Article and Photos by Michael Shillito

After a long season, the finish line is in sight; and Saturday at Bruce Purser saw the first opportunity to book a place in this season’s Grand Final. Although it’s traditional in Sydney footy to play it the day before the First Semi Final, making the name something of a misnomer; the Second Semi Final is the match that provides the opportunity for direct qualification into the Grand Final. And it also provides a change of scenery, being played away from the normal finals venue – for the second year in a row being played at Bruce Purser.
And for the second year in a row it involved Western Suburbs. Last year the Magpies went down to East Coast in a drama-packed encounter. And this year they took on minor premiers Sydney Uni, in a match that would remain in the balance until the final minutes of the contest. Dark clouds, a swirling wind and intermittent rain were features of the day. The centre square of the ground was the worse for wear, but the rest of the ground was in good shape; the rainfall ensuring the dam downhill behind the ground would reach capacity.

Sydney Uni suffered an early blow, Sam Crichton departing with a knee injury in the opening minute. But while Crichton was still being assisted off the ground, Mark Egan pounced on a scramble at the top of the goal square to open the scoring for the Students. It was the first of two Egan goals for the quarter, while Ben Mankarious also weighed in with a strong mark and goal. But ill-discipline would cost the Students, with Matt Eurell twice goaling from free kicks. And when Daryn Creswell converted a holding the ball free kick in the second minute of the second term, the Magpies were in front for the first time.
The second quarter was goal for goal, with plenty of lead changes. On 9 minutes, a mongrel punt from Tom Elkington failed to make the distance from 30 metres, but the ball found David Mitchell in the pocket; with Mitchell running around to put the Students back in front. A run down the outer wing by Medair Kassem found a leading Matt Eurell 25 out. From the centre bounce, a free to Joel Minichiello found Eurell, who with a lightning pass to Kris Cochrane extended the Magpie lead.
By now the sun had come out, conditions were easier and both sides were running the ball in a free-flowing contest. Andrew Kraefft on the lead got one back for the Students. The ball moved into the Magpie forward pocket, where a push and shove broke out. Penalising the third man in, the umpires awarded the free kick and a 50m penalty to Matt Eurell. The clock was deep in time-on as Egan crumbed a goal for the Students; but a late double to Eid Kassem set up a 15-point lead at the long break.

The premiership quarter was one of two halves. Early in the quarter, the Magpies saw the possibility of direct qualification beckon, before the Students stepped up to destroy the Magpie dream. The quarter started brightly enough for the Students, Alex Lee marking and scoring his first, but Creswell set up an almost instant reply with a lightning pass to Eid Kassem. And when Kassem returned the favour on 9 minutes to set up Creswell, the Magpies led by 21 points. Creswell and Kassem signalled to the fans on the sidelines, and the Magpie fans were in voice.
For the next several minutes the ball was camped on the Wests forward line, but the blow to extend the lead would not be forthcoming as the Sydney Uni defence held firm. And then the tide turned – it happened quickly, it happened suddenly, it happened seemingly without warning as it took just five minutes for the lead to disappear.
By now the sun had disappeared behind the clouds, and the drizzle had become slightly heavier. From the edge of the 50m arc, Ben Mankarious landed a long bomb that found the target. Alex Lee again marked and goaled, and when Jess McGuirk gathered the ball on the run and snapped truly, the margin was back to one point. The Students were by now dominating, but although they continued to attack, they could manage only behinds in the final stages of the quarter – but those points were enough to give Sydney Uni a 3-point lead at the last change.

The final minutes of the term had seen Sydney Uni in control and Wests on the ropes, but the break had given the Magpies a chance to regroup. The vocal Sydney Uni support, their numbers boosted by plenty of players from the earlier games who had stuck around, were making plenty of noise as the final quarter got under way.
A downfield free to Ben Absolum in the pocket gave the Magpies a chance to regain the lead. Although it was a tough angle, Absolum made no mistake. But two minutes later, the Students were back in front after Adam McConnochie found himself at the end of a chain of handballs. Jesse Martin, following the ball from the backline all the way to the forward 50, snapped another; before Rohan Lilly converted a free kick at the 14 minute mark to cut the margin back to just 4 points.
A thrilling finish was in prospect, as the Magpies continued to attack. Forcing a turnover from a kick-in, Matt Eurell was unsighted and unable to spot Absolum unmarked in a better position, instead having a shot himself and missing. And the chance to snatch the lead was gone.
The tension could be cut with a knife. Both sides worked hard, looking for the edge that would get their team over the line. But finally, at the 25 minute mark, it was the Magpies who cracked.
On 25 minutes, Sam Sloane marked on 50 metres. Milking the clock, Sloane went long to the square, and a scramble on the line saw Tyson Roberts soccer the ball through. And a minute later, a run and two bounces to Mark Egan saw the result put beyond doubt.

For Sydney Uni, it was a day to remember. Not only did their Premier Division side qualify for the Grand Final at the first opportunity, but so did the First Division and Under 18s. Teams playing in all three games in the final day of the Sydney AFL season is nothing unique, and has been achieved as recently as East Coast’s triple appearance in 2008. But in these divisionalised times, it is quite an achievement; with Sydney Uni’s reserves having to qualify ahead of three senior teams in First Division to appear on the league’s showcase day.
But to let a 20-point lead slip was a disappointment for Wests. To take part in this year’s Grand Final, the Magpies will need to bounce back from their Second Semi Final defeat to win the Preliminary Final something they were unable to achieve last year. Recent history is against the Magpies – one would need to go back to 2002 to find the last time the loser of the Second Semi Final was able to regain their momentum in the Prelim Final.

Although the apocalyptic weather forecasts of earlier in the week didn’t eventuate, Sunday’s First Semi Final at Blacktown was affected by a stiff southerly buster that made ball control difficult and long kicking to the Eastern Road end near to impossible.
Winning the toss and kicking with the wind, Pennant Hills made the most of their good fortune to lead by 27 points at the first change. But when East Coast had their turn to attack the scoring end, a run of 5 unanswered goals gave the Eagles a 5-point lead at the long break.
The third quarter was an arm-wrestle, as the Demons attempted to build themselves a buffer but were frustrated by the Eagles. Although the Demons regained the lead at the last change, the margin was only 5 points after the Eagles had managed 2 important goals into the wind. But although the lead didn’t look to be enough, the Demons turned on a determined performance in the final term. Scoring twice into the wind, the Eagles had to work hard to regain a lead that looked theirs for the taking at three-quarter time; and it wasn’t until the final moments of the game that the Eagles found themselves back in front. But the siren then sounded, handing the defending champions a thrilling 5-point victory.

Mark Goodey and Jamie Vlatko scored 4 goals apiece for the Eagles; while around the ground Justin Steer, Damien Charleston and Goodey got plenty of the ball. Anthony Brawn kicked 4 for the Demons; while Matt McCamey, Kieran Wright and Alex Fraunfelter were prominent performers for the Demons. And so East Coast live to fight another day, while Pennant Hills’s season is over.

In First Division, Sydney Uni go through to the Grand Final, while minor premiers UTS will be looking to regain their momentum when they take on Manly-Warringah next week. In the Under 18s, East Coast will take on North Shore next week for the right to play Sydney Uni in the Grand Final.

Next week will see the first of two Grand Final days, with Divisions 2, 3 and 4 plus the Under 18s Challenge Cups up for grabs. Six clubs will feature in the four games, a reflection of the greater opportunities that the league’s divisional structure have provided. The Greater Western Sydney area will feature prominently in the Blacktown action; with Holroyd-Parramatta taking on Penrith in the Under 18s, the undefeated new club Auburn up against Moorebank Sports in Fourth Division and Moorebank Sports in action against Penrith in Third Division. The final match of the day will see Southern Power take on UTS for the Second Division title.

Premier Division:

Second Semi Final
Sydney University 3.0 6.1 10.9 14.10 (94)
Western Suburbs 2.3 8.4 10.6 12.9 (81)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
M Egan 4, A Lee 2, B Mankarious 2, D Mitchell, J McGuirk, A McConnochie, T Roberts, A Kraefft, J Martin. Wests – M Eurell 4, E Kassem 3, D Creswell 2, R Lilly, K Cochrane, B Absolum.
Best : Sydney Uni – D Mitchell, J Caspersonn, A McConnochie, T Elkington, A Turco, A Hawkins. Wests – D Linsen, M Kassem, D Lambert, D Watkins, M Eurell, D Cusick.

First Semi Final
East Coast Eagles 1.0 6.2 8.2 12.5 (77)
Pennant Hills 5.3 5.3 8.7 10.12 (72)
Goals : East Coast –
M Goodey 4, Jamie Vlatko 2, R Fitton, P Dugmore, T Baker, T Chapman, D Spiteri, J Dimery. Pennant Hills – A Brawn 4, T Angel 2, N Bills 2, M Aitken, L Bilbe.
Best : East Coast – J Steer, D Charleston, M Goodey, J Dimery, D Costello, E Kruger. Pennant Hills – M McCamey, K Wright, A Fraunfelter, J Clarke, A Brawn, D Dell’Aquila.

First Division:
Second Semi Final
Sydney Uni 4.2 6.3 8.3 13.6 (84)
UTS 1.2 3.3 4.4 4.5 (29)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
C Walsh 5, N Lye 3, M Killicoat, C Wilkinson, A Holmes, C Kendrick, N Roberts. UTS – M Trehwella, A Davis, P Wilson, H McGregor.
Best : Sydney Uni – W Pearse, M Atkinson, C Kendrick, L Higgins, M Carey, N Roberts. UTS – A Keith, H McGregor, A Kymantas, T Chadwick, A Morley, S Way.

First Semi Final
Manly-Warringah 3.1 3.2 7.6 9.6 (60)
Macquarie University 2.2 4.5 6.6 8.10 (58)
Goals : Manly –
M McManus 4, L Murfitt 2, J Graham, A Robertson, J Hall. Macquarie Uni – B Harland 2, B Moore 2, S Cations, D Connors, B Cooper, J Murphy.
Best : Manly – C McManus, M Ahern, A Robertson, J Graham, L Murfitt, G Benbow. Macquarie Uni – D Brogan, T Scoular, B Cooper, G Clarke, A Polkinghorne, J Brackin.

Second Division:
Preliminary Final
UTS 2.2 6.7 10.10 14.14 (98)
NorWest Jets 3.0 3.1 4.3 6.7 (43)
Goals : UTS –
A Thain 4, P Kapiris 4, A Cowell 2, D Clinton 2, G Capozzi, B Pawsky. NorWest – L Ayling 3, P Webster, C Wenselowski, S Tibben.
Best : UTS – B Holland, D Clinton, R Hanmore, A Whooley, J Curtis, P Kapiris. NorWest – J Cass, B Cain, O Butcher, L Eldridge, J Pascoe, C Graf.

Third Division:
Preliminary Final
Penrith 4.3 8.5 13.9 13.12 (90)
UTS 2.2 5.4 6.4 10.7 (67)
Goals : Penrith –
J Anasis 3, B Robinson 3, D Cummings 3, B Roberts 2, M McNamara, T Cummins. UTS – R Benson 4, S Donaldson, M Keene, H Baldock, N Allardice, D Coffey, D Beaton.
Best : Penrith – D Bradley, B Roney, J Keane, J Anasis, A West, D Siljanoski. UTS – H Baldock, S Donaldson, S McKelvie, M Russell, S Silver, D McGrath.

Fourth Division:
Preliminary Final
Moorebank Sports 5.3 6.6 9.7 11.8 (74)
Saints AFC 1.1 2.1 4.4 8.4 (52)
Goals : Moorebank –
N Denko 3, J Droscher 2, M Paall, M Seckold, B Ferrett, A Westwood, P Connaire, J Allport. Saints – B Somerville 3, S Graham 2, C Barnes, J King, M Dunlea.
Best : Moorebank – A Westwood, N Denko, P Smith, J Allport, M Paall, C Rainbow. Saints – S Wallace, J King, A Tremellen, T Shaw, P Conduit, M Dunlea.

Under 18s Premier:
Second Semi Final
Sydney Uni 1.3 8.8 9.9 11.16 (82)
East Coast Eagles 2.0 2.4 6.4 7.5 (47)
Goals : Sydney Uni –
T Aitken 3, T Barrett 2, H Orr, A Yakimov, G Robbie, D Knight, C Moller, T Considine. East Coast – E Barclay 2, D Lim 2, A Foxhall 2, C Polkinghorne.
Best : Sydney Uni – H Orr, T Barrett, M Hartley, M Krochmal, T Considine, D Knight. East Coast – C Ford, J Clark, D Lim, A Baddock, J Pianta, D Killworth.

First Semi Final
North Shore 3.2 3.4 5.7 8.9 (57)
Pennant Hills 1.1 4.5 4.6 6.10 (46)
Goals : North Shore –
T Weston 2, A Rodgers 2, R Pryor, M Carter, S Trevaskis, M Trent. Pennant Hills – T Wales 3, T Rivers 2, D Bull.
Best : North Shore – M Trent, C Callendar, L Fitzpatrick, P Clemenson, A Harmer, S Trevaskis. Pennant Hills – O Tweeddale, T Wales, S Wray, R Dawe, F Nixon, T Edmonds.

Under 18s Challenge:
Preliminary Final
Holroyd-Parramatta 0.3 1.6 4.12 6.12 (48)
Southern Power 1.0 2.2 2.3 5.8 (38)
Goals : Goannas –
J Brennan 2, J Smith, P Martinoli, A Hillier, R Taleb. Power – B McLean 3, D Jackson, C Andrews.
Best : Goannas – S Neill, P Jenison, J Smith, B Johnston, M Coledan, M Cahill. Power – B McLean, D Jackson, A Clarke, T Van Greunsvan, A Wynn, J Furci.



Saturday 11th September, Blacktown Olympic Park
8:15am – Under 18s Challenge – Penrith v Holroyd-Parramatta
10:20am – Fourth Division – Auburn v Moorebank Sports
12:40pm – Third Division – Moorebank Sports v Penrith
3:00pm – Second Division – Southern Power v UTS


Sunday 12th September, Blacktown Olympic Park
10:00am – Under 18s Premier – East Coast Eagles v North Shore
12:00pm – First Division – UTS v Manly-Warringah
2:10pm – Premier Division – Western Suburbs v East Coast Eagles

Semi-Finals 2007 Report
Prelim Final 2007 Report
Grand Final 2007 Report
Round 1 2008 Scoreboard
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Round 3 2008 Scoreboard
Round 4 2008 Scoreboard
Round 5 2008 Scoreboard
Round 6 2008 Scoreboard
Round 7 2008 Scoreboard
Round 8 2008 Scoreboard
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Round 10 2008 Scoreboard
Round 11 2008 Scoreboard
Round 12 2008 Scoreboard
Round 13 2008 Scoreboard
Round 14 2008 Scoreboard
Round 15 2008 Scoreboard
Round 16 2008 Scoreboard
Round 17 2008 Scoreboard
Round 18 2008 Scoreboard
2008 Finals Wk1 S'board
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Grand Final 2008 Report
Round 1 2009 Scoreboard
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Round 3 2009 Scoreboard
Round 4 2009 Scoreboard
Round 5 2009 Scoreboard
Round 6 2009 Scoreboard
Round 7 2009 Scoreboard
Round 8 2009 Scoreboard
Round 9 2009 Scoreboard
Round 10 2009 Scoreboard
Round 11 2009 Scoreboard
Round 12 2009 Scoreboard
Round 13 2009 Scoreboard
Round 14 2009 Scoreboard
Sydney AFL v AFL Canberra
Round 15 2009 Scoreboard
Round 16 2009 Scoreboard
Round 17 2009 Scoreboard
Round 18 2009 Scoreboard
2009 Finals Wk 1 S'board
2009 Finals Wk 2 S'board
2009 PrelmFinal Scoreboard
Round 1 2010 Scoreboard
Round 2 2010 Scoreboard
Round 3 2010 Scoreboard
Round 4 2010 Scoreboard
Round 5 2010 Scoreboard
Round 6 2010 Scoreboard
Round 7 2010 Scoreboard
Round 8 2010 Scoreboard
Round 9 2010 Scoreboard
Round 10 2010 Scoreboard
Round 11 2010 Scoreboard
Round 12 2010 Scoreboard
Round 13 2010 Scoreboard
Round 14 2010 Scoreboard
Round 15 2010 Scoreboard
Round 16 2010 Scoreboard
Round 17 2010 Scoreboard
Round 18 2010 Scoreboard
2010 Finals Wk 1 S'board
2010 Finals Wk 2 S'board
2010 PrelmFinal Scoreboard
Round 1 2011 Scoreboard
Round 2 2011 Scoreboard
Round 3 2011 Scoreboard
Round 4 2011 Scoreboard
Round 5 2011 Scoreboard
Round 6 2011 Scoreboard
Round 7 2011 Scoreboard
Round 8 2011 Scoreboard
Round 9 2011 Scoreboard
Round 10 2011 Scoreboard
Round 11 2011 Scoreboard
Round 12 2011 Scoreboard
Round 13 2011 Scoreboard
Round 14 2011 Scoreboard
Round 15 2011 Scoreboard
Round 16 2011 Scoreboard
Round 17 2011 Scoreboard
Round 18 2011 Scoreboard
Round 19 2011 Scoreboard
Round 20 2011 Scoreboard
2011 Finals Wk 1 S'board
2011 Finals Wk2 S'board
2011 PrelmFinal Scoreboard
2006 Grand Final
2007 Grand Final
2008 Rnd 1 - Syd Uni v
2008 Rnd 1 - Wests v
2008 Rnd 1 - Pen Hlls v
2008 Rnd 1 - UNSW-ES v
2008 Rnd 1 - St Grge v Nth
2008 Rnd 2 - Wests v
2008 Rnd 3 - W'gong v
2008 Rnd 4 - Camptwn v S
2008 Rnd 5 - Nth Shore v
2008 Rnd 6 - Wests v Syd
2008 Rnd 7 - C'town v Nth
2008 Rnd 8 - Syd Uni v St
2008 - Rnd 9 - W'gong v
Pen Hl
2008 - Rnd 10 - Pen Hills v
Nth Shre
2008 - Rnd 11 - Sydney Uni
v Nth Shre
2008 - Rnd 11 - Balmain v
2008 - Rnd 12 - Nth Shre v
East Cst
2009 - Rnd 1 - St George v
Syd Uni
2009 - Rnd 2 - Camp'twn v
2009 - Rnd 3 - Sydney Uni v
Penn Hills
2009 - Rnd 4 - Wests v Nth
2009 - Rnd 5 - Syd Uni v
Nth Shore
2009 - Rnd 6 - East Coast v
St George
2009 - Rnd 8 - Nth Shore v
Penn Hills
2009 - Rnd 9 - UNSW-ES v
East Coast
2009 - Rnd 10 - St George v
Nth Shore
2009 - Rnd 11 - Balmain v
2009 - Rnd 12 - UNSW-ES
v Nth Shore
2009 - Rnd 13 - Wests v
East Coast
2009 - Rnd 14 - Pen Hills v
2009 Represent -Sydney v
2009 - Rnd 15 - Nth Shore v
Syd Uni
2009 - Rnd 16 - Pen Hills v
Nth Shore
2009 - Rnd 17 - Nth Shore v
2009 - Rnd 18 - Wests v
Penn Hills
2009 - Qual Final - Wests v
2009 - Elim Final - Pen
Hills v Camp'town
2009 - 1st Semi -
UNSW-ES v Pen Hills
2009 - 2nd Semi - East
Coast v Wests
2009 - Prelim Final - Wests
2009 Grand Final Day
2010 - Rnd 1 - Wests v St
2010 - Rnd 2 - UNSW-ES v
North Shore
2010 - Rnd 3 - East Coast v
Sydney Uni
2010 - Rnd 4 - Sydney Uni v
North Shore
2010 - Rnd 5 - Camp'town v
2010 - Rnd 6 - Wests v
North Shore
2010 - Rnd 7 - Penn Hills v
2010 - Rnd 8 - Nth Shore v
2010 - Rnd 9 - Camp'town v
Sydney Uni
2010 - Rnd 9 - Pennant Hlls
v North Shore
2010 - Rnd 10 - St George v
2010 - Rnd 11 - Balmain v
2010 - Rnd 12 - St George v
North Shore
2010 - Rnd 13 - Nth Shore v
Sydney Uni
2010 - Rnd 14 - Wests v
East Coast
2010 - Rnd 15 - East Coast
v North Shore
2010 - Rnd 17 - Nth Shore v
Pennant Hills
2010 - Qual Final - Wests v
East Coast
2010 - Elim Final - North
Shore v Pennant Hills
2010 - 2nd Semi - Sydney
Uni v Wests
2010 - Prelim Final - Wests
v East Coast
2011 - Rnd 1 - East Coast v
2011 - Rnd 2 - Balmain v
2011 - Rnd 3 - Balmain v
2011 - Rnd 5 - Pennant
Hills v North Shore
2011 - Rnd 6 - North Shore
v Campbelltown
2011 - Rnd 8 - UTS v North
2011 - Rnd 9 - Wests v
Sydney Uni
2011 - Rnd 10 - Balmain v
St George
2011 - Rnd 11 - Illawarra v
North Shore
2011 - Rnd 12 - East Coast
v St George
2011 - Rnd 13 - North Shre
v St George
2011 - Rnd 14 - Balmain v
Pennant Hills
2011 - Rnd 15 - North
Shore v Pennant Hills
2011 - Rnd 15 - Sydney Uni
v East Coast
2011 - Rnd 17 - North
Shore v Wests
2011 - Rnd 18 - Balmain v
North Shore
2011 - Rnd 19 - North
Shore v Sydney Uni
2011 - Rnd 20 - UNSW-ES
v North Shore
2011 - Qualifying Final -
Balmain v Sydney Uni
2011 - First Semi - Sydney
Uni v North Shore
2011 - Prelim Final -
Balmain v Sydney Uni