A brave third quarter fightback wasn’t enough for the U19 Premier Reserves side as they succumbed to a 28-point defeat at the hands of Old Xaverians at the Box Hill City Oval.
The two sides probed each other’s defences in a tense first 15 minutes, with Charlie Bryan and Jackson Doyle attacking the ball brilliantly in the air to stop any scoring opportunities.
Frustratingly, Xavier drew first blood after multiple SKOB misses at the other end, and then added a second goal close to the siren to take a 12-point lead into the first break.
Josh Willmott quickly cut the margin back at the start of the second term with a stunning bouncing snap from the pocket, but Xavier responded with faster and more direct ball movement through the middle which gave their key forwards the ascendancy, pulling away with three more goals to lead 5.7.37 to 1.6.12 at half time.
Goals to Xavier early in the third term appeared to have the game on toast, but coach Phil McCabe’s move to remove numbers at stoppages around the ground made space which captain Jack Davidson and league best and fairest winner Ben Pearce capitalised on.
The pair began to control the clearances with help from Connor Delaney and Aiden Sweeney on the inside, and Willmott sprung back to life with arguably the best individual quarter of football the division has seen this season.
He nailed set shots from 40 metres out on either side of a goal to Lachie Russell, and then took an outstanding contested mark and converted from a tight angle after a long kick from Tom Andriske, who had marked equally strongly running back with the flight of the ball at half-forward.
This brought SKOB within 11 points before Xavier extended their lead with another late goal before the siren. The minor premiers steadied in the last quarter, kicking three goals to one to emerge comfortable victors as miserable weather fittingly rolled in from the south.
Jackson Doyle was brilliant all afternoon with his typical long and winding runs off half-back a highlight. His foot skills were also impressive, setting up a terrific coast-to-coast transition that ended with a fifth goal for Willmott.
Willmott constantly threatened but didn’t get enough assistance in the air from his teammates, his five-goal haul and contested marking a remarkable effort given he was often pitted against two or three of Xavier’s tall defenders.
Andriske was a large presence in the ruck all day, while Jackson Ward impressed with his clean hands in traffic and ability to provide a contest in the air despite being undersized.
Xavier midfielder Daniel Amicucci was awarded best on ground ahead of teammates MacIsaac (six goals) and Catania (five) and SKOB’s Willmott and Doyle.
Old Xaverians 11. 9. (75) defeated SKOB 6. 11. (47)
Goal Kickers: J. Willmott 5, L. Russell 1
Best Players: J. Willmott, J. Doyle, T. Andriske, J. Ward
Attendance: 714 at Box Hill City Oval