Article by Michael Shillito

Another round of Premier Division was played on Saturday. Despite a few isolated showers, for most of the day the weather was good and the on-field action again threw up some interesting results that leave us all guessing how the final ladder will shape up.

One result that is sure to make the Sydney footy world sit up and take notice was the game at Henson Park. UNSW-ES had looked like big improvers, but taking on St George, widely expected to be one of this year’s front-runners, was always going to be a big test. But it was a test the Bulldogs passed with flying colours, as they put in a strong effort around the grounds and made the best use of their opportunities to defeat the Dragons by 42 points.
The first quarter set the tone for the game. Both sides had the same number of scoring shots, but too many times the Dragons sprayed the ball wide with some poor finishing; while at the other end the Bulldogs were making every post a winner. The Dragons were getting as much of the ball as the Bulldogs, but the Bulldogs were far more effective with what they were doing when in possession; and the scoreboard began to reflect what was happen as the Bulldogs crept further ahead. Seven goals to two for the quarter saw the Bulldogs hold an impressive 25-point lead at quarter time.
The Dragons launched some form of fightback in the second quarter, but inaccurate finishing would undo them. It was a quarter which, although the Dragons won the quarter, would frustrate them as they had numerous chances to wrest back the initiative from the Bulldogs but were unable to capitalise on them. The Dragons won the quarter by three goals to one, cutting the margin to 11 points at the long break; but they could have been even closer or even taken the lead.
And with that chance squandered, they wouldn’t get another. When the teams returned to the field for the premiership quarter, it was the Bulldogs who controlled the ball and turned on some of the best football seen from the club for a few years. A quarter of six unanswered goals emphatically showed that the Bulldogs are the real deal in 2017, and a team to be regarded as genuine contenders as they blew their highly-rated opponents away to extend the lead to 45 points at the last change.
The result of the game was beyond doubt in the final quarter, and the pressure valve was released. It was a high-scoring quarter, with both sides adding four goals in a display of open attacking footy as the Bulldogs cruised to a 42-point win.
Nick Blakey, son of dual North Melbourne premiership player John Blakey, had a Premier Division debut to remember for the Bulldogs with six goals in a best-on-ground performance. Jack Buckley contributed four goals for the Bulldog cause, while Max Lower and Luke Essenstam played key roles around the ground. The Bulldogs remain in second spot, and with this performance showed they had the ingredients in their lineup to match it with the best teams in the competition.
Dom Michalak, Alex Wynn and Ben Jones worked hard all day for the Dragons. But this was a shock loss; with not just the defeat but the margin conspiring to relegate the Dragons to fourth on the ladder. St George had more scoring shots on the day than the Bulldogs, but were well beaten by a younger but more committed Bulldogs side on one of those days of Dragon frustration when little was going right for them.

The only team ahead of UNSW-ES on the ladder is Sydney Uni, and the Students maintained their ladder leadership in style as they turned on a blistering second half to record a 67-point win over East Coast Eagles at Kanebridge Oval.
Results so far this season haven’t been kind to the defending champions, but there’s still plenty of quality players in the Eagles’ lineup; and in the early exchanges they were matching it around the ground with the high-flying Sydney Uni side. It was tough, desperation stakes footy as the Eagles were working hard to stop the Students from establishing any form of advantage; and they were effective in doing that during the first term. It wasn’t always pretty, and netted a low scoring two goals to one; but the Eagles had done enough to lead by five points at quarter time.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern to the first. It was tight and physical, the Eagles doing everything in their power to keep the Students at bay and prevent them from getting their game plan going. There were plenty of ball-ups and boundary throw-ins, but relatively few easy possessions for either side as the game remained in a state of desperate stalemate for much of the quarter. But the Students would win the quarter, only by a low-scoring three goals to two, but enough to take the lead late in the quarter and lead by four points at half time.
Not much in it in the first half, but when the two teams returned to the field for the premiership quarter, the game took on a whole new complexion. The tight football was gone, and the Students were now in control of the game. Players who were barely sighted and rarely credited with possessions began to rack up more meaningful stats. The scoreboard reflected the change in the play around the ground, as the Students recorded six goals to two for the quarter to extend the lead to 41 points at three quarter time.
The Students were unstoppable, and the Eagles would be unable to contain them in the last quarter. The tightly-contested first half was a distant memory as the rampant Sydney Uni team controlled the game, adding a further six goals to one in the last term to complete another dominant performance and add further to their imposing percentage.
Austin Lucy was the star of the show, scoring four goals for the Students in a best-on-ground performance; while Micael Fogarty and Sam Ryan also featured prominently. The Students have only dropped one game so far this season and have a percentage well over 200; tightening in their premiership favouritism with every passing week.
The Eagles’ best were Daniel Spiteri, Andrew Browning and Stuart Turner. But this was another shock loss for the Eagles, not just the result but the margin. The defending champions have won three from eight so far this year, stranded well outside the top five and needing to string a series of wins together in the very near future to get their premiership defence back on track.

After a slow start to the year, Manly’s season is starting to build some momentum. The Wolves won their second game on the trot on Saturday at Mike Kenny Oval when they knocked off Pennant Hills by 22 points.
The Wolves hit the ground running, getting off to a flying start and ensuring they would lead throughout. It was a strong quarter by the Wolves, as they ran through four goals to one; relentlessly attacking the ball, being under the bottom of every pack and denying the Demons any easy touches. A lead of 16 points at the first change was well deserved after a high-intensity quarter of footy by the Wolves.
The second term wasn’t one that reached any great heights. Two goals apiece were scored, but both sides created many more errors than scoring opportunities in a quarter of footy in which the Demons tried hard to get back into the contest but were denied at every turn. The Wolves were 17 points ahead at half time, looking comfortable against a Pennant Hills side that was struggling to exert any meaningful influence over the game.
If the Demons were to have any hope of getting back into the contest, they needed to make their move during the premiership quarter. But they were unable to, being well held by a Manly side that was feeling their confidence and form returning with every kick. It was a quarter of Manly dominance, the ball spending extended periods within the Wolves’ attacking 50 metre arc and barely penetrating the Demons’ forward zone. The Wolves completed a return of four goals to one for the quarter, stretching the lead to 36 points at three quarter time.
The Demons salvaged some respectability and percentage out of the afternoon during the last term, winning the quarter by four goals to two. But it was too little too late for a Pennant Hills side that was well short of the lofty expectations they normally set for themselves; as the Wolves completed a 22-point win.
Sam Wicks, Anthony Robertson and Jarrod Osborne were best for Manly on an afternoon when they made significant gains in their quest to return to finals consideration. There’s still a long way to go, their percentage is still poor. But three wins puts them level on games with fifth spot; and the Giants, last on the table just a fortnight ago, are back in the running.
Aaron Crisfield, Daniel Witt and Jesse Hare were tireless warriors for the Demons. But this loss, their second in a row, sees them only hanging on to their spot in the top five on percentage. It’s a very tight ladder and an even season; but it’s been many years that we’ve seen a ladder this far into a season where the Demons have lost more than they’ve won.

North Shore snapped a two-game losing streak with a breakthrough 13-point win over Wests at Mortgage Choice Oval on Saturday afternoon. But it was far from convincing after a strong start.
The Bombers got off to a flying start, dominating around the ground in the first quarter and looking comfortable. Five unanswered goals propelled the Bombers to a 32-point quarter time lead; and in most areas of the game it looked like one-way traffic. The Bombers had struggled in the last few rounds, but were determined to make an impression; and everything on the field looked to be going to plan.
But off the field it was unravelling as a power blackout in the St Leonards area saw the scoreboard and the clubhouse plunge into darkness; and few realised how close the Magpies would get to running down the lead in the next two hours. The second quarter was nowhere near as dominant as the first for North Shore, but they didn’t look to be in any immediate danger as both sides scored three goals and the North Shore lead of 34 points was intact at the long break.
But the Magpies were flying low and swooping on loose possessions in the third quarter, and in no time at all came surging back into the contest. Suddenly the Bombers were under pressure and turning the ball over, as a determined Magpie side forced the errors and made the Bombers pay for them with a burst of determined footy. The Magpies would score six goals to two for the quarter, never taking the lead but cutting the margin to just six points at the last change; few realising at the time how close the Magpies had got.
But the momentum had clearly swung; and the Bombers had to work hard to steady the ship through a tense and tight last quarter. The power came back on as the clock ticked into time-on in the last quarter, just in time for the twilight Division Two match to go ahead; and the scoreboard was again able to show the task at hand; with the Magpies within striking distance but being held out by the Bombers. In the end, the Bombers finished with three goals to two for the quarter to hang on by 13 points; but it was far from the demolition job that had been threatened in the first quarter.
Wayd Blackburne was again a star on the North Shore forward line to finish with five goals; and along with Sam Carruthers and Marlon Marquez was among the Bombers’ best. The win, combined with St George’s loss, was enough to move the Bombers up to third on the ladder; but it was with more of a feeling of relief than jubilation that the Bombers marked this victory.
The gallant Magpies saw great service from Dan O’Connell, Charles Ford and Levi Sands. After a poor first quarter, they went so close to pulling off what would have been a remarkable win. The Magpies are still only one win out of the top five, their percentage not too bad. They’ve had some close losses, and if they can turn them into wins over the rest of the season, they’re not out of the finals race.

The competition will take a break over the long weekend before returning on Saturday 17th. With no games scheduled for next weekend, this column will also take a break before returning in two weeks time.
We’ve had a few breaks so far this year, but when we return it will be for a solid burst of action; with several weeks to pass before any more weeks off.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 7.0 8.3 14.5 18.6 (114)
St George 2.5 5.10 5.14 9.18 (72)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
N Blakey 6, J Buckley 4, S Pollock 2, M Thompson 2, J Bartholomaeus 2, A Foote, M Lower. St George – D Donohue 2, N Shaw 2, L Maze, B Jones, A Wynn, K Merson, J Hill.
Best : UNSW-ES – N Blakey, M Lower, L Essenstam, J Buckley, D Cordell, J Deep. St George – D Michalak, A Wynn, B Jones, D Donohue, N Shaw, B Addison.
At Henson Park, Saturday 3rd June 2017.

Sydney University 1.4 4.8 10.13 16.19 (115)
East Coast Eagles 2.3 4.4 6.6 7.6 (48)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
A Lucy 4, W Stratford 3, A Clarke 2, M Vicic 2, L Vella, M Krochmal, M Powys, M Thompson, J Irving. East Coast – D Spiteri 3, D Costello, B Stewart, M Eastman, P Vlatko.
Best : Sydney Uni – A Lucy, M Fogarty, S Ryan, M Powys, N Bowen, H Morrison. East Coast – D Spiteri, A Browning, S Turner, D Costello, M Eastman, A Drinkwater.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 3rd June 2017.

Manly-Warringah 4.1 6.4 10.5 12.6 (78)
Pennant Hills 1.3 3.5 4.5 8.8 (56)
Goals : Manly –
L Behagg 2, E Burke 2, S Kelly 2, C D’Souza, J Monk, A Robertson, R Wearne, J Osborne, H Washington. Pennant Hills – M Carey 2, J Stern 2, J Hare, S Wray, L Skrivanic, J Boag.
Best : Manly – S Wicks, A Robertson, J Osborne, A Hurley, L Behagg, L Brain. Pennant Hills – A Crisfield, D Witt, J Hare, J Carroll, M Carey, J Stern.
At Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 3rd June 2017.

North Shore 5.4 8.8 10.9 13.12 (90)
Western Suburbs 0.2 3.4 9.9 11.11 (77)
Goals : North Shore –
W Blackburne 5, A McConnell 2, W Taylor, E Strudwick, M Marquez, H McDonald, C Parsons, H Carr. Wests – B Zoppo 3, N Salter 2, C Gordon 2, B Mumme, R Haupt, C Ford, J Tidd.
Best : North Shore – S Carruthers, W Blackburne, M Marquez, S Lee-Steere, E Strudwick, M Wilson. Wests – D O’Connell, C Ford, L Sands, J Polley, J O’Donoghue, C McEvoy-Gray.
At Mortgage Choice Oval, Saturday 3rd June 2017.

Sydney Uni
North Shore
St George
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:
Pennant Hills 9.9 (63) d Southern Power 4.4 (28)
St George 14.7 (91) d Balmain 7.2 (44)
Western Magic 11.16 (82) d Sydney Uni 4.4 (28)
Camden 11.11 (77) d UTS 5.12 (42)
Macquarie Uni 10.10 (70) d Holroyd-Parramatta 6.14 (50)
Ladder – St George (36, 185.21%), Pennant Hills (24, 127.53%), Sydney Uni (24, 121.80%), UTS (24, 99.48%), Western Magic (20, 147.05%), Camden (20, 106.37%), Macquarie Uni (20, 89.04%), Holroyd-Parramatta (8, 69.16%), Balmain (4, 61.31%), Southern Power (0, 57.56%).

Division Two:
Pennant Hills 9.11 (65) d Manly 7.6 (48)
East Coast 11.7 (73) d Sydney Uni 9.13 (67)
Penrith 16.15 (111) d UTS 10.7 (67)
North Shore 11.14 (80) d Western Suburbs 2.1 (13)
Wollondilly 12.13 (85) d Randwick City 9.10 (64)
UNSW-ES 23.13 (151) d South-West Sydney 2.4 (16)
Ladder – North Shore (32, 393.18%), UNSW-ES (32, 245.64%), Penrith (28, 169.65%), Wests (24, 131.20%), Pennant Hills (20, 102.90%), Manly (16, 76.23%), East Coast (16, 75.49%), UTS (12, 100.55%), South-West Sydney (10, 58.74%), Wollondilly (8, 57.51%), Randwick City (6, 35.38%), Sydney Uni (4, 70.15%).

Division Three:
Camden 22.14 (146) d Penrith 3.3 (21)
Balmain 15.14 (104) d Holroyd-Parramatta 7.4 (46)
North Shore 10.16 (76) d NorWest 8.4 (52)
Macquarie Uni 12.20 (92) d Campbelltown 7.3 (45)
Ladder – Camden (36, 283.38%), North Shore (28, 257.69%), Macquarie Uni (24, 174.18%), NorWest (24, 122.49%), Campbelltown (12, 92.77%), Balmain (8, 46.66%), Holroyd-Parramatta (4, 44.13%), Penrith (4, 38.88%).

Division Four:
Western Magic d South-West Sydney – forfeit
Sydney Uni 18.17 (125) d East Coast 2.3 (15)
UTS 10.16 (76) d Southern Power 8.8 (56)
St George 12.7 (79) d UNSW-ES 7.10 (52)
Pennant Hills 14.7 (91) d Manly 6.5 (41)
Ladder – St George (32, 478.43%), Western Magic (28, 199.17%), Pennant Hills (24, 116.57%), Sydney Uni (20, 196.38%), UTS (20, 128.54%), UNSW-ES (16, 138.54%), Southern Power (12, 85.74%), East Coast (4, 27.91%), South-West Sydney (4, 22.91%), Manly (4, 34.37%).

Division Five:
Sydney Uni d Campbelltown – forfeit
NorWest 21.19 (145) d Penrith 3.3 (21)
North Shore 15.13 (103) d Western Suburbs 2.6 (18)
Camden 8.6 (54) d UTS 7.6 (48)
Macquarie Uni 19.19 (133) d Wollondilly 5.6 (36)
UNSW-ES d Holroyd-Parramatta – forfeit
Ladder (Match Ratio) – North Shore (87.5, 494.09%), Wests (85.71, 176.97%), Camden (71.43, 198.41%), NorWest (71.43, 193.44%), Macquarie Uni (71.43, 146.03%), UNSW-ES (71.43, 96.70%), Sydney Uni (57.14, 85.71%), UTS (37.5, 121.71%), Campbelltown (37.5, 100.39%), Randwick City (33.33, 47.60%), Penrith (14.29, 49.74%), Holroyd-Parramatta (14.29, 37.88%), Wollondilly (0, 19.65%).

Under 19s One:
Pennant Hills 12.17 (89) d Manly 2.5 (17)
St George 7.13 (55) d East Coast 5.1 (31)
North Shore 9.8 (62) d UNSW-ES 6.1 (37)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – St George (100, 232.69%), North Shore (85.71, 278.83%), Pennant Hills (62.5, 127.51%), UNSW-ES (50, 113.35%), Sydney Uni (28.57, 76.49%), East Coast (28.57, 67.86%), Manly (0, 23.02%).

Under 19s Two:
South-West Cats 18.19 (127) d Wests Goannas 3.2 (20)
Southern Power 9.11 (65) d North Shore 3.5 (23)
St George 15.7 (97) d Penrith 6.11 (47)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – South-West Cats (83.33, 295.52%), Southern Power (83.33, 211.65%), St George (71.43, 107.53%), Penrith (42.86, 73.15%), Western Blues (33.33, 55.13%), North Shore (25, 70.95%), Wests Goannas (25, 63.19%).

Women Premier Division:
UNSW-ES 25.9 (159) d Newtown 2.2 (14)
Auburn-Penrith 5.2 (32) d Macquarie Uni 3.10 (28)
Sydney Uni 19.8 (122) d Southern Power 1.3 (9)
UTS 6.10 (46) d Western Wolves 2.4 (16)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (32, 548.04%), UNSW-ES (28, 1157.81%), Macquarie Uni (20, 94.85%), Auburn-Penrith (18, 77.15%), Southern Power (12, 74.94%), UTS (10, 56.52%), Newtown (4, 32.20%), Western Wolves (4, 25.32%).

Women Division One:
North Shore d South-West Sydney – forfeit
Wollongong 10.8 (68) d UNSW-ES 0.0 (0)
Western Magic 17.21 (123) d Newtown 3.1 (19)
Sydney Uni 13.6 (84) d Campbelltown 2.1 (13)
Pennant Hills 5.13 (43) d Auburn-Penrith 0.1 (1)
Manly 15.17 (107) d Camden 1.0 (6)
East Coast 9.14 (68) d Wollondilly 5.2 (32)
Ladder – Wollongong (32, 657.58%), Manly (28, 1069.84%), Western Magic (28, 612.88%), East Coast (24, 187.20%), North Shore (16, 119.53%), Pennant Hills (16, 113.74%), Sydney Uni (16, 96.58%), Auburn-Penrith (16, 52.38%), Campbelltown (14, 46.80%), UNSW-ES (12, 98.74%), Wollondilly (12, 59.22%), Camden (8, 17.24%), Newtown (2, 12.07%), South-West Sydney (0, 10.18%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 17th June
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Pennant Hills (1:50pm)
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Manly (2pm)
Waverley Oval – UTS v UNSW-ES (2:10pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v St George (4:30pm)
BYE – East Coast.

Division One:
Saturday 17th June
Gwawley Oval – UTS v Balmain (10am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v St George (2:30pm)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v Camden (3:30pm)
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Western Magic (4pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Pennant Hills (5pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 17th June
Waverley Oval – UTS v UNSW-ES (12pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Wollondilly (12:30pm)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Manly (2pm)
Pioneers Park – Randwick City v East Coast (2:10pm)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Pennant Hills (4:35pm)
Sunday 18th June
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v South-West Sydney (2pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 17th June
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Campbelltown (10am)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v NorWest (12pm)
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Camden (2pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Balmain (3pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 17th June
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v UNSW-ES (10am)
Olds Park – St George v Manly (10am)
Trumper Park – UTS v East Coast (10am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Pennant Hills (10:30am)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v South-West Sydney (1:30pm)

Division Five:
Saturday 17th June
Greygums Oval – Penrith v North Shore (10am)
Pioneers Park – Randwick City v Wollondilly (11:40am)
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Camden (12pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v UNSW-ES (1pm)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Sydney Uni (2:10pm)
Sunday 18th June
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Campbelltown (12pm)

Under 19s One:
Saturday 17th June
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v East Coast (8:30am)
Olds Park – St George v UNSW-ES (12pm)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Pennant Hills (6:35pm)
BYE – Manly.

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 17th June
Picken Oval – Wests Goannas v Penrith (10am)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v South-West Cats (11:30am)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Western Blues (12pm)
BYE – St George.

Women Premier Division:
Saturday 17th June
Picken Oval – Western Wolves v Sydney Uni (12pm)
Mahoney Park – Newtown v Auburn-Penrith (12:30pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v UNSW-ES (5:15pm)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v UTS (5:30pm)

Women Division One:
Friday 16th June
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v UNSW-ES (7:30pm)
Saturday 17th June
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Campbelltown (8:10am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v East Coast (9am)
North Dalton Oval – Wollongong v Auburn-Penrith (10am)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Manly (12pm)
Mahoney Park – Newtown v Wollondilly (2:30pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Sydney Uni (5:10pm)