chance.

Seven minutes in to the final term, Chris Margin intercepted and goaled from outside the paint. Four minutes later, James Midgley's hard won ball ended up with Denis Symeopoulos, and the Sizzling Souvlaki put it high enough for the wind, and a vicious wrong 'un, to register Xavs' second for the term. Beaumaris attacked and missed an easy opportunity. Louis Tiernan's kick-out reached the centre circle, but the Sharks rebounded, with the second kick sailing through for a stunning into-the-gale goal that put them 15 points to the good.

The Claret and Stout looked to reply. Almost immediately, Ben Kennedy did from fifty, a long right foot snap that never looked like missing. Then Jordy Kelly found Sam Ralph, who hand-balled it in front of the Nick Wynne freight-train. The champion grabbed it, steadied and kicked truly from big distance. Xavs trailed by less than a goal with 17 minutes gone.

The Beaumaris ascendancy had finally been threatened, as Xavs had straightened up, added four goals for the term and pulled within a few points.

But the reply came from the Sharks, their tenth goal at nineteen minutes into the final term to restore a nine point lead. Their faithful could have been forgiven for believing that the post-match discussion would involve a toast to their club's first victory this year. Not so.

Into time-on, Tommy Gilbert threaded a long handball to Sam Ralph, who hoiked it to the square. Front and centre, just like Patti Newton, Hayden Troiani hit the ball at full pace and reduced the margin again. Beaumaris threatened but missed what might have been the sealer. The long kick-in from Ambrose fell to Beetham, whose ugly punt eluded Clay Johnston but bounced to Denton. The burly left-footer might have hand-passed to Ralph, but then he spied what few Xaverian players have ever seen: an unmarked Matt Handley twenty metres from goal. Denton's pass was perfect. The big, bearded bombshell marked, stumbled briefly and then ran into an open goal to put Xavs in front for the first time at 25 minutes.

Clay Johnston then stepped forward to soliloquise for four minutes: he read one off the pack and slotted it home; he threaded a quick hand-pass to Gilbert, who rammed it through, and finally capitalised on Tiernan's hard work to put the final nail in the coffin. Somehow, 4.10 had turned into 13.12 in the space of a quarter, enough to win with 20 points to spare.

On the day, eleven wearing the red and black registered twin calicos, which will be one of the positives from the victory. The victory itself is the biggest positive and though it is far from a loud announcement that "Xavs are back", there is comfort with the way the X Men responded when really needed. Nine goals was their best quarterly output for the year.

The longer-term meaning of these events will become evident over the next five weeks. Xavs are fifth, half-a-game behind DLS, who were smashed this day by St Kevin's. There is no solution other than to keep on winning.

Beaumaris         3.4-22   5.4-34    8.8-56    10.10-70

Old Xaverians      1.0-6   3.8-27    4.10-34   13.12-90

Goal Kickers: D. Symeopoulos 2, C. Johnston 2, N. Wynne, T. Gilbert, C. Margin, M. Handley, T. Richards, B. Kennedy, H. Troiani, L. Tiernan, T. Williams
Best Players: T. Anderson, T. Williams, L. Tiernan, C. Johnston, M. Handley, D. Symeopoulos