A Century of the Red & Black



19s off to the GF after stirring last term heroics


19s off to the GF after stirring last term heroics

September 16, 2023


Dan Rush's U19 Premier team has earned a rematch with St Kevin's in next week's Grand Final after an amazing performance today.

In Round 11, Xavs had crushed a helpless Caulfield by nearly 30 goals, but the earlier contest, when the Fieldsmen beat the Rossoneri by a few points proved a more reliable form guide for this morning's Preliminary Final.

Under sunny skies and on the beautifully grassed expanse, Xavs had first use of the northerly breeze, but Caulfield had first use of the ball and peppered the goals at the Elsternwick Hotel end of the ground. It took nearly ten minutes before Charlie Ralph interrupted a goalsquare squabble with a hefty right boot that sent the Sherrin through the tall timber.

A minute later, Hayden Woodhouse snapped a beauty and the X-Men led by 9 points. Caulfield drew twin calicos half way through the term before Ed Dalton, Will Stevens and Noah LaFrantz scored majors for the Claret and Stout, who then went to the first break with a handy 22 point lead.

Not handy enough, as it transpired. The wind strengthened, and Caulfield looked bigger, faster, more skilful and better structured in the second stanza. Certainly more accurate: the Hoopers booted seven goals without response, with the Red 'n' Blacks mustering just a solitary behind, who trudged to the locker room now 19 points back, trailing 33 to 52, and facing a gargantuan task.

With the wind at their backs, Xavs might well have expected to win the quarter, but they surely needed it to win it big. It dodn't happen that way. Caulfield managed an important goal themselves and played their opponents close. Still, the X-Men took nine shots, with only four of them hitting the target. Makuc Mohammed, Jude Sassi and Hayden Woodhouse got their team close and Ed Dalton booted his second to snatch back a three-point lead just before the lemons. The momentum favoured the Red 'n' Blacks, but the wind . . . nah.

Facing what even many of the Red 'n' Black faithful thought an impossible task, the young men of Xavier played their best quarter of the year. They defended stoutly and breathed some hope back into their lungs. At nine minutes, with the Fields having added just a behind, Mohammed stuck a wormburner that brought the crowd to life. Another tense period ensured. Caulfield kicked their first major of the term, but Will MacIsaac took the margin to ten points when he snapped truly early into time on. This time, the Hoopers were gone. The Red 'n' Blacks took over the game and dominated the final few minutes.

There were plenty of fine players for the victors - Sammy Hansen was brilliant in the back half, and Hayden Woodhouse showed his class. Kye Walford had many telling touches and Danny Calvert looked solid. Jude Sassi, Ed Dalton and Will Stevens proved a capable mosquito fleet, while Ben Moyle was a tower on the ball and down back. A fine team performance it was, apart from a third term when th systems started to shut down..

Thus, the reigning U19 Premier can defend its title next week. Beating SKOB will not be easy, but there was a certain quality in today's last quarter effort to suggest the Xavs might have returned to some very nice form.

Goal Kickers:M. Mahommed 2, H. Woodhouse 2, E. Dalton 2, N. LaFrantz, C. Ralph, W. Stevens, J. Sassi, W. Macisaac

Best Players: S. Hansen, J. Sassi, H. Woodhouse, B. Moyle, E. Dalton, W. Stevens