In Saturday’s Round 16, Old Brighton Grammarians’ winning run was derailed by Monash Blues, who held on to win by eight points at The Beach. The Tonners were forced to go in without the injured Michael Karayannis and Tom Fisher, severely compromising a mid-field that had been at the forefront of our recent good form. Michael Dewar’s departure overseas was significant but the biggest blow was the absence of Dan Anthony, in my view, the innocent victim of a cynical video decision, resulting after a charge from the Scotch match, when a Scotch player was subsequently judged to have been unfairly tackled. This decision was reached despite no action being taken on the day by the officiating umpires, no remonstrations from Scotch players, and no interruption to the Scotch “victim’s” participation in the game. Thus the Tonner attack was emasculated by a VAFA video process that is at best inconsistent and at worst under-resourced and unable to adjudicate with common sense or accuracy. Dan was in the invidious position of pleading guilty to something that he felt was an inaccurate assessment of the moment, or challenge City Hall. In other words, if he wanted to play one more time before probably calling it quits, he had to jump off the bridge.
That said, we were completely outplayed in the first term when Monash kicked six goals on the breeze, and we looked apathetic and inefficient. The mid-field was smashed and the backline leaked and we were going to be chasing blue backsides for the rest of the day. The second term produced slow improvement. Harry Cannon, somehow playing on a knee that allowed him to go snow-boarding on the bye weekend after being shot the week before, tightened up and received support from Ben Austen, Luke Healy, Tom Larkworthy and Tim Fogarty. We were able to effectively repel Monash’s occasional thrusts, but needed Harry Hill to drop back in support. Fortunately, Harry’s skill compensated for others’ laziness and we had chances to close the gap. Jack Rutter took his first chance splendidly but squandered an easier second. Michael Slater jagged another but then disappeared, and Will Bardoel steered home a third that kept us in the contest … just! In Anthony’s absence, none of the other key forwards emerged to demand the ball and straighten up our haphazard movement to the erections.
The third term offered momentary hope as players worked hard in the contest to force it forward into the wind. Bardoel snapped nicely from the South Rd boundary, and Ben Jakobi, a solid contributor all day, found space behind the Monash defence to mark and goal and bring the margin back to six points. Although he was able to add a second later in the term, and Tom King marked splendidly to add a fourth, we couldn’t prevent the Ashers from scoring almost at will later in the quarter, and we faced a nasty four- goal deficit at orange time.
Monash strangely decided to put all their eggs in their defensive basket in the final stanza. Captain, Dylan Verney, momentarily lifted the Tonners with an excellent left-foot snap, and Jack Rutter, goaled after marking in front, but although the game was being played in our half, there was little science to match the endeavour and our attacks too often were fruitless. We had further chances to goal and really make it interesting, but they weren’t taken. Although Monash didn’t look like scoring, they defended well, denied us space and went to the line eight points ahead of the disappointing Tonners. Our late charge to the finals was snuffed out, but it was some consolation that one of the season’s prime objectives – to preserve our place in Premier B for 2017 – has been achieved, admittedly in a rather hollow fashion.
OLD BRIGHTON GRAMMARIANS: 0.2 3.7 7.8 9.12.66
MONASH BLUES: 6.4 6.7 11.8 11.8.74
Goals: Jakobi 2, Bardoel 2, Rutter 2, Tom King, Slater, Verney.
Best: Hill, Austen, Cannon, Healy, Larkworthy, Jakobi.
ROSCOES OUTMARKED ALL DAY
Monash was able to totally outplay the Roscoes in the early game, their ascendency built on a complete domination in the air. The visitors had plenty of forward targets who were given ample room to move into uncontested space, and when the packs flew, the light blue jumpers monopolised possession. After such a good effort at Scotch, this was pretty miserable.
For the Roscoes, George Yeoman, Phil Georgiou, and Tom Fisher were the only players who pushed hard to the footy all day. Too many of their team-mates lack either the fitness or the will to get out of a jog. Angus Grant tried hard and the veteran Alcott has a go, but the Roscoes are a shadow of the team that has competed hard in recent seasons. Get to training is the message!