For two of our three teams, great news. The U19s won a great contest at Box Hill, defeating Beaumaris in the Grand Final, while the U23s won their preliminary final immediately prior. The bad news was was that the latter beat the Xavs' Menages team.
Straighter kicking appeared to give the Blacks a strong chance of victory at Box Hill today, but the Reds machine ran out the game better and had their most profitable quarter to steal the preliminary final.
It was the third time this year and the fourth time straight that the U23s have emerged victorious over their brother Xaverians.
Ensuring St Kevin's Gold win the silver next Sunday would make for a bright start to the day.
The OX Blacks and OX Reds squared off at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday in a cut-throat Preliminary Final for the last spot in the Grand Final against St Kevins Gold.
The Reds had the edge in the two home and away clashes, one a big win and the other an exceedingly tight battle as had been last year’s Grand Final.
The Blacks had won the first semi in a close tussle and the Reds had narrowly gone down in the second semi so were looking to get another crack at SK.
The rivalry is intense and Sunday’s game was played at breakneck speed and was a good advertisement for the club with both teams having a red-hot dip from first bounce to final siren.
The OX Reds (under 23’s) kicked with a slight breeze to the Whitehorse Rd end in the first quarter and had the better of it but wasted a number of chances to build a substantial lead. At the northern end, forays forward for the Blacks were rare but they snaffled a great snap goal late in the quarter to only be ten points down at the first change.
The Blacks (Menages) had easily the better of the second quarter as they began to win at the stoppages and once in possession, used the ball well on the big ground hitting targets and leaving their younger opposition searching for answers. The Reds were working tirelessly for little result and once they would lose possession, the clinical kicking game of the Blacks was threatening to blow the game open.
It was the Blacks at the long break by 20 points which became 26 points when they scored the first goal of the third quarter against the run of play.
The defensive combination of the Sleeman brothers (Jackson in his 150th game), Galbraith, Franklyn and co. were closing down the Reds at every turn and while the Reds had the better of the third quarter in terms of possession, there was not major gain on the scoreboard with too many shots being sprayed and opportunities missed.
The midfield battle was intense as the Reds sought to win back dominance … Dicko was strong in the ruck giving Lane, Sorrenti, Cannon and co plenty of opportunities whilst Curtis played a big third quarter for the Reds and his intensity lifted Beaton, Nugent, DeLutis and Bergin so by lemon time the game appeared delicately balanced. Was a 15 point lead for the Blacks enough given the younger legs of the Reds ?
The Reds took over the game in the final quarter winning the clearances and out-running their tiring opponents. Two posters for the Reds were potentially disastrous but scores were back to level nearing the 20 minute mark.
The Reds continued to hold the ball in their forward line for long periods and finally the key goals came from Cain and O’Sullivan, one drawing scores level and the other giving the Reds the lead which they held over a nervous final three minutes.
Ingham and Watkin were strong up forward in the final quarter for the Reds while Owen was an ominous target all day for the Blacks.
It was an enthralling struggle with the Reds home by seven points – both sides had willing contributors with Skene, Ralph and Rogan good for the Blacks and C.Wilson, C.Prowse and Cleeve good for the winners.
Old Xaverians Red 2.6-18 2.8-20 3.12-30 6.19-55
Old Xaverians Black 1.2-8 6.4-40 7.4-46 7.6-48
OLD XAVERIANS RED
Goal Kickers: C. O''Sullivan, E. Watkin, C. Bishop, T. Ingham, M. Cain, H. Kelly
Best Players: T. Beaton, E. Watkin, B. Curtis, T. Ingham, C. O'Sullivan, J. Samartzis
OLD XAVERIANS BLACK
Goal Kickers: M. Owen 2, J. Close, A. Sorrenti, F. Lane, L. Rogan, C. Dipierdomenico
Best Players: S. Franklyn, A. Cannon, M. Owen, F. Lane, A. Dickinson, L. Rogan