The Scotchies won their way through to the Premier B Grand Final next week versus Old Brighton after a heart stopping extra time victory over St Bernards at Trevor Barker Oval on Saturday in blustery conditions.
Winning the toss, the Cards elected to kick with what was thought to be a four goal breeze. The Cards started well, but the goals were hard to come by. The Cards score of 3.7-25 was disappointing enough, but allowing the Snow Dogs two crucial goals against the breeze to lead by 11 points at the first change.
The second quarter was attritional football that resembled hand to hand combat at times as both teams sought to shut down each others running power. Hard tackles, desperate smothers and masses of bodies were the order of the day. Kicking against the breeze, the Cards seemed to gain the ascendancy and with James Sansom's snapped goal, the Scotchies were 24 points up and everything looked great.
Predictably, the brave Snow Dogs would not lay down. They hit back strongly in the last ten minutes to be only one point down at the main break, 5.9-39 to the Cards 5.10-40.
The Card needed a big third quarter to shake off the determined St Bernards. Anything less than a four goal three quarter time lead would surely be fatal. The Cards kicked three goals, and the Snow Dogs booted one of their own to have the Cards 11 points up heading into the last change.
Kicking into a strong breeze, 11 points did not look nearly enough. The Snow Dogs scored a behind early in the last to narrow the margin to 10 points. Jordan Clarke marked strongly on the lead and threaded through his set shot to stretch the margin out to 16 points. In a low scoring game, this appeared to be a potentially match winning break.
But the Snow Dogs were made of sterner stuff. They controlled the ball and attacked at will. The Old Scotch defence which had been heroic all day were under siege. With each score, the Snow Dogs crept closer. The St Bernards fans roared as they started taking strong marks up forward. The set shots were going through.
Scores level. Then a couple behinds and a goal, and the Snow Dogs were now 8 points in front. The Cards could not get the ball inside their forward fifty. More often than not, they could not even get the ball past centre. With less than five minutes of the match to play, The Cards looked dead. A wonderful season flashing before their eyes. There seemed no way to bridge the gap as St Bernards were full of running and only inaccuracy had prevented them from icing the game.
Where there is life, there is hope.
Some determined play with hard nut Dylan Gilbert featuring prominently saw the ball swept into the Cards forward pocket. The ball ended up in the hands of Jordan Clarke who whilst being tackled managed to thread through his snap from an acute angle. Suddenly with circa 2 minutes to play, the Cards were 2 points to down. Some clever build up saw the ball in the hands of Aiden Franetic whose set shot looked to be heading through but hit the post! So close!
One point the difference. Less than one minute to play.
The Cards wrestled back the ball and a hurried snap just managed to scrape through for a behind. Scores level!
The Snow Dogs playing on at every opportunity tried to wrestle back the initiative, but the Cards were now full of running and belief. A leading Jordan Clarke failed to make it to a pass in the forward pocket and the ball was pushed out of bounds. From the throw in, Max van den Broek was penalized. The Snow Dogs played on down the middle of the ground....there could only be 10-15 seconds left, tops.
A hurried kick was tumbling toward the St Bernards forward fifty where underneath the ball was Old Scotch defender Max Wills. Either side of him were three Snow Dogs players. If Wills drops the mark, the Snow Dogs will surely score...and any score will do. With the fate of the season now resting on the outcome of this contest, Max Wills under heavy physical pressure, held the mark. Wills is a great guy and a fine player, but never in his OSFC career was he ever in such a position where the fate of a whole season rested on one play. Wills did not let anyone down. The siren went soon after.
Ten minutes extra time. Two five minute halves. Will the Cards be able to keep their late charge going? Or will the Snow Dogs regroup? The Cards were now kicking against the breeze again, but crucially, would have use of the breeze for the last five minutes. The cards defense led by Alex van Ryn and Gene van den Broek - the Dutchmen - plugged any leaks in the defensive dike and kept the Snowdogs scoreless while the Cards edged ahead by a point.
The final chapter.
The last period of extra time started with an almighty roar from the St Bernards crowd as they thought they had scored a goal within a second of the restart. But, it was called touched, and a behind was registered. Scores level again. But, that was the last time the Snow Dogs would score, as the Cards poured on the pressure. Waves of tackles. Desperate smothers and a wall of defenders holding back the St Bernards efforts.
The Cards scored a behind...the lead was retaken, but it was so close that all present knew it would only take the Snow Dogs one successful attacking foray to grab the lead again.
The Cards supporters, sitting on the edge of their seats need not have worried, the boys had collectively dug deep and now it was St Bernards under siege and looking harried. What looked to be a marking infringement close to goal was called as such by the umpire, but a quick thinking Matthew Seed took the advantage and like a greyhound at Sandown Park, on the run he nailed a decisive goal to stretch the lead out to 7 points. Another behind made it 8 points.Then an errant pass toward the forward pocket, was cleaned up by the always dangerous James Sansom, who coolly picked up the loose ball and snapped from an angle through the goals. In the dying golden sunrays of a wonderful spring day, the Cards surely had the game in their keeping as the delighted Cards players mobbed Sansom.
Soon after, the siren rang out for the last time, and as the brave Snow Dogs slumped to their knees in disappointment, the heroic Cards had managed to conjure an epic win for the ages to not only put the Cards through to a Grand Final, but to also ensure that Old Scotch Football Club would once again return to William Buck VAFA Premier next season.
At the ringing of the siren, in what can only be described as scenes from a Hollywood movie, a wave of Old Scotch supporters jumped the fence and charged towards the playing group to embrace their heroes. While the older Cards supporters too frail to jump the fence and join the charge of the light brigade, stood there clapping with tears in their eyes, taking in the glory of the moment. A day that will not be forgotten by those who were there.
Alex Van Ryn was the Rock of Gibraltar in defense, to be adjudged Best on Ground. Andy Jelbart threw himself into every contest like a zealot. Gene van den Broek yet again was resolute in his "none shall pass" display in defense. Dylan Gilbert was like an all action superhero. Whenever the team looked dead, Gilbert would will himself to a contest and will himself out of it with the ball in his hands. Jack Hurley used his height and reach to telling effect in the ruck and Conor O'Beirne must have covered every blade of grass in his quest to drive the ball forward from stoppages. So many others contributed heroically in various passages...as you would expect in such a titanic struggle.
Harry "Larry" Larwill booted three majors in a typically cheeky and opportunistic display. Matthew Seed and James Sansom contributed two apiece.
Next week, it's the BIG ONE. The Grand Final against competition pace setters Old Brighton. The Tonners have been too good for the Cards on all three occasions this season and deservedly go into the big match as hot favourites. But one thing you can be assured, the boys from Old Scotch will give it a red hot go as underdogs. They need your support to feed off. If you bleed Cardinal, Gold and Blue, do yourself a favour by coming along this week to witness another historic moment in OSFC history. Come along to Trevor Barker Oval and support the boys in what may be a defining afternoon for the Old Scotch FC.
Keep an eye out this week for further details.
Old Scotch FC - 12.17-89
St Bernards FC - 9.21-75
Goal Kickers: H. Larwill 3, M. Seed 2, J. Sansom 2, L. Hill, J. Clarke, J. Bull, D. Gilbert, J. Aujard
Best Players: A. van Ryn, A. Jelbart, G. van den Broek , D. Gilbert, J. Hurley, C. O'Beirne
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