SYDNEY AFL FINALS WEEK 2 2015
Article and Photos of Premier Division & Womens Div 2 by Michael Shillito
Photo of Div 5 thanks to www.sydneyafl.com.au


Semi-Final weekend was played in glorious spring sunshine, with Henson Park the venue for the Premier Division matches.

Saturday was Second Semi-Final day. East Coast Eagles were taking on Pennant Hills Demons.
Since the opening round, the Eagles had carried all before them in a dominant season. Not dropping a game since round 1, with an enormous percentage through the home and away season. A team with plenty of stars who had previously played NEAFL with them in the last few seasons.
Their opponents, Pennant Hills, hadn’t had everything go their way during the season. But they still had enough class to make the top three, and a win over Manly in last week’s Qualifying Final got them through to play against the Eagles. And with a spot in the Grand Final at stake, the pressure was going to be turned up.
It looked a mismatch on paper, but the Demons were applying the blowtorch early. The Eagles weren’t finding it easy to get the ball forward during the early exchanges. It took 17 minutes before a goal would be scored, as the Demons piled on the pressure and prevented the Eagles from getting their running game going. The Demons created chances but were unable to capitalise on them, three behinds resulting when a goal or two could have been achieved.
But once Jamie Vlatko marked and goaled to break the deadlock, the game looked to be returning to the form script as he scored a second a minute later, and a quick snap from Daniel Spiteri opened up a 17-point lead to the Eagles at quarter time.
But the burst by the Eagles late in the first quarter would be the exception rather than the rule; and rather than launching a run of goals in the second, they would be well held. Luke Bilbe had the Demons’ first goal within a minute of the second quarter starting, and the Demons were working their way back. The Eagles were unable to score a goal in the second quarter, as the Pennant Hills defenders stood up to the challenge. Time and again, the ball would rebound out of the defensive 50 as quickly as it had come, and the Eagle forwards were denied the space to create leads and scoring chances.
A 50 metre penalty got the Demons their second goal. It was a low-scoring contest, physical and intense for the most part. The clock had ticked into time-on and the Demons worked the ball forward again. And it was James Dunn who stood and delivered, taking the mark 35 metres from home on an angle. As he went back to line up his shot, the siren sounded. But, showing no sign of nerves and rising to the occasion, Dunn moved back, took his kick and drew twin flags from the goal umpire, giving the Demons a surprise two-point lead at the long break.
If you’d looked at the quarter-by-quarter scores from this game, you’d think there was a massive wind blowing. There wasn’t. It was the flow of the game and not the conditions that had seen all the first half goals, and most goals for the game, going to the Sydenham Road End. And in the early minutes of the third term, Nathan Cooper showed that goals could be scored at the scoreboard end as he marked and slotted the goal home, and the Demons were eight points in front. For a fleeting moment, hopes were rising of a boilover.
A brief five-minute burst of devastating football by the Eagles snuffed out those hopes. Quick snaps on the run by Trent Stubbs and Scott Reed and a strong mark and goal by Jamie Vlatko turned the Eagle deficit into a ten-point lead in the blink of an eye. The tide looked to have turned, the Eagles had lifted and for much of the remainder of the third quarter the ball was inside the Eagles’ forward 50.
Against the run of play, Nick Hey gave the Pennant Hills fans something to shout about as he marked and goaled. But the Eagles were looking stronger, Reed and Stubbs again capitalising on the weight of possession which was running their way; taking the lead to 20 points at the last change. And when Jamie Vlatko kicked his fourth in the opening minutes of the final term, the game looked to be beyond doubt.
The sun was setting, the lights were taking over. But day turning into night brought about another shift in the momentum, as the Demons lifted their work rate one more time and left nothing in the tank as they worked relentlessly to make every effort to overcome the deficit.
James Dunn was a focal point, as he took a succession of strong marks on the half-forward line to give the Demons scoring chances. Two of them went through the big sticks and the margin was back to 14 points and there was still enough time left on the clock if they could get another one quickly. And it wasn’t for a lack of effort that the next goal didn’t come; one shot hitting the post, the besieged Eagle defenders forced to rush another behind, a string of ball-ups and boundary throw-ins inside the Demon forward 50.
But the Eagles defenders were able to hold the Demons out as the clock ran down. And when the final siren sounded, the minor premiers had taken the game by 12 points. Far from convincing, far from the blowout that their home and away form had suggested. But enough to book them a spot in the Grand Final.
Jamie Vlatko finished with four goals in a best-on-ground performance, while Aaron Savage and Andrew Browning also got plenty of the ball for the Eagles. Before entering the NEAFL, the Eagles had played in five Grand Finals in six years; and after returning their senior side to AFL Sydney after their NEAFL time came to an end, they’re back.
Michael Johnston, Ranga Ediriwickrama and Daniel Preen featured prominently for Pennant Hills. The Demons were beaten but far from disgraced; and they showed that the all-conquering Eagles can be beaten. Had they made the most of their chances, they could have stolen this game. They’re not through to the Grand Final yet, but they have another chance in next Sunday’s Preliminary Final.

For the third year in a row, the Preliminary Final will see Pennant Hills take on St George. The Dragons booked their ticket to the Preliminary Final on Sunday afternoon at Henson Park when they completed a convincing 45-point win over Manly in the First Semi-Final.
Manly’s hopes of a premiership three-peat suffered a setback during the week when key forward Brayden Fowler and tall Gareth Benbow found themselves suspended. But there was still plenty of talent in the Giants’ lineup when they took on the Dragons, a team they had beaten twice during the regular season.
But the Giants didn’t look their normal selves during the first quarter. Normally relentless with the physical pressure, they were letting the Dragons get more loose ball than an opponent is usually able to get. And the Dragons took advantage with three goals to one to lead by 14 points at quarter time.
The Giants needed to lift in the second term, and it didn’t take long for them to kick some goals to get themselves back into the contest. The Dragons were forced into desperate defence. A bus positioned itself in the car park behind the goals at the Sydenham Road End, and the Dragons would have been wishing it had been parked just a few metres further in, in front of the goals, as wave after wave of Manly attack looked to impose some scoreboard pressure.
Twice the Giants managed to level the scores, and then a behind saw them hit the front deep in time-on. But a hospital chip across the face of goal was intercepted by Jordan West, who took advantage to mark and goal to give the Dragons a four-point lead at half time.
The third quarter, often known as the premiership quarter, is so often the time when games are won and lost. And that was emphatically the case in this contest as the Dragons took control during the third term to set up a match-winning lead.
Early in the quarter, the Giants were looking good. A couple of behinds and then a goal on the run to Anthony Robertson saw the Northern Beaches team take the lead. But a 50 metre penalty to Eli Prescott would restore the St George lead, and change the momentum of the game.
Suddenly the Dragons had their tails up, and the bounce of the ball was running their way. Suddenly players who had struggled to make an impact began to put their hand up and accumulate possessions. Suddenly loose men began to appear, anticipating the bounce of the ball and helping themselves to some easy touches. And suddenly the team that has dominated Premier Division since going up just three years ago were looking vulnerable.
Young guns Nathan Kenny and Taylor Preece, two of the crop of youngsters who have made an impression at Premier Division level this season, helped themselves to goals. But much of the work up forward was done by a veteran who’s worked tirelessly for the club for a long time, often in the midfield but this time enjoying the freedom to run forward. Declan Donohue was hard to stop up forward, adding two more goals to the three he managed in the first half to set up an impressive lead.
In the end, it was a run of six goals to one for the quarter; and at the last change the Dragons were 39 points ahead. And try as they did, there was no way back into the contest for Manly in the final term. The Giants would manage three goals, but the Dragons had the answers with four of their own; and there was no way back into the contest for Manly.
With the 45-point win, the Dragons booked their passage into the Preliminary Final. Declan Donohue spearheaded the charge with a five goal haul; and along with Nathan Kenny and Tim Coenen was among the Dragons’ best.
Jordan Weir, James Brain and Calum Johnston were Manly’s best. But two losses in the first two weeks of finals sees the Giants eliminated. Their 2015 season, and their dreams of a premiership three-peat, are over.

And so three teams remain. East Coast are through to the Grand Final, and have another week next weekend to rest and prepare.
Either Pennant Hills or St George will join them in Sydney footy’s biggest day. It’s the third year in a row that Pennant Hills and St George have faced off in the Preliminary Final.
Will the Demons prevail and make their way to their third Grand Final on the trot? Or will it be third time lucky for St George? All will be revealed at Henson Park next Sunday.


Second Semi-Final
East Coast Eagles 3.2 3.4 8.8 9.9 (63)
Pennant Hills 0.0 3.6 5.6 7.9 (51)
Goals : East Coast –
Jamie Vlatko 4, T Stubbs 2, S Reed 2, D Spiteri. Pennant Hills – J Dunn 3, L Bilbe, T Edmonds, N Cooper, N Hey.
Best : East Coast – Jamie Vlatko, A Savage, A Browning, D Charleston, B Anderson, S Turner. Pennant Hills – M Johnston, R Ediriwickrama, D Preen, A Crisfield, D Dell’Aquila, D Witt.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th September 2015.

First Semi-Final
St George 3.3 6.5 13.7 17.9 (111)
Manly-Warringah 1.1 5.7 6.10 9.12 (66)
Goals : St George –
D Donohue 5, N Ryan 2, T Preece 2, B Jones, D Gilbert, E Prescott, N Kenny, J Okunbor, D Sanderson, N Shaw, B Kilpatrick. Manly – A Robertson 2, L Brain, J Monk, J Pola-Smith, D Sanderson, M Bell, H Koch, D Dickerson.
Best : St George – N Kenny, T Coenen, D Donohue, J West, T Martin, N Shaw. Manly – J Weir, J Brain, C Johnston, M Carter, L Brain, H Koch.
At Henson Park, Sunday 13th September 2015.

Division One:
Second Semi-Final
Pennant Hills 5.2 7.7 9.7 15.7 (97)
Balmain 3.2 4.4 6.8 8.8 (56)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
P Barnes 4, S Zikman 4, T Widmer, J Clarke, L Vile, B Jack, R Watts, L Urwin, S Hodges. Balmain – T Luff 4, A Duell-Ferguson 2, B Lambert, W Blackburne.
Best : Pennant Hills – T Scoular, J Gunstone, B Tos, T Widmer, P Barnes, S Zikman. Balmain – K Jones, L Elasi, H Jenkins, J Fretwell, C Brown, T Luff.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th September 2015.

First Semi-Final
Sydney Uni 2.0 3.1 5.7 6.12 (48)
UTS 2.4 5.9 5.10 5.13 (43)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
N Dale 2, G Burch, S Clark, C Browne, M Carey. UTS – E Williams 2, E Piner, J Prince, N Morling.
Best : Sydney Uni – C Kendrick, B Fitzpatrick, M Higgins, R Kennedy, S Ryan, N Dale. UTS – H Callahan, D Brown, H Whiting, E Williams, P Kilroy, D Crouch.
At Henson Park, Sunday 14th September 2015

Division Two:
Preliminary Final
Camden 0.4 4.5 7.8 9.8 (62)
Manly 3.3 5.4 9.5 9.7 (61)
Goals : Camden –
M Withers 3, J Ayling 2, B Wharton, M Lecek, S Kershaw, M Broadstock. Manly – M Atkinson 2, H Washington 2, E Burke, A Pilat, A Roberts, R Hart, C D’Souza.
Best : Camden – T Vella, M Withers, B Wharton, B Sommerville, M Hogan, M Maher. Manly – A Harmer, M Atkinson, E Burke, P Fabbro, A Armstrong, R Hart.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 13th September 2015.

Division Three:
Preliminary Final
Sydney Uni 3.3 9.8 13.11 17.13 (115)
Western Suburbs 3.1 3.2 4.5 7.7 (49)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
Not available. Wests – Not available.
Best : Sydney Uni – Not available. Wests – Not available.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 13th September 2015.

Division Four:
Preliminary Final
Wollondilly 2.1 7.6 8.6 11.12 (78)
Holroyd-Parramatta 1.4 1.7 4.9 7.10 (52)
Goals : Wollondilly –
C Wolfe 3, J Haddock 2, A Stamoulos 2, B Robinson, C Fitzsimmons, R Andrews, J Hamilton. Holroyd-Parramatta – K Radford 2, J Pidgeon, N Peters, R Pasfield, K Carville, K Davis-Crowe.
Best : Wollondilly – J Purcell, C Wolfe, A Stamoulos, J Haddock, S Paget, D Hockey. Holroyd-Parramatta – G Webb, T Martin, J Haurua, A Townsend, M Ophof, A Grogan.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 13th September 2015.

Under 19s One:
Second Semi-Final
UNSW-ES 2.1 3.2 6.5 9.6 (60)
Pennant Hills 1.1 4.2 5.4 8.5 (53)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
J Buckley 2, N Reinhard 2, B Davis 2, J Irvine, J Deep, J Wachman. Pennant Hills – M Preen 3, C Luscombe, E Claxton, J Carroll, L De Vries, C Furlong.
Best : UNSW-ES – N Reinhard, J Cann, J Bartholomaeus, S Lewinson, M Lemme, T Chichester. Pennant Hills – C Lee, J Carroll, S Brain, J Preedy, L De Vries, C Furlong.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th September 2015.

Under 19s Two:
Preliminary Final
Holroyd-Parramatta 3.4 6.10 13.14 14.17 (101)
Moorebank 1.5 2.8 7.10 7.12 (54)
Goals : Holroyd-Parramatta –
M Sapiatzer 5, M Pasfield 3, H Landels 2, S Smith 2, C Manut, K Mansfield. Moorebank – M Togher 2, Z Podbury, J Purcell, D McLeod, L Culhane, I Carrera.
Best : Holroyd-Parramatta – A Storey, M Sapiatzer, R Pannu, R Morris, H Landels, C Manut. Moorebank – J Bryant, M Faulkner, M Innes, L Phipps, I Carrera, M Togher.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th September 2015.

Women Division One:
Preliminary Final
Newtown 1.0 3.2 5.2 6.5 (41)
UNSW-ES 0.1 1.1 4.2 5.4 (34)
Goals : Newtown –
L Holdsworth 3, C Briggs 2, R Morgan. UNSW-ES – E Mackay, J Still, K Edwards, R Godman, S Lauf.
Best : Newtown – L Holdsworth, C Lees, C Briggs, A Schroeder, V Iles, F Hocking. UNSW-ES – J Barclay, E Mackay, L Marzotto, M Morriss, J Smith, J Still.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th September 2015.


FIRST GRAND FINAL DAY
The first two Grand Finals for 2015 were played at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday.

The Womens Division Two Grand Final saw Gosford taking on Penrith. A tight and low-scoring opening term saw the Wildcats kick the only goal of the first quarter and lead by five points at the first change. But the Ramettes lifted in the second term, holding the Wildcats scoreless for the quarter while adding two goals to turn their deficit into a seven-point advantage at half time.
When the teams returned to the field for the second half, it was Gosford who were looking the better, and the reward on the scoreboard for effort would come as they would kick the only two goals of the third term to regain the lead and take a four-point advantage into the last change. And with the first goal of the final term the Wildcats were looking good; but a late surge by Penrith netted a goal to cut the margin to three points but there wasn’t enough time for the Ramettes to score a late winner.
It completes a remarkably successful season for Gosford. In just their second season of fielding a womens’ team, the Wildcats controlled the season to win the minor premiership and then took out the title. Morgan Ross kicked all four of their goals on Grand Final day and took out the best on ground medal; while Tess Mutton and Emily Crookes also made key contributions.
For Penrith, it had been a strong achievement to make the Grand Final, coming through from the Elimination Final. They had put in a gallant effort on the day, to fall so agonisingly short. Renee Tomkins, Justine Vella and Natalie Camilleri were the Ramettes’ bet on the day.
Gosford 1.3 1.3 3.3 4.3 (27)
Penrith 0.4 2.4 2.5 3.6 (26)
Goals : Gosford –
M Ross 4. Penrith – R Tomkins, J Vella, N Perrett.
Best : Gosford – M Ross, T Mutton, E Crookes, M Lawrence, K Mackay, K Smallacombe. Penrith – R Tomkins, J Vella, N Camilleri, N Perrett, K Easthope, S Kostic.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 12th September 2015.

The Division Five Grand Final was an Eastern Suburbs university derby, with UTS taking on UNSW-ES.
UTS had been the strongest side all season, taking out the minor premiership and being first team to get through to the Grand Final; while the Bulldogs had bounced back from losing the Second Semi to win the Preliminary Final and get themselves a rematch with the Bats.
The Bats looked the stronger team in the early exchanges, and with three goals to one in the first term led by 13 points at quarter time. But it was in the second term that the floodgates opened. A quarter of free-flowing football where caution was thrown to the wind and both sides went on the attack, the scoreboard operator was kept busy as the goals were piled on. But it was the Bats who had the edge in attack, and with six goals to three for the quarter extended their lead to 29 points at the long break.
The Bats had a sniff of premiership glory, and they weren’t letting go. The goals kept coming in the third term, five goals to one stretching the advantage to 51 points. By now the title was secure and the premiership party had started already. And there was plenty for the Bats’ faithful to make some noise about during the last quarter, as they scored another six goals to one.
In the end, the Bats won the Grand Final by 79 points, underlining their dominance in the division. Todd Thorn-Saville was awarded the best-on-ground medal and finished with four goals. Matt Hagias also chipped in with a four-goal haul, while Adrian Reynolds and Jacob Alsford picked up plenty of the ball around the ground.
It was a tough evening for UNSW-ES; but Cillian Stritch, Jake Reid and Michael Martin never stopped putting their best efforts in.
University of Technology 3.5 9.6 14.11 20.13 (133)
Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 1.4 4.7 6.8 7.12 (54)
Goals : UTS –
M Hagias 4, T Thorn-Saville 4, L Wesney 3, J Hedrick 2, Z Thorneycroft, S Pascal, J Alsford, R Simpkin, J Bocking, E Taffa, J Levy. UNSW-ES – J Hook, S Wright, N Dowsett, J Reid, M Cullen, R Cosgrave, A Yanitsas.
Best : UTS – T Thorn-Saville, A Reynolds, J Alsford, N Brunton, M Hagias, Z Thorneycroft. UNSW-ES – C Stritch, J Reid, M Martin, J Hook, D Hughey, M Cullen.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 12th September 2015.


NEXT WEEK’S MATCHES

Premier Division:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 20th September
Henson Park – Pennant Hills v St George (2:30pm)

Division One:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 20th September
Henson Park – Balmain v Sydney Uni (12pm)

Under 19s One:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 20th September
Henson Park – Pennant Hills v North Shore (9:45pm)


SECOND GRAND FINAL DAY
Next Saturday at Blacktown International Sportspark will be a marathon day of footy, with five premierships up for grabs. The Division Two, Division Three, Division Four, Women Division One and Under 19s Division Two flags will be determined, ten teams from clubs in action on the day.
The schedule for next Saturday at Blacktown is:
8:45am – Division Four – Macquarie Uni v Wollondilly
11:05am – Division Three – UTS v Sydney Uni
1:30pm – Women Division One – Sydney Uni v Newtown
4:00pm – Division Two – Blacktown v Camden
6:30pm – Under 19s Division Two – Western Suburbs v Holroyd-Parramatta