Article by Michael Shillito

We’re a third of the way through the Premier Division season; and it’s shaping up as an unpredictable ladder. North Shore have broken away from the pack to be two games clear on top; but it’s then very tightly lined up among the remaining teams after another round of upsets.
After weeks of unseasonably warm weather, round 6 put in the first taste of winter conditions; with overcast skies, cooler weather and a hint of rain in the air. All games were played on Saturday afternoon, with a set of results that once again pose more questions than they answer.

University pride was on the line at Henson Park, as UNSW-ES played host to Sydney Uni. The Bulldogs went into the game on a high after running down East Coast at Kanebridge last week, while the Students were looking to hit back after their shock loss to Wests.
In the early exchanges the Bulldogs were looking the better team, as they hit the ground running and looked to assert themselves in the contest. But it wasn’t easy to get reward for effort, with a spiralling breeze and some resolute defending from Sydney Uni making scoring difficult. But the Bulldogs kept pressing, and the scoreboard began ticking over. A few shots were missed that should have been converted, but the Bulldogs managed three goals to two and led by nine points at quarter time.
When the teams emerged from their huddles for the second quarter, the Students knew they had to lift their work rate; and in the second quarter they did just that. Now it was the Bulldogs who were under the pump and having to absorb plenty of pressure in the backline. But there were chances at the other end, in what was a willing contest between two teams that were showing plenty of desperation and fight. But the Students looked to have the edge as they kicked three goals to one for the quarter, and taking a four-point lead into the rooms at half time.
The game was tight, and remained so in the third quarter. It was physical at times, often scrappy; but no quarter was asked or given in a term of footy where two teams that looked evenly matched refused to surrender any advantage to the other. Like an arm-wrestle, each team had the answers to any challenge the other could muster. But the Bulldogs struck an important blow in a quarter that yielded three goals to two, as they hit the front late in the quarter and led by three points at the last change.
It was close, it was thrilling. The faithful from both clubs in the King George V Stand were enthralled and vocal in a final quarter of fluctuating fortunes. There were lead changes and critical behinds as the teams traded three goals apiece. Both teams were desperate to find the match-winning play, but neither could blow the other away. The Bulldogs were back in front, leading by a solitary point, when the siren sounded.
James Pascoe kicked four key goals for the Bulldogs; while the efforts around the ground of Tom Banuelos, Tom Redden and Darren Pfeiffer were vital in getting the Bulldogs over the line. It had been a cliff-hanger all day; but twice in a row the Bulldogs have got up in a thriller, maintaining their place in the top five.
Tristan Davies spearheaded the Students’ charge, as he kicked six goals for the Students; and he, along with Tom Ayton and Tim Cordner, were Sydney Uni’s best. But the loss is the second in a row for Sydney Uni. Both games were close, and the Students remain in second place. But they’ll be keen to return to the winners’ list and not let this form slump continue for too long.

There’s something about Weldon Oval that suits Manly and makes the place a graveyard for visiting teams. And the Wolves would claim another scalp at home as they knocked off the highly-fancied East Coast Eagles by 33 points.
It was a low-scoring scrap in the first quarter, something the Wolves have always done well. The tackles were hard, the bumps even harder, and there weren’t many opportunities for players to weave individual magic against the close-checking of their opponents. The Wolves were looking the better side, and kicked two goals to one in a tight opening term to lead by seven points at quarter time.
The first quarter had been tight, and the second was even tighter. This was no term for the free-flowing runner; but the hard tackling player was in his element as both sides put numbers around the ball and there was no room to move in a quarter that resulted in frequent ball-ups and boundary throw-ins. The Wolves were unable to find the big sticks during the second term, but the Eagles were twice able to draw the twin flags; and at half time the Eagles had a six-point lead.
After so much tension in the first half, something had to break. And when it did, it was Manly who emerged from the bubble and found themselves in control of the contest. They wasted little time in hitting the front, and kept working the ball forward. The game had transformed from the scrap of the first half, but it was the Wolves who had made the transformation happen and they adapted far better to the more open football that was taking place; as they ran through five unanswered goals to lead by 26 points at three quarter time.
The game was safely won; there was no way the Eagles were going to come back after that third quarter onslaught. But the Wolves weren’t finished yet, as they continued to assert their dominance in the final term. The quarter would yield three goals to two in favour of the home side. The Eagles salvaged a couple of goals from what had been a disappointing day but the Wolves were in control of the contest and gave their percentage a boost by winning the final quarter.
On a day when goals were at a premium, Anthony Robertson’s five goal haul earned him the title of best on ground; while Hayden Washington and Lachlan Kilpatrick also featured prominently. Undefeated at home, winless away so far this season. Fortress Weldon remains intact; but the challenge for the Wolves will be to get some wins on the road.
Daniel Spiteri, Luke Mansour and Tom Zdrilic worked hard all day for the Eagles. But this loss, their second on the trot and the biggest so far this season, sees them with a 3-3 record. Their percentage keeps them in the top five; but well behind where they would have expected to be at this stage of the season.

North Shore have been the pace-setters so far this season; and at Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon the Bombers put on an awe-inspiring display in a one-sided contest against a disappointing Wests.
The Magpies had broken through for their first win last week, but from the start it was clear they were going to have to pull out something extraordinary to get back into this contest. The Bombers burst out of the blocks, facing minimal resistance as they moved the ball forward at will. There were loose runners everywhere, forwards making leads unchecked and no shortage of attacking options as the Bombers raced through seven unanswered goals in the first term to lead by 42 points at the first change.
The Magpies would break their goal drought in the second term, but it was a rare moment against the run of play. North Shore was in control and making it look easy as they seemingly couldn’t miss as shot after shot sailed through the big sticks. Five Bomber goals for the quarter saw the Bombers leading by 67 points at the long break, in a lopsided half of footy.
The Bombers were toying with their opponents, and turning on the tricks in a dominant third quarter that was even more comprehensive than what had been shown in the first half. Backing themselves in contests, slipping tackles and finding unmarked team-mates ahead; it was North Shore at their dominant best as they ran through eight goals to three in the third term to lead by 98 points at three quarter time.
The 100-point margin was quickly passed in the last quarter, and the Bombers weren’t finished yet. The Magpie defenders were reduced to little more than witches’ hats, but without the ability to cast spells; as the Bombers ran the ball forward at will and had numerous options. It was a one-sided affair from start to finish, and the final term of seven goals to one put the icing on the cake for the Bombers.
The final margin was 134 points, the biggest North Shore win for many a year. Sharing the goal-kicking love around, 12 North Shore players got on the scoreboard. Andrew McConnell kicked six, while Matt Varjavandi, Brad Plug and Max Thomas helped themselves to four goals each. Andrew McConnell, Kyle Devlin and Matt Varjavandi were the Bombers’ best, but it was hard to find a Bomber who didn’t play their role well on a day when the Bombers surged to premiership favouritism, two games clear on top of the ladder and with a percentage well over 200.
Edward Cole, Michael Lemme and Elliott Harper kept trying for Wests; but it was a dirty day for the Magpies when nothing was going right. It was a disappointing result for the Magpies after such a big win the week before; and with the hit to their percentage along with the result at Fairfax, the Magpies crash to the bottom of the ladder.

The match at Fairfax Reserve saw Camden taking on St George. Both sides went into the game with winning form under their belts; and it was a game that would go down to the wire.
It was a shootout in the first quarter, with both sides creating no shortage of opportunity in a term of football that would produce several lead changes. Exciting to watch, it was a quarter of footy that showed that there wasn’t much separating the teams around the ground and that this would be an evenly-contested game. The Cats led the way in the first term with four goals to three, leading by four points at the first change.
The Dragons were their own worst enemy in the second term, with a string of missed shots that could have been kicked; leading to no shortage of frustration on the Dragon bench. At the other end, the Cats were slotting the goals through from tight angles and seemingly couldn’t miss. But the Dragons had to keep working, and the weight of possession they were getting in the midfield enabled them to build up enough opportunities to partially offset their inaccurate finishing. And the Dragons, for all their frustration did manage three goals. But at the other end, the Cats had accumulated five goals in the quarter, extending the margin to 12 points at the long break.
Roles were reversed in the third quarter, as was the scoring. The Dragons won the quarter by five goals to three, while it was the Cats who were plagued by inaccuracy and unable to gain the full reward for the efforts that were being put in around the ground. A quarter that was symmetric to the second term saw the game poised to be a thriller, with the quarter-time margin of four points matching the margin at the last change.
Day had turned into night, and the pressure was growing. With pressure comes fumbles and turnovers, and there were plenty of them. But with pressure also comes opportunity and the chance to claim valuable competition points. There are times when a player who has struggled for much of the day can come up with the match-winning play. It was a low-scoring quarter, but the Dragons stood up and were counted when the game was there to be won. The quarter produced just two goals to one, but that was enough for the Dragons to snatch the lead and take the game by four points.
Nick Ryan stood tall on the forward line for St George, kicking four goals; and along with Dom Michalak and Alex Wynn was among the Dragons’ best. After a slow start to the season, the Dragons have got two wins on the trot, climbing off the bottom of the ladder. Still more work to be done to get the season back on track, and they only just fell over the line this time; but the mood at training at Olds Park this week will surely be better than it was a fortnight ago.
Josh Rowe, Jed Ellis-Cluff and Nathan Kenny were best for Camden. Like the Dragons, the Cats are on two wins and four losses; and the Cats still have a better percentage than the Dragons. But after leading for most of the day, this was one that got away.

Meanwhile at Mike Kenny Oval, Pennant Hills returned to the winners’ list and did it comfortably, leading from start to finish to defeat UTS by 32 points.
The Demons started strongly, setting themselves up for an early lead with five goals to two in the first quarter and ensuring the Bats would always be chasing the game. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective; as the Demons took the bulk of possession and were finding options presenting themselves on the forward line. With a 17-point lead at quarter time, the Demons would never again be headed.
The Bats were forced into playing catch-up football, and against a Demon defence that tightened in the second term, there was no way for the Bats to make any dent in the deficit. Instead it was the Demons who would win the quarter, by three goals to two. The Bats had to take some risks, but with risk comes the chance of error; and turnovers would cost the Bats dearly and prevent them from reducing the margin. The teams returned to the rooms at half time with the Demons 21 points ahead, and the Bats knew they had some work to do.
Try as they might, there was no way for the Bats to get back in the game in the third term. It wasn’t a quarter of footy that reached any great heights, but that was to the Demons’ advantage. Just one goal apiece was scored in the third quarter, with the ball feeling slippery and some big hits being dished out. The Bats searched for an opening, but searched in vain; as for all their efforts, they were only able to make up one point of the deficit and the Demons were still 20 points to the good at the last change.
The game was safe, and the Demons were able to go on with the job in the final term. It was another low-scoring quarter of footy, but a couple of late goals for the Demons saw them win the quarter by three goals to one and take a 32-point victory. The win was set up in the first quarter, and the Demons hadn’t looked totally convincing; but they had done enough to take the four points.
Aaron Crisfield, Jackson Preedy and Jackson Potter had picked up plenty of the ball around the ground to be the Demons’ best. Back on the winning list, and with four wins from six games; the Demons move up to third place and their premiership defence continues to take shape.
It hadn’t been a great day for the Bats. Rawson Kirkhope, Peter O’Rourke and Zac Thorneycroft kept putting in all day. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start; and this is four losses in a row for the Bats, and a season that promised so much after the first two rounds is threatening to slip away.

Only Premier Division, Platinum Division and the respective reserves comps are playing next week; everyone else in Sydney footy gets a week off.
Next week’s matches see St George’s revival put to the test when they host ladder leaders North Shore at Olds Park; while Wests will be looking to bounce back this week when they take on UNSW-ES at Picken Oval. East Coast and UTS will be keen for a return to winning form when they face off at Kanebridge. At Sydney Uni No 1, the Students take on Manly; while Camden and Pennant Hills will clash at Fairfax.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 3.4 4.5 7.7 10.8 (68)
Sydney University 2.1 5.3 7.4 10.7 (67)
Goals : UNSW-ES -
J Pascoe 4, T Chichester , T Baxter, A Foote, T Banuelos, T Dickson, M Thompson. Sydney Uni – T Davies 6, M Nettheim, C Morgan, D Loffley, T Ayton.
Best : UNSW-ES – T Banuelos, T Redden, D Pfeiffer, J Pascoe, H Collins, M Thompson. Sydney Uni - T Ayton, T Davies, T Cordner, S Gilfedder, C Morgan, D Johnson.
At Henson Park, Saturday 12th May 2018.

Manly-Warringah 2.2 2.5 7.8 10.11 (71)
East Coast Eagles 1.1 3.5 3.6 5.8 (38)
Goals : Manly -
A Robertson 5, L Kilpatrick, L Brain, C Pettersson, H Washington, A Butler, J Bennett. East Coast - P Vlatko 2, J Large, D Spiteri, R Haupt.
Best : Manly - A Robertson, H Washington, L Kilpatrick, A Butler, L Brain, C Pettersson. East Coast - D Spiteri, L Mansour, T Zdrilic, J Etto, B Clark.
At Weldon Oval, Saturday 12th May 2018.

North Shore 7.1 12.3 20.5 27.9 (171)
Western Suburbs 0.1 1.2 4.3 5.7 (37)
Goals : North Shore -
A McConnell 6, M Varjavandi 4, B Plug 4, M Thomas 4, D Schacher, S Carruthers, S Lee-Steere, J Campbell, J Marsh, T Alexander, K Latham, W Blackburne, S Crane. Wests - J Zoppo 2, C Gordon, C McEvoy-Gray, E Harper.
Best : North Shore - A McConnell, K Devlin, M Varjavandi, K Latham, S Carruthers, C Parsons. Wests - E Cole, M Lemme, E Harper, N Eynaud, J Tidd, C McEvoy-Gray.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 12th May 2018.

St George 3.4 6.9 11.11 13.15 (93)
Camden 4.2 9.3 12.9 13.11 (89)
Goals : St George -
N Ryan 4, B Jones 2, A Wynn 2, B Hodgson 2, P Tegg 2, D Napper. Camden - A Bell 3, D Leary 2, J Ware 2, B Yakimov 2, J Van Luenen, N Kenny, F Fielding, B Pearce.
Best : St George - D Michalak, A Wynn, N Ryan, B Jones, B Hodgson, C Felton. Camden - J Rowe, J Ellis-Cluff, N Kenny, F Brown, A Bell, J Van Luenen.
At Fairfax Reserve, Saturday 12th May 2018.

Pennant Hills 5.1 8.3 9.4 12.7 (79)
University of Technology 2.2 4.6 5.8 6.11 (47)
Goals : Pennant Hills -
N Hey 2, N Low, N Mace, T Angel, M Carey, R Ediriwickrama, S Wray, J Potter, M Browne, B O'Brien, M Preen. UTS - D Smith 3, P O'Rourke 2, M Foley.
Best : Pennant Hills - A Crisfield, J Preedy, J Potter, R Ediriwickrama, S Wray, T Angel. UTS - R Kirkhope, P O'Rourke, Z Thorneycroft, D Smith, S Jansen, M May.
At Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 12th May 2018.

North Shore
Sydney Uni
Pennant Hills
East Coast
St George
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

Premier Reserves:
North Shore 6.8 (44) d Western Suburbs 5.5 (35)
Sydney Uni 10.3 (63) d UNSW-ES 7.7 (49)
Pennant Hills 9.11 (65) d UTS 2.6 (18)
Camden 13.11 (89) d St George 7.3 (45)
Manly 6.8 (44) d East Coast 4.8 (32)
Ladder – Camden (20, 175.45%), Pennant Hills (20, 170.26%), Sydney Uni (20, 160.75%), UNSW-ES (16, 131.00%), East Coast (12, 127.42%), North Shore (12, 119.48%), St George (8, 80.93%), UTS (8, 69.95%), Manly (4, 39.22%), Wests (0, 44.57%).

Platinum Division:
Penrith 9.8 (62) d Balmain 8.8 (56)
Macquarie Uni 10.10 (70) d Southern Power 3.6 (26)
Western Magic 10.11 (71) d South-West Sydney 8.1 (49)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Western Magic (100, 169.82%), Penrith (80, 180.58%), Macquarie Uni (60, 147.15%), Southern Power (50, 91.67%), Holroyd-Parramatta (40, 105.07%), South-West Sydney (20, 51.21%), Balmain (0, 52.31%).

Platinum Reserves:
Penrith 17.11 (113) d Balmain 5.1 (31)
Macquarie Uni 6.8 (44) d Southern Power 4.7 (31)
Western Magic 14.10 (94) d South-West Sydney 3.4 (22)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Macquarie Uni (100, 222.29%), Penrith (80, 236.71%), Southern Power (66.67, 226.44%), Western Magic (60, 174.77%), Balmain (20, 64.00%), Holroyd-Parramatta (20, 51.09%), South-West Sydney (0, 12.11%).

Division One:
Pennant Hills 8.9 (57) d UTS 5.7 (37)
Sydney Uni 12.4 (76) d Campbelltown 0.6 (6)
North Shore 8.11 (59) d Randwick City 7.8 (50)
NorWest 13.10 (88) d Wollondilly 4.7 (31)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (20, 176.89%), NorWest (20, 148.31%), Randwick City (14, 175.60%), North Shore (12, 143.18%), Pennant Hills (10, 85.29%), UTS (8, 92.62%), Wollondilly (8, 74.76%), Campbelltown (4, 19.81%).

Division Two:
UTS 6.8 (44) d Pennant Hills 3.10 (28)
North Shore 10.6 (66) d Western Suburbs 1.2 (8)
Sydney Uni 10.7 (67) d UNSW-ES 10.6 (66)
Camden 14.9 (93) d St George 4.2 (26)
Manly 9.10 (64) d East Coast 7.7 (49)
Ladder – Camden (24, 337.25%), Sydney Uni (24, 304.76%), UNSW-ES (16, 200.44%), UTS (16, 112.27%), North Shore (12, 102.69%), St George (12, 49.23%), Manly (8, 64.81%), East Coast (4, 65.11%), Wests (4, 32.19%), Pennant Hills (0, 58.08%).

Division Three:
Sydney Uni 6.10 (46) d UNSW-ES 5.4 (34)
Macquarie Uni 13.6 (84) d Campbelltown 4.3 (27)
North Shore 11.9 (75) d Randwick City 4.6 (30)
Pennant Hills 3.5 (23) d UTS 2.4 (16)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Macquarie Uni (100, 247.49%), Camden (75, 136.65%), Pennant Hills (66.67, 150.27%), UNSW-ES (66.67, 142.42%), Sydney Uni (60, 108.56%), North Shore (40, 57.14%), Randwick City (20, 54.71%), UTS (16.67, 80.08%), Campbelltown (0, 45.87%).

Under 19s One:
North Shore 3.18 (36) d St George 4.5 (29)
Manly 9.10 (64) d East Coast 6.7 (43)
Camden 9.7 (61) d Pennant Hills 4.7 (31)
UNSW-ES 11.14 (80) d Sydney Uni 5.12 (42)
Ladder – UNSW-ES (24, 259.09%), St George (16, 150.45%), North Shore (16, 109.75%), Sydney Uni (16, 103.04%), Pennant Hills (8, 109.90%), Camden (8, 70.64%), East Coast (4, 70.08%), Manly (4, 49.27%).

Under 19s Two:
Southern Power 10.9 (69) d Wests Goannas 2.8 (20)
St George 11.8 (74) d Sydney Uni 3.5 (23)
Campbelltown d South-West Sydney – forfeit
UNSW-ES 10.8 (68) d Penrith 9.13 (67)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Southern Power (100, 383.55%), Campbelltown (80, 123.39%), UNSW-ES (66.67, 87.67%), Wests Goannas (60, 149.76%), St George (60, 112.50%), Penrith (40, 115.41%), North Shore (20, 78.95%), Sydney Uni (20, 57.35%), South-West Sydney (0, 20.40%).

Women Premier Division:
UNSW-ES 2.4 (16) d Sydney Uni 2.3 (15)
Western Wolves 2.3 (15) d Newtown 0.5 (5)
Auburn-Penrith 4.4 (28) d UTS 2.9 (21)
Macquarie Uni 5.12 (42) d Southern Power 0.3 (3)
Ladder – Macquarie Uni (24, 241.90%), UNSW-ES (20, 448.78%), Auburn-Penrith (12, 112.26%), Southern Power (12, 69.55%), Sydney Uni (8, 82.61%), Newtown (8, 78.12%), Western Wolves (8, 50.00%), UTS (4, 45.18%).

Women Division One:
UNSW-ES 19.13 (127) d Sydney Uni 1.0 (6)
Wollongong 9.5 (59) d Manly 3.3 (21)
Pennant Hills 6.4 (40) d East Coast 3.9 (27)
Western Magic 11.9 (75) d North Shore 1.1 (7)
Ladder – Wollongong (24, 504.71%), Pennant Hills (20, 325.77%), Western Magic (16, 274.74%), East Coast (16, 171.58%), Manly (12, 120.79%), UNSW-ES (4, 51.86%), North Shore (4, 32.39%), Sydney Uni (0, 3.20%).

Women Division Two:
Pennant Hills 8.9 (57) d Manly 0.1 (1)
South-West Sydney 4.5 (29) d Newtown 1.2 (8)
Campbelltown 7.0 (42) d Western Magic 4.3 (27)
UTS 3.4 (22) d Auburn-Penrith 1.6 (12)
Camden 7.9 (51) d Holroyd-Parramatta 5.6 (36)
Macquarie Uni 5.5 (35) d Wollondilly 4.5 (29)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Camden (100, 630.26%), Holroyd-Parramatta (83.33, 390.14%), South-West Sydney (83.33, 343.01%), Campbelltown (80, 266.20%), Pennant Hills (60, 220.69%), Macquarie Uni (60, 48.99%), UTS (40, 58.75%), North Shore (40, 33.21%), Western Magic (33.33, 86.40%), Newtown (33.33, 57.95%), Wollondilly (20, 81.55%), Auburn-Penrith (16.67, 41.20%), Manly (0, 4.04%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 19th May
Olds Park – St George v North Shore (2pm)
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v UNSW-ES (2pm)
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v UTS (2:20pm)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Pennant Hills (2:30pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (2:30pm)

Premier Reserves:
Saturday 19th May
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v Pennant Hills (12pm)
Olds Park – St George v North Shore (12pm)
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v UNSW-ES (12pm)
Kanebridge Oval – East Coast v UTS (12:20pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Manly (12:30pm)

Platinum Division:
Saturday 19th May
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Western Magic (1:50pm)
Gipps Road Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Macquarie Uni (2pm)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Balmain (5pm)
BYE – Southern Power.

Platinum Reserves:
Saturday 19th May
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Western Magic (12pm)
Gipps Road Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Macquarie Uni (12:10pm)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Balmain (3pm)
BYE – Southern Power.

Saturday 19th May
Fairfax Reserve – Macarthur v Macquarie Uni (10am)
Olds Park – St George v Balmain (10am)
Kanebridge Oval – North-West Sydney v Southern Masters (10:30am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Wollondilly (10:30am)