PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Men’s Premier Division Prelim
Written by Michael Shillito
North Shore vs. Sydney University – Saturday, September 8 at 4.10pm at Blacktown International Sportspark
All season long, the aim has been to take part in the Grand Final and now we’re one game away. The Bombers and the Students lock horns on Saturday afternoon and only one of them will make it to Sydney footy’s biggest day.
It’s a game the Bombers would rather not have played, but a slow start in last Saturday’s Semi-Final forced them into an afternoon of playing catch-up footy against UNSW Eastern Suburbs, and in the end the Minor Premiers weren’t able to get it done. But they have another chance this week, and they’ll be ready.
Although the Bombers weren’t able to get it done, there were some positives. Chris Loone, thrown into the ruck after an early injury, rose to the occasion. Matt Wilson and Ned Campbell picked up plenty of possessions and made key contributions as the Bombers worked hard to make up ground. They’ll be looking to continue that momentum this week. Another wildcard for the Bombers is the likely return of Jono Marsh to lift the ruck stocks.
It’s the third year in a row the Bombers have played in the Preliminary Final. After being belted by St George in 2016 and letting a four-goal lead against Pennant Hills last year, they’ll be looking to improve their fortunes this time around and finally make it to the big dance.
It’s a game the Students didn’t look like they’d be playing for most of last Sunday. Looking dead and buried at three quarter time, having kicked three goals in three quarters against Manly in the Semi-Final, the Students suddenly sprung to life with a six-goal final quarter. Coming from no-where and stealing the game in the final moments.
Look for some more strong performances from Monty and Spencer Krochmal, and Harry Morrison, who were in everything during the Students’ last-quarter revival last week. They have form and momentum behind them, and will be keen to carry that forward.
The two sides met twice during the home and away season. Both games followed a similar pattern with the Students staying in touch with the Bombers for three quarters before the Bombers pulled away in the last quarter, winning by 19 points at Blacktown in Round 8 and by 23 points at Sydney University No. 1 in Round 15.
Winning form can be good momentum and hard to break at this time of year. In 12 of the last 15 seasons, the team that won the Minor Semi-Final has gone on to win the Preliminary Final. The Students will be hopeful that trend can continue for another year.
But the Bombers have been standouts this season, and should be good enough to get up this time. There won’t be much in it, but after going down in the Preliminary Final in the last two seasons, it should be third time lucky.
Prediction – North Shore by 11 points.