SULLIVAN/CAVEN/BENTICK in VAFA win

01 April 2015

Bernards Tom Caven,Adam Bentick and Tom Sullivan helped the VAFA rep team come from two goals down to pip Northern League by four points in a nail biter at princess park.

All three players made strong contributions with Tom Sullivan put in a very sharp game getting the "spirit of the vafa" award for his play . So for another year vafa are the top suburban league in greater melbourne 
 
MATCH REPORT (from VAFA website) 
The VAFA senior representative side has miraculously won the AFL Victoria Metro Championships with a come from behind five point win over a desperately unlucky Northern Football League at Carlton’s Ikon Park.
The VAFA stole victory from the jaws of defeat, only assuming the lead for the first time in the whole match with less than five minutes to go, then clinging desperately to every tackle, and jumping late to ensure every spoil, the VAFA won a game they had seemingly had no right to win 7.7.49 to 5.14.44 to retain the number one ranking of Melbourne’s community competitions.
Northern had jumped the VAFA early, with the Big V failing to have a meaningful stat for the first 7 minutes of the match. The NFL had established a three goal lead before Adam Bentick (St Bernard’s) pegged one back for the VAFA. Northern’s crisp ball movement and pressure were wreaking havoc through the midfield, and the elusive Shane Harvey was proving a handful up forward. Harry Tinney would have the last laugh in this contest though, as he locked down on Harvey and produced excellent rebound for the VAFA, eventually winning the VAFA’s Best on Ground Medal.
The second term saw the VAFA start the climb back, via goals to skipper Matt Handley (Old Xaverians) and Old Scotch midfielder Jack Bull before Harry Croft (Collegians) kicked truly late in the term to leave the VAFA within a couple of kicks at half time. Whilst Northern added another goal, but the margin never got beyond four goals, which given the low scoring nature of the game seemed could have been a game breaker.
Woodrow Medallist Brendan Iezzi (Old Trinity), Bede Mahon (Uni Blacks) Bull and Bentick started to read the tap work of John Shaw (Old Xaverians) a little better and the VAFA’s skills which had been badly offline in the opening exchanges started to find their targets more often. Despite this improved performance the VAFA couldn’t convert any of their early chances, and it was the NFL that finished the third term the strongest. However, with all the possession the NFL had, they too couldn’t convert and a goalless quarter meant that for all their dominance, the NFL led by just 13 points at the final change.
VAFA coach Cam Roberts, implored his side to have one last effort at three quarter time, “I still don’t think we have reached our best, but we are only 13 points down” he told the team as they prepared for what would be a memorable final quarter.

Roberts pulled a rabbit out of the hat by sending his Blacks premiership defender of last year, Adam Pitt, to the forward line and he had an immediate impact, marking one handed from the first centre clearance, but his kick was punched through for a minor score.
Tom Sullivan (St Bernard’s) seemed to be in everything, whilst the VAFA half back line, led by Will Tardif (Collegians) kept running and repelling the NFL attacks. A free kick for holding the ball was converted by Jack Bull to close the gap, then Mahon broke through centre half forward to nail a running goal and the gap was a solitary point. Then the ball was sent deep into attack again and Handley – who regularly had two to beat all day – was deemed to have been held for a free kick, as the ball fell to the ground, Pitt picked up the ball and dribbled a snap through to give the VAFA the lead for the first time in the day with less than five minutes to go.
Northern had a chance to take back the lead via a free of their own, then another shot from the boundary but both kicks missed. Croft marked 40 metres out with a minute left to seal the game. After taking his full 30 seconds, his kick missed and Northern with 22 seconds remaining has one last chance to take the ball the length of the ground. The NFL players endeavour cannot be questioned as they rocketed the ball to centre half forward, but the VAFA players were equally desperate and managed to force a turnover to hold on and win by five points
As VAFA vice captain, Brendan Iezzi said post match, “That last 20 seconds was the most stressful football I have played, to win a game like that means so much, we were lucky but we never gave up.”
Call Stephen Speilberg or Baz Luhrmann perhaps, because Hollywood could make a film about this one, “The Great Escape” or “The Heist” have both been done, so let’s try “Spirit of the Big V” because that’s what this group of 24 players showed on Saturday.
VAFA: 1.1, 4.2, 4.5, 7.7.49
NFL: 4.3, 5.7, 5.12, 5.14.44
VAFA Goals: J Bull 2, A Bentick, H Croft, M Handley, B Mahon, A Pitt
NFL Goals: P Fitzgerald, B Fennell, S Harvey, C Gaylard, J Donaldson
VAFA Best: H Tinney, B Iezzi, J Bull, T Sullivan, A Pitt, W Tardif
NFL Best: N. Riddle, J. Kennedy, J. Donaldson, B. Marshall, N. Carter, M. Dennis
VAFA Best on Ground Medal: Harry Tinney (Old Trinity)
Spirit of the Big V Award: Tom Sullivan (St Bernard’s)

The Committee