A depleted AJAX side’s struggles have continued into round 13 with a demoralizing 82 point loss at the hands of the Beaumaris Sharks on Saturday.
Already facing heavy casualties, AJAX were forced to make nine changes to the side that fell agonizingly short against Old Haileybury a fortnight ago, with Mark Choco Williams opting to hand Olly Hoffman, Reece Israel and Joel Burston their senior debuts.
Having not initially been named in the squad to take on the Sharks, Burston was the beneficiary of a late call-up handed to star midfielder Ash Krakeur by VFL side Port Melbourne.
After an inspirational pregame tribute from club legends both past and present ahead of Josh Ludski’s milestone 150th game, the Jackas began the encounter with typically high-intensity, a benchmark set by Cam Nankin’s crunching tackle just seconds into the match.
In the opening quarter and indeed throughout the game, AJAX displayed resolute defensive solidity, however it was an inability to create going forward that left the Jackas with little hope of getting a result against the fourth placed side in the division.
At halftime the AJAX backline, marshaled as always by Richie Simon and Zac Braun, held a normally high-scoring Beaumaris side to just 5.7 (37), but the Jackas forwards could only accumulate 0.4 (4), leaving an uphill battle in a second-half only compounded in difficulty by the losses of WA import Zak Fleisher who dislocated his shoulder as well as a hamstring injury to Jayden Yarrow.
While effort levels never waivered, the lack of rotations took its predicatble toll as a relaxed Beaumaris side ran out to a 14.22 (106) to 3.6 (24) victory over a makeshift AJAX outfit who could not be accused of shying away from the battle.
While the scoreboard made for tough reading, there were individual performances that provided a positive glimpse into the future of the AJAX footy club.
Kane Nissenbaum once again stood out with 32 disposals as well as a goal on a day where points were seemingly impossible to come by. Defender Richie Simon was clinical with each of his 20 disposals, as was Charles Hamilton who showed his composure on numerous occasions to relieve the pressure on the AJAX backline. Debutant Joel Burston showed no nerves, accumulating 14 disposals and a respectable 58 fantasy points.
Things weren’t much better over in Keysborough where the Jackettes suffered a 48-point loss to the Old Mentonians; Maddy Smart was the only goalscorer with a goal in the final quarter.
The loss leaves the girls in sixth position on the ladder, equal on points with Old Carey and a full 12-points behind Old Haileybury in fifth position.
Earlier in the day the Reserves were outgunned by a Beaumaris Reserve side that boasted the likes of former St Kilda legend Stephen Milne.
AJAX defender (and lifelong St Kilda fan) Sam Kalmus restricted Milne to just two goals for the day, using his youthful speed and agility against the 275 gamer, and earning himself a spot in the bests.
While the 38 year-old Milne was kept quiet, the rest of the Beaumaris forwards ran riot, slamming 19 goals and 18 behinds (132 points) past the Jackas defense, leaving the Ressies stranded 12 points behind fourth spot and a finals berth.
Round 14 provides AJAX with a huge opportunity to take a big leap towards safety when they take on the Caulfield Grammarians at Gary Smorgon Oval, while the Jackettes will look to improve in their matchup with the second placed Beaumaris Sharks.
Seniors – AJAX 3.6 (24) def by Beaumaris 14.22 (106)
Goals: J. Lew, W. Williams, K. Nissenbaum. Best: Z. Braun, R. Simon, N. Lewis, K. Nissenbaum, C. Hamilton, C. Nankin.
Reserves – AJAX 2.3 (15) def by Beaumaris 19.18 (132)
Goals: N. Cohen, J. Goldberg. Best: N. Cohen, S. Fayman, S. Kalmus, T. Rogers, D. Rothschild, M. Feiler.
Jackettes – AJAX 1.4 (10) def by Old Mentonians 9.4 (58)
Goals: M. Smart. Best: J. Marget, M. Smart, D. Robinson, L. Nankin, D. Abraham, J. Israel.
Ash Obel- Media and Communications Manager