September 7, 2019, 2:30 pm
|Melbourne High School||0.1-1||2.2-14||2.6-18||2.12-24|
That was better. Much, much better.
Brunswick NOBs responded to the belting they copped the week before by taking care of Melbourne High School Old Boys by a comfortable 58 points at Garvey Oval on Saturday to earn a spot in the grand final and promotion straight back to Division 1 in 2020. Congratulations to the players and coaches on this great achievement.
Preliminary finals are always the most nervous of affairs with so much riding on a single game and this one was no exception. Kicking with the aid of a strong breeze in the first quarter, Brunswick had a severe case of the yips in front of goal, with 0.7 on the board with less than a minute to go, and our supporters were decidedly worried that we may be blowing our chances. It took a Dom Sullivan special from a set shot on a tight angle to break our duck and settle those nerves just a little in the shadows of quarter time.
The Unicorns opened the second term with a wonderful running goal and our furrowed brows were back: would they make us pay for our wastefulness? To the credit of our players, we took control of the game for the crucial next 20 minutes. It began in the centre where the pressure of our midfielders was excellent, led by the returning James Moverley who relished the contest. Across half-back Jed Carey and Lewis White, another inclusion, were impassable, while captain Danny King was very busy. Our dominance in this period resulted in a couple of goals into the wind, the first to Matt Brown after a slow build-up and the second was a snap over the shoulder by Kyle Adams from a more chaotic entry. A late goal to Melbourne High made it 2.1 apiece but importantly we were still 12 points in front.
With the wind still strong, our prospects would rest on the third quarter. We needed to take our chances, and that we did. David Royle was moved to centre half forward and instantly reaped the rewards of making himself a target in the hot spot our midfielders like to pepper. Then Chris Ford took over, presenting as a deeper target. An early miss was followed by back-to-back majors and our forward structure was looking so much better. The irrepressible Geremie Ganino then bobbed up to extend our lead to 36 points. Another goal to Adams and then Ford’s third for the term (to go with six marks) broke the back of the Unicorns, who had done themselves no favours with two critical misses from directly in front in the early part of the quarter.
The sting had largely gone out of the contest in the final term, but it was encouraging for the week ahead that we kept working hard all over the ground. That the Unicorns were goalless after halftime was a credit to our defence, while Ben Wilson and Moverley snagged two good goals to round things off.
There were many excellent contributors to our big win over the course of the game. In the midfield, James Schmidt, JP Perez, Brown, Luka Vlassopoulos and Matt Dickson were all effective, while Moverley was very important with his pressure and presence. Carey and White gave our half-back line a real solidity, which meant that Mick O’Donoghue could be the general at full back. After halftime the structure of our forward line was also much better, with Royle and Ford proper targets, while Sullivan, Ganino, Adkins and Adams all remained dangerous options.
Make no mistake, the Brunswick side which faces Whitefriars in the grand final on the weekend will be a very different conveyance to the one which folded up at Box Hill. We are a real chance provided we bring our best pressure game. See you at the big one as we chase our first flag since 2012!
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