AFL Sydney Round 10 Review
SYDNEY AFL ROUND 10 2016
Article by Michael Shillito and photo by Leigh Gazzard
After a week off for the long weekend, it was time to get back into it and get the second half of the season under way.
All the Premier Division games in round 10 were played on Saturday afternoon. It was a round in which all of the top four teams won; perhaps a sign that the ladder is taking shape. Rain was forecast, and some falls in the morning softened the grounds up; but by the time the Premier Division matches got under way the sun had emerged from behind the clouds.
Last year’s Grand Finallists faced off at Kanebridge Oval, as East Coast Eagles played host to Pennant Hills. The Demons took the premiership last season, but this time round it was the Eagles’ time to prevail as they got up by 17 points in a low-scoring clash. It was Back to Baulko Day, with Eagles legends from seasons past returning to the club; and they would have been impressed with the current Eagles’ game as they got over the line against a traditional rival.
The first quarter was a competitive arm-wrestle, two committed teams battling it out contest by contest and searching for the chink in each other’s armour. Nothing separated the two sides, who kicked two goals apiece as scores were level at quarter time. It was not a game for the faint-hearted, with plenty of feeling in the contest and some genuine ferocity in the tackling.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern to the first. The Eagles, top of the ladder and at home, were being matched by the determined Demons; and all the indications were that the contest would go down to the wire. The lead changed hands at times during the second term, but the Eagles took an important advantage late in the quarter; kicking three goals to two for the quarter to take a seven point lead into the rooms at half time.
At times during the third quarter, the Eagles threatened to get on top; and the ball would spend substantial periods of time on their forward line. But shot after shot sailed wide of the big sticks; partly a result of wayward finishing, but this was largely a product of some relentless defensive pressure from the Demons. Only one goal apiece would be scored during the third term, the Demon defenders keeping their side in the contest although the run of behinds would extend the lead to 11 points at three quarter time.
The Demons had fought hard, but the Eagles had a buffer of sorts; and they weren’t going to let this game go. The last quarter wasn’t always pretty to watch, but the Eagles knew what they had to do to get the points, and there would be no way for the Demons to get the goals they needed to snatch the win. In the end, the Eagles kicked two goals to one to finish with a 17-point win.
Kieran Emery, Blake Anderson and Jack Dimery were best for the Eagles, picking up a stack of possessions and thwarting the Demon advances time and again. With the win, the Eagles remain top of the ladder; and their campaign to right the unfinished business from last year remains on track.
The Demons were well served by the efforts of Matt Thomas, Tim Wales and Tom Angel. But it was a disappointing loss for the defending champions, who are no certainties to make the top five this season; and there’s plenty of work to be done in the Pennant Hills camp to get close to replicating last year’s premiership form.
It had been several weeks since St George had kicked a ball in anger. A bye, a washout and then the long weekend had seen the Dragons sidelined for a long time; but the lay-off didn’t have any effect on their winning momentum as they demolished UNSW-ES by 117 points at Olds Park.
Hitting the ground running, the Dragons took control of the contest from the start, and although the Bulldogs did manage two goals in the first quarter, it was clear that St George were fired up and ready; and the scoreboard was rapidly ticking over as the Dragons fired the ball into their forward 50 with regularity. Six goals to two told the story, it was all St George as they led by 28 points at the first change.
Normally so accurate up forward, the Dragons’ goal-kicking radar deserted them in the second term, as shot after shot sailed wide. Frustrating times for the Dragon forwards as they were unable to fully capitalise on the delivery the midfield was giving them; and a return of 1.7 for the quarter could easily have been so much more. But the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage, as the Dragon defence held firm and the Bulldogs were kept scoreless for the quarter.
It was a 41-point lead for the Dragons at the long break. But as convincing as that was, it would blow out further in the third quarter as the floodgates opened. The Dragons had a spring in their step, and running options were presenting themselves to drive the Dragons into the forward 50. This was one of the season’s premiership contenders at their best, dominating proceedings with seven goals to one for the quarter, stretching the lead to 79 points at three quarter time.
The main interest was whether St George could get the margin into three figures, and they would do that easily in the last quarter. Showing no sign of slowing down and running out the full four quarters, this was a percentage booster. The forward line was creating lead after lead, while the defenders shut down any Bulldog incursion into the forward 50 with efficiency as the Bulldogs were held scoreless in the final term while the Dragons added another six goals.
In the end, the margin was 117 points. Karl Merson was at his dominant best, kicking four goals in a best-on-ground performance; while Blake Guthrie and Ryan Mercer also featured prominently. The Dragons have an impressive percentage which was further boosted by this display, and look set to play a key role when the finals come around.
It was a disappointing day for UNSW-ES, held to just three scoring shots for the day; thankfully for them, all three were goals. Thomas Heath, Joey Reinhard and Tom Banuelos kept working hard all afternoon for the Bulldogs; but the young, rebuilding side were no match for St George on the day.
UTS have been in impressive form lately, and the Bats continued on their winning ways and maintained a grip on third place after defeating Manly at Weldon Oval on Saturday afternoon. It was a game which had been in the balance for three quarters before the Bats took control in the final term.
An entertaining opening term set the game up to be a see-sawing encounter. Both sides played attacking footy, and the lead changed several times as the two sides looked to gain an advantage over each other. The Giants took the edge with four goals to three, leading by five points at the first change.
The Bats lifted their work rate in the second term, with the backline in particular showing more resolve as they shut the Giants’ defence down. This was a tighter quarter with much more contested footy than the first term, and the Bats looked to have the edge defensively as they added three goals to one for the quarter to lead by four points at the long break.
During the third quarter, the game looked destined to be a thriller. Both sides were creating some great attacking moves and on several occasions the lead changed hands. Each goal, and there were plenty of them, had significance during a quarter of footy that had high entertainment value; plenty of run from the centre and both sides having plenty of inside 50s to create attacking moves. Four goals to three for the quarter saw the Giants leading by a point at the last change of what had been, until then, a thrilling see-saw encounter.
There were five scoring shots apiece in the final quarter, as both sides continued to create chances; and little separated the teams around the ground. But the Bats made every post a winner as all five of their scoring shots were goals, while the Giants could only draw one flag from the goal umpires for each of their shots. That was enough to get the Bats home, as a game that looked set to be a thriller ended up in a 24-point win.
Scott Tregoning proved to be the focal point up forward, finishing with five goals for the game; and along with Sam Nethersole and William Chambers was among the Bats’ best. UTS sit in third spot on the ladder, two games clear of North Shore, and a double-chance in the finals beckons if they can maintain their form.
Harrison Koch, Angus Buncle and Lachlan Behagg were Manly’s best. But this was a potential win that got away for the Giants, and their perfect record of playing finals in every season they have played Premier Division is not yet assured of continuing this year.
North Shore snapped a three-game losing streak to remain in fourth spot when they overcame a challenge from a determined Wests side to take a 30-point win at Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The first quarter was a scrappy affair, with both sides putting on plenty of physical pressure but struggling to get any coherent movement of the ball. But the Bombers were able to make more of the opportunities they created to score three goals to one, setting up a lead of 11 points that, although modest, meant they would not be headed for the rest of the afternoon.
The Magpies made serious attempts to make inroads in the deficit during the second term, getting the margin back within a kick at times. Yet to win a game this season, the Magpies were taking the fight up to their rivals, and it took some grim defence from the Bombers to hold them out. But the Bombers were able to ride out the storm, and with three goals apiece in the quarter, North Shore were leading by 12 points at half time.
It hadn’t been a particularly inspiring first half, and the third term wasn’t one that will go down in the football classics. The Bombers always looked to have the game under control, but struggled to add anything more to their lead; while the Magpies managed to scrounge up a couple of goals to maintain their interest in pulling off the upset. But for much of the quarter it was stalemate around the ground and dominant players were hard to find. Two goals apiece in the term saw the Bombers leading by 13 points at the last change.
The Magpies had put up a determined fight, but were unable to match it with the Bombers in the final term. At last North Shore were able to play some of the more enterprising football that they had shown earlier in the season, and the goals flowed more readily as Bomber midfielders who had been well held for three quarters began to come into their own during the final term and they would add five goals to two in the last.
In the end, the margin was 30 points. It may have been winning ugly, but after three straight defeats it was an important win for the Bombers. Ted Strudwick, Kane Latham and James Cubis got plenty of ball for the Bombers to get them over the line.
Cameron McEvoy-Grey, Martin Brown and Tim Lambert worked hard for the Magpies. They remain winless this year, but have put up some solid fighting efforts at Picken Oval this season; and surely the breakthrough win can’t be too far away.
East Coast Eagles 2.2 5.4 6.9 8.12 (60)
Pennant Hills 2.2 4.3 5.4 6.7 (43)
Goals : East Coast – M Skuse 3, J Gordon, Z Johns, A McConnell, D Charleston, K Emery. Pennant Hills – T Widmer 2, J Boag, N Cooper, R Ediriwickrama, T Moraitis.
Best : East Coast – K Emery, B Anderson, J Dimery, D Costello, B Stewart, A Drinkwater. Pennant Hills – M Thomas, T Wales, T Angel, L Skrivanic, J Hare, D Dell’Aquila.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 18th June 2016.
St George 6.4 7.11 14.13 20.15 (135)
Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 2.0 2.0 3.0 3.0 (18)
Goals : St George – K Merson 4, D Donohue 3, P Sain 2, N Shaw 2, A Wynn 2, X Stevenson 2, D Tomlins, N Kenny, M Jones, B Wharton, B Jones. UNSW-ES – T Dickson, R Farrelly, T Chichester.
Best : St George – K Merson, B Guthrie, R Mercer, D Tomlins, B Jones, P Sain. UNSW-ES – T Heath, J Reinhard, T Banuelos, L Irvine, J Deep, N McGann.
At Olds Park, Saturday 18th June 2016.
University of Technology 3.2 6.3 9.6 14.6 (90)
Manly-Warringah 4.1 5.5 9.7 9.12 (66)
Goals : UTS – S Tregoning 5, D Breese 3, H Callahan 2, D Smith 2, T Larby, J Caica. Manly – D Meadows 2, J Weir 2, G Benbow 2, S Steele, J Parker, C Pettersson.
Best : UTS – S Nethersole, S Tregoning, W Chambers, D Crouch, J Lyons, B Nethersole. Manly – H Koch, A Buncle, L Behagg, G Benbow, C D’Souza.
At Weldon Oval, Saturday 18th June 2016.
North Shore 3.1 6.3 8.6 13.8 (86)
Western Suburbs 1.2 4.3 6.5 8.8 (56)
Goals : North Shore – S Mason 2, D Roberts 2, N Hurrell 2, E Strudwick, K Latham, D Schacher, L Hayres, B Tebbutt, J Prato, T Weston.Wests – J Haggerty 3, B Zoppo 2, G Gregory, J Newbury, J Etto.
Best : North Shore – E Strudwick K Latham, J Cubis, W Bradley, C Murphy, T Alexander. Wests – C McEvoy-Grey, M Brown, T Lambert, J Robinson, V Romanas, H Sherwood.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 18th June 2016.
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