AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s and Women’s – Round 3 Preview
Written by Michael Shillito
We’re back into it after the Easter break; and in some ways this feels like the real start of the season. After playing only seniors & under 19s games, mainly at neutral venues; we’re back to home & away footy and long days with multiple games played.
We’ve got a big round in both Mens and Womens Premier Division; including a special ANZAC Day commemoration at Picken Oval on Monday when we remember those who fought for our country. Lest we forget.
MENS PREMIER DIVISION
St George Dragons v Manly-Warringah Wolves
Olds Park, Saturday 12:50pm
It’s an early start on Saturday for this clash between the Dragons and the Wolves; but it’s a game both teams have had to wait two long weeks for, and both teams will be coming out hard and looking to bounce back.
The Dragons haven’t had the kindest draw to start the season, and find themselves winless after the first two games despite being competitive in both. In their last start, they went down by 39 points to Sydney Uni at Gore Hill. Back on their home turf at Olds Park, the Dragons will have noted this as a game where they have to stand and deliver; and they’ll be looking for the likes of Nelson Carey and Tim Coenen to continue the strong form they have started the season with.
The Wolves go into this game with a 1-1 record. Despite going down by 33 points to North Shore at Weldon Oval in their last start, the Wolves will feel plenty of encouragement after some dogged defensive work saw them hold a title contender to just 10 goals. Keep an eye on Kale Gabila and Ky McGrath, who were tireless workers against the Bombers and will be looking for another big effort this time.
There’s sure to be plenty of desperation on display in this clash. Particularly for the Dragons, for whom a loss would see them go 0-3 and at risk of falling behind the pack. It’s games like this that separate the finals contenders from the also-rans; and there’ll be plenty of fire in this contest.
UTS Bats v UNSW-ES Bulldogs
Waverley Oval, Saturday 12:50pm
It will be a no-holds-barred struggle for Eastern Suburbs bragging rights when the Bats take on the Bulldogs at Waverley Oval, in what could be the closest eastern derby for a few years.
After struggling in recent seasons, the Bats have hit the ground running in 2022, with two big wins to start the season seeing them hit top spot. This will be a test of where the Bats are really at; and whether they have what it takes to challenge one of the competition’s heavyweights. Last start at Mike Kenny, a flying start saw the Bats set up an unassailable lead at quarter time before cruising to a 49-point win. Jack Calabro and Zac Galit were in the thick of the action, and will have big roles to play this time round.
The Bulldogs didn’t have everything their own way in round two, but did enough to get over the Magpies by 11 points at Henson Park. It was a close struggle for most of the day, with the Magpies leading at every break; but some magic from Fred Tricks and Hamish Dunstan when the game was there to be won was enough to get the Bulldogs over the line and maintain their unbeaten record. Two narrow wins to start the season, but the Bulldogs have shown in recent years they know how to get up in the close ones.
The improvement in the Bats this season has been noticed, and this game will be a big test of how strong they really are in 2022. The Bulldogs have been a powerhouse for quite a few years now, and they won’t be relinquishing that role lightly. The winner will go to outright top with a 3-0 record and will also claim the eastern bragging rights. There’s plenty at stake in this clash.
North Shore Bombers v Sydney University
Gore Hill Oval, Saturday 3:10pm
There’s always a keenly-felt rivalry when the Bombers and the Students face off. Both have strong ambitions of being in the thick of the action at the business end of the season, and the prospect of a key psychological blow against a potential finals rival will be an extra motivator for this contest.
This match will be streamed live on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page; so wherever in the world you are, you don’t have to miss a minute of the action.
After a bye in the opening round, the Bombers started their season at Weldon in round two, and had to overcome a determined Manly side; but did enough to get the win with a 33-point result in which they held the Wolves to just five goals. Christian Loone and Sam Barkley were standouts for the Bombers, and will be looking to capitalise on their flying start to the season and be key contributors for the Bombers throughout 2022.
It’s the second game in a row the Students have been on the synthetic at Gore Hill. The conditions held no fears for them last start, when they got off to a flyer to take the game against St George by 39 points. Louis Wilson announced to the footy world that he belongs at this level, taking a Rising Star nomination; while Peter Spurling also featured prominently for the Students. They have plenty of in-form players, and this is a contest they’re keenly looking forward to.
There’s no love lost between these clubs, and this is a clash both teams will be up for. The four points are valuable, not just the points the winner gets, but the points the loser doesn’t. And it’s a key blow which will show the winner that they have the edge against a team they may well meet again in the finals.
Inner West Magpies v Pennant Hills Demons
Picken Oval, Monday 1:10pm
ANZAC Day at Picken Oval is one of the special days in the AFL Sydney calendar. Inner West Magpies put on a respectful tribute to those who fought for our country; and there’s usually some good footy on display. This match will be streamed on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page, and it’s one not to be missed.
On the field, it’s time for the Magpies to stand and deliver. They were unlucky against the Bulldogs in their last start, leading at every change but going down by 11 points; leaving them 0-2 for the season so far. But there was plenty to like about the Magpies’ efforts, particularly Ben Zoppo’s seven-goal haul and a solid effort around the ground by Kel Evans. But this time the Magpies need more than a respectable loss. They need a win.
For the Demons, coming off a bye before the Easter break, this will be their first game in 23 days; and will feel like a season opener. In the opening round, they came from behind to pip St George at the post by just two points, thanks to solid contributions by Nick Eynaud and Nick Richards. But now the hard work starts for the Demons, and they’ll be looking to hit the ground running and build some momentum.
The stakes are high for the Magpies. A loss here would see them go 0-3 and at risk of falling behind the finals contenders. The Magpies will be eyeing off their first Picken Oval clash for the season as one they must win. But the Demons are always a tough opponent, and won’t be giving up their unbeaten status without a fight. This is a game that could be pivotal to the fortunes of the 2022 season.
WOMENS PREMIER DIVISION
North Shore Bombers v Sydney University
Gore Hill Oval, Saturday 1:30pm
Two clubs that have shown plenty of encouraging form face off at Gore Hill Oval on Saturday afternoon in a game that could tell us plenty about how this season will unfold. It’s a critical game, and for those who can’t get to Gore Hill, they can still catch the action live on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page.
North Shore go into this game with a 1-1 record, and went so close to coming in undefeated, leading for most of the afternoon against a strong Manly side at Weldon at their last start before being pipped at the post by just three points. There was plenty to like about North Shore’s fighting spirit in a low-scoring game. Olivia Cicolini announced her arrival into Premier Division with a Rising Star nomination, while Elle Carroll also looks an exciting prospect for North Shore; who have shown plenty of cause for optimism for the season ahead.
Sydney Uni have hit the ground running in 2022, with two big wins to open the season creating a sense of excitement in the Sydney Uni camp. This will be their second game in a row on the Gore Hill surface, which held no fears for them last start when they demolished Southern Power by 74 points. Maryanne Harley and Stephanie Gillon were standouts for the Students, building a momentum that the blue and golds will be looking to build on in this clash.
This game could tell us plenty about the season ahead. If Sydney Uni can take the points here, they will maintain their unbeaten status and show themselves to be capable against a genuine contender. But the Bombers will be ready for this challenge, and this match gives them an opportunity to move up the ladder. This should be an exciting and closely-matched contest.
Macquarie Uni Warriors v East Coast Eagles
Macquarie Uni Oval, Saturday 1:30pm
A critical match for how the season could unfold will be played out at Macquarie Uni Oval on Saturday afternoon as the Warriors play host to the high-flying East Coast Eagles.
The Warriors have had to fight hard early in the season, and at their last start were unable to score a goal against Pennant Hills. They were well served by some fighting efforts by Chloe Davis and Abbie Lewis, but it wasn’t enough to get the points against the Demons. Rested and refreshed after the Easter break, it’s time for the Warriors to hit their straps and deliver on their potential; and now is the time to lift their work rate.
In contrast, the Eagles are riding a wave and haven’t put a foot wrong so far in 2022. At Mike Kenny last week, they were in devastating form as they held UTS goal-less and handed out a convincing 63-point win. The Eagles had winners all over the ground, especially a four-goal haul from Rylee McGartland and a stack of possessions to Bryany Parker. Well-drilled, confident and in command; the Eagles have been unstoppable so far in 2022, and the Warriors are going to need to find something special to stop them.
After two heavy losses to start the season, the Warriors can’t afford another big defeat here. And this will be a tough clash against an East Coast side that’s flying high on confidence and with plenty of star power on every line. The Warriors are going to have to dig deep in this one, otherwise they risk the season already getting away from them.
UTS Bats v UNSW-ES Bulldogs
Waverley Oval, Saturday 3:15pm
Two sides desperate for a win will face off at Waverley Oval on Saturday afternoon in an eastern derby that puts the Bats up against the Bulldogs.
The Bats have gone down in their first two matches, and at their last start were never in the hunt against a well-drilled East Coast Eagles lineup, going down by 63 points after being unable to score a goal. Marnie Robinson and Aleshea Houlahan tried hard; but it was a day the Bats weren’t able to deliver to the standard they would expect. After a week’s break, they’re desperate to put things right, and here is their opportunity.
The Bulldogs have been on the wrong side of two close results this season. Last start was at Henson Park against Inner West Magpies. There wasn’t much in it all day, but in the end the Bulldogs went down by just eight points. Sera Kaukiono and Georgia Voura figured prominently all day, showing the form and drive that the Bulldogs will be looking to see more of in their quest to get the win on the board this time round.
No team wants to start the season with three straight losses, but that will be the fate of one of these teams. Expect some dogged defence and plenty of grit and determination to be on display here. One of these teams will kick-start their season and get back on track, while the other will be looking down the barrel. There’ll be no quarter asked or given here.
Southern Power v Manly-Warringah Wolves
Waratah Oval, Saturday 4:00pm
The South and the North go head to head in a clash with plenty to play for when the Power take on the Wolves at Waratah Oval on Saturday.
It hasn’t been a great start to the season for the Power, who were defeated in both their matches so far this season. Last start against Sydney Uni at Gore Hill, they struggled to get into the contest and went down by 74 points. Kyla Tracey and Montana Schow battled tirelessly against the odds, showing the fighting spirit that the Power will need to see more of as they work to turn their form around.
After going down in the opening round, Manly got themselves on the winners list in round two; but had to dig deep to get there. In a low-scoring game, the Wolves created enough opportunities up forward to fall over the line against North Shore; having plenty more scoring shots but had to work hard to get the points. But they found a way to get it done, led by strong efforts by Caitlin Johnson and London Ashcroft, who stood up when the game was in the balance.
The Power have been strong performers in recent years, and they won’t be letting go of that status without a fight. A loss for the home side would see them at 0-3 for the season and having to come from behind to be contenders this season. But the Wolves, who have been a strong force since going up to Premier Division, will be a formidable hurdle for the Power to overcome. There’ll be plenty of desperation in this contest.
Inner West Magpies v Pennant Hills Demons
Picken Oval, Monday 10:00am
ANZAC Day will start with a clash between two undefeated sides that are giving their supporters plenty of reason to be hopeful for the season in front of us. It’s a clash to be looked forward to, and you’ll be able to see it live on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page.
Inner West Magpies have been one of the stronger teams in recent seasons, and they’ve started this year on a positive note with two straight wins. But it was a close call against UNSW-ES at their last start; and although the Magpies led at every change, there wasn’t much in it all day and they managed to get home by just eight points. When the game was there to be won, the likes of Kiara Henry and Leanne Behan stood and delivered; and the Magpies have shown they have the players who can stand up at the critical moments.
The Demons are also undefeated to start the season, and in their last clash at Mike Kenny Oval were too good for Macquarie Uni, holding the Warriors goal-less to record a 27-point victory. Eleanor Rugg and Madison Hare were standouts, but there were plenty of Demons across the ground who made substantial contributions. In their third season at this level, the Demons look to be big improvers; but this game is against a tougher opponent than they have faced so far, and will test the extent of their rise in 2022.
It’s a big start to a big day at Picken Oval, and this clash has plenty to recommend it. The winner will find themselves with a 3-0 record and a flying start for the season and all that entails. There’s plenty on the line in this clash, and an exciting match-up should be expected.