St Albans shattered as last day hope turns to misery

St Albans stalwart Tim Jenkins contests the ball with Deer Park’s Sohrob Ismail. Picture Damian Visentini

The finish to the WRFL division 1 season was disastrous for St Albans.

Everything that could go wrong seemed to for the Saints on a final day that started with hope and ended in disappointment.

They went down to minor premier Deer Park by 79 points at Kings Park Reserve on Saturday, consigning them to an early holiday.

“We had a shocking day today,” Saints coach Fab Carelli told Star Weekly.

The writing was on the wall early on for St Albans. If there was a player the Saints could ill afford to lose on the day, it would be ruckman Jarrod Tuppen.

Tuppen has been lauded for his ability to work one-out all season and Deer Park has arguably the best ruck tandem in the competition in Chris Stewart and Scott Greenhough.

But Tuppen’s day was over almost before it began after he sustained a broken thumb in the first quarter and did not return to the field.

“As soon as Tupps went off, we lost it in the midfield and they got on top,” Carelli said.

As Deer Park’s lead grew, the news from around the grounds became painful listening for St Albans. The Saints needed to cause an upset and were also relying on either Spotswood or Altona losing to make the finals.

Spotswood caused a shock to beat Werribee Districts while Altona stuck to the script with a thumping win over Albion.

It was more salt rubbed into the wounds for St Albans.

Carelli wanted to finish the season off on a winning note, irrespective of the results from further afield.

But the Saints simply did not reach the same standard they had produced on their four-game winning run leading into the Deer park game.

Perhaps their momentum was sapped by having the previous weekend off.

“The back end of the year has probably worked for us because we’ve played some teams coming off the bye,” Carelli said. “Unfortunately this game it went against us. I think the bye came at the wrong time for us. We had some momentum, but coming into the last round after the bye, we were just very flat.”

Carelli paid credit to Deer Park. He said the three-time defending champions took to the field with purpose and were much cleaner with ball use.

“We weren’t clean going forward and as a good side does, they walked all over us in the end,” Carelli said.

St Albans has re-signed Carelli as coach for 2017.

He is buoyed by the form shown by the Saints towards the back end of the season.

“The football club has appointed me for next year so I’m pretty excited about that,” he said.

“We’ve got to assess our list in the next week or so and start to recruit.

“The good thing about what we’ve done in the past six weeks … we know when we play some good football and build some momentum, we’re as good as anyone.”

Deer Park will head into the finals as the team to beat once more.

The Lions are going for a historic fourth premiership in a row.

Jase Perkins and Kwame McHarg were scintillating for the Lions with five goals each in Saturday’s win.

Perkins finished the home-and-away rounds as the division’s leading goalkicker with 61 goals, ahead of Werribee Districts’ small forward Andrew Panayi (51) and teammates Brendan Fevola (46) and McHarg (44).