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Grand Final bound - SKOB steamroll into the big one



SKOB will be aiming for an incredible three-peat next week against Uni Blues after bulldozing past Old Xavs in a dominant Preliminary final performance at Elsternwick Park on Sunday. The massive 65 point margin was the result of a complete team performance and they will go into next week with a lot of confidence. Jarrad Waite booted 5 and Kanakis and Edgar 3 apiece amongst 11 different goal-kickers. Leading by 7 points at quarter time and then 27 at the half, SKOB won every quarter and extended their 41 point 3/4 time lead to 65 at the final siren to cap a truly dominant day out. As is the norm in September we had a typical northerly blowing at Elsternwick, although fortunately it was a steady breeze rather than a full blown gale, but definitely an advantage heading to the scoreboard end. Xavs won the toss and as expected kicked with the wind hoping to get the jump on SKOB as they had back in round 2.

After Xavs dominated the first few minutes and opening their account early in the first term it took SKOB about 10 minutes to get going, and they did this through Phil Edgar who roved the pack beautifully before putting the ball onto Glenhuntly Rd to give SKOB their first for the day. This was shortly followed by a second goal for SKOB when Waite marked well on the lead and booted another to give them a short break. They would only enjoy this for a moment as Xavs then cleared straight from the centre bounce and goaled with the breeze and then another straight after to make the score 21 to 12. With the wind in their favour, Xavs were looking very dangerous and SKOB were just endeavouring to minimise the damage. Their efficiency in attack was helping SKOB as they scored a third goal from just their fourth inside 50 (compared to Old Xavs 9 by this stage) when Cam Hodges converted from a free kick. Backing up now on their momentum, SKOB doubled down after John Wood missed a close one then captain Nick Wood booted a beautiful goal to give them the lead for the second time. They would not be headed again. Within a minute Sam Barnett had another and after a tardy start SKOB were flying. With Xavs throwing one last desperate foray into attack it was Sam Critchley with another timely intercept mark to foil them right as the siren rang for quarter time.

Going now with the breeze in the second term we would see if there really was a great advantage. SKOB had it all early but couldn't convert and were stung by Xavs on the counter attack when they booted the first into the breeze. Jarrad Waite then said enough of that, taking a great pack mark and converting to match Xavs opener. Sam Critchley then forced a turnover that ended up with a goal to Mitch Brown. The intensity went up another notch as both sides started to show greater desperation. With the heat rising, Xavs were able to take the ball forward and score a goal, but they couldn't contain Jarrad Waite and he soon booted his third and could have had another immediately after. SKOB were now well on top and cashed in on their advantage when Harry Wardlaw won a free kick for a ferocious tackle and then Billy Kanakis who was dominating all around the ground snapped from the boundary and kicked possibly the goal of the day. By half time SKOB were in control leading by 27 points, 10.4 to 5.7, but Xavs would have the breeze after the long break.

The skies had threatened for a while and they opened up just as the second half commenced. Darkness descended and the lights had to come on to help players and supporters see. The wind dropped slightly and conditions were quite different to the first half. How this weather would change the way the game was played was unknown, but SKOB would be confident having played in these conditions the week before. Lachie Merrett on a rare foray forward nearly jagged the first of the term but his shot just missed. Xavs took a risk and went through the corridor for which they were rewarded with the opening goal of the term on 9 minutes to make it a 21 point margin. After forcing a stoppage deep into their forward line it was SKOB who restored the margin after Billy Kanakis sharked the pack superbly and dribbled one through. This was shortly followed by another goal to Edgar who strolled through to boot SKOB 33 points clear. The non-controlling umpire then inserted himself on the contest by overruling and paying a Xavs free kick from which they converted. SKOB raced the ball forward and almost scored a goal through Hodges who was dominating the quarter with a dozen touches for the term.They kept pressing but could only manage a couple of behinds, however the sheer weight of repeat inside 50's would mean the dam wall would break eventually and this was the case when Lachie Merrett (spurred by his earlier foray) decided to go again and this time registered full points to put a dagger into Xavs. The dagger was twisted a minute later when Waite took the play on advantage and walked in to kick his fourth and make the margin 41 points at the final change.

With one last fling, Xavs attacked early in the final quarter but couldn't convert and when the ball went forward through Cam Hodges again, Jarrad Waite laid a ferocious tackle and was rewarded from which he booted goal number 5. His teammates inspired, the tackling did not let up at all from SKOB as they continued to attack their opponents even with the game well in the bag. Cal Jones marked and booted his first for the day to put 100 points on the board and blow the margin out to over 50. It was party time now for SKOB as Phil Edgar ran in for his third. Being a proud club, Xavs fought it out and booted a couple in a row but this only fired up SKOB to surge forward again. Alas, they only converted a few points before Billy Kanakis who was arguably one of the best on ground, found himself in the right spot as the ball landed in his arms and he kicked his third to go with his 30+ possession game. Cal Jones booted his second for the quarter and the game and then ever popular Shaun Kennedy made sure his name was going in amongst the goal kickers as he put icing on a delicious cake.

There were smiles all around the SKOB players and supporters as the final siren sounded to signal a huge win to put them into the grand final and a chance to win their third in a row. According to the VAFA site it was the first time since 1993 that Xavs have gone out in straight sets in Premier division such has been their dominance over a long period of time. Never an easy team to beat, SKOB have claimed a major scalp and will be primed to give it a real crack again next week.

SKOB 20.9.129 Old Xavs 9.10.64

Goal Kickers: J Waite 5, B Kanakis 3, P. Edgar 3, C Jones 2, C Hodges, N Wood, S. Barnett, M Brown, H Wardlaw, L Merrett, S Kennedy Best Players: C. Hodges, J Waite, L Sullivan, P. Edgar, S. Critchley, C Jones

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