East Coast take the points against Sydney Uni in Round 2


Article courtesy of Michael Shillito.

It’s been an exceptionally warm and dry autumn in Sydney, and during the week the temperature climbed into the mid-30’s. Thankfully for the players it wasn’t that warm over the weekend, but sunny weather and grounds in good condition greeted the players for the second weekend of footy this season.

A Saturday twilight clash at Henson Park saw two first-round winners, Sydney Uni and East Coast, face off in the Gordon–Physick Cup, competed for once each season. And it was the Eagles who would keep their unbeaten 2016 record intact, but they were made to earn it by a determined Students’ outfit that refused to concede easy goals.

The Eagles went into the match as hot favourites and everything looked to be running to the form lines in the first quarter. The Eagles took the lead early and looked in control and although scoring wasn’t easy, four goals to one and an 18-point lead at quarter time would have caused few surprises.

That first quarter ensured the Eagles would never be headed and they would go on to extend their lead in the second quarter. But this would be a battle of the defences, as the Sydney Uni backline stood their ground, manning up, refusing to concede easy possessions and making the highly-fancied Eagle forwards earn every kick. It was a tight and sometimes physical quarter of footy and loose men were hard to find as numbers gathered around the ball at every opportunity. The Eagles kicked three goals to one for the quarter and led by 31 points at the long break, but this was going to be a game where the defences were on top.

The Students didn’t have the firepower to make any inroads into the deficit during the third term, but they were defending resolutely and steadfastly refusing to allow the Eagles to dominate. Two goals apiece would go onto the scoreboard in another hard-fought quarter of footy, with the Eagles leading by 32 points at the last change.

It had been a good quality contest. Not one for the forwards to take delight in, but plenty of entertainment value despite the low scoring. The Eagles had the game comfortably won and would score three goals to two in the final term to run out 36-point winners. Two wins to start the season is what the Eagles were looking for, and mission accomplished. But the Students, although unable to take the premiership points, gave a good account of themselves and could have got closer if they had finished more accurately than their eventual score-line of 6.14.

Stuart Turner, Bryce Joynson and Zac Johns were standout contributors for the Eagles, while the Students had been well served by the efforts of Oliver Mahony, Nick Bowen and James Lewington.

East Coast Eagles  4.3 7.6 9.11 12.14 (86)
Sydney University 1.3 2.5 4.9    6.14 (50)
East Coast –
L Gemmill 3, A McConnell 2, E Kruger, T Baker, B Joynson, B Bourke, J Ford, Jamie Vlatko, M Skuse.
Sydney Uni – M Vicic 2, B Hawtin, M Powys, L Vella, J Lewington.
East Coast –
S Turner, B Joynson, Z Johns, M Eastman, L Gemmill, B Bourke.
Sydney Uni – O Mahony, N Bowen, J Lewington, G Smith, T Elkington, A Clarke.
At Henson Park, Saturday 9th April 2016.

North Shore made their first appearance in Premier Division for 2016 after an opening round bye with a home clash against UNSW-ES on Saturday afternoon. These two clubs were the bottom two teams in 2015, with the Bulldogs’ only win for the season being their visit to North Shore. But this was a new-look North Shore team, with their home ground renamed Mortgage Choice Oval after a sponsorship deal and coached by Ryan Meldrum for the first time.

The Bulldogs, after going down to UTS in the opening round, were keen to get themselves on the board for the new season and in the opening exchanges there wasn’t much to separate the two sides. Both were keen to get on the front foot, playing an attacking brand of footy as they went goal for goal early.

The Bombers had a modest lead at quarter time, but as the second quarter unfolded, the lead began to blow out. The Bulldogs were struggling to find the run in their legs, while the Bombers were finding loose runners and forward options were opening up. And with seven goals to two for the quarter, including the last four, it was North Shore by 34 points as they went into the rooms at half time.

Into the premiership quarter and the game had become one-way traffic. It was a similar trend to the second, seven goals to two, as a North Shore side that had won just three games last year regained their confidence and weren’t letting go of this opportunity to post an impressive first-up win. And holding a 65-point advantage at the last change, the battle had been won.

The sting had largely gone out of the contest by then, but the Bombers weren’t finished yet. They would score five unanswered majors in the last, finishing with an imposing 97-point win.

Danny Roberts directed proceedings on the North Shore forward line to finish with six goals and along with James Loneragan and Chris Holmes, was among the Bombers’ best. For UNSW-ES it was a tough afternoon but Joel Robbie, Alex Foote and Jarrod Wachman toiled tirelessly all afternoon. Both clubs have young teams this year, with several players from last year’s Under 19’s Grand Final getting a run in Premier Division. UNSW-ES will no doubt improve as the season goes and their youngsters gain experience. But for North Shore, 2016 is off to a flying start.

There’s an oft-quoted saying that bad kicking is bad football: that a team which fails to make the most of their chances can lose a game they otherwise could have won. The inverse of this, that good kicking is good football, was laid out in stark reality thanks to some extraordinarily accurate work by UTS in their 46-point win over Wests at Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The Bats burst out of the blocks, setting up what was effectively a match-winning lead in the first quarter. The Bats were finding options aplenty up forward which the Magpie defenders were struggling to contain. And the scoreboard was ticking over rapidly, as the Bats landed seven goals to one in the opening term to lead by 35 points at the first change.

The Magpies steadied the ship in the second quarter after the opening onslaught, and were looking more competitive around the ground. At last they were able to get the ball to the forward line and get themselves on the scoreboard; but they were unable to make any inroads into the deficit. It was four goals apiece for the quarter, buy cheap viagra india with UTS scoring the only behind of the term to extend the margin to 36 points at half time. Amazingly, it would be their last behind for the match.

Whatever was said in the UTS rooms at half time had the desired effect, as the Bats resumed the dominance they had established in the first quarter. This was UTS at their best, dominating around the ground and hurting the Magpies on the scoreboard with a run of seven goals to one; extending the lead to 69 points at the last change.

The game was safely won, but the Magpies salvaged some respectability and percentage in the final quarter. Suddenly they were finding it easier to get the ball out of the midfield, and the ball was spending extended periods of time within the Magpies’ forward 50. The result of the game wasn’t in doubt, but the Magpies’ final quarter of five goals to two pegged the final margin back to 46 points and Magpie mentor Lindsay Scown had some positive material to work with in their quest for a breakthrough first win of 2016.

Amazingly, despite the conclusive final margin, the Bats only had one scoring shot more than the Magpies. It wasn’t as though Wests were inaccurate. A return of 11.11 was reasonable. But UTS’ amazing scoreline of 20.3, highlighted by those dominant bursts in the first and third quarters, had put the game out of the Magpies’ reach. On the back of a scoreline of 16.5 in the opening round, by any measure it would have to be up there among the most accurate opening fortnights to a season ever.

Despite the vast majority of the scoring being at one end of the ground, there was no howling gale favouring that end; but Daniel Breese was blowing an ill wind for the Magpies with five goals. Nick Morling also had a productive day up forward to finish with four goals; while Zac Parsons, Rohan Bates and Daniel Breese were standout contributors for UTS. Despite the loss, John Haggerty established himself in the Magpie forward line with five goals and along with Cameron Gordon and Martin Brown was among the Magpies’ best.

The round was completed on Sunday afternoon when St George and Pennant Hills, combatants in the last three Preliminary Finals, faced off again at Olds Park. A low-scoring but absorbing contest would be in the balance all afternoon as the two sides, again likely to still be there when we get to the business end of the season, sought not just the four points on offer but also what could be an important psychological edge.

It was goal for goal in the first quarter, as both sides strove to establish an early edge but both coming up blank. Three goals apiece would see the Demons with a three-point lead at quarter time, but neither side feeling that they had established any form of supremacy over the other.

Goals were hard to come by in the second quarter, both sides pushing numbers back and the vast expanses of Olds Park looked to be massive acres of ground that neither side could comfortably traverse. The Demons managed an early goal, but the Dragons came back hard late in the quarter with two goals in time-on to take a five-point lead into the half time break.

The Dragons had their chances to put the game out of Pennant Hills’ reach in the third quarter, with two early goals and the ball spending significant periods of time camped inside the forward 50. But some inaccurate finishing, in part thanks to the resolute defence of the Demons, but also due to some wasteful work when in possession, would hold them back. St George would score 2.7 for the quarter, leading by four goals as the clock ticked into time-on. But the Demons would work their way back into the contest late in the term with two late goals, cutting the margin to 11 points at the last change.

The sun had been shining brightly, but the shadows were lengthening; the natural light fading but being supplemented by the turning on of the new lights at Olds Park, with a later Under 19s match to be the first night game at the venue.

The Demons had fought back late in the third term, but could get no closer. The final term was a battle of the defences, as the Demons threw everything they had at the Dragons but were unable to penetrate the big sticks at the rate they needed to. Just one goal apiece would be scored in a tense final term, as the home side held on for an important 11-point win.

Nick Shaw, Jesse Mudge and Karl Merson made key contributions to the Dragon cause when they were needed, enabling them to get over the line. Two wins against finalists from last year is a solid start to the season for the Dragons and after losing to the Demons in the penultimate game of the season for the last three years in a row, this could be an important moral boost for the Dragons as they look to go better this year.

Aaron Crisfield, Matt Thomas and Tim Wales were ball magnets for the Demons, doing everything that could have been asked of them. Two losses from two games will be a disappointment for the defending champions, but it wasn’t an easy draw for them and there’s plenty of time for the Demons to start accumulating those wins and climb up the ladder.

Four Saturday afternoon matches will be played in Premier Division next week. Two undefeated sides, East Coast Eagles and North Shore, will face off at Kanebridge Oval; while university pride will be on the line at Trumper Park as UTS host Sydney Uni. Two traditional rivals will take each other on at Olds Park as St George play host to Wests, with the Magpies keen to pull off the upset and get their season on track. And two sides that played off in Grand Finals in 2013 and 2014 will again face off at Mike Kenny Oval as Pennant Hills host Manly. And in the context of a season where neither has yet managed a win, the stakes are high.  UNSW-ES have the bye.


Current Ladder

1 St George Dragons 2 2 0 0 178 104 171.15 8
2 East Coast Eagles 2 2 0 0 186 114 163.16 8
3 UTS Bats 2 2 0 0 224 156 143.59 8
4 North Shore Bombers 1 1 0 0 155 58 267.24 4
5 Sydney University 2 1 1 0 153 164 93.29 4
6 Pennant Hills Demons 2 0 2 0 116 163 71.17 0
7 Western Suburbs Magpies 2 0 2 0 155 226 68.58 0
8 UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs 2 0 2 0 137 256 53.52 0
9 Manly Warringah Giants 1 0 1 0 52 115 45.22


Results in other Eagles’ matches:

U19 / North Shore  16-9 (105) defeated East Coast 5-6 (36)
Division One / Sydney Uni 11-16 (82) defeated East Coast 6-9 (45)
Division Three / Campbelltown 27-15 (187) defeated East Coast 3-2 (20)

Next weeks matches: All games at Kanebridge Oval on Saturday April 16th

10.00am    Division Three v Wollondilly

Midday       U19 v Sydney Uni

2.00pm      Premier Division v North Shore

4.45pm      Division One v Holroyd-Parramatta