Two AJAX teams won VAFA preliminary finals by sound margins to seal spots in deciders this Sunday, while a third bowed out when pipped in the fourth quarter.
In women’s division 3, the fourth-placed Jackettes proved too resilient, determined and willing to put their bodies on the line against second-placed Glen Eira, in a very physical game.
It was an interesting match-up, with Glen Eira leading the comp in points scored and the Jackettes conceding the least points since mid-season.
The first quarter was an arm wrestle, with Glen Eira scoring the only point.
AJAX gained the ascendency in the next quarter to lead by 13-3, through individual brilliance by Lindi Nankin and Jess Marget that resulted in two goals, while their back six’s renowned defence – led by co-captain Justine Gabriel – kept Glen Eira to just two more behinds.
Glen Eira rallied in the third quarter, breaking through for their only goal, to narrow AJAX’s lead to five points.
But when young gun Hanna Goldberg took a big mark 25 metres out and booted a goal, the momentum shifted again and a late goal on the run by Brooke Tuszynski secured a 15-point win.
Best on Ground for AJAX was midfielder Julia Caplan.
The Jackettes will make their first grand final appearance since 2019, this Sunday at 9am, when they take on minor premiers Powerhouse at Elsternwick Park.
Jackettes coach Joe Nankin said Powerhouse have only lost two matches this season, “but significantly, one was against us”.
“Our defence has held us in good stead and our motivation is huge.”
In men’s thirds division 4, third-placed AJAX led Old Xaverians by four points at quarter-time and only got better from there, leading by 21, 22 and finally 30 points in the remaining quarters, to win 12.20 (92) to 9.8 (62).
Coach Adam Michmacher said, “After an even start, we were able to get our positional match-ups right, against our opponent’s best players, stopping them from having an impact.”
Justin Vogel kicked five goals and Jarred Fibishenko three, but Michmacher said there were also a few too many misses, so there’s room for improvement.
They will face minor premiers Old Scotch – who they’ve had a win and a loss against – from 2.30pm this Sunday at Piranha Park in Coburg.
“It’s a great achievement for this group of young guys and for this club, to be in a grand final,” Micmacher said.
In the men’s thirds division 2 preliminary final, which was Zev Aron’s and Aaron Fetter’s 100th senior games, the Jackas led Beaumaris by between two and six points in the first three quarters.
Aron was on song in attack with three goals and Sam Paneth two.
But Beaumaris found another gear, winning the fourth quarter and ultimately the match by 11 points, 13.6 (84) to 11.7 (73).