Manly-Warringah go back to back in Premier Division
Manly-Warringah have achieved the remarkable feat of going back to back in the AFL Sydney Premier Division competition following their 46 point win over Pennant Hills at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday.
Their victory makes it four premierships in as many years for the GIANTS (formerly Wolves) senior side following their Division One triumphs in 2011 and 2012 before promotion to the Premier Division competition last year.
It was a highly anticipated match between the clear top two sides of the competition. Pennant Hills were looking for revenge from last years defeat while Manly-Warringah were looking to continue their brilliant season.
The match started as a brutal affair as both sides tried to assert their physical dominance on the game. Pennant Hills were kicking with the aid of a slight breeze and more than held their own in the opening exchanges however were lacking any real forward penetration. While both sides had their chances to open the scoring it wasnt until very deep in the first quarter before the first goal was eventually scored. The GIANTS intentionally scrambled a long kick forward behind the defences and Tyrone Armitage showed his pace to kick the only goal of the quarter to take a 1.2 to 0.1 lead into the first break.
With the wind now behind their backs, Manly-Warringah did what Pennant Hills couldnt in the opening quarter and at the 6th minute mark youngster Jack Parker slotted a brilliant goal from the pocket on the run. The GIANTS wasted no time in getting their next as Lachlan Kilpatrick kicked truly to open up a handy lead.
AFL Sydney leading goal kicker Brayden Fowler was proving a handful up forward for the Pennant Hills defence and he was rewarded halfway through the quarter with a goal of his own before James Brain got Manly's fifth goal nearing time on.
Although competing well in the midfield with the GIANTS, Pennant Hills were struggling to find a target up forward despite the best efforts of Sam Zikman. The Demons eventually got their first goal of the game through co-captain Matt Carey but this was not until time on. Carey's goal did reduced the margin to 26 points at half time and give some hope to the Demons supporters.
With the wind behind them in the third quarter, the Demons knew that they would need to make their run to remain any chance. Again the contest was fierce as both sides threw everything at the footy. The Demons started to gain some assendancy and when Sam Zikman goaled at the 10 minute mark to reduce the margin to just over three goals it looked like a comeback was on.
The Demons had a number of chances soon after including a Stephen Wray behind which could have signalled game on however the GIANTS under rated defence held strong.
Despite not kicking any goals themslves, the highlight of the quarter was Tyrone Armitage's scissor kick on the grandstand wing which landed straight into a surprised team mates hands to set up a forward fifty entry. Although no goal resulted, the GIANTS would have been confident as the three quarter time siren sounded knowing they were kicking to the scoring end in the last.
The final term, despite only seeing three more goals to the GIANTS, was played the majority in the Manly-Warringah forward fifty and multiple goals to the lively Thomas Thurgarland as well as a single to ruckmen Daniel Dickerson was enough to see the GIANTS claim the 2014 flag.
As the final siren sounded, Manly Warringah were crowned as the 2014 Premier Division Premiers with a hard fought 8.20-68 to 2.10-22 victory.
It was a very even performance for the GIANTS with contributors all across the board. Defenders David Stroud, Angus Buncle and Gareth Benbow played pivotal roles in holding Pennant Hills to just two goals.
Anthony Robertson was awarded the Rod Podbury medal as Best on Ground thanks to his impact through the midfield and forward line and he was ably supported by James Brain, Lachlan Kilpatrick, Thomas Thurgarland and Callum Johnston who was great early.
For the Demons, Damien Dell'Aquilla and Alex Goodall battled manfully all day while Ranga Ediriwickrama and Matt Carey showed flashes of brilliance.
And so 2014 draws to a close and Manly-Warringah have again proved the best side in the competition. Attention slowly now begins to turn to 2015 which will see the East Coast Eagles senior side return to the Premier Division competition sparking great interest in the competition. A Round 1 clash between Premiers Manly-Warringah and East Coast Eagles (whose last senior game in Premier Division resulted in a 3rd premiership) is a mouth watering proposition... stay tuned!