Brunswick’s season wasn’t meant to end this way! But, as often happens in VAFA finals played at unfamiliar windy bayside ovals, the NOBs simply couldn’t get their game to click against arch-rivals Old Paradians at Williamstown on Sunday, going down by 10 points in the first semi.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after a season in which a great deal of promise was shown, but, in the end, while the effort was there, the execution on the day certainly wasn’t. Basic skill errors, a non-functioning forward line, and a propensity to give away silly free kicks and 50m penalties, all combined to produce a performance that was below the team’s best. Credit must also go to Parade who defended extremely well and were more potent in attack.
The game started in ideal, sunny conditions, but a strong northerly began to pick up during the opening term before really asserting its authority by the final quarter. Parade got the first goal aided by an unfortunate 50, and the next due to a turnover at half-back, where the NOBs were finding it hard to hit targets. Angus Ross then kicked a classy goal at the city end, which would prove be the one-and-only for the day, as Brunswick began to win the ball in the middle of the ground but too often got stuck on the bayside wing where the breeze made it tough to move forward. Parade added a third major, this time from a free directly in front, and the margin was 13 points at the first change.
The second quarter was an exercise in frustration as the NOBs struggled to take advantage of the wind, despite game being mainly played in front of the grandstand at the southern end. Liam Weightman was able to snag an early major with pace and skill, but the next took until the last minute of the term through a classy finish from co-captain Nick Burgin, who was one player able to handle the tricky conditions. When swingman Lewis White won a free with seconds remaining to halftime the ensuing kick after the siren couldn’t have been in safer hands as Brunswick extended their lead to seven points.
The premiership quarter was always going to be pivotal to the contest and it was Parade who came out after the long break full of run, with two quick goals to wrest back the lead. Kicking into the strong wind, the NOBs had difficulty putting together any attacking moves, while Parade found targets inside 50 and were able to close out the term with another couple of majors to make the margin 20 points at the final change.
Early goals would be vital for Brunswick in the last quarter and when Matt Palmer slammed one home in the first minute hopes were high, then after Max Naughton added another to make it an eight-point game at the 10-minute mark the odds favoured Brunswick given the strength of the wind. However, the goals then dried up as Parade applied tremendous pressure and the NOBs skills deserted them, being unable to find targets inside forward 50, in a disappointing finish.
Williamstown Football Ground
Morris Street, Williamstown VIC