Article by Michael Shillito

We’re at the halfway point of the season. It’s been the most unpredictable for many years; with the top two teams being clubs that were nowhere near last year’s finals, while week after week sees upset results taking place.
And to further complicate the ladder and permutations for how future results could affect the ladder, we have a draw to factor in. The first in Premier Division for a couple of years; and it was between two sides who have ambitions to feature prominently in this year’s finals series.

The deadlocked game was at a muddy Mortgage Choice Oval, as North Shore and Pennant Hills faced off. North Shore invited greats of the past back to the club for the day; and they would witness a cliff-hanger in what was the last Premier Division game to be played at the venue before work begins on resurfacing and redeveloping the ground.
The Demons were looking the better side in the first term, making the front-running in the early stages of the game while the Bombers were struggling to get into gear. The Demons kicked four goals to two to lead by 11 points at the first change, and possibly should have been further ahead but a few silly turnovers would cost them that opportunity.
But when the Bombers emerged from their quarter time huddle, they found some run and resistance that wasn’t there in the first quarter. The momentum of the game looked to have changed as the Bombers hit the front early in the second term; but they were unable to build anything on what they achieved at the start of the quarter as the Demon defenders rose to the occasion. The second quarter would yield for each team the same score as their opponents had scored in the first; and scores were level at half time.
North Shore hit the front early in the third, and would hold the lead for the remainder of the quarter. They were looking the early team during much of the third term, but some dogged defence and some mistakes in possession by the Bombers would prevent them from running away with the quarter. Four goals to two would see the Bombers leading by 11 points at the last change, but it was far from over yet.
The Bombers added a goal early in the last to lead by 18, only for the Demons to score an instant reply. For the next 20 minutes, neither team could penetrate the big sticks. There were big moments, none more so than a spectacular mark on the outer wing by James Loneragan. The Bombers were clinging to a two-goal lead; but in the blink of an eye it was gone as the Demons scored twice in 30 seconds. The tension was tangible, nerves building as there were still three minutes left on the clock, enough time for either team to conjure up the winning score. Neither team could, the game remaining in stalemate as the final siren sounded.
Both teams slumped to the deck in disappointment. There was no winner, neither team felt like a winner. For both sides, a chance had gone begging. Both remain in the top five but a chance to establish a key psychological blow on a potential finals rival was lost.
Daniel Schacher, James Loneragan and Selby Lee-Steere were best for the Bombers; while the Demons were well served by the efforts of Kieren Briggs, Aaron Crisfield and Tom Angel. It may not have been the highest-standard game ever, but it was entertaining; albeit lacking the final punchline of a winning play at the death.

Top side Sydney Uni have only lost one game this season. But to maintain that record, the Students had to dig deep after being pushed all the way by a determined St George side at Sydney Uni No 1 Oval on Saturday evening.
Nothing separated the two sides in the first quarter, as the teams traded blows in an attempt to find a weakness in the other but coming up blank. Three goals apiece for the quarter saw scores level at quarter time after an evenly-contested quarter of footy that showed the ladder-leading Students that they had a stiff test on their hands.
An exhilarating second term saw both sides turn on the party tricks with some entertaining footy. The lead would change hands frequently, as both sides threw caution to the wind; allowing the players with attacking flair the freedom to weave their magic. It was a quarter of footy in which both teams would score five goals and create chances for more. The Students led by four points at the long break, after a half of footy that kept the crowd thoroughly entertained.
The Students took the upper hand in the third quarter, although the Dragons were still putting up a fight. Five goals went Sydney Uni’s way during the premiership quarter, while the Dragons would put three kicks between the big sticks at their end. The strong Students lineup were looking better around the ground during the premiership quarter, but the Dragons wouldn’t allow them to completely dominate and were hanging in there. But a 19-point advantage to the home team at the last change would be hard for the Dragons to run down.
The Dragons would be unable to make up that ground in the last quarter, but they gave it their best shot and kept working hard until the final siren. But in a long final term, the Students had the answering goals when they needed them; and a few more goals in the dying minutes would put the contest further out of the Dragons’ reach. The endeavour of the Dragons couldn’t be faulted, but it wasn’t quite enough for them to upset the Students.
In the end, after a return of six goals to four in the last term, the Students ran out 26-point winners. Alistair Gillespie contributed four goals to the Students’ cause; while around the ground some prolific possession stats by Micael Fogarty, Harry Morrison and Allister Clarke were important in getting the Students over the line. The Students remain a game clear on top; but had to fight all the way in this contest to keep that ladder advantage intact.
Jack Hill had a game to remember, kicking five goals in a best-on-ground performance, while Dom Michalak and Alex Wynn continued their strong form this season to also feature prominently. The Dragons remain in fourth spot, half a game behind North Shore and half a game ahead of Pennant Hills; but had gone down fighting in this contest. Despite being on the wrong end of the final scoreline, the Dragons were one of just three teams to bring up the 100-point milestone this week.

At Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon, Wests were hosting Manly. The Wolves went into the game in form, and a win would have put them in the top five. But in a hard-fought battle between the Fibros and the Silvertails, it was the Magpies who would emerge with the all-important four premiership points.
No quarter was asked or given in an evenly-contested first quarter; a term of footy where there were some heavy bumps and tackles but one in which neither side could establish an advantage over the other. It was a quarter of frequent lead changes, with three goals apiece scored and the quarter ended with scores tied up.
The pace of the game stepped up in the second term, the match moving at breakneck speed as running players found room to move and scoring options opened up. Manly, sky-high on confidence going into the game, saw this as an opportunity to step up a gear and open up a lead. But the Magpies were putting in a solid fighting effort to come up with answering goals that kept them within range. In the end, a return of five goals to four for the quarter saw the Wolves leading by seven points at half time.
The teams went into the rooms for the half-time break. Whatever was said in the Wests rooms during the break had the desired effect, as the Magpies came out looking the stronger side when the third quarter got under way. It was Magpie players who were found under the bottom of every pack, and winning the majority of contested possessions. And as the run of play went their way, the scoreboard followed. A quarter of six goals to three turned the half-time deficit into an 11-point three quarter time lead and the Magpies had a spring in their steps as momentum was running their way.
Spurred on by a vocal home crowd, the Magpies had the sniff of victory in their nostrils; and they weren’t letting go. Despite Manly’s best efforts, there was no way back into the contest for the Wolves. And attempt by the visitors to get back in the game was met by the answering goal that would undo the comeback plans. The Magpies would extend their lead in the final term, with four goals to three, stretching the final margin to 19 points.
It was another day to remember for Nick Salter, as he continued his stellar season on the Magpies’ forward line with an eight-goal haul; and along with Dan O’Connell and Charles Ford was among the Magpies’ best. The win was the Magpies’ third for the year, more than they won in all of last season; and puts them just half a game out of the top five. Wests are in the finals race.
It wasn’t a great result for Manly. Tyrone Armitage did his best with four goals, joining Connor Pettersson and Anthony Robertson as the Wolves’ best. But this was a chance to enter the top five that has gone begging; with the Wolves level with East Coast and Wests half a game out of the five and with a poor percentage. They’re still in the race, but a win in this game would have enhanced their chances. But it wasn’t to be.

With the teams immediately below them on the ladder unable to record a win on the weekend, UNSW-ES moved a game and a half clear in second place, just one win behind Sydney Uni; when the Bulldogs overcame UTS by 13 points at Waverley Oval on Saturday afternoon. But they had to battle to get there, as the bottom-placed UTS side put plenty of pressure on the Bulldogs all day.
The Bulldogs burst out of the blocks, threatening to get on top early. But despite recording ten scoring shots to two for the quarter, they could achieve just three goals to one; as time and again Bulldog shots at goal that should have been converted sailed wide of the big sticks. The Bulldogs led by 18 points at quarter time, but should have been further ahead after a quarter in which they would frustrate themselves with some inaccurate finishing and some costly turnovers on the half-forward line.
Sensing a chance to get back into the contest, the Bats lifted their work-rate in the second quarter and put the pressure back onto the Bulldogs. It was a quarter that would yield four goals to three in favour of UTS, cutting the margin back to nine points at the long break. The Bats lifted their game, finding numbers around the ground and denying easy touches to the Bulldogs. And by half time, the Bulldogs knew they had a fight on their hands against a determined opponent.
It was a tight and physical tussle in the third term, the Bats and Bulldogs throwing everything they had into the contest and making every opponent struggle for every possession. The quarter produced three goals to two in favour of the Bulldogs, extending the lead to 16 points at the last change; but it had been a tightly-contested quarter. Not always one for the aesthetic seekers of the game, but one between two desperate sides.
The Bats weren’t giving up, and would score two goals to one in the final quarter. The tension was rising around the ground, the ball spending long periods of time camped in the UTS forward line. Time and again the Bulldog defenders were called into action repel raid after raid by the Bats; but they would rise to the occasion, defending grimly to hold the fast-finishing Bats out. Time was ticking down, the Bats kept coming, but the Bulldogs would keep them at bay until the final siren eventually rang. It had been a struggle, but the Bulldogs prevailed by 13 points.
It had been a draining tussle, a battle of attrition that had seen the Bulldogs finally prevail. Jack Buckley, Fletcher Rowe and Jeremy Daniher had stood tall all afternoon to be their best. But it had been a solid team effort in a game that wasn’t always pretty but one where they got the job done. A result that sees the Bulldogs well-placed, opening up a decent gap for the double-chance in the finals.
Louis O’Keefe kicked five goals for the Bats; while Brad Hunt, Tom Larby and Daniel Crouch got plenty of the ball around the ground. But, despite coming close, it was another loss for the Bats; a result that sees them stuck on the bottom of the ladder. But still only six points out of the top five on this congested ladder.

North Shore 2.3 6.5 10.6 11.10 (76)
Pennant Hills 4.2 6.5 8.7 11.10 (76)
Goals : North Shore –
M Wilson 3, W Blackburne 2, A McConnell, J Campbell, W Bradley, E Strudwick, T Weston, S Lee-Steere. Pennant Hills – J Stern 3, M Preen 2, J Boag 2, D Dell’Aquila, M Carey, N Hey, M Thomas.
Best : North Shore – D Schacher, J Loneragan, S Lee-Steere, E Sertbas, C Parsons, A McConnell. Pennant Hills – K Briggs, A Crisfield, T Angel, J Stern, D Witt, D Preen.
At Mortgage Choice Oval, Saturday 17th June 2017.

Sydney University 3.2 8.8 13.13 19.14 (128)
St George 3.2 8.4 11.6 15.12 (102)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
A Gillespie 4, M Vicic 3, M Powys 3, K Murphy 2, W Stratford 2, M Thompson, B Hawtin, A Clarke, O Osborne, J Irving. St George – J Hill 5, N Ryan 3, J Ware 2, D Cooper, K Merson, D Donohue, N Kenny, B McParland.
Best : Sydney Uni – M Fogarty, H Morrison, A Clarke, L Vella, M Powys, M Vicic. St George – J Hill, D Michalak, A Wynn, T Martin, B McParland, K Merson.
At Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 17th June 2017.

Western Suburbs 3.2 7.3 13.6 17.9 (111)
Manly-Warringah 3.2 8.4 11.7 14.8 (92)
Goals : Wests –
N Salter 8, B Mumme 2, L Davis 2, D O’Connell 2, B Zoppo 2, C McEvoy-Gray. Manly – T Armitage 4, L Behagg 2, C D’Souza 2, J Parker, H Washington, L Brain, E Kaporis, R Wearne, A Robertson.
Best : Wests – D O’Connell, C Ford, N Salter, B Mumme, C McEvoy-Gray, J Schulz. Manly – T Armitage, C Pettersson, A Robertson, R Wearne, A Butler, C D’Souza.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 17th June 2017.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 3.7 6.8 9.12 10.16 (76)
University of Technology 1.1 5.5 7.8 9.9 (63)
Goals : UNSW-ES
– S Pollock 3, J Buckley 3, K Reynolds-Erler 2, J Cann, J Deep. UTS – L O’Keefe 5, T Larby, J Moyle, W Thompson, J Crameri.
Best : UNSW-ES – J Buckley, F Rowe, J Daniher, D Cordell, J Cann, K Reynolds-Erler. UTS – B Hunt, T Larby, D Crouch, S Nethersole, S Jansen, J Moyle.
At Waverley Oval, Saturday 17th 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:
UTS 15.12 (102) d Balmain 9.8 (62)
Southern Power 10.7 (67) d Camden 5.2 (32)
Sydney Uni 9.13 (67) d St George 7.7 (49)
Western Magic 23.11 (149) d Holroyd-Parramatta 2.6 (18)
Pennant Hills 14.8 (92) d Macquarie Uni 3.8 (26)
Ladder – St George (36, 169.98%), Pennant Hills (28, 139.51%), Sydney Uni (28, 123.08%), UTS (28, 105.82%), Western Magic (24, 170.34%), Camden (20, 100.72%), Macquarie Uni (20, 80.98%), Holroyd-Parramatta (8, 59.40%), Southern Power (4, 64.08%), Balmain (4, 61.25%).

Division Two:
UNSW-ES 13.10 (88) d UTS 8.3 (51)
Sydney Uni 14.16 (100) d Wollondilly 6.10 (46)
Penrith 12.9 (81) d Manly 6.6 (42)
East Coast 14.5 (89) d Randwick City 6.6 (42)
North Shore 13.10 (88) d Pennant Hills 8.2 (50)
Western Suburbs 24.14 (140) d South-West Sydney 3.3 (21)
Ladder – North Shore (36, 352.96%), UNSW-ES (36, 237.19%), Penrith (32, 171.73%), Wests (28, 152.78%), Pennant Hills (20, 96.89%), East Coast (20, 83.54%), Manly (16, 73.37%), UTS (12, 96.65%), South-West Sydney (10, 51.72%), Sydney Uni (8, 79.61%), Wollondilly (8, 56.15%), Randwick City (6, 36.49%).

Division Three:
North Shore 22.18 (150) d Campbelltown 3.2 (20)
NorWest 25.18 (168) d Penrith 1.0 (6)
Camden 23.13 (145) d Holroyd-Parramatta 3.7 (25)
Macquarie Uni 15.22 (112) d Balmain 1.2 (8)
Ladder – Camden (40, 302.01%), North Shore (32, 285.20%), Macquarie Uni (28, 195.27%), NorWest (28, 148.24%), Campbelltown (12, 78.83%), Balmain (8, 42.89%), Holroyd-Parramatta (4, 40.69%), Penrith (4, 33.11%).

Division Four:
Western Magic 13.14 (92) d UNSW-ES 7.6 (48)
St George 16.15 (111) d Manly 2.2 (14)
UTS 15.14 (104) d East Coast 5.2 (32)
Southern Power 15.12 (102) d South-West Sydney 5.8 (38)
Sydney Uni 19.18 (132) d Pennant Hills 4.3 (27)
Ladder – St George (36, 498.62%), Western Magic (32, 221.03%), Sydney Uni (24, 216.84%), UTS (24, 139.61%), Pennant Hills (24, 96.33%), UNSW-ES (16, 121.47%), Southern Power (16, 96.34%), East Coast (4, 28.19%), South-West Sydney (4, 22.17%), Manly (0, 31.82%).

Division Five:
North Shore 25.21 (171) d Penrith 0.0 (0)
Randwick City d Wollondilly – forfeit
Camden d Holroyd-Parramatta –forfeit
Macquarie Uni 18.4 (112) d UNSW-ES 10.3 (63)
Sydney Uni 11.5 (71) d NorWest 6.8 (44)
Western Suburbs 13.23 (101) d Campbelltown 4.5 (29)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – North Shore (88.89, 586.02%), Wests (87.5, 191.89%), Camden (75, 198.41%), Macquarie Uni (75, 150.57%), NorWest (62.5, 169.57%), UNSW-ES (62.5, 110.29%), Sydney Uni (62.5, 99.15%), Randwick City (42.86, 47.60%), UTS (37.5, 121.71%), Campbelltown (33.33, 86.18%), Penrith (12.5, 38.24%), Holroyd-Parramatta (12.5, 31.27%), Wollondilly (0, 19.65%).

Under 19s One:
East Coast 11.7 (73) d Sydney Uni 11.6 (72)
UNSW-ES 9.6 (60) d St George 7.6 (48)
North Shore 18.6 (114) d Pennant Hills 0.2 (2)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – North Shore (87.5, 327.83%), St George (87.5, 198.51%), UNSW-ES (55.56, 114.61%), Pennant Hills (55.56, 101.10%), East Coast (37.5, 72.50%), Sydney Uni (25, 79.30%), Manly (0, 23.02%).

Under 19s Two:
South-West Cats 18.7 (115) d Southern Power 6.4 (40)
North Shore 7.9 (51) d Western Blues 4.6 (30)
Wests Goannas 10.3 (63) d Penrith 8.9 (57)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – South-West Cats (85.71, 294.19%), Southern Power (71.43, 150.00%), St George (71.43, 107.33%), Penrith (37.5, 75.19%), North Shore (33.33, 76.83%), Wests Goannas (33.33, 67.46%), Western Blues (28.57, 55.53%).

Women Premier Division:
Sydney Uni 13.22 (100) d Western Wolves 0.0 (0)
Auburn-Penrith 10.10 (70) d Newtown 3.4 (22)
Southern Power 6.11 (47) d UTS 4.5 (29)
UNSW-ES 8.11 (59) d Macquarie Uni 3.5 (23)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (36, 646.08%), UNSW-ES (32, 919.54%), Auburn-Penrith (22, 90.61%), Macquarie Uni (20, 84.89%), Southern Power (16, 80.73%), UTS (10, 57.02%), Newtown (4, 32.12%), Western Wolves (4, 20.82%).

Women Division One:
North Shore 11.11 (77) d Campbelltown 1.2 (8)
South-West Sydney 8.5 (53) d East Coast 5.8 (38)
Pennant Hills 4.9 (33) d UNSW-ES 2.1 (13)
Wollongong 19.14 (128) d Auburn-Penrith 0.0 (0)
Manly 6.4 (40) d Western Magic 4.0 (24)
Newtown 7.10 (52) d Wollondilly 3.3 (21)
Sydney Uni 6.11 (47) d Camden 4.2 (26)
Ladder – Wollongong (36, 786.67%), Manly (32, 820.69%), Western Magic (28, 484.30%), East Coast (24, 167.00%), North Shore (20, 176.14%), Pennant Hills (20, 118.57%), Sydney Uni (20, 101.97%), Auburn-Penrith (16, 39.13%), Campbelltown (14, 40.37%), UNSW-ES (12, 91.51%), Wollondilly (12, 56.98%), Camden (8, 19.72%), Newtown (6, 20.30%), South-West Sydney (4, 15.78%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 24th June
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v Western Suburbs (2pm)
Olds Park – St George v UTS (2pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v North Shore (4:30pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly v UNSW-ES (4:30pm)
BYE – Pennant Hills.

Division One:
Saturday 24th June
Olds Park – St George v UTS (12pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Holroyd-Parramatta (12:30pm)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v Balmain (2:30pm)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Western Magic (2:30pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Macquarie Uni (3:10pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 24th June
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v Western Suburbs (12pm)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Penrith (1:10pm)
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v Randwick City (2:30pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v North Shore (2:30pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly v UNSW-ES (2:30pm)
Hannaford Oval – Wollondilly v UTS (3pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 24th June
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Balmain (12pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Macquarie Uni (1pm)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Penrith (1pm)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Holroyd-Parramatta (2:10pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 24th June
Weldon Oval – Manly v East Coast (8:30am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v UTS (10:30am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v UNSW-ES (11am)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v Western Magic (12:30pm)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v St George (12:30pm)

Division Five:
Saturday 24th June
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v UNSW-ES (11am)
Pioneers Park – Randwick City v Holroyd-Parramatta (11:40am)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Western Suburbs (12pm)
Hannaford Oval – Wollondilly v UTS (1pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Sydney Uni (1pm)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Penrith (3pm)
BYE – North Shore.

Under 19s One:
Saturday 24th June
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v St George (8:30am)
Weldon Oval – Manly v North Shore (10:30am)
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v UNSW-ES (12:30pm)
BYE – East Coast.

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 24th June
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v Wests Goannas (8:30am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Cats v St George (9am)
Monarch Oval – Western Blues v Penrith (11am)
BYE – North Shore.

Women Premier Division:
Saturday 24th June
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v UNSW-ES (10:30am)
Mahoney Park – Newtown v UTS (12pm)
Mona Park – Auburn-Penrith v Sydney Uni (2pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Western Wolves (3pm)

Women Division One:
Saturday 24th June
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Pennant Hills (9am)
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v Western Magic (10am)
Mahoney Park – Newtown v South-West Sydney (10am)
Mona Park – Auburn v Sydney Uni (12pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly v UNSW-ES (12:30pm)
Mortgage Choice Oval – North Shore v Camden (2pm)
Hannaford Oval – Wollondilly v Wollongong (5pm)