Melbourne High School
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After some nervy moments at Gillon Oval on Saturday, Brunswick navigated their way to a top-two finish in season 2023 with a strong finish to their round 18 clash with a game Melbourne High School Old Boys, despite losing a trio of tall players to leg injuries along the way.
As a reward for winning 13 games – including eight out of nine at home – the NOBs will face Parkside this Saturday in the second semi-final, with the winner straight through to the big dance, and Division 1 in 2024, and the loser to the preliminary final.
For much of Saturday Brunswick were chasing the game, as the Unicorns brought great intensity to the contest, and there were furrowed brows amongst supporters as rucks Tom O’Farrell and Jasper Paevere, then centre half-back Lewis White, limped off the ground, but to their credit the NOBs gained control of the midfield late in the third term and brought it home with a four goal to one last quarter.
In good conditions, the first term belonged to the visitors. They kicked the opening two majors inside five minutes, before Anthony Alexandris and Tom Wilson snagged their first goals of the day to level the scores, but with Brunswick’s normally composed defence looking wobbly the Unicorns slotted another couple to take a 12-point lead into the first break.
Early in the second quarter Brunswick started to turn things back their way, with goals to Tom Wilson and Angus Coverdale making it a one-point game, but the Unicorns again wrested the momentum and extended their lead to 15 points close to the main break, before Angus Ross kicked an important late goal.
It seemed like the first goal after halftime would be important, and it went to the visitors, before an arm wrestle ensued for the next quarter of an hour, broken by a major to Paevere who had bravely returned to the field. The Unicorns, though, had a quick response and again led by 14 points at the 20 minute-mark. Crucially, late on, Brunswick’s best forwards on the day in Alexandris and Tom Wilson finished off some good work by the midfield to again make it a one-point game at three quarter-time.
With their tails up, Brunswick then slammed on another couple of majors inside the opening two minutes of the last quarter, through Harris Mittar and Alexandris, and led by 11 points. The visitors wouldn’t lie down, though, and narrowed the gap to four points after 12 minutes, but the NOBs then steadied, with goals to Ross and Alex Avraam sealing the win and the double-chance.
After being unexpectedly thrust into the ruck in the first quarter, Will McKenzie relished the challenge and played a huge game. Skipper Ben Wilson and the consistent Angus Ross were also instrumental in the midfield getting on top in the second half, while Gabe Banova showed composure and skill on his return to the side. Gus Coverdale was again very good as a line-breaker, Tom Hedley ran hard all day on the wing and Tom Wilson presented well as a forward target.
Be there on Saturday at Northcote’s Bill Lawry Oval to support the NOBs in their biggest game since the 2019 grand final!
Pearson St, north of Victoria St, Brunswick VIC