SYDNEY AFL FINALS WEEK 1 2016
Article and Photos by Michael Shillito

We’re into the business end of the season. For the five remaining Premier Division clubs, this was what everything until now has been building up to.
As minor premiers for the second year in a row, East Coast Eagles enjoyed the week off; while the other four teams played out critical games. It was another great weekend of Sydney weather, with Blacktown International Sportspark looking a treat.

First up was the Qualifying Final, with second-placed St George taking on third-placed UTS. For the Dragons, after finishing in third place for the last three seasons, this year they’re hoping to improve on that and finally crack that elusive Grand Final appearance. For the Bats, this was their first finals appearance in Premier Division; and although they’ve picked up plenty of silverware in other divisions over the years, this is their first realistic shot at a Premier Division cup.
But from the start, it looked clear that there was a gulf between the two teams. The Bats looked nervous, which was understandable; but the Dragons were ready and hit the ground running, driving the ball out of the centre time and again. A lopsided count of inside-50s began to be reflected on the scoreboard, as numerous scoring chances for the Dragons enabled enough to be converted. Five goals to one in the first term saw the Dragons with a comfortable 22-point lead at quarter time.
The first term ensured the Dragons would lead throughout; and they weren’t finished yet. The Bats tried hard to get back into the game after the early onslaught, but they lost more ground in the second quarter as the red-hot Dragon juggernaut was in no mood to relax the pressure. Ready for the challenge, attacking the play at every opportunity; there was no let-up as the Dragons continued their strong run of form. Four goals to two in the second term extended the margin to 38 points at the long break; and already it seemed clear that the Dragons would be going to the Grand Final playoff.
The Bats never stopped putting an effort in, and would win the third quarter. It was three goals to two, as the Bats managed to stem the flow of possession that the Dragons had enjoyed in the first half. Although the game was still comfortably in St George’s hand, UTS showed some fight in the third term to prevent the game from becoming a blowout as it could so easily have become. Now they were competing as a finals team, and having the luxury of not being in sudden death, their stronger third term will be a key morale boost for them for future finals. But the Dragons were still 31 points to the good at the last change.
By now the sting had largely gone out of the contest, and the football on display in the last quarter was nothing special. There were two goals apiece scored before the siren sounded to give the Dragons a 32-point win.
Ben Wharton, Jordan West and Earl Shaw were standout contributors for St George; but it was a solid team effort with several Dragon players playing their roles magnificently, especially during their dominant first half. From here, the Dragons will play East Coast next week in the Second Semi-Final; with a spot in the Grand Final for the winner.
James Caica, Rawson Kirkhope and Ben Moyle were best for UTS. Their first Premier Division finals appearance ended in defeat, but the Bats showed plenty of character after being well beaten in the first half to prevent the margin blowing out after half time. The Bats have another chance to progress through the finals, as they take part in the sudden-death First Semi-Final next week.

The Bats’ opponents next week will be North Shore, after the Bombers took out a hard-fought 13-point win over Pennant Hills in Sunday’s Elimination Final.
The game began with a scrappy opening quarter, both sides finding weaknesses in the other but struggled to showcase their strengths. For both teams, there were plenty of missed opportunities, with no shortage of turnovers. North Shore would kick the only two goals scored in the first term, to go to a 15-point quarter time lead.
The Demons opened their goal-scoring account in the opening minute of the second term; but by midway through the quarter were looking down the barrel. The Bombers had added another two goals and were leading by 21 points and were on top around the ground. But the comfortable outlook of the Bombers would quickly be shaken, as the Demons launched a purple patch of form to produce three goals in a few minutes; cutting the margin to one point at half time.
The Demons were never able to regain the lead, not during what would be a tense defensive battle that would unfold in the third term. No quarter was asked or given in what was a physical contest, with packs gathering around the ball and easy possessions hard to come by. North Shore scored the only goal for the quarter, leading by 10 points at the last change; but the contest was far from over.
Two early goals for the Bombers in the last term gave them some breathing space, and it was a buffer they would sorely need. The North Shore bench was resembling a casualty ward, and any plans for interchange rotations were thrown out the window as the injury toll was rising by the minute.
North Shore were the walking wounded, tiring warriors hanging on for dear life. With fresh legs, the Demons kept coming, and twice got the margin back to eight points. But they could get no closer as the Bomber defence held firm against repeated Demon incursions into the forward 50. But as the clock kept ticking, Matt Varjavandi weaved through traffic and snapped truly to put the issue beyond doubt. Bloodied but unbowed, the Bombers had held on.
The final winning margin for North Shore was 13 points. Selby Lee-Steere, Charlie Parsons and Chris Murphy were magnificent for the Bombers. In their first finals campaign since 2013, the Bombers had to dig deep, but live to fight another day.
For the Demons, Brandon Clark, Tim Edmonds and Kieran Wright stood out as outstanding contributors. But it wasn’t enough to get the Demons over the line. Their season, and their hopes for back-to-back premierships, is over.

Next week’s finals action will be at Henson Park. On Saturday East Coast and St George will be fighting it out to be the first to book their spot in this year’s Grand Final. And on Sunday it’s sudden death as UTS take on North Shore.


Premier Division:
Qualifying Final
St George 5.1 9.6 11.8 13.9 (87)
University of Technology 1.3 3.4 6.7 8.7 (55)
Goals : St George –
P Sain 3, N Ryan 3, J Mudge 2, J Hill, D Donohue, X Stevenson, N Shaw, E Shaw. UTS – B Nethersole 2, J Caica 2, P Brennan, D Smith, J Lyons, T Larby.
Best : St George – B Wharton, J West, E Shaw, B Guthrie, J Mudge, D Napper. UTS – J Caica, R Kirkhope, B Moyle, S Dadswell, J Lyons, D Crouch.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Elimination Final
North Shore 2.4 4.6 6.10 10.12 (72)
Pennant Hills 0.2 4.5 4.6 8.11 (59)
Goals : North Shore –
D Roberts 2, H Carr 2, S Lee-Steere 2, J Veale, M Varjavandi, A Baker, E Strudwick. Pennant Hills – T Moraitis 3, N Cooper, B Clark, D Dell’Aquila, N Hey, J Boag.
Best : North Shore – S Lee-Steere, C Parsons, C Murphy, D Roberts, S Carruthers, D Baron-Hay. Pennant Hills – B Clark, T Edmonds, K Wright, D Dell’Aquila, A Crisfield, T Angel.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Division One:
Qualifying Final
St George 3.3 5.6 7.8 9.10 (64)
Macquarie Uni 2.3 2.6 2.9 4.16 (40)
Goals : St George –
D Cooper 4, M Jones 3, B Jones, M Edwards. Macquarie Uni – J Coburn, L Fleet, P Johnson, J Brackin.
Best : St George – M Wild, R Craig, C Windle, D Cooper, M Jones, B Hodgson. Macquarie Uni – G Smith, T Cordner, P Hayes, A Morris, B Kucharski, J Moylan.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Elimination Final
Western Magic 2.4 6.4 9.6 10.12 (72)
Holroyd-Parramatta 1.0 3.2 6.6 7.9 (51)
Goals : Magic
– Not available. Holroyd-Parramatta – L Pryor 3, J Dransfield, J Pidgeon, H Landels, A Byrne.
Best : Magic – Not available. Holroyd-Parramatta – A Barwick, R Morris, B Crane, R Terrey, M Cahill, L Pryor.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Division Two:
First Semi-Final
North Shore 4.2 8.8 11.9 13.15 (93)
South-West Sydney 3.2 5.4 8.5 11.6 (72)
Goals : North Shore –
L Slater 2, B Cunningham 2, L McColl 2, B Sykes 2, J Watters, A Johnson, M Marquez, M Thomas, X Burton. South-West Sydney – B Parker 2, J Bryant 2, J Bowman, B Clark, B Currant, B Wicken, L Bayne, S Wicken, R Forrester.
Best : North Shore – M Marquez, J Prato, J Saunders, N Hurrell, A Roy, L Slater. South-West Sydney – R Horton, A Findlay, J Bryant, A Simpson, B Kelly, B Currant.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Second Semi-Final
Camden 4.1 6.6 11.11 15.13 (103)
Penrith 2.2 4.4 4.6 10.11 (71)
Goals : Camden –
J Boyd 4, B Pearce 3, J Van Leunen 2, M Sapiatzer 2, J Ayling, C Murray, M Withers, M Lecek. Penrith – P Aumann 3, B Wilson 3, L Smith, J Stevens, J Devlin, M Stevens.
Best : Camden – J Bottin-Noonan, B McParland, B Pearce, J Ayling, M Maher, J Boyd. Penrith – B Wilson, J Pianta, J Vearing, J Stevens, M Payne, L Smith.
At Henson Park, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Division Three:
First Semi-Final
NorWest 2.2 3.4 10.11 14.14 (98)
Campbelltown 5.2 8.3 10.3 12.4 (76)
Goals : NorWest –
M Sieders 4, D Jones 3, R Johnston 2, L Horrell 2, Z Priest, D Soderman, L Veigel. Campbelltown – L Deering 3, J Lysaught 2, M Hatton 2, R Peltridge 2, C Desmond, D Linsen, N Smith.
Best : NorWest – R Johnston, D Clent, N Steffan, L Veigel, L Horrell, D Jones. Campbelltown – K Chisolm, J Harris, D Linsen, M Hatton, J Lysaught, T Makejev.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Second Semi-Final
Pennant Hills 4.3 8.6 11.6 13.8 (86)
Wollondilly 1.0 3.2 4.4 6.6 (42)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
C Stucker 3, E Danilo 2, S Brain, M Carter, S Hodges, H Angel, C Furlong, A Dallas, J Leedham, C Baglin. Wollondilly – D Hockey 2, J Haddock, S Smith, C Fitzsimmons, R Hamilton.
Best : Pennant Hills – C Stucker, H Angel, R Pinker, S Brain, J Leedham, C Baglin. Wollondilly – D Hockey, J Weston, D Beech, J Haddock, C McIllhatton, S Paget.
At Henson Park, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Division Four:
Preliminary Final
UTS 3.1 6.2 8.8 10.8 (68)
North Shore 2.2 3.6 3.6 8.9 (57)
Goals : UTS –
D Lazarus 2, L McManus 2, J Hedrick 2, E Taffa 2, R Simpkin 2. North Shore – J Barclay, S Hirche, M Bowden, A Reddie, J Jones, N Croft, M Bell, J Marsh.
Best : UTS – R Simpkin, B Stewart, E Taffa, Z Thorneycroft, D Houston, P Brown. North Shore – J Jones, R Snowden, R Hezlett, N Harris, M Thomas, A Morgan.
At Henson Park, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Division Five:
Preliminary Final
UNSW-ES 20.11 (131)
Sydney Uni 10.4 (64)

Quarter by Quarter scores not available.
Goals : UNSW-ES – S Wright 5, J Hook 4, T Scheibling 3, J Reid 2, C Stritch 2, M Gilanyi, C Dean, B Travis, J Pinyon. Sydney Uni – K Homberg 4, S Prendergast 3, D Starkey, A Robinson, P Hoey.
Best : UNSW-ES – M Cullen, J Tighe, T O’Donnell, J Reid, B Travis, T Scheibling. Sydney Uni – A Robinson, A Norris, K Homberg, C St Ather, R White, D Starkey.
At Henson Park, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Under 19s One:
Qualifying Final
UNSW-ES 3.4 7.4 8.7 9.10 (64)
St George 2.1 5.4 6.8 7.12 (54)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
J Cann 3, J Pawle, J Reinhard, J Wachman, J Buckley, K Reynolds-Erler, N Blakey. St George – M Saunders 2, J Hall 2, M Jeffrey, M Gray, L Sansom.
Best : UNSW-ES – J Dever, N Blakey, J Reinhard, J Cann, J Bartholomaeus, M Smith. St George – M Gray, B Norton, T Gorman-Brown, T Mitchell, L Maze, J Hall.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Elimination Final
Pennant Hills 4.5 5.5 6.8 11.11 (77)
South Coast 1.0 3.2 6.4 8.5 (53)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
M Carroll 3, M Preen 3, J Stern 2, Z Smith, J Vidot-Coleman, A Russell. South Coast – S Wilson 4, J Bell, J Hennessy, W Gamble, J Burgess.
Best : Pennant Hills – J Carroll, P De la Mare, Z Smith, M Carroll, N Eynaud, E Smith. South Coast – L Kirk, J Burgess, K Dann, L Essenstam, J Thompson-Gardener, A Reid.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Under 19s Two:
Preliminary Final
West Sydney Magpies 3.1 8.7 12.7 17.7 (109)
St George 3.0 3.1 6.4 8.8 (56)

Goals : Magpies – A Lombardo 3, J Ryan 3, L Phipps 3, J Masters 3, J Purcell 2, M Lemme 2, R Harman. St George – L Bognar 3, J Harvey, J Pearson, S Bobosevic, J Lawrence, A Flanagan.
Best : Magpies – J Cronin, K Bremner, E Lahey, C Wilkinson, L Culhane, A Lombardo. St George – B Lamb, J Lawrence, P Lukas, L Bognar, K Ayres, J Pearson.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Women Premier Division:
First Semi-Final
Newtown 1.0 6.1 8.3 8.6 (54)
Power Wolves 2.3 3.7 4.9 4.11 (35)
Goals : Newtown –
V Iles 5, N Devlin, L Holdsworth, T Stahl-Smith. Power Wolves – A McClure 2, K Saavendra Ramirez, L Fortner.
Best : Newtown – T Stahl-Smith, F Hocking, A Ruut, A Schroder, V Iles, L Holdsworth. Power Wolves – K De Pellegrini, M Eddington, M Freckelton, D Goom, M Obien, J Miller.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 27th August 2016.

Second Semi-Final
UNSW-ES 0.1 0.2 1.5 3.6 (24)
Sydney Uni 2.0 2.3 2.4 3.5 (23)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
R Beeson 3. Sydney Uni – T McKenty 2, R Stack.
Best : UNSW-ES – R Beeson, M Collier, P Monahan, M Nguyen, M Morriss, N Vrachnas. Sydney Uni – L Creber, N Wiggins, N Barr, J Lew, C Samuels, J Stack.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 28th August 2016.

Women Division One:
Preliminary Final
Wollongong 4.4 5.5 8.7 8.10 (58)
Western Magic 0.0 1.0 2.3 3.6 (24)
Goals : Wollongong –
N Kennedy 3, C Stanton 2, A Chessell 2, S Gibson. Magic – R Leeds, R Leard, S Poole.
Best : Wollongong – N Kennedy, K Chan, K Gow, L Kidd, J Stanton, C Stanton. Magic – S Freeman, C Corr, S Poole, R Leard, A Lim, M Young.
At Henson Park, Sunday 28th August 2016.


NEXT WEEK’S MATCHES

Premier Division:
Second Semi-Final – Saturday 3rd September
Blacktown ISP – East Coast v St George (5pm)
First Semi-Final – Sunday 4th September
Henson Park – UTS v North Shore (3:30pm)

Division One:
Second Semi-Final – Saturday 3rd September
Blacktown ISP – UTS v St George (7:30pm)
First Semi-Final – Sunday 4th September
Henson Park – Macquarie Uni v Western Magic (1:10pm)

Division Two:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 4th September
Blacktown ISP – Penrith v North Shore (7pm)

Division Three:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 4th September
Henson Park – Wollondilly v NorWest (6pm)

Division Four:
GRAND FINAL – Sunday 4th September
Blacktown ISP – Camden v UTS (2pm)

Division Five:
GRAND FINAL – Sunday 4th September
Blacktown ISP – Pennant Hills v UNSW-ES (11:30am)

Under 19s One:
Second Semi-Final – Saturday 3rd September
Henson Park – North Shore v UNSW-ES (9am)
First Semi-Final – Sunday 4th September
Henson Park – St George v Pennant Hills (11:05am)

Under 19s Two:
GRAND FINAL – Sunday 4th September
Blacktown ISP – Western Magic v West Sydney Magpies (9am)

Women Premier Division:
Preliminary Final – Sunday 4th September
Henson Park – Sydney Uni v Newtown (9am)

Women Division One:
GRAND FINAL – Sunday 4th September
Blacktown ISP – UTS v Wollongong (4:30pm)


FIRST GRAND FINAL DAY
10 premierships are on the line in AFL Sydney this year, and the first four of them will be up for grabs at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday.
The program for the day is:
9am – Under 19s Division Two – Western Magic v West Sydney Magpies
11:30am – Division Five – Pennant Hills v UNSW-ES
2pm – Division Four – Camden v UTS
4:30pm – Women Division One – UTS v Wollongong