Article by Michael Shillito

After a week off over Easter, the competition resumed last weekend. Although the season is still in its early stages, it’s already become clear that this will be an unpredictable year. So much so that already there are no undefeated teams and only one team is yet to taste the spoils of victory.

UNSW-ES had been ladder leaders going into the Easter break. But on Saturday they travelled to Sydney Uni No 1 for a University Derby and were never in the hunt against a star-studded Sydney Uni side.
The Students were in control of the contest from the start, and wasted little time in getting the scoreboard ticking over. A run of five goals to one in the first term told the tale, as the Bulldogs struggled to get the ball into their attacking 50. The Students were looking in ominous touch as they powered their way to a 22-point quarter time lead.
The Bulldogs had to lift after being blown away in the first term, and their defensive structure looked a lot better in the second term. The game had lifted in intensity during the second term, and easy possessions were hard to come by. Space was hard to find on the small confines of the uni ground, and rarely were the goal umpires called into action. But when they did, it was the Students who had the edge with two goals to one for the quarter; extending the lead to 27 points at the long break.
There was no way back into the contest for the Bulldogs in the premiership quarter. The Sydney Uni defence was relentless, and the Bulldog forwards were unable to conjure up any clean possessions or realistic goal-scoring opportunities. UNSW-ES would be unable to score a goal in the third term. The Bulldog defence were kept busy and didn’t do too badly to hold Sydney Uni to three goals for the quarter. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the margin blowing out to 47 points at the last change.
Victory was assured, and the final quarter felt a lot less intense than the defensively-minded second and third terms. Players were able to get more run going in the final quarter, and the scores began to flow more freely. The Bulldogs salvaged three goals in the last term, while the Students helped themselves to four more in a quarter that put on some entertainment and individual highlights.
In the end, the Students took the game by 54 points. Xavier Richards, after his well-publicised leaving the Swans and not finding himself on an AFL list, made his way to Sydney Uni and kicked four goals in this match. Around the ground, Micael Fogarty, Kane Murphy and Jarrod Irving were ball magnets for the Students.
The Bulldogs found good service all day from Tom Banuelos, Jack Hardman and Ben Hyndes; but suffered their first loss of the season. Both the Bulldogs and the Students are in a group leading the ladder with two wins and one loss; and upcoming games will be critical to determine how their respective seasons will unfold.

Manly were under pressure after being defeated in their first two rounds. But on Saturday afternoon at Weldon Oval, the Wolves turned back the clock to the form of their glory years with a hard-earned 16-point win over the previously undefeated St George.
The Wolves were determined to make an early impact, and would do just that in a long, high-scoring opening term. All-out speed and attack was the order of the day, the Wolves bursting out of the blocks in their quest to get a big score on the board and turning on the pace when it was needed. And they would achieve reward for effort with six goals to three in the opening term and leading by 21 points at quarter time.
The Dragons knew they had a fight on their hands, and that they would have to work hard to get back into the contest. But they put up a solid effort in the second term, and the Wolves were denied the loose runners that had inflicted such damage in the first quarter. But Manly were flying high in confidence and weren’t going to let this contest go; and were coming up with the answers whenever St George looked like getting within striking distance. The Dragons won the quarter by three goals to two, but the Wolves were still enjoying the advantage of a 14-point lead when the teams returned to the rooms at half time.
Manly had their chances to put the game out of the Dragons’ reach in the third term. But the Wolves were their own worst enemy as shot after shot sailed wide of the big sticks. A return of 1.7 for the quarter was frustrating for Manly and prevented them from getting reward for effort. The Wolves won most of the stats for the quarter, but the one that mattered went against them as the Dragons would score two crucial goals in the quarter and get the margin back to 12 points at three quarter time.
The Dragons had a sniff of a comeback opportunity when the last quarter got under way. But the chance to come from behind and take the win went begging. The Dragons had the ball in their forward line for plenty of time during the last term, but were unable to penetrate the big sticks in the last quarter. The Wolves defenders worked hard to keep the pressure piled on. In the end, Manly would score the only goal for the last quarter to record a well-earned 16-point win.
Jordan Weir was best-on-ground, working hard all day to stop the flow of possessions to the Dragons; while Aidan Butler and Ryan Wearne also featured prominently. To have gone winless after three rounds would have been bad news for the Wolves; but to instead claim the scalp of one of the competition’s heavyweights will be a morale-booster for the maroon and whites.
It wasn’t St George’s day, and they were unable to turn on the form they would have been expecting to produce. They had some solid workers out there, with Bryce Addison, Dylan Napper and Earl Shaw the best of them; but the undefeated status has gone and the Dragons find themselves in an extremely congested battle for top spot with little percentage separating four teams.

One of those teams in the battle for top spot is UTS. The Bats made an emphatic statement about their intentions for 2017 when they travelled to Kanebridge Oval on Saturday afternoon and put on a blistering second half to knock off East Coast Eagles.
The Bats went into the game having never beaten the Eagles since the Eagles’ NEAFL existence ended. And there was little in the first quarter that suggested that was going to change. It wasn’t a quarter that reached any great heights, but the Eagles looked to have everything under control. It was four goals to two on the scoreboard, but the run of play around the ground was looking good for the Eagles; who held an 11-point quarter time lead and looked to have the momentum running their way.
But when the Eagles looked set to run away, the Bats would find the goals they needed to peg them back. The Eagles maintained the lead through the second quarter, but were unable to shake off the persistent efforts from the Bats. The UTS side would win the second quarter by four goals to three, cutting the margin to four points at half time; and a game that was looking comfortable for the Eagles for much of the quarter was back in the balance.
The Bats took the lead early in the third term, and the pendulum had firmly swung their way. The Eagles suddenly found themselves under scoreboard pressure, and were unable to dig themselves out of the hole they found themselves in. It was to be a goal-less quarter for the Eagles, as the Bats tightened the screws in the backline. And with four goals for UTS, the half-time deficit had been turned into a 21-point lead.
The Bats would go on with the job in the last quarter, with four goals to two, to take the game by 32 points. It had been a comprehensive performance by the Bats, riding out the early onslaught by the Eagles but keeping themselves within striking distance; and then controlling proceedings after half time.
Justin Crameri had a Premier Division debut to remember, directing traffic in the UTS forward line to finish with five goals. Around the ground, the Bats had Tim McKenzie, Scott Jansen and James Caica picking up plenty of the ball.
Mark Weekes kicked four goals, and along with Bailey Stewart and Ben Bourke was among the Eagles’ best. But this was a loss the Eagles will be disappointed with. The defending champions have already had their Kanebridge fortress stormed twice this season; and have plenty of work to do to get their premiership defence back on track.

The round was completed on ANZAC Day Tuesday, as Wests hosted Pennant Hills at Picken Oval. Before the match, a moving ANZAC remembrance ceremony was conducted, wreaths were laid and respect was paid for those who served our country. Lest we forget.
The two teams in action were the two teams that had byes before the Easter break, so for both of them it was just their second game. For Wests, who had their bye in round 2, it was their first game for a whopping 24 days.
But there didn’t look to be too many signs of rust early on, as both sides hit the ground running with an entertaining opening quarter. The Demons were looking the better side around the ground, and won the quarter with four goals to three to lead by nine points at the first change; but the Magpies were taking the fight up to them. Both sides were creating chances, and an exciting contest was beginning to take shape.
Little separated the two sides in a closely-contested second term. It was an arm-wrestle, two teams desperate not to fall behind the pace denying the other any easy chances. Two goals apiece were scored in the second term as the Magpies pressed hard to stay within striking distance of the Demons; and the Demons were holding on to a ten point lead at half time.
The larger-than-normal crowd, and even the assembled masses looking out over the balcony at the club next door, were kept entertained during a thrilling third quarter. The Demons created scoring chances but failed to capitalise on them, while at the other end the Magpies were piling on the pressure and constantly forcing the Demon defenders into hurried action. With three goals to one for the quarter, the Magpies took the lead in the final minutes of the term and held a two-point lead at three quarter time.
The game looked set to be a thriller, and the Magpies had hopes of pulling off what would have been a remarkable win. But it wasn’t to be. They had fought so well for three quarters, but when the last term was under way they had nothing more to give. The Demons regained the lead in the early minutes of the final term, and would not be headed again. Three unanswered goals saw Pennant Hills get home by 14 points.
Ranga Ediriwickrama, Damian Dell’Aquila and Tim Edmonds were best for the Demons as they broke through for their first win of the season. But they had been pushed all the way by the Magpies, the team song in the rooms after the game being sung with more of a feeling of relief than jubilation. They still have a game in hand, having already had an early bye; but are yet to show the form that Pennant Hills teams have become renowned for in recent seasons.
The Magpies received solid service from Yannick Milligan-Saville, Pat Wilmot and Dan O’Connell. It had been a gallant fight against the odds by Wests, but the Magpies fell agonisingly short. But there’s plenty more footy for the Magpies to play, and with a game every week for several weeks to come; it’s finally time for them to build some momentum for 2017.

Premier Division continues with another four games next weekend. North Shore return to action after this weekend’s bye with a home clash against UTS at Mortgage Choice Oval. UNSW-ES will take on Pennant Hills at Henson Park; while Sydney Uni host Manly at Sydney Uni No 1 in a game where both teams will be looking to build on this week’s winning momentum.
On Sunday afternoon, Wests and East Coast will face off in the quest to get on the winning list after missing out this week. St George have the bye.

Sydney University 5.1 7.2 10.7 14.10 (94)
Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 1.3 2.5 2.8 5.10 (40)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
X Richards 4, T Barrett 3, W Stratford 3, A Clarke 2, M Krochmal, M Vicic. UNSW-ES – M Lower 2, R Farrelly, D Cordell, B Norton.
Best : Sydney Uni – M Fogarty, K Murphy, J Irving, A Sierakowski, N Bertino, N Bowen. UNSW-ES – T Banuelos, J Hardman, B Hyndes, J Bell, J McAnespie.
At Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Manly-Warringah 6.4 8.7 9.14 10.16 (76)
St George 3.1 6.5 8.8 8.12 (60)
Goals : Manly –
A Robertson 2, J Parker, C D’Souza, A Pilat, S Harlen, J Weir, H Washington, M Rogers, J Monk. St George – D Cooper, E Shaw, B Jones, D Donohue, P Sain, K McKellar, N Kenny, T Gorman-Brown.
Best : Manly – J Weir, A Butler, R Wearne, C Pettersson, A Robertson, S Wicks. St George – B Addison, D Napper, E Shaw, D Donohue, A Wynn, B Jones.
At Weldon Oval, Saturday 22nd April 2017.

University of Technology 2.2 6.5 10.8 14.9 (93)
East Coast Eagles 4.1 7.3 7.5 9.7 (61)
Goals : UTS –
J Crameri 5, J Caica 3, T Larby 2, A Johnson 2, E Thwaites, S Jansen. East Coast – M Weekes 4, T Stubbs 2, M Eastman, S Turner, Z Johns.
Best : UTS – T McKenzie, S Jansen, J Caica, J Crameri, B Hunt, P Kilroy. East Coast – B Stewart, B Bourke, M Weekes, S Turner, M Eastman, T Stubbs.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Pennant Hills 4.4 6.7 7.12 10.14 (74)
Western Suburbs 3.1 5.3 8.8 8.12 (60)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
D Dell’Aquila 3, M Preen 2, T Angel 2, L Shepherd, M Carey, C Luscombe. Wests – B Zoppo 3, N Salter 2, C Gordon, V Romanas, C McEvoy-Gray.
Best : Pennant Hills – R Ediriwickrama, D Dell’Aquila, T Edmonds, J Hare, J Carroll. Wests – Y Milligan-Saville, P Wilmot, D O’Connell, J O’Donoghue, N Salter, C Gordon.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 22nd April 2017.

Sydney Uni
St George
North Shore
Pennant Hills
East Coast
Black - Confirmed finallists
Green - Currently in a finals position, but not yet guaranteed a place in the finals
Blue - Not currently in a finals position, but still a chance to qualify
Purple - Will not be competing in the finals
Red - Wooden spoon, probable relegation

Division One:
Sydney Uni 14.13 (97) d Southern Power 7.11 (53)
St George 14.8 (92) d Balmain 9.11 (65)
UTS 19.10 (124) d Holroyd-Parramatta 9.16 (70)
Macquarie Uni 11.10 (76) d Western Magic 10.14 (74)
Pennant Hills 12.10 (82) d Camden 11.8 (74)
Ladder – Pennant Hills (12, 213.68%), Sydney Uni (12, 176.26%), St George (12, 160.74%), Camden (8, 121.72%), UTS (8, 121.51%), Macquarie Uni (8, 98.51%), Western Magic (0, 91.27%), Southern Power (0, 64.32%), Holroyd-Parramatta (0, 47.26%), Balmain (0, 45.60%).

Division Two:
Penrith 12.15 (87) d Manly 8.9 (57)
UNSW-ES 19.15 (129) d Sydney Uni 5.8 (38)
East Coast 12.16 (88) d UTS 4.3 (27)
North Shore 16.8 (104) d Wollondilly 3.3 (21)
South-West Sydney v Randwick City – Cancelled after two ambulance call-outs
Western Suburbs 12.10 (82) d Pennant Hills 7.3 (45)
Ladder – North Shore (12, 363.10%), UNSW-ES (12, 224.83%), Wests (12, 189.51%), East Coast (8, 143.23%), Penrith (8, 110.53%), UTS (8, 97.08%), South-West Sydney (6, 71.01%), Pennant Hills (4, 124.29%), Randwick City (2, 30.55%), Sydney Uni (0, 49.01%), Wollondilly (0, 41.04%).

Division Three:
Camden 10.8 (68) d North Shore 8.8 (56)
Holroyd-Parramatta 11.11 (77) d Penrith 10.11 (71)
NorWest 12.7 (79) d Macquarie Uni 7.7 (49)
Campbelltown 27.17 (179) d Balmain 2.2 (14)
Ladder – NorWest (12, 232.52%), Camden (12, 155.79%), North Shore (8, 416.84%), Campbelltown (8, 187.65%), Macquarie Uni (4, 116.58%), Holroyd-Parramatta (4, 49.21%), Penrith (0, 47.25%), Balmain (0, 6.06%).

Division Four:
Pennant Hills 9.5 (59) d UNSW-ES 8.5 (53)
UTS 18.15 (123) d East Coast 8.3 (51)
St George 15.20 (110) d Southern Power 0.1 (1)
Western Magic 15.4 (94) d Sydney Uni 9.11 (65)
South-West Sydney 11.11 (77) d Manly 3.4 (22)
Ladder – St George (12, 384.52%), Pennant Hills (12, 185.71%), UNSW-ES (8, 170.90%), UTS (8, 168.48%), Western Magic (8, 111.02%), East Coast (4, 78.30%), South-West Sydney (4, 42.08%), Southern Power (4, 32.08%), Sydney Uni (0, 77.93%), Manly (0, 46.37%).

Division Five:
UNSW-ES 12.15 (87) d Sydney Uni 12.9 (81)
Penrith 7.15 (57) d Holroyd-Parramatta 4.7 (31)
NorWest 21.8 (134) d Macquarie Uni 6.5 (41)
Randwick City 14.13 (97) d Wollondilly 9.12 (66)
North Shore 19.13 (127) d Campbelltown 8.1 (49)
Sydney Uni 12.13 (85) d Camden 8.8 (56)
Ladder – North Shore (12, 339.00%), Wests (8, 590.45%), NorWest (8, 204.85%), UNSW-ES (8, 160.18%), Macquarie Uni (8, 104.04%), Camden (4, 270.11%), UTS (4, 99.54%), Penrith (4, 82.25%), Campbelltown (4, 76.38%), Sydney Uni (4, 62.70%), Randwick City (4, 46.51%), Wollondilly (0, 38.46%), Holroyd-Parramatta (0, 20.38%).

Under 19s One:
Pennant Hills 12.16 (88) d Sydney Uni 4.7 (31)
North Shore d Western Magic – forfeit
East Coast 6.6 (42) d UNSW-ES 4.4 (28)
St George 18.13 (121) d Manly 3.2 (20)
Ladder – St George (12, 577.78%), North Shore (12, 534.21%), Sydney Uni (8, 227.59%), Pennant Hills (8, 142.11%), UNSW-ES (4, 92.54%), East Coast (4, 50.00%), Manly (0, 38.11%), Western Magic (0, 4.40%).

Under 19s Two:
South-West Cats 13.9 (87) d Wests Goannas 6.5 (41)
Southern Power 15.14 (104) d Penrith 5.7 (37)
St George 9.6 (60) d North Shore 6.8 (44)
Ladder – South-West Cats (12, 341.08%), Southern Power (8, 225.71%), North Shore (8, 190.83%), Campbelltown (4, 78.57%), St George (4, 52.66%), Wests Goannas (0, 49.31%), Penrith (0, 31.10%).

Women Premier Division:
UNSW-ES 14.11 (95) d Newtown 0.3 (3)
UTS 6.9 (45) drew Auburn-Penrith 7.3 (45)
Macquarie Uni 8.7 (55) d Western Wolves 2.4 (16)
Sydney Uni 11.12 (78) d Southern Power 2.3 (15)
Ladder – UNSW-ES (12, 3525.00%), Sydney Uni (12, 706.45%), Southern Power (8, 99.29%), Auburn-Penrith (6, 67.84%), Western Wolves (4, 54.55%), UTS (2, 40.22%), Newtown (0, 33.17%).

Women Division One:
Manly 20.16 (136) d Auburn-Penrith 0.2 (2)
Western Magic 19.14 (128) d Sydney Uni 0.0 (0)
UNSW-ES 9.11 (65) d Newtown 1.0 (6)
Campbelltown 8.8 (56) d South-West Sydney 1.1 (7)
North Shore 9.10 (64) d Wollondilly 2.6 (18)
Pennant Hills 17.19 (121) d Camden 0.2 (2)
Wollongong 12.10 (82) d East Coast 0.0 (0)
Ladder – Manly (12, 1881.25%), Wollongong (12, 1025.93%), North Shore (12, 574.36%), UNSW-ES (8, 515.38%), Western Magic (8, 327.47%), East Coast (8, 161.11%), Campbelltown (8, 85.83%), Pennant Hills (4, 82.49%), Wollondilly (4, 74.71%), Auburn-Penrith (4, 16.04%), Sydney Uni (0, 20.94%), South-West Sydney (0, 12.50%), Camden (0, 6.52%), Newtown (0, 2.06%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 29th April
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v UTS (2pm)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Pennant Hills (2:30pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (2:30pm)
Sunday 30th April
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v East Coast (2pm)
BYE – St George.

Division One:
Saturday 29th April
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Camden (8:30am)
Mahoney Park – Balmain v Holroyd-Parramatta (2pm)
Olds Park – St George v Southern Power (3pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Pennant Hills (5pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v UTS (5pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 29th April
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Pennant Hills (10:30am)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Randwick City (12pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (12:30pm)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Wollondilly (2:10pm)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v UTS (3:10pm)
Sunday 30th April
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v East Coast (12pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 29th April
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v NorWest (10am)
Mahoney Park – Balmain v Holroyd-Parramatta (12pm)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Camden (12:30pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Campbelltown (3pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 29th April
Olds Park – St George v Pennant Hills (9am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (10:30am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v UTS (1pm)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v East Coast (5:15pm)
Blacktown ISP No 1 – Western Magic v Southern Power (7pm)

Division Five:
Saturday 29th April
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Sydney Uni (8:30am)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v North Shore (8:30am)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Wollondilly (12pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Randwick City (1pm)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v UTS (2:10pm)
Sunday 30th April
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Camden (10am)
BYE – Holroyd-Parramatta

Under 19s One:
Saturday 29th April
Olds Park – St George v Sydney Uni (11am)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Pennant Hills (12:30pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v East Coast (1pm)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Manly (4:45pm)

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 29th April
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Wests Goannas (10:30am)
Olds Park – St George v Campbelltown (1pm)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Southern Power (6:35pm)
BYE – South-West Cats.

Women Premier Division:
Saturday 29th April
Mona Park – Auburn-Penrith v Newtown (2pm)
Picken Oval – Western Wolves v Southern Power (2pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v UNSW-ES (5:15pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v UTS (5:15pm)

Women Division One:
Saturday 29th April
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v UNSW-ES (8:10am)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Wollondilly (10am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Sydney Uni (10:30am)
Mona Park – Auburn-Penrith v Newtown (12pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Pennant Hills (3pm)
North Dalton Oval – Wollongong v Manly (4:15pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v East Coast (5:10pm)