AFL Sydney Premier Division Men’s & Women’s- Round 10 Preview
Written by Michael Shillito
A week off over the long weekend, a chance to get over any little niggles and have a breather before we hit the second half of the season.
But now it’s time to get back into it. We have an extremely tight battle for the top five, and positions within the five, in both the Mens and Womens comps. No-one is undefeated, no-one is invincible. Every victory must be earned, and there’s no room for complacency. No easy wins. At this stage of the season, the teams that turn up and put in the effort every week are the ones who move up the ladder.
MENS PREMIER DIVISION
Sydney Uni v UTS Bats
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 2:00pm
Please note due to venue requirements at Weldon Oval the Match of the Round this Saturday will now be Sydney University vs UTS AFC Bats from Sydney Uni Oval. Tune into Kayo Sports or the AFL Sydney Facebook page to watch the Men’s Premier Division Match of the Round from 2:00pm.
A university derby kicks off the round at Sydney Uni No 1, as the Students play host to the Bats. It’s second v seventh, but only six premiership points separate the two sides, a reflection of how tight this season is.
The Students worked their way into second place last round, doing it in style with a convincing 121-point win over East Coast at Kanebridge. It was a dominant performance from start to finish, spearheaded by myriad possessions from Oscar Davis and Riley Fitzroy; as the Students turned on their near-unstoppable form. Sydney Uni won’t be letting the mid-season break spoil the momentum they’ve built up, and the Bats will have some work to do to stop them in their tracks.
UTS have been waiting for a fortnight to put things right after their last start, when they were never in the hunt against North Shore at Gore Hill and went down by 59 points. Kyle Emley and Thomas Borrillo toiled tirelessly all afternoon, but it wasn’t the Bats’ day. But the Bats’ form for most of this season has been better than that, and they’ll come out swinging in this clash, determined to make amends and show themselves to be worthy finals contenders.
With three wins on the trot behind them, and the home ground advantage, the Students will go into this game as favourites. But it’s a very tight battle for positions, and if the Bats can pull off the upset in this game they will find themselves only half a game behind the Students. The Bats are well and truly in the hunt for the finals, and claiming a key scalp here will help their chances.
East Coast Eagles v UNSW-ES Bulldogs
Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 2:30pm
Kanebridge Oval will be the venue for a clash between the Eagles and the Bulldogs. It’s the winless last-placed team against the ladder leaders, but the Bulldogs can’t afford to take this one lightly.
The Eagles will have welcomed the mid-season break. A chance to regroup and reset, and to work hard at getting their campaign back on track. Little has gone right for the Eagles so far in 2022, and their last start didn’t go their way as they were well beaten by 121 points by a red-hot Sydney Uni side. Cameron Edwards and Jayden Rapley kept putting the effort in, but it was a struggle on the day. But, refreshed and with a new mindset, the Eagles will be pumped and relishing the chance to wreak some havoc on this season.
UNSW-ES have led the way this season, and when challenged for top spot in their last start against Pennant Hills, responded in style. Top of the ladder was on the line, but the challenge was snuffed out before it started, with the Bulldogs getting off to a flying start before cruising to a 29-point win. Brodie Romensky led the way, while youngster Ethan Eshuys worked his way to a Rising Star nomination; as the Bulldogs, as they so often do, were able to find the manpower to make the winning plays and lock their opposition out of the contest.
As the ladder leaders, the Bulldogs will fancy their chances against an opponent that is yet to taste the spoils of victory. But they still have to turn up and get the job done. Any lapse in their momentum, any weakness, will be pounced on by a determined opponent. This is one upset the Eagles would love nothing more than to pull off.
Manly-Warringah Wolves v St George Dragons
Weldon Oval, Saturday 2:30pm
A crunch game at Weldon Oval sees Manly return from a two-week hiatus to take on St George in a game between two teams fighting for their finals lives.
Manly haven’t won since the opening day of the season. The bye and the mid-season break mean the Wolves have had a two-week break; and it’s a big opportunity to regroup for the massive challenge that lies ahead. At their last start, they were well beaten by 93 points by a red-hot Pennant Hills side, despite the determined work of Damien Haynes and Keiran Le Jeune. But the Wolves need to find more contributors if they are to turn their form around, and time is running out.
While the situation is not quite so desperate for the Dragons, they will also be on the rebound and looking to hit back hard. Last round saw the Dragons fall out of the top five when they let a 17-point three quarter time lead slip against Inner West, going down by 13 points. Noah Casalini again showed himself to be one of the game’s best forwards with a four-goal haul, while Matt Saunders featured prominently around the ground. But it was four points that got away, and the Dragons have some work to do if they are to regain the ground they lost in that clash.
For Manly, it’s now or never. If they can’t get the four points here, their finals chances become very remote. But the Dragons also need the win to keep themselves close to the finals contenders. The Dragons got up by 53 points when the two sides met at Olds Park in round three. This time the Wolves are at home, and they need to use that to their advantage. For the Wolves, a win here keeps them in realistic contention. A loss would relegate them to the “still mathematically possible” zone, from which it becomes very difficult.
Pennant Hills Demons v Inner West Magpies
Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 2:40pm
The Demons and the Magpies face off at Mike Kenny Oval. In a contest for the finals as tight as what we’re seeing unfold this season, a clash like this may prove critical.
The Demons go into this game in third position. At their last start, a big win against UNSW-ES at Henson Park would have got them into pole position; but a goal-less first term saw them fall behind and they were unable to catch up against a red-hot Bulldogs team. Seb Quirk and Cooper Lee worked hard all day, but it wasn’t enough to get the Demons over the line. But despite the loss, they find themselves well placed going into the second half of the season; but there’s a very tight field of teams chasing their tail, and they can’t afford to slip up here.
The Magpies have lifted their game this season and are well and truly in the finals hunt. Their last start boosted their chances, when they came from 17 points down at three quarter time against St George at Wagener Oval, a barnstorming six goals to one final quarter getting them over the line. Ben Zoppo was in complete control in the forward line to finish with six goals, while Brandon Laguna got plenty of the ball around the ground. The win saw the Magpies move into the top five, confidence is growing and the feeling is strong that they can make a return to playoff action this season.
It’s the second meeting between the two teams this season. On ANZAC Day in round three at Picken Oval, the Magpies controlled proceedings to record a 30 point win. This time it’s the Demons with the home advantage, and they need to make it count. If the Magpies get up here, they go ahead of the Demons; and in just two rounds the Demons will have gone from challenging for the lead to battling to stay in the five. They can’t let that happen.
WOMENS PREMIER DIVISION
Pennant Hills Demons v Inner West Magpies
Mike Kenny Oval (Lower oval), Saturday 12:40pm
As we move past the mid-season break, it’s a key clash at Mike Kenny. The Demons desperately need a win to get into finals calculations, but the Magpies won’t be making it easy for them.
After winning their first two games, the Demons haven’t sung the song since. At their last start, a Sunday encounter at Henson Park, the Demons took it up to the Bulldogs but in a tight low-scoring contest weren’t able to find the goals when it mattered and went down by seven points. There was plenty to like about the Demon fight, particularly the efforts of Kaitlin Noble and Eliza Harvey. But the Demons need to string some wins together to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Their opponents, Inner West Magpies, will also have been looking to regroup during the mid-season break. Their last start wasn’t a repeat of the shock loss to Macquarie Uni, but the Magpies weren’t totally convincing in their 19-point win over Southern Power. Thanks to the efforts of Eilish Sheerin and Elly Jenkins they were able to get the win, but it was well short of the high standards the Magpies set for themselves; and the break gives them an opportunity to reset and work through their patch in form.
The two sides have played each other already this season, with the Magpies getting up by 66 points at Picken Oval on ANZAC Day. This time it’s the Demons at home, and they need to use their advantage. The Magpies are one of this season’s front-runners, and the Demons will need to pull off their best efforts to take the upset in this clash.
Macquarie Uni Warriors v North Shore Bombers
Macquarie Uni Oval, Saturday 1:30pm
Another important clash in the context of the season will be fought out beside the grassy banks of Macquarie Uni Oval as the Warriors play host to the Bombers.
The Warriors have two wins this season, but at their last start they were defeated by 37 points by Manly. Hannah Cerezo and Jodie Hicks worked hard for the Warriors, but they weren’t able to replicate the form that took them to a big upset the week before. But the Warriors have shown considerable improvement as the season has progressed, the long winless streak is a distant memory.
North Shore sit in fifth place, keeping themselves in a finals position at their last start with a 34-point win over UTS at Gore Hill. Kate Reynolds and Liv Edwards were the standouts, but the Bombers were able to find contributors around the ground to ensure the Bats were never able to get into the contest. The Bombers have had their ups and downs in 2022, but if they can replicate the form they showed in their last match they’ll win more than they’ll lose from here.
It’s the second meeting between the two clubs this year. In the opening round at Gore Hill, North Shore dominated from start to finish to take out a 75-point win. But this is a very different Macquarie Uni side compared to how the season started. There’s confidence and self-belief slowly growing. They claimed a big scalp a few weeks ago when they held the Magpies to one point, and they’d love nothing more than to claim another big upset. But the Bombers won’t be letting that happen easily. The Bombers staying in the top five is depending on a win here.
Manly-Warringah Wolves v Southern Power
Weldon Oval, Saturday 4:30pm
Manly go into this clash in third place, and will be looking for a big result against the winless Southern Power.
Manly sit in third place, and worked their way back into winning form at their last start when they prevailed by 37 points at Macquarie Uni. The Wolves’ big names made key contributions, with Lauren Burgeois and Emily Goodsir picking up plenty of the ball to set the team up for success. They’ve dropped a few games this year, but the Wolves when on their game are an imposing opponent; and that’s the form they’ll be looking to turn on in this clash.
Southern Power haven’t yet been able to sing the song in 2022; but they have reason to hope their first win isn’t too far away. Last time round they travelled to Wagener Oval to take on the high-flying Inner West Magpies, and against the odds they took it up to their highly-ranked opponents, only going down by 19 points. Kyla Tracey and Annelotte Birdsall stood up and contributed for the Power, in a performance vastly improved from earlier efforts. If they Power can continue to build their performance, they’ll trouble some opposition before the year is out.
The Wolves will go into this game as overwhelming favourites; and in a tight competition where not only wins but percentage could be critical, they’ll be looking for a big win. With the home advantage, and a rest to take care of any little niggles, they’ll fancy their chances. But the Power aren’t going to go down without a fight. A finals berth is probably beyond them, but they’d love to throw some carnage among the competition heavyweights before the year is out.
Sydney University v UTS Bats
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 4:35pm
Please note due to venue requirements at Weldon Oval the Match of the Round this Saturday will now be Sydney University vs UTS AFC Bats from Sydney Uni Oval. Tune into Kayo Sports or the AFL Sydney Facebook page to watch the Women’s Premier Division Match of the Round from 4:35pm.
An important twilight clash at Sydney Uni No 1 sees the Students take on the Bats. In the context of a very tight race for finals positions, important here is not just the four points the winner gets, but the points that, for the loser, have got away.
Sydney Uni have been in impressive form in recent weeks, but weren’t quite able to knock off the ladder leaders at their last start. A slow start cost the Students dearly, and although they came storming home at the end, they went down by 11 points. There was a lot to like about Sydney Uni’s efforts, particularly the form of Emma Gelsomino and Erin Doyle; as they took the fight up to the competition’s front-runner. They’ll beat most teams in the comp when they can put up a performance of that quality.
The Bats sit in seventh spot, a win out of the five. A chance to enter the top five got away at their last start, when they went down by 34 points to North Shore at Gore Hill Oval. The Bats received solid service from the likes of Grace Hill and Edwina Ross, but it wasn’t enough for the Bats to challenge the Bombers. A week off to reset and re-evaluate, and now it’s time for the Bats to hit back. They’ve shown themselves capable of challenging the top teams.
If Sydney Uni can get up here, they’ll establish a handy break within the top five and the Bats will risk falling behind the teams chasing for the finals. But a Bats win will tighten the field even further, keeping the Bats well and truly in contention while leaving an opening for the teams chasing Sydney Uni. When the final analysis of the ladder takes place after the home and away season is complete, games like this will tell us a lot about how it takes shape.
East Coast Eagles v UNSW-ES Bulldogs
Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 4:50pm
East Coast at Kanebridge under lights is one of the most imposing challenges in womens’ footy, but the Bulldogs are refreshed, pumped up and ready for this challenge.
The Eagles sit in pole position at the mid-season break, but they were given a test by Sydney Uni at their last start. A strong start gave them enough of a buffer to hold the Students out and record a seven-point win, led by the strong form of Bryany Parker and Emily Hurley. They were challenged but found what it took to get the job done. No-one’s going to win by a big margin every week, but quality teams find a way to win when it gets tight.
UNSW-ES also go into this game with winning form on the board, after grinding out a seven-point win over Pennant Hills at Henson Park at their last start. It wasn’t always pretty to watch in a low-scoring scrap, but the likes of Gabrielle Wendelin and Hayley Stanford stood up and were counted at the critical moments to enable the Bulldogs to get the job done. When it was tight, the Bulldogs found a way to prevail; and that’s the attitude they’ll need to take into this clash.
East Coast will go into this one as favourites. Other than one slip-up, they haven’t done too much wrong this season. But they can’t afford to take the Bulldogs lightly. The Bulldogs have lifted as the season has progressed, and this is a challenge they’ll be relishing. To pull off the upset here would go a long way to getting them into the finals.