Article by Michael Shillito

After a long season, we have our Grand Finallists. It will be a University Grand Final, with Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs taking on Sydney Uni for the Premier Division title. The Bulldogs wrapped up their place in the Major Semi-Final; and on Saturday at Blacktown the Students took on North Shore for the other spot.
For much of the season, Sydney has been in drought and games have been played on dustbowls. But the heavens unleashed their fury on the night before the game, softening the ground and forcing a centre square biased towards the outer wing to be used.
The opening term was a slog. Not much happened, as players were unable to even think of taking a mark, and getting a clean possession from the ground was challenging. It was a tough and physical affair, with the bumps and crunching tackles making this no place for the faint-hearted. Neither side was able to score a goal in the first quarter, the Bombers leading by a point at the first change. But it had been a struggle for both sides.
In the overcast conditions, by the time the second quarter started, the floodlights had well and truly taken over as dark clouds hovered overhead. And for North Shore, dominant for so much of the season, the second quarter would create a very real gloom.
After an early Bomber goal, the Bomber game imploded; and the Students took control. A devastating burst of 15 minutes was enough to overturn six months of good work for North Shore. The Students moved the ball quickly, leaving the Bombers in their wake as they ran through six goals in a row. Bursting out of the centre, finding loose runners everywhere and forwards presenting themselves on the lead to create chances. Tristan Davies was the standout, finding plenty of chances to mark under minimal pressure and finding the big sticks every time. It was vintage Sydney Uni football; and that 15 minutes was enough. Even with the Bombers scoring in the dying seconds of the quarter, the Students had established a 23-point lead at the long break.
A comeback looked unlikely, but if it was to happen, the Bombers needed to make every post a winner. But their goal-kicking radar deserted them, and shots that should have been converted sailed wide of the big sticks. Too often the ball would get to the forward 50, but be turned over before a shot could even be attempted. The minor premiers had lifted their work-rate around the ground after a lacklustre showing in the first half; but were unable to generate any scoreboard pressure to show for it. The Bombers would win the third quarter, but only by three goals to two. And with the Students still 17 points to the good at three quarter time, the result looked all but locked in.
The Bombers needed to make up three goals in the last quarter, but were unable to penetrate the big sticks. Four scoring shots all missed. Numerous inside 50s were repelled and cleared by the Student defence, who were rising to the occasion. The Students landed a single goal; a final dagger into the Bomber heart. And finally the siren sounded. Uni had made it to the Grand Final, the Bombers were out.
Tristan Davies was outstanding, finishing with six goals. Allister Clarke, Nick Bertino and Marcus Valastro had made pivotal contributions around the ground. And most of the team had played their roles with distinction to get the team over the line.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Students. For much of the year it was touch-and-go whether they’d make the finals. They ended up qualifying for the double-chance but went down to UNSW-ES in the Qualifying Final. They were down for the count against Manly in the Minor Semi-Final but somehow managed to get out of that one. And now they’re in the Grand Final.
The Bombers had more scoring shots, but 15 minutes in the second quarter undid six months of good work.
This loss is a bitter pill to swallow for North Shore. Runaway minor premiers, finishing four goals clear on top of the ladder. But out of the finals in straight sets; the third year in a row they have fallen in the Preliminary Final. It had been a strong home and away season, despite the adversity of having no home ground. But their fadeout in the finals is a pain that they will have to wait till 2019 to put right.

So now we come down to one final game. It wasn’t a Grand Final that most of us in Sydney footy were expecting; but it’s one that will be closely contested. Will the premiers like to be beside the seaside, or will they have a hot time in the old town?
All will be revealed at Blacktown next Saturday, as the premiership cup is on the line.

Premier Division:
Preliminary Final
Sydney University 0.2 6.5 8.8 9.8 (62)
North Shore 0.3 2.6 5.9 5.13 (43)
Goals : Sydney Uni -
T Davies 6, A Clarke, M Nettheim, S Gilfedder. North Shore – Not available.
Best : Sydney Uni - A Clarke, N Bertino, M Valastro, T Davies, D Smith, S Krochmal. North Shore – Not available.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 8th September 2018.

Premier Reserves:
Preliminary Final
Pennant Hills 1.2 4.6 6.9 8.14 (62)
North Shore 3.2 4.3 6.6 7.7 (49)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
A Nixon 2, A Brawn 2, H Maguire 2, S Zikman, J Gunstone. North Shore – C Sennitt 2, S Williams 2, W Taylor, C Silvester, B Cunningham.
Best : Pennant Hills – R Miedler, L de Vries, H Maguire, B Thompson, A Nixon, P Witt. North Shore – W Taylor, D Smith, S Fraser-Krause, T Alexander, M Whitebread, S Hocking.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 8th September 2018.

Division Two:
Preliminary Final
Sydney Uni 3.1 6.3 8.4 9.5 (59)
UTS 1.0 1.4 2.5 3.8 (26)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
J Flanagan 3, A Kraefft 2, D Starkey 2, J Carr, B Fitzpatrick. UTS – L Patterson 2, E Taffa.
Best : Sydney Uni – L Bennetts-Inkster, E Norris, J Cheah, B Fitzpatrick, H Forbes-Smith, C Harwood. UTS – M Ayers, O Tate, D Georos, T Dettman, M Gaffney, A McKenzie.
At Henson Park, Saturday 8th September 2018.

Division Three:
Preliminary Final
Sydney Uni 1.2 1.2 1.2 5.5 (35)
Macquarie Uni 0.1 1.2 3.5 3.5 (28)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
J Toyer 2, D Drentin, J Jensen, G Stephenson. Macquarie Uni – C Farmer, C Apcar, W Cobcroft-Wells.
Best : Sydney Uni – N Bailey, C Cole, J Toyer, E Ring, D Shannon, K Russell. Macquarie Uni – W Cobcroft-Wells, B Rankin, N Bell, L Tinmouth, D McLanders, N Orton.
At Henson Park, Saturday 8th September 2018.

[B]Under 19s Division Two:[B]
Preliminary Final
UNSW-ES 2.0 2.1 4.3 5.4 (34)
Wests Goannas 0.4 1.6 1.7 3.10 (28)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
B McMorrow 3, J Hansen, O Benjamin. Wests Goannas – M Neimer, J Nieser, E Cormack.
Best : UNSW-ES – O Benjamin, H Whitaker, T Ingram, T Staines, E Hart, T Faddy. Wests Goannas – J Nieser, H El-Faraj, D Hevers, D Munk, J Guinan, J Isaac.
At Henson Park, Saturday 8th September 2018.

Womens Premier Division:
Preliminary Final
UNSW-ES 1.2 3.3 4.6 4.6 (30)
Auburn-Penrith 0.1 1.3 2.4 3.6 (24)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
R Privitelli, J Barclay, E Ross, M Kiely. Auburn-Penrith – J Gay, H Zreika, L Kassem.
Best : UNSW-ES – J Barclay, J Smith, S Janketovic, I Nielsen, A Parkin, R McGee. Auburn-Penrith – A Jones, S Yatim, H Zrieka, L Kassem, H Ajaj, K Russell.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 8th September 2018.

Womens Division Two:
Preliminary Final
Camden 3.7 3.8 6.13 6.14 (50)
Macquarie Uni 0.0 0.2 0.2 1.2 (8)
Goals : Camden –
L Bragg 2, K Rohrer 2, M Price, R Crowe. Macquarie Uni – J Rowley.
Best : Camden – M Brown, A Marshall, J Leys, K Wallace, K Rohrer, L Bragg. Macquarie Uni – Brohde, J Rowley, M Le Mottee, L Coleman, H Kowal, A Frayne.
At Henson Park, Saturday 8th September 2018.

A marathon Sunday under clear blue skies at Blacktown saw the first five premierships for 2018 decided.

Womens Division One
The first premiership up for grabs was the Womens Division One; where Western Magic took on Wollongong.
It took some time for the two sides to get a handle on each other, and there were few highlights early. It was looking like a tight defensive battle, as neither side found the big sticks in the first quarter; and the first major score of the game would not come until a kick after the siren by the Magic’s Siobhan Luczak; giving the Magic a five-point win at the long break.
When the two sides emerged after the half time break, the Magic stepped up another gear and set up a match-winning break. Four unanswered goals in the third quarter burst the game open, and the Saints were unable to do anything to stem the flow. Leading by 30 points at the last change, the game looked safe.
The Saints were held goal-less for the game, as the Magic would land the only goal in the final quarter. For the Saints, it was a disappointing end to what had been a successful season; in which they only dropped one game in the regular season only to lose twice in the finals. But for the Magic, it was the culmination of a successful season, in which they hit peak form at just the right time.
Western Magic 0.2 1.2 5.3 6.4 (40)
Wollongong 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.4 (4)
Goals : Western Magic –
G Stott 2, A Weir 2, S Luczak, C Corr. Wollongong – Nil.
Best : Western Magic – J Mann, G Stott, S Luczak, R Leard, A Weit, L Houghton. Wollongong – A Anderson, J Stanton, N Kennedy, L Donnelly, C Watson, C Stanton.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 9th September 2018.

[I]Division One{/I]
Next up was the Division One Grand Final, which would be a thriller.
The Students looked in control in the first half. A first quarter of three goals to one and a second term of two goals to one opened up a 20-point half time lead; and the raucous Uni crowd, complete with songsheets, were in fine voice in anticipation of a positive result.
The Demons fought back in the third term, kicking three goals to one, including a goal after the siren that cut the margin to 11 points at the last change. And that was enough for the Students to be in the Demons’ sights; and the Demons continued to surge in the last quarter. The Students were unable to score in the final term, while three goals to the Students was enough to complete a remarkable eight-point win.
It completes a successful season for the Demons in this division. Two wins over the Students during the finals was enough to take the premiership away from the Students. Uni had been the minor premiers, but were unable to produce their best form in the finals.
Pennant Hills 1.1 2.3 6.5 8.6 (54)
Sydney University 3.2 6.5 6.10 6.10 (46)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
S O’Regan 3, C Allison 2, E Danilo, A Woodward, F Nixon. Sydney Uni – J Cutrupi 2, S Jensen, N Rohrt, G Robbie, J Walsh.
Best : Pennant Hills – C Allison, A Smith, S O’Regan, H Rivers, H Gregor, D Smith. Sydney Uni – J O’Halloran, G Gibbins, O Young, T Morrison, J Nettle, S Willesee.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 9th September 2018.

Under 19s Division One
Next up was the Under 19s Division One Grand Final, where UNSW-ES were taking on North Shore.
The game was effectively all over within six minutes. The Bulldogs burst out of the blocks with four goals in those first six minutes, building a break from which the Bombers would be unable to recover. The Bombers got one goal back to cut the margin to 20 points at quarter time; but that was undone as the Bulldogs were on the board within seconds of the start of the second term. It was the first of five goals for the Bulldogs in the quarter, with the Bombers held to one and the margin was stretched to 43 points at the long break.
Another quarter of five goals to one in the third term turned the game into a rout, with the Bulldogs 68 points ahead at the last change. Although the Bulldogs didn’t add to their goal tally in the last term and the Bombers salvaged two goals; it mattered little. This had been a comprehensive result by the Bulldogs.
All season, the Bulldogs had been the dominant team in this division, dropping just the one game; and cruising through the finals with a minimum of fuss. The Bombers had come from the Minor Semi to make it to their fifth Grand Final in a row in this division, but were unable to convert that to another premiership.
Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 4.4 9.5 14.9 14.11 (95)
North Shore 1.2 2.4 3.7 5.8 (38)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
C Burgess-Hoar 3, A Backlund 2, E Gulden 2, T Baxter 2, M D’Agostino 2, S Thorne, E Elliott, J Sorenson. North Shore – R Barkley 2, J Dillon, H Parker, J Barling.
Best : UNSW-ES – E Gulden, M Ries, S Gaden, A Backlund, M D’Agostino. North Shore – R Barkley, P Roseby, K Gablia, D Bolger, O Bird, A Bastas.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 9th September 2018.

Platinum Reserves
The Platinum Reserves Grand Final was up next, with Southern Power taking on Macquarie Uni in a game that would be in the balance until the final moments.
The Power got off to a quick start, ensuring they would never be headed as they kicked four goals to two in the first quarter and led by 11 points at the first change. The game tightened in the second term, but the Power again looked the better side with a return of two goals to one extending their lead to 17 points at half time.
But the Warriors weren’t finished yet, and came back hard in the third term. The Power momentum was stopped, and some pressure was piled on which made life difficult for the Power. It wasn’t a high-scoring quarter, but the Warriors won the term by two goals to one to reduce the margin to ten points at three quarter time. Although the Warriors kept coming, and added another two goals in the last quarter, the Power were able to come up with two goals which put the issue beyond doubt.
In the end, it was a nine-point win for the Power. The Warriors were minor premiers in this division, but twice went down to the Power during the finals series. For the Power, the win would complete a successful season, coming good when it mattered.
Southern Power 4.0 6.3 7.4 9.5 (59)
Macquarie University 2.1 3.4 5.6 7.8 (50)
Goals : Southern Power –
L Davis 3, L Jansson, R Murphy, C Briody, J Lucas, R King-Thornburg, R Sharpe. Macquarie Uni – R Cooper 4, G Shearman, A Sliwka, H Wheatley.
Best : Southern Power – L Davis, C Briody, R Bowring, L Jansson, R Thomson, C Edwards. Macquarie Uni – J Kevern, M Healey, J Young, G Shearman, B Cooper, J Colburn.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 9th September 2018.

Platinum Division
The last game of the day was the Platinum Division, played under lights between Penrith and Western Magic. In the end, it was the Rams who would prevail by 17 points.
The Rams signalled their intentions early in the piece as they raced early goals through and placed the Magic under plenty of pressure and forced a substantial number of turnovers. Three goals to two would open up a 13-point lead at quarter time; and they would go one with the job with a second term of two goals to one to lead by 21 points at half time.
But the Magic weren’t finished yet. They had looked out of sorts in the first half, but sprung into action in the third quarter with a four-goal return that looked set to make significant inroads into the deficit. But when the Rams were looking in trouble, they were able to come up with some goals against the run of play to finish with three for the quarter and maintain a 16-point buffer at the last change.
The Rams were forced to defend in the last quarter, but rose to the occasion magnificently. Neither team was able to score a goal in the final quarter, and with each Magic attack that was repelled, the closer the Rams got to the ultimate glory. In the end, they were happy to run down time.
The Magic had been the dominant team all season in this division, and to go down in the Grand Final will be a shock to them. But the Rams saved their best football of the season till last, coming good on the day that mattered to see the cup make its way to Greygums.
Penrith 3.2 5.4 8.6 8.10 (58)
Western Magic 1.1 2.1 6.2 6.5 (41)
Goals : Penrith –
M Stevens 3, P Aumann 3, J Anasis, T Cummins. Western Magic – E Barclay 3, A Polkinghorne, A Moeller, J Schwarze.
Best : Penrith – J Stevens, B Wilson, M Laffan, T McNamara, P Pope, N Wright. Western Magic – A Moeller, E Barclay, S O’Connor, J Brazill, H Lelliott, T Beard.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 9th September 2018.

Next weekend sees the remaining seven premierships up for grabs. Three Grand Finals on Saturday will determine the winners of the mens and womens Premier Division comps and the Premier Reserves.
Sunday will have four Grand Finals to be played; and by the time the sun sets on Sunday night we will have crowned the premierships in Under 19s Division Two, Division Three, Division Two and Womens Division Two.

The fixture for next weekend’s Grand Finals is:

Saturday 15th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
10:00am – Premier Reserves – Sydney Uni v Pennant Hills
12:30pm – Womens Premier Division – Macquarie Uni v UNSW-ES
3:00pm – Premier Division – UNSW-ES v Sydney Uni

Sunday 16th September – Blacktown International Sportspark
9:00am – Under 19s Division Two – Southern Power v UNSW-ES
11:15am – Division Three – Camden v Sydney Uni
1:20pm – Division Two – UNSW-ES v Sydney Uni
3:30pm – Womens Division Two – Holroyd-Parramatta v Camden