Goals: K. Adams (6), G. Bence (4), D. Mahoney (3), A. Oakley, T. Patterson, D. Beaumont, A. Roberts
Best: A. Oakley, A. Roberts, K. Adams, G. Bence, D. Mahoney, D. King
A runaway 51-point win to Brunswick NOBSPC over Whitefriars at Donvale secured our place in Division 1 for next season. That all sounds easy enough, doesn’t it. Of course, it was anything but!
Just to recap, we started the day in 8th place on the ladder two points clear of Old Paradians who were playing Ivanhoe at home. What was at stake was a drop to Division 2 (the old E Section) for the first time in the Club’s history, having last played in E in just our second season in 1964. So it meant a fair bit to the Club.
Up against a young Whitefriars outfit on a firm track our first half was lacklustre and after we conceded the first two goals of the third quarter to face a 27-point deficit – with Parade also winning their game – things were looking decidedly grim. But this was a team that had also recovered from a parlous 2 wins and 10 losses to keep its season alive and were not about to go quietly.
Adam Oakley had already been playing one of the all-time great individual games to keep us close enough at half-time and still had the ball on a string at the start of the third. Crucially, other key players began to step up, in particular Kyle Docherty, Gerrard Bence and, most emphatically, Kyle Adams who kicked two goals in a minute to get us going and repeated the dose only five minutes later, giving him an incredible four goals in a row. Our lead at that stage was only one point but the entire complexion of the game had changed. We had gone from dropping marks and losing contests to catching everything and running in waves down the ground. Bence slotted our fifth for the quarter but it was the excellent Andrew Roberts who stole the show with goal-of-the-year from the boundary line to make it six in a row. The Friars caught us napping to sneak one back but it would prove to be their final score of the game.
The last quarter was a rarity for us in season 2016 – total domination of the opposition! Dan Mahoney snagged his third for the game to show his brother that he should have been playing forward all year and when Bence pounced on a kick-out error to extend the lead to 21 points it appeared the floodgates would open early in the final term. But we lost our radar – or at least Todd Patterson and Scott Sleep did – as we kicked six successive behinds. Finally Patto popped one through from the goal square to spark off a rush of “junk time” goals, headlined by Adams’ sixth for the match, with Dean Beaumont’s first for the season capping a remarkable 78-point turnaround in 50 minutes of footy. Oh, and by the way, we needed it because Parade won!
Early doors the Friars had been the better team, with cleaner ball use and more run, while our forward entries were poor, especially into the wind in the first quarter. At half-time coach Luke Mahoney diagnosed our fumbling, static display as being down to stage fright, given the consequences of the game for the Club. When they finally released the shackles in the third quarter the players were able to play in the style that had seen them turn around their season in the last month.
Our best two players over four quarters were clearly Oakley and Roberts, while in that final 50 minutes we had winners all over the ground.
Credit must go to the players and coaches for dragging us from a seemingly hopeless position after 12 rounds to avoid relegation. Now we must take this momentum into the off-season and, critically, recruitment for 2017.
We have two big functions coming up in the weeks to come, being the All Saints Coterie dinner on Friday week, which is a sell-out, and the Reverse Raffle on Saturday 10 September at the Club. Details of our Presentation Night in early October are to follow.
Thanks for your support this year and we look forward to seeing you at the Club again soon.
Whitefriars College Oval
156 Park Rd, Donvale