VAFA Round 11: Pirates on shaky ground

One could almost feel the seismic shift in the competition last week when North Old Boys – St. Patrick’s comprehensively defeated Peninsula Old Boys at Gillon Oval. That rumbling was not tectonic plates shifting beneath us; indeed, it was the sound of the Pirates being dislodged from their perch at the top of the table for the first time since round 2. All of a sudden, NOB’s rich vein of form marks them as the new premiership favourites, a prospect which would have been unthinkable to those who witnessed their 88 point capitulation to the Pirates in round 2, which remains NOBs only loss for the season. Prior to last Saturday, the Pirates would certainly not have believed that a romp to the flag was a foregone conclusion, but now they are under no illusions whatsoever that the task before them will be a tough assignment.

NOB-SP produced a display which had the large home crowd in raptures, and in doing so assumed top spot with their defeat of the team they are more than likely to meet in the second semi-final. It was a ruthless display by NOBs, who more than atoned for their early-season loss to the Pirates. A narrow half-time lead of two goals morphed into a 40-point defeat of an off-key Peninsula line-up. In a strangely low-scoring contest, the goals were shared around, with the best for the victors being Sam O’Connor, Peter Shepherd, Adam Oakley and Peter Ryan; for the vanquished, the best players were Joel Hood, Stefan Barbour and Tom Coughlin.

Just like Old Geelong the week before, Old Mentonians became the latest team to fall to a lower-ranked opponent and thus pay the price of tumbling out of the four. It is never a good time to be in the bottom six, but the closer we get to finals the tougher it will be to climb back in. Terrible kicking for goal – particularly in the first term – did not assist the Panthers’ cause, but all credit must go to Ormond, who bounced back from the previous week’s disappointing loss to Glen Eira to produce a stirring win. The Panthers threw everything bar the kitchen sink at the home team in the final quarter, but the Monders stood tall; best for Ormond were wingman Wayne Cove, ruckman Dan Haysom, and 15 year-old Sam mason in his second senior game. Best for Old Mentonians were Warwick Stone in the ruck, and on-ballers Tim Wigney and Tim Wilton.

Whitefriars scored their fourth consecutive win with a workmanlike victory over Williamstown. After an even first quarter, the Friars exerted their superiority in the second to lead by 45 points at the long break, eventually running out winners by 92 points. Dan Massarotti celebrated his return to senior football with a best on ground performance, whilst Rowan Mattinson and Simon Brosolo relished their unfamiliar roles on the forward line; solid performances from all players ensured that there would be no surprise result from the usually tricky journey over the Westgate. Best for Williamstown were Fin Adamson, Ben Gray, Ryan Danaher and Jason Bencich in his second senior game.

The Unicorns easily defeated the Saints at the high school by 49 points, whilst the Oggers made light of the conditions to post a percentage-boosting 20-goal victory over St John’s at Doveton.

Preview: The Pirates, still licking last weeks’ wounds, will be keen to immediately get back to their winning ways when they host MHSOB. And despite the Unicorns’ solid form, Peninsula should have too many big guns. New top team North Old Boys – St Patrick’s are at home again, but this time to the lowly Towners. NOBs are a lock for a top-two finish, and will have no trouble condemning Williamstown to another defeat.

Glen Eira will travel to Como Park in search of an elusive third win which will put them within arm’s reach of safety in Division 1 but, equally, Old Geelong will be looking to shore up its top four spot. I fancy the OGs at home. Three losses in their past five outings sees the Panthers now in a struggle to play any finals footy: the Friars at Donvale is not the ideal place to attempt to get back on to the winners’ list.

Ormond’s one-point defeat by St. John’s in round 4 was the first of three losses by 12 points or less. Had Ormond won those three games, remarkably they would be sitting in third place. I just cannot see the struggling JOCs grabbing a second win today. But earthquakes are known to happen!

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

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