South Melbourne Districts
|69 - 39|
|47 - 43|
|49 - 3|
|6 - 29|
Brunswick’s run of finding a way to win the close ones came to an unexpected end on Saturday as they coughed up a 19-point lead in the last quarter to go down to fellow top-four contender South Melbourne Districts in a game that went down to the wire at Albert Park.
It was a funny game this one, with huge momentum swings the theme, and unfortunately for the NOBs the last swing was in favour of the home side.
Jonny Haddad gave us the lead early with a typically classy goal, before both teams engaged in an arm wrestle, before the Swans kicked a goal against the run-of-play after 17 minutes on the back of a defensive error. It wasn’t a pretty opening term, made uglier by some gettable shots being missed by both teams.
The first twenty minutes of the second quarter was an exercise in frustration as the NOBs dominated general play and had multiple inside-50s without reward. Indeed, after kicking the game’s opening goal, our score was 1.7, while the Swans were able to score three majors on the counter-attack, making it four in succession to them. Big Jasper Paevere then turned the contest on its head with two goals in-a-minute to reduce the margin at the main break to seven points.
As has tended to be the case this season, Brunswick came out and dominated the third quarter. After being unable to hit forward targets in the first half, especially the goals, they were very efficient, with 4.0. Tom Wilson started things off with a nice set shot, followed by Haddad with his second, then Nick Burgin chimed in, and finally Paevere snagged his third, which took us to a 19-point lead mid-way through the term. The NOBs run of six straight goals was broken by a late response from South, serving as a reminder they were still in the contest.
The first goal of the final term was thought to be critical, and when Alex Avraam slammed one through following a strong contested mark it looked good for Brunswick as they restored their 19-point lead, but there were more twists to come, as the NOBs seemed to relax ever so slightly. Perhaps they had hit the front too early on this occasion? Some silly free kicks gave the Swans a sniff and all-of-a-sudden they were winning the contested ball and the game became frantic again. In quick time, South reduced the margin to six points and the question was posed whether Brunswick could keep up their unblemished record in close finishes.
After a handy point, the home side snagged a major to retake the lead by the narrowest of margins at the 16-minute mark. The game then resumed a familiar theme with the respective backlines intercepting, but turning it over again in the middle of the ground: kick-to-kick basically. The Swans picked up another behind to double their margin, before a great goalscoring opportunity arose for the NOBS but the snap from 20 metres went astray, after which South took the ball back into their forward-line and were able to hold on. All-in-all, it was a game that Brunswick should have won given the weight of chances they created over the day, however, credit must go to South for playing out the full 120 minutes.
Brunswick’s best players were defenders Lewis McKenzie and Tahj Haddock, who held their opponents extremely well and picked up plenty of possessions themselves. Nick Burgin again led the midfield with aplomb, while Jonny Haddad was the most creative player on the field before copping an unfortunate sling tackle. Jasper Paevere played his best game of the season, imposing himself up forward. Backmen Harris Mittar and Lewis White were also very good on the day.
The long weekend comes at a good time as the NOBs deal with the usual array of mid-season injuries and absences, before facing Whitefriars at Gillon Oval in what will be a very important game in an increasingly even Division Two competition.
Lindsay Hassett Oval
Aughtie Drive, Albert Park VIC