NORMALLY a 41 point win by top of the ladder Prahran Assumption over second placed West Brunswick on the eve of the finals series would be seen as an emphatic statement.
But in the case of last Saturday's VAFA Division 2 clash at Toorak Park the 11-13 (79) to 6-2 (38) result came with an asterisk.West Brunswick 'rested' at least six of their best players, a ploy clearly designed with the finals in mind given it is certain the teams will meet again on second semi-final day on September 2.
The result will be viewed as a positive in both camps. Up to half-time the visiting Magpies were clearly the better team, their relentless tackling and pressure game causing the Two Blues to fumble and lose their poise. The score line of 6-0 to 3-5 told the tale with West Brunswick making the most of their chances.
But for the second half the Two Blues took total control. The undermanned Magpies' pressure fell away as the Two Blues ramped up their stoppage work and started to hit the scoreboard. A 4-7 to one point return with the wind in the third quarter, with Adam Sleight contributing two vital goals from marks, was telling and four more goals, three in a cameo from forward pocket Tim Maya, came in the last quarter. While West Brunswick scored two solitary points in the second half, the first half would have given them confidence a full strength line-up can more than match the Two Blues.
This was a day for defenders with John Stocker, Tom Atwell and Tom Freeman, after conceding two early goals, supreme while Dan Freeman, Trent Rogers and James Musster were dominant on ball.
The undoubted match highlight was a spectacular second quarter mark in the forward line by Ariel Steinberg, the former Essendon player. Toorak Park has surely never seen a finer mark. The lowlight came with the news vibrant half-forward Will Brereton's season is over with a broken ankle sustained early in the first quarter.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 2-4 3-5 7-12 11-13 (79) d WEST BRUNSWICK 3-0 6-0 6-1 6-2 (38)
Goals. Maya 3, G Hogarth, Sleight, 2, Rogers, Banks, Steinberg, Dickinson. Best. T Freeman, D Freeman, Stocker, Musster, Atwell, Steinberg.
A tense tussle and brave win with the reward of top place on the ladder and almost certainly the double chance. Evan Scicluna, fresh from 12 goals the previous week, was again crucial up forward in a low scoring contest.
PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 2-2 5-3 7-3 9-4 (58) d WEST BRUNSWICK 1-1 2-3 5-6 6-6 (42)
CLUB XVIII: PRAHRAN ASSUMPTION 3-3 (21) lost to HAWTHORN 13-6 (84)