TONNERS STIFLE DE LA SALLE IN THE MAELSTROM
By Andrew ‘The Benchwarmer’ Mullett
OLD BRIGHTON: 2.8 7.8 8.15 10.21.81
DE LA SALLE: 0.1 0.1 1.1 1.2.8
Goals: King 2, Branson 2, Davis, Slater, Lewis, Otto, Fisher, Hynes.
Best: Fisher, Pavlou, Bolger, Yorgey, King, Lowan, Branson, Hynes.
Visiting South Road on a damp, windy day is not a pleasant thought for opposition teams, and it was a miserable experience yesterday, for the visiting De La Salle. Old Brighton Grammarians rebounded emphatically from last week’s disappointing loss to Collegians, when the boys completely shut down De La Salle at South Rd in Round 11, allowing the visitors only three scoring shots on a day which gave both sides a strong wind advantage in alternate quarters. The Tonners scored thirty-one times, yet the match was not the easy task that the scores suggest. The visitors competed willingly and held us to only three goals in the two terms that we had the wind. Ironically, it was our brilliant footy against the swirling tempest that demolished the visitors. There were only five scoring shots in the second term, all Tonner goals. The Blue and Gold had failed to score at all with the gale at their backs, and the match was virtually over at half-time.
The opening quarter was hotly contested in appalling conditions. The wind and scattered showers drove spectators under shelter, and watching from the balcony was impossible. For the first time in decades, I was forced to keep time in front of the score-board computer, the box offering some respite from the maelstrom. On the field, Nick Pavlou and Tom Fisher drove us forward, but it was impossible to avoid the railway flank, and the boys found it tough to negotiate a way to goal through the clogged De La defence. Jimmy Davis steered home the opener from a set shot and Michael Slater somehow bounced one through the congestion, but a string of behinds left the door open for the visitors to get into the match.
Our boys played sensational footy when they faced the breeze in the second term. We tore in after the ball, were strong in the many contests, and displayed great skill in the conditions. Freed in front, Will Lewis guided through his first goal, and shortly after, Nick Pavlou and Harry Hill combined to give Levi Otto, a late replacement for Dylan Verney, the chance to sprint into the pocket to snap brilliantly across the gust. When Tom Fisher repeated the dose after Ben Branson and Tom King gave him the chance, we were right on top and the visitors were floundering.
When they did go forward, our defence repelled them. Tom Yorgey’s feisty, aggressive approach kept things interesting. Max Lowan provided dash and distance, while Michael Slater, Tom Larkworthy, Quintin Montanaro and Ben Jakobi mopped up loose balls swept haphazardly across the field. Raury Bolger dominated around the ground, throwing himself into packs, and whipping balls forward, creating a chance for Tom King to mark and goal from the square. Youngsters Ben Branson and Harry Hynes, brought in to replace the first of the virus deserters, both leapt gleefully into the fray. Branson marked splendidly and booted our fifth for the term. De La had nothing to show for their efforts.
Tom King, entrusted with the ruck duties for most of the day, pushed forward and nailed our eighth in the opening minutes of the third term. But that was it. For the remainder of the period, the physical contests ramped up and no quarter was given. Several skirmishes raised a few temperatures as players battled to break free from congested contests. Tom Laumets and Elliot Le Grice maintained our advantage in the packs, but there was no shortage of desperate contributors around the ball. Another string of Tonner behinds kept the margin from blowing out to ridiculous proportions, and surprisingly, a goal against the wind would be the visitors’ solitary penetration of the erections for the match.
The final term belonged to the youngsters. Somehow, Ben Branson simply threw off his far larger opponent in a one-out contest at the goal front after Nick Pavlou had again driven the ball deep into our zone. His goal was followed soon after by Harry Hynes’ splendid gather and snap, in conditions so bleak that it became difficult to identify players in the impending gloom. A brilliant gather near the boundary line by Hamish, and a neat reverse snap under pressure almost created another goal, but we had to be content with minor scores, conceding only a single behind to an opposition that may have added to its own record books in a depressing day for them. Hutchy had demanded that his side answer for last week’s failure to climb into the four, and they responded, thumping De La Salle by 73 points.