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It was a tough day at the office for Brunswick at Whitefriars in the Division Two grand final replay. A spate of injuries resulted in nine forced changes to the team that went so close against Therry the week before, leaving only eight players from the 2019 GF side to take the field at Donvale.
Four of those who came into the side were debutants, including Angus Ross and Lewis McKenzie, who had each played a full game in the Under 19s at Gillon Oval that morning. They joined Will McKenzie and David Marchione as Brunswick Junior Football Club graduates, which was a cause for excitement despite suffering a heavy loss.
In perfect conditions, Whitefriars started the game in their trademark style, with a goal straight from the centre bounce in under 15 seconds. Thereafter, we actually had the better of the early exchanges, with the half-back line springboarding a number of inside-50 entries which we couldn’t capitalise on until the last couple of minutes of the quarter when Choco Royle got us on the board to even things up. Unfortunately, this served to fire the home side up, as they kicked a rapid response from the centre, followed by two more before the first break, to give them an unlikely three-goal lead.
The second term was not our best. Whitefriars were all over us, but luckily couldn’t take their chances. The backline held up well – led by the Wills, Nevill and McKenzie – but elsewhere we were second to the ball and struggling to stick our tackles. Chris Ford, who was good in the air all day, kicked a late goal to ensure we were still in touch at halftime.
The third quarter was not dissimilar to the second, but with one crucial difference: now the Friars couldn’t miss. Starting with their customary goal from the centre bounce, they slammed on six goals in-a-row to put the game to rest. Our effort could not be questioned but poor field kicking was our Achilles heel, while the Friars were clean and precise. Ford finally got us on the board for the term and Pat O’Donoghue slotted one as he started to show some of his old form. Marchione went close on a couple of occasions but couldn’t quite reproduce his magic of the week before.
In the final quarter, with the heat largely out of the contest, we had a number of early misses. Then the Friars took the ball down the other end and took their chances. The defence continued to impress and the midfield battled away. Matthew Palmer kicked a deserved late major, keeping up his record of a goal in every game this year. For the second half, it was 12.3 to 3.7, which was an accurate reflection of the game. We kept on pressing but couldn’t get reward for effort, while the home side had more polish.
Will Nevill was outstanding over four quarters, as was Will McKenzie. Palmer continues to impress in the midfield, where stand-in skipper James Schmidt also tried hard, as did James Moverley and Reubin Fulton-Grigg. Daniel Spiers and Chris Gavaghan were also good in defence. Special mention must also go to Angus Ross and Lewis McKenzie, who showed they were capable of playing at senior level (and eight quarters in a day).
Whitefriars College Oval
156 Park Rd, Donvale VIC