OLD BRIGHTON: 10.14.74
UNI BLUES: 10.9.69
TONNERS HOLD OFF BLUES AGAIN
The bitterly cold conditions at South Road may have made viewing conditions awkward for spectators, but they had no effect on the spirited efforts of our blokes, as once again, Old Brighton Grammarians warmed our hearts with four tough quarters, this time against the visiting University Blues. Although the Blues had first use of the breeze, the Tonners attacked ferociously in the opening fifteen minutes to move to an invaluable early lead that had the scholars chasing tails all day.
Moving the ball quickly and swarming forward together, the boys put the Blues under constant pressure as first, J’Andre Olivier converted after marking, Jordie Matera drove a long snap through after Zimmer set him up, then Will Lewis marked Fraser Gregson’s pass and kicked truly. Efficient passing around the railway side landed the ball with Will Lewis, who marked under great pressure, then squared it to the front of the sticks and Tom Fisher marked brilliantly to nail our fourth.
Once the Blues settled, we had to deal with their tall defenders and somehow combat the Giant Cordy in the ruck. Olivier battled honourably against him, but our second quarter strategy with the breeze was deemed faulty by the grandstand intelligentsia, who wondered at our insistence on bombing it long, only to have the Blues out-mark our smaller forwards without difficulty. We lost our early momentum before Fraser Gregson slammed one through from a stoppage, and Michael Karayannis was finally able to whip a low ball away from the Blues’ defence to keep us 23 points in front at half-time. The Blues took some holding and it was fortunate that Dylan Verney and Tom Larkworthy played splendidly in defence to turn them back.
With Anthony Zimmerman in everything, the Tonners maintained their superiority and with eight minutes to play in the third term, we still held a twenty- point lead and appeared to be on good terms with ourselves. The predicted rain had held off and though the temperature continued to drop, the contest intensified, and fortunately, the Blues struggled to handle the swirling wind we had summoned to protect our defensive goal front. Their bewildered forwards missed a couple of shots that looked easy from the other side of the fence. Pat Liston drove the ball accurately to space in front of Will Lewis, who marked strongly and kicked his second.
As Verney, Larkworthy, Stu Hooy and Tom Garner held firm, Zimmer produced his next move and it was a thing of beauty. He took possession in heavy traffic at half-forward and with deft footwork, instinctively found room to squeeze a left-foot snap through an unguarded goal to give us breathing space. The boys kept charging at the ball and they tackled their opponents relentlessly. Jimmy Davis in particular, was clearly enjoying ripping back into the action. The game was tightening, and memories of the clash earlier in the season began to creep in, as The Uni’s big blokes seemed to be getting taller, and we needed to find the early dash that they’d had trouble containing. Still, with a 14-point lead at the break, and the breeze at our backs, a deserved win looked a distinct possibility.
The final term was a struggle, but as we have seen all season, our young side thrives on the close contests. They have an unerring faith in their ability to win, and again they lifted when the Blues came. The visitors dug in hard and persisted until they twice found ways through our defence and goaled to work within two points. In a desperate thrust forward, the Tonners forced the ball to the goal-front where Zimmer arrived in time with another touch of genius to poke it through as the ball dropped from hands. The Blues weren’t done with and goaled again, and we relied on several fine efforts from Tom Larkworthy and Dylan Verney, to repel them.
In a tense finish, the Tonners kept the ball out of danger, Ned Murray’s desperate effort with seconds to go, typical of the commitment the whole side had shown once again, to maintain their unblemished record in “the close ones”. The Tonners keep third place intact with their eighth win of the season.
Goals: Lewis 2, Zimmerman 2, Olivier, Karayannis, Matera, Fisher, Gregson, Otto
Best: Verney, Zimmerman, Larkworthy, Gregson, Pavlou, Lewis