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Damian Hannam - Secretary

There was a sense of history in the air last Saturday as we got set to host our first home match of 2017.  Apart from staging the first of our 9 triple-headers, it was also our annual Past Players Day where we would be honouring the 50th anniversary of the 1967 A-Grade flag.

The nostalgia didn't stop inside the rooms, as the recent wet weather had turned the car park into a northern suburbs version of Moorabbin Oval from the 1970s and 80s.  The ground was as good as usual though, so there were to be no complaints from the players.

The Under 19s opened in positive fashion, but unlike last year when they got the better of Oakleigh, the Krushers had our measure this time around.  We fought valiantly, but a combination of a few new faces and our lack of match fitness saw them hold us at arms length and win by a touch over five goals.  To their credit, our boys never gave up and more training and match fitness will see more positive results come our way.  Matthew Biviano continues to develop into a fine player and was best afield, along with Panashe Masawi, both showing why they will be important players for the OPs in years to come.  Adam Nolan and Jacob Healy are both light of frame, but were heavy on workload and were great contributors on the day as well.

Luke McCann breaks away from two St Leos opponents

The Reserves boys will rue the one that got away as they went down to Emmaus St Leos.  They held the lead and the control for the first three quarters, but then were overun in the last, kicking 1.4 to the visitors 5.1.  It's fair to say that we had the better individual players on the park, but St Leos had the cohesion at the finish when it mattered.  On a positive note, we look to have found a good target up forward in Cameron Drake, booting two goals, and bringing out some sticky hands, and it was great to have Brent Fairley back, with "Floss" showing some genuine grunt in the middle, and topping it off with three goals.  If he was a racehorse, you'd say he will be better for the run.  They were ably assisted by Nathan Fraser and Matt Raponi, who was one of the shining lights in the last quarter, but in the end we went down by 10 points.

Thirteen member of the 1967 A-Grade premiership were on hand to watch their Old Paradians run out for the main game.  We were all hoping that some of that collective success would rub off on the boys, and for a time it looked like it would.  We were down a few men after the injury stick hit us two week ago, but we welcomed back Sean Money and Matthew Derham, and introduced Ricky Bramham to the Club, and eight-goal sharpshooter, Christian White up from the Under 19s.  The first half was a tight tussle and the Animals went in a goal up.  Special mention in the first jalf has to go to Robbie Amerena who was chasing and tackling like a man possessed.

We took a slender lead into 3/4 and on paper, looked to be the better team to see out the game.  Unfortunately that paper got shredded in the first five minutes of the last quarter, as St Leos steamed out of the blocks and kicked three quick goals.  We fought back through a long bomb from Michael Boundy, and clever goal from Marcus Nolan (you wouldn't expect anything else from those two), but we couldn't get over the line, and fell two points short.  Just like the Reserves, we will feel like that was the game that got away, and in what will be a tight Division 2, we need to bank those in the future.  We've definitely got the players and coaching prowess to do it.  In the last quarter we put on 3.4 and St Leos banged through 5.0.  Accuracy and better ball movement proving the difference.

Will Gilmore has started to warm to his role in the backline, and Dan Hennessy had his best game in his short stint at the Club.  Marcus Nolan and Matty Derham were also good contributors.

This week all our teams venture to the leafy surrounds South of the Yarra.  The Unders are in Malvern against De La Salle at 920am, and the Senior teams against Prahran Assumption in Armadale at Toorak Park from 1140am

Go Raiders

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