Round 16 Review – UTS still alive
Only two rounds remain before the finals and another round of upsets has us wondering who has the potential to go all the way.
Manly Warringah Wolves vs. East Coast Eagles
When Manly-Warringah ran onto their home ground at Weldon Oval on Saturday afternoon to take on the fifth-placed East Coast Eagles, they were on the bottom of the ladder. The Eagles were fighting to stay in the top five. What would follow turned back the clock to Manly’s glory days of 2013 and 2014 as the Wolves dominated, recording a comprehensive 76-point win.
From the first bounce it was clear that Manly had come to play, they were running faster, tackling harder and pumping the ball into their forward line with more frequency. The Eagles were shell-shocked, second to the ball every time and turning the ball over in the face of relentless pressure from the Wolves. The scoreboard reflected what was happening on the field, as the Wolves kicked six goals to two and led by 23 points at the first change.
The second quarter saw a somewhat subdued performance by the Eagles, who were out-muscled and out-enthused by a Manly side with their tails up and taking full advantage of the psychological edge they had built for themselves. Kicking into the wind, the Wolves won the quarter by four goals to three, stretching their lead to 37 points at half time.
Manly were on a roll, and the third quarter would be one-way traffic. The Wolves were relentless, forcing contests and turnovers and denying the Eagles any effective use of the ball. This was vintage Manly and they showed themselves to be impenetrable and unstoppable. Seven goals to one for the quarter blew the margin to 67 points at three quarter time.
There was little intensity left in the contest in the final quarter with the Wolves scoring six goals to five to finish with a winning margin of 76 points. Mitch Rogers contributed six goals to the Manly cause, while Hayden Washington chipped in with four. Around the ground, Lachlan Kilpatrick, Lachlan Behagg and Ryan Wearne picked up plenty of the ball. Manly won’t be playing finals this year, but their losing run is over.
Bailey Stewart, Aaron Drinkwater and Daniel Spiteri were best for the Eagles in a disappointing performance that sees them drop out of the top five and at risk of missing the finals.
UTS Bats vs. UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs
UTS have left it till late to find their best form for the season, but have kept their slim finals hopes alive with their second win on the trot, this time over UNSW Eastern Subrubs at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday afternoon.
The first quarter was a scrap, as two desperate teams faced off and refused to concede an inch to the other. The pressure was superb in a quarter of footy that was physical and tightly-contested. The Bulldogs scored the only goal of the quarter, but much of the term consisted of some big hits, fumbles and high-pressure turnovers. When the quarter time siren sounded, the Bulldogs held a two-point advantage.
It was another tight quarter in the second term as the two teams muscled up to each other and launched some bruising bumps and crunching tackles. Loose men to run the ball were hard to find, and scores were difficult to come by. The quarter would result in three goals to two in favour of the Bulldogs, who went into the rooms at half time with an 11-point lead.
When the teams returned for the second half, the nature of the game had shifted from a scrappy contest to a more open and attacking game. The half-time deficit was quickly made up by the Bats and kept the momentum going. Runners and attacking players began to exert a greater influence, resulting in a quarter of six goals to three in favour of UTS, with the Bats holding a nine point lead at the last change.
The Bulldogs worked hard in the last quarter to try to regain the lead, but it wasn’t to be. The Bats had a sniff of the win they so desperately needed and they weren’t letting go. The Bats with a return of three goals to two for the final quarter finished with a 16-point win.
Rohan Bates spearheaded the Bats’ charge on the forward line with four goals; while Tim McKenzie, Simon Lewis and Jack Macklin were prolific ball-winners around the ground. The Bats are still a slim outside chance for the finals, relying on percentage and other results to get them over the line.
Steven Pollock scored four goals for the Bulldogs on a day when goals were hard to get, while Tom Banuelos, Tom Dickson and Darcy Cordell made positive contributions around the ground. But the loss was a disappointing one for the Bulldogs, their second on the trot. The Bulldogs have exceeded all expectations this season to be in second spot, but will need to turn their form around quickly to stay there.
Pennant Hills Demons vs. Western Suburbs Magpies
There was no upset at Mike Kenny Oval, as Pennant Hills picked up their third win in a row to replace East Coast in the top five with a convincing 101-point win over Wests.
The Demons wasted little time in asserting their authority in the midfield, creating multiple opportunities for their forwards. The Demons squandered several chances they should have converted but never looked under threat. The Magpies were trying hard to hang in, but it was apparent from the early exchanges that they didn’t have the firepower to be a force in this contest. Four goals to two in the first quarter saw the Demons lead by 16 points at quarter time and were looking good.
The possession stats were looking one-sided in the second term, as the Demons were on top around the ground and placing the Magpies under constant pressure. The Wests defenders were frequently called into action, and were able to place enough pressure on their Demon opponents to force errors, turnovers and missed shots. But the Magpies weren’t able to get the ball into their attacking 50 metre zone enough to threaten the Demons scoreboard advantage. The second term would yield three goals to one in favour of the Demons, putting them 31 points ahead at half time.
It was all Wests could do in the first half to hold the Demons out as best they could. But in the premiership quarter, the Magpie resistance faded and the Demons took complete control. The floodgates opened and it was only some more inaccurate finishing at times that would prevent the margin from being even bigger. As it was, eight unanswered goals turned what was already a comfortable margin into a blowout. The Magpies have been competitive in most of their games this season, but this time they were powerless to stop the Pennant Hills juggernaut as the margin stretched to 84 points at the last change.
The last quarter wasn’t one that reached any great heights and the Demons had the cue in the rack after their dominant third term. They still managed to score three goals to one, to get the final winning margin up to 101 points.
There were plenty of Demon goals to go round, with Nick Hey scoring five and Matt Carey four. Jackson Potter, Stephen Wray and Nick Hey were the pick of the many stars around the ground. The Demons now find themselves in fifth place with have tough games against Sydney Uni and UTS to come. One more win will be enough to continue an unbroken run of finals appearances going back to 2004.
Dan O’Connell, Michael Tuttle and Callum McEvoy-Gray were best for the Magpies, but the loss, combined with Manly’s win, sees the Magpies fall to the bottom of the ladder.
St George Dragons vs. Sydney University
The round was completed with a Sunday afternoon game at Olds Park, with St George playing host to Sydney Uni. The Students would win the game by 29 points to wrap up the minor premiership, but first had to absorb some strong pressure from the Dragons.
When the game got under way, it was looking like St George were the dominant side in the midfield. Time after time they were gathering the ball and pumping it into their forward line, but they were unable to convert. 14 scoring shots to one in the first quarter should have created a situation where the Dragons were in complete control, but a return of 1.13 to the home side meant they led by just 13 points and the Students were still in the contest.
The Dragons kicked three goals to two in the second term, but the Students had the bulk of the play, despite struggling to convert. The Dragons led by 12 points at half time and would have been frustrated not to be in front by more.
The Dragons would be made to rue their first quarter finishing when the Students got on top in the third quarter. The Students wasted little time in taking the lead with a quarter of seven goals to two seeing the Students turn the half time deficit into a 20-point lead at the last change.
The momentum had shifted and there would be no way back for the Dragons in the fourth quarter as the Students scored three goals to two.
Will Stratford was a strong force up forward for the Students to finish with six goals, while Sam Ryan, Harry Morrison and Luke Vella were the Students’ best. With the win, the Students go two games plus plenty of percentage ahead of UNSW-ES on the ladder to secure the minor premiership. The Students have Pennant Hills next week before the bye in the last round and another week off in the first week of the finals.
Kuiam Anu, Bryce Addison and Earl Shaw worked hard all day for the Dragons; but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line. Despite their loss, thanks to East Coast’s defeat, St George have confirmed their place in the finals. The last two games of the home and away season will determine their ladder position and whether they will be playing sudden death in the finals.
Manly-Warringah 6.1 10.2 17.7 23.12 (150)
East Coast Eagles 2.2 5.5 6.6 11.8 (74)
Goals : Manly – M Rogers 6, H Washington 4, R Wearne 2, C D’Souza 2, L Kilpatrick 2, E Burke 2, A Butler, J Osborne, L Behagg. East Coast – B Stewart 2, P Vlatko 2, D Spiteri 2, Jamie Vlatko 2, A Browning, M Weekes, K Emery.
Best : Manly – L Kilpatrick, L Behagg, R Wearne, D Meadows, C Johnston, T Armitage. East Coast – B Stewart, A Drinkwater, D Spiteri, A Browning, E Kruger, K Emery.
At Weldon Oval, Saturday 5th August 2017.
University of Technology 0.5 2.6 8.10 11.15 (81)
UNSW Eastern Suburbs 1.1 4.5 7.7 9.11 (65)
Goals : UTS – R Bates 4, T McKenzie 3, T O’Donnell, T Larby, S Maslin, S Wightman. UNSW-ES – S Pollock 4, H Annear 2, T Bartholomaeus, T Banuelos, S Wilson.
Best : UTS – T McKenzie, S Lewis, J Macklin, S Jansen, R Bates, B Liddell. UNSW-ES – T Banuelos, T Dickson, D Cordell, H Annear.
At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 5th August 2017.
Pennant Hills 4.5 7.11 15.18 18.25 (133)
Western Suburbs 2.1 3.4 3.6 4.8 (32)
Goals : Pennant Hills – N Hey 5, M Carey 4, M Preen 3, T Moraitis 2, C Luscombe 2, L Shepherd, T Edmonds. Wests – S Pearson, T Barrett, B Zoppo, N Salter.
Best : Pennant Hills – J Potter, S Wray, N Hey, M Preen, L Skrivanic, L Shepherd. Wests – D O’Connell, M Tuttle, C McEvoy-Gray, C Ford, T Barrett, J Polley.
At Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 5th August 2017.
Sydney University 1.0 3.7 10.10 13.15 (93)
St George 1.13 4.13 6.14 8.16 (64)
Goals : Sydney Uni – W Stratford 6, N Kyriakacis 2, A Clarke 2, N Foster, J Swarts, L Vella. St George – N Kenny, D Lycakis, M Holmes, D Hoban, D Donuhue, E Shaw, N Shaw, J Hill.
Best : Sydney Uni – S Ryan, H Morrison, L Vella, W Stratford, R Bottin-Noonan, A Sierakowski. St George – K Anu, B Addison, E Shaw, L Sansom, C Flanagan, D Michalak.
At Olds Park, Sunday 6th August 2017.