AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s and Women’s – Round 4 Preview
Written by Michael Shillito
Photo by Leigh Gazzard
As April turns into May, the temperatures may be set to cool; but the football action is heating up. Who will find themselves building the winning momentum, and who will be making the May Day distress call?
Mens Premier Division
UNSW-ES Bulldogs v North Shore Bombers (Henson Park, Sunday 2:10pm)
Tune in LIVE via the AFL Sydney Facebook Page from 2:05pm this Sunday for the AFL Sydney Men’s Premier Division ‘Match of the Round’
We’re only four weeks into the season, but already there’s a sense of anticipation about Sunday’s contest as the Bulldogs and the Bombers will face off with top spot on the line. If you can’t get to Henson for this match, you can watch it live on the AFL Sydney Facebook page. Both teams go into this match undefeated, but only one team will stay that way.
The Bulldogs’ round 3 win reversed the result of last year’s Grand Final; and it wasn’t close. There was only a kick in it at half time, but ten goals to two in the second half powered the Bulldogs to a 53-point win. Max Geddes led the way with a stack of possession, while Keiran Emery took control up forward to finish with a four-goal haul. Look for them to again make key contributions this time round.
North Shore’s third win for the season came up at Gore Hill last Saturday. It wasn’t always pretty but it was effective as the Bombers were clearly the better side all afternoon and cruised to a comfortable 74-point result. The Bombers had winners all over the ground, with Ned Campbell and Christian Loone again amongst the best of them.
There’s not just four points up for grabs. There’s also the opportunity to strike a key blow against a critical competitor and establish a competitive and psychological edge that will hold the winner in good stead for then they likely meet again at the business end of the season. There won’t be a backward step in this fiercely-fought contest.
Sydney Uni Students v UTS Bats (Sydney Uni No 1, Saturday 1:50pm)
It another university derby at Sydney Uni No 1 on Saturday afternoon at Sydney Uni play host to UTS. It’s the defending champions against last year’s wooden spooner; but the form lines have varied significantly this year, with the Students yet to sing the song in 2021 while the Bats have already drank twice from the cup of victory.
Last week was a disappointing afternoon for the Students at Henson Park, as UNSW-ES reversed last year’s Grand Final result. Only a kick in it at the long break, but the Students were unable to make any impact on the contest in the second half. Allister Clarke and Angus Cutbill kept working hard all day, but the Students struggled to get into the contest. Winless after three rounds, the Students have no time to lose as they look to embark on a winning streak to get their season on track.
UTS had their first road trip last week, and returned with the spoils after getting off to a flying start against Manly at Weldon Oval and recording a 38-point win. Sam Williams has established himself as an impressive spearhead on the forward line, a five-goal haul last week further underlining his credentials; while Zac Galit put in his best game yet in Bats colours and will again be looking to feature prominently this time around.
The Students’ premiership defence hasn’t gone to plan so far, and they have just a draw to show for their efforts in the first three weeks. They’ll be desperate for a win, but it won’t be easy against a Bats side that is playing with confidence like they haven’t for a few years. If the Bats can claim the scalp of the defending champions, it’ll show the Sydney footy world that they mean business in 2021.
St George Dragons v Camden Cats (Olds Park, Saturday 2:10pm)
A southern derby awaits at Olds Park, as the Dragons play host to the Cats in what will be a desperate contest between two teams who are in need of a win to kick-start their seasons.
The Dragons will welcome the opportunity to be back at home this week. Last week they travelled to Gore Hill and were never in the contest as North Shore locked them out of the contest to record an easy 74-point result. Max Jeffrey and Alex Wynn tried hard all day, and will put the effort in again this time round. But the Dragons will also be looking at players who struggled to get much use of the ball last week to make a bigger contribution this time.
It was another tough day for Camden at Fairfax last Saturday as East Coast burst out of the blocks and raced to a big half-time lead. The Cats won the third quarter to salvage something from the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a hefty 72-point loss. Kyle Veerhuis and Tim Georgiou fought tirelessly all day against the odds, and the Cats will be again looking to them to put a solid four quarter effort in if they are to stay in this contest.
The Dragons had a win in the opening round but losses in weeks two and three see the Dragons tracking behind where they want to be at this stage of the year. The Cats are yet to sing the song in 2021 and have a lot of work to do after three heavy defeats. The Cats will be desperate to put up a credible and competitive performance this time round, and the Dragons can’t afford to take them lightly.
Inner West Magpies v East Coast Eagles (Picken Oval, Saturday 2:10pm)
Two teams who are yet to hit their best potential will be in contention at Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon as Inner West Magpies play host to East Coast Eagles.
ANZAC Day was a disappointing result for the Magpies, who were never in the contest against a red-hot Pennant Hills side and went down by 79 points. Brandon Lagana and Ben Klemke kept working hard all afternoon when things weren’t going the Magpies’ way; and that work ethic during the tough times will be called upon again this time round.
After going down in their first two games, East Coast broke through for their first win of the year last week, recording a percentage-boosting 72-point win over Camden at Fairfax Reserve. Josh Cutting had a big slice of the goal-kicking action as he contributed five goals to the Eagles cause, while Karl Merson was again a ball magnet all afternoon.
Both sides go into this game with one win so far. The winner will keep themselves within striking distance of the top five; while the loser will have some work to do to build themselves up towards the leading pack. It’s a high-stakes contest. If either of these teams are going to be finals contenders in 2021, this is the sort of game they need to win.
Pennant Hills Demons v Manly Warringah Wolves (Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 2:40pm)
The Demons and the Wolves have had some keen contests over the years, including two Grand Finals in recent memory. And another chapter in the rivalry will be written at Mike Kenny Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Last week’s ANZAC Day match at Picken Oval saw the Demons win their second game on the trot to move into the top five as they dominated against the Magpies from start to finish to record an easy 79-point win. Look out for the Pennant Hills’ goal-scoring prowess this week; with Theo Moraitis and Harry Maguire building a handy attacking combination, as they look to add to the five and four goals respectively they accomplished last Sunday.
The Wolves go into this match with a 1-2 record. Last week at Weldon they were never in the contest against UTS and went down by 38 points. On a tough afternoon for the Wolves, Aidan Butler and Taine Wright kept working hard; and the Wolves will be again looking to them to dig deep and contribute to the cause this time round.
Curiously, both teams this year have won their away games and lost their home games. A Manly success would keep that record intact. But the Demons, with two wins on the road back to back, will be looking to maintain their momentum and strike a key blow on their home turf against a big rival.
Womens Premier Division
UNSW-ES Bulldogs v North Shore Bombers (Henson Park, Sunday 4:40pm)
Tune in LIVE via the AFL Sydney Facebook Page from 4:35pm this Sunday for the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division ‘Match of the Round’
This week’s live streaming match will be a Sunday twilight fixture as UNSW-ES take on North Shore in a game that will tell us a lot about where both teams are at in their 2021 campaigns.
2021 has been a remarkable turnaround to date for the Bulldogs. After coming last in 2020, the Bulldogs have quickly turned their fortunes around with three wins to open the season. They efficiently got the job done at Henson Park last Sunday, winning every quarter to record a comfortable 26-point win. Casidhe Simmons proved an irresistible force last week, taking control up forward to finish with six goals; while Sophie Phillips also picked up plenty of the ball. The Bulldogs will again be looking to them to make major contributions this time round.
After wins in their first two matches, North Shore suffered their first loss for the season last week when Southern Power got out to an early lead, which was enough for them to set up a 16-point win. The Bombers this time will be looking for another big effort from Kate Reynolds and Georgia Walker, both of whom kept working hard last week to keep the Bombers within striking distance.
There’s plenty to excite about this contest. Both clubs are looking to make a statement and a win will keep them in the upper echelons of the ladder. Expect a close and hard-fought contest.
Inner West Magpies v East Coast Eagles (Picken Oval, Saturday 10:15am)
It’s an early start at Picken Oval for a clash between two of the competition’s heavyweights as Inner West Magpies play host to East Coast Eagles.
The Magpies won their second game on the trot last Sunday, barely raising a sweat as they dominated Pennant Hills to record a 71-point win. There were plenty of avenues to goal, with a five-goal haul from Elen Morris and four to Rebecca Privitelli spearheading the Magpie charge; and the Eagles will have to work hard to keep this attacking firepower quiet.
The Eagles haven’t put a foot wrong so far this season, and their impressive form continued last week as they dominated from start to finish to defeat Macquarie Uni by 93 points. Georgina Fowler was unstoppable up forward to finish with six goals, while Emily Hurley was a prolific possession winner. They’ve built up some handy momentum this season, and they’ll be hard to stop this week.
The stakes are high. For the winner, there is not only four points; but also a key psychological advantage against an opponent they are likely to face again at the business end of the season. There’s plenty to play for in this one!
Southern Power v Macquarie Uni Warriors (Waratah Oval, Saturday 11:50am)
A lunchtime clash in the suburban south will see Southern Power and Macquarie Uni face off in a contest that has plenty of importance for both clubs.
Southern Power kept themselves within striking distance of the top five, leading all the way against North Shore at Gore Hill to set up a 16-point win. Jemima Wrigley was again in the thick of the action, while Kiahna Davis-White made a strong impression to earn herself a Rising Star nomination. The Power will once again look to them to stand up and get the job done.
Last week didn’t go the Warriors’ way, as they were never in the contest against a red-hot East Coast team at Macquarie Uni Oval and went down by 93 points. Ellie Hicks and Hayley Kowal worked hard when the run of play was going against them; and they’ll need to again put the effort in if the Warriors are to turn their fortunes around this week.
The Power sit at 2-1, only outside the top five on percentage, while the Warriors are yet to salute in 2021. For the Power, this is a chance to build their finals credentials. For the Warriors, if they are to feature at the business end of the season, it’s time to get a winning streak going.
Pennant Hills Demons v Manly Warringah Wolves (Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 12:40pm)
It’s an important battle on the lower oval at Mike Kenny on Saturday afternoon, as Pennant Hills take on defending champions Manly.
The Demons are yet to sing the song in 2021, and it was a tough trip to Picken Oval last week as they went down by 71 points. The Demons will need to lift their workrate this week, building on the tireless efforts against the odds that Kaitlin Quinlan and Eliza Harvey put in last weekend.
Manly bounced back from a round two defeat in emphatic fashion at Weldon Oval, holding UTS to a single scoring shot and recording a comprehensive 134-point victory. There were plenty of winners all around the ground, with Jessica Doyle’s eight-goal return and a swag of possessions from Andrea Roditis being the pick of them. There’s no shortage of star power in the Manly side, and the Demons will have work to do to keep them quiet.
The Demons have plenty of work to do if they are to take out their first win of the season. The reigning premiers returned to form in style last week. But it’s the effort on the day that counts, and the Demons will need to rise to the occasion against a strong opponent.
Sydney Uni Bombers v UTS Bats (Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 4:20pm)
A university derby between two clubs in need of a win will be fought out in a twilight contest at Sydney Uni No 1 as Sydney Uni take on UTS.
Sydney Uni are yet to taste success in 2021, being defeated in all three of their games to date this season. Last week they didn’t have the firepower to match it with a UNSW-ES team flying high on form and confidence, going down ty 26 points. Isabella Gray and Amber Laven were tireless warriors for Sydney Uni, and they’ll be called into action again this time round as Sydney Uni look to turn their form around.
The Bats were disappointing last week, comprehensively outplayed by Manly at Weldon Oval to go down by 134 points. Gabriella Stanwix and Grace Hill were their best; but there are plenty of UTS players who struggled to get much of the ball last week who will need to play a greater role in the game this time.
Sydney Uni are yet to record a win in 2021, while UTS are winless since opening day. The desperation to get four points on the board and build some momentum for 2021 should produce a hard-fought no-holds-barred contest. Both teams need a win to keep the competition front-runners within striking distance, but only one of them will get one.