Article by Michael Shillito

Is the ladder for the 2018 season taking shape? The Round 7 results may be instrumental in seeing a gap between the top five and the rest of the field; as the teams that started the round in the top five all recorded wins to open a gap between the five and the rest of the field.
It was another round where all games were played on Saturday afternoon; another weekend of pleasant autumn weather; with the sun shining and grounds in good condition.

North Shore have broken away from the pack to be the runaway leaders. But although the Bombers have been successful in the last few seasons, Olds Park has been something of a hoodoo ground for them; and they went into Saturday’s match against St George having not won there for ten years. The Dragons also had cause for optimism of pulling off an upset, having won their last two games after a slow start to the season.
But whatever hopes the Dragons had were soon dashed. From the start, the Bombers put on a display of ruthless efficiency to shut the home side of the contest; and the game was over almost as soon as it started. There were Bombers at the bottom of every pack, midfielders were presenting unchecked options at will and there were a multitude of forwards making leads at every opportunity. It was an exhibition; a talented and well-drilled side showing off their best quality football. And the scoreboard reflected what was happening around the ground as the Bombers landed eight goals to one to lead by 46 points at quarter time.
It was a similar story in the second quarter, as the game continued in the same lopsided manner as the first term. The Dragons were left to chase the game, as the Bombers dominated possession around the ground and controlled play as virtually every contest ended with a North Shore player in control of the ball. The quarter would see the Bombers score five goals to one; and it was an energised North Shore team and a shellshocked Dragons side that returned to the rooms at half time with the Bombers holding a 73-point lead.
Already the game was safely won, and the Bombers didn’t look quite as dominant in the third term. Not that they needed to be. A few attempted trick shots that didn’t quite go off, and some missed attempts; but you couldn’t be too critical of the Bombers having already safely wrapped up the win that kept their undefeated status intact. And around the ground the Bombers were getting the lion’s share of possession, and incursions into the St George 50 metre line were still rare. A quarter of three goals to one in favour of the Bombers saw them with a 90-point lead at the last change.
The sting had largely gone out of the contest, but the lure of the three-figure margin was still there for the Bombers. This was quickly achieved; and although the Dragons pulled back a few late goals there was no doubt this was the Bombers’ day. A quarter of four goals to three was enough for the Bombers to take the game by 101 points, and end the Olds Park curse.
The Bombers were sharing the goal-kicking love around; with 13 of their number drawing twin flags from the goal umpire. Matt Varjavandi was the standout up forward with four goals; while around the ground myriad possessions from Ned Campbell, Jimmy McKenzie and Will Taylor were pivotal in getting the North Shore engine machine running. Seven wins from seven starts, an imposing percentage and two games clear of the rest of the field. North Shore’s 2018 is off to a flyer.
Alex Wynn, Maxwell Jeffrey and Harry Hunt tried hard all day for St George. But this wasn’t the sort of day the Dragons were hoping for. Two wins and five losses, and this result further dents their already low percentage; and the Dragons are languishing in ninth spot, two games plus plenty of percentage out of the five. Still a long way to go, we’re not even half way yet. But the Dragons have plenty of work to do to get themselves back into finals contention.

Sydney Uni are in second spot, two games plus percentage behind the Bombers. The Students have given their supporters heart failure in recent weeks; and Saturday’s game was the third in a row where the margin was within a kick. But importantly for the Students, after dropping the last two, this time round the Students were able to take the win.
This time round the Students were taking on Manly at Sydney Uni No 1. The Wolves have a perfect record of winning all their home games and losing all their away games so far this season.
It was an evenly-contested affair around the ground in the first term. There were plenty of errors, some turnovers that had the coaches banging their heads in frustration and no shortage of missed shots that should have been converted. But it was looking set to be a close contest; as both sides threw their bodies on the line and keep the ball hotly contested. The Students had a slight edge with two goals to one, to lead by five points at the first change.
The Wolves took the upper hand in the second term, taking the lead and at times looking dangerous with the ball camped on their forward line for considerable periods of time. It wasn’t easy for the forwards of either teams, with both sides putting plenty of numbers back and there being little room to move on the confined space of the campus ground. But the Wolves had the slightest of edges as they scored three goals to one, taking a five point lead into the half time break.
The Students were under the pump in the third term, and had to defend grimly against a Manly team that had a sniff of an upset in their nostrils. The Wolves were coming hard, pumping the ball from the centre into marking contests within the 50 metre line and creating plenty of chances. The Students managed to eke out two goals against the run of play; but the Wolves put three goals together, possibly could have got more. But with a 12-point lead at three quarter time, Manly would have felt confident they could hang on.
But it wasn’t to be. The Students lifted in the last quarter, pulling out an intensity that wasn’t there earlier in the game and putting sustained pressure on the Wolves. The Manly defence found themselves having to absorb plenty of pressure, and weren’t always able to repel the Student charge. It wasn’t a high-scoring quarter, just three goals to one. But the final goal saw the Students take the lead; and as time ran down, the home side had scraped together a win that was looking unlikely for much of the afternoon.
The winning margin for the Students was three points. Michael Fogarty, Allister Clarke and Oliver Bourke were instrumental in getting the Students over the line in a game that for much of the afternoon looked to be just out of reach. With five wins and two losses, the Students sit comfortably in the top five; but those two close losses keep them well behind top spot. But the Students can make up a game on the Bombers next week, when the two teams will meet.
The Wolves were well served by the efforts of Ryan Wearne, Anthony Robertson and Connor Pettersson. But they would be disappointed to lose this one after leading for most of the afternoon. Three wins and four losses sees them in sixth place, only one win out of the five plus plenty of percentage to make up.

Defending premiers Pennant Hills are in third place, level on games with Sydney Uni. But the Demons had to dig deep to maintain that spot in the ladder, getting out of jail against a determined Camden side at Fairfax Reserve.
In the early exchanges, it was the Cats who were looking by far the stronger team. Attacking every contest, denying the Demons easy possessions and showing an enthusiasm and determination to make every post a contest, the Cats left the Demons flat-footed in the first term as they slammed through four unanswered goals and held a 23-point lead at quarter time.
After a poor first term, the Demons had to bounce back in the second term; and they did. The Demons lifted around the ground, and the Camden backline had to defend grimly against frequent Demon attacks. The Cats did manage one goal, giving them a decent buffer against the Demon resurgence; and some solid defensive work held the Demons to three goals and kept the Cats nine points ahead at the long break.
There wasn’t much of a wind, nothing that would suggest that the run of play should have been to one end all day. But that’s what happened, as the Cats took control of the contest in the third term. It was a quarter of open, attacking football; with running midfielders finding room to move and some impressive marking work up forward. The Cats were looking good around the ground, and their fans around the clubhouse increasingly vocal as they ran through six goals to two in a free-flowing quarter of footy and surged to a 32-point lead at three quarter time.
With such an impressive lead at the last change, the Cats should have been able to hang on. But one thing we’ve seen over the years is that the Demons know how to win, and in the last quarter they came from absolutely nowhere to steal the most unlikely of wins. They still had run in their legs and outpaced the visibly fatiguing Cats; with players that had barely been sighted in the first three quarters suddenly coming into their own and exerting influence over the contest. And one by one the goals were found and the margin tightened. Seven goals to one in the last quarter was just enough to get the Demons over the line to snatch a four-point result.
Ranga Ediriwickrama, Tom Angel and Tom Edmonds worked hard all day for the Demons, particularly in the last quarter when they picked up plenty of the ball to get their team over the line. The Demons have five wins and two losses; and although they have been defeated by the two teams above them on the ladder, once again they showed that a Pennant Hills game is never over until the final siren sounds.
The Cats were well served by the efforts of Josiah Ayling, Mitch Sapiatzer and Josh Burke. But this loss will hurt. Two weeks in a row the Cats have been pipped at the post. The Cats have two wins so far this season and remain in seventh spot; but had they lasted the distance in their last two starts they would have been within reach of the top five.

East Coast Eagles sit in fourth place, a game behind Sydney Uni and Pennant Hills but with a better percentage than the Demons. The Eagles maintained their ladder position but without looking totally convincing when they overcame UTS by 19 points at Kanebridge Oval.
The Bats were looking the better side early in the game, but they would let the Eagles off the hook with a succession of behinds; many of them from shots at goal that could have been kicked. There’s always a swirling breeze at Kanebridge, but it was some sloppy finishing rather than the conditions that let the Bats down when they could have changed the momentum of the game by building a handy lead. As it was, the Bats would lead by just four points at quarter time after a quarter that produced just one goal apiece.
A bizarre second quarter would follow, where the Bats were just as good as the Eagles in general play; but the Eagles kicked themselves into the lead. There wasn’t much to choose between the two teams around the ground, both teams getting as much of the contested ball and getting it inside their attacking 50. But the Eagles were making better use of their chances to score five goals; while the Bats could manage just two. The Eagles were leading by 11 points despite the Bats having several more scoring shots. But, as the say in the clichés, bad kicking is bad football; and the Bats blew a good chance to put some scoreboard pressure on the Eagles that could have changed the destiny of the game.
The Eagles were clearly the better side in the third quarter, but the pressure was off and they were adding to a lead rather than trying to peg back a deficit. It wasn’t a high-scoring quarter of footy, with plenty of skill errors and turnovers; but the Eagles were able to use their period of dominance to put the game out of UTS’ reach. A quarter that yielded three goals to one was enough to put the Eagles out to a match-winning 27 points at the last change.
The Bats would win the last quarter by four goals to two, pegging the final margin back to 19 points. But the Eagles had the game safely won by then. It hadn’t been a totally convincing performance by the Eagles, but they had done enough to get the points and snap their two-game losing streak.
Karl Merson, Brandon Clark and Luke Mansour featured prominently for the Eagles; doing enough to get the home side over the line. The Eagles have four wins and three losses, with a handy percentage; and despite dropping a couple of games they should have won, they will fancy their chances of returning to finals footy in 2018 after missing out last year.
Adam Tarrant, Michael Foley and Michael May got plenty of the ball for the Bats to keep them in the contest. But this result sees the Bats with just two wins, which were achieved in the first two rounds; and now on a five-game losing streak. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, but the Bats will need to quickly end the losing run and get back on the winning list to remain in finals contention.

UNSW-ES sit in fifth spot. The Bulldogs consolidated their position in the top five at Picken Oval, and gave their percentage a handy boost, with a commanding 81-point win over Wests.
It wasn’t looking to be so one-sided early on. Looking to bounce back after a poor performance last week, the Magpies threw everything they had at the Bulldogs in the first term. Some ferocious tackling and keen endeavour saw the Magpies keep pace with the Bulldogs in an opening term of footy that would produce two goals apiece; with the Magpies holding a three-point lead at the first change.
But to maintain that intensity and work-rate would be beyond the Magpies, and when the second quarter got under way the Bulldogs found their mojo and were never headed again. Loose runners were in abundance and the goals were flowing freely; the Magpie defence crumbling and numerous forward options presenting themselves with regularity. A long and high-scoring quarter would see the Bulldogs land eight goals to three and turn the quarter time deficit into a 32-point half time lead.
The game tightened in the third term, as the Magpies looked to stop the leakage of goals that had been so prevalent in the second term. But there was no way back into the contest for an under-manned Wests side that lacked the firepower of their opponents. The quarter would see the Bulldogs score three goals to one, extending the margin to 50 points at three quarter time.
But the goals would flow freely again in the last quarter, as the Magpie defenders were unable to cope with a rampant Bulldogs side who were in complete control across the field. Another one-sided quarter of footy would see the Bulldogs score seven goals to two, as they dominated possession all around the field. Gone was the Magpie passion of the first quarter, heads dropping around the field as another hefty defeat was in the air.
The final margin was 81 points. 12 Bulldog players got on the goal-kicking list, as for the second week in a row the Magpies saw more than half of the opposition team concede major scores. James Pascoe spearheaded the Bulldog charge with four goals; while around the ground Alex Foote, Kaia Reynolds-Erler and Cooper Kilpatrick were unstoppable forces. The Bulldogs are a game clear in fifth, and a handy percentage boost further consolidates their place in the top five.
Adam Tipungwuti played a defiant knock for the Magpies to score four goals and be their best; while Levi Sands and Jack Tidd also kept working hard all day. But it was a disappointing day for the Magpies after a promising first quarter. With just one win, the Magpies sit at the bottom of the ladder; and after two heavy losses will be desperate to find something to turn their fortunes around.

Next week we see first play second when North Shore take on Sydney Uni in a Sunday blockbuster at Blacktown. Third and fourth will also play off in a Hills derby as Pennant Hills take on East Coast at Mike Kenny Oval.
Also next week Manly host Wests at Weldon, UNSW-ES take on Camden at Henson Park and UTS are at home against St George at Waverley Oval.

North Shore 8.6 13.9 16.14 20.20 (140)
St George 1.2 2.2 3.2 6.3 (39)
Goals : North Shore -
M Varjavandi 4, W Taylor 2, N Campbell 2, B Plug 2, C Loone 2, J Cubis, S Crane, M Thomas, L Hayres, S Lee-Steere, T Meacham, J McKenzie, C Murphy. St George - B Jones 3, D Michalak 2, J Pearson.
Best : North Shore - N Campbell, J McKenzie, W Taylor, J Marsh, L Hayres, M Varjavandi. St George - A Wynn, M Jeffrey, H Hunt, D Michalak, L Parnell, P Tegg.
At Olds Park, Saturday 19th May 2018.

Sydney University 2.4 3.9 5.11 8.15 (63)
Manly-Warringah 1.5 4.8 7.11 8.12 (60)
Goals : Sydney Uni -
H Morrison 2, R Lucas, C Morgan, J Cole, M Picken, S Gilfedder, M Krochmal. Manly - J Bennett 2, A Robertson 2, H Washington, A Fraser, C Johnston, A Butler.
Best : Sydney Uni - M Fogarty, A Clarke, O Bourke, D Wight, M Nettheim, H Morrison. Manly - R Wearne, A Robertson, C Pettersson, H Koch, D Meadows, E Burke.
At Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 19th May 2018.

Pennant Hills 0.3 3.6 5.8 12.11 (83)
Camden 4.2 5.3 11.4 12.7 (79)
Goals : Pennant Hills -
N Hey 3, M Carey 2, J Potter 2, M Carroll 2, S Wray, T Edmonds, C Luscombe. Camden - M Maher 3, T Gilheany 3, J Ellis-Cluff 2, K Veerhuis 2, J Van Luenen, B Pearce.
Best : Pennant Hills - R Ediriwickrama, T Angel, T Edmonds, T Wales, M Carroll, J Potter. Camden - J Ayling, M Sapiatzer, J Burke, J Ellis-Cluff, M Edwards, M Maher.
At Fairfax Reserve, Saturday 19th May 2018.

East Coast Eagles 1.1 6.2 9.7 11.12 (78)
University of Technology 1.5 3.9 4.10 8.11 (59)
Goals : East Coast -
J Large 2, K Merson 2, Jamie Vlatko 2, D Saywell 2, Z Johns 2, S Turner. UTS - P O'Rourke 2, E Thwaites 2, H Callahan, J Crameri, C Wooles, T Zilm.
Best : East Coast - K Merson, B Clark, L Mansour, S Turner, K Emery, Z Johns. UTS - A Tarrant, M Foley , M May, R Kirkhope, P O'Rourke, A Johnson.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 19th May 2018.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 2.0 10.5 13.12 20.14 (134)
Western Suburbs 2.3 5.3 6.4 8.5 (53)
Goals : UNSW-ES -
J Pascoe 4, J Pawle 3, T Chichester 2, A Foote 2, T Dickson 2, T Redden, M Thompson, C Kilpatrick, J McKinlay, D Pfeiffer, K Reynolds-Erler, J Wachman. Wests - A Tipungwuti 4, E Harper 2, C Gordon, P Maxwell.
Best : UNSW-ES - A Foote, K Reynolds-Erler, C Kilpatrick, S Wilson, J Pawle, F Whitney. Wests - A Tipungwuti, L Sands, J Tidd, E Cole, C McEvoy-Gray, K Bremner,
At Picken Oval, Saturday 19th 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:
Pennant Hills 14.9 (93) d Camden 5.2 (32)
St George 11.11 (77) d North Shore 7.9 (51)
UNSW-ES 12.14 (86) d Western Suburbs 4.5 (29)
UTS 10.7 (67) d East Coast 7.13 (55)
Sydney Uni 17.17 (119) d Manly 3.3 (21)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (24, 190.56%), Pennant Hills (24, 184.85%), UNSW-ES (20, 144.41%), Camden (20, 140.00%), East Coast (12, 119.36%), North Shore (12,108.83%), St George (12, 89.07%), UTS (12, 76.14%), Manly (4, 35.47%), Wests (0, 42.77%).

Platinum Division:
Penrith 8.10 (58) d Western Magic 8.7 (55)
Macquarie Uni 18.12 (120) d Holroyd-Parramatta 5.2 (32)
Balmain 11.9 (75) d South-West Sydney 6.6 (42)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Penrith (83.33, 164.75%), Western Magic (83.33, 154.29%), Macquarie Uni (66.67, 173.38%), Southern Power (50, 91.67%), Holroyd-Parramatta (33.33, 82.45%), Balmain (16.67, 62.98%), South-West Sydney (16.67, 51.94%).

Platinum Reserves:
Penrith 13.7 (85) d Western Magic 6.4 (40)
Macquarie Uni 9.10 (64) d Holroyd-Parramatta 6.4 (40)
Balmain 16.8 (104) d South-West Sydney 1.4 (10)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Macquarie Uni (100, 210.70%), Penrith (83.33, 232.79%), Southern Power (66.67, 226.44%), Western Magic (50, 138.94%), Balmain (33.33, 85.22%), Holroyd-Parramatta (16.67, 52.62%), South-West Sydney (0, 11.76%).

Macarthur 12.14 (86) d Macquarie Uni 5.8 (38)
St George 24.12 (156) d Balmain 1.4 (10)
North-West Sydney 5.11 (41) d Southern Masters 2.10 (22)
Sydney Uni 12.11 (83) d Wollondilly 1.3 (9)
Ladder – Sydney Uni (12, 491.67%), St George (12, 301.90%), Macarthur (12, 278.08%), North-West Sydney (10, 134.96%), Macquarie Uni (2, 44.17%), Southern Masters (0, 60.66%), Wollondilly (0, 33.33%), Balmain (0, 21.20%).


Premier Division:

Saturday 26th May
Waverley Oval – UTS v St George (2pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly v Western Suburbs (2:10pm)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Camden (2:20pm)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v East Coast (2:30pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP – North Shore v Sydney Uni (2:30pm)

Premier Reserves:
Saturday 26th May
Waverley Oval – UTS v St George (12pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly v Western Suburbs (12:10pm)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Camden (12:20pm)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v East Coast (12:30pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP – North Shore v Sydney Uni (5pm)

Platinum Division:
Saturday 26th May
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Macquarie Uni (1:50pm)
Gipps Road Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Balmain (2pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Southern Power (3pm)
BYE – Penrith.

Platinum Reserves:
Saturday 26th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Southern Power (11:40am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Macquarie Uni (12pm)
Gipps Road Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Balmain (12:10pm)
BYE – Penrith.

Division One:
Saturday 26th May
Trumper Park – UTS v Wollondilly (11am)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Randwick City (2pm)
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v Campbelltown (2:30pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP – North Shore v Sydney Uni (12:40pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 26th May
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v East Coast (9am)
Waverley Oval – UTS v St George (10:20am)
Weldon Oval – Manly v Western Suburbs (10:30am)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Camden (10:40am)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP – North Shore v Sydney Uni (10:50am)

Division Three:
Saturday 26th May
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v Randwick City (9:30am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Campbelltown (11:10am)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Camden (1pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v UNSW-ES (10:40am)

Under 19s One:
Saturday 26th May
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v East Coast (10:40am)
Fairfax Reserve – Camden v St George (2pm)
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Manly (4:50pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP – North Shore v Sydney Uni (9am)

Under 19s Two:
Saturday 26th May
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Wests Goannas (8:40am)
Sydney uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Campbelltown (9:30am)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v St George (10am)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v UNSW-ES (12:20pm)
BYE – Southern Power.

Women Premier Division:
Saturday 26th May
Henson Park – UNSW-ES v Newtown (9am)
Picken Oval – Western Wolves v Macquarie Uni (1pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v Auburn-Penrith (2:30pm)
Trumper Park – UTS v Southern Power (2:30pm)

Women Division One:
Saturday 26th May
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v Manly (11:10am)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v East Coast (12:50pm)
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Wollongong (1:20pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 – North Shore v UNSW-ES (2pm)

Women Division Two:
Saturday 26th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 – Western Magic v Camden (10am)
Rosedale Oval – South-West Sydney v Macquarie Uni (10:20am)
Gipps Road Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Newtown (10:30am)
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower) – Pennant Hills v Campbelltown (12:50pm)
Trumper Park – UTS v Wollondilly (12:50pm)
Sunday 27th May
Blacktown ISP No 2 - North Shore v Manly (3:40pm)
BYE – Auburn-Penrith.