On a day of drama at Garvey Oval on Saturday, arch rivals Old Paradians shot out to a commanding lead in the third quarter before Brunswick reeled them back in, then hit the front at the start of the final term, but couldn’t hold on as the home side kicked the last two majors of the game to sneak home by six points.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, but, to be fair, the better side on the day won. For the second week running, it was a slow start that was the killer, with the NOBs conceding the first four goals of the game, and while they mounted a strong comeback, the effort eventually told and they were unable to finish the job. The players must now regroup and look to play four quarters against another top four side in West Brunswick at Gillon this week.
The home side dominated the opening term. They were first for the ball and played the tricky conditions much better than the NOBs, although two goals in a couple of minutes against the run-of-play to Tom Wilson and Tom O’Farrell, together with some late misses to Parade kept us in it.
A major in the first 20 seconds of the second quarter to Parade took them to a 19-point lead, following which an inspirational smother and goal by Aidan Pollock sparked the NOBs and consecutive majors to Kristian Ciciulla made it the narrowest of margins. But another sequence of four-straight goals to the home side prior to half-time ensued, which would prove to be critical to the final result.
The second half began as the first had ended, with Parade well on top, and when a kick-out error gifted them a goal, the margin was out to 34 points. The ensuing comeback was a slow burn, starting with a sensational pack mark to the ever-improving O’Farrell in the goal square, before Ciciulla and Max Naughton goaled from free kicks (which was a recurring theme of the day for both sides) and Ciciulla added another. Swingman Lewis White then slid forward and slotted a long major to make it a one-point game again, before Jasper Paevere took a mark on the three-quarter time siren and kicked the most controversial behind of the year to tie things up.
The controversy arose because the ball sailed straight through the big sticks but the Parade goal umpire detected a touch from 30m away, which was not observed by the closest field umpire, but upheld by the other. Unsurprisingly, such befuddling officiating did not go down well with players, coaches or supporters and it took a while for the sides to form their three-quarter time huddles.
In any event, the equation was a simple one – whoever won the final quarter would win the game – and it looked like Brunswick would be that team in the early stages as a narrow miss was followed by a second goal to Naughton to make it a seven-point advantage. Thereafter the game became a slog, dominated by stoppages, as both sides looked to be out on their feet. Another gilt-edged opportunity for the NOBs failed to produce a score and, thereafter, Parade found a second-wind and pressed hard, first with a behind then a goal to level the scores (again) with 3:55 left on the clock. Then came another controversial umpiring decision in the home side’s goal square to gift them a six-pointer with less than two minutes remaining, which was the last score of the game.
On a day when many NOBs players were down on their best form, there were some outstanding contributors, led by Matthew Palmer in the middle of the ground, while Ciciulla, O’Farrell and Naughton were instrumental in keeping us in the contest. Liam Whelan was again gallant on the last line of defence, with Angus Buckley providing run off half-back, and Ben Wilson was tireless on the ball.
A massive local derby awaits at home on Saturday. See you there!
Plenty Road and Ambrose Treacy Drive, Bundoora VIC