Saturday’s workplace had wind and wet but for six of the seven teams, wins too. The gold star for the day goes to the Crocs, who appear to be storming home for another finals’ appearance. And today, the Frantastics won their Prelim Final to grab a card for next week’s Big Dance.
XAVS PUT DOWN PESKY PANTHERS
The Red ‘n’ Blacks survived an earnest challenge from Old Carey at Dunshea, pedalling away in the final term to win by 39 points.
The Panthers drew within five points at the beginning of the final term before the X Men emerged from their lethargy to boot six goals without further reply.
The home team had first use of the breeze, but it was the visitors who provided the highlights. Twenty minutes in, Banting defended his goal and fired a handpass to Olsson, who ignored another teammate to kick longer to Cullity. The big wingster marked and took off, took three bounces, handballed to Matt Margin, who navigated his way through traffic like a boatman in shoals and slammed home the sixer. It spurred memories of times gone by when the genial giant received plenty of balls lace-out.
From the restart, Sam Ralph acquired the Sherrin and slammed a daisy-cutter right on to the chest of a fast-leading Handley, whose subsequent drop punt split the centre. Beyond those passages, there wasn’t much to enthuse about, as Xavs over-used the ball, made errors in judgement and skill and allowed the Panthers, who had been beaten by 25 goals the previous week, to maintain some hope of snatching a miracle victory.
Still, the endeavour of the visitors was beyond question, and the final term quarter yielded some dividends from a game that promised more.
Tom Gilbert returned to top form, snapping a lovely goal to open the third stanza, though he might have had two in the second had the goal umpire made better position. Alex Browne was strong and effective, finally nailing a goal in the last after two earlier attempts blew wide. The lanky Yank, Jason Holmes, led the ruck in style, and took a couple of telling grabs, while the Batten boys teamed up again for the first time this season and provided some dash.
In defence, Ben Banting and Brad Olsson were strong, and Sam Ralph showed several glimpses of devastating dash.
Three to play, and none of them will be easy. Xavs sit second, with a two game and a small percentage break on St Kevin’s, who fell at Brighton Beach, where the X Men will visit in R17. A second semi-final spot looks likely, though Elsternwick somehow still seems a long way off given patchy form over the last month.
The faithful, of course, suspect it will all come good, as it has so often in the past. The imminent return of some star-power won’t dent the optimism any,
Old Carey 1.1-7 3.1-19 6.4-40 7.6-48
Old Xaverians 2.1-13 5.7-37 6.15-51 12.15-87
Goal Kickers: J. Hewitt 2, D. Symeopoulos 2, M. Batten, A. Browne, M. Merlo, M. Handley, M. Margin, C. Prowse, T. Gilbert, S. Ralph
Best Players: T. Gilbert, S. Ralph, A. Browne, J. Holmes, B. Banting, D. Symeopoulos
SCARY RED ‘n” BLACKS RIP CAREY
Nick Pepperell’s team shared the goals as they swept away the Panthers at Dunshea yesterday.
In a scrappy affair, the Xavs strung together some nice passages of play and were far too strong for the struggling Old Carey.
Pat Phillips was strong all day, while fellow forwards Charlie Kennedy and Tom Hart created plenty of havoc. Rob Ralph and Louis Tiernan made strong returns in a team that was patched together late due to unforeseen withdrawals.
Old Carey 0.0 2.1-13 3.1-19 4.2-26
Old Xaverians 2.4-16 8.4-52 11.8-74 19.9-123
Goal Kickers: B. Kennedy 3, W. Mantesso 2, P. Phillips 2, T. Beaton 2, N. Prowse 2, J. Anderson, T. Hart, M. Douglas, T. Golds, M. Hess , L. Tiernan, L. Denton, T. Parker
Best Players: P. Phillips, T. Hart, R. Ralph, T. Parker, M. Parker, N. Prowse
NO PITFALLS AT THE PIT
The Red’n’ Blacks began quickly and destroyed a boisterous St Bernard’s at the Snakepit on Saturday. The result sees their record remain untarnished and their percentage still above 500.
Bruuce Wilson reports:
On a bitterly cold Melbourne morning the Red ‘n’ Blacks army ventured up the Calder freeway to kick the frost off the Snakepit and enjoyed a hard-fought 119 point win.
Do not let the score fool you, St Bernard’s applied incredible pressure and aggressive bodywork during the second quarter as they worked out our switch and first-use strategy by blocking all access to goal. Job well done, St Bernard’s. Although the second quarter was ugly, it did allow the team to experience game time pressure. At half-time, Coach Healy was in full voice and made it clear that the boys needed to adjust to the conditions with good old-fashioned tough footy. A new game plan was presented and the boys executed it perfectly with a 10 goal second half.
A great team effort, yet a few call outs are in order to recognise super games. Smithy left off from his past 3 games with a strong last quarter goal and primarily took the rucking duties for the day - never losing a contest while delivering the ball beautifully to Bishop (another brilliant game) and Argy (his first game back and 3 cracking goals) with precision. Jack Bueno had another pearler driving the ball out of the backline time after time and at one stage converting a ripper goal while moving into the forward line. Equally Tom Fantasia drove the ball out time after time and dominated his position all day. James Hess won the 6 pack beer as the player best to display the spirit and ferocity of a true Black ‘n’ Red and was superb. Will Wilson had his best game for the season with terrific ball delivery and fast paced breakages setting up many forward line opportunities.
The back line was excellent all day and for 3 quarters of the game the ball never made it past the back half! If it did, then it was repelled. Solid games to Silk, Nunan, Tom Wynne (who had a good first game hit out), Ingham (who gave a great hip and shoulder in the 3rd quarter to stamp his authority, Lowe and Ed Barr who muscled one of his opponents to the ground.
The wings and flanks were creative and bravo to Impala, Captain Charlie Wilson solid in defence and mid line, Stanley (who also kicked a goal) and was under everything, Dan Laughlin was silk smooth and dodged and weaved his way through the day while Nick Lefebvre is like a great wine improving with every game he plays. Ben Scala kicked 2 goals and was as fast as a rabbit around the mid and forward lines, a joy to watch (even though he was questioning the quality of the oranges!)
Last but not least, the forward line managed to keep our average of 19 behinds a game intact. We cannot seem to break this number and is something we do need to work on for the finals. It would be true to say that in reality at least 10 of those points each week should be goals. The forward line was far too clogged again and on a number of occasions the tall towers of Carroll, Ralph and Velks flew against each other. A good lesson learned and the cobwebs have been swept away for next week. Having sounded critical, the forward line is packed with star power and Kelly was on fire in the air and created goal assists all day, Velks was strong overhead and also down low with 4 goals, Ed Ralph (Hollywood tan) was solid for his first game back and strong overhead and 2 great goals, Socky O’Brien kicked 2 of the best goals you will ever see.
Well done guys and thanks to Coach Healy, Tom “The Man” Bergin, James Samartzis, Rob Bergin for goals, Anastasia (who deserves a medal for her endless work), Callum, Matt Forrest for boundary and Water as well as Will Honan also on Water and boundary, Bridget Wilson for photos and all the parents who always come to support.
St Bernards 0.0 2.2-14 2.2-14 3.2-20
Old Xaverians 7.7-49 10.9-69 14.14-98 20.19-139
Goal Kickers: W. Veljkovic 4, J. Agius 3, T. O''Brien 2, J. Carroll 2, E. Ralph 2, B. Scala 2, M. Smith, J. Bueno, S. Stanley, T. Fantasia, H. Kelly
Best Players: W. Wilson, J. Bueno, T. Fantasia, C. Bishop, M. Smith, J. Hess
Pics below by Bridget Wilson. Brava!
MENAGES KEEP A CLEAN SHEE
Tom McClusky’s Menages kept Collegians scoreless as they rammed through 22 majors on a cold, wet day at Gordon Barnard.
The Red ‘n’ Blacks started with four in the first, then hit sixes in the remaining three periods, despite the regular goal combo of Lane and Cain landing just a single sausage.
Old Xaverians 4.4-28 10.6-66 16.11-107 22.14-146
Collegians 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Goal Kickers: N. Sharkey 3, M. Tempone 3, J. Sleeman 2, D. Nash 2, J. Wilkinson 2, M. Owen 2, M. Dimattina 2, S. Franklyn, V. Crisafi, L. O''Sullivan, T. Negri, J. Smarrelli, F. Lane
Best Players: L. O''Sullivan, M. Tempone, D. Nash, T. Negri, J. Smarrelli, J. Norman
DILES GROUND EAGLES TO ENTER FOUR
The Reptiles won a vital clash with fellpw finals aspirant Marcellin at Bulleen yesterday. The Lime Hose led all the way, stamping their authority on the game early, and virtually sealing the deal before the half.
Marcellin OC 1.2-8 2.3-15 4.3-27 5.3-33
Old Xaverians 4.4-28 9.6-60 10.8-68 13.16-94
DECSTERS CLIP CYs
Another strong performance from the top-of-the-table Xavs, putting Williamstown to the sword at Stradbroke Park.
With the team regaining players by the week, the 19s will go to the finals with a strong chance to win their third premiership on end.
Old Xaverians 3.2-20 8.6-54 14.8-92 15.12-102
Williamstown CYMS 1.0-6 1.0-6 1.1-7 3.1-19
Goal Kickers: T. Simmons 3, C. Whitehead 3, C. Holmes 2, T. Mantesso 2, H. Ralph, S. Stynes, L. Soccio, T. McKay, C. Connors
Best Players: B. Christopher, A. Spralja, O. Power, T. Mantesso, Z. Hart, T. McKay
O’SHAN’S 18 BRAVE, BUT FALL SHORT
D’Arcy O’Shannessy’s team pressed a strong Hampton Rovers all the way, but eventually went down by 19 points at Stradbroke Park.
Old Xaverians 2.3-15 4.4-28 6.5-41 7.6-48
Hampton Rovers 3.2-20 5.6-36 6.6-42 10.7-67
Goal Kickers: N. Blackwood 2, A. Lamanna 2, J. Woodley, N. Jane, N. MacIsaac
Best Players: A. Lamanna, C. Boots, F. McCombe, Z. Connor, T. Burger
FRANTASTICS ADVANCE TO DANCE
Old Xaverians will play a double-header GF next Sunday after Fran Moodie’s team bested Old Camberwell at Keysborough. With conditions less than ideal, the Red ‘n’ Blacks were on the board early, and then held up to the Wellers’ assault.
Jackie Shields reports:
A convincing win against Old Camberwell saw the Frantastics home and hosed and in prep mode for the big dance. Coming out on top was always on the cards for Xavs,s having beaten the opposition in previous match-ups. That said, quiet confidence was underpinned with nervous tension on the back of the disappointing loss last week.
Bella Villani was back to her best, blitzing the field with an early goal. This was closely followed by a cracker from the boot of Tina Chokbengboun. Old Camberwell fought back and managed to break through in the 16th minute with a goal. Sarah Ongarello kicked another behind positioning the Reds in a comfortable lead.
The second term was a hugely forgettable affair with neither team managing to put any points on the board. A rolling maul played out for the majority of the quarter with Xavs’ defence repelling well and shutting down the opposition’s forwards with no inside 50’s.
The game opened up in the third quarter ,but it was to be scrappy with again no points scored by either team.
By the fourth quarter the Xavs had control of the game. All the action was in Old Xavs forward 50 with multiple shots at goal. The game ended as it had started, with Bella Villani capitalising on a loose ball in the goal square and booting it through to the roar of the relieved Old Xavs supporters!
Next week sees the WOX fairytale season reach its apex as both the Reserves and the Seniors play in their first grand finals.
Old Xaverians 2.2-14 2.2-14 2.2-14 3.4-22
Old Camberwell 1.0-6 1.0-6 1.0-6 1.0-6
Goal Kickers: I. Villani 2, T. Chokbengboun
Best Players: Z. Manning, T. Chokbengboun, H. Ryan, G. Cleaver, C. Sgarbossa, A. Smith