SYDNEY AFL FINALS WEEK 1 2014
Article and Photos by Michael Shillito

With the home and away season complete, the weekend saw us move into the business end of the season, as the finals series got under way; and by the end of the weekend the final five had been reduced to four remaining in the premiership race.

Saturday afternoon at Blacktown, and the last weekend of winter had the cool and wet weather sticking around. Second-placed Pennant Hills took on third-placed St George; and it would be a see-sawing contest that would go down to the wire, with the result in the balance until the final moments.
The Dragons were kicking to the railway end in the first quarter, and would make the early front-running. Jesse Mudge opened the goal-kicking, capitalising on some hesitation in defence by Aaron Crisfield to pounce on a loose ball and snap truly. And a cleverly-executed set shot from a tight angle by Alex Wynn set up another just a minute later.
The Demons had their chances in the opening term, but some inaccurate finishing would cost them dearly as they would manage just four behinds in the first quarter; with several more shots sailing out on the full. And the Dragons made them pay as the clock ticked into time-on, Alex Wynn on the run slamming through his second to set up a 17-point quarter time lead.
The Demons had been unable to score a goal in the first quarter, but wasted no time in drawing twin flags from the goal umpires in the second term. James Dunn from the 50 metre line didn’t quite make the distance, but Matt Thomas was there at the drop from the marking contest to snap the goal.
After a flat first quarter, the goal lifted the Demons, and a nice long-range snap by Ted Widmer got the margin to within a kick. And just as good from the set shot, Widmer got his second at the ten minute mark. For all the hard work the Dragons had done in the first term, the Demons had the lead. The Pennant Hills tails were up, momentum was running their way. Ranga Ediriwickrama had missed a couple of kickable shots earlier in the quarter, but when he found room to move before firing a lightning handball to Tim Scoular, the Demons had four in a row and threatened to build a substantial lead.
But in the final stages of the quarter, the Dragons again lifted. It was against the run of play when David Lycakis intercepted a defensive cross-kick and played on to goal. But the Dragons spent the final minutes of the second term on the forward line; with Daniel Napper butchering a shot from the edge of the square which would have given the Dragons the lead.
Tempers threatened to boil over in the final seconds of the half, but fortunately the siren sounded before the situation could escalate; the half time break giving the teams time to cool down and re-focus on the challenge at hand. Scores were level at half time, both sides rueing missed opportunities but keen to continue the challenge of the evenly-contested game.

By the time the third quarter got under way; the rain had stopped, the sun had emerged and the colours of the rainbow were in the sky. Karl Merson, sensing a pot of finals gold, snapped truly for the Dragons to restore the lead; before Sam Zikman took a knock to his back and went back for an almost instant reply.
An enthralling contest was unfolding, and the St George fans in the crowd were awakened by Daniel Napper as he drew a free 30 metres from home and kicked truly. And when Jason Saddington used his strength to mark and goal, the Dragons had a 14-point lead.
But there were plenty more twists in this tale. Ranga Ediriwickrama turned on his explosive pace to kick a steadying goal for the Demons. And Widmer was again in the thick of the action, finding himself at the end of a chain of handballs to get another and the margin was back to two points.
There would be no more goals scored in the third term, as the ball travelled back and forth around the ground. The tension was rising, the clouds were again closing in. Finals footy was here, and an arm-wrestle between two willing combatants was building towards its climax. With a three point lead to St George at three quarter time, coaches Chris Yard and Terry Mudge urged their charges to lift even more and put in a sustained final quarter burst. Neither side could break the game open, and the thrilling contest would continue in the last term.
Day had turned into night, the floodlights illuminating the yellow ball as the match moved into its thrilling final term. And a long-range bomb bounced awkwardly in the goal square before the majestic Matt Carey pounced on the ball and slammed it through to give the Demons the lead. But the lead was short-lived, with Alex Wynn being just as good with the crumbs at the other end. Two minutes gone, a goal apiece in the final term, and the three-point margin to the Dragons was restored.
Sam Zikman may have been the last name on the alphabetical team sheet for the Demons, but he was far from the bottom of the Demon pack at the eight minute mark, standing tall to mark 40 metres from home and kicking truly to give the Demons the lead back. Stephen Wilson crashed through a pack of players and just got boot to ball, and the Dragons were back in front.
The faithful of Demons and Dragons alike were enthralled. This was a see-saw, a footballing pass-the-parcel. A twisted tale, where the outcome remained in doubt. Chances were created, chances not converted. The clock ticked into time-on.
Daniel Witt showed his strength 20 metres from goal, pulling down a good mark and kicking truly to put the Demons back in front. And a moment later, Alex Goodall went for a long run, must have only just been not too far; and then slammed the ball home from outside 50. The lead was out to more than a goal; and time ran out.
The Demons had taken the match by 11 points. Alex Goodall, James Dunn & Ben Unwin had been standout performers for the Demons; while the Dragons enjoyed excellent service from Andrew Sharp, Ben Sharp and Bryce Addison.
With the win, the Demons set up a date with Manly on Saturday to play off for the first spot in the Grand Final. St George go into sudden death. But if Pennant Hills and St George are to meet up again in this year’s finals, everyone will be hoping it’s a game as enthralling as the Qualifying Final was.

Sunday’s sudden-death Elimination Final matched Wests up against Sydney Uni. Neither side went into the finals in particularly impressive form, winning only one of their last three matches; with the Students unable to score a goal in the last home and away game.
The stakes were high, and the contest was intense early as two desperate sides took the fight up to each other. Little separated the sides for much of the quarter, but the Students had a slight edge with two goals to one and a seven-point quarter time lead.
The first quarter had been evenly contested around the ground, but the Students took the upper hand in the second term. Players who had struggled in recent weeks began to find their mojo, and the Students kicked away as the quarter progressed. Three goals to one stretched the lead to 19 points at the long break. And, much as the Magpies tried, they were unable to make any inroads into that deficit during the premiership quarter. Instead, the Students added to their lead; three goals to two extending the lead to 25 points at the last change.
The Magpies were one quarter away from ending their season, and needed a big lift in the final term. But although they did manage two goals in the final term, there would be no miracle comeback. Instead, the Students had their tails up and the run of play was going their way. Celebrating the return of their promising early-season form, the Students produced a five-goal haul in the final term; keeping their season alive and earning themselves a date with St George next Sunday.
Evan Smith spearheaded the University challenge on the forward line to finish with five goals. Around the ground, David Johnson, Sam Sleigh and Jack Caspersonn were ball magnets. The Magpies received solid service all day from Stephen Hudson, Kristian Ericson and James Newbury. But it wasn’t enough to get them over the line; and Wests’ season in Premier Division is over.


So four teams remain; with Henson Park being the battle ground for next week’s Premier Division finals. Manly and Pennant Hills face off next Saturday to be the first team into the Grand Final. And on Sunday, St George and Sydney Uni will be in action in a clash from which only one team will survive.

Qualifying Final
Pennant Hills 0.4 4.7 7.7 11.11 (77)
St George 3.3 4.7 7.10 9.12 (66)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
S Zikman 2, T Widmer 2, D Witt, M Carey, S Widmer, A Goodall, R Ediriwickrama, T Scoular, M Thomas. St George – A Wynn 3, S Wilsen, D Napper, J Mudge, J Saddington, D Lycakis, K Merson.
Best : Pennant Hills - A Goodall, J Dunn, B Unwin, L Shepherd, D Dell’Aquila, S Parker. St George – A Sharp, B Sharp, B Addison, A Wynn, K Merson, H Green.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 30th August 2014.

Elimination Final
Sydney University 2.3 5.5 8.7 13.10 (88)
Western Suburbs 1.2 2.4 4.6 6.7 (43)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
E Smith 5, S Crichton 2, M Vicic 2, B Coffey 2, S Sleigh, B Fitzpatrick. Wests – W Blackburne 3, B Mumme 2, S Hudson.
Best : Sydney Uni – D Johnson, S Sleigh, J Caspersonn, E Smith, G Smith, A Dyson. Wests – S Hudson, K Ericson, J Newbury, L Scown, B Mumme, E Harper.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 31st August 2014.


Division One:
Qualifying Final
UTS 2.1 4.4 5.4 9.7 (61)
Macquarie Uni 2.5 4.6 4.10 4.12 (36)
Goals : UTS –
T Crow 2, T Nixon 2, H Whiting 2, N Haslam 2, L Lamont. Macquarie Uni – R Harris, S Ellicott, A Sliwka, G Nixon.
Best : UTS – A Davis, N Morling, H Whiting, S Horan, O Brecht, J Caica. Macquarie Uni – M Bishop, G Nixon, S Ellicott, L Mead, A Rodgers, D Brogan.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 30th August 2014.

Elimination Final
Pennant Hills 4.2 6.4 10.5 11.10 (76)
Holroyd-Parramatta 0.2 2.5 6.7 9.10 (64)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
L Bilbe 5, L Moraitis 2, N Baglin, B Miles, L Vile, G Watts. Holroyd-Parramatta – J Schwarze 3, S Williams 3, J Pidgeon, A Byrne, A Rickett.
Best : Pennant Hills – P Witt, L Bilbe, J Hare, R Watts, D Preen, M Carter. Holroyd-Parramatta – T Schmutter, A Grogan, J Pidgeon, S McKinley, A Munns, S Gill.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 31st August 2014.



Division Two:
Second Semi-Final
Sydney Uni 2.2 5.5 7.6 12.13 (85)
Blacktown 1.3 1.3 1.7 3.8 (26)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
P Casey 3, A Holmes 2, J Melville 2, T Air 2, P Ioakim, D Miller, W Sackville. Blacktown – A Moeller, D Bertram, M Clinch.
Best : Sydney Uni – W Sackville, B Foley, C Browne, D Potts, R Geraghy, B Taha. Blacktown – B Whale, D Connors, B Akmens, D Bertram, A Moeller, J Mann.
At Henson Park, Saturday 30th August 2014.

First Semi Final
Manly 4.6 9.8 10.13 12.16 (88)
Western Suburbs 2.2 6.4 8.5 11.11 (77)
Goals : Manly –
J Porter 3, A Robertson 2, D Pearson 2, J Murray 2, N Adams, P Prior, M Atkinson. Wests – M Withers 3, R Cott 2, K Walford 2, T Barrett, G Richardson, S Lear, P Maxwell.
Best : Manly – J Porter, N Adams, T Beckett, A Wright, A Pilat, B Horrell. Wests – M Withers, R Hinson, R Cott, G Richardson, P Maxwell, T Barrett.
At Henson Park, Sunday 31st August 2014.


Division Three:
Second Semi-Final
Randwick City 2.2 5.6 7.10 12.15 (87)
Penrith 3.2 5.3 5.6 5.6 (36)
Goals : Randwick City –
D Garoufalis 5, J Grant 2, M Rose, M Kavanagh, A Hooper, S Harper-Wirth, M Hofstein. Penrith – M Stevens 3, B McGovern 2.
Best : Randwick City – L Maunder, M Kavanagh, A Ireland, M Guthbert, D Garoufalis, K McDonagh. Penrith – M Payne, J Green, L Geeves, B Katte, E Kirby, J Sultana.
At Henson Park, Saturday 30th August 2014.

First Semi-Final
Sydney Uni 8.0 10.3 14.6 20.10 (130)
NorWest 1.6 1.8 2.9 4.12 (36)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
G Robbie 5, C Allworth 3, P Grundy 2, R Huxtable 2, R Wood 2, J Edwards, L McWhirter, C Boustred, J Boyd, D Risby. NorWest – P Kyle 2, J Patterson, K Clarke.
Best : Sydney Uni – C Allworth, G Robbie, A MacPherson, J Boyd, B Rankine, E Turner. NorWest – Z Coombs, E Coombs, D Guthridge, W Smith, B Jennison, J Edwards.
At Henson Park, Sunday 31st August 2014.



Division Four:
Second Semi-Final
UTS 2.2 3.2 6.2 6.3 (39)
Wollondilly 0.2 0.4 0.4 1.7 (13)
Goals : UTS –
J Hendrick 4, T Burnet, J Goodwin. Wollondilly – R Andrews.
Best : UTS – J Whealans, R Fitzgerald, J Hendrick, O Tate, D O’Donovan, D Teasdale. Wollondilly – S Paget, D Wolfe, D Hockey, J Haddock, J Weston, B Martin.
At Henson Park, Saturday 30th August 2014.

First Semi-Final
Sydney Uni 6.7 9.8 10.10 12.14 (86)
UNSW-ES 0.4 1.8 5.9 8.9 (57)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
J Heazlewood 3, L Godfrey 2, C Mohen 2, R Snodgrass 2, T King, M Lloyd. UNSW-ES – S Ball 3, D Backler 2, F Tukel 2, S Wheeler.
Best : Sydney Uni – B Clendenning, J Heazlewood, L Godfrey, A Harmer, P Chidrawi, T King. UNSW-ES – J Byrnes, C Trail, S Gentle, D Mahenthiraojah, M McRae, D Backler.
At Henson Park, Sunday 31st August 2014.


Division Five:
Preliminary Final
Blacktown 2.1 5.3 5.4 7.6 (48)
NorWest 2.4 3.4 5.6 5.9 (39)
Goals : Blacktown –
D Mcintyer 2, J Roughley, D Edmondson, G Driscoll, J Lane, L Bendt. NorWest – P Webster 3, A Duot, D Soderman.
Best : Blacktown – S Coombes, M Mbimbi, L Bendt, J Miller, D Mcintyer, J Clifford. NorWest – Z Priest, B Heggie, N Bradshaw, R Boucher, L Judd, L Viegel.
At Henson Park, Sunday 31st August 2014.



Under 19s One:
First Semi-Final
Manly 3.3 5.4 9.6 10.7 (67)
UNSW-ES 2.9 5.12 6.15 8.18 (66)
Goals : Manly –
T McCaffrey 3, G Burke 2, M Tarlinton 2, J Parker, A Wearne, W Ormonde. UNSW-ES – T Preece 2, A Davis 2, B Davis 2, M Dickson, L Towell.
Best : Manly – T McCaffrey, J Parker, D Cantwell, G Burke, M Bell, W Ormonde. UNSW-ES – S Krochmal, B Davis, K Lower, A Cupido, P Dadic, L Towell.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 31st August 2014.


Under 19s Two:
First Semi-Final
Penrith 6.2 11.8 16.10 21.16 (142)
Macarthur 1.2 2.3 2.4 5.4 (34)
Goals : Penrith –
D Nelson 4, A Ehrl 4, J Field 4, Z Pianta 3, P Dowton 2, B Skinner 2, A Boelhouwer 2. Macarthur – M Broadstock 2, J Franchi 2, L McCann.
Best : Penrith – J Field, Z Pianta, A Erhl, A Boelbouwer, J Dowton, C Nolan. Macarthur – M Broadstock, L McCann, L Vella, A Bowen, N Wright, W Normoyle.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 31st August 2014.


Women Division One:
First Semi-Final
Newtown 1.0 2.0 2.0 4.2 (26)
Macquarie Uni 0.1 0.4 2.8 2.8 (20)
Goals : Newtown –
A Schroder 2, N Devlin, C Briggs. Macquarie Uni – J Wong 2.
Best : Newtown – A Ruut, C Lees, N Devlin, R Graham, T Noble, H Legg. Macquarie Uni – A Farrugia, J Willemse, B Muldoon, K Sutcliffe, L Waisu, L Fassone.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 30th August 2014.

Second Semi-Final
Sydney Uni 1.1 2.2 2.4 2.6 (18)
UNSW-ES 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 (2)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
M Gray, S Walker. UNSW-ES – Nil.
Best : Sydney Uni – S Kaukiono, S Lew, L Creber, C Sullivan, A Wood, K Byrne. UNSW-ES – L Marzotto, M Nguyen, K Edwards, M Collier, E Hodson, S Lauf.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 30th August 2014.



Women Division Two:
Preliminary Final
Wollongong 2.0 6.4 6.6 8.9 (57)
Penrith 2.2 2.2 4.5 4.5 (29)
Goals : Wollongong –
C Stanton 4, K Everingham-Geary 3, K Chan. Penrith – N Perrett, J Payne, N Brydon, J Burnham.
Best : Wollongong – K Chan, C Moane, C Stanton, L Russell, N Kennedy, Y Heritage. Penrith – M Brydon, K Badger, N Camilleri, N Perrett, S Halse, A Green.
At Henson Park, Saturday 30th August 2014.


NEXT WEEK’S MATCHES

Premier Division:
Saturday 6th September – Henson Park
Second Semi-Final – Manly v Pennant Hills (3:30pm)
Sunday 7th September – Henson Park
First Semi-Final – St George v Sydney Uni (2:30pm)

Division One:
Saturday 6th September – Henson Park
Second Semi-Final – Balmain v UTS (1:10pm)
Sunday 7th September – Henson Park
First Semi-Final – Macquarie Uni v Pennant Hills (12:10pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 6th September – Blacktown ISP
Preliminary Final – Blacktown v Manly (6pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 6th September – Blacktown ISP
Preliminary Final – Penrith v Sydney Uni (12:15pm)


Division Four:
Saturday 6th September – Blacktown ISP
Preliminary Final – Blacktown v Sydney Uni (10am)

Division Five:
Sunday 7th September – Blacktown ISP
GRAND FINAL – Penrith v Blacktown (3:30pm)

Under 19s One:
Saturday 6th September – Henson Park
Second Semi-Final – St George v North Shore (11:05am)

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 6th September – Henson Park
Second Semi-Final – Western Suburbs v Moorebank (9am)

Women Division One:
Sunday 7th September – Henson Park
Preliminary Final – UNSW-ES v Newtown (10am)

Women Division Two:
Sunday 7th September – Blacktown ISP
GRAND FINAL – Southern Power v Wollongong (10am)


FIRST GRAND FINAL DAY
The first two premiership flags for the 2014 season will be up for grabs on Sunday. A packed program at Blacktown International Sportspark features the first two Grand Finals of the 10 competitions that make up AFL Sydney.
10:00am – Women Division Two. Southern Power v Wollongong
3:30pm – Division Five. Penrith v Blacktown