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Thread: SYDNEY AFL GRAND FINAL 2018

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    SYDNEY AFL GRAND FINAL 2018

    SYDNEY AFL GRAND FINAL 2018
    Article by Michael Shillito

    After a marathon season, we’d made it to the climax on Saturday afternoon, Sydney footy’s biggest day; as Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs took on Sydney University Students in the Premier Division Grand Final. A university derby to decide the premiership, and it would go down to the wire.
    The two sides had finished second and third after the regular season. The Bulldogs defeated the Students in the Qualfying Final and backed that up with a win over North Shore in the Major Semi-Final. The Students, after that loss to the Bulldogs, had to do it the hard way; but got up over Manly and North Shore to make it through.
    The game was played under sunny skies at Blacktown International Sportspark, and it would be a thriller.
    Both sides were feeling each other out in the first quarter, a term of footy that produced two goals apiece. James Pascoe bagged an early one, pouncing on a loose ball; but this was cancelled out by some fancy footwork by Sam Gilfedder to get around some defensive tacklers and land a goal. Tristan Davies, coming off a six-goal haul in the Preliminary Final, signalled his intentions with a strong mark at the edge of the square to give the Students the lead, before Tom Banuelos restored parity with a long bomb from the 50 metre line. The Students were leading by a point at quarter time, but they would make their move in the second term.
    2018 has seen the ascension of Morrison into a leadership role, and Harry, wearing number 9 for the Students, was leading the way as the second quarter progressed. A mark and a set shot in the early exchanges of the second term was followed up by an outstanding effort on the run; completing a coast to coast move by bouncing a goal through to put the Students 14 points ahead. And when Michael Nettheim, returning to the field with a new number after a blood rule earlier, snapped a shot through the middle, the Students were 21 points to the good at half time and looking good.
    Three minutes into the premiership quarter, Harry Morrison slotted his third goal through; stealing the ball out of a contest and grubbering it between the big sticks. The Students were 27 points ahead, their fans in raucous voice as they scented the chance of premiership glory. It would be a long way back for the Bulldogs, but they weren’t done yet.
    The Bulldogs needed a spark, and James Pascoe delivered at the six minute mark as he converted a set shot. Four minutes later, he went so close to adding another as he ran towards an open goal; but took one step too many and was tackled from behind. Holding the ball, and the chance looked gone. But the free kick went off the side of the Student defender’s boot, straight into the arms of Justin Cann, who gleefully accepted the ball and banged it home.
    Three minutes later, Bulldog coach Steven Pollock marked strongly within range and put it through. Suddenly the game was back to 10 points; when just a few minutes earlier it had looked like the Students were coasting to victory. Suddenly there was tension, suddenly the brakes needed to be applied.
    Neither team troubled the scoreboard attendant or the goal umpires for the remainder of the quarter. But there were highlights, most notably a speckie by Tristan Davies as he soared over a pack of defenders in the forward 50 and pulled the ball down. Nothing came of the resultant move forward, but those few seconds of marking flair is one of the highlights of our game.
    The Students led by 10 points at three quarter time, but the Bulldogs were within striking distance. There was plenty of nervous energy, but also plenty of noise and excitement, as massive numbers of people gathered around both huddles of players as Steven Pollock and Tony Overall addressed their troops before one last quarter of battle. The words they used were different, but the underlying message the same. That if you put in everything you have and leave nothing in the tank, you and your 21 team-mates can have a memory they will cherish forever.
    The Bulldogs were first to get on the board, as Jesse Asih led and marked within striking distance and kicked truly. The margin was back within a kick, the Bulldogs were full of running, while the Students were visibly tiring. They needed a buffer, and three behinds in a row wasn’t going to be enough. But from the third behind, Michael Nettheim pounced on a turnover from the kick-in and put it through. Would 13 points be enough safety margin?
    The minutes were ticking by. 15 had gone, and the Students were clinging to the narrow lead. But the error came, as Harry Morrison, so brilliant all day, was ran down in the backline. “Ball” came the roar from the grandstand, and the umpire obliged; sending Matt Rawlinson to line up the free kick 20 metres from home. The ball sailed through, and it was back to a seven-point ball game.
    The Bulldogs kept coming, but missed to cut the margin to a straight kick. Pascoe went perilously close to levelling the scores but it was touched on the line. Pollock had a set shot with the clock well into time-on but hit the post. Four points the margin, the crowd roaring itself into a frenzy as the Students were hanging on for dear life.
    But the kick-in found its way to Jesse Aish. Not the easiest kick at the best of time, but when it would decide the lead in the final moments of a Grand Final, the nerves were intense. Fans noted for their coolness in times of crisis were trembling like leaves. But anyone who wants instructions about how to kick under pressure will wish that they had Jesse’s goal, as he calmly put it through. And the Bulldogs had the lead; and surely only seconds to go.
    The Bulldogs got the centre break. A goal would make sure of it, but they could only manage a point. But the Students could have time, maybe, for one more twist in the tale. If they could quickly move the ball coast to coast.
    Quickly they moved it forward into the forward 50. Forced into desperate defence, the Bulldog backline had to act. “Hit the boundary line”, the famous line from St Kilda’s flag, came to mind. The ball went out. A massive roar for deliberate from the entire Uni camp, but the umpire was unmoved. Surely just seconds to go. Every player on the field was within centimetres of the throw-in. The pack formed. A call for holding the ball fell on deaf ears. And the siren sounded. The Bulldogs had won!
    Within seconds of the siren sounded, there were hundreds of jubilant Bulldogs faithful on the field. Players injured or not selected, players from other divisions, past players, volunteers, family and supporters. They’re all part of it, and they’re all sharing the moment.
    And just metres away are the Uni players.. It’s an empty feeling, and they can’t summon the energy to stand. Slumped to the ground in disappointment, as a prize that had looked theirs for most of the day was taken from them. The second year in a row they’ve been pipped at the post in the Grand Final.
    But this moment belonged to the Bulldogs, as they lifted the Premier Division cup for the first time since 2012. Every one of them had a different story of how they got there, and their paths will separate in the future. But this is a memory they will share and celebrate forever.
    Justin Cann was awarded the Podbury Medal as best-on-ground; while Jesse Aish and Darren Pfeiffer also featured prominently. But it takes more than three players to win a premiership; it takes 22 on the day plus everyone who played during the year to get them there.
    Nick Bertino, Harry Morrison and Adam Birman were best for the Students. But in the end, they feel the heartbreak of defeat. Something they must, and will, use to motivate them in their quest to go one better in 2019.

    Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 2.3 2.4 5.4 8.10 (58)
    Sydney University 2.4 5.7 6.8 7.13 (55)
    Goals : UNSW-ES –
    J Pascoe 2, J Aish 2, J Cann, M Rawlinson, S Pollock, T Banuelos. Sydney Uni – H Morrison 3, M Nettheim 2, T Davies, S Gilfedder.
    Best : UNSW-ES – J Cann, J Aish, D Pfeiffer, L Essenstam, K Reynolds-Erler, D Cordell. Sydney Uni – N Bertino, H Morrison, A Birman, M Valastro, A Clarke, D Johnson.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 15th September 2018.


    Womens Premier Division Grand Final
    UNSW-ES took out a unique double on Saturday; the first club ever to win the Mens and Womens Premier Division premierships in the same season. The Womens Premier Division Grand Final was held on the same day as the Mens comp for the first time, and it would see minor premiers Macquarie Uni take on the Bulldogs.
    The Bulldogs hit the ground running, putting on some early scoreboard pressure which would mean the Warriors would be forced into playing catch-up football for most of the day. Three goals to one in the opening term opened up a 13-point quarter time lead; and adding another two goals to one in the second term saw the Bulldogs 21 points clear at the long break.
    The Warriors had to hit back hard in the third term, and they defended resolutely to keep the Bulldogs scoreless for the quarter. But for all their work to attempt to get back into the game, they were only able to come up with one goal to show for it. A 12-point lead at the last change would be chaseable, but the Warriors were unable to come up with the results that mattered. Instead it was the Bulldogs who kicked away at the death, two late goals completing a 23-point win.
    The Warriors had only dropped one game all season before the Grand Final; but it was the Bulldogs who came up with the result on the day that mattered first, completing their third consecutive Womens Premier Division premiership.
    Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 3.1 5.3 5.3 7.3 (45)
    Macquarie University 1.0 2.0 3.3 3.4 (22)
    Goals : UNSW-ES -
    R McGee 2, T Bool, R Privitelli, J Barclay, M Kiely, S Janjetovic. Macquarie Uni - A Farrugia, L Russell, L Fassone.
    Best : UNSW-ES - S Janjetovic, J Barclay, S Kaukiono, J Still, R McGee, T Bool. Macquarie Uni - A Farrugia, K Sutcliffe, E Brush, L Russell, L Steane, M Lawrence.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 15th September 2018.

    Premier Division Reserves Grand Final:
    The early arrivers to Blacktown on Saturday would see Pennant Hills take on Sydney Uni in the Premier Division Reserves Grand Final. The Students were minor premiers and had defeated the Demons in the Major Semi-Final to be first to qualify for the Grand Final; but the Demons would turn the tables on Grand Final day and take out the premiership.
    There wasn’t much in it during the early exchanges, as a tactical battle was unfolding and neither team was prepared to cede an early advantage to the other. The Students kicked the only goal in the first term to lead by four points at the first change. The game opened up in the second term and each side kicked three goals; and when the teams returned to the rooms at the long break the Students were five points to the good.
    But it didn’t take long in the third term for that advantage to be wiped out, as the Demons took control of the contest in the third term. A return of 3.9 for the quarter meant the Students were still within striking distance, although the run of play around the ground suggested the Demons should have been further in front. But holding the Students to one goal for the quarter while keeping the ball up forward saw the Demons leading by 14 points at three quarter time.
    Just one goal apiece was scored in the last quarter. The Demons were controlling the contest, and there was no way back for the Students as time ran down and the Demons were able to celebrate premiership glory. It set the scene for a Grand Final day in which no minor premier would go on to hold up the trophy.
    Pennant Hills 0.4 3.5 6.14 7.18 (60)
    Sydney University 1.2 4.4 5.6 6.9 (45)
    Goals : Pennant Hills -
    A Brawn 3, J Gunstone 2, H Maguire, D Messenger. Sydney Uni - O Wetzlar, B Pilot, N Dale, T Dunlop, S Trevaskis, J Fox.
    Best : Pennant Hills - K Wright, L de Vries, H Maguire, P Witt, M Blow, O Williams. Sydney Uni - J Fox, C Reichman, B Scotney, S Trevaskis, N Bowen, O Wetzlar.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 15th September 2018.

    Under 19s Division Two Grand Final:
    Four more Grand Finals were played at Blacktown on Sunday to wrap up the season. The first of them was the Under 19s Division Two Grand Final, where Southern Power took on UNSW-ES.
    The Power have been the dominant team in this division, only dropping one game all season; and in the first quarter they signalled their intentions as they shut the Bulldogs down, and incursions into the UNSW-ES forward 50 were rare. The Power scored the only two goals in the opening term to lead by 13 points at quarter time, and by half time were 19 points clear after kicking two goals to one in the second term.
    But it wasn’t easy for the Power, facing one of their toughest tests of the season; and the Bulldogs kept coming in the third quarter and forcing the Power into some desperate defensive heroics. The Bulldogs won the third quarter by two goals to one, cutting the margin to 16 points at the last change, and the game was still up for grabs.
    Two goals in the last quarter gave the Power some breathing space, which they desperately needed as the Bulldogs kept coming. The Bulldogs managed three goals in the final term, but it wasn’t enough to run the ladder leaders down. In the end, a 13-point win was enough; and a near-perfect season ended with the Power taking out the premiership.
    Southern Power 2.2 4.4 5.7 7.10 (52)
    Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 0.1 1.3 3.3 6.3 (39)
    Goals : Southern Power -
    T Towns 2, A Dixon, S Scandurra, D Thompson, J Highland, M King. UNSW-ES - E Hart 2, T Johnson, T Faddy, J Hansen, J Hoenig.
    Best : Southern Power - C Davidson, B Travers, J Woolmer, D Thompson, E Blake, S Scandurra. UNSW-ES - E Hart, T Faddy, T Staines, B Ryan, J Hoenig, M O'Connor.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 16th September 2018.

    Division Three Grand Final:
    Next up on the final Sunday was the Division Three Grand Final, where Sydney Uni were up against Camden. The Cats had been runaway minor premiers and first into the Grand Final, while the Students had to come from the Elimination Final to make it to the big game. But all that counted for nothing on the day, as the Students came good on the day that mattered and took out the premiership in style.
    The first quarter was tough and tight, with plenty of contested footy but few chances for the forwards. The Students kicked the only goal of the quarter to lead by eight points at quarter time, and after a goal apiece in the second term, the Students were leading by ten points when the half time siren sounded.
    The premiership quarter wrapped up the title for the Students. The Cats were barely able to get anywhere near their forward 50 metre zone, and the Students were controlling the ball at will. Three unanswered goals opened up a 33-point lead at the last change.
    There would be no way back for the Cats, as the Students added two more unanswered goals in the last to run out 46-point victors. It was a reflection of the extraordinary depth in the Students’ lineup that they could wrap this grade up so easily; in a league where all five of Sydney Uni’s open-age mens’ teams made it to the Grand Final.
    Sydney University 1.2 2.4 5.9 7.12 (54)
    Camden 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.2 (8)
    Goals : Sydney Uni -
    J Toyer 2, N Barnard 2, J Reddie 2, H Campbell-Ross. Camden – Not available.
    Best : Sydney Uni - J Reddie, J Toyer, D Drentin, D Shannon, C.Wilkinson, N Bailey. Camden - T Hoch, D McKay, B Grasso, L Tipper, J Murtagh, M Morgan.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 16th September 2018.

    Division Two Grand Final:
    The Division Two competition has run parallel to the Premier Division comp, with the same clubs taking part. And it would be the same two teams fighting it out in the Grand Final, with UNSW-ES taking on Sydney Uni.
    The Students made the early front-running, and two goals to one in the first quarter saw them leading by seven points at quarter time. But the Bulldogs hit their straps after the quarter time break and made their move in the second quarter, holding the Students scoreless in the second term and adding two goals from numerous opportunities to turn the deficit into a ten point half-time lead.
    The Bulldogs would never be headed again, although they were prevented from running away with the contest by some resolute Sydney Uni defence. The third quarter saw each team held to a single goal, with the Bulldogs 11 points ahead at the last change. They were still far from secure, and had to dig deep in defence during the last quarter. But in the end, the Bulldogs were unable to chase down the deficit; and the Bulldogs would go on to score two goals to one in the final term to complete an 18-point lead. An extraordinary season for the UNSW-ES club saw the Bulldogs take four premiership trophies home.
    Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 1.0 3.5 4.7 6.9 (45)
    Sydney University 2.1 2.1 3.2 4.3 (27)
    Goals : UNSW-ES -
    T O'Donnell 2, T Williamson, D Seeff, F Mergler, M Cullen. Sydney Uni - A Kraefft, J Flanagan, L.Hayward, J Cheah.
    Best : UNSW-ES - I Bacon, T O''Donnell, T Falvey, K Pocock, D Seeff, B Eddy. Sydney Uni - A Everett, B Fitzpatrick, J Flanagan, S Fotea, L Hayward, C Mohen.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 16th September 2018.

    Womens Division Two Grand Final:
    The Womens Division Two competition lowered the curtain on 2018 footy. It was a clash between two teams from the West, as the Camden Cats took on the Holroyd-Parramatta Goannas.
    The Goannas had been minor premiers before the Cats knocked them off in the Major Semi-Final; but the Goannas fought back in the Preliminary Final to make it through to the big game. And in the early exchanges in this Grand Final, it was clear the Goannas had come to play as they took control of the footy early and refused to allow easy possessions to go the Cats’ way. The Goannas kicked the only goal of the first quarter, and another two unanswered goals in the second term saw them leading by 22 points at the long break.
    There would be no way back for the Cats. The third quarter was tight, with the Cats searching desperately for the goal that would get them back in the contest, only to get repelled time and again. The Goannas would kick the only goal for the quarter; and with the Cats goal-less at the last change and the Goannas 27 points clear, the result of the game looked a foregone conclusion.
    The Cats finally broke their goal drought in the final quarter, but this was the Goannas’ day. Three more goals to the blue and golds saw them complete a memorable 39-point win. The decision to take the plunge into womens footy, fielding a team for the first time in 2018, has paid dividends as they completed a memorable season, taking the final trophy of 2018 back to Gipps Road.
    Holroyd-Parramatta 1.1 3.6 4.6 7.8 (50)
    Camden 0.1 0.2 0.3 1.5 (11)
    Goals : Holroyd-Parramatta –
    M Ford 2, M Finch 2, P Tamanalevu 2, K McCaffery. Camden - R Ciacciarelli.
    Best : Holroyd-Parramatta - A Barton, K McCaffery, T Shirley, H Nolan, D Taylor, A Gray. Camden - L Bragg, M Brown, R Ciacciarelli, L Cornett, A Marshall, K Wallace.
    At Blacktown International Sportspark, Sunday 16th September 2018.


    POSTSCRIPT
    The curtain is lowered, the lights are switched off and the stadium is empty. Football goalposts are being taken out, and the long, hot off-season has begun.
    UNSW-ES are celebrating, Sydney Uni are pondering what might have been, and eight other clubs have already begun planning how they can be a part of Sydney footy’s biggest day next year. It’s been a year with plenty of highs, plenty of lows; and rarely a dull moment.
    There’s plenty of people to thank. The players, for putting on the show that keeps us fascinated every week. The umpires for controlling the games. To the coaches, and the volunteers who do so much to make game days happen. To the AFL Sydney HQ for their running of the competition. And to our game – truly the greatest game in the world.
    And a game that has grown enormously up here. Well over 100 teams over 13 divisions this year; and the job of collating divisional scores for the weekly reports on this page has been getting bigger every season.
    More people are playing footy up here than ever before. There’s been some great successes in getting people involved in the game. Game days these days are marathon affairs of up to 12 hours with 5-6 games back to back. The game is in pretty good shape, although there’s certainly plenty of challenges and that will continue for a long time.

    I’ve been writing weekly review columns on RedAndWhiteOnline for well over a decade; and the Sydney AFL website has also run them, or parts of them, for many years. It’s something I’ve enjoyed writing. But, and here’s where I drop my bombshell, this column will be my last.
    After doing this for so long, sometimes it can feel a bit stale and repetitive. I can only be at one game a week, if that; and then I may be timekeeping or doing something else and not able to write notes, or away at a GWS game and then writing about five games I haven’t seen. Although the columns as they have been have satisfied a need to some extent, it’s something that could potentially be done better.
    I think it’s probably time for me, and the league as a whole, to move in a new direction with how match reports etc are done. People on the forum have spoken about the league’s web content, reviews, no Record etc. There’s a need.
    I’m certainly keen to keep writing about Sydney AFL. What form that will take in 2019 is something that will be worked out in due course. But there’ll be plenty of scope for others to get involved. In the end, this league is what we make it; and if we in Sydney footy want to see changes, we have to drive it and make it happen.

    But before any of that, after such a long season; it’s time to take a bit of a breather before thinking too much about next year.
    Enjoy the off-season everyone! And here’s hoping for a sensational 2019!!
    Australian Football. It's what makes our country great.

    My thoughts on footy, sport, current events and life in snippets of 140 characters or less - @tealfooty

  2. #2
    Thanks for doing these reports for so long Norris. It might be optimal to have a scribe at every game BUT the reality has been different and for me who doesn't get to many games at all these days but still being keenly interested, its very much appreciated. True words re: Sydney footy, we need more like you around who realise we all have footy in common and which club we support or whether they win lose or draw is all part of the rich tapestry of footy. Footy is the constant and the people and communities in it around Sydney are nearly all great and are the biggest reason the code is growing in strength. Thanks again!

  3. #3
    POSTSCRIPT
    The curtain is lowered, the lights are switched off and the stadium is empty. Football goalposts are being taken out, and the long, hot off-season has begun.
    UNSW-ES are celebrating, Sydney Uni are pondering what might have been, and eight other clubs have already begun planning how they can be a part of Sydney footy’s biggest day next year. It’s been a year with plenty of highs, plenty of lows; and rarely a dull moment.
    There’s plenty of people to thank. The players, for putting on the show that keeps us fascinated every week. The umpires for controlling the games. To the coaches, and the volunteers who do so much to make game days happen. To the AFL Sydney HQ for their running of the competition. And to our game – truly the greatest game in the world.
    And a game that has grown enormously up here. Well over 100 teams over 13 divisions this year; and the job of collating divisional scores for the weekly reports on this page has been getting bigger every season.
    More people are playing footy up here than ever before. There’s been some great successes in getting people involved in the game. Game days these days are marathon affairs of up to 12 hours with 5-6 games back to back. The game is in pretty good shape, although there’s certainly plenty of challenges and that will continue for a long time.

    I’ve been writing weekly review columns on RedAndWhiteOnline for well over a decade; and the Sydney AFL website has also run them, or parts of them, for many years. It’s something I’ve enjoyed writing. But, and here’s where I drop my bombshell, this column will be my last.
    After doing this for so long, sometimes it can feel a bit stale and repetitive. I can only be at one game a week, if that; and then I may be timekeeping or doing something else and not able to write notes, or away at a GWS game and then writing about five games I haven’t seen. Although the columns as they have been have satisfied a need to some extent, it’s something that could potentially be done better.
    I think it’s probably time for me, and the league as a whole, to move in a new direction with how match reports etc are done. People on the forum have spoken about the league’s web content, reviews, no Record etc. There’s a need.
    I’m certainly keen to keep writing about Sydney AFL. What form that will take in 2019 is something that will be worked out in due course. But there’ll be plenty of scope for others to get involved. In the end, this league is what we make it; and if we in Sydney footy want to see changes, we have to drive it and make it happen.

    But before any of that, after such a long season; it’s time to take a bit of a breather before thinking too much about next year.
    Enjoy the off-season everyone! And here’s hoping for a sensational 2019!![/QUOTE]

    The best post this year. Big shoes to fill but a great summary of where footy is at in Syndey.

  4. #4
    Michael your reports were always a highlight to read irrespective of the weekends results. Always a good reference to see what was happening around the grounds from a neutral perspective. Well done and will be missed.

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