OLD BRIGHTON: 14.10.94
OLD XAVERIANS: 12.8.80
TONNERS SEND XAVS TO THE BASEMENT
Old Brighton Grammarians consolidated third spot and sent Old Xaverians to the bottom of the Premier ladder with another strong last quarter burst that shattered the visitors, who had regained their earlier lead when Matt Handley goaled from a tight angle with twelve minutes to go at South Road. The Tonners looked in trouble with the Xavs making all the noise after both Harry Hill and Max Hayes were forced from the ground in the final term. Harry returned after five minutes and inspired his side to fight back and kick four goals into the breeze to snatch victory by 14 points. After a tumultuous week in which they were forced to replace their coach, most VAFA punters would have had the Xavs short-priced favourites to hit back after three opening losses. Those punters did their money.
In fact, Old Brighton squandered first quarter chances to take control of the match. Karayannis, Skewes, Fisher and Sakeson, all missed shots that would have had the visitors in early trouble. By contrast, Xavs converted the only chances they had, and led by two points at the break. The Xavs worked hard as the Tonners maintained the pressure that had proved too much for their first three opponents. Xavs looked sharper and their skills coming out of defence were impressive. They went forward with spear passes that picked a way clear into their forwards, But Tom Garner, Max Hayes and Dylan Verney played superbly to continually cut them off.
In a tense tussle, both sides tried to gain an edge in the second term and the visitors looked dangerous with the slight breeze at their backs. They booted three goals to one and went to the main break with a 14 point lead. So well did they pass the ball around the ground, it took all of the Tonners’ concentration to stay in the game. With Zimmerman a victim of the airport virus, and Pat Liston also missing, the forward line struggled to find any rhythm. The general consensus amongst supporters enjoying their afternoon tea, was that something special was urgently required when play resumed.
Tom Skewes had been an interesting player to watch. Dwarfed and pushed around by the gigantic Holmes, the enigmatic Skewes began to give a bit back and used his experienced frame to minimise the Xavs’ clearance work. By the end of the game, Holmes was aghast to see his Old Brighton foe push forward to take an excellent mark and drill the goal that probably killed the Xavs’ belief. In the third quarter, the Tonners went berserk. The Pocket Rocket dived on a spill and crumbed a beauty, Tom Garner took Ari Sakeson’s hand- pass and slammed a second, then Harry, now lifting his involvement, drove home a third, and in a matter of minutes, the Tonners had hit the front. Handley marked and goaled, but Ben Hitchcock found himself on the end of a string of excellent Tonner passes from defence, and kicked his second. Moments later, his hand pass sent Tom Yorgey in for another and the home side had seized the momentum. Quentin Montanaro finished off a terrific few minutes in which he had helped set up earlier goals, by snapping one of his own. The Tonners were running and creating and now Xavs were forced to chase. Andy Dewar sent the boys three goals ahead before Max had a brain fade and handed back one from a kick-out with thirty seconds to go.
The tension was palpable as both sides set themselves for a close finish. Xavs charged in at the first bounce but again the Tonner defence held. The Xavs were desperate to come home on the breeze and their accuracy briefly deserted them. They suddenly found inspiration and goaled, while our blokes didn’t look like scoring into the breeze. When Harry went down and left the ground holding his face, and Hayes also had to be replaced after a horrendously tough free-kick against him, turned his ankle and gifted Chopper a goal, Xavs looked the winners.
But as they have done in each match this season, the Tonners refused to concede, and again they found a way. Tom Fisher grabbed a huge mark on the edge of the circle and landed the ball forward, where the gallant Andy Dewar marked and goaled. Our lead was brief as the Xavs kicked their third for the quarter to again hit the front, but our blokes weren’t going away. Skewesy took his big mark and nailed his shot, then after beautiful work from Harry, who had returned with a bandaged scone, Tom King slammed through a remarkable goal that made Old Xavs’ task very tough. With the balcony pumping and supporters hailing another victory, Ben Jakobi sent Ari into an open goal and another splendid victory was achieved.
Goal Kickers: Hill 2, Hitchcock 2, King 2, A. Dewar 2, Karayannis, Garner, Yorgey, Skewes, Montanaro, Sakeson
Best Players: Garner, Fisher, Sakeson, Hayes, Verney, Hill