TONNERS HIT SNOW DOGS FOR SIX
Old Brighton Grammarians won its sixth consecutive game for the season when the team fought back from a slow start to defeat St. Bernards by 26 points at South Road. It is the best start the Tonners have had since winning the first seven games in 1992, when we narrowly lost the B Section Grand Final to Old Trinity in the mud at Elsternwick. Yesterday, St.Bernards kicked three first quarter goals into a strong breeze to take a handy early lead, but the Tonners’ mid-field began to win the second quarter clearances when Ben Jarick took over in the ruck and Tom Fisher’s strong work lifted the men in the middle, and the home side booted six goals into the wind to take control by half-time.
Josh Dickerson returned to the side for the first time this season to play his 299th game as a tune-up for next week’s milestone match. The big fellow did enough to hold his place and supporters should make the trip to Bulleen next week to celebrate Dicko’s achievement at Carey Grammar. Josh has been a wonderful servant for the Tonners and we look forward to honouring his 300th game with a victory next week. This was the biggest challenge of the season so far, and St.Bernards made an impressive start against the sluggish Tonners who trailed their opponents to the ball for the first twenty minutes. Michael Karayannis and Michael Dewar were our only men on the scoresheet in the first term. For some inexplicable reason, we attacked down the defensive railway side and were easily bottled up by the Bernards’ defence. They hit us three times on the counter-attack by attacking along South Road and converting their chances. Ben Jakobi and Pat Liston were in everything but we looked in trouble at the break.
Tom Fisher won the first clearance when play began and shortly after, Nick Coroneos atoned for an earlier miss when he drove a ball low into the breeze. It cleared the line, but he left the ground soon after with a leg problem. Freed in front, the industrious Luke Forato made no mistake and Matt Gadsden’s accurate snap put us back in the match and seemed to fire new intent amongst everyone. Liston, Brock Rawlinson, Fisher and The Maestro combined with an intricate pattern of hand passes that landed the ball with Andy Dewar and he put us in front after a fine mark. Under pressure, the defence ran at the invading Bernies, who kicked long with the breeze, and came threateningly down the attacking flank. They found their way through and benefitted when three Tonners failed to read the flight of a long ball and it dribbled through for their third for the quarter, but the Tonners were rolling and Tom Fisher ducked in behind Mastro’s lead, marked brilliantly and kicked another. The Maestro, laid low all week with the flu, had climbed out of bed to play, and he out-manoeuvred his opponent to mark and convert his first for the day to seal a fine quarter come-back as the Tonners led by 15 points at the break.
In a bizarre trend, the team kicking into the breeze seemed more comfortable. The Tonners again dithered along the railway tracks, a strategy that continues to frustrate balcony supporters. Mind you, it has been thus for as long as I can remember. Both teams endured strong physical battles around continual stoppages. Players found conditions difficult and fitness would clearly be a factor in the final term. Eventually, Tom Larkworthy realised the wisdom of coming long at the goal-front using the cross breeze, and Michael Karayannis appreciated the chance to dash in on the spill for his second. Tom King marked Stuey Hooy’s similar attempt to centre the ball from the tracks, played on, and screwed the ball back for a beauty. The Tonners began to find an edge and were creating opportunities with strong tackling and persistence. The Maestro was able to dribble an invaluable goal after scrambling onto another long ball from the Larkworthy boot, and by dint of holding the Snow Dogs to a single goal, we went to the break with a 31 point lead and a fair bit of momentum.
On resumption, St. Bernards attacked hard on the breeze. Our defence won more than their share of contests. Dylan Verney again led from the front and his timely interceptions saved us more than once. Stuart Hooy worked hard and Tom Garner lifted his involvement. He had attacked well in the third term, and now worked to the contests as St.Bernards fired long balls into dangerous areas. Josh Dickerson’s trusty fist cleared several times and once he marked strongly to turn the Bernards back. Matt Gadsden and Tom Fisher muscled onto stoppages. Many times we had been able to launch moves through Andy Dewar and Patty Liston, whose deft touches often allowed others to run onto the ball. The visitors booted a couple and looked dangerous, but Mastro, given a fraction of room in front of the stand, steered home a superb left-foot goal off one step. It capped off another significant contribution from the youngster.
Ben Jakobi, another who provided drive all day, chased down an opponent magnificently, allowing us to force the ball back to the square, where Andy Dewar marked comfortably and goaled. The Tonners had lifted and were running hard all over the ground. Mastromanno slid in to mark in front of the players’ race and centred his shot to the top of the square where Andy Dewar came at the rising pack from the side, and with a perfectly judged leap, rode up to take a breathtaking mark that thrilled the balcony crowd. Brother Michael, who had suffered all weak from a spider bite infection, tapped him on the head as he landed. Both brothers had worked hard and tackled repeatedly to hold the ball in our forward line. Andy kicked his third from the square to seal the match. It had been a rousing struggle between two of the division’s more impressive combatants, and the Tonners deserved their victory in the first of the matches the two clubs will contest this season.
OLD BRIGHTON GRAMMARIANS: 2.5 8.6 11.11 14.15.99
ST.BERNARDS OLD COLLEGIANS: 3.0 6.3 7.4 11.7.73
Goals: A. Dewar 3, Mastromanno 3, Karayannis 2, M.Dewar, Fisher, King, Forato, Gadsden, Coroneos.
Best: A. Dewar, Fisher, Liston, Jakobi, Jarick, Gadsden, Garner.