Men’s Premier Division MOTW: Demons take control in Back to Baulko clash
Written by Michael Shillito
East Coast Eagles vs. Pennant Hills Demons – Kanebridge Oval on Saturday 15 June
We’re halfway through the home and away season, and it already seems clear who our final five will be in the Men’s Premier Division. It’s a red-hot battle for the top five right now with every game between these teams being critical in shaping the finals match-ups.
Being fourth and fifth on the ladder heading into the match there was plenty to play for when East Coast Eagles hosted Pennant Hills Demons at Kanebridge Oval on Saturday evening. The Hills Derby is an intense rivalry which has had some spice added to it with a couple of shock Grand Final results within living memory. There was plenty for the Eagles and Demons players to look forward to as they took to the field for the Back to Baulko clash.
It was a free-flowing and entertaining opening to the clash, as both sides traded blows and looked for the key edge that would gain them the advantage for the afternoon. Both sides were creating chances, but it was the Demons who found the key moves when it mattered. There was plenty of run and some good marking power from both sides, but it was the Demons who were able to land the important goals as the quarter unfolded. Five goals to three opened an 11-point quarter time lead for the Demons.
The game tightened up in the second quarter, and for periods of time appeared to be drifting along. There were few scoring chances created, as the ball found itself bogged down in the midfield and the wings by some tight tackling and lack of open runners. The Demons were getting the ball inside their forward 50 more often, and the weight of possession eventually handed them the edge. There wasn’t much in it, just two goals to one for the quarter which had the Demons 20 points in front as the teams returned to the rooms at half time. East Coast had struggled to make an impact on the contest, and knew they had to lift in the second half.
The Eagles came out firing in the third quarter as they looked to make a dent in the deficit. But the Demons had the answering goals to deny the home side any opportunity to get back into the contest. It was a frustrating quarter for the Eagles, trying everything they could to create chances only to be thwarted time and again by some resolute rebounding defence from the Demons. There was no way back into the game for the Eagles, and the Demons would increase their lead during the premiership quarter as they landed four goals to three and blew the margin out to 24 points at the final change.
Day had turned into night, and the weather was closing in as the final quarter got under way. But nothing was going to dampen the Pennant Hills spirit, as the chance of another four points against one of their biggest rivals was scented. Shots in the last quarter that should have been kicked sailed wide, but it mattered little for the Demons as the ball remained in their forward zone for much of the quarter and the Eagles were denied any opportunity to get back into the contest. The Eagles would kick three goals to two in the last quarter, but the term of footy finished as it started, with the Demons holding a 24-point advantage.
Bailey O’Brien was in fine form for the Demons, kicking four goals in a best-on-ground performance. Jackson Preedy and Marc Sheather also featured prominently for the Demons. The win consolidates the Demons’ position in the top five, and they sit two games plus plenty of percentage ahead of sixth place. They are still two games behind the double-chance and will need to claim plenty of scalps against the other finals teams during the second half of the season.
Keiran Emery was the focal point of the Eagles’ charge and landed six goals from limited opportunities to be their best. Ben Bourke and Andrew Browning also picked up plenty of the footy for the Eagles. It was the Eagles second home defeat in a row and sees them fall a game behind third place. If the final ladder was to finish as it is now, the Eagles and Demons would meet again in the sudden death Elimination Final.
In other Round Nine results, North Shore continued their winning ways despite some inaccurate finishing, completing a 41-point win over St George at Gore Hill Oval. UNSW-Eastern Suburbs were 75 points too good for Manly at Henson Park, while Sydney Uni completed a comfortable 73-point win over Inner West at Picken Oval. Camden took out their third win of the season and left UTS winless when the Cats came from behind to defeat the Bats by six points in a thriller at Trumper Park.
At the halfway mark, North Shore and UNSW-ES lead the competition and they’ll be playing off for the outright lead at Gore Hill next Saturday. Sydney Uni are a game behind in third. East Coast sit a game behind the Students and still a game ahead of Pennant Hills. The Demons are two games plus plenty of percentage ahead of Manly, St George and Camden with Inner West a further game behind. UTS AFC are yet to record a win in 2019.
Pennant Hills Demons– 5.1 | 7.5 | 11.7 | 13.13 (91)
East Coast Eagles – 3.2 | 4.3 | 7.7 | 10.7 (67)
Pennant Hills Goals – B O’Brien 4, J Preedy 2, J Boag, N Hey, R Ediriwickrama, C Luscombe, T Moraitis, T Wales, M Carey
East Coast Goals – K Emery 6, K Merson, J Vlatko, A Browning, C Wilson
Pennant Hills Best – B O’Brien, J Preedy, M Sheather, J Hare, S Wray, L Skrivanic
East Coast Best – K Emery, B Bourke, A Browning, K Merson, A Drinkwater, J Vlatko