Ammos Division 1: All roads lead to Elsternwick

With the weather taking a decidedly spring-like turn for the better, in the air around town we can suddenly detect whiff of finals. The hard slog of eighteen rounds of preliminaries is over, and now we have arrived at the big show. Let’s be honest: for a number of weeks now the final four has been pretty much cut and dried, with much of the interest centring on just whom would be relegated back to Division 2 along with St John’s. But that early settling of the finals combatants in no way detracts from what promises to be a most intriguing finals series.

The final round of the season threw up some results which were not as easily foreseen as those of previous weeks. Old Geelong probably caused the most raising of eye-brows with their one-point defeat of second-placed Peninsula at Como. In a cracking game of footy which was worthy of two finals contenders, the Hoops were three point up at the first break, and managed to maintain a narrow lead for most of the day. In the third, Old Geelong should have put the game to bed but were wasteful, booting 4.6. And of course the Pirates – down by three goals at the final change – threw everything at their hosts in the last term and almost made them pay, just falling short by the narrowest of margins. More than anything else, this win will give the Oggers enormous belief heading into the finals and shows that they are not simply there to make up the numbers.

History will record that Whitefriars had a sound 49-point win over cellar-dwelling St John’s, but the manner of the victory was unconvincing. Understandably, it could all possibly be put down to the fact that the Friars had their eyes firmly fixed on their semi-final appointment this week. Second and fourth quarter bursts of 8 and 7 goals respectively were enough to secure the points. NOBs were more ruthless in their disposal of Glen Eira, given that the Saints were playing for their place in this comp. But the top team simply had too much class, booting 8.6 in the first quarter to effectively end the contest by the first break. Todd Patterson led the way with 5.

Although Old Mentonians have had much to cheer about, their poor back half of the year (two wins from their last ten) continued when they were defeated at home by MHSOB by 10 points. The Unicorns had their share of injury concerns throughout the year, so to finish in fifth place is a creditable effort. Ormond finished the year on a positive note, crushing Williamstown by twelve goals. The best that can be said for Willy’s disappointing season is that they did just enough to stave off relegation.

2nd Semi Preview: The focus this week-end will be on Sportscover Arena at Elsternwick. I have always to subscribed to the theory that – for club administrators especially – this is the biggest match of the year. Win this one and you are up into the Premier grades; a huge relief, and vindication of all the hard work on and off the field. Lose this, and it is back to sudden-death! North Old Boys – St Patrick’s have been the most consistent team of the home and away rounds. True, their percentage is some fifty points shy of their opponents, but they have been much steadier, losing only one match (way back in round 2). That the loss was by 88 points to Peninsula only further whets the appetite for this match. When the Pirates win, they win big! But last year’s finals disappointment may have steeled the NOBs veterans for one last almighty crack at it in 2012, and I think they will prevail. If conditions are fine, it promises to be a fantastic, high-scoring encounter.

1st Semi Preview: Having finished four games out of the four in 2011, Old Geelong have undoubtedly been the big improvers of this season. They are in good form, winning seven of their last eight, and they are hitting September with the scalp of the Pirates under the belt. Whitefriars, whilst blessed with a deep playing list, have appeared a little unsettled at times this season due to a frustratingly long injury list. The Friars have rarely seen all of their best cattle on the park at the same time. A fortnight ago, Old Geelong were caned by a  convincing 43-points by Friars at Como; while this game is at a neutral venue, and the Friars’ line-up could feature up to seven changes, I am narrowly tipping the Oggers to turn the tables and continue on to the preliminary final.

Relegation: Here’s hoping that both Glen Eira and St John’s OC can have big pre-seasons and bounce back from the disappointments of 2012.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

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