AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s and Women’s – Round 9 Preview

Written By Michael Shillito

Time marches relentlessly on. May had turned into June, autumn into winter; and this weekend takes us to the half-way point of the home and away season. And there’s some critical match-ups that will tell us a lot about where the competition is headed as we reach the half-way turn.


Mens Premier Division

East Coast v Sydney Uni (Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 2:00pm)

Tune in LIVE and FREE on Kayo Sports CLICK HERE or via the AFL Sydney Facebook Page from 1:55pm this Saturday for the AFL Sydney Men’s Premier Division ‘Match of the Round’

It’s a blue and gold derby at Kanebridge on Saturday as the Eagles play host to Sydney Uni. The game will be streamed live on AFL Sydney’s Facebook page and on Kayo Sports, so you don’t have to miss a moment of the action.

The Eagles have yet to hit their straps this season, and go into this game desperate to snap a five-game losing streak. Last week at Mike Kenny Oval they had hopes of pulling off an upset when they led Pennant Hills by five points at the long break, but were held to a single goal in the second half to go down by 62 points. Bailey Stewart kept putting in the effort all day, while youngster Ethan Grace in just his second game at this level looks to have a bright future. But there’s plenty of work for the Eagles to do to restore their hopes this season.

Sydney Uni go into this game with some impressive form in recent weeks. Last week at Sydney Uni No 1 they were untroubled by Camden, dominating from start to finish to record a 130-point win. The Students dominated around the ground, Lewis Stevenson and Matthew Vicic leading the way. Form is looking strong, confidence is high and the Students have been moving up the ladder and showing themselves to be a genuine premiership threat.

With the Students having won their last five while the Eagles have lost their last five, momentum favours Uni in this contest. But the Eagles have to break the cycle and claim a big scalp. It’s now or never, so expect an all-out effort by East Coast as they throw everything they have at changing this season’s formlines. Otherwise the Students will continue their dominant run.


UTS v Pennant Hills (Trumper Park, Saturday 12:55pm)

A lunchtime clash at Trumper Park matches the Bats against the Students, two teams keen for a win to underline their finals credentials.

The Bats sit sixth on the ladder with four wins. Last week they fell out of the top five when they were outclassed by a red-hot UNSW-ES side at Henson Park, going down by 75 points. Matt Titsha and Ashley Backlund battled tirelessly against the odds, but the Bats didn’t have the firepower to match it with one of the competition’s heavyweights; and they’ll be determined to hit back this week.

The Demons sit in fourth place with five wins, and last week they overcame a slow start against East Coast at Mike Kenny Oval; 11 goals to one in the second half wrapping up a 62-point win after trailing at the long break. James Peatling was best on ground, and during the week found himself drafted to the Giants; while Ben Matthews was also an impressive ball-winner for the Demons.

The Demons have some good form behind them, but will be tested on the road by a determined UTS side. The Bats started this season on a positive note and worked hard to get there. They can’t let their good start fall away; and claiming the scalp of the Demons will keep them well placed in the battle for the top five. If the Bats lose here, they risk falling behind the pace; and they won’t let that happen without a fight.


St George v Inner West (Olds Park, Saturday 2:20pm)

St George take on Inner West Magpies at Olds Park in what promises to be an intriguing clash between what looks like two closely matched opponents battling for a spot in the top five.

The Dragons entered the top five last week; when nine unanswered goals laid the foundation for a convincing 76-point win against Manly at Weldon Oval. Noah Casalini was again unstoppable on the forward line to finish with a four-goal haul; while Ben Jones was once again a ball magnet. The Dragons have hit some good form in recent weeks, and will be keen to capitalise on the momentum they have built to strengthen their grip on a berth in the top five.

Last week the Magpies dug deep and put the undefeated North Shore under real pressure at Gore Hill. The Magpies led at half time, but an inaccurate 1.8 in the third quarter cost them a shot at what would have been the upset of the season to date. Lucas Lam and Luke Jamieson were magnificent; and if the Magpies can replicate the effort they put in last week, they’ll be well on their way to victory in this clash.

The Dragons currently sit in fifth. The Magpies are half a game behind, but if they pull off the win here and UTS also drop their game, the Magpies will go into the half-way turn in the top five. Looking at the ladder and the form of the top four teams, there’s a strong chance that the Dragons and the Magpies won’t both make the finals. That being the case, this match may well have implications for how the final ladder looks.


Manly v UNSW-ES (Weldon Oval, Saturday 2:30pm)

The Seaside Derby returns to Weldon Oval on Saturday afternoon for a high-stakes contest as Manly play host to UNSW-ES.

The Wolves will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance against St George last week, when they were unable to score a goal in the first half to go down by 76 points. Aidan Butler and Ryan Stubbs put the effort in, but too many Manly players were unable to make the contribution they would have wanted; and they’ll have put in plenty of work at training this week to turn their fortunes around.

The Bulldogs have been in impressive form so far in 2021, dropping just the one game so far. Last week they barely raised a sweat as they recorded a comfortable 75-point win over UTS at Henson Park. The Bulldogs had winners all around the ground, but it was the big names of Brandon Jack and Tom Banuelos who were the standouts. Week after week the Bulldogs are getting the job done, and the Wolves will have plenty of work to do to stop their winning momentum.

While the Bulldogs have kept going on their winning ways, every week presents a new challenge. This time round it’s Manly on their turf. The Wolves, unusually, are yet to salute at home in 2021. They’d love nothing more than to pull off this upset; and the Bulldogs can’t afford to take a desperate Manly side lightly.


Camden v North Shore (Fairfax Reserve, Saturday 2:50pm)

In the south-west on Saturday afternoon it’s the bottom side against the top side as the Cats play host to the Bombers.

It was a tough outing to Sydney Uni for the Cats last week, as they were never in the contest and went down by 130 points. The Cats have turned to young talent, looking to the future; and even against the odds last week the likes of Kyle Veerhuis and Jayden Flanagan kept working hard all day. This game will be a challenge for the Cats, but they have to scrap and fight for every possession and deny their highly-fancied opponents any easy opportunities.

North Shore remain undefeated, but were given a solid test by Inner West at Gore Hill last week, trailing at half time before steadying in the second half to win by 20 points. But in the end, they were able to get the win, helped by the efforts of Jake Veale and Jamie Vlatko who stood and delivered when the game was there to be won. When under pressure, the top sides will find a way to win.

The Bombers will go into this game as the heaviest of favourites, undefeated against a side that is yet to salute this season. But the Bombers still have to get the job done. There’s no certainties in footy, and if the Bombers aren’t switched on the Cats could put them under some pressure. They can’t come here expecting a percentage booster, it still has to be earned.


Womens Premier Division

East Coast v Sydney Uni (Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 12:20pm)

Tune in LIVE and FREE on Kayo Sports CLICK HERE or via the AFL Sydney Facebook Page from 12:15pm this Saturday for the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division ‘Match of the Round’

Who’s going to beat East Coast this season? No-one has really got close yet. The Eagles put their unbeaten record on the line at Kanebridge when they host Sydney Uni in a clash that can be viewed live on AFL Sydney’s Facebook page and on Kayo Sports.

Last week the Eagles continued on their winning ways with a comfortable 19-point result against Pennant Hills at Mike Kenny Oval. Renee Tomkins was outstanding again; while the Eagles look to have unveiled another young gun with a bright future as Summer Hall worked her way to a Rising Star nomination. It was another impressive performance by the Eagles, who continue to take all before them.

Sydney Uni won their third game for the season, their second on the trot, but had to do it the hard way, coming from behind to edge out Macquarie Uni by just two points at Sydney Uni No 1 last week. Natalia Waterson and Rebecca Mitchell were outstanding all day; and it took some big plays to get the Bombers over the line against a determined opponent. But they got it done, and have the chance to build some momentum after a slow start to the season.

While the Eagles will go into this clash as favourites, Sydney Uni are starting to hit their straps, and two wins on the trot has seen them climb within sight of the top five. If they can continue to increase their intensity as they have the last couple of weeks, they will fancy their chances of pulling off a boilover result here.


Manly v UNSW-ES (Weldon Oval, Saturday 12:30pm)

A match that will tell us plenty about the finals aspirations of the two sides in action will be fought out at Weldon Oval as Manly take on UNSW-ES.

The Wolves tightened their grip on second spot on the ladder last week, as they effortlessly shrugged off the efforts of Southern Power to record a convincing 58-point win. The star-studded Wolves brought out their big guns, with Emily Goodsir and Lisa Steane leading the way in a dominant performance. The Wolves have dropped one game this year, but with the sort of form they showed against a strong opponent last week, there’s nothing to suggest the Wolves can’t successfully defend their premiership this season.

The Bulldogs go into this game with winning form on the board, after getting up by a point in a thriller against UTS at Henson Park last week. When the game was there to be won, heroics from Senna Gulden and Cassidhe Simmons played a key role in getting the Bulldogs over the line. It was a closely-fought affair all day; but the ability to find a way to win the tight ones is important for a team that is trying to keep in touch with the finals race.

Manly have been in great form, and will be keen to maintain that and keep themselves in line for the double-chance in the finals. For the Bulldogs, the stakes are high. A game behind the five and with a poor percentage, they can’t afford a loss here or risk falling too far behind the top five to be a realistic chance to catch up.


UTS v Pennant Hills (Trumper Park, Saturday 3:20pm)

Two teams desperate for a win go head to head at Trumper Park on Saturday afternoon as UTS Bats play host to Pennant Hills.

UTS were frustrated last week, falling one agonising point short against UNSW-ES at Henson Park and finding themselves stuck on just one win so far this season. There were plenty of positive signs for the Bats, including the form of Tait Mackrill and Julia Georos; but in the end it was heartbreak after a chance for a breakthrough win fell just short. But the Bats weren’t far away, and surely their next victory can’t be too far away.

The Demons also have only got to sing the song once so far this season, and last week they were unable to match it with the high-flying East Coast, going down by 19 points. They kept putting in the effort, with Hayley Lowe and Alex Wade putting in plenty of hard work to keep the Demons competitive. It’s the sort of work rate they’ll be looking for in their quest to snap their losing streak this time round.

It’s 8th v 9th, and wins for both clubs have been hard to find this year. But here is the opportunity. A win here will do wonders for morale and bring some much-needed form and confidence that the winning team can use to carry themselves forward into the second half of the year. But only one team can get that.


Southern Power v Inner West (Waratah Oval, Saturday 3:50pm)

Two teams currently in the top five but looking to bounce back after disappointing results last week go head to head when Southern Power host Inner West Magpies at Waratah Oval.

The Power had a tough trip to Weldon last week and were never in the hunt against a red-hot Manly side, going down by 58 points. On a day when little was going their way, Nicholle Cooke-Hayes and Ruby Sargent-Wilson kept putting the efforts in; but it was a day when the Power fell short of their high standards. They’ll be coming out firing this time round.

Inner West Magpies also fell short against North Shore at Gore Hill last week but there wasn’t much in it; and they went so close to stealing the game with the last kick of the day. Emily Pease and Ella Heads led the way for the Magpies in a thriller. The Magpies remain in the top five, but will be looking for a win against a higher-ranked team to move into contention for the finals double-chance.

Southern Power remain in third spot, but won’t want to go into the half-way break with back to back losses behind them. Likewise for the Magpies, who fell so agonisingly short last week but remain fourth on the ladder. If the Magpies can win here, the double-chance in the finals will be thrown open. A Power win would consolidate their hold on the double-chance and make it hard for the Magpies or North Shore to avoid sudden death in the finals.


Macquarie Uni v North Shore (Macquarie Uni Oval, Saturday 5:40pm)

The round concludes with an evening game at Macquarie Uni, as the Warriors host North Shore.

The Warriors are yet to sing the song this season, but came so close last week at Sydney Uni No 1, when they led Sydney Uni at three quarter time and went down by just two points. Dual sporting star Jodie Hicks was outstanding for the Warriors, while Beth Lister also made key contributions for the Warriors in a performance that suggests their breakthrough win isn’t far away.

North Shore are fifth on the ladder, and maintained their spot in the top five when they got up in a thriller against Inner West Magpies last week, recording an exciting four-point win. It was a win built around the form of Sophie Gidley and Alyce Keating; and the Bombers will be looking to them to maintain their form this week. Last week was a close contest all day, and the ability to get up in the close ones is important for a team with genuine ambitions of playing a role in this year’s finals action.

The Warriors have come close several times this season, and the heartbreak last week should spur them on in their endeavours to make the next step and finally get the win. It’s on their turf. But the Bombers are looking to consolidate their spot in the top five; and they can’t afford to drop this game if they fancy themselves as finals contenders.



Photo by Merrillie Redden