MHSOBFC Green: 12.14-86
Prahran Assumption: 8.15-63
It was the Battle of Chapel St. Prahran versus MHSOBFC, the loser to leave town sans latte. Could the Unicorns get up for a season defining victory, or would we be forced to stay over the river in Church Street north of the Melways E2 divide until we next met?
With a message to Slow-The-Fiddledy-dee-Down to prevent another 8:18 scoreline from rushed forward entries, the green and maroon boys hit the ground running on Saturday. Early forward line entries came in fat-side and provided opportunities for our forwards and onballers, Stuart Grigg Rioli-like in catching more crumbs from Arran Bouten than big Abe’s beard, Stu’s roving off the pack getting us off to an early lead.
The backs were kept busy in the first, Jim McGuinness doing well to keep Prahran’s former-league-leading-goalkicker Berger under control, while the Dirtworm, Calum Bennett, kept his player so far out of the game the opposition player may have contributed more by running water to his teammates. With Ben Southam once again proving dominant in the centre, the familiar Southam-Grigg combo was in full flight, Grigg kicking 3 for the quarter to push Prahran back to the Jam Factory.
The second quarter saw Prahran hit back hard like a hipster barista aggrieved at having been told his beard is ordinary and his coffee is bitter. Piling on 5 goals during the quarter, they were only interrupted by Clubbies-first-gamer Sam Shearer slotting a ripping goal after hitting a great front and centre in the goal square. With Rob Coxon and copping a match-ending blow to the ribs in the second, we lacked finishing despite some great forward entries providing us plenty of set shots. With seven behinds added for the quarter, the 4 goal 10 behinds on the scoreboard for MHSOBFC was starting to look reminiscent of the previous week.
The quarter was plagued by our tendency to serge forward a bit too over-eagerly, Prahran taking advantage on the rebound and taking the lead by 15 points before a strong mark 40 metres out saw Linford Dean lining up with only seconds remaining in the quarter.
Runner Brendan Reeiiddyy tipped Linford off to the time remaining and asked him if he could kick it, Linford turning to Reidy and winking, before pointing at the goals and stating firmly, “Watch this.” Linford then celebrated with a handstand, mimed a shotgun action and hiked his jumper over his head while he ran around the boundary high fiving the crowd. The boys were pumped and we were back at Toorak Rd in the Battle of Chapel Street.
At half-time we were buoyant, the team identifying at the break that we needed to keep position on the defensive side of the contest and to lock down on Prahran’s major on-ball playmaker. James Hansford and Josh Vellin both putting up their hands to share the task, Adam Granger already having taken on the task of minding the dangerous Berger.
In a battle, plans are one thing, but executing can be another thing. But in the third, execute we did. Our pressure acts were supreme, James McDonagh and Sam Shearer exceptional with their tackling and providing us with opportunities that could have easily gone the other way. Newcomer to the Clubbies Paul Niklas was similarly disciplined, his hard running and strong marking a highlight.
But it was a quarter where it just clicked. Wingers Damien Damian Grantham and Chris Miller were both excellent with their two way running giving the defence extra cover and the forward plenty of opportunities. Matt Grylls and Hénry Paye were both great down back whilst the Dirworm continued his absolute domination, leaving wormdirt behind him.
But is was the Bouten and Grigg combo up forward that paid dividends, Bouten spinning out of the pack like Rudolf Nureyev to dish Stu a goal on the run whilst snagging another two goals for himself. Coming from a 9-point deficit, we turned it around to go into ¾ time 6 points up.
As Hannibal from the A-team used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together”. We were pushing Prahran past 161, Revellers, KFC and Revolver with Lucky Coq, the Mexican restaurants and JB Hi Fi beckoning.
But if the third was good, the last was even better. Prahran threw everything at us. Kale smoothies, $50 haircut barbers, male jeggings, lattes served in avocado skins – but we absorbed it. It was a quarter of highlights. Adam Granger kicking a goal from full back after earning a 25 metre penalty, Dirtworm’s repeat efforts to trap the ball in forward line, Stu Grigg kicking his fifth goal and Arran Bouten snapping truly to seal the game. But undoubtedly the highlight of the quarter was Ben Southam taking on the man on the mark 45 metres out, baulking to the outside before running back to the inside, crowd on their feet, opposition looking on it desperate helplessness, then… a ten metre kick out of bounds on the full. A behind that Kim Kardashian would be proud of.
But it was our tenacity, discipline and willingness to do the little team-oriented things that got us there. Dirtworm’s opponent only had 1 kick for the day. Liam Duffy stood firm in tackles. James McDonagh ended up with two stiches in his brow with his tenacious pressure acts. Morgan Cole provided hard bodied attack on the ball all day. It was a true team effort, and to see those Prahran boys whimper back over Dandenong Road past the second hand stores as we brought home a 23 point victory. Stu Grigg was our top scorer, having contributed 5 goals 4 behinds to take his two week tally to a self-reported 20 shots on goal for 6 majors (he asked me to cover this up).
Every war has its turning points, its Battle of Midway, Battle of Stalingrad or its Battle of Britain. Hopefully in our assault on the finals this season, this disciplined win against quality opposition will be our season’s turning point – we’re in the four and hungry for more
Goals: S. Grigg 5, A. Bouten 3, B. Southam, L. Dean, S. Shearer, A. Granger
Best: S. Grigg, B. Southam, C. Bennett, J. Vellin, J. Hansford, M. Grylls