GALLANT TONNERS JUST MISS
By Andrew ‘The Benchwarmer’ Mullett
OLD BRIGHTON: 3.4 3.8 7.13 9.15.69
ST. BERNARD’S: 3.2 6.5 9.5 10.11.71
Goals: Hill 4, Olivier, Williams, Branson, Pavlou, King.
Best: Hill, Le Grice, Fisher, Jakobi, Dick, Zimmerman, Montanaro.
On a rare, calm winter’s day at South Road, Old Brighton Grammarians came as close to winning as a team can manage, without getting the four points against St. Bernards in Round 13. Ben Jakobi’s long drive at the goals with the last kick of the day, cleared all hands and went through the big sticks, but was ruled to have scraped the inside of the post on the way, leaving us two points short. The Tonners’ momentary joy was snuffed out by a few centimetres. The match was close all day, with the visitors’ aerial supremacy giving them a 15-point lead at the main break, but our blokes had cut that to only 4 points by three-quarter time, to leave the result a raffle.
The Tonners were hard hit by injury and were forced to make five changes from the side that defeated Old Melburnians the previous week. The most serious of those was the back injury to leading Premier goalkicker, Will Lewis, and his absence proved crucial, emphasised especially by the fact that the Bernies’ trump forward, Jack McNamara, had a day out and booted six. When Michael Slater and Levi Otto pulled out on Saturday morning, the boys really had to find something extra to keep the visitors at bay.
To their credit, they almost made it. Inspired by superb games from their leaders, Harry Hill, Elliot Le Grice, Tom Fisher and Ben Jakobi, the promoted Tonners lifted and the whole team refused to submit, even when the visitors moved to a 9-point lead with a minute and a half to play. Harry leapt into the square to boot his fourth with thirty seconds left on the clock, then Ben marked after we won the final clearance. It was hard to fault his kick from a good distance and under the pressure of knowing the result was in his hands.
During the match, Le Grice roamed across the defence, constantly marking and repelling the Snow Dogs’ forays forward. Tom Laumets offered support in the air and the other defenders fought hard, managing to hold their opponents to a relatively low score. We simply didn’t have Will’s strength and marking power to grab a couple and slot his usual two or three that would have given us victory. Nonetheless, we had our chances and had no excuses for not taking them.
The third quarter was inspiring as Harry worked all over the ground, finding space and demanding the ball. He goaled twice, won numerous possessions and took the side along with him. They made up ground against an opposition who outmarked us all day and had a reliable man to finish off in front of goal. Our blokes ran harder, tackled with their usual ferocity, and in my opinion, did not get the rub of the green all day. Hamish Dick, one of the few Tonners to mark the ball strongly overhead, won great purchase against two opponents in the goal square late in the game. It could have been paid, but wasn’t. We had to wear this one, but supporters would surely have been pleased with the effort all players contributed.