YOUNG PLAYERS SHINE ON RAINY ROAD TRIP

With Mt Martha, then Ferntree Gully venues deemed in the midweek to be unavailable for football today, the two senior Xaverian squads headed to Bungaree for their first look at reigning premier St Kevin's.

With players aplenty missing from both locker rooms, as s always the case before Opening Day,  it was difficult to gauge relative strengths. The scoreboard declared victories for the Red 'n' Blacks in both the main event and the curtain-raiser, but without premiership points attached, shoulder shrugging replaced the team song. they're nearly ready to play for the marbles, but not quite yet.

The trip west was not without treachery on the M8, with an electrical storm sweeping across the goldfields bound for Melbourne and causing hairy moments on the road: B-doubles don't get smaller in the wet, but somehow, they seem to get faster. However, the conditions did little to douse the enthusiasm of the playing group, who arrived in potato country to find superb changing and social facilities.and a lush, green surface.

Too lush, as it transpired. The rain continued to fall and ruined the Reserves clash as a contest. Despite three first quarter goals from Jayke Barrack, SKOB looked the more methodical and enjoyed the stronger first half.

After the break, it was a different story. The Red 'n' Blacks worked their way back and dominated the second half everywhere but the scoreboard.

The rain cleared before the main event, but the pock-marked and slippery field proved difficult. The teams were relatively even before the long break, but as the second half progressed, the Xavs upped the pressure and went on to win.

Senior coach James McDonald and Ressies mentor James Woods both noted the strong contributions of some younger players. March always throws up plenty of new options, but these often disappear before the season begins. With the X-Men, some of these are still live and will be tested further through the year. And that is a indeed a positive.

We'll learn more next week.

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