COLLEGIANS booked themselves a spot in this year’s VAFA premier grand final with a convincing win over Old Xaverians on Saturday afternoon.
Coming off a tight win over Xavs in the final round, Collegians overcame a slow start to finish 15.11 (101) to 9.9 (63) winners at Sportscover Arena.
Xavs got off to the better start, limiting Collegians forward entries and pumping the ball forward to set up an early lead.
Xavs took a 13-point lead into the first break, and a second-quarter arm wrestle meant little changed, as neither team could break away and set up a big lead.
Collegians started to click into gear in the third term, running the ball through the midfield and kicking forward with more precision as their forwards started to get on top.
At one stage Collegians moved 21-points clear but Xavs showed why they led the competition for much of the year to claw their way back into the contest.
Collegians were able to turn a seven-point lead at the final break into a comfortable win with five unanswered goals, keeping Xaverians to just one behind in the final quarter.
Nick Sautner was a dominant force up forward all day for Collegians, finishing with five goals, while Shura Taft and Nick Ries also slotted three each for the winners.
Collegians co-coach Simon Arnott said his team’s start could be put down to nerves, but that they responded exactly as he had hoped.
“They [Xaverians] started well and our boys were a bit rattled early on,” Arnott said.
“We didn’t change much after that … we settled into it a bit more and were able to play our game and move the ball quickly down to our forwards.
“It was a real team effort, everyone stepped up at certain stages.”
Collegians now enjoy a week’s rest before the grand final, and while confident of one more win, Arnott isn’t about to get carried away.
“It all starts again for us,” he said.
“You never know what’s going to happen in finals, what the conditions will be like or how the boys will react to a big crowd.
“It all becomes even again, but it’s just great to be in the grand-final.”
COLLEGIANS 15.11 (101)
Goals: N. Sautner 5, S. Taft 3, N. Ries 3, L. Ferguson 2, J. Harvey , J. Bull. Best: L. Ferguson, N. Ries, W. Tardif, J. Kamener, N. Sautner, J. Bull
OLD XAVERIANS 9.9 (63)
Goals: P. Ambrose 2, M. Handley 2, O. Gidley , J. Williams , L. Tiernan , M. Ball , B. Rogerson Best: J. Agius, N. Dimattina, M. Ball, R. Colbert, B. Kennedy, B. Rogerson