SYDNEY AFL PRELIMINARY FINAL 2010Article and Photos by Michael Shillito
After Sydney Uni’s hard-fought win over Wests in the Second Semi, the Students had qualified for the Grand Final. Preliminary Final day would determine who would get to take on the Students in Sydney footy’s big day; as Western Suburbs took on East Coast Eagles.
Wests would go into the clash with the psychological advantage of having defeated the Eagles in the Qualifying Final just a fortnight earlier. But the Magpies would have to overcome a hoodoo of recent history; with no team that lost the Second Semi having bounced back to win the Prelim Final since UNSW-ES in 2002.
Sunday afternoon saw Blacktown Olympic Park looking a treat, the match being played in glorious spring sunshine. And it was the Eagles, kicking to the Eastern Road End in the first term, who would make the early front-running to set up an imposing early lead. Two early behinds were followed by Peter Dugmore receiving a loose ball 30 metres out for the opening goal.
The ball travelled from end to end for the next 10 minutes, both sides looking for scoring opportunities but coming up blank as the defenders had the better of the one-on-one contests. But on 15 minutes, the mistake came when the Magpie defence lost their bearings; and a 50m penalty to Darren Chapman for walking over the mark sent the Eagle number 37 into goal-scoring range. A couple of minutes later, Damien Bowles was collected after he’d already disposed of the ball. The free kick was paid downfield to Peter Vlatko, who centred the ball for Kristian Pearson to run in and goal. Chapman’s second goal during time-on put the Eagles 24 points ahead at quarter time; and when Ben Rogers marked and goaled in the opening minute of the second term, the game was in danger of being a blowout.
But early in the second term, the Magpies steadied. On 4 minutes, Cal McGuirk on the run gave the Magpies their first goal. Five minutes later, a penetrating long kick by Medair Kassem found Chris Lees at the edge of the square. The Magpies were getting plenty of the ball and creating opportunities; but other chances were going begging and some poor finishing prevented the Magpies from taking advantage of their period of controlling the game.
And when the change in momentum came, the Eagles made better use of their opportunities. Peter Dugmore didn’t make the distance from 40 metres out, but Peter Vlatko was on hand to take the mark and kick a steadying goal for the Eagles. And late in the quarter, tempers became frayed and the Eagles needed only to hold their composure. The Eagles scored twice from undisciplined 50m penalties, and the centre bounce after the second goal saw Medair Kassem land a late hit on Ryan Fitton, Fitton’s free finding Damien Charleston to wrap up a 39-point lead at the long break.
Such a lead at half time is imposing, but not insurmountable. Only last year, East Coast had come from further behind to beat Wests in a memorable comeback at Henson Park. And early in the third term, the Magpies made a good attempt to make a meaningful dent on the scoreboard.
For the first 15 minutes of the third term, the ball was camped on the Magpie forward line as the Magpies made a determined effort to eat into the deficit. Matt Withers was in the thick of the action, twice making good second efforts after being unable to hold marks to snap and score goals. And there were other opportunities to present themselves. Lyn Roehrig was the beneficiary of a free kick paid from 40 metres behind the play, on the flank next to the scoreboard; but his shot failed to find a Magpie target. Brenton Mumme made an excellent run to tackle Fitton from behind and earn a free kick from 25 metres out, but his set shot missed the target.
But on 15 minutes, against the run of play, the Eagles steadied. Steve O’Connor, with a strong run through the centre, found Charleston 35 metres out. Two minutes later, Jon Vlatko set up peter Vlatko. And when Mark Goodey curled a shot home from an impossible angle, then against all expectations the Eagles had won the quarter.
The centre break at the start of the last term found Ben Rogers, who played on to set up O’Connor. And when experienced defender Rowan Bilkey ran from the backline and snapped truly, the celebrations in the Eagle camp were under way. A Grand Final appearance, the Eagles’ fourth in five years, was assured. But the Magpie heads dropped, as for the second year in succession they had been a victim of the Second Semi-Final hoodoo.
The final margin was 55 points, a comfortable win for the Eagles. Spreading the goalkicking honours around, 11 of their 22 got themselves into the goal-scorers’ list. Damien Charleston, Dean Costello and Mike Beardsley were among East Coast’s best; but it was a solid team effort for the Eagles. The season for East Coast has had its ups and downs, but their toughest test is still to come.
For the Magpies, Matt Withers kicked 3; while Marcus Linsen, Rohan Lilly and Stephen Hudson were among the Magpies’ best. The Magpies will be disappointed that, for the second year in a row, they won the Qualifying Final in the opening week but were unable to win another final. But there is much that Wests can be proud of in their achievements for 2010, and their finals campaign this season will serve as motivation for them to go a step better next season.
And so a season that started with 10 Premier Division teams is now down to just two. Both in blue and gold. Will there be a happy team at East Coast? Or will Sydney Uni have a hot time in the old town on Saturday night? All will be revealed at Blacktown on Saturday, as the Students take on the Eagles in Sydney footy’s showpiece day.
East Coast Eagles 4.3 9.5 12.9 16.10 (106)
Western Suburbs 0.3 2.8 4.11 6.15 (51)
Goals : East Coast –
P Vlatko 2, D Charleston 2, D Chapman 2, P Dugmore 2, B Rogers 2, D Bowles, R Bilkey, S O’Connor, K Pearson, M Goodey, D Spiteri. Wests –
M Withers 3, M Eurell, C McGuirk, C Lees.
Best : East Coast –
D Charleston, D Costello, M Beardsley, S O’Connor, R Bilkey, J Dimery. Wests –
M Linsen, R Lilly, S Hudson, M Kassem, D Linsen, M Withers.
UTS 3.2 5.9 9.13 13.15 (93)
Manly-Warringah 0.2 0.5 2.7 2.10 (22)
Goals : UTS –
D Lavender 3, T Chadwick 2, S Way 2, H McGregor 2, M Trehwella, D Teasdale, A Kymantas, T Wallace. Manly –
J Hume, M Webb.
Best : UTS –
D Lavender, T Steinfort, M Trehwella, A Kymantas, F Boland, T Wallace. Manly –
A Robertson, B Brendan, T Beckett, L Murfitt, B Thompson, J Hall.
Under 18s Premier
East Coast Eagles 2.1 5.2 7.4 8.7 (55)
North Shore 2.2 2.5 4.7 6.9 (45)
Goals : East Coast –
E Barclay 2, N Campbell, D Lim, M Clinch, D Killworth, A Foxall, C Polkinghorne. North Shore –
J Falconer 3, T Bransgrove, T Weston, N Anderson.
Best : East Coast –
T Monaghan, L Butler, A Foxall, J Hemmings, D Killworth, J Pianta. North Shore –
C Callander, S Trevaskis, M Trent, J Falconer, L Kilpatrick, A Rodgers.
DIVISION 2, 3, 4 and CHALLENGE CUP GRAND FINAL
Saturday at Blacktown Olympic Park saw four Grand Finals played. A long day, but the final results saw the minor premier in all four divisions go on to take on the premiership.
In Second Division, Southern Power had been hot favourites to take the title last year but a disappointing fade-out in the finals saw them fail to lift the cup. But this year the Power redeemed themselves, coming from a goal down at half time to defeat UTS by 17 points. The Power, by winning the title, have earned themselves a promotion to First Division for next season; and a crack at the best Premier Division reserves teams.
Third Division completed the rebuilding process of Moorebank Sports. Just a few years ago they were struggling to put one team on the park in the old Second Division; but working hard in their area have worked hard to build up the numbers. They now field two senior teams and an under 18s team, and had such success that they got two teams into the Grand Final this season. And for their seniors, the sweet smell of premiership glory after coming from 14 points behind at the long break and running away from Penrith in the last quarter to win by 39 points.
Fourth Division was dominated by Auburn, and the Tigers completed an undefeated season with a comprehensive 126-point win over Moorebank Sports. Auburn have been a remarkable story in 2010, the club starting from scratch this season with a group of players the vast majority of which came from non-English speaking backgrounds, and only a minority of whom had played the game before. But the season saw them sweep all before them, dominating an undefeated season.
In Under 18s Challenge Cup, Penrith completed an undefeated season with an 81-point win over Holroyd-Parramatta. The Rams, representing an area not traditionally a powerhouse of junior recruitment, are building a quality football nursery in Sydney’s far west. With the majority of the squad still eligible to play under 18s next season, and after such a dominant performance in 2010, the Rams will have a strong case to argue for a promotion to the Under 18s Premier Cup next season.
Southern Power 0.1 3.4 6.6 9.8 (62)
UTS 0.7 3.10 4.13 5.15 (45)
Goals : Power –
A Fritsch 3, W Oakley 2, A Carmody, D Wild, M Young. UTS –
A Thain 2, S Neal 2, B Pawsky.
Best : Power –
S Brierley, W Oakley, M Graham, D Wild, M Young, A Cook. UTS –
J Fox, S Robertson, J Spragg, R Hanmore, S King, R Eagle.
Moorebank Sports 1.2 3.7 7.10 12.14 (86)
Penrith 1.5 5.9 6.9 6.11 (47)
Goals : Moorebank –
R Thompson-Laing 3, D Gojanovic 2, W Apps 2, S Wicken 2, J Moore, V Pham, A Moore. Penrith –
D Cummings 2, L Smith, J Anasis, T Cummins, B Roberts.
Best : Moorebank –
D Gojanovic, A Moore, A Furley, B Currant, B Parker, W Apps. Penrith –
B Roney, J Keane, J Hall, A West, D Bradley, T Cummins.
Auburn 8.6 12.7 18.13 24.13 (157)
Moorebank Sports 1.1 2.4 2.6 4.7 (31)
Goals : Auburn –
O Kassem 8, M Moussa 7, S Kassem 4, M Hussein, E El Kheir, M Nahle, A Faraj, H Kara-Ali. Moorebank –
T Davis 2, N Denko, B Ferrett.
Best : Auburn –
O Kassem, M Nahle, I Kassem, M Yahgi, M Tarbine, A Jamal-edine. Moorebank –
T Davis, J Droscher, R Sheraton, D Holman, P Hooper, C Rainbow.
Under 18s Challenge
Penrith 2.2 9.4 13.8 17.17 (119)
Holroyd-Parramatta 1.2 3.2 4.2 6.3 (38)
Goals : Penrith –
B McGovern 5, G Howell 4, J Spicer 3, L Simmons, D Schroot, J Ponton, R Ooms, C Hislop. Holroyd-Parramatta –
J Brennan 3, P Martinoli, W Tsang, J Mobbs.
Best : Penrith –
J Ponton, G Howell, L Murphy, M Payne, C Hislop, D Schroot. Holroyd-Parramatta –
B Johnston, B Jenison, S Whitney, R Johnston, J Smith, M Burn.
NEXT WEEK – GRAND FINALS
Saturday 18th September
9:45am – Under 18s Premier Cup – Sydney University v East Coast Eagles
12:00pm – First Division – Sydney University v UTS
2:30pm – Premier Division – Sydney University v East Coast Eagles