Article by Michael Shillito

Are we finally seeing a gap opening up between the top five and the rest? A round in which every result saw a team already in the top five knock off a team from outside the five has seen that possibility emerge. And although there’s still time for the teams outside the five to make their way back in, it’s a task that will get tougher with each passing week.

June turned into July with a round of Saturday afternoon games. It was cold but the sun was shining, and conditions were good for footy.

UNSW-ES were the biggest winners for the round. This season has been one in which the Bulldogs have risen rapidly up the ladder to become genuine contenders. They worked their way up to second spot several weeks ago, and increase their lead over third with every passing week. And Saturday’s win, their fifth on the trot, was their biggest of the season to date.
The Bulldogs’ opponents were Wests, the match played at Picken Oval. The Magpies went into the game with winning form on the board after beating Manly last week, but it didn’t take long for it to be clear there would be no repeat this time round.
The Bulldogs were looking the stronger team around the ground in the first term, and the Magpies would always be chasing the game. The Magpies tried hard to put up some resistance but were struggling to make any tangible impact, as the Bulldogs were finding room to move and keeping the ball on their forward line for long periods during the quarter. And with four goals to one in the first quarter, and an 18-point quarter time lead, the Bulldogs were looking good.
The second quarter followed a similar trend to the first. The Magpies were trying hard, but their efforts were consistently coming unstuck against the relentless pressure of the Bulldogs. The Magpies were struggling to penetrate their attacking 50 metre zone, while the Bulldogs were making frequent incursions at the other end. And with four goals to one, the Bulldog lead was out to 37 points at half time.
It was already looking comfortable for the Bulldogs at half time, but the difference between the two sides was even more stark when the two sides returned for the third quarter. The floodgates had opened, and the Bulldogs were scoring at will. The Magpies were powerless to stop the one-sided display that was unfolding as the Bulldogs completely outplayed the Magpies in every facet of the game. A return of nine goals to two in the third term blew the margin out to 80 points at three quarter time and victory for the Bulldogs was assured.
But the visitors weren’t finished yet. Sensing a chance to make a major dent in the percentage gap between them and top-placed Sydney Uni, UNSW-ES went on with the job in the final quarter and never eased off on the scoreboard pressure even as the margin blew out into three figures. The final term would yield nine unanswered Bulldogs goals, as the Magpie defence crumbled beyond recognition and the Bulldogs refused to slow down until the final siren.
In the end, the margin was a comprehensive 136 points. The Bulldogs had many avenues to goal, and every member of the team made a positive contribution to the result. Steven Pollock spearheaded the charge with six goals, while Justin Cann showed his ability with five goals in a best-on-ground performance; with Luke Irvine and Jake Bartholomaeus also featured prominently. The Bulldogs are just a game behind Sydney Uni, two and a half games clear of third; and the double-chance in the finals draws closer.
Reuben Haupt, Peter Maxwell and Yannick Milligan-Saville tried hard all day for the Magpies; but it was a dirty day for them. Not just for the loss but the percentage-denting margin. Two games outside the top five and with a poor percentage, it’s still possible for the Magpies to make the finals but they will need to regroup quickly to restore their finals hopes.

Meanwhile at Trumper Park, UTS’s season continued to unravel as they slumped to their seventh straight defeat as they fell to North Shore by 38 points.
It was tight early on. The Bats were desperate to make an impression, and it wasn’t easy for the Bombers to assert themselves on the contest. Had it not been for some inaccurate finishing by the Bats, they may have been able to take the lead and put some pressure on the Bombers. But it wasn’t to be, and although the Bombers didn’t look totally convincing in the first term, they managed to kick four goals to two and lead by 11 points at the first change.
The decisive break came in the second quarter, as the Bombers lifted their work rate and pumped the ball to their scoring zone with more regularity than they had in the first. It was the quarter that would produce the best football in what was generally a scrappy contest, as the Bombers for one quarter turned on the footy that sees them sit comfortably in the top four. It was a quarter that would deliver a return of six goals to two, extending the North Shore lead to 34 points at the long break.
The Bombers were well ahead at half time, but were unable to go on with the job in the third term. The Bats would win the quarter; not by enough to get back into a situation where they were a winning chance but enough to deny the Bombers the possibility of a big percentage-booster. It was a quarter in which each team would kick three goals, with the Bombers leading by 31 points at three quarter time. But it wasn’t a quarter of memorable football, with multiple skill errors and turnovers blighting the contest.
North Shore have fallen over in some games after being in a winning position; but against a side on a long losing streak, they had enough of a buffer not to be any serious danger this time. And the Bombers would increase their margin in the last quarter as they kicked three goals to two. It wasn’t a game that reached any great heights, but a 38-point win was enough for the Bombers to be safe from the fear of an upset result.
James Cubis, Andrew McConnell and Chris Murphy were best for the Bombers in a game where they never looked totally convincing but still did enough to record a comfortable win. A result that saw them move half a game ahead of St George, although the Dragons have a game in hand; further strengthening the Bombers’ place in the top five and keeping the race for the double-chance in the final very much alive.
The Bats were well served by the efforts of Louis O’Keefe, Scott Jansen and Brendan Browne. But the loss was their seventh in a row, leaving them stranded at the bottom of the ladder; and now three games out of the top five. It’s still mathematically possible for them to make the finals, but time is running out.

When East Coast Eagles hosted Pennant Hills at Kanebridge Oval, the situation was clear for both clubs. The winner would be in the five at the end of the round, the loser would not.
It was Past Players Day, with former Eagles players returning to the club to exchange anecdotes of past glories and witness the present-day Eagle players who inherited their legacy. The clubhouse on the eastern side of the ground was packed, providing a backdrop of some good atmosphere for the action that was happening on the field.
The first quarter action was tight and tough, as neither side was able to establish any form of superiority over the other. The Eagles led by three points at the first change after an evenly-contested first quarter that would produce a result of two goals apiece; not always a quarter that would delight the purists, but one that set the tone for the day as being one in which easy possessions would be hard to come by and where players from both teams would need to apply themselves to hard ball gets.
But the Eagles would pull away in the second quarter, delighting the crowd as they speared their footballing daggers into the Demon hearts. A return of four goals to one in the second term would stretch the home side’s lead to 22 points at half time in a quarter where both teams would get plenty of the ball but would often struggle to do anything meaningful with it.
The Demons knew when they returned for the third quarter that they would need to take some risks, to throw caution to the wind and step up their attacking efforts in their quest to produce a winning score. The third term would be their most productive in the goal-scoring stakes, as they would draw twin flags from the goal umpires three times. But they would only win the quarter by a point, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 21 point, as the Eagles would come up with three answering goals to see off the threat.
The sun, shining into the faces of the crowd, was lowering behind the background trees. The shadows, like the Demons’ odds, had lengthened and the floodlights were taking over. But the Eagles were just as relentless at night as they had been in daylight, and there would be no way for the Demons to get back into the contest. The Eagles were in control, adding three unanswered goals in the final term to blow the final margin out to 37 points. The Eagles had remained in the top five, now a game and a half ahead of Pennant Hills; albeit with the Demons still having a game in hand.
The Eagles could thank the efforts of Jamie Vlatko, Kieran Emery and Peter Vlatko for getting over the line for another win. After dropping behind the pace early in the season, the Eagles have now got back to win-loss parity; and established themselves in the top five. The defending premiers are back in form, sending a warning to the rest of the competition.
Josh Boag, Luke Skrivanic and Daniel Witt worked hard all day for the Demons. But the loss sees them stuck six points outside the top five. It’s been many a long year since the Demons have missed the finals, and there’s plenty of time for them to get back into the five this year; but in their current form they are vulnerable and their place in this year’s playoffs are far from assured.

Sydney Uni remain on top of the ladder, with just one loss this season. Their eighth win in a row came at Weldon Oval on Saturday afternoon; in a game where the Students had to battle against not only Manly but also their own wasteful finishing.
The first quarter was a scrap. The Wolves went in hard and attacked the ball at every opportunity, causing packs to form around the ball and a quarter that was full of ball-ups and boundary throw-ins but very few uncontested possessions. The Students would kick the only goal of the quarter to lead by eight points at quarter time.
The game opened up in the second quarter, and the running players would get more of the ball than they did in the first. But the Students, despite creating the majority of scoring chances, would frustrate themselves. Shot after shot that should have been kicked would sail wide, as the Students’ goalkicking radar failed them. The Students would score 2.8 for the quarter. At the other end, the Wolves would make better use of their fewer opportunities to score four goals for the quarter. At the long break the Students led by three points, although the Wolves had scored more goals.
But after putting the Students under pressure during the second term, the Wolves were unable to continue that trend of play when the premiership quarter came around. Instead, the Students consolidated their position with five unanswered goals. Despite also continuing to miss several shots that they would normally have been expecting to kick, the Students pulled away to lead by 36 points at the last change.
The final winning margin for Sydney Uni would be 40 points after each side would kick three goals in the final term. The Students hadn’t looked particularly convincing, in the main due to their wayward conversion on the forward line. But it was enough for a comfortable enough win to maintain their place at the top of the ladder.
Luke Vella, Kane Murphy and Mitchell Mahady were ball magnets for the Students, as they maintained their spot on the top of the ladder, a game clear of UNSW-ES. They probably should have won by a bigger margin, but even with so many chances being squandered their chances of winning the match were never seriously under threat.
Wills Brassil, Lachlan Kilpatrick and Anthony Robertson were best for Manly. But the loss sees the Wolves fall two games plus plenty of percentage out of the top five; and if the Wolves are to hold hope of competing in this year’ finals they will need to string a winning streak together before too long.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 4.5 8.6 17.10 26.13 (169)
Western Suburbs 1.5 2.5 4.8 4.9 (33)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
S Pollock 6, J Cann 5, M Thompson 3, L Irvine 2, K Reynolds-Erler 2, J Deep 2, S Wilson, M Lower, J Daniher, J McLean, B Pattison, J Wachman. Wests – R Haupt 2, B Mumme, J Nieser.
Best : UNSW-ES – J Cann, L Irvine, J Bartholomaeus, M Lower, J Daniher, J Deep. Wests – R Haupt, P Maxwell, Y Milligan-Saville, C McEvoy-Gray, D O’Connell, L Davis.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 1st July 2017.

North Shore 4.3 10.4 13.6 16.9 (105)
University of Technology 2.4 4.6 7.11 9.13 (67)
Goals : North Shore –
A McConnell 3, H Carr 3, W Blackburne 2, M Wilson 2, J Loneragan, W Taylor, D Fitzgerald, E Strudwick, K Devlin, M Manteit. UTS – T McKenzie 3, F Cator 2, P Brennan 2, E Thwaites, W Thompson.
Best : North Shore – J Cubis, A McConnell, C Murphy, E Strudwick, M Wilson, D Fitzgerald. UTS – L O’Keefe, S Jansen, B Browne, H Callahan, J Macklin, T McKenzie.
At Trumper Park, Saturday 1st July 2017.

East Coast Eagles 2.3 6.6 9.9 12.10 (82)
Pennant Hills 2.0 3.2 6.6 6.9 (45)
Goals : East Coast –
M Weekes 3, Jamie Vlatko 2, L Gemmill, D Spiteri, Jon Vlatko, J Taylor, A Savage, S Turner. Pennant Hills – T Moraitis 2, L Skrivanic, D Dell’Aquila, N Hey, M Preen.
Best : East Coast – Jamie Vlatko, K Emery, P Vlatko, S Turner, A Savage, A Browning. Pennant Hills – J Boag, L Skrivanic, D Witt, T Angel, T Edmonds, T Wales.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 1st July 2017.

Sydney University 1.4 3.12 8.17 11.22 (88)
Manly-Warringah 0.2 4.3 4.5 7.6 (48)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
H Morrison 3, M Krochmal 2, A Clarke 2, J Stapleton, D Johnson, S Krochmal, L Vella. Manly – H Washington 3, M Rogers, L Behagg, L Brain, R Wearne.
Best : Sydney Uni – L Vella, K Murphy, M Mahady, S Clark, M Krochmal, S Krochmal. Manly – W Brassil, L Kilpatrick, A Robertson, T Armitage, C Johnston, H Washington.
At Weldon Oval, Saturday 1st July 2017.

Sydney Uni
St George
North Shore
East Coast
Pennant Hills
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 v Macquarie Uni – result not available
Sydney Uni 12.10 (82) d Southern Power 0.7 (7)
St George 13.5 (83) d Holroyd-Parramatta 7.7 (49)
Pennant Hills 10.13 (73) d Balmain 3.2 (20)
Camden 13.6 (84) d Western Magic 10.11 (71)
Ladder – St George (44, 174.78%), Pennant Hills (36, 147.05%), Sydney Uni (36, 138.28%), Camden (28, 105.22%), UTS (28, 98.46%), Western Magic (24, 150.59%), Macquarie Uni (20, 79.37%), Southern Power (8, 64.44%), Holroyd-Parramatta (8, 59.79%), Balmain (4, 58.27%).

Division Two:
Pennant Hills 9.8 (62) d East Coast 8.10 (58)
North Shore 16.9 (105) d UTS 5.7 (37)
Manly 15.12 (102) d Sydney Uni 7.5 (47)
Randwick City 20.10 (130) d South-West Sydney 6.4 (40)
UNSW-ES 9.5 (59) d Penrith 8.10 (58)
Wollondilly 9.5 (59) d Western Suburbs 7.6 (48)
Ladder – North Shore (44, 336.07%), UNSW-ES (44, 225.65%), Penrith (36, 194.12%), Wests (32, 147.09%), Pennant Hills (28, 112.29%), East Coast (20, 82.34%), Manly (20, 76.17%), Wollondilly (16, 65.70%), UTS (12, 79.07%), Randwick City (10, 45.23%), South-West Sydney (10, 42.23%), Sydney Uni (8, 71.85%).

Division Three:
North Shore 18.17 (125) d Penrith 4.8 (32)
Macquarie Uni 20.10 (130) d Holroyd-Parramatta 7.3 (45)
Camden 22.16 (148) d Balmain 2.2 (14)
NorWest 10.7 (67) d Campbelltown 10.6 (66)
Ladder – Camden (48, 296.67%), North Shore (40, 305.91%), NorWest (36, 164.79%), Macquarie Uni (32, 189.38%), Campbelltown (16, 88.51%), Balmain (8, 37.46%), Holroyd-Parramatta (4, 36.50%), Penrith (4, 31.35%).

Division Four:
Pennant Hills 5.8 (38) d East Coast 4.7 (31)
UNSW-ES 12.10 (82) d UTS 9.8 (62)
St George 8.13 (61) d Western Magic 8.8 (56)
Sydney Uni 5.9 (39) d Southern Power 4.12 (36)
Manly d South-West Sydney - forfeit
Ladder – St George (44, 373.11%), Western Magic (36, 199.42%), Sydney Uni (28, 182.79%), UTS (28, 132.13%), Pennant Hills (28, 95.83%), UNSW-ES (24, 133.86%), Southern Power (16, 92.88%), Manly (8, 40.82%), East Coast (4, 30.19%), South-West Sydney (4, 22.62%).

Division Five:
North Shore 9.12 (66) d Sydney Uni 0.0 (0)
NorWest d Holroyd-Parramatta – forfeit
UTS 14.9 (93) d Macquarie Uni 6.6 (42)
Campbelltown 10.10 (70) d Randwick City 7.18 (60)
UNSW-ES 7.2 (44) d Penrith 5.11 (41)
Western Suburbs 19.20 (134) d Wollondilly 1.2 (8)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – North Shore (90, 621.51%), Wests (80, 204.80%), Camden (77.78, 254.01%), NorWest (70, 167.37%), Macquarie Uni (60, 127.59%), UNSW-ES (60, 93.08%), Sydney Uni (60, 89.88%), UTS (50, 155.76%), Campbelltown (45.45, 97.68%), Randwick City (44.44, 83.49%), Penrith (10, 40.56%), Holroyd-Parramatta (10, 23.51%), Wollondilly (0, 16.23%).

Under 19s One:
UNSW-ES 17.11 (113) d Manly 5.3 (33)
Sydney Uni v North Shore – result not available
East Coast 7.5 (47) d Pennant Hills 4.6 (30)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – North Shore (88.89, 327.89%), St George (88.89, 232.06%), UNSW-ES (54.55, 122.34%), Pennant Hills (54.55, 101.89%), East Coast (44.44, 77.09%), Sydney Uni (22.22, 67.00%), Manly (0, 24.40%).

Under 19s Two:
St George 8.8 (56) d Southern Power 3.8 (26)
South-West Cats 13.10 (88) d Western Blues 4.6 (30)
Wests Goannas 6.5 (41) d North Shore 6.3 (39)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – South-West Cats (88.89, 299.66%), Southern Power (66.67, 145.43%), St George (66.67, 56.66%), Penrith (44.44, 79.23%), Wests Goannas (36.36, 65.87%), North Shore (30, 78.21%), Western Blues (22.22, 56.05%).

Women Premier Division:
UNSW-ES 24.9 (153) d Western Wolves 1.1 (7)
Auburn-Penrith 7.6 (48) d Southern Power 2.6 (18)
UTS 4.8 (32) d Macquarie Uni 3.7 (25)
Sydney Uni 10.10 (70) d Newtown 2.0 (12)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (44, 585.62%), UNSW-ES (40, 880.83%), Auburn-Penrith (26, 84.87%), Macquarie Uni (24, 104.40%), Southern Power (16, 67.35%), UTS (14, 58.17%), Newtown (8, 37.73%), Western Wolves (4, 15.84%).

Women Division One:
Manly 11.11 (77) d North Shore 0.0 (0)
Campbelltown 1.5 (11) drew Auburn-Penrith 1.5 (11)
UNSW-ES 11.9 (75) d Camden 0.1 (1)
Wollongong 22.13 (145) d South-West Sydney 1.0 (6)
Western Magic 15.17 (107) d Wollondilly 0.0 (0)
Pennant Hills 7.11 (53) d East Coast 3.2 (20)
Sydney Uni 10.17 (77) d Newtown 0.0 (0)
Ladder – Wollongong (44, 1012.38%), Manly (40, 991.95%), Western Magic (36, 508.21%), Pennant Hills (28, 144.97%), Sydney Uni (28, 132.19%), North Shore (24, 154.75%), East Coast (24, 134.89%), Auburn-Penrith (18, 37.23%), UNSW-ES (16, 93.90%), Campbelltown (16, 35.88%), Wollondilly (12, 36.46%), Newtown (10, 29.65%), Camden (8, 17.93%), South-West Sydney (4, 12.70%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 8th July
Trumper Park – UTS v East Coast (2:30pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v Manly (3pm)
Sunday 9th July
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Sydney Uni (2:30pm)
Olds Park – St George v Pennant Hills (3pm)
BYE – Western Suburbs.

Division One:
Saturday 8th July
Trumper Park – UTS v Southern Power (10:30am)
St Lukes Oval – Balmain v Sydney Uni (2pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Western Magic (3pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Holroyd-Parramatta (3:10pm)
Sunday 9th July
Olds Park – St George v Pennant Hills (1pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 8th July
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Randwick City (12pm)
Trumper Park – UTS v East Coast (12:30pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v Manly (1pm)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Pennant Hills (1:10pm)
Mahoney Park – UNSW-ES v Wollondilly (2pm)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Sydney Uni (2:30pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 8th July
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v Camden (11am)
St Lukes Oval – Balmain v Campbelltown (12pm)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Holroyd-Parramatta (12:30pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v NorWest (1pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 8th July
Trumper Park – UTS v Western Magic (8:30am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Pennant Hills (11am)
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v Southern Power (12pm)
Sunday 9th July
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Manly (8:30am)
Olds Park – St George v Sydney Uni (11am)

Division Five:
Saturday 8th July
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v UTS (9am)
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Randwick City (10am)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Holroyd-Parramatta (10:30am)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v NorWest (11am)
Mahoney Park – UNSW-ES v Wollondilly (12pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Sydney Uni (1pm)
BYE – Campbelltown.

Under 19s One:
Saturday 8th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Manly (2:30pm)
Sunday 9th July
Olds Park – St George v East Coast (9am)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Sydney Uni (12:30pm)
BYE – North Shore.

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 8th July
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Southern Power (8:30am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Cats v North Shore (3:10pm)
Sunday 9th July
Olds Park – St George v Campbelltown (5:45pm)
BYE – Wests Goannas.

Women Premier Division:
Saturday 8th July
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Auburn-Penrith (9am)
Picken Oval – Western Wolves v UTS (2pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Southern Power (2pm)
Sunday 9th July
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Newtown (10:30am)

Women Division One:
Saturday 8th July
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Auburn-Penrith (9am)
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v Campbelltown (10am)
Mahoney Park – UNSW-ES v Wollondilly (10am)
North Dalton Oval – Wollongong v Camden (12pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (12pm)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Newtown (12:30pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v Western Magic (5:45pm)