Prahran Assumption kept its VAFA Division 1 finals hopes alive with a brave, come- from- behind five point win over arch rival BulleenTemplestowe on Saturday.
Bulleen Templestowe won all three clashes between the teams last season including a two point grand final win.
This was a classic ‘eight point game’ with both teams locked on four wins heading into the half-way mark of the season.
The Two Blues are now sixth on percentage, but equal on five wins with third placed Old Mentonians while Bulleen Templestowe is now seventh, a game and considerable percentage adrift.
As coach Ash Mills said post game it was a credit to the team to bounce back from such an insipid effort against Ormond two weeks earlier.
“To achieve that against and old and respected foe is a real credit to you. The desire was there all day, the execution improved in the last quarter,’’ he said.
From the first contest of the match when ‘Junior ‘ Vuli laid a bone crunching tackle, it was clear the Two Blues were not going to fail for lack of effort in contrast to their limp effort against Ormond.
But a rash of skill errors and a mounting tally of frees against for some crude tackles proved costly.
The Bullants looked to have a class edge all day yet the Two Blues kept persisting with Nathan Davey outstanding in the ruck, and Blayne Dempsey, Jack Matherson and Liam Hunt safe in defence.
The forward line struggled until Pete Cristoforo burst to life with three goals in the third quarter and Sleight became a presence moved from centre half-forward into the ruck.
When the Bullants stretched their lead to 27 points late in the third quarter it seemed a case of ‘game over.’
But a goal on the three-quarter time siren by Cristoforo raised a flicker of hope for Two Blues fans.
Mills predicted it would take a six goals last quarter coming home with the aid of a slight breeze to win the match.
As it transpired the Two Blues bettered that by posting seven last quarter goals in a rousing revival.
From the moment Matt Wall snared a centre square clearance and Tim Maya pounced to snap a goal in the first 20 seconds of the last quarter, the contest was alive.
The Two Blues raised their intensity and goals to Pat Harris, Daniel Anglin and Cristoforo saw the scores level.
But when the home side added a goal and a point, the faith of Two Blues supporters was tested again.
Yet the Two Blues rallied with an Adam Sleight mark and goal and then a miraculous boundary line snap goal from John Robbins gave the visitors the lead for the first time since Ryan Pascoe kicked the first goal of the match.
Robbins soon after ran into an open goal and stretched the lead to 11 points.
No sooner had Prahran Assumption supporters started celebrating Peter Florence goaled from a free kick to narrow the margin to five points.
Two Blues supporters began to have visions of the nightmare of 12 months ago when they saw their team cough up an eight goal lead to a rampant Bullants.
But time was on the Two Blues side and the siren sounded moments after the centre bounce to give the visitors a hard earned win.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 2-1 6-1 10-3 17-6 (108)
BULLEEN TEMPLESTOWE 3-1 7-5 13-6 16-7 (103)
Goals: Cristoforo 5, Robbins, Harris, Pascoe 2, Quirk, Donahoo, Anglin, Maya, Wall, Sleight.
Best: Anglin, Davey, Macdonald, Cristofor, Hunt, Matherson.
Undermanned Prahran Assumption tried hard but found goals elusive against Bulleen Templestowe.
The Two Blues are now two games adrift of fourth place and clearly injuries are taking their toll.
The return of 2011 premiership player ‘Scuba’ McIntyre for his first game of the year was one of the few highlights.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 2-1 2-2 2-5 3-7 (25)
BULLEEN TEMPLESTOWE 2-1 3-5 5-7 7-9 (51)
Goals: Sampson, Agushi, Ellis.
Best: McIntyre, T Matherson, Laverty, Haynes, Webb, Boylan.
The Prahran Assumption Club XVII side put in a workman-like display to easily account for bottom of the table Fitzroy by 47 points.
The Clubbies look entrenched in the top four in 3rd position on the ladder.
Fitzroy matched the sluggish Clubbies in the first quarter, before Prahran clicked into gear with a 7 goals to 1 in the second quarter to all but end the contest.
With the game pretty much done by half time, the second half lacked much by way of desperation in a scrappy display. The final scoreline didn’t properly reflect the difference in class between the two sides but we were glad to pocket the four points.
For Prahran, Craig Berger continued his purple patch of good form. His forward partners in skipper Sam Cooper and Daniel McGrath also played well.
Luke Farrell and Mark Ploenges were dominant around the stoppages.
Trav Jackson was welcomed back for his first game of the year and was imposing at CHB.
Nick Koehler and Chris Morton played important roles in the back half and used the ball well to set up play further afield.
Next week we face a massive challenge at home against the undefeated Xavier.
Prahran Assumption 16.6-102 def Fitzroy 7.13-55
Goals: C.Berger 5, D. McGrath 4, S. Cooper 4, L. Farrell, C. Morton, P. Cotter
Best: C. Berger, C. Morton, D. McGrath, L. Farrell, N. Ploenges, N. Koehler