AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s and Women’s – Round 5 Preview

Written by Michael Shillito


We’re into the merry month of May. The days are shorter, the air is cooler; but the footy is warming up. And this weekend we’ve got a massive round of footy, another week to separate the contenders from the also-rans.

Plenty of matches that promise much, and with a week of sunshine to dry the grounds out, we can expect some more pace and better ball control than in the wet that started the season.




Sydney University v Pennant Hills Demons

Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 2:00pm

While the undefeated UNSW-ES take a week off, the fight among clubs to position themselves to challenge is on in earnest; and the match between Sydney Uni and Pennant Hills will tell us plenty about who is ready to step up and be one of this season’s powerhouse clubs.

Sydney Uni had to dig themselves out of a hole last week, and trailed by 25 points at the last change at Picken Oval against the Magpies. But somehow during the break the Students managed to regain their composure and the tide turned during the last quarter. For the second week in a row they finished full of running, and when the siren rang the two teams couldn’t be separated. The first draw of the year; with Riley Lucas spearheading the comeback while Angus Jones worked his way to a Rising Star nomination; and showing the form the Students will want to see more of this week.

The Students will be playing another fast finisher who will play out four quarters in Pennant Hills. Last week at Mike Kenny, the Demons trailed UTS for most of the day; but a barnstorming last quarter got the Demons over the line by 23 points. Nick Richards and Sam Eynaud were pivotal to the Demons’ revival, and the Demons will again be looking for them to step up and deliver when the game is in the balance.

Last week’s draw at Picken Oval sets up a curious ladder scenario; where the Students have 10 points to the Demons’ eight, but with the Demons having a better match ratio thanks to having already had their bye. The winner of this clash will be undisputed in the top three, and well placed to launch a challenge for the 2022 title. The loser risks dropping back to the pack of chasing teams. The stakes are high, and no-one will be taking this challenge lightly.


Manly-Warringah Wolves v UTS Bats

Weldon Oval, Saturday 2:30pm

It will be desperation stakes at Weldon Oval on Saturday between two sides who desperately need a win as Manly host UTS. This match will be streamed live on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page, so even if you can’t get to Curl Curl you don’t have to miss a moment of the action.

Manly, winless since the opening day of the season, were never in the hunt against UNSW-ES at Henson Park last week, going down by 67 points. But even when it was hard, Nick Marsh and Callum McPhee kept working tirelessly; and the Wolves will be looking for more fighting efforts from them this time round. Back on their home turf this week, it’s now or never for the Wolves.

The Bats will have been disappointed with last week’s meeting with Pennant Hills at Mike Kenny. It started well enough, with the Bats 22 points ahead at quarter time; but the Demons reeled them in and the last quarter saw the Demons take the lead and run our with a 23-point result. It leaves the Bats with a 2-2 record, and a season that started with such promise is back on even terms. But the Bats have the firepower to hit back, and you can expect to see the likes of Connor Lappin and Billy Kanakis step up again this week to lead the way in the Bats’ fightback.

Neither team has sung the song since the Easter break, and there’s a golden chance to break the losing run and get the season back on track. But only one team will achieve that. For the other, this season will be at risk of running away from them. There’s plenty of work to be done, and the work starts here.


North Shore Bombers v Inner West Magpies

Gore Hill Oval, Saturday 3:10pm

A crunch game on the synthetic at Gore Hill sees the Bombers take on the Magpies. Two weeks ago, you’d have written this one down as a likely North Shore win; but the Magpies are on a roll and will fancy their chances of the upset here.

North Shore bounced back from their round three loss last Saturday, getting up by 50 points against East Coast at Kanebridge. There wasn’t much in it at quarter time, but the Bombers’ defence dominated the game from then on, and the Eagles were held goal-less for the last three quarters. Jordan Law and Jack Campbell took control of the game, and they had plenty of fellow contributors as they locked the Eagles out of the contest. If they can replicate that form, the Bombers will be hard to get past.

It’s been quite a few years since the Magpies have won at Gore Hill; and their round one visit for a neutral game was not a happy experience for them. But the Magpies have improved enormously since then, and showed themselves capable of challenging the best when they got a split decision against Sydney Uni at Picken Oval last week. They could so easily have won, having a four goal lead at the last change; but a draw against one of the competition heavyweights is a respectable result. The Magpies will be looking for another big effort from Kel Evans and Ben Klemke, building on the form and momentum they built last week.

The Magpies have played some good footy, but this is another challenge for them. North Shore are not an easy side to generate a winning score against. This will be a keenly fought contest.


East Coast Eagles v St George Dragons

Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 4:10pm

A twilight encounter at Kanebridge Oval sees East Coast play St George, in another high-stakes clash that could tell us plenty about this season.

East Coast are yet to sing their song in 2022, and last week they were unable to get past the resolute North Shore defensive unit, held goal-less after quarter time to go down by 50 points. Justin Harding and Lachlan Mason put in the effort for the Eagles, and they’ll be looking to do the same this time. But the Eagles as a group need to find the circuit-breaker; the moment that will snap their momentum and inspire them to bigger things. They have it in them.

St George are refreshed after last week’s bye, and ready to make their move. Spearheading the charge up forward will be Noah Casalini, who is quickly establishing himself as one of the best forwards in the comp and comes into this game fresh from a six-goal haul in St George’s last start when they overcame Manly by 53 points. Also keep an eye on Nelson Carey, who was dominant around the ground last time the Dragons were on the field.

At home, the Eagles will be going all out for the breakthrough win. They have to. But it won’t be easy against a rested and relaxed Dragons outfit that is fighting to enter the top five. There’ll be no holds barred in this battle.





Sydney University v Pennant Hills Demons

Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 12:00pm

In what is looking like becoming a tight race for finals positions, games like this feel like they are worth eight points; not only the four points the winner picks up, but the four points that a finals rival doesn’t get. And so this is potentially a critical clash for how the season may unfold as Sydney Uni host the Demons.

After a strong start to the season by Sydney Uni, last week was a tough day at the office for them, when they went down to Inner West by 49 points at Picken Oval. There were positives for the Students, particularly the form of Emma Gelsomino and Amy Foo. But the University side will be looking for a solid team effort to get back on the winning list this time.

The Demons also go into this game looking to hit back hard. Last week was a slog at Mike Kenny Oval, but despite having more scoring shots than UTS the Demons went down by seven points; an inaccurate return of 2.10 costing the Demons dearly. But there was plenty to like about the Demons’ efforts around the ground, with Grace Painting and Tayla Duguid featuring prominently; and the Demons will picture them again putting in big efforts this time round.

Both teams have followed a similar pattern to date, with two wins before Easter followed by two losses. But now their paths split, and getting ahead of a finals rival and striking a key psychological blow is critical. This is a game that is there for the team that will stand up and take it.


Manly-Warringah Wolves v UTS Bats

Weldon Oval, Saturday 12:30pm

Our televised match of the round comes from Weldon Oval, where the Wolves play host to the Bats in a clash that will be shown live on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page; and it’s a contest you won’t want to miss.

Manly go into this clash in impressive touch. Last week they won their third game on the trot, getting the early jump against UNSW-ES at Henson Park and holding the Bulldogs to a single goal to prevail by 44 points. It wasn’t an easy day for goal scoring, but Jess Doyle made light work of the conditions to bag four goals, while Lauren Bourgois picked up numerous touches around the ground. The Wolves have worked their way into solid form

The Bats got themselves on the scoreboard last week and kick-started their campaign, slogging hard in a low-scoring scrap to defeat Pennant Hills by seven points at Mike Kenny Oval. Melissa Lindsay was outstanding, while young gun Marnie Robinson showed she belongs at this level as she worked her way to a Rising Star nomination. Suddenly the Bats have their tails up and confidence is in their lineup. This is a challenge they’ll be relishing.

Manly will go into this clash as favourites. They’ve had an impressive start to the year, and have an exceptionally strong lineup. But the Bats aren’t to be ruled out here. A solid effort, scrapping hard and denying the Wolves easy possession, and they’ll be right in this contest.


Macquarie Uni Warriors v UNSW-ES Bulldogs

Macquarie Uni Oval, Saturday 1:30pm

What a difference a win makes! The Warriors finally broke through last week to snap a two-year streak, and now they’ll be pushing to turn the breakthrough result into a winning streak. But the Bulldogs will be all-out to prevent that from happening.

There was plenty for the Macquarie Uni faithful to celebrate when the Warriors travelled to Waratah Oval last week and took control of proceedings to run out 25 point winners. After not being able to sing the song last year or in the first three rounds this year, there was plenty of passion in the sheds as they belted out a rousing rendition. Lauren Easton’s four goals and a strong effort from Laura Coleman had spearheaded the charge, and they’ll be looking to replicate that effort this time. Suddenly the mood has shifted, and there’s a swagger in the Warriors’ step that we haven’t seen for a while.

The Bulldogs had a tough outing last week when they were held to a single goal by Manly, going down by 44 points. They will be looking for more big efforts from the likes of Mattison Ball and Sera Kaukiono, who battled tirelessly against the odds last week. But now is the time for the Bulldog match-winners to step up and deliver.

Both teams are 1-3, but the Warriors have finally found their mojo. And now is the time to make it count, to string a few wins together and get back into contention for this season. But the Bulldogs will be looking at this game as an opportunity to get themselves back on the winning list. There’ll be plenty of desperation, plenty of scrapping and denying the opposition anything. Expect a tight contest here, a battle for four points that are extremely valuable.


North Shore Bombers v Inner West Magpies

Gore Hill Oval, Saturday 5:30pm

A mouth-watering contest is in prospect under lights on the Gore Hill synthetic as the Bombers play host to the Magpies.

North Shore travelled up the M2 to Kanebridge last week, but were unable to return with the four points; going down by 45 points to a well-drilled Eagles side at the peak of their game. Tilly Eder and Zoe Hurrell kept putting in the big efforts, and they will again this week; but it wasn’t enough to get the Bombers over the line. The Bombers have split their results so far this year, winning both their home games but going down on the road; and will be thankful for the home ground advantage this time.

Inner West Magpies have done everything that could have been asked of them so far, and find themselves undefeated after four rounds. Last week at Picken Oval they burst out of the blocks, and a flying start propelled them to a 49-point win over Sydney Uni. Erin Lorenzini and Eilish Sheerin were superb for the Magpies, and another big contribution from them is the goal for this week and would see the visitors well on the way to keeping their unbeaten record intact.

The Bombers have a 2-2 record, but have taken it up to two of the competition heavyweights and find themselves fourth on the table. In this clash, they’re up against another undefeated title contender. But this is the Bombers’ turf, and they beat the Magpies in a thriller there last year. There won’t be much separating these two sides.


East Coast Eagles v Southern Power

Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 6:30pm

Under lights at Kanebridge, the round will be concluded with a match between the high-flying East Coast against Southern Power.

The Eagles haven’t put a foot wrong all year, riding the crest of a wave as they stay undefeated. Last week against North Shore, they were at the peak of their game, putting on a clinic to record a comfortable 45-point win. Giants-listed Georgia Garnett and Tarni Evans led the way, and there were plenty of team-mates to follow. Again, the Eagles showed that they will be hard to beat in 2022, and it will take something special to stop them.

In contrast, Southern Power haven’t had things go their way this season, and last week was another disappointing result for them as they went down to Macquarie Uni by 25 points. Established gun players Brodee Mowbray and Jemima Wrigley worked hard for the Power, but again the Power were unable to put their opposition under pressure when it mattered. The Power will be looking for the circuit-breaker play this week, the moment that turns their momentum around.

The undefeated leaders at home against the winless bottom team looks like a mismatch on paper. But football’s a funny game, it isn’t played on paper; and the upset result isn’t impossible. But the Power will have to scrap and fight and make it hard for the Eagles to get their game plan into gear. If they can do that, and frustrate the Eagles’ run, anything can happen.