TONNERS BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
OLD BRIGHTON: 4.2 9.9 11.10 15.12. 102
ST. KEVINS: 2.6 6.8 7.9 11.13. 79
Goals: Hill 3, Lewis 3, Dick 2, Zimmerman 2, Williams 2, Karayannis, King, Gregson.
Best: Hill, Filipovic, LeGrice, Fisher, Dick, Laumets et al….
After a disappointing day against De La Salle, Old Brighton Grammarians bounced back superbly to register our opening victory for the season in the third round. The Tonners no doubt surprised many VAFA pundits with their form reversal that shocked reigning premiers, St. Kevins, at the King Reserve. The boys won convincingly by 23 points, bringing an urgency and determination that established an early lead we were then able to gradually increase, until a four- goal lead at the final break set the scene for a welcome triumph.
The team’s depth was boosted by the availability of Elliot Le Grice and Quintin Montanaro, both of whom stiffened the defence significantly. The reappearance of Ari Sakeson, who missed most of 2018 with injury, yesterday spiced up the forward line, particularly in the first half. It was apparent within minutes that all players were focussed on wiping out the criticism they had copped before Easter. They tore in hard for the ball, and Tom Fisher and Fraser Gregson, in particular, set the tone with their fierce contesting at the centre bounces. Lachie Filipovic and Tom King were terrific in the middle, and we were able to win most of the clearances throughout the match.
Will Lewis opened the scoring with a strong set shot after Michael Karayannis, sadly missed at Malvern, found him with a brilliantly weighted pass. Moments later, Anthony Zimmerman, also quiet in the early rounds, began his resurgence with a lovely opportunistic goal. Fraser Gregson also snapped cleverly from a spill, before Hamish Dick, included after his fine Under 19 efforts in Round 2, provided the day’s highlight when he brazenly bounced down the wing and boldly slammed through our fourth from a distance. At the other end, the backline was supported by swarming Tonner tacklers who pressured the SKOBs’ attackers into rushed error, the visitors leading by 8 points at the first break.
We won’t see many better contests than the first half. The second quarter was a cracker, players given licence to display their skills by unobtrusive umpiring, and all players racing up and down the ground, little between either side. In fact, the Tonners missed crucial chances that could have worsened the Kevins’ plight. Harry Hill took over for ten minutes, pouncing on a loose ball when a glorious pass from Hamish bounced audibly off Will Lewis’ chest! Harry screwed it through but minutes later, missed a comparative sitter. When Michael Karayannis sprayed a snap he usually nails, and Tom King squandered another from in front, we wondered whether this was affordable as St. Kevins goaled twice in answer. Intense Tonner pressure around the ball forced a turnover that sent Seb Williams into goal before the half ended in confusion. Players gathered to protest after a scuffle resulted in a free to Raury Bolger. Further angry remonstrations as the siren sounded, led to the umpire extending the free down the ground, where Will Lewis calmly sent us to the sheds with a 19 point lead and all the momentum.
Nor did the players’ efforts wane in a gripping third term. The home side opened the scoring and their supporters demanded a fight-back. Hamish again fired in a long ball from the outer flank, Kara pounced on the spill, and his left-foot snap was inspirational. The scoring dried up as both sides fought desperately for an advantage. St. Kevins couldn’t find a way through our desperate chasers and were forced to kick long, where Dylan Verney, Elliot Le Grice, Tom Laumets and their fellow defenders were quick to punch the ball to ground where the smaller Tonners had been first in all day. When Tom King tapped a loose ball into Zimmer’s path, the little champ secured a lead that stretched to four goals. The rhythm of the game suggested it would be our day if we could keep going.
In the final term, the cream came to the top. Harry’s drive at the goal was wonderful as he stamped his name on the fixture. Another long drive to the square by Hamish Dick, displaying the instincts of a veteran, landed the ball with the energetic Lewis, and the Tonners looked home. Tom Laumets had clamped down the local hero, who now went onto the ball before inserting himself briefly into the game, bagging a couple of late ones, but brilliant work from Kara enabled Seb Williams to dash in and put an end to things. Tom King steered home the final kick of the match to the delight of the Tonner players and their supporters, who had witnessed their boys storm home in fine fashion.