Men’s Premier Division Match of the Round Review – UNSW-ES Bulldogs vs North Shore Bombers
Well, this was the game we have all been waiting for and it’s only Round 4 – the top of the table clash between the two undefeated powerhouse teams in the competition. The Bulldogs were sitting on top of the ladder having vanquished Pennant Hills, Camden and, last Sunday in the Anzac Day Grand Final rematch, Sydney University. While North Shore had defeated Sydney University, St George and a much improved UTS-AFC Bats outfit.
In a tough contest all over the park, it was an injury-hit UNSW-ES Bulldogs outfit which was eventually ran down in the final minutes by a determined North Shore. There is no doubt having seen these teams go about their work, there is much more to come from both, and this specific match up in season 2021.
As the teams entered the pristine surface of Henson Park it was hard not to be excited for the contest with so many talented players involved from both sides – and it did not take long for the big names to make an impact.
After a sweeping handball from a stoppage, Tom Meacham found Jamie Vlatko who elevated and marked strongly in front of Zachary Cameron. Vlatko gave the bombers an inside 50 entry, which Nick Hill swooped on and kicked the game’s first goal. From that point the first quarter was a game played on UNSW-ES terms. Isaac Bartholomeus was very hard to handle, kicking two goals for the quarter while Kieran Emery kicked one. At quarter time it was USW-ES Bulldogs 3.6.23 to North Shore 1.2.8.
The second quarter began with furious intensity, with Mitchell Conn setting the tone for the Bulldogs. However, it was the Bombers who once again opened the scoring for the quarter, this time off the boot of Jamie Vlatko, who after a chain of wonderful handballs across the middle of Henson Park marked 25 metres out from goal and kicked truly.
A key moment occured following a long kick down the line from Jordan Foote, when Kieran Emery was caught in the middle of a mid-air contest between Jordan Endemann (UNSW-ES) and Jack Campbell (North Shore). Emery was helped off the field and assessed by the UNSE-ES training staff – he would not return.
The contest evened up, with many repeat stoppages and plenty of tackling pressure from both teams. Joshua Rayner was providing a great target for the Bombers across the half forward line, his marking ability was on display on several occasions while Luke Robertson was very important for the Bombers.
For the Bulldogs Jake Veale and Max Richardson amassed a large amount of footy and along with Mitchell Conn and Bailey Foote ensured the Bulldogs maintained their lead into the half time break. A late goal to Byron Middleton extended the margin to 15 points in favour of the Bulldogs. The Middleton goal was answered nearly instantly by the Bombers with Nick Hill kicking his second of the day with a classy set shot from right on the boundary.
After an enthralling quarter it was UNSW-ES Bulldogs 4.7.31 to North Shore Bombers 3.6.24 at the main break.
Kieran Emery was ruled out during the halftime break and would take no further part in the contest. This created a headache for the UNSW-ES structure. However, the coaching team at the Bulldogs led by the experienced Dean Towers (not playing due to injury) still had plenty of fire power which included moving Liam Hoy forward for patches of the quarter. After an errant kick by Devlin, Bailey Foote collected the footy, quickly got the ball moving forward before Jordan Endemann protected the space to perfection, marked strongly and goaled.
It was becoming a battle of attrition with Endemann coming off after been collected solidly, and Max Geddes shaking off another knock. Jack Woodman showed enormous courage running at full speed with the flight off the ball, before marking and playing on immediately. His effort was not rewarded as Nathan Smith kicked inaccurately (which was a theme for the Bombers in the third quarter).
Hoy was important in the ruck and was well supported by Geddes at ground level, but it was the Bombers who controlled the play via Veale, Ned Campbell and Nicholas Brewer, despite the dominance the Bombers could not convert until Felix Rodgers marked 40 metres out and kicked a much-deserved goal. Suddenly, the margin was back under 10 points and with a reduced bench for the Bulldogs it was game on at Henson.
At Three quarter time it was UNSW-ES Bulldogs 5.12.42 to North Shore Bombers 4.9.33
With both teams feeling the impacts of a physical contest it was going to be a well-earned four points for whichever team could finish on top. Reed van Huisstede on release from the Sydney Swans VFL was beginning to compile an impressive game for the Bombers, while Conn after a knock in the third was once again important for the Bulldogs.
Despite the obvious fatigue across both teams the tackling pressure did not relent, it was the Bombers who struck first with Rodgers making no mistake for his second goal of the day from 30 metres out on a slight angle. As the 10-minute mark approached it was North Shore on the charge, trailing UNSW-ES by 3 points.
But, just as the Bombers appeared to have their chance to take the lead Mitchell Conn and Max Richardson once again injected himself into the game, with the Bulldogs next to hit the scoreboard via a goal from Oscar Peter. As the game approach time-on a wonderful finish from Nathan Smith off one step from outside 50 brough the game within one straight kick – the classic finish this game promised was being delivered.
With nearly all players out on their feet Pierce Roseby received a holding the ball free kick inside the North Shore attacking 50, his kick snuck through, the Bombers had the lead. When Felix Rodgers roved the ball in open play and snapped his third goal, it was North Shore in control late in the match.
At the final siren of this fantastic contest, the Bombers were in front. UNSW-ES Bulldogs 6.13.49 to North Shore 8.10.58.
UNSW EASTERN SUBURBS BULLDOGS – 6.13.49
Goal Kickers: I. Bartholomaeus 2, B. Middleton, O. Peter, J. Endemann, K. Emery
Best Players: J. Endemann, M. Conn, I. Bartholomaeus, M. Geddes, M. Richardson, B. Middleton
NORTH SHORE BOMBERS – 8.10.58
Goal Kickers: F. Rogers 3, N. Hill 2, J. Vlatko, P. Roseby, N. Smith
Best Players: L. Robertson, F. Rogers, N. Hill, J. Campbell, N. Brewer, P. Roseby
PREMIER DIVISION MEN’S MATCH OF THE ROUND – NEXT WEEK
UTS-AFC Bats vs. Inner West Magpies – Trumper Park 2:30pm Saturday May 8
Photo: Merille Redden