Written by David Redden


AFL Canberra and AFL Sydney turned on a terrific display of representative football at a very chilly Manuka Oval. Canberra set up their thirty-two-point victory by kicking five goals against the breeze in a thrilling nine goal first quarter. Sydney led briefly in the third term, but Canberra came home superbly in the final quarter, kicking eight goals to Sydney’s three to run out convincing winners 17.6.118 to 13.7.85.

Canberra’s midfield were superb in the first half, with Alex Smout, Luke Morfoot, Tyler Collins and ruck Aidan Bowyer giving their crack forward line of Andrew Swan, Angus Jones, Alessandro Sergi and Thomas Faul great service as the Canberrans led by sixteen points at the main break.

Sydney’s coaching brains trust of Ben Roberts and Kevin Dyson weaved their magic wand at half time, with Sydney levelling the scores at the three-quarter time break after a five goal to two burst downwind, Ned Campbell, James Lugsdin, Josh Boag and Sam Barkley dominating in the midfield, with dual ruck threats Finbar Delbridge and Mitchell Blow giving great service as Sydney got right back into the game.

However, the vastly experienced Angus Baker kicked two long bombs from well outside fifty to turbo-charge the hosts as they kicked away in clinical final quarter, kicking eight goals to three on a wonderful afternoon at one of the country best boutique sporting arenas.

Swan led all goal kickers with for majors in a powerful display up forward. Delbridge, playing as a ruckman/forward, managed three goals in demanding a spot on the plane to York Park in July. Smout won Canberra’s Best on Ground Medal, his superb foot skills setting up his forwards on many occasions. Baker, Collins, dual rucks Bowyer and Thomas Robertson and Luke Morfoot were amongst Canberra’s best players. Delbridge won Sydney’s Best on Ground Medal in a superb display, well supported by Lugsdin, Campbell, Boag, Jake Veale and veteran Stephen Wray.