With the weather the complete opposite of the cyclonic conditions in Round 3, the University Blacks made the most of their return to the Uni Main, winning both in the Seniors and Reserves against the resurgent Beaumaris Sharks, whilst the Phoenix provided the first win for the Club on the day, winning against the Caulfield Grammarians after a classic final quarter comeback.
The Seniors held on in an absolute heartstopper against Beaumaris, repelling a late onslaught to remain the only undefeated side in Premier B.
From the get-go, it was clear this would be a spirited affair between the two 3-0 sides. Big bumps and tackles were plentiful. The pressure was hot and did not let up all quarter, so the contest didn’t truly settle or get into a rhythm for the whole opening term. Both sides were strong in defence, and Moorfield and Dea showed they’re becoming quite the tandem in the back line, each taking strong marks of their own to knock back Beaumaris’ attacks.
In fact, it took 27 minutes for a major to be registered via a classy Beaumaris snap. Stung, the Blacks threw everything they had at the final few minutes, and Harrie Lahy capped off a series of Blacks pressure acts to pin his opponent holding the ball. He finished truly with seconds on the clock, just 3 points separating the sides at the first break.
The second term was marred by inaccuracy on both sides. An incredibly courageous back-with-the-flight mark by Sam McKenzie left him winded and slow to get up, but his set shot just clipped the woodwork. Robbins sprayed a snap into an open goal and Beaumaris made him pay, as they drilled the ball through for a goal at the other end just three kicks later. The teams then traded behinds for a period, before McKenzie pulled in a spectacular one-handed mark with his opponent hanging off him like a cape and slammed it though from the goal-line.
The game seemed to open up and get freer as the second quarter wore on, with the Blacks growing to be the ever-so-slightly more dangerous side. Late in the quarter, some dogged pressure from the Blacks forced a series of repeat stoppages which inched their way from the half-back flank to the forward pocket, and forced an errant Beaumaris switch kick out on the full. Matt Goyder snapped truly and gave the Blacks their first lead of the game, before slotting a set shot from the arc moments later to give them a bit of padding. Some big tackles on the siren led to a bit of extracurricular activity, but the teams eventually separated and headed to the rooms, the hosts 8 points the better at the main break.
Henry Bennett slotted one from 50 on the boundary mere moments into the third, but a fortuitous bounce in the Beaumaris goal square led to the answering goal soon after. It was desperation footy in the premiership quarter, and both sides were throwing everything they had at each other. Mumford gave the Blacks a bit of breathing room, slotting a set shot from 30, and he was celebrating before it had hit the boot. He did the same for his next shot, a banana on the boundary, but it faded late and his celebrations were unable to convince the goal umpire otherwise. A minute shy of the final change, however, Beaumaris snapped one of their own, cutting the lead to 11.
With the contest headed for a big finale and both sides leaving it all out there, the ball pinballed around for the opening of the last quarter. It took ten minutes of pressure-packed footy before James Samson was able to pin his man holding the ball on the arc, and a clumsy ball return resulted in a 50-metre penalty which made a certainty of it. However, Beaumaris were quick to respond with a goal of their own.
The crowd grew more and more animated thanks to a couple of controversial decisions either way, and Beaumaris capitalised on one of theirs to cut the lead to a tentative 5. Beaumaris poured everything they had into final push and put the Blacks defence under siege, but this was when the hosts really showed their mettle. As they had all day, Dea and Moorfield rose to the occasion and built the Great Wall of the Main, each taking strong contested marks and laying massive spoils in the final minutes. A strong team defence rose to follow them, and everyone bought in, laying smothers and tackles as though their life depended on it. A clearing kick was slammed on the boot out of defensive 50, and when Mumford marked it, he was met with a roar from the crowd as though he’d kicked the match-winning goal. The Blacks then ran out the clock and extended their perfect start to season 2021, home by 5.
The Heart & Souls survived a scare on Saturday afternoon, rallying after three-quarter time to put a valiant Beaumaris outfit to bed.
The Ressies came out firing in near perfect conditions. Scott Myers got the show on the road early, finishing one from 50 and rightfully getting around himself afterward. He was followed by some of the younger prospects who began to fire. A zinced-up Lachie Devlin and Alex King chimed in for majors of their own – the future looks bright at the Blacks.
Steve Mann stood up early in his first game back from a shoulder injury, taking a couple of strong intercept grabs which helped lock the ball in the forward 50. However, despite peppering the goals late, the Blacks couldn’t quite put their foot down, missing gettable shots which held the margin at only 21 at quarter time.
General play in the second quarter was overwhelmingly dominated by the hosts. Beaumaris appeared content to sit back very deep in defence, and were hesitant to put pressure on their opponents upfield. As a result, the Blacks were able to walk through the midfield, but just couldn’t connect the final kick into the congested 50. The quarter was half done before Tom ‘Nugget’ Cousins kicked a classy captain’s boonana. It would be the only major for the quarter, leaving the half time margin just shy of five goals.
It was a completely different Beaumaris outfit that ran onto the field after half time, with a clearly renewed intent to attack the ball that the Blacks apparently were caught off guard by. Repeat inside fifties for the visitors were duly rewarded with their first goal.
Campbell Luscombe drove the intensity for the Blacks with his determination at the contest, but he was mostly alone for the start of the quarter. Beaumaris kicked their second and shortly after, a cheap free inside 50 as a result of a duck into a tackle gifted them their third. The Xaviers in Chalkley and Vearing were able to steady the ship momentarily with some big marks, but the blue and yellow surge willed their way to a fourth.
The Blacks were battered and bruised. Sam Robertson, who had already suffered an apparent collarbone scare, copped a late hit and then a crunching tackle, each of which he took longer to rise from than the last. Heartbreakingly, Steve Mann appeared to reinjure his troublesome shoulder as he was dumped in a tackle with his arms pinned.
Gus McKinna was a pocket rocket as usual. He took matters into his own hands from half back and weaved his way down the wing like a slalom skier, before hitting up the target inside 50. However, the miss from the set shot proved costly, as Beaumaris sent it all the way back, before a Blacks turnover directly in front of goal handed the visitors their first lead of the game. Devlin had a set shot on three-quarter time to take back the lead but it faded right, leaving just a solitary point separating the sides at the final change.
Sam Robertson may have been knocked down, but he sure as hell got up again. The youngster popped up early in the fourth and delivered a silky ball inside 50, and John Perks snapped truly to snatch the lead back. A little bit of insurance was provided seconds later as Lewis Steere drove one home. That duo delivered again shortly after, a strong contested mark earning Perks his second before Steere, not to be outdone, picked up a grubber off the deck in the goal square and wrestled off two defenders before slamming it through. With the result now beyond doubt, the icing on the cake came through a strong charge-down tackle by Cousins 30 metres out. His resultant set shot, unlike the game, was never in doubt.
Meanwhile, over at the Blacks second home, the mighty Crawford Oval in Princes Park, the Phoenix kicked the dew off with style, producing a classic final quarter comeback, to beat the Caulfield Grammarians.
The home side started slowly, as has been the case for the first few rounds this season. Clearances and inside 50s were both shared evenly, yet the Blacks couldn't impact the scoreboard, whilst the Grammarians were able to pepper their goals routinely.
Co-Coach for the day Josh Leviston threw the magnets around to get a different look in the midfield and up forward, and in the second quarter, it worked a treat. With the rising sun in the eastern skies drying the ground out more quickly than usual, the game opened up with some end to end scoring, nevertheless the Blacks had the best of the quarter.
The Phoenix were inches away from running away with it - they were always just a bounce or missed handball away from breaking the game open. Alas, after a steely half time speech from Cal Farrell, the side had to spend much of the third quarter fending off a determined Caulfield counter attack, with the away team taking a 16 point lead into the final term.
With the crowd around the ground building for the following Under 19s game, the Phoenix huddled together tightly to ready themselves for a final quarter comeback. Cal's inspirational rev up worked a treat, and from the opening bounce of the last term, the Phoenix produced some relentless Blacks footy.
Ruckman Nick Morrow, and midfielders Angus Evans, Joe Smith and captain Rohan Cleary completely dominated the centre clearances, and new Phoenix debutant Hayden James - Dos - was a force across half forward. In a single passage of play, the momentum of the game was turned completely to the Phoenix; a Evans clearance was followed up at half forward by Dos, who crunched his Caulfield opponent, fed a quick handball off to Evans who followed up, and dished to Cal who somehow wobbled one home and celebrated accordingly.
From here, the Phoenix couldn't be stopped, and Caulfield didn't look like troubling the scoreboard either thanks to impervious defence from Braden Poole and Fraser Moorfield.
The horn sounded and the Phoenix celebrated accordingly, their first win of the season.
Following on from the Phoenix at the Crawford, the Under 19s took on St Bedes/Mentone, hoping to break their duck and win their first for the season. The game was also the first match for all of the Under 19s on the Crawford, with the fixture granting them the luxury of a couple of games on the Main in a row.
St Bedes provided a quality opposition for the Unders to challenge, and it was clear from the start that the youngsters would need to be at their best.
Despite going down by a couple of goals, the game overall was their best 4 quarter effort so far this season, with the team winning the second half on the scoreboard, and the effort never dropping off. The boys will need to remain committed to training throughout the next few weeks, as they push on through the season and face different challenges along the way.
During the evening, the Unders joined up with the Seniors/Reserves group to undertake some important Club bonding, which was highly successful from all reports. Thanks to the Social Committee and Tom Cousins for organising that event.
Round 5 beckons for the Blacks, with our first of three trips down the Nepean Hwy to take on the Parkdale Vultures. The Phoenix will line-up in the unfamiliar 2pm timeslot at Stradbroke Park, Kew, hosted by the ever consistent Old Xavs. Meanwhile the Under 19s embark on their first away game outside of the inner north, traveling to Bulleen to take on Old Carey.