Article and Photos by Michael Shillito

We’ve gone past the two-thirds mark of the home and away season, and the battle for the finals is on in earnest. With the top five all recording big wins this weekend, the gap between those leading teams and the rest is increasing. But the battle for positions within the top five, for the potential double-chance in the finals, is far from settled.

Pennant Hills are usually around at the business end of the season, and this year looks to be no exception. The Demons have been solid performers all season, and on Sunday at Mike Kenny Oval they were too good for Illawarra.
Illawarra have never beaten Pennant Hills, but the Lions played hard and tough football early, keen to keep in touch with the Demons. The Demons held an 8-point advantage at the first change; but the Lions struggled to find attacking options in the second term. A three goals to one quarter was enough for the Demons to open up a 25-point lead at the long break.
It wasn’t always pretty football to watch, but it was effective, as the Demons continued to defend and shut the Lions out of the contest. It was another low-scoring quarter in the third term, three goals to one in favour of the Demons; and with a 37-point lead at the last change, the game looked out of Illawarra’s reach. Their resistance was finally broken down in the last quarter, and the Demons opened the floodgates with a six-goal quarter.
The final margin was 67 points. Kieran Wright, Adam Nixon and Sam Widmer were ball magnets all day for the Demons. For the Lions, Ken Ewen-Chappell, Jacob Brookfield and Matthew Adamson were among their best. With 11 wins on the board with six matches to play before the finals, the Demons find themselves a game clear on top of the ladder.

After a few years out of the finals, UNSW-ES have emerged as a genuine contender this season. Only one loss for the year to date sees them flying high in second place. At Kelso Oval on Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs continued their winning streak with a convincing 71-point win over St George.
The Dragons were competitive early, and it took some time in the first quarter for the Bulldogs to get on top around the ground. The Bulldogs led by 11 points at the first change, but the momentum swung sharply their way in the second term, with a run of five goals to two to open up a 30-point half time lead.
The premiership quarter saw the Bulldogs in complete control, as they dominated proceedings around the ground, and with plenty of effective avenues to goal, they would kick seven goals to one for the quarter to open up a match-winning lead. The last quarter saw the sting go out of the contest, and a low-scoring quarter saw one goal apiece, but by then the game was already safely won.
Leigh Lavery’s purple patch in front of goals continued with a bag of seven to spearhead the Bulldog charge. Peter Kefalas, Adam Gulden and Dane Rampe were among the Bulldogs’ best. For the Dragons, youngsters Nathan Kenny, Alex Wynn and Daniel Lim were prominent.
The Bulldogs, with ten wins and seven games still to play, are well placed to have a shot at the double chance and have a crack at this year’s title. For St George, the lack of access to Olds Park this season has been an unwelcome distraction which has disrupted their games and training. The Dragons have seven wins, but are a game plus percentage outside the finals with six games to go.

A heavy track at Waverley saw UTS’s game against Campbelltown moved to Henson Park. But the change of venue didn’t hurt the Bats at all, as they dominated from start to finish to record a comprehensive 121-point win.
In their second season in Premier Division, the Bats have been a surprise packet this season, and again they showed plenty of class to dominate a one-sided match. The Bats led by 18 points at the first change, and then stepped up the intensity in the second term to put on a display the Blues were powerless to stop. Six goals to two in the second term saw the margin out to 45 points at the long break.
The third quarter would be even more one-sided. The Blues were held scoreless for the quarter, and would not kick a goal in the second half. By the last change the margin had blown out to 77 points; and going on with the job in the last quarter, the Bats scored seven unanswered goals to stretch the margin to 121 points.
Michael Davis finished with six goals for the Bats; while around the ground Roch Hanmore, Mitchell Hall and Jonathan Lynas picked up a stack of possessions. For the Blues, Bryce Joynson, Luke Coughlan and Daniel Fraser kept working hard all day.
The Bats have ten wins for the season, and a finals berth looks likely. But they are yet to have a bye, won’t have another game in the next two weekends and only have four more games to play during the home and away season. Campbelltown won’t be playing finals this year, but over the remaining rounds will be looking to develop their list with future seasons in mind.

North Shore have been in the final five for the last couple of seasons, but look a strong side that is capable of going further in the finals this year. On Saturday evening they travelled to Sydney Uni No 1 to take on the Students, the team that eliminated them from last year’s finals, and had no trouble in recording a 106-point victory.
The ball travelled from end to end for the first ten minutes, during which time neither side scored. But once the Bombers broke the deadlock, the floodgates opened and the North Shore goals flowed freely. Six goals to nothing in the opening term saw the Bombers 39 points ahead. In a trying week for Sydney Uni, in which coach Damian Hall departed the club, frustrations began to boil over in the second half as a succession of 50 metre penalties handed the Bombers easy goals. The Bombers had ten goals on the board before the Students scored, but the Students broke their duck late in the quarter with three goals to get the margin back to 45 points at half time.
But the Bombers soon regained their ruthless streak, with eight unanswered goals for the third term blowing the margin out to 91 points at the last change. The pressure eased in the last quarter, with the game safely won and lost; but the Bombers kept pushing to win the quarter and extend the final margin into three figures.
The Bombers spread the goal-scoring duties around, with 13 of their number getting on the goal-scoring list. Pat Brackin, Richie Lynch and Matt Thomas were among North Shore’s best. For the Students, Anton Turco, Jacob Swarts and Michael Figg were among their best.
North Shore have nine wins on the board, and eight games still to play, giving them plenty of opportunity to add to that tally; and a top-three finish would have to be a target from here. No finals this year for Sydney Uni. With many of their big names going into their NEAFL club this year, it’s created a hole in their Premier Division team which has been too big a task to fill.

Last year’s Grand Final saw Sydney Hills Eagles (then known as East Coast) demolish Balmain. But fortunes have reversed considerably in 2012, and for the second time this season the Dockers defeated the Eagles by over 100 points in a one-sided twilight clash at Bruce Purser Reserve.
The first quarter was low scoring, with the Dockers 13 points ahead at quarter time. But the floodgates opened in the second term, as the Dockers put on a display of football that the Eagles were powerless to resist. Ten goals to one for the quarter saw Balmain leading by 67 points at the long break.
Balmain, looking for a good win to keep their imposing percentage intact, were in no mood to let up on the pressure; and the Balmain dominance continued in the third term as the Dockers scored six unanswered goals. By three-quarter time the Dockers were 103 points ahead. The final quarter never reached any great heights, but the Dockers added one more point onto their final winning margin.
Ben Taggart was unstoppable on the forward line for Balmain, finishing with a nine-goal haul; and along with Craig White and Braedon Jones was among the Dockers’ best. Josh Shephard, Michael Clinch and Etiosa Okunbor persevered all evening for the Eagles.
Balmain, with eight wins and seven games still to play, are looking good for a finals spot but still have some work to do to get themselves into the double-chance spot. For the Eagles, an impressive debut season in the NEAFL has tested their depth at Premier Division level; and have only the slimmest obscure mathematical chance of qualifying for this year’s finals and aiming for a premiership four-peat.

Pennant Hills 3.4 6.10 9.13 15.18 (108)
Illawarra 2.2 3.3 4.6 5.11 (41)

Goals : Pennant Hills – R Watts 3, D Dell’Aquila 3, N Campbell 2, H Angel 2, L Bilbe 2, M Carey, S Widmer, D Witt. Illawarra – R Oehme 2, T Green 2, K Ewen-Chappell.
Best : Pennant Hills – K Wright, A Nixon, S Widmer, H Angel, D Witt, R Watts. Illawarra – K Ewen-Chappell, Brookfield, M Adamson, R Oehme, P Lloyd, T Green.
At Mike Kenny Oval, Sunday 8th July 2012.

Uni NSW-Eastern Suburbs 5.3 10.5 17.7 18.12 (120)
St George 3.4 5.5 6.7 7.7 (49)
Goals : UNSW-ES –
L Lavery 7, D Rampe 2, J Parmenter 2, M Rawlinson 2, E Kiel, R Troon, P Kefalas, J Kiel, S Taglibue. St George – N Ryan 2, D Lim 2, B Guthrie, D Lycakis, D Donohue.
Best : UNSW-ES – P Kefalas, A Gulden, D Rampe, S Tagliabue, M Collett, T Heath. St George – N Kenny, A Wynn, D Lim, B Voigt, N Ryan, D Napper.
At Kelso Oval, Saturday 7th July 2012.

University of Technology 5.3 11.7 16.9 23.13 (151)
Campbelltown 2.3 4.4 4.4 4.6 (30)
Goals : UTS –
M Davis 6, T Wallace 3, T Nixon 3, P Healey 3, N Haslam 2, R Hanmore, T O’Dwyer, J Minichiello, T Steinfort, S McGuinness, M Hall. Campbelltown – B McCrossen 2, M Linsen 2.
Best : UTS – R Hanmore, M Hall, J Lynas, S McGuinness, M Davis, T Wallace. Campbelltown – B Joynson, L Coughlan, D Fraser, B Sommerville, M Linsen, B McCrossen.
At Henson Park, Saturday 7th July 2012.

North Shore 6.3 10.5 18.7 23.8 (146)
Sydney University 0.0 3.4 3.6 5.10 (40)
Goals : North Shore –
N Todd 3, D Roberts 2, S Carruthers 2, P Brackin 2, T Nash 2, A Harry 2, L Pryor 2, B Barnes 2, D Hadden 2, D Fitzgerald, B Fitzgerald, T Schmidt, J Monk. Sydney Uni – K Underwood, J McCreary, D Roberton, C Fleetwood, B Fitzpatrick.
Best : North Shore – P Brackin, R Lynch, M Thomas, B Fitzgerald, A Harry, D Fitzgerald. Sydney Uni – A Turco, J Swarts, M Figg, M Carter, D Conway, C Reichman.
At Sydney Uni No 1 Oval, Saturday 7th July 2012.

Balmain 3.1 13.2 19.4 22.6 (138)
Sydney Hills Eagles 1.0 2.1 2.3 5.4 (34)
Goals : Balmain –
B Taggart 9, A Hill 2, J Cass 2, T Matson 2, C White, S Bowen, M Round, N Whitehead, A Azhar, T Mabon, L Conway. Sydney Hills – J Shephard 2, J Patira, A Moeller, T Kear.
Best : Balmain – C White, B Taggart, B Jones, M Round, G Wilkie, J Coulloupas. Sydney Hills – J Shephard, M Clinch, E Okunbor, A Foxall, C Gordon, D Killworth.
At Bruce Purser Reserve, Saturday 7th 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 10.10 (70) d Macquarie Uni 5.10 (40)
Penrith 11.10 (76) d Sydney Hills 4.10 (34)
Holroyd-Parramatta 9.5 (59) d North Shore 9.4 (58)
Southern Power 13.14 (92) d UNSW-ES 4.6 (30)
Manly-Warringah 22.14 (146) d Pennant Hills 3.2 (20)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Manly-Warringah (100, 599.59%), Southern Power (91.67, 332.09%), Holroyd-Parramatta (63.64, 109.43%), UTS (61.54, 136.43%), Penrith (54.55, 93.87%), North Shore (54.55, 96.17%), UNSW-ES (45.45, 57.35%), Macquarie Uni (33.33, 87.38%), Sydney Hills (25, 56.47%), Pennant Hills (25, 40.60%), Wests (9.09, 35.82%).

Division Two:
St George 11.13 (79) d UNSW-ES 3.5 (23)
Sydney Uni 24.20 (164) d Illawarra 0.1 (1)
Camden 14.12 (96) d Moorebank 9.8 (62)
Manly-Warringah 21.19 (145) d Auburn 3.3 (21)
NorWest 12.18 (90) d Balmain 9.9 (63)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Uni (91.67, 168.74%), Balmain (66.67, 124.15%), UNSW-ES (61.54, 140.62%), Manly-Warringah (58.33, 145.25%), St George (53.85, 120.73%), Camden (53.85, 108.51%), NorWest (53.85, 102.49%), Moorebank (38.46, 103.45%), Illawarra (16.67, 61.34%), Auburn (7.69, 28.74%).

Division Three:
Sydney Uni 12.10 (82) d Sydney Hills 3.5 (23)
Blacktown 21.21 (147) d Moorebank 0.2 (2)
Southern Power 16.18 (114) d Macquarie Uni 4.2 (26)
UTS 34.17 (221) d Campbelltown 0.3 (3)
Saints AFC 14.17 (101) d Western Suburbs 7.4 (46)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – UTS (91.67, 601.63%), Blacktown (83.33, 305.41%), Sydney Uni (83.33, 273.98%), Saints AFC (69.23, 236.52%), Southern Power (46.15, 113.72%), Wests (38.46, 55.62%), Macquarie Uni (33.33, 56.86%), Sydney Hills (25, 40.34%), Campbelltown (25, 34.91%), Moorebank (7.69, 26.11%).

Division Four:
UTS 21.10 (136) d Manly-Warringah 5.4 (34)
North Shore 6.14 (50) d Holroyd-Parramatta 7.7 (49)
UNSW-ES 10.18 (78) d Southern Power 2.5 (17)
NorWest 10.13 (73) d Macquarie Uni 9.11 (65)
Penrith 10.12 (72) d Gosford 6.5 (41)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – UTS (100, 299.10%), Gosford (84.82, 285.80%), Penrith (76.92, 254.98%), UNSW-ES (76.92, 198.57%), Manly-Warringah (41.67, 64.14%), NorWest (38.46, 70.77%), North Shore (30.77, 57.49%), Southern Power (23.08, 30.13%), Holroyd-Parramatta (16.67, 40.53%), Macquarie Uni (8.33, 43.50%).

Division Five:
UNSW-ES 20.12 (132) d Holroyd-Parramatta 9.6 (60)
Saints AFC 12.13 (85) d Sydney Uni 2.3 (15)
Moorebank 14.11 (95) d Camden 9.11 (65)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Uni (81.82, 235.36%), UTS (75, 174.95%), Camden (75, 153.02%), UNSW-ES (59.09, 150.92%), Saints AFC (54.55, 134.23%), Moorebank (45.45, 116.14%), Penrith (27.27, 62.47%), Holroyd-Parramatta (18.18, 36.13%).

Under 18s One:
St George 11.13 (79) d UNSW-ES 7.3 (45)
Western Suburbs 11.8 (74) d St Ignatius Riverview 8.4 (52)
Sydney Hills 45.16 (286) d Penrith 0.1 (1)
Sydney Uni 12.17 (89) d North Shore 5.14 (44)
Pennant Hills d Illawarra - foefeit
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Sydney Hills (95.83, 338.81%), Sydney Uni (77.78, 143.55%), Pennant Hills (70, 175.62%), Illawarra (68.18, 138.30%), North Shore (55.56, 189.71%), St George (45.45, 128.80%), UNSW-ES (40, 33.24%), Wests (30, 50.08%), Riverview (18.18, 81.49%), Penrith (0, 9.43%).

Under 18s Two:
Sydney Hills 9.10 (64) d Holroyd-Parramatta 3.6 (24)
Southern Power 4.3 (27) d NorWest 2.6 (18)
Manly-Warringah 27.22 (184) d Saints AFC 0.0 (0)
Macquarie Uni 10.9 (69) d Balmain 8.11 (59)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Southern Power (90.91, 389.11%), Balmain (80, 260.14%), Manly-Warringah (72.73, 208.25%), Moorebank (60, 86.54%), NorWest (45.45, 131.93%), Macquarie Uni (40, 87.72%), Sydney Hills (22.22, 64.00%), Holroyd-Parramatta (22.22, 55.21%), Saints AFC (9.09, 13.51%).

UTS 10.12 (72) d Auburn 3.7 (25)
Western Wolves 9.5 (59) d Newtown 5.2 (32)
Southern Power 12.13 (85) d Penrith 0.3 (3)
Ladder (Match Ratio) – Balmain (100, 721.60%), Wollongong (80, 261.64%), Sydney Uni (77.78, 465.62%), Newtown (70, 194.95%), Western Wolves (63.64, 247.21%), UNSW (50, 117.85%), Macquarie Uni (50, 92.04%), Southern Power (36.36, 79.57%), Auburn (18.18, 20.00%), UTS (18.18, 16.32%), Penrith (0, 8.74%).

With all of the top five recording wins, the gap between the five and the rest expanded this week.
Pennant Hills remain on top with 44 points, a game ahead of UNSW-ES but with an inferior percentage and with the Bulldogs having an extra game in hand. UTS are also on 40 points, equal with UNSW-ES, but with a lesser percentage and only four more games to play.
North Shore are on 36 points, with seven games to play; a game clear of Balmain on 32, who also have seven games left. North Shore and Bamain both have better percentages than Pennant Hills at UTS, but inferior to UNSW-ES.
St George remain in contention, a game outside the five on 28; but the Dragons have one less game to play than the Bombers and Dockers and with an inferior percentage. Time is running out for Illawarra, who will need to string some wins together to get into the finals race.
Mathematically Sydney Hills can still make it; but would need to win all their remaining games, have Balmain lose all their remaining games, St George to lose all their games until beating Balmain in the last round, Illawarra to lose at least two games, and by big enough margins for the Eagles to overtake Balmain and St George’s percentages.
No teams in the top five will play each other next week.
The remaining games for the teams still in mathematical contention are:
Pennant Hills (44, 171.59%) Sydney Uni (Mike Kenny), UNSW-ES (Mike Kenny), Balmain (Henson), Sydney Hills (Bruce Purser), bye, Wests (Mike Kenny), North Shore (Gore Hill).
UNSW-ES (40, 226.76%) 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 (40, 128.12%) bye, bye, UNSW-ES (Village Green), North Shore (Waverley), St George (Kelso), bye, Illawarra (North Dalton).
North Shore (36, 216.11%) St George (Gore Hill), Illawarra (North Dalton), Illawarra (Gore Hill), UTS (Waverley), UNSW-ES (Gore Hill), Balmain (Henson), Pennant Hills (Gore Hill).
Balmain (32, 216.61%) 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, 124.35%) North Shore (Gore Hill), bye, Sydney Uni (Kelso), Campbelltown (Monarch), UTS (Kelso), Illawarra (Kelso), Balmain (Kelso).
Illawarra (16, 69.18%) Balmain (North Dalton), North Shore (North Dalton), North Shore (Gore Hill), bye, Wests (Picken), St George (Kelso), UTS (North Dalton).
Sydney Hills (12, 55.30%) Campbelltown (Monarch), bye, bye, Pennant Hills (Bruce Purser), Sydney Uni (SU No 1), UNSW-ES (Village Green), Wests (Picken).

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

Premier Division:
Saturday 14th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Sydney University (2:30pm)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Sydney Hills (2:10pm)
North Dalton Oval – Illawarra v Balmain (2:10pm)
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Western Suburbs (2:10pm)
Gore Hill Oval – St George v North Shore (2:30pm)

Division One:
Saturday 14th July
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Holroyd-Parramatta (10am)
Gore Hill Oval – North Shore v Southern Power (10:30am)
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Western Suburbs (12pm)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Sydney Hills (2:10pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly-Warringah v Penrith (2:10pm)

Division Two:
Saturday 14th July
North Dalton Oval – Illawarra v Balmain (12pm)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Auburn (2:10pm)
Rosedale Oval – Moorebank v St George (2:10pm)
St Pauls Oval – Sydney Uni v Camden (2:10pm)
Sunday 15th July
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Manly-Warringah (2:10pm)

Division Three:
Saturday 14th July
St Pauls Oval – Sydney Uni v Macquarie Uni (10am)
Monarch Oval – Campbelltown v Sydney Hills (12pm)
Rosedale Oval – Moorebank v Southern Power (12pm)
Trumper Park – UTS v Saints AFC (2:10pm)
Picken Oval – Western Suburbs v Blacktown (2:30pm)

Division Four:
Saturday 14th July
Gore Hill Oval – North Shore v Southern Power (8:30am)
Bensons Lane – NorWest v Holroyd-Parramatta (12pm)
Trumper Park – UTS v Gosford (12pm)
Weldon Oval – Manly-Warringah v Penrith (12pm)
Sunday 15th July
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Macquarie Uni (12pm)

Division Five:
Saturday 14th July
St Pauls Oval – Sydney Uni v Camden (12pm)
Sunday 15th July
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Saints AFC (10am)
Greygums Oval – Penrith v Holroyd-Parramatta (12pm)
BYE – UTS, Moorebank.

Under 18s One:
Saturday 14th July
North Dalton Oval – Illawarra v Penrith (10am)
Village Green – UNSW-ES v Western Suburbs (10am)
Mike Kenny Oval – Pennant Hills v Sydney Uni (10am)
Gore Hill Oval – St George v North Shore (12:30pm)
BYE – St Ignatius Riverview, Sydney Hills.

Under 18s Two:
Saturday 14th July
Bensons Lane – Norwest v Holroyd-Parramatta (10am)
Rosedale Oval – Moorebank v Balmain (10am)
University Oval – Macquarie Uni v Sydney Hills (12pm)
Sunday 15th July
Pioneers Park – Saints AFC v Southern Power (2:30pm)
BYE – Manly-Warringah.

Friday 13th July
Mahoney Park – Sydney Uni v Newtown (7pm)