SYDNEY AFL FINALS WEEK 2 2014
Article and Premier Division Photos by Michael Shillito
Div 5 & Women Div 2 Photos thanks to www.sydneyafl.com.au


Last year, Manly took out the premiership in their first season in Premier Division. This year, from the start, they have looked the dominant team and virtually unbackable favourites to go back to back.
They lost one game during the home and away season, and for fleeting moments in other games they looked vulnerable. But such moments were rare; and for most of the season they have swept all before them in a dominant display. But football can be an unpredictable game; and when the finals came around, the Giants found themselves perilously close to a shock defeat.

The Second Semi-Final was played at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon. It had been a wet week, and a torrential downpour in the morning while the early games were being played turned the ground into something resembling a rice paddy. And although the rain had mainly stopped by the time the Premier Division game got under way, the heavy and slippery ground would make the game a scrap.
Manly’s opponents were Pennant Hills, the team they defeated in last year’s Grand Final. The Giants had beaten the Demons easily enough in both home and away clashes this season. But with a spot in the Grand Final on the line, the danger of an upset looked all too real.
The Demons kicked with the wind in the first quarter, and took advantage of the conditions as best they could. Ball handling was problematic, but the Demons were able to keep the ball on their forward line for much of the opening quarter. Kicking the only three goals of the opening term, opening up a 16-point quarter time lead. The spectacular colours of the spectrum illuminated the sky, and the Demons would have fancied their chances of finding the pot of Grand Final gold.
Manly’s turn with the wind at their backs came in the second quarter. As was the case in the first quarter, the ball was camped under the shadow of the scoreboard end for much of the second term. But, thanks to a compensation of the inconsistent wind, some desperate Demon defence and some sloppy goal-kicking, the Giants struggled to find the big sticks as often as the run of play suggested they should. The Demons were unable to score in the second term while the Giants scored two goals; and the teams returned to the rooms at half time with scores tied at 20 points apiece.
The skies were closing in and the natural light had faded as the third quarter got under way. The game had become a dour, defensive scrap. Bodies clashing, packs forming. No quarter asked or given as two teams of desperate warriors tried in vain to find a chink in the other’s armour. The Giants could manage just four behinds, while the Demons scored the only goal of the quarter to lead by five points at the last change.
As time ticked by in the last term, the prospect of a rare Manly loss looked all too real. The Pennant Hills defence was holding firm against anything the Giants could throw at them. Day had turned into night, the ball more slippery than ever; and the Demon defence had the sniff of an upset. But the Giants kept coming, and their perseverance would eventually be rewarded as finally the defence cracked. It only happened once, and the goal umpires only waved both flags once during the final term. But it was a goal that would give the Giants the lead for the first and only time of the day. And although the Demons tried late to snatch the lead back, it wasn’t going to happen. The clock ran down, the final siren eventually sounded. And the Giants, despite conditions that didn’t suit them and despite looking well short of their best football, had somehow managed to do just enough to take the game.
The final margin was just three points; a narrow margin but enough to get the Giants into their second straight Grand Final. David Stroud, Daniel Dickerson and Connor Pettersson in particular had dug deep and worked tirelessly in the wet to get their side over the line. Pennant Hills had been worthy opponents, taking the fight up to the overwhelming favourites all day only to fall agonisingly short; but can particularly thank the efforts of Damian Dell’Aquila, Matt Carey and Kieran Wright for their work in getting them so close.

So Manly get another week off next weekend, their spot on Sydney footy’s biggest stage assured. The Demons, despite the loss, aren’t done yet. They have another chance to take part in the Grand Final, as they will be in next Sunday’s Preliminary Final.
The Demons’ opponents in the Prelim Final will be St George, a re-match of last week’s epic Qualifying Final. The Dragons won their way through with a 21-point win over Sydney Uni in Sunday’s First Semi-Final at Henson Park. But the Dragons had to survive a third quarter onslaught by the Students before they could finally fall over the finish line.

Sunday saw the sun emerge, with the ground considerably dryer than Saturday’s quagmire. Conditions were much better for footy, and in contrast to Saturday’s dour slog, this was a much faster and much more free-flowing contest.
Everything looked to be going comfortably enough for the Dragons in the first half. With Jason Saddington spearheading the early charge with a double in the first quarter, the Dragons made the early front-running with four goals to two in the opening term to lead by 14 points at quarter time.
And with the wind at their backs in the second term as the midfield runners took control of the contest, the Dragons were looking comfortable. Four goals to one in the second term opening up a 32-point lead at the long break. It was looking set for a regulation win for the Dragons, and few could have forseen the twists that were to come in this tale.
The Students had been left chasing the Dragons through the first half, but it was a very different Sydney Uni side that emerged from the sheds at the end of the half time break. Whatever happened in the rooms at half time was something the Students would love to bottle for next season, it was certainly effective.
Within 30 seconds of the restart, Alex Dyson was racing into an open goal and the tide began to turn. It took some time to manifest itself on the scoreboard, with two shots hitting the post before Nick Ryan goaled against the run of play for the Dragons. But within a minute of Ryan’s goal, Evan Smith found himself at the end of a lightning handpass to record a quick reply.
Suddenly the Students were getting the ball into the forward zone and the Dragons struggled to clear the ball out of danger. A scramble of bodies in the goal-square saw Ben Fitzpatrick scoop up the ball and find the way through the congestion for another goal. And when Matthew Vivic took a strong pack mark at the 15 minute mark, the margin was back to 12 points and the game had come alive.
The Sydney Uni faithful, mainly standing behind the interchange benches, seemed to swell in numbers and certainly grew in voice as they felt the momentum of the game swinging their way. And they had plenty to cheer about as a 50 metre penalty turned a difficult shot for Evan Smith into a certainty. And when the wing picked up a long bomb, sending it over everyone’s heads, Vicic was the first to recover and gather the ball; and with no-one in front of him, all he had to do was bounce the ball twice as he ran all the way to goal to cut the margin to one point as the clock ticked into time-on.
It had been a stunning revival by the Students, and there was more to come as Jacob Swarts was left unattended to run into goal, sending the Students into ecstasy as he gave them a lead that had looked out of the question at half time.
As the final seconds ticked down in what was a marathon quarter, Nick Ryan had a chance to regain the lead for the Dragons but hit the post. And then Bryce Addison went from the sublime to the ridiculous as he pulled down a spectacular high mark only to spray his kick out on the full.
It had been an amazing quarter for Sydney Uni. Seven goals to one, turning the deficit into a four-point lead at the last change. In the context of a sudden-death elimination match, hopes were high in the Student camp that they could prolong their season for another week. But the three quarter time break also gave the Dragons a chance to regroup, stop the momentum and re-establish themselves.

The first goal of the final quarter would be critical to the outcome of the game; even more so as the minutes ticked by. Both sides created chances, with the Students scoring three behinds and the Dragons one in eight minutes of pulsating end-to-end football.
Eventually the goal came, with a one-out marking contest 35 metres from home seeing Ben Jones outmark his taller opponent and go back to kick truly and level the scores. A point to Karl Merson gave the Dragons the narrowest of leads before Dominic Killworth crumbed a marking contest and played on to slam the ball between the big sticks.
The lead was only seven points, but the third quarter Student momentum had been stopped and the Dragons were back in control. The Students would not score again for the afternoon, and the Dragons controlled the remainder of the contest. Daniel Napper and Ben Hodgson added goals in the final quarter to extend the final margin to 21 points; and the Dragons would enjoy the spoils of victory and keep their season alive.
The third quarter surge by the Students had threatened to snatch the game away; but for three quarters the Dragons had been easily the superior side. Bryce Addison, Alex Sharp and Nicolas Shaw played pivotal roles around the ground.
MJ Figg, David Johnson and Lachlan Maples were Sydney Uni’s best. It had been an unusual season for the Students, one which exceeded expectations in that they made the finals; albeit with a win-loss ratio that would rarely qualify a team for playoff action. They proved themselves worthy finalists with an Elimination Final win over Wests. But for all their efforts, and despite the spectacular third quarter heroics, their season is over.

And so three teams remain. As was the case last year, Manly are first team to go through to the Grand Final, while Pennant Hills and St George will clash in the Preliminary Final.
But this time round, St George have the advantage of coming in with winning form, coming in with a win in the First Semi-Final; while the Demons are on the back of a Second Semi-Final defeat. Recent history suggests that could be an advantage for the Dragons. Only once in the last 11 seasons has the team that lost the Second Semi-Final bounced back to win the Preliminary Final.


Premier Division:
Second Semi-Final
Manly-Warringah 0.4 2.8 2.12 3.15 (33)
Pennant Hills 3.2 3.2 4.5 4.6 (30)
Goals : Manly –
T Armitage, C Pettersson, B Fowler. Pennant Hills – S Zikman 2, T Angel, R Ediriwickrama.
Best : Manly – D Stroud, D Dickerson, C Pettersson, C Johnston, T Armitage, W Brassil. Pennant Hills – D Dell’Aquila, M Carey, K Wright, B Urwin, S Parker, S Zikman.
At Henson Park, Saturday 6th September 2014.

First Semi-Final
St George 4.3 8.5 9.7 13.11 (89)
Sydney University 2.1 3.3 10.5 10.8 (68)
Goals : St George –
D Napper 3, B Hodgson 2, J Saddington 2, B Jones 2, D Gilbert, B Addison, N Ryan, D Killworth. Sydney Uni – E Smith 3, M Vicic 2, M Figg, J Caspersonn, A Dyson, B Fitzpatrick, J Cox.
Best : St George – B Addison, A Sharp, N Shaw, D Killworth, S Wilsen, P McBride. Sydney Uni – M Figg, D Johnson, L Maples, G Smith, J Caspersonn, J Swarts.
At Henson Park, Sunday 7th September 2014.


Division One:
Second Semi-Final
Balmain 3.3 4.9 6.10 10.12 (72)
UTS 2.2 4.2 7.4 7.5 (47)
Goals : Balmain –
A Cotterll 2, H Priest 2, E Woodend 2, B Plug 2, L Jarjoura 2. UTS – J Caica 3, H Whiting 2, T Crow, H Sleigh.
Best : Balmain – C Bolt, E Woodend, H Priest, D Woodend, T Martin, C Brown. UTS – M Strempel, A Davis, N Morling, J Caica, L Heffernan, T Crow.
At Henson Park, Saturday 6th September 2014.

First Semi Final
Macquarie Uni 2.3 5.3 6.6 10.10 (70)
Pennant Hills 2.3 5.8 7.11 9.14 (68)
Goals : Macquarie Uni –
J Brackin 4, A Rodgers 2, R Harris, A Sliwka, A Robertson, C Ludowycke. Pennant Hills – T Moraitis 3, N Baglin 3, L Bilbe, R Pinker, R Miedler.
Best : Macquarie Uni – R Harris, A Rodgers, N Rodgers, J Brackin, S Ellicott, S Simpson. Pennant Hills – T Moraitis, R Watts, M Carter, G Watts, R Pinker, A Smith.
At Henson Park, Sunday 7th September 2014.


Division Two:
Preliminary Final
Blacktown 4.0 5.0 9.2 12.4 (78)
Manly 0.3 2.6 2.7 3.8 (26)
Goals : Blacktown –
M Clinch 3, D Connors 2, A Polkinghorne 2, L Corr 2, B Akmens, D Lim, A Moeller. Manly – D Pearson, J Porter, D Byrne.
Best : Blacktown – B Whale, M Clinch, T Baracz, A Moeller, L Corr, A Polkinghorne. Manly – C Joseph, C Pridgeon, D Pearson, M Bell, T Schultz, A Pilat.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 6th September 2014.


Division Three:
Preliminary Final
Penrith 2.2 4.4 5.7 6.12 (48)
Sydney Uni 1.1 2.4 3.7 4.7 (31)
Goals : Penrith –
B Robinson 2, J Yates, M Stevens, J Swarbrick, R Johnson. Sydney Uni – P Grundy 2, C Wilkinson, M Lloyd.
Best : Penrith – N Rowley, R Johnson, B Robinson, J Stevens, A Boelhouwer, P Pope. Sydney Uni – L Godfrey, A Crowe, L McWhirter, P Grundy, M Webber, E Turner.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 6th September 2014.


Division Four:
Preliminary Final
Wollondilly 3.4 5.7 7.10 8.11 (59)
Sydney Uni 2.1 5.3 5.3 6.4 (40)
Goals : Wollondilly –
J Haddock 4, R Andrews 2, C Fitzsimmons, S Paget. Sydney Uni – R Snodgrass 3, N Bailey, S Ayling, N Nelson.
Best : Wollondilly – J Weston, D Wolfe, S Paget, J Haddock, R Andrews, R Dryburgh. Sydney Uni – C Mohen, D Owen, S Sciberras, N Lloyd, P Chidrawi, M Ring.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 6th September 2014.


Under 19s One:
Second Semi-Final
North Shore 1.2 4.4 4.6 6.9 (45)
St George 1.0 1.5 2.9 2.9 (21)
Goals : North Shore –
B Cunningham 2, J Monk 2, N Hurrell, M Wright. St George – Z Rowlands, G Gasovski.
Best : North Shore – M Buskariol, Z Fyffe, M Wilson, B Cunningham, M Varjavandi, J Monk. St George – J Hill, R Orr, S McGrillen, B Kilpatrick, K Anu, J Claridge.
At Henson Park, Saturday 6th September 2014.


Under 19s Two:
Second Semi-Final
Western Suburbs 0.3 0.6 2.6 2.11 (23)
Moorebank 1.0 1.1 2.4 2.6 (18)
Goals : Wests –
C Tilio, C McEvoy-Gray. Moorebank – B Foley, H Rapley.
Best : Wests – V Romonas, M Vitale, M Amanatidis, B Manthos, B Zoppo, A Connelly. Moorebank – B Andrew, D Villanueva, B Westwood, M Faulkner, B Foley, J Bryant.
At Henson Park, Saturday 6th September 2014.


Women Division One:
Preliminary Final
UNSW-ES 3.1 7.4 8.5 10.8 (68)
Newtown 3.2 5.4 6.7 8.8 (56)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
M Nguyen 3, J Still 2, S Court, C Gum, L Marzotto, M Collier, V Bishop. Newtown – R Burridge 4, V Iles 2, S Foster, S Cross.
Best : UNSW-ES – L Marzotto, C Gum, M Collier, S Janjetovic, J Still, N Vrachnas. Newtown – R Burridge, C Briggs, A Ruut, C Lees, S Foster, R Graham.
At Henson Park, Sunday 7th September 2014.


FIRST GRAND FINAL DAY
The first two premiership trophies were on the line at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday; with the Womens Division Two and Division Five Grand Finals being played.

Women Division Two
A long schedule of games in recent weeks at Blacktown and the wet weather had made the ground muddy; and although the rain had stopped on Sunday, the ground was sticky and movement for the players was difficult. In the tricky conditions, the game was a low-scoring slog.
Neither side was able to score a goal in the first quarter, with Southern Power scoring the only two behinds to be scored. Wollongong had been unable to trouble the scorers in the first term, but Jessie Mulholland broke through for the only goal of the second quarter to lead by four points at the long break. It had been far from pretty football, with both sides struggling to keep their balance and the skills that had got them into the big game made way for desperate, scrappy movement.

Southern Power were goal-less at half time, and it took until time-on in the third term to break their drought, with Kathryn Hull finding the big sticks. It was a critical goal for the Power, levelling the scores at the last change.
Shellee Gibson gave the Power the lead early in the final quarter, and that was enough to get them over the line for the premiership flag. It had been a desperate fight, but the clock ran down and Southern Power’s undefeated season was finally completed with the premiership cup.
Kathryn Hull took out the best on ground medal, while Dominique Groom and Louise Glasgow were also prominent contributors for Southern Power. For Wollongong, it was a disappointment to go down in the Grand Final; but the efforts on the day by Kim Chan, Casey Moane and Taigen Grenfell were outstanding.
Southern Power 0.2 0.2 1.2 2.6 (18)
Wollongong 0.0 1.0 1.2 1.2 (8)
Goals : Southern Power –
S Gibson, K Hull. Wollongong – J Mulholland.
Best : Southern Power – K Hull, D Groom, L Glasgow, K De Pellegrini, A McClure, B North. Wollongong – K Chan, C Moane, T Grenfell, L Russell, J Stanton, K Parker.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 7th September 2014.

Division Five
By the time the Division Five Grand Final came on, the ground had dried out considerably and conditions were far more conducive to quality football. It was a western derby, with Penrith taking on Blacktown.
The Magic had come up from the Elimination Final to make the Grand Final, and wasted no time in continuing their winning momentum. Taking control of proceedings from the start, the Magic helped themselves to three unanswered goals in the first term to lead by 20 points at the first change. The Rams attempted to work their way back into the contest during the second quarter, and did manage one goal; but it wasn’t enough to make any inroads into the deficit as the Magic managed two for the quarter, extending the half-time lead to 28 points.
It was a handy lead going into the premiership quarter, and the Magic knew that if they could defend and prevent the Rams from building any sort of rhythm, the flag was theirs for the taking. The Rams needed to get a run of goals going, but the Magic defenders were equal to the task. There would be no way back into the contest for Penrith, as the Blacktown defence stood firm and held the Rams goal-less for the quarter. And with two goals for the Magic during the quarter, the lead was stretched out to 42 points at three quarter time.

The flag was safely won, and the pressure valve was released in the final quarter, leading to some more free-flowing football than had been evident in the third term. The Rams managed to salvage some respectability on the scoreboard with three goals; but this was Blacktown’s day. And the Magic continued on their winning ways in the last quarter, each of their four goals sparking celebrations among the Blacktown faithful. For a club just three years old, to have already built up enough numbers for a premiership-winning reserves team is quite an achievement.
Jay Roughley scored four goals and was the winner of the best player medal, while Mbimbi Mbimbi and Fabian McLeod also put in strong performances for the Magic. Penrith received solid service all evening from Bryce Roney, Dane Fysh and Tayt Corless.
Blacktown 3.3 5.6 7.10 11.12 (78)
Penrith 0.1 1.2 1.4 4.5 (29)
Goals : Blacktown –
J Roughley 4, D Edmonson 2, M Mbimbi 2, J Lane, D Mcintyer, F McLeod. Penrith – K Kirk 3, D Nelson.
Best : Blacktown – J Roughley, M Mbimbi, F McLeod, J Clifford, A Pyman, J Miller. Penrith – B Roney, D Fysh, T Corless, R Donaldson, B Shoebridge, D Looyschelder.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 7th September 2014.


NEXT WEEK’S MATCHES:

Premier Division:

Sunday 14th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
Preliminary Final – Pennant Hills v St George (3:30pm)

Division One:
Sunday 14th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
Preliminary Final – UTS v Macquarie Uni (1:10pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 13th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
GRAND FINAL – Sydney Uni v Blacktown (4pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 13th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
GRAND FINAL – Randwick City v Penrith (11:05am)

Division Four:
Saturday 13th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
GRAND FINAL – UTS v Wollondilly (8:45am)


Under 19s One:
Sunday 14th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
Preliminary Final – St George v Manly (11:05am)

Under 19s Two:
Sunday 14th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
Preliminary Final – Moorebank v Penrith (9am)

Women Division One:
Saturday 13th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
GRAND FINAL – Sydney Uni v UNSW-ES (1:30pm)


SECOND GRAND FINAL DAY
Four more premiership flags will be on the line on Saturday at Blacktown International Sportspark, the second Grand Final day of 2014.
The program for the day is:
8:45am – Division Four – UTS v Wollondilly
11:05am – Division Three – Randwick City v Penrith
1:30pm – Women Division One – Sydney Uni v UNSW-ES
4:00pm – Division Two – Sydney Uni v Blacktown