Round 18 Review – Final five confirmed

Image courtesy of Leigh Gazzard.


Article by Michael Shillito

Nine teams started the Premier Division season in April. Eighteen rounds later, it is time to say goodbye to four of them. The home and away season is over – we have a final five.

Manly Wolves vs. Western Suburbs Magpies

Manly hosted Western Suburbs at Weldon Oval on Saturday afternoon. Neither team could make the finals, but the stakes were to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Wolves were kicking with the wind in the first quarter and made it count. From the start, they knew what they had to do and they got the job done.

Repeated long kicks into the forward-50 created scoring opportunities, which the Magpies struggled to repel. The Magpies did manage two goals against the run of play, but the Wolves were using their turn with the conditions effectively, to land six goals and lead by 27 points at the first change.

In the second quarter the Magpies had the wind, but were unable to make anything of it. The Wolves defended strongly, with numbers around the ball preventing the Magpies from any easy disposals. Much of the quarter was a war of attrition, where the ball was bogged down around the wings.The Magpies would win the quarter, but only by two goals to one, and the Wolves were still 21 points ahead at half time.

The Wolves closed down the contest in the premiership quarter. Time and again the ball would sail long from the midfield to the Wolves’ forward zone, and weight of opportunities would result in goals. Eight times in the third term the Wolves would penetrate the big sticks, each goal another dagger in the Magpie heart. Although the Magpies would seek out two goals during the quarter, the margin was 60 points in favour of Manly at the last change.

The Wolves would go on to win the final quarter by three goals to two, extending the final margin to 63 points. But for both clubs, the final siren meant the end of the season.

Callum D’Souza contributed four goals for the Wolves, and along with Sam Wicks and Jarrod Osborne was among Manly’s best. This is the second year in a row Manly have not been part of the playoffs. But they had some strong moments, and claimed the scalps of finalists North Shore and St George.

The Magpies received solid service all day from Charles Ford, Yannick Milligan-Saville and Pat Wilmot. The loss condemns the Magpies to their second wooden spoon in a row. For many games this season they were in the contest until late in the game but could get over the line, but the long season took its toll in the last few weeks with some heavy defeats.


Pennant Hills Demons vs. UTS Bats

Pennant Hills hosted UTS in a twilight clash at Mike Kenny Oval on Saturday evening. After Pennant Hills’ game was unfortunately cut short last week, the Demons were a game ahead of UTS with a huge percentage differential. But whatever mathematical chance the Bats had of displacing the Demons in the finals, were quickly blown away as the Demons dominated from start to finish to record a commanding 112-point win.

The wind blowing across the ground did not make it easy. Although it was not favouring either end to any significant extent, it forced the play to the wing. The Demons were the better side at adapting to the conditions, and looked to have the edge around the ground as they scored five goals to two in the opening term.

The lights were on, and as the sun set during the second quarter, the slim finals hopes of the Bats had also disappeared over the horizon.

The Demons were controlling the ball at will, and try as they did, the Bats were unable to stop the home side’s momentum. Like the first quarter, the second term would yield five goals to two in favour of the Demons, as they surged to a 39-point half time lead.

The Demons were confident and the momentum of the game was running their way. The floodgates opened in the third term, as the Bats were unable to resist the Demon juggernaut. The quarter would result in seven goals to one, as the Demons dominated possession and efficiently shut down any UTS attacking moves. By the last change, the Demons led by 75 points and the result of the game was beyond doubt.

Although the Demons had the game safely won, they had every reason to keep going. With the finals starting next week, a finals-worthy combination had been found. With seven goals to two in the last quarter, the margin blew out into three figures.

Matthew Preen cleaned up on the forward line to score four goals for the Demons, while Nick Hey also ended up with four goals. Josh Boag, Stephen Wray and Tim Edmonds featured prominently around the ground for the Demons. There were times during the season when the Demons looked like missing the finals, but they found a way to make it through. For the 14th season in a row, the Demons will be taking part in the playoffs.

Justin Crameri kicked four goals for UTS, while the Bats were well served by the efforts of Jack Macklin, Andrew Johnson and Luke Maslin. No finals for the Bats this season. A three game winning streak gave them the slightest of slim chances, but for the season to end in such a one-sided defeat will be a disappointment to the Bats.


UNSW Eastern Suburbs vs. North Shore Bombers

Sunday afternoon at Henson Park saw UNSW Eastern Suburbs take on North Shore. The Bulldogs went into the game having lost their last three, while the Bombers had a six-game winning streak in hand. Form guides would be thrown out the window however, as the Bulldogs turned their fortunes around with a 39-point win.

The first quarter was an arm-wrestle as both sides scrapped and fought to deny any advantage to the other. Two goals in the final minutes of the quarter gave the Bulldogs a 12-point advantage at quarter time.

The Bulldogs looked to be running away with the contest in the second quarter, as they were constantly on the attack. As the quarter went on, the Bombers fought back to close the deficit, and began to look more competitive. The Bulldogs eventually won the quarter four goals to three, extending their lead to 19 points at the long break.

The Bombers had kept within striking distance during the first half, but in the premiership quarter the Bulldogs moved out to hold a match-winning lead. They were first to the ball every time it was in dispute and put in stronger numbers around the contest. Six goals to two for the quarter saw the Bulldogs 43 points ahead at three quarter time.

It was two goals apiece for the final quarter, with the Bombers cutting the final margin back to 39 points. The Bombers don’t have to wait long to have a chance to reverse the result, with the two sides set to play each other next week in the Qualifying Final.

Jack Hardman was a handy focal point for the Bulldogs finishing with four goals, while the work of Max Lower, Jarrod Wachman and Fletcher Rowe was pivotal to the Bulldogs’ success. The Bulldogs are back on the winners list and have the psychological advantage of having beaten the Bombers twice this season, as well as the slight advantage of having the home dressing room at next week’s Qualifying Final.

Jack Campbell, Hamish MacDonald and Shaun Crane were best for North Shore. The Bombers’ winning streak is over and this wasn’t one of their better performances. They now have a week to turn their fortunes around before another date with the Bulldogs that will count for far more than this clash did.


East Coast Eagles vs. St George Dragons

In another Sunday afternoon game, East Coast Eagles took on St George at Kanebridge Oval. The Eagles will not be playing finals this year, but finished the season on a high with a convincing 104-point win over the Dragons.

In the early exchanges, it was not looking like being so one-sided. The first quarter was a scrap, where both sides competed for the footy and neither was making it easy for the other. The Eagles took the edge to win the quarter, but only by four goals to two for an 11-point lead.

When the teams returned for the second quarter, the Eagles were full of running while the Dragons were struggling. It was one-way traffic around the ground, as the Eagles outran their opponents to be first to gather the loose ball every time. The Dragons were not helping their cause with some inaccurate finishing and frustrating turnovers, but the Eagles relentless pressure ensured a quarter yielding six goals to one in their favour, extending the lead to 39 points at the long break.

There would be no way back into the contest for St George. The Dragons were unable to recover any ground against an Eagles side who were in complete control of the game. The Eagles were full of running and starved the Dragons of any opportunities with the ball. Five goals to one for the quarter told the tale, a story of Eagle dominance that stretched the lead out to 66-point at the last change.

Last season saw the Eagles defeat the Dragons in the Grand Final to take out the premiership. The Eagles will not be around to defend their title in the finals but for one afternoon only, they turned the clock back to last year’s heroics and inflicted more pain on the Dragons, as six unanswered goals in the last quarter pushed the margin out to over 100 points.

The Eagles spread the goalkicking love around with 14 of their players getting on the goal-kicking list. Kieran Emery was the star of the show with five, joining Aaron Drinkwater and Eugene Kruger as the Eagles’ best.

Nathan Kenny, Liam Maze and Ben Jones worked hard for St George, but it was one of those days where nothing was going right. A disappointing way for the regular season to finish for the Dragons. They have just one week to recover their momentum ahead of a sudden death Elimination Final.

Now the curtain comes down on the season for East Coast, UTS, Manly and Wests. Planning for the 2017 season and a return to finals action will already be under way.

Minor Premiers, Sydney Uni had the bye in the final round and they will have next week off as well as reward for finishing on top of the ladder.

The Qualifying Final will be held Saturday, with UNSW Eastern Suburbs taking on North Shore and on Sunday, St George and Pennant Hills play off in the sudden death Elimination Final. Finals footy is here!


Manly-Warringah                                        6.4         7.5         15.10    18.11 (119)

Western Suburbs                                        2.1         4.2         6.4         8.8 (56)

Goals : Manly – C D’Souza 4, J Parker 3, T Armitage 3, A Robertson 3, S Wicks 2, J Osborne, H Washington, C Pettersson. Wests – B Zoppo 3, M McGowan 2, J Hand, B Polley, S Pearson.

Best : Manly – S Wicks, C D’Souza, J Osborne, H Koch, A Hurley, E Burke. Wests – C Ford, Y Milligan-Saville, P Wilmot, C McEvoy-Gray, S Pearson, M McGowan.

At Weldon Oval, Saturday 19th August 2017.


Pennant Hills                                                5.1         10.7       17.9       24.16 (160)

University of Technology                           2.3         4.4         5.6         7.6 (48)

Goals : Pennant Hills – N Hey 4, M Preen 4, M Carey 3, J Stern 3, A Crisfield 2, L Skrivanic 2, M Thomas 2, J Carroll, C Luscombe, C Lee, J Peatling. UTS – J Crameri 4, L Maslin 2, S Jansen.

Best : Pennant Hills – J Boag, S Wray, T Edmonds, C Lee, J Peatling, M Preen. UTS – J Macklin, A Johnson, L Maslin, J Moyle, D Crouch, S Jansen.

At Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 19th August 2017.


Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs                         3.2         7.4         13.6       15.6 (96)

North Shore                                                  1.2         4.3         6.5         8.9 (57)

Goals : UNSW-ES – J Hardman 4, L Hoy 2, S Wilson 2, T Dickson 2, S Pollock, L Irvine, N Reinhard, J McAnespie, C Knudsen. North Shore – N Campbell 2, A McConnell, J McKenzie, S Barkley, D Roberts, S Crane, S Mason.

Best : UNSW-ES – M Lower, J Wachman, F Rowe, L Essenstam, L Hoy, C Knudsen. North Shore – J Campbell, H MacDonald, S Crane, J McKenzie, N Campbell, K Devlin.

At Henson Park, Sunday 20th August 2017.


East Coast Eagles                                         4.3         10.5       15.10    21.14 (140)

St George                                                      2.4         3.8         4.10       4.12 (36)

Goals : East Coast – K Emery 5, M Weekes 3, Jamie Vlatko 2, D Costello, S Turner, J Large, A Mohammed, B Vielhauer, E Kruger, D Spiteri, P Vlatko, A Savage, A Drinkwater, Jon Vlatko. St George – B Jones, J Mudge, A Wynn, B Addison.

Best : East Coast – A Drinkwater, E Kruger, K Emery, B Bourke, D Spiteri, C Arndt. St George – N Kenny, L Maze, B Jones, D Michalak, T Martin, L Sansom.

At Kanebridge Oval, Sunday 20th August 2017.