Round 14 saw all teams hit the road again as we entered the final climb for Season 23. With just over a month left for both the Seniors/Reserves, one of the toughest assignments in football was ahead - the trip to Harry Trott to battle Collegians. Across both grades, this was a formidable opposition and an exciting test after a huge double win the weekend before. The Phoenix were up against another strong challenger in Old Xaverians, whilst Murray and the 19s were looking to get the season on the board with a bigger contingent of players' back after the Uni break.
The biggest challenge in the VAFA faced the Blacks seniors in Round 14 travelling to face the top of the table Collegians at their home fortress of Harry Trott oval. The Collegians have been the dominant force in the VAFA this season dispensing all comers including the Uni Blues by 100 points just a few weeks earlier in Round 11. The Blackers coming off 4 straight hard fought wins were battle weary but not going to shy away from the challenge and opportunity this presented. The team selected included the return of young gun Finn Raymond and the debut of Werribee big man Sam Conway (returning from a long term injury).
Co-captain Campbell Moorfield won the toss and the Blacks started strongly with the wind, big Sam 'Sticks' Conway slotted his first goal for the club and Max Gray was dominant on the Harry Trott wings. Although some missed opportunities meant the Blackers weren’t able to fully capitalise on the forward 50 entries, while the efficient Collegians took their chances and went into the first break 5 points up.
Kicking with the wind in the second quarter the Collegians gained the upper hand, the Blacks defence were courageous as ever under a constant barrage through the likes of Sam Mckenzie and recent addition to the backline Ayui Makieng who was quick to make an impact through his intercept marking and highflying golden-fist-worthy spoils.
Coming off some physical victories in the past few rounds the third quarter saw the fatigue set in for the Blacks and despite dominant rucking from Jerry Steadman and clearance work from Hugh 'Colonel' Curnow the Collegians entered the final break 45 points up.
The Blacks continued to weather the storm in the final quarter, with the Collegians showing why they're top of the VAFA with some slick end to end ball movement. Dogged determination from Max Dow and Aussie Steere along the half forward line resulted in forward entries for the Blacks and the team scrapped it out until the last with Louis Vescios trademark ferocity ensuring the Collegians had plenty to think about until the final siren. Collegians ended up running away victors 17.11-113 to the Blacks 6.6-42.
Round 14 was always going to be a challenge against the form side of the VAFA, but there was a lot to be learned from the loss and the Blackers now move to Round 15 with an eye on freshening up and putting themselves in the best possible position to beat arch rival Old Haileybury (who are still very much owed for last years Grand Final). Get to Princes Park, Caulfield 2pm for what's shaping up as another cracking match!