A goal line save followed soon after by a critical match saving mark were two massive moments from the returning Michael Pisker that helped see the Seniors sneak over the line in a pulsating contest with Old Brighton on Saturday. In a classic 8 pointer of a match - the result of which would either give SKOB a comfortable two game cushion in the four or put them level with last year’s grand finalists - the game was played right to the wire with SKOB finding their nose in front - just! - as the buzzer rang. In other games - the Ressies and Academy both went down as they battled with multiple lineup changes, the Saints Gold had a comfortable and very important win, whilst the Blues couldn't quite match it against Caulfield.
With the wind blowing ferociously into the Mair St pocket, scoring was always going to be difficult with it - and well nigh impossible into it at the South Rd end. The home team had first crack with the breeze and a return of just 1.4 to 0.2 was a significant early win for SKOB on the road. But the boys from Old Brighton have an uncanny knack of playing this ground well and they made life just as hard for SKOB when it was their turn with the breeze. Goals to Andriske and Kennedy were handy but with just a 3 point advantage at the main break it was game on.
The red legs again had the advantage in the third and this time used it slightly better - especially late in the term - however SKOB were able to land one crucial blow when Andriske scored a vital goal (which would be the only major scored for the day) into the teeth of the gale to the South Rd end. When the bell rang for the final change it was Old Brighton by 19. SKOB knew they had to get a couple of goals early to settle nerves and avert any sense of panic. With the ball parked in their forward 50 a quick snap landed with Mitch Wallis who converted. Pat Kerr then looked to have kicked one from the next centre clearance - or so everyone but the goal umpire thought - but it mattered little as a quick hand pass from Kerr to Hodges a minute later was greeted with the signal for full points and the margin reduced to within a kick with only 10 minutes done on the clock. But Old Brighton lifted again, controlling play along the Mair St wing with some towering marks and long low kicks. Ten further minutes passed before a forward thrust from SKOB saw newly minted Big V rep Shaun Kennedy clutch a one handed mark and kick truly to put the visitors in front.
The Brighton response was immediate as they literally threw caution (and the kitchen sink) to the wind almost scoring from a stoppage when a quick grab snap trickled to the goal line where Michal Pisker lunged like the Grey Wiggle to get a vital touch as it crossed the line. Moments later he repelled another Brighton counter attack and Josh Wallis’s 80 meter clearing kick put the ball well clear of any further danger with SKOB able to hang on for a vital win. Once again these two teams were separated by less than a goal at the final bell, and Coach Lynch told his players how proud he was that they found a way to win a game that could easily have gone the other way. Aside from the aforementioned Pisker, the better players for SKOB were Billy Coates who rucked tirelessly all day, Jack Andriske for a couple of vital goals, Mitch Wallis, Al Richards and Josh Tynan. With a well earned week off, SKOB can reset for a fortnight’s time when another monster clash ensues against Uni Blues.
Earlier in the day a undermanned Ressies side were given a lesson in how not to play the wind, spraying it all over the sticks with 2.13 being the return for their combined efforts with the breeze. The home team had the radar better tuned and we’re able to convert their chances. The loss is a setback for SKOB who fall two games behind in the battle for top four, although they can still mount a charge following the week off as players come back. Seven changes to the lineup which included promoting Pat Croagh for his first game in the Seniors after 29 straight games in the twos since the start of last season - well done to "Sauce".
Our man on the spot - Yanni - filed this report
Tough Day at Brighton Beach!
SKOB's Reserves arrived with high spirits coming off the back of a win, looking for a chance to climb up into the top four for a shot at September.
The conditions of the day had a strong south-easterly from the seaside, giving the SKOB's boys the advantage in the first quarter. Sebastian Nogara grabbed the opening snag of the game with his first touch. The boys had the majority of the momentum but couldn't capitalize on the forward 50 entries, pulling up a 10-point lead at the end of the term.
With the second quarter now becoming a scrap and Old Brighton picking up the wind advantage, the boys set out to slow the pace of the game down, with the intention of reducing the goal-scoring opportunity. However, Old Brighton pulled away to a three-goal advantage by the end of the half.
For the more superstitious readers out there, the third quarter seemed to be cursed as the SKOB's boys suffered multiple injuries, which left the coaching staff with no rotations on the bench for the rest of the game. Despite that, the lead was reduced to a five-point deficit.
The odds were stacked against the boys, with no one left on the bench and the wind playing havoc, leaving a task too great for the SKOB's reserves as the lead ballooned out to a 46-point lead. Despite the end result, finals are still in the hands of the SKOB's Reserves with 7 games to go.
Best players for Coach Clough were Michael Di Natale, Christian Woolrich, Oli Phillips, Zach Ginies, Matt Adams, Jack Byrne.
For the Academy it was a similar result with the Roys booting 5 zip to nothing in the third quarter to establish a lead that Coach Ollie's boys were unable to reel in. The magnets were thrown all about the place on selection night with no less than 9 players missing from their previous match, but no excuses were offered by the coaching staff who were well served by Ethan Boal, Stacy Brockwell-Hahn, Seamus Skehan, Sam Doyle, Sam Rausch and Luca Gambell.
Saints Golden run continues
When it comes to selection, Coach Tommy Purcell is always pleased to have Cate Stanton's name on the team sheet. The sharp shooter has proven to be a fantastic asset up forward and a very dangerous target. Saturday was no exception as the newly minted Big V rep booted 4 match winning goals in a best on ground performance. The Saints Gold were keen to make their mark on this contest early and they were able to do that by making the most of their turn with the breeze and then holding Caulfield scoreless when they had the breeze. The game and the four points were sewn up by the last change as the Saints head to the bye with a two game buffer on third place. Other stars for the Gold team were the incredibly consistent Bree Doyle, Ruby Atkin, Elysia Burvill and Grace Mills with Sarah Betts celebrating her Big V gong with another strong performance. The Saints Blue came home with a wet sail in the last quarter but alas had left themselves with too great a mountain to climb and couldn't get past Caulfield who were too good on the day. With a lot of players unavailable, Coach Strauss had a battle to get enough numbers on the park, but he certainly extracted 110% effort from the Saints who gave everything right to the end. They will enjoy a break to regroup and come back in a fortnight looking to finish the season off well.