WEEK THREE PREVIEW – Men’s Premier Division
Article by Michael Shillito
The 2017 XBlades AFL Sydney season has flown by, and we are up to the penultimate game of the season in the Men’s Premier Divison. Sydney University have already booked their place in this year’s Grand Final. On Saturday, North Shore and Pennant Hills will face off for the right to join them in the final match of the year.
Who – North Shore Bombers vs. Pennant Hills Demons
When – Saturday, 9 September 2017 at 2pm
Where – Blacktown International Sportspark
Entry – $10 at the gate (free if under 16 years old)
Head to Head
North Shore Bombers – 2.3 6.5 10.6 11.10 (76)
Pennant Hills Demons – 4.2 6.5 8.7 11.10 (76)
Pennant Hills Demons – 3.4 4.7 9.8 13.10 (88)
North Shore Bombers – 3.2 7.5 10.8 15.12 (102)
To be in the Grand Final is the prize these teams have been working for since pre-season training started. For one of these teams, there is a ticket to Sydney footy’s big dance and for the other, the heartbreak of having come so close, and yet so far. The stakes are high.
North Shore know all about the frustration of missing out in the Preliminary Final. Last year they suffered that fate after being thrashed by St George. It has motivated the Bombers to do everything they can to go one game further this year, and this is their biggest test.
So far they have had mixed fortunes in the finals. A strong win over UNSW Eastern Suburbs in the Qualifying Final saw them looking good, but they were surprisingly flat and slow off the blocks in the second Semi-Final against Sydney University last week, and were never in the contest.
Watch out for Jack Campbell and Zac Fyffe, two Bombers who have had some strong experience in NEAFL at Sydney University, before returning to North Shore. In a side that was well beaten last week, they never stopped putting the effort in. Another player the Demons will be desperate to keep quiet is North Shore’s captain courageous Sam Carruthers, who puts his body on the line every time he steps on the field.
Pennant Hills are no stranger to Preliminary Finals. They were in three of them in a row from 2013 to 2015, winning all of them for a hat-trick of Grand Final appearances that included their memorable 2015 Premiership.
After struggling for much of the season, the Demons have found their best form and easily accounted for everyone who has stood in their way in recent weeks. The finals so far have seen the Demons record big wins against St George in the Elimination Final and UNSW Eastern Suburbs in last week’s First Semi-Finals. The Demons are in form, confident and ready.
Coming into his best form at the business end of the season, Matt Carey was a standout last week with five goals, and will again be wanting to make a key contribution to the Demon cause. Also keep an eye out for Aaron Crisfield who will again be a reliable influence over the contest. Young gun, Luke Skrivanic whose star continues to rise every week through his impressive season, will also be one to watch.
The Bombers and Demons have had their share of close contests over the years. So far this year they have played twice. The clash at Mortgage Choice Oval was a thrilling draw. The return game at Ern Holmes Oval was a see-sawing contest where it was not until deep in the last quarter that the Bombers pulled away to a match-winning lead.
North Shore ended Pennant Hills’ season in last year’s Elimination Final, but the Demons have also enjoyed some finals success against the Bombers not too long ago.
The Demons have swept all before them so far this finals series. They are in red-hot form, but in North Shore, they will find an opponent who will put up stiff resistance. There is certainly plenty of firepower in the Bombers’ lineup.
With little separating the two sides, and a Grand Final berth being the prize on offer, this has the potential to be a clash for the ages.