AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s – Mid Season Review
Written by Lucas Holmes
North Shore Bombers
Ladder position: First
Points for: 964 (second)
Points against: 361 (first)
Leading goal kicker: Ned Campbell (19)
After finishing last year’s regular season atop the ladder (and reaching the preliminary final), the North Shore Bombers are the only undefeated team in Premier Division men’s.
The Bombers have had several contributors so far this season. Ruck Christian Loone has been impressive around the ground (to compliment his tap work). Jake Veale has been consistent whilst recruit Reed van Huisstede has played at both ends of the ground.
North Shore began their 2021 season with a 51-point victory over last year’s premiers Sydney University. Nick Hill kicked three goals whilst Ned Campbell, Miles Barritt and Max Thomas kicked two goals. With Jack Campbell being the Bombers best on the ground.
UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs
Ladder position: Second
Points for: 1101 (first)
Points against: 379 (second)
Leading goal kicker: Kieran Emery (23)
Rising Star nominees: Byron Middleton- Round 6
After being defeated in last year’s grand final under first-year coach Dean Towers, UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs have only tasted defeat once this season.
Charlie Burgess-Hoar has complemented Kieran Emery inside the forward 50 for the Bulldogs (and has 17 majors to his name). Thomas Banuelos has impressed playing as an undersized ruck at times and Jordan Foote has been important.
The Bulldogs got their grand final revenge against Sydney University in treacherous conditions in round 9. University decided to play a defender loose to attempt to quell the influence of Kieran Emery. However, Emery went on to kick four goals as Darcy Cordell kicked 2. Thomas Banuelos was best on the ground for the Bulldogs.
Ladder position: Third
Points for: 858 (fourth)
Points against: 577 (third)
Leading goal kicker: Isaac Hughes (18)
Rising Star nominees: Luke Gallen- Round 2, Angus Cutbill- Round 5, Thomas Van Dongen- Round 10
Sydney University’s premiership defence got off to a shaky start, going without a win until round 4 (which included the competition’s only draw against Inner West Magpies).
University has many talented young players to combine with their experienced core. Aaron Day has been solid in their back half, Samuel Bennett’s instrumental around the contest. Whilst Michael Nettheim has played well alongside key forward and recruit Issac Hughes, with the pair combining for 33 goals.
University’s second win of the 2021 season was a 57-point win over the St George Dragons. Isaac Hughes starred with four goals and was named best on the ground. Luke Gallen and Michael Nettheim booted three whilst Cooper Searle chipped in with two.
St George Dragons
Ladder position: Fourth
Points for: 915 (third)
Points against: fourth)
Leading goal kicker: Noah Casalini (42)
The St George Dragons began the 2021 season with a win and loss before a tough period that saw the Dragons take on North Shore, Sydney University and UNSW Eastern Suburbs in four weeks.
Noah Casalini has led the way for St George with 42 goals for the season (including 12 in round 4). Alexander Wynn and Jacob Dol have also been consistent for the Dragons.
In round 10 after a slow start against Pennant Hills, The Dragons kicked six goals in the second term and eight in the fourth to defeat the Demons by 71 points. Casalini kicked 7 goals, Alexander Wynn, David Lycakis and Ethan Maher had two goals. Timothy Tegg was the best player for St George.
Pennant Hills Demons
Ladder position: Fifth
Points for: 755 (fifth)
Points against: 658 (fifth)
Leading goal kicker: Theo Moratis (18)
Rising Star nominees: Connor Matthews- Round 8, Jonathan Moran- Round 9
After losing their round 1 fixture, the Pennant Hills Demons would win their next 5 before tasting defeat to North Shore in round 6.
During their five consecutive victories, the Demons kicked 64 goals. Theo Moraitis and Harry Maguire have been lively inside the forward 50 and have combined for 35 goals. Mitchell Blow has impressed behind the football so has Pennant Hills junior (and round 8 Rising Star nominee) Connor Matthews.
After going down to UNSW Eastern Suburbs in round 1, the Demons defeated St George in round 2. Harry Maguire, Christopher Galvin and Luke Skrivanic kicked two goals each. Jackson Potter was best on the ground for Pennant Hills.
Inner West Magpies
Ladder position: Sixth
Points for: 690 (sixth)
Points against: 765 (sixth)
Leading goal kicker: Ben Zoppo (23)
The Inner West Magpies first three rounds of the 2021 season produced all three possible results. A 5 point win over Manly Warringah, a draw with the defending premier Sydney University and a 59-point loss to Pennant Hills.
The Magpies were then defeated in four of their last six matches and are two wins outside the top five.
Small forward Brandon Lagana has nicely complemented Ben Zoppo inside the forward 50 for Inner West. Callum Mcevoy-Gray has been consistent and so has Lucas Lam.
In the round 2 draw with Sydney University, after being held goalless in the opening term the Magpies clawed back to lead by eight points at three-quarter time. Before surviving a late University onslaught to hold on for the draw. Luke Jamieson and Ben Zoppo kicked two goals for Inner West with Michael Tuttle best on the ground.
UTS Australian Football Club Bats
Ladder position: Seventh
Points for: 645 (seventh)
Points against: 838 (eighth)
Leading goal kicker: Sam Williams (32)
Rising Star nominees: Bodey Lambert- Round 4
After a 117-point win to begin the 2021 season, the UTS-AFC Bats had a few tough matches against premiership contenders before some nail-biting encounters.
Andrew Pretto’s ball movement in the back half has been a feature for the Bats. Thomas Borrillo has been important in the forward half alongside Sam Williams. Whilst the round 4 Rising Star nominee Bodey Lambert has impressed in his first year of senior football.
After pushing Sydney University in round 4, the Bats held on for a 4-point win over Inner West in round 5. Despite leading from start to finish, UTS held off a fast-finishing Magpies outfit. Sam Williams kicked four goals (including three in the third quarter) both Ashley Backlund and Thomas Borrillo had 3. Borrillo was also best on the ground for the Bats.
East Coast Eagles
Ladder position: Eighth
Points for: 544 (eighth)
Points against: 784 (seventh)
Leading goal kicker: Bailey Stewart and Thomas Zdrilic (12)
Rising Star nominees: Kyle Spencer- Round 3
After Damien Truslove took the reins at the East Coast Eagles in the off-season, the club has turned to youth to refresh their playing list. In the opening four rounds of the season, the Eagles had ten local juniors make their debuts.
After their first win of the season in round 3, East Coast were defeated in their next six matches (including a two point loss to UTS in round 6.)
Karl Merson has been consistent for the Eagles, as has Nathan Coxall. Whilst Bailey Stewart and Thomas Zdrillic have provided East Coast with a focal point in the forward half.
In the Eagles 72-point victory over Camden in round 3, Joshua Cutting kicked five goals. Bailey Stewart and Thomas Zdrilic were the other multiple goal kickers with four and two respectively. Karl Merson was best on the ground for the Eagles.
Manly Warringah Wolves
Ladder position: Ninth
Points for: 484 (ninth)
Points against: 875 (ninth)
Leading goal kicker: Lachlan Behagg (11)
Rising Star nominees: Ryan Stubbs- Round 1, Jacob De Angelis- Round 7
The Manly Warringah Wolves lost a tight opening fixture to Inner West by five points. The Wolves then claimed their first win of the season in round 2 against the East Coast Eagles. Before being defeated in four consecutive matches.
Zachery Youlton has been important for the structure of the Manly Warringah backline with his elite foot skills. Ryan Wearne has been one of the more consistent players for the Wolves, whilst their Rising Star nominees Ryan Stubbs and Jacob De Angelis haven’t taken a backwards step.
In Manly Warringah’s round 2 win. After a tight three quarters, a five-goal to one final quarter gave the Wolves a 42-point victory. Jacob De Angelis kicked three goals, with Lachlan Behagg and Nicholas Marsh chipping in with two each. Jack Field was judged best on the ground.
Ladder position: Tenth
Points for: 343 (tenth)
Points against: 1414 (tenth)
Leading goal kicker: Jaden Gilheany and Kyle Veerhuis (8)
After being on the end of some heavy defeats in the early part of the season, the Camden Cats have strung together some solid performances despite not registering a win.
Kyle Veerhuis has been a consistent performer and sits at the top of the Cats goal kicking alongside Jaden Gilheany. Mitchell Sapiatzer and David Stalker have mainstays in the clubs best six each week.
In the Cats round 10 match with the East Coast Eagles, a five-goal second quarter gave them a three-goal lead at the main break. However, the Eagles turned the game on its head in the second half. A nine goal second half (six in the third term) and East Coast recorded a 35-point victory.
Kyle Veerhuis booted three goals for the Cats whilst Timothy Georgiou was Camden’s best.
Photo by Merrillie Redden