The Xavier 1st XVIII rebounded from the round 1 loss to Geelong Grammar to roll through the opposition week on week to turn 6 and 1 and a hold second spot on the ladder at the end of the term, having beaten fancied MGS and Brighton Grammar, and also withstanding Scotch College on their turf on a bitterly cold and wet Friday afternoon, spirits were high at the team dinner that night at the Dog.
The term holidays saw the boys take a week off training and regroup on the Sunday before 3rd term started to contest the Fr Keenan Cup vs Assumption College – the game was played at Xavier and as always the boys from Kilmore put up a good fight. While Xavier appeared to have the ascendancy, ACK would not go quietly, putting on a late flurry in the 3rd quarter to go into the final term 16 points in arrears. Assumption had the benefit of a strong breeze in the last quarter and kicked the first goal to get within 10 points – this however sparked our boys to ply on 5 unanswered goals with our midfield taking all before them kicking both long range goals and hitting targets up forward, the result was a strong win for Xavier and the cup stays at Barkers Road for another year.
The next week saw a blockbuster affair looming against Carey who had all their scholarship stars back from the Metro Carnival – all that effort and finance to build a team of champions had only delivered Carey 3 wins from 7 starts to this point of the season and they were well and truly out of APS flag contention, but they were more than keen to put pay to Xavier’s APS challenge for 2012 – XC were well aware of the dangers of Carey’s sparkling line up which included Jack Viney, Nathan Hrovat, Jackson Macrae, Kristian Jaksch, Lee Andrianakis and more, all of whom are likely draft picks or have played Vic Metro along with 2 or 3 others in their team making them a formidable line-up.
The game went down to the wire after Carey got out to an early lead, Xavier fought hard to stay in touch and in the last quarter we were finishing all over the top of the scholarship boys – we had our chances but couldn’t put them away in the dying minutes only to lose the game by 4 points – Xavier’s premiership chances looked completely dashed, but as luck would have it St Kevs had dropped their bundle to Brighton Grammar which gave the boys a chance if we could win the last 2 games against Hailebury and St Kevins.
The mood was sombre for the game at Keysborough – the sad loss of teacher Gary McAllister during the week hung over both boys and teachers in attendance. Captain Joe Curran had succumbed to injury during the week and his leadership out of defence had been a key factor to our success to date. The boys however got down to the task and the affair opened up with a lively exchange of scores, Xavier parents went in for tea and cake with the team 10 points up and seemingly in control of the game – the second half however didn’t turn out as planned – Hailebury cranked things up a notch and took the lead by a couple of goals at 3 quarter time, Xavs fought back to hold a 1 point lead late in the last but Hailebury forced their way back in front to win by 2 points, the scoreboard showed Hailebury with 7 more scoring shots, so a narrow win by Xavs could have been seen as a bit of good luck, but you need it go your way in the sudden death of an APS season, still the loss hit hard and it finished the 2012 campaign for Dan and his crew.
The last round was yet to come and rivalry between St Kevins and Xavier is not lost on anyone – ladder positions could be influenced – if Xavs pulled off a win it would hand Brighton Grammar the APS football premiership and give our boys bragging rights over both teams. St Kevins had everything to play for. The game opened brightly for the black and red with the first 2 goals going the way of the home side and the huge visiting St Kevin’s contingent were very quiet down the far end of the ground - not a flare in sight at this stage of the game. St Kevs however responded and then cranked things up another notch or 10! They turned on a clinic through the second quarter kicking 10 unanswered goals, St Kevs were well drilled and their skills suggested a maturity well above their school boy years – they went on to finish out the season with the one loss to BGS and successive APS flags.
So the 2012 APS season reads 6 and 4 with Xavier in 4th place - with 3 weeks to go we were 6 and 1 and on the cusp - it hardly seems fitting that the spirit, endeavour, camaraderie and selfless team play shown by the boys should record that result, but it gives Dan and his coaches Tim Clarke, Jared Rivers and Matt Healey a base to work and build from for next year – and there is always next year for those in years 10 and 11, however for the year 12 crew….. well they are already gearing up to invade Toorak Park for lunch on 1 September and are looking forward to the next phase of their football lives down at Old Xavs!