BLUES HANG ON IN TOUGH OPENER
By Andrew ‘The Benchwarmer’ Mullett
Old Brighton: 3.2 5.6 7.7 13.11.89
Uni Blues: 2.4 6.8 12.14 14.15.99
Goals: Lewis 5, Pavlou 4, Otto 2, Bolger, Zimmerman
Best: Pavlou, Verney, Lewis, Yorgey, Zimmerman, Fisher.
Old Brighton Grammarians hosted University Blues in an entertaining season opener that saw the boys storm home to the pavilion end with a six- goal final term, failing by ten points to haul in the 37- point lead the Blues had established by the final break. The visitors seized the initiative in the third term after the Tonners lost concentration and gave up an easy goal that triggered a match winning Blues’ burst. The Blues had squandered many chances early in the term and made our blokes pay when given the chance.
The first half was tight and tough, both sides coming off successful practice match form. Lachie Filipovic made his debut in the ruck for the Tonners, and he won’t have a more accomplished opponent than the new Blues’ skipper, Ace Cordy, who defied his single-point status with four goals. Filipovic competed strongly, enjoyed the match, and he will prove a crucial acquisition during the season. Nick Pavlou played splendidly and booted the first of his four goals after Harry Hill crumbed a chance for Pavlou to run into an open goal. Shortly afterwards, he weighted a lovely ball to Will Lewis, who nailed the first of his five for the day. The young bloke missed the practice matches coaching the school’s oarsmen, but he quickly found his touch and competed hard all day.
The Tonners should have led at the main break. Harry again set up Lewis with a beautiful, precise pass that looped over a hapless Blue defender, and Anthony Zimmerman, buzzing everywhere, combined with Ben Jakobi and Pavlou to nail another. Late in the term, loose checking conceded a goal and poor defence allowed another Blue to mark a ball on the line that should have been thumped through. The Tonners’ trademark effort had taken the match up to the Uni, whose new faces were quick and strong-bodied. Dylan Verney had the better of his opponent and hard work from the young defenders around him, kept pressure on the visitors who looked very classy when they continually found space to switch the ball across the ground.
The Blues attacked when they returned after the break to find a stiffening breeze at their backs. It was swirling enough to disconcert them, and they missed several chances that could have shut us out of the game. The Tonners were left to chase and pressure their opponents as we desperately sought to win the ball. It was tough in the clinches and the Blues looked frustrated that they couldn’t finish us off. We were only just hanging in when a lapse in concentration resulted in a penalty that put a scheming Blue in the square. It was the chance they needed, and they raced away, setting up a six-goal lead to launch an opening win in the final term.
The Tonners had other ideas. Their collective effort excited optimistic supporters who sensed an unlikely win. Tom King’s quick take and scrubby kick from a stoppage was grabbed by Lewis, who booted his fourth. The youngster had been shocked to be sent from the ground after colliding with an opponent when both had eyes for the ball. He could hardly be blamed for being a big bloke who charges at the footy, nor could his opponent be blamed for crashing into Lewis and coming off second best. The briefly stunned Blue left the field under his own steam and Will was left to regain his composure. To his credit, he returned to finish the day with five goals, the leading light up forward for the home side.
The elusive Pavlou pounced on a poor kick from a Blue defender and snapped his third, and when Raury Bolger steered a long ball beyond the fingers stretching on the line, the Tonners were coming hard. Pavlou snapped his fourth and Levi Otto pounced on an excellent attacking move initiated by Tom King from half-back, and his second goal was a reminder to the Blues, who hadn’t yet put their cue in the rack. They answered to seal the match, but Michael Slater drove a final long ball to Lewis who marked strongly in the square to complete a splendid game. Uni Blues were very impressive, and perhaps the scoreboard flattered the Tonners a little. The Blues should have wrapped it up by three-quarter time. They left the door slightly ajar, and our blokes made a brave and determined rush at it. There was plenty to encourage our supporters for the weeks to come.