AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s & Women’s- Round 6 Preview

Written by Michael Shillito


This weekend takes us to a third of the way through the home and away season, and the ladders for our Premier Division competitions are starting to take shape. But there’s still a long way to go, plenty of time for teams who aren’t in the top five to make their move. And there’s no shortage of important games coming up this week.




Inner West Magpies v Manly-Warringah Wolves

Picken Oval, Saturday 12:40pm

It’s desperation stakes time for the Magpies and the Wolves as they face off in a lunchtime battle at Picken Oval, with both teams keen for a win.

The Magpies have one win and one draw so far this season, but they’ve shown themselves to be more than competitive against the competition front-runners. Last week at Gore Hill Oval they gave North Shore a run for their money, briefly hitting the lead in the last quarter and going down by just 11 points. Will Sabolch and Daniel O’Connor led the way for the Magpies, with Sabolch earning himself a Rising Star nomination; but they had plenty of contributors. They’ve put in credible performances against UNSW-ES, Sydney Uni and North Shore; and shown they’re not far away from matching it with the leading contenders.

After a big win on the opening day of the season, the Wolves have lost four in a row; and need to find a spark to get their season back on track. It may come from Kieran Le Jeune or James Lugsdin, who played some impressive footy last week; although it wasn’t enough to get the Wolves over the line against UTS. But wherever it comes from, the Wolves need to dig deep and find a way. The season will get away from them very quickly if they don’t.

The Magpies have been close to the top teams, but it counts for nothing if they can’t rack up some wins; and this is one where they just have to get the four points. But Manly won’t be making it easy for them. The Wolves are desperate, and need to claim a scalp. This will be a tightly fought affair, and you can expect to see a close and determined battle.


UNSW-ES Bulldogs v North Shore Bombers

Henson Park, Saturday 2:00pm

It’s a top-of-the-table clash between two teams that we can expect to face off during the business end of the season at Henson Park on Saturday. Footy in May doesn’t come much bigger than this. And if you can’t make it to Henson, you can still catch the action; as it streams live on Kayo Sport and the AFL Sydney Facebook page.

The Bulldogs will go into this clash refreshed and relaxed after last week’s bye. Their last start against Manly two weeks ago was a comfortable win, and could have been even more but for some wayward kicking. Keiran Emery was unstoppable up forward to finish with five goals, while Brodie Romensky also featured prominently. The Bulldogs have plenty of ball-winners around the ground, and they’ll be relishing this challenge.

The Bombers have only dropped one game this season, but they were given a test by the Magpies at Gore Hill last week. The Magpies kept themselves within striking distance and took the lead early in the last term; but when the game was in the balance, the likes of Nick Brewer and Jack Campbell stood up and got the Bombers over the line. It was close, but to be a top contender you need to find a way to win the close ones, and the Bombers were able to do that.

Both clubs have featured in finals in recent seasons, and have expectations of being there again this time. There’s plenty at stake here. The four points the winner gets, the four points the loser doesn’t get, and a critical psychological edge for the stage of the season when the stakes are even higher. There’s plenty of motivation, plenty of incentive; and the winner will make a clear statement about this season. This should be a cracker.


UTS Bats v St George Dragons

Trumper Park, Saturday 2:15pm

Two teams whose seasons are delicately poised face off at Trumper Park on Saturday afternoon as UTS play host to St George. The Bats have won three, the Dragons two; but the Dragons have a game in hand and a better percentage.

The Bats returned to the winning list in style at Weldon Oval last week. It was tight in the first half, and tied up at the long break; but the Bats took control in the second half to get up by 25 points. The Bats were spearheaded by the efforts of Josh Kimpton and Billy Kanakis, and they’ll be looking for another big effort from them in this clash to build on the momentum they built last week.

St George hit their peak form at Kanebridge last week, dominating from start to finish to record a convincing 111-point win over East Coast. The Dragons had winners all over the ground, and their forward line had the Eagles disoriented with the form of Liam Maze and Noah Casalini, who both finished with four goals. With the form and confidence a performance like that can bring, the Dragons will be hard to stop in this clash.

Both these teams are on the edge of the finals, and it could be a very tight battle for finals positions this year. It’s hard to see both these teams getting into the finals; and a clash like this one may well separate the contenders from the also-rans. The four points in this clash are worth their weight in gold.


Pennant Hills Demons v East Coast Eagles

Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 2:40pm

The battle of the north-west, the race to be top of the Pops, sees the Demons take on the Eagles at Mike Kenny Oval. The Demons are on a high, while the Eagles will be looking for the circuit-breaker to kick-start their season.

The Demons will go into this game high on confidence after a cracker of a win at Sydney Uni No 1 last week; getting on top in the third quarter to record a 15-point win to move up to third and knock the Students out of the top five. Keep an eye on Harry Maguire, who will be looking to continue the purple patch of form that saw him kick five last week; and on Michael Carroll, who was a ball magnet and set up numerous Demon opportunities. The Demons enjoyed that win, and will be keen to continue their winning ways on their home turf this time.

It wasn’t a great day for the Eagles last week, when they were never in the contest against a St George team at the peak of their form, going down by 111 points. Scott Brown and Nathan Coxall kept putting in the effort; but in the end it wasn’t enough for the Eagles. Winless from four games, the Eagles need to find that little bit more, to find the edge that will turn their fortunes around. The season will get away from them very quickly if they don’t.

There’s been plenty of keenly-fought battles between these two sides in seasons past. This time the Demons will go in as favourites. But there’s been plenty of upsets in north-western derbies before; plenty of instances from which the Eagles can draw their inspiration. They’ll have been stung by last week, and they won’t be going down without a fight against Pennant Hills.





Sydney University v Macquarie Uni Warriors

Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 12:00pm

University pride will be on the line at Sydney Uni No 1 in a lunchtime clash on Saturday, with the Students at home to the Warriors in a must-win affair.

Sydney Uni find themselves with a 3-2 record, comfortably inside the top five; but they had to dig deep last week to get over the line against a determined and fast-finishing Demons lineup. But in the end, they were able to put on the key plays when they mattered and do enough to get the four points. Lucy Gilfedder has shown herself to be a handy target up forward, adding four goals last week; while Esther Maling picked up plenty of the ball around the ground. The Students will again be looking to them to play a leading role this week.

The Warriors have been vastly improved in the last couple of weeks, and came so close to winning their second on the trot last week against UNSW-ES at Macquarie Uni. It was a scrap, with no quarter asked or given; and had the Warriors converted their opportunities they could have won. Instead they went down by just seven points, but lost no respect after a determined fighting effort; exemplified by the tireless efforts of Jodie Hicks and Abbie Lewis. They are a vastly improved side, and are no easybeats; and not far away from claiming some more wins in this competition.

It’s been a good start to the season for Sydney Uni, and they’re in good touch. But this is no time to rest on their laurels. The Warriors have lifted in the last couple of weeks, and they’re looking for reward for effort; and would like nothing more than to claim a quality scalp. Sydney Uni can’t afford to take the Warriors lightly here.


UNSW-ES Bulldogs v North Shore Bombers

Henson Park, Saturday 12:20pm

Two teams knocking on the door of finals contention face off at Henson Park with a big clash between the Bulldogs and the Bombers; and if you can’t get to Henson, you can see it all on Kayo Sports and the AFL Sydney Facebook page.

Both teams go into this game with a 2-3 record. The Bulldogs got there last week with a narrow seven-point win at Macquarie Uni last week. It wasn’t easy against a determined Warriors side, but led by Sera Kaukino around the ground and with Willow Smith kicking all four of their goals, they were able to find a way to claim the win. In a tightly contested battle for finals places, the teams that will get there are the teams that will win the close ones.

It wasn’t a great evening for the Bombers at Gore Hill Oval last week, as they were never in the hunt against Inner West Magpies and went down by 56 points. The Bombers haven’t had the easiest of draws, having already played and lost to the top three teams. But now they need a big win to kick-start the season, and they have the firepower to get it done. If the likes of Matilda Eder and Lucy Krimmer can replicate their tireless efforts last week, the Bombers will be well on their way.

The winner of this clash will be in the top five by the end of the weekend, the loser will not. But in the context of the season, this game counts not just for the four points the winner picks up but the points the loser misses out on. When finals positions are up for grabs, games like this tell us a lot about who will be there and who won’t.


UTS Bats v Southern Power

Trumper Park, Saturday 12:30pm

After one of their greatest performances in recent years, the Bats return home with their confidence sky high for a clash against Southern Power.

Last week at Weldon, the Bats turned on their best form to stun the Wolves by 15 points. When the game was there to be won, the Bats dug deep and got the job done. Ruby Reid was the dominant force, earning herself a Rising Star nomination; while Grace Hill also featured prominently for the Bats. This is a result that will do wonders for the black and greens; knowing they have the talent and the game to beat one of the league’s strongest teams, and they’ll carry that momentum into this week’s match.

This week the Bats’ opponent is Southern Power, one who needs to find the breakthrough to turn their fortunes around. The Power were well beaten by East Coast at Kanebridge last week, going down by 103 points. Brodee Mowbray and Madeline Parker tried hard; but the Power didn’t have the firepower to match it with the competition’s front-runner. But the night can be at its darkest just before the dawn, and if the Power can find the circuit-breaker, they can turn their form around.

It can take one big performance to turn a club’s momentum around. The Bats know that, and last week’s result was one they can build on to work their way up the ladder. And that’s something the Power need to do. The first win can be the toughest to get; but now is the time to stand up, lift the work rate and get it done. They’re not out of this season, but need to work for that circuit-breaking first win.


Pennant Hills Demons v East Coast Eagles

Mike Kenny Oval (Lower Oval), Saturday 12:40pm

There’s always a sense of anticipation when the north-western derby comes around, and this week will be no exception. And although the Eagles go into this one as the hottest of favourites, the Demons can’t be written off.

It was a heartbreaker for the Demons last week at Sydney Uni No 1, as they finished full of running but fell short by just three points against Sydney Uni. There was plenty to like about the Demons, particularly the efforts of Madison Hare and Ella Morris; as they went so close to claiming the scalp of the Students. It wasn’t to be, but they showed themselves to be more than competitive against a finals contender.

East Coast have been near unstoppable this season, undefeated and with an imposing percentage. Last week at Kanebridge they dominated from start to finish to record a comprehensive 103-point win against Southern Power. Rylee McGartland was an irresistible force in the forward line to finish with seven goals, while Summer Hall featured prominently as she picked up an enormous possession count. The Eagles have been a powerhouse to date this year, taking the game to a new level.

The Eagles haven’t put a foot wrong so far this season, and won’t be easy to beat. But the Demons will be keen to pile on the pressure and make life difficult for the Eagles. If they can slow the momentum, prevent the Eagles from getting into a rhythm and let the frustration build, they’ll be well on their way to pulling off the boilover of the season.


Inner West Magpies v Manly-Warringah Wolves

Picken Oval, Saturday 3:30pm

A keenly anticipated clash between two of the competition’s leading contenders will be fought out at Picken Oval as the Magpies face the Wolves. They played off in a Grand Final just two years ago, and have hopes of being there in the competition’s showpiece game again in 2022.

The Magpies to into this game undefeated, and showed their class at Gore Hill last Saturday evening when they put on a clinic to knock off the Bombers by 56 points. Spearheaded by a five goal haul from Rebecca Privitelli and with Jasmine Smith controlling proceedings around the ground, the Magpies were at their dominant best. If they can repeat that form this time round, they’ll be close to unstoppable.

Manly go into this game desperate to bounce back. Last week at Weldon they were stunned by a UTS side that had turned up to play, and in a shock result went down by 15 points. Asha Turner Funk and Caitlin Johnson worked hard all day, but the Wolves were at the wrong end of an upset result. Champion teams don’t always win, but they’re known for coming back next time.

This match has the makings of a blockbuster classic. The Magpies have done everything that could have been asked of them, while the Wolves will be determined to bounce back after last week’s shock result. Both will be there at the business end of the season, and this game offers not just four points but a key psychological edge. It shouldn’t be too hard to fire the players up for this one.