OLD BRIGHTON: 15.14.104
UNI BLUES: 14.18.102
In a heart-stopping finish at Melbourne University, Old Brighton Grammarians remained unbeaten, surviving a kick after the siren to hold on by two points against a fast-finishing University Blues. The Tonners had dominated the match for three quarters, but with only two fit players rotating off the bench in the final term, we lost momentum and appeared to be trying to save the game, rather than having the legs to finish off the Blues with one more goal.
The Brighton boys began well, Nick Pavlou kicking the opening goal with a splendid shot from a boundary throw-in. With Harry Hill, Fraser Gregson, Tom Fisher and Pavlou able to win the clearances, we were too slick for the Blues in a first term in which Tom King converted a chance set up by Pavlou’s pass, and Tom Fisher intercepted poor defence from the Blues’ full-back and sent it back over his head. Harry goaled superbly from the boundary and we led by 13 points at the first break. The Blues had been turned back by Stuart and Matt Hooy, who both looked set for good days.
The Tonners went further ahead in the second term. This was expected to be our sternest test as the Blues, despite their 1-3 record, had played the 2017 grand Finalists and towelled up De La Salle last week. Tonner supporters were delighted with the Tonners’ continued effort that has been the constant hallmark of their play. The boys received great drive from Fraser Gregson, the young man throwing off any effects from his brief Airport Virus distraction. He dashed away from tacklers and pounced on a chance created by Will Lewis’s strong contests deep in our forward line. Nick Pavlou kicked his second after a huge pack of players had grappled in the square then Pat Liston snapped an outstanding goal. Lewis again created a chance for the Pocket Rocket to goal that saw the Tonners consolidate a substantial lead. Gregson sent the ball forward again and Anthony Zimmerman combined with Michael Karayannis to land the ball with Nick Pavlou, who skilfully nailed his third. Harry made it six for the term with another strong set shot from a distance. Tom Laumets and Dylan Verney worked hard in defence as we led by 23 points at the long break.
The loss of Elliot Le Grice threw pressure on the defence, but we held and in fact increased our lead in a solid third term. The Blues stepped up a gear but missed a couple of chances after we carelessly turned the ball over coming out of the back. Our rucks had toiled manfully against huge opposition and there was just a hint that our mid-fielders were tiring a little after torrid contests all day. Despite this, Michael Karayannis and Will Lewis kept us going. The Rocket produced two classic snaps, one with either foot, while Will persisted, and playing in front, won two chances close in, both of which he converted. Leading by 34 points at orange time and appearing to have the Blues’ measure, we hoped our boys could repeat the excellent final quarters that had blown their opponents away in the last two matches.
All went to plan when Pavlou booted his fourth, Gregson, Kara and Zimmer again involved in setting it up. First to a hundred usually wins, so the data tells us! Nobody told the Blues. Not for the first time they swept the ball forward and converted from a long way out, then fired a few misses as the Tonners’ concentration faltered. Whether or not our legs were feeling the wider spaces of the Uni oval, or perhaps subconsciously we thought we had done enough, the fierce running and tackling that had built our lead, suddenly disappeared. The Blues kicked the last four goals in eight minutes as we reverted to kicking the ball backwards, rather than driving forward for one more goal that would surely win the match that had been ours all day. In a desperate finish, the Blues’ Giant marked within range and the siren sounded. It felt like a death knell. The big bloke had nailed one from here earlier and now a second would seize victory. He kicked it long and straight and as the goal umpire signalled that grasping Old Brighton fingers had intercepted it in time, audible Brighton sighs of relief and cries of Blues’ disappointment brought down the curtain on a terrific match.
Goal Kickers: Pavlou 4, Karayannis 3, Lewis 2, Hill 2, King, Fisher, Liston, Gregson
Best Players: Pavlou, Gregson, Hill, S. Hooy, Fisher, Lewis