Men’s Premier Division MOTW: Students gain mental edge over Bombers
Written by Michael Shillito
Sydney University vs. North Shore Bombers – Sydney Uni No. 1 Oval on Saturday 29 June
A footy season is a marathon, not a sprint. By now it’s a challenge, with the nights getting colder and the nagging injuries taking their toll on player’s availability. This is the time for clubs to rise above the challenges, make a serious move up the ladder and score key blows on their rivals. When two teams up the top end of the ladder face off at this stage of the season, the winner not only takes the four points on offer, but also a psychological edge they can exploit when the finals roll around.
This is what was at stake as Sydney University faced off against North Shore on Saturday. Rain during the week had made the University No 1 Oval heavy enough for some lower grade games to be postponed. But the track was still good enough for the runners to get some movement into their legs and there were plenty of avenues to goal.
In the early exchanges, North Shore looked the stronger team. The Bombers burst out of the blocks full of running and it didn’t take long for them to get the scoreboard ticking over. This run of play suggested North Shore were building a lead and momentum, but some wasteful finish let this opportunity go begging. Three goals to two set up a 10-point lead for the Bombers in the first quarter. The Bombers should have built up a bigger buffer after their hot start and this would come back to haunt them later in the game.
Inevitably, the Students lifted in the second quarter and worked their way back into the contest. Players who had little impact during the first term began to pick up touches and the momentum was swinging back the Students way. There wasn’t much in it, but the Bomber dominance in the first quarter was gone. The Students hit back on the scoreboard with three goals to two in the second quarter, cutting the North Shore lead to four points at the long break.
By the time the players returned for the second half, the sun was setting, and the lights were taking over. Suddenly the dynamic of the game changed, as the scoring rate increased and direct footy was the order of the day. From the centre to deep in the forward line is not very far on the small Uni ground and the Students went long and straight time and again. The Bombers were shell-shocked as their lead evaporated and despite being able to maintain their scoring rate in the third quarter it wasn’t enough against a rampant Students forward line. A marathon quarter played at breakneck speed saw the Sydney Uni run through nine goals to five and turn their half time deficit into a 20-point lead at the last change.
With North Shore heads dropping and the legs slowing the Students decided it was time to go for the throat. Sydney Uni would keep their run going into the final term, adding six goals to one to run out 51-point winners.
Tim Cordner was unstoppable for the Students to finish with six goals in a best-on-ground performance. Daniel Smith and Malcolm Picken also featured prominently for the Students. The win sees them consolidate second spot on the ladder and maintain an important psychological edge over the Bombers. After knocking North Shore out in last year’s Preliminary Final, the Students have won both their games against the Bombers this season.
Shaun Crane, Jimmy McKenzie and Zac Fyffe worked hard all day for the Bombers. This was a disappointing result for North Shore, their second on the trot. In a marathon season, the Bombers have stumbled in the last fortnight. They remain in third place and there’s still plenty of time and opportunity for them to get the season back on track.
Around the grounds, UNSW-ES maintained top spot on the ladder as they held UTS AFC to a single goal to record a comprehensive 111-point win at Henson Park. This result means the Bats can longer qualify for the finals in 2019. East Coast remain in fourth place after a 72-point win over Manly at Kanebridge Oval. Pennant Hills were made to fight by St George at Olds Park, with the Dragons leading by 20 points at half time before a strong second half saw the Demons come from behind to win by 38 points. And after an arm-wrestle for three quarters, Inner West pulled away from Camden in the final quarter to win by 19 points at Fairfax Reserve.
Sydney University – 2.3 | 5.7 | 14.8 | 20.12 (132)
North Shore Bombers – 3.7 | 5.11 | 10.12 | 11.15 (81)
Sydney University Goals – T Cordner 6, J Hiscox 3, D Smith 3, S Gilfedder, N Bertino, W Stratford, J Fox, L McNamara, D Bonney, D Johnson, A Clarke
North Shore Goals – E Sertbas 2, W Blackburne 2, W Taylor, C Silvester, M Buskariol, O Bird, C Parsons, S Crane, S Lee-Steere
Sydney University Best – T Cordner, D Smith, M Picken, A Clarke, N Bertino, B Hawtin
North Shore Best – S Crane, J McKenzie, Z Fyffe, M Marquez, P Roseby, K Lower