OLD XAVERIANS: 13.7-85
OLD BRIGHTON: 16.8-104
TONNERS RUN OVER XAVS AS WE HEAD TO THE FINALS
Old Brighton Grammarians produced a strong second half and a powerful final term to storm home over Old Xaverians in the last round of the home and away season at Toorak Park. The Tonners started impressively when Ben Jakobi landed the opening centre clearance with Will Lewis, who marked strongly and kicked accurately to give us the opening goal after twenty-six seconds. When Anthony Zimmerman snapped the first of his four goals shortly after, the Tonners had control of the game. We led by 14 points at quarter-time, with Dylan Verney, Tom Garner and Elliot Le Grice leading a strong defence and both Will Lewis and Levi Otto looking lively up forward. We contested hard across mid-field and held an edge with both Ben Jakobi and Fraser Gregson prominent.
We collapsed in the second term. We were smashed in the centre clearances where the strong Xavs mids hit the clearances at pace and left us flat-footed. We struggled to get it forward with any system and really needed Levi Otto’s accurate drive in from the flank and another smart Zimmer goal to keep us in the match. Xavs kicked 7.2 for the quarter as the effort went out of our game and we looked in trouble, 18 points adrift at the long break.
The third term saw the Tonners lift again. Tom Garner, running well out of defence, marked a centred ball from Le Grice, went back and slammed it home from a distance to generate some hope. When Zimmer snapped another from nothing, we found some momentum. The home side answered, finding the veteran Handley on the lead with splendid passing as the Xav’s champ set himself in his 250th and final game, to finish in style. Dylan Verney played him closely, punched it away and ran off the Xav’s forward to keep the visitors rallying. Jimmy Davis, as usual battered and bleeding, received from Tom Yorgey and nailed a lovely long goal, and The Pocket Rocket was on hand to mark a late pass from Zimmerman to kick another on the three-quarter time siren. After looking in strife at the long break, we had revived to be 5 points down at the last interval, building momentum towards our twelfth victory of a splendid season.
The Xavs are committed to crossing the ground at half-back until they free up a runner. It’s threatening when they can fire the ball in to a target, but they are susceptible if the ball carrier is put under pressure. They weren’t in the first half and we paid dearly. But now the Tonners charged at them, forced turnovers then worked hard to lock it into our forward zone. Freed in front, Ben Jakobi made no mistake. The Tonners swarmed from the centre where we were now able to win contested possession. Fraser Gregson goaled splendidly from a tight angle on the run. Quintin Montanaro found Jakobi, and when he drove it to the square, Michael Karayannis, who had worked hard all day, pounced and goaled. When we scrambled it forward again, Eddie Tait booted another from in close and Xavs looked beaten.
They finally answered, but Zimmer scrambled his fourth beautifully to seal the deal. Xavs had been unable to break past Le Grice and Garner, and the pressure from the whole team constantly forced them into error. The final play, a beautiful piece of work from The Rocket, who broke clear and set off on a jinking run, before sending it over a retreating Xavs’ defender to Andy Dewar, put the finish on a fine victory. Dewar, who had been cynically targeted from the Xavs’ bench, had the last laugh as he goaled to end their miserable season. Old Brighton congratulates Matt Handley on a fine career.
The Tonners will now meet the in-form Old Trinity, who matched our win over Collegians in their final game yesterday, in next week’s first Semi-Final. The Tonners will be primed to perform far better than we did a few weeks ago when Trinity knocked us over. Both sides carry momentum into the clash which should be a ripsnorter!
Goals: Zimmerman 4, Karayannis 2, Lewis 2, Otto 2, Davis, A. Dewar, Garner Gregson, Jakobi, Tait
Best: Garner, Le Grice, Verney, Lewis, Karayannis, Jakobi, Pavlou, Zimmerman