PROMOTED TONNERS HAVE ONE HURDLE TO JUMP
Old Brighton Grammarians’ players justified their top billing by surging into the 2017 Premier B Grand Final, defeating Old Scotch convincingly by 23 points in the Second Semi-Final at Box Hill’s spacious City Oval.
The committed Tonners all played impressively together. They were tough and determined and worked hard all day. The oval’s width demanded that players run hard and cover ground, and Old Brighton met the challenge admirably. The game looked well in hand at three-quarter time after the Tonners’ wonderful defence had restricted the Scotchies to only two goals, while our forwards had diligently compiled a 35 point lead. When Anthony Zimmerman ran away brilliantly from his pursuers and slammed the ball over the hedges to maintain a healthy lead, the game looked over. Old Scotch rallied and won the quarter as the Tonners’ efforts eased, but they never looked the winners.
Old Brighton started well in a tough opening, as players emerged from the centre glue to construct moves into their respective scoring zones. Dylan Verney, in perhaps his best game for the year, shut down his opponent, marked regularly throughout the afternoon and distributed the footy superbly. Verney hit distant targets regularly as the Tonners stormed out of the back. He was supported brilliantly on the last line by Stuey Hooy and Ben Austen, who gave Scotch nothing. Tom Garner dominated early and Luke Healy finished strongly with a particularly prominent final term. It was reassuring to see Tom Larkworthy back, and though relatively quiet, he was solid and will be at his peak in a fortnight.
The Tonners competed hard in the clinches, Ben Jarick’s ruckwork ensuring that his mid-fielders had good chances to win the ball from stoppages. Old Scotch predictably hassled the little champ and attempted to constrain Harry’s influence. They couldn’t stop him booting our opening goal brilliantly, and the Tonners were away. Matt Gadsden drove a beauty home, then Andy Dewar was unmarked in the square when the ball was quickly kicked in from a knot of players tangling on the flank. When Anthony Zimmerman nailed a superb snap from a sharp angle, a winning lead had been established. Whenever Scotch attacked they had to get past Ben Jakobi’s masterful control of his wing before confronting the Tonner defence who continually marked, often unopposed, to turn them back.
Scotch was stunned when Michael Dewar goaled within a minute of the second quarter resumption. It would be our only major for the quarter as play ranged across the expanses as both sides sought ways through to goal. We were unlucky not to score when both Kara and Zimma were about to pounce on a loose ball that bounced perversely back to the Scotch defender who ought to buy a lotto ticket. Scotch was able to stay in the game when they eventually goaled splendidly from a distant angle and then snapped a second late in the term. For a brief time, it seemed the Tonners might be tiring a little and supporters were on edge when play resumed after the long break with the boys enjoying a 17 point margin.
Supporters need not have worried. The Tonners bounced out and ran hard, setting their sights on Daniel Anthony, who played brilliantly in this term. The veteran led at speed, opening up the scoring zone and drawing attention away from Ollie Cavallaro, who slipped out nicely to also mark on the lead and drive a wonderful long strike through. Zimmerman then found The Minstrel with an artful pass that Dan converted, and while the rest of the team competed hard to deny Scotch the chance to retaliate, he added another and suddenly we led 8.5 to 2.6 as the Cardinals foundered.
Scotch desperately fought to find a way back. They kicked a couple before the classy Zimmerman slipped out the back, broke his stride to put his pursuer off balance, then scooted away to the goal square and slammed it out of the park. Scotch got another but Jim Davis picked out Dan on the lead and he set himself from forty on the boundary. His kick fell short and Big Cav launched through a flat-footed group of Scotch defenders to mark easily and boot us back into the Premier Division. To ice the cake, the hard-working Tom Fisher, who had earlier soared over a pack to pluck one from the heavens, earned a free and goaled to thrust the Tonners into a Grand Final they richly deserve after a fine season. The job won’t be done however, until they launch the flag up the pole in a fortnight. Grand Finals are tough to win and our blokes will have to earn it with another huge effort. This is a team that has earned our unqualified support.
OLD BRIGHTON GRAMMARIANS: 4.1 5.3 8.5 11.6.72
OLD SCOTCH: 0.1 2.4 2.6 7.7.49
Goals: Anthony 2, Cavallaro 2, Zimmerman 2, Hill, Gadsden, A. Dewar, M. Dewar, Fisher.
Best: Verney, Jarick, Hooy, Anthony, Garner, Zimmerman, Healy, Fisher, Jakobi, Austen.