GRAND FINAL PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Men’s Division One
Written by Michael Shillito
Division One Grand Final
Sydney University vs. Pennant Hills Demons – Saturday, 7 September at 4.00pm at Blacktown International Sportspark
In our ever-growing AFL Sydney league, there’s 13 premierships up for grabs in the next fortnight. The first of them to be decided is the Men’s Division One competition. And by a happy co-incidence it involves the same clubs playing in Premier Division game immediately before. The Senior players will be sure to stick around and support their club-mates in Grand Final action.
Men’s Division One is an eight-team competition with a final four and throughout the season there hasn’t been much separating the top four.
Sydney Uni finished as minor premiers, and were first to qualify for the Grand Final after they held North Shore scoreless in the second half of the Major Semi-Final. It supplemented an impressive home and away campaign in which the Students won 14 games and accrued a percentage of 196.41.
If they’re going to get up in this Grand Final, they’ll need some avenues to goal. Ned Rohrt has led the way up forward for the Students this year with 15 goals; ahead of Billy Lambert, Kyall Homberg and Michael Gazeas with 12 apiece. All of them lined up in the Major Semi-Final; and the Demon defenders will have their hands full keeping them quiet in this clash.
There’s no shortage of quality around the ground. Billy Lambert and Stephen Kenny have featured prominently all season, named in the bests six times; while Josh Toyer and James Mason have appeared five times. The Students have plenty of guns with the ability to fire when it matters most.
In this Grand Final, they’re up against Pennant Hills. The Demons finished third after the regular season, with 13 wins and a percentage of 160.33. After such an impressive season they were unlucky to miss out on the double-chance. This didn’t phase them as they were able to get the job done, edging out Randwick by 10 points in the Minor Semi-Final and backing it up with an 18-point win over North Shore in the Preliminary Final.
The forward firepower is there to get the job done. Evan Danilo and Zac Baglin have been handy targets on the forward line this season, kicking 18 goals apiece, while Adam Smith and Nathan Breen have each contributed 17.
Harrison Gregor has led the way in the midfield this year, being listed among the Demons’ best nine times; although he didn’t play in the Preliminary Final. Nathan Breen has appeared eight times, while Jordan Le Lay and Evan Danilo have featured six times. The Demons have no shortage of ball-winners; and there are several experienced hands in their lineup with Premier Division experience in previous seasons.
It’s the fourth meeting between the two clubs this year. Back to back games at Sydney Uni No 1 in round 4 and 5 saw the Students get up by 15 points the first time, only for the Demons to turn the tables and get up in a thriller by three points the next week. Another meeting at the Uni campus in round 16 saw the Demons get home by 16 points.
There won’t be much in this one. But the Students have been the form team for most of the season, and should be able to narrowly get over the line in this one.
Prediction – Sydney Uni by 8 points.