Article and Photos by Michael Shillito

As June drew to a close and July got under way, the finals race took an expected twist. North Shore, undefeated since the opening round of the season, had the home ground advantage against UTS on Saturday afternoon; UTS’s first ever visit to Gore Hill to take on North Shore’s seniors. But, against all expectations, an absorbing contest saw the Bats fall over the line to maintain their position in the top five.
Few would have seen it coming in the first half. The first two quarters saw a similar pattern, with North Shore threatening to open up a lead, but being unable to shake off the attentions of the persistent UTS. The Bombers led by seven points at the first change; and soon got out to a four-goal lead in the second term. But the Bats pegged them back late in the quarter to reduce the margin to 14 points at the long break.
But the tale twisted in dramatic fashion in the premiership quarter. The Bats came out for the second half displaying greater intensity, tackling harder, and forcing the Bombers into mistakes. Up forward, Patrick Healey presented himself as a handy target, and had five goals on the board in the first three quarters. The Bombers were getting frustrated, giving away a few silly 50 metre penalties. The Bats swung the momentum their way, five goals to one turning the deficit into an 11-point lead at three quarter time.
But the Bombers regrouped during the three quarter time break, and after just two minutes of the last quarter, Dale Fitzgerald burst through a pack and snapped truly to cut the margin back to within a kick. Still plenty of time, and the Bombers continued to attack.
But, for all the chances the Bombers created, they were unable to manage another goal. They got away with a similar pattern of play a fortnight ago, when seven behinds against Balmain got them over the line by a point. But missing chances again in the last quarter, the Bombers tempted fate once too often.
The behinds started to tick over. Pat Codling on the run sprayed it wide. Pat Brackin from a tight angle ran around but missed everything. Kick after kick failed to make the distance, but the Bats’ defence was magnificent as they absorbed the relentless pressure of the Bombers.
The nerves were affecting both sides. Michael Davis had a chance to put the issue beyond doubt, but somehow managed to miss a shot from 20 metres. At the other end, Jack Davis had a chance to be the hero for the Bombers in the dying stages, but his kick sailed agonisingly wide for a point; cutting the margin to one point.
The ball was bottled up time after time, until eventually the siren sounded. The Bombers slumped in disbelief. Their eight-game winning streak had come to an end, the Gore Hill fortress had been breached. But there was plenty to celebrate for the Bats, claiming a valuable scalp and showing the football world that in their second season in the top flight of Sydney footy that they are a worthy addition and a genuine contender for playoff action.
Patrick Healey finished with five goals for the Bats; while Luca Miceli, Sam Way and Tom Nixon were magnificent performers. For the Bombers, Sam Naismith, Ron Wason and Sam Carruthers were among their best.

At Henson Park on Saturday afternoon, St George did their chances of making this year’s finals no harm at all when they got the early jump against Sydney Hills Eagles and went on to complete a 71-point win.
The damage was started in the first quarter, as the Dragons completed six unanswered goals, and when the quarter time siren sounded the Dragons were already 38 points ahead. Tall forward Nick Ryan was again looking unstoppable in the Crows’ attacking zone, while long-time clubman Declan Donohue was also enjoying plenty of room to move up forward as the Dragons scored six more goals in the second term and led by 65 points at the long break.
Desperate to salvage something from the contest, the Eagles came out firing after half time and won the third quarter, five goals to three reducing the margin to 56 points at the last change. But the result of the game had been well and truly decided long before that quarter, and the Dragons made another push to lift their percentage in the final quarter with five goals to three.
Nick Ryan finished with six goals and Declan Donohue four. St George club legend Steven Wilsen celebrated his 150th game in style with a best-on-ground performance, while Nick Ryan and Paul Sain were also prominent. For the Eagles, Matthew Scholz, James Gordon and Andrew Fender were among their best.

Campbelltown had broken through for their second win to get off the bottom last week, but the Blues were handed a reality check by Pennant Hills at Monarch Oval on Saturday afternoon as the ladder-leading Demons controlled the game from start to finish.
Although the Blues scored an early goal, the Demons wasted little time in assuming the stronger position in the match, with five goals to one in the opening term putting them 25 points clear at quarter time. And the Demons continued to find attacking options in the second half, with another five-goal haul to open up a 47 point lead at the long break.
But if the first half was a reflection of Pennant Hills’ superiority, there was more to come. The Demon runners were finding all the room to move they could have wanted on the vast Monarch expanses, and goal-scoring options were opening up with regularity. Seven goals to two in the third term blew the three-quarter time margin out to 77 points. And in the last quarter, the Campbelltown resistance disappeared completely and the Demons were unstoppable with a 10-goal quarter putting the margin out beyond three figures.
The final margin was 114 points, an emphatic display of the difference between a premiership contender and a team in the lower reaches of the ladder. Luke Bilbe was a key focal point up forward to finish with six goals; while Matthew Carey, Aaron Crisfield and Tim Wales were among the best. On a difficult day for the Blues, Marcus Linsen, Bryce Joynson and debutant Penisimeni Mahina continued to persevere all afternoon.

The trip down the Bulli Pass can sometimes be a graveyard for teams travelling down from Sydney, but UNSW-ES had no trouble down there as they dominated a one-sided contest to win by 134 points on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs were the stronger team in the early exchanges, and with four goals to one in the opening term led by 20 points at the first change. The second quarter was a high-scoring affair, with both sides looking to attack the footy and create scoring chances. But the Bulldogs had the superior firepower, and with six goals to three found themselves 41 points ahead at half time.
The premiership quarter was one of the more lopsided terms of football this season, as the Bulldogs grabbed the game and exerted a vice-like grip over proceedings. From countless scoring chances, the Bulldogs scored nine goals while holding the Lions to a solitary point, and by three-quarter time the margin was out to 98 points. And there would be no chance for the Lions to salvage any respectability in the last quarter as the Bulldogs again dominated with six goals to one to blow the final margin out to 134 points, further adding to the Bulldogs’ already imposing percentage.
It was the Leigh Lavery Show, the big-hearted Bulldog forward kicking ten goals in a best-on-ground performance. Hayden Nichols and Max Collett were among many strong performers for the Bulldogs. In a game the Lions will be keen to put behind them, Wade Edmed, Daniel McClure and Joshua Tier kept trying all day.

Sunday afternoon’s match at Henson Park saw Balmain needing a win to stay in the top five. And the Dockers managed to do that, but it wasn’t a match that reached any great heights before the Dockers got up by 51 points.
A physical game combined with a flukey wind saw both sides struggle with their kicking inaccuracy. But weight of scoring opportunities saw the Dockers get the better of the opening term to lead by 14 points; and by half time the margin had been extended to 22 points.
It was a tight and defensive struggle in the third term, with the Magpies holding the Dockers to one goal, but for all their good work in the backline, the Wests forwards were unable to conjure up a goal; and with just two goals on the board at three-quarter time, the margin of 27 points looked a mountain too high for the Magpies to climb. And so it would prove, as despite scoring two goals in the final term, the Wests’ defence finally crumbled and the Dockers added six.
The final margin of 51 points wasn’t convincing, but it was enough for the Dockers to maintain their position in the top five.
Matthew Round, Kristian Pearson and Leigh Conway were prolific ball-winners for the Dockers, while Stephen Hudson, Lynn Roehrig and James Newbury worked hard all afternoon for Wests. The Magpies had worked hard all afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to get them off the bottom of the ladder.

University of Technology 2.2 5.5 10.9 10.10 (70)
North Shore 3.3 7.7 8.10 9.15 (69)
Goals : UTS –
P Healey 5, M Davis 2, T Nixon, B Worrall-Thompson, L Meyrick. North Shore – D Roberts 3, D Fitzgerald 2, S Naismith 2, P Codling, T Nash.
Best : UTS – L Miceli, S Way, T Nixon, J Lynas, L Flanagan, R Kirkhope. North Shore – S Naismith, R Wason, S Carruthers, D Fitzgerald, J Davis, B Fitzgerald.
At Gore Hill Oval, Saturday 30th June 2012.

St George 6.4 12.8 15.13 20.16 (136)
Sydney Hills Eagles 0.2 2.3 7.5 10.5 (65)
Goals : St George –
N Ryan 6, D Donohue 4, D Ryan 3, A Wynn 2, D Napper, D Lycakis, B Jones, D Cullen, N Kenny. Sydney Hills – J Patira 2, T Physick 2, M Clinch 2, J Famularo 2, E Okunbor, J Moeller.
Best : St George – S Wilsen, N Ryan, P Sain, A Wynn, D Napper, R Bennett. Sydney Hills – M Scholz, A Gordon, A Fender, R Fitton, J Mann, T Physick.
At Henson Park, Saturday 30th June 2012.

Pennant Hills 5.4 10.9 17.10 27.10 (167)
Campbelltown 1.3 3.4 5.5 8.5 (53)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
L Bilbe 6, N Campbell 3, M Carey 3, A Crisfield 2, S Widmer 2, P Barnes 2, T Widmer, R Watts, D Witt, N Baglin, B Unwin, A Nixon, J Dunn. Campbelltown – B Joynson 2, S Doherty 2, M Linsen 2, D Fraser, A Sneddon.
Best : Pennant Hills – M Carey, A Crisfield, T Wales, L Bilbe, R Watts, S Widmer. Campbelltown – M Linsen, B Joynson, P Mahina, M Hogan, D Fraser, M Sommerville.
At Monarch Oval, Saturday 30th June 2012.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 4.4 10.8 19.12 25.18 (168)
Illawarra 1.2 4.3 4.4 5.4 (34)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
L Lavery 10, E Kiel 3, M Rawlinson 3, M Collett 2, J Parmenter, A Gulden, R Troon, N McGann, H Nichols. Illawarra – D McClure, P Lloyd, W Cook, C Cook, R Cutifani.
Best : UNSW-ES – L Lavery, H Nichols, M Collett, P Kefalas, S Tagliabue, M Rawlinson. Illawarra – W Edmed, D McClure, J Tier, T Green, R Price, P Lloyd.
At North Dalton Oval, Saturday 30th June 2012.

Balmain 3.6 5.11 6.13 12.17 (89)
Western Suburbs 1.4 2.7 2.10 4.14 (38)
Goals : Balmain –
K Pearson 3, L Conway 2, M Round 2, S Bowen, B Taggart, G Wilkie, B Plug, J Coulloupas. Wests – C McGrath 2, J Zoppo, J Newbury.
Best : Balmain – M Round, K Pearson, L Conway, T Luff, G Wilkie, S Bowen. Wests – S Hudson, L Roehrig, J Newbury, J Polley, B Mumme, S Lear.
At Henson Park, Sunday 1st July 2012.

Pennant Hills
North Shore
St George
Sydney Hills
Sydney Uni
Western Suburbs
Black - Confirmed finalists
Green - Currently in a finals position, but not yet guaranteed a place in the finals
Blue - Not currently in a finals position, but still a chance to qualify
Purple - Will not be competing in the finals
Red – Wooden spoon, probable relegation.

Division One:
UTS 11.8 (74) d North Shore 6.8 (44)
Pennant Hills 8.6 (54) d Macquarie Uni 6.3 (39)
Manly-Warringah 20.18 (138) d UNSW-ES 1.3 (9)
Western Suburbs 7.6 (48) d Penrith 5.14 (44)
Southern Power 14.16 (100) d Sydney Hills 5.2 (32)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Manly-Warringah (100, 587.95%), Southern Power (90.91, 334.48%), Holroyd-Parramatta (60, 110.19%), UTS (58.33, 113.88%), North Shore (50, 95.96%), Penrith (50, 86.75%), UNSW-ES (40, 59.95%), Macquarie Uni (36.36, 90.71%), Sydney Hills (27.27, 57.51%), Pennant Hills (27.27, 44.88%), Wests (9.09, 35.82%).

Division Two:
St George 10.7 (67) d NorWest 7.5 (47)
Camden 16.11 (107) d Illawarra 9.4 (58)
Sydney Uni 14.6 (90) d UNSW-ES 11.9 (75)
Manly-Warringah 9.7 (61) d Moorebank 8.7 (55)
Balmain 25.20 (170) d Auburn 2.4 (16)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Uni (90.91, 138.11%), Balmain (72.73, 132.04%), UNSW-ES (66.67, 154.60%), Manly-Warringah (54.55, 125.13%), St George (50, 112.70%), Camden (50, 105.01%), NorWest (50, 99.05%), Moorebank (41.67, 108.46%), Illawarra (18.18, 74.59%), Auburn (8.33, 30.40%).

Division Three:
Campbelltown 13.15 (93) d Moorebank 11.9 (75)
Western Suburbs 10.15 (75) d Macquarie Uni 4.9 (33)
Southern Power 20.21 (141) d Sydney Hills 2.4 (16)
Blacktown 12.9 (81) d Saints AFC 7.13 (55)
UTS 11.11 (77) d Sydney Uni 9.7 (61)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – UTS (90.91, 518.11%), Blacktown (81.82, 273.53%), Sydney Uni (81.82, 269.13%), Saints AFC (66.67, 237.96%), Southern Power (41.67, 122.39%), Wests (41.67, 45.29%), Macquarie Uni (36.36, 60.71%), Sydney Hills (27.27, 41.38%), Campbelltown (27.27, 40.60%), Moorebank (8.33, 28.53%).

Division Four:
UTS 15.9 (99) d North Shore 6.2 (38)
Penrith 9.6 (60) d Holroyd-Parramatta 4.17 (71)
Southern Power d Macquarie Uni – forfeit
UNSW-ES 8.26 (74) d Manly-Warringah 2.7 (19)
Gosford 15.12 (102) d NorWest 6.13 (49)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – UTS (100, 290.73%), Gosford (91.67, 325.60%), Penrith (75, 262.36%), UNSW-ES (75, 188.69%), Manly-Warringah (45.45, 70.67%), NorWest (33.33, 68.02%), North Shore (25, 55.52%), Southern Power (25, 40.48%), Holroyd-Parramatta (18.18, 38.31%), Macquarie Uni (9.09, 40.16%).

Division Five:
Penrith 5.7 (37) d Saints AFC 5.5 (35)
Sydney Uni 12.15 (87) d UTS 5.11 (41)
Camden 22.18 (150) d Holroyd-Parramatta 3.0 (18)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Uni (90, 298.30%), Camden (81.82, 168.04%), UTS (75, 174.95%), UNSW-ES (55, 142.39%), Saints AFC (50, 122.28%), Moorebank (40, 113.21%), Penrith (20, 50.79%), Holroyd-Parramatta (20, 34.84%).

Under 18s One:
North Shore 18.11 (119) d St Ignatius Riverview 7.6 (48)
Sydney Hills 14.11 (95) d St George 7.11 (53)
Illawarra 16.29 (125) d UNSW-ES 4.3 (27)
Western Suburbs 12.13 (85) d Penrith 5.8 (38)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Hills (95.45, 271.36%), Illawarra (75, 166.92%), Sydney Uni (75, 138.29%), Pennant Hills (66.67, 151.47%), North Shore (62.5, 203.03%), UNSW-ES (44.44, 86.41%), St George (40, 123.10%), Wests (22.22, 48.77%), Riverview (20, 82.73%), Penrith (0, 11.05%).

Under 18s Two:
Manly-Warringah 11.18 (74) d NorWest 6.6 (42)
Southern Power 18.16 (124) d Sydney Hills 2.5 (17)
Moorebank 10.12 (72) d Macquarie Uni 11.3 (69)
Balmain 29.22 (196) d Saints AFC 2.0 (12)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Southern Power (90, 407.11%), Balmain (88.89, 293.61%), Manly-Warringah (70, 169.34%), Moorebank (60, 86.54%), NorWest (50, 135.17%), Macquarie Uni (33.33, 84.99%), Holroyd-Parramatta (25, 56.97%), Sydney Hills (12.5, 57.06%), Saints AFC (10, 15.31%).

Balmain 15.7 (97) d Newtown 2.1 (13)
Sydney Uni 21.24 (150) d Penrith 1.1 (7)
Macquarie Uni 14.12 (96) d Auburn 0.4 (4)
Western Wolves 9.9 (63) d UNSW 4.3 (27)
Wollongong 6.16 (52) d Southern Power 1.1 (7)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Balmain (100, 721.60%), Wollongong (80, 261.64%), Sydney Uni (77.78, 465.62%), Newtown (77.78, 227.13%), Western Wolves (60, 254.58%), UNSW (50, 117.85%), Macquarie Uni (50, 92.04%), Southern Power (30, 61.49%), Auburn (20, 18.73%), UTS (10, 9.12%), Penrith (0, 9.13%).

With eight weeks to go till the finals, there are six teams in realistic contention.
Pennant Hills, on the back of a nine-game winning streak, are flying high on top. UNSW-ES and UTS have nine wins, but the Bulldogs still have eight games to go; while the Bats have three less games in hand. North Shore have eight wins with eight games in hand. Balmain and St George have seven wins, but the Dragons only have seven games to play.
Time is running out for Illawarra and Sydney Hills, who will need to win their remaining games and are depending on other results to remain in the finals hunt. Campbelltown and Sydney Uni are only the slimmest of mathematical chances to qualify; while Wests have no mathematical way of making it to this year’s finals.
The remaining games for the teams still in mathematical contention are:
Pennant Hills (40, 165.91%) – Illawarra (Mike Kenny), Sydney Uni (Mike Kenny), UNSW-ES (Mike Kenny), Balmain (Henson), Sydney Hills (Bruce Purser), bye, Wests (Mike Kenny), North Shore (Gore Hill).
UNSW-ES (36, 225.05%) – St George (Kelso), Wests (Village Green), Pennant Hills (Mike Kenny), UTS (Village Green), Balmain (Henson), North Shore (Gore Hill), Sydney Hills (Village Green), Sydney Uni (Village Green) .
UTS (36, 116.02%) – Campbelltown (Waverley), bye, bye, UNSW-ES (Village Green), North Shore (Waverley), St George (Kelso), bye, Illawarra (North Dalton).
North Shore (32, 204.90%) – Sydney Uni (SU No 1), St George (Kelso), Illawarra (North Dalton), Illawarra (Gore Hill), UTS (Waverley), UNSW-ES (Gore Hill), Balmain (Henson), Pennant Hills (Gore Hill).
Balmain (28, 205.40%) – Sydney Hills (Bruce Purser), Illawarra (North Dalton), Sydney Uni (SU No 1), Pennant Hills (Henson), UNSW-ES (Henson), Campbelltown (Monarch), North Shore (Henson), St George (Kelso).
St George (28, 136.88%) – UNSW-ES (Kelso), North Shore (Kelso), bye, Sydney Uni (Kelso), Campbelltown (Monarch), UTS (Kelso), Illawarra (Kelso), Balmain (Kelso).
Illawarra (16, 72.37%) – Pennant Hills (Mike Kenny), Balmain (North Dalton), North Shore (North Dalton), North Shore (Gore Hill), bye, Wests (Picken), St George (Kelso), UTS (North Dalton).
Sydney Hills (12, 58.91%) – Balmain (Bruce Purser), Campbelltown (Monarch), bye, bye, Pennant Hills (Bruce Purser), Sydney Uni (SU No 1), UNSW-ES (Village Green), Wests (Picken).
Campbelltown (8, 43.30%) – UTS (Waverley), Sydney Hills (Monarch), bye, Wests (Picken), St George (Monarch), Balmain (Monarch), Sydney Uni (Henson), bye.
Sydney Uni (4, 52.25%) – North Shore (SU No 1), Pennant Hills (Mike Kenny), Balmain (SU No 1), St George (Kelso), Wests (Henson), Sydney Hills (SU No 1), Campbelltown (Henson), UNSW-ES (Village Green).

NEXT WEEK’S FIXTURES (Lurker’s Kiss of Death in bold):

Premier Division:
Saturday 7th July
Kelso Oval – St George v UNSW-ES (2:10pm)
Waverley Oval – UTS v Campbelltown (2:10pm)
Sydney Uni No 1 Oval – Sydney Uni v North Shore (3pm)
Bruce Purser Reserve – Sydney Hills v Balmain (4:10pm)
Sunday 8th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Illawarra (2:10pm)
BYE – Western Suburbs.

Division One:
Saturday 7th July
Trumper Park – UTS v Macquarie Uni (1pm)
Bruce Purser Reserve – Sydney Hills v Penrith (2pm)
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v North Shore (2:30pm)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v UNSW-ES (2:30pm)
Sunday 8th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Manly-Warringah (10am)
BYE – Western Suburbs.

Division Two:
Saturday 7th July
Kelso Oval – St George v UNSW-ES (12pm)
St Pauls Oval – Sydney Uni v Illawarra (2pm)
Harrington Park – Camden v Moorebank (2:10pm)
Mona Park – Auburn v Manly-Warringah (2:10pm)
Sunday 8th July
Henson Park – Balmain v NorWest (12pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 7th July
Bruce Purser Reserve – Sydney Hills v Sydney Uni (10am)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v Macquarie Uni (10:30am)
Waverley Oval – UTS v Campbelltown (12pm)
Pioneers Park – Saints AFC v Western Suburbs (2:10pm)
The Ponds – Blacktown v Moorebank (2:10pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 7th July
Trumper Park – UTS v Manly-Warringah (11am)
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v North Shore (12:30pm)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v UNSW-ES (12:30pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v NorWest (2:10pm)
Sunday 8th July
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Gosford (2:10pm)

Division Five:
Saturday 7th July
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v UNSW-ES (10:30am)
Harrington Park – Camden v Moorebank (12pm)
Pioneers Park – Saints AFC v Sydney Uni (12pm)
BYE – UTS, Penrith.

Under 18s One:
Saturday 7th July
Kelso Oval – St George v UNSW-ES (10am)
Picken Oval – St Ignatius Riverview v Western Suburbs (10am)
Bruce Purser Reserve – Sydney Hills v Penrith (12pm)
St Pauls Oval – Sydney Uni v North Shore (12pm)
Sunday 8th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Sydney Hills v Illawarra (12pm)

Under 18s Two:
Saturday 7th July
Gipps Rd Oval – Holroyd-Parramatta v Sydney Hills (8:30am)
Gwawley Oval – Southern Power v NorWest (8:30am)
Pioneers Park – Saints AFC v Manly-Warringah (10am)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Balmain (12pm)
BYE – Moorebank.

Saturday 7th July
Mona Park – Auburn v UTS (10am)
Picken Oval – Western Wolves v Newtown (12pm)
Sunday 8th July
Greygums Oval - Penrith v Southern Power (12pm)
BYE – Wollongong, UNSW, Balmain, Sydney Uni, Macquarie Uni.