In a pulsating finish, SKOB have hung on by the merest of margins against a plucky Old Haileybury who served it right up to the reigning premiers and gave as good as they got in a tight tussle that was close all day. SKOB will take the points, but the home team won plenty of plaudits in their first game back in the top flight for some time.
After some good form in the pre-season Coach Lynch (boasting a hot new set of wheels) was able to pick a strong side with 16 players from last year's Grand Final winning side. This meant 6 changes to that team including 4 who were making their Senior debut in SKOB colours. Mitch Wallis and Nick Sing represented the more experienced debutants whilst at the other end of the scale, two Under 19 boys, Rob Larcher and Jasper Conquest were also handed their first Senior jumpers. These inclusions flagging exciting times ahead for the Club.
The game commenced under cloudy skies and the early play saw much of what you'd expect in a round one encounter - enthusiasm and pressure at a high level with skills not quite as sharp as they will be once we get further into the season. For the most part SKOB held their hosts at bay after scoring the first few goals and establishing a buffer that never blew out but never blew in either. As half time approached the rain started to get heavier and the game became much more of a slog.
The Bloods seemed to handle the wet conditions better and slowly inched their way back into the game - not that it was apparent to the fans who were having trouble working out what the exact score was - but it did look like SKOB would have enough in hand until the last quarter when the time clock ticked into about the 35th minute and Haileybury kicked a goal to reduce the margin to a point with a few seconds left. After a frenzied restart, SKOB managed to tick down the last moments and hold on for a slender win and a precious early 4 points.
The ever consistent Cal Matheson took up where he always leaves off, and was best for SKOB with Harry Wardlaw (2 goals) and Luke Winter performing well. Vice Captains Tom Jok and Cam Hodges were good and Josh Wallis won the family battle over Mitch who did kick his first goal in SKOB colours - so let's say honours even. Next week SKOB take on Caulfield at home in a big day for the Club - details for the lunch are below. Make sure you book.
Around the grounds our Reserves started in grand style for new Coach Andy Clough who was thrilled with his team's performance, especially from Zach Ginies who wound back the clock and starred up forward with 5 goals. Former under 23 Comp B&F winner Angus McQuie was best for the two's with Mike DiNatale returning from a year off also showing he hasn't missed a beat. Young Tom Feehan was excellent as was Jack Byrne and Christian Woolrich, whilst it was great to see the Pirola boys Tom and Sam playing in the same team and continuing the brotherly theme for the day. Our Thirds had a great opening win, taking the points down at Old Brighton. "Death, taxes and Sam Doyle in the best" are the only three certainties in life. (I'm pretty sure I've used that line before, although it may have been for sister Bree in the Saints, but anyhoo). Last year's B&F winner Sam took up where he left off and was ably supported by Ben Field-Pimm, Luke Mazzeo, Darcy Grace, Scott Meagher, and Tom Andriske.
Over at the Saints we had three games over three days. The Gold team kicked it all off on Friday night with a solid win over Caulfield. Best for SKOB were Sarah Betts, Elyce Hay, boom NSW recruit Catherine Stanton (on debut) , Emily Condon, Chloe Brown, and of course (death, taxes and...) Bree Doyle. On Saturday the Blues went down by 2 points in a thriller to Caulfield. Reports were that this was a high quality game played by two teams who are destined to meet at the pointy end of the season. No further details, but I think that a number of girls from the Saints Blue, fronted up again on Sunday when the Saints Green (yes the Green Machine) opened their premiership defence with a solid win over Melbourne Uni. As always, Coach Lewis had his outstretched arm selfie stick at the ready to capture the moment. Better players were Lucy Kehoe, Britt Croagh, Pip Stephenson, Sophie Matthews (making her debut), Steph Taylor, and Steph Wood (playing her first game of footy ever - wow!)
Our Under 19's had mixed success with the Premier Team going down in a well fought encounter with Old Xavs. Xavs are always a strong team in Under 19, but our young SKOB boys applied themselves well all day, with Xavs making the most of opportunities in the third term where they established a gap that couldn't be breached. Best for SKOB were Zach Dowd, debutants Xavier Duke and Liam Gunson, with solid contributions from Jack Palmer and Connor Chaffey. In Div 2 SKOB came from behind in the second half to overrun Uni Blacks on the big Uni Oval, and record a win in the opening round. Boasting a large number of debutants, the Div 2 boys relished playing in the SKOB colours for the first time, although I imagine the team song at the end of the game may not have had all the words right. Hamish Toohey, Nick ("son of a gun") Dynan, Liam Hepburn, Josh Bayley, Seb Nogara all starred in their first ever SKOB games while Ewan Harley played well in his first Div 2 game. The Div 4 guys had a tougher time of things down at Beaumaris, coming up against a much stronger team, they battled hard all day, none more so than Justin Willmott, Nelson Conwell, Ollie Garlick, Billy Daffern, Tom Whelan, and Captain Coach Joey Kerr (some solid SKOB names amongst that lot)
Finally, on Sunday the round was completed at TH King when the Masters came up against Marcellin on a glorious sunny afternoon. Coach SOC had his men firing early as they flew out of the blocks in the first quarter. Unfortunately they seemed to have used up all their petrol tickets and found the going tough after quarter time. Still there was no let up to the enjoyment factor as was evidenced by the smiling (if not a little confused) faces on show.
Home Game lunch - next Saturday - BOOK NOW
There's a massive day planned for Saturday 22nd April at TH King with 3 flags to unfurl and 4 big games on to entertain everyone. Our Saints Green will unfurl their flag before the 9:20 kickoff, then after a pre-match luncheon, our Seniors will unfurl their 2022 flag at 2:00pm, followed by the Saints Gold at 4:40pm. The lunch is certain to sell out so make sure you book now to avoid disappointment.
With thanks to our match day luncheon sponsors Tilling Timber