|SYDNEY AFL SEMI-FINALS - Crows Cast Out Demons
to Reach Grand Final Article & Pics by Michael Shillito
The first weekend of spring saw the first weekend of
footy finals - and the weather was an absolute treat.
Fine and warm, and despite some dust in the centre
square Henson Park was looking good for the playoff
action; vastly improved from the state it was in during
last year's finals.
Saturday saw the major semi final, with Pennant Hills
taking on St George. The Demons went into the match
sky-high in confidence, with a 10-match winning streak
building up to a 100-point flogging of UNSW-ES in the
last home & away round that saw them overtake the
Crows to take the minor premiership. St George had
also had a successful season, with a 15-3 record; and
although the Crows had suffered a heavy defeat to
North Shore in the last round, that had been a severely
depleted side, while they were back to full strength for
|And it was one of those returnees, full-forward Peter Dugmore, who took the game by the
scruff of the neck as soon as it started. After 4 minutes, he weaved his way around traffic to
pop the first goal through. Then, marking on a tight angle in front of the mobile phone tower at
the Sydenham Rd end, his cry of "Yeah Baby" after slotting home the tight angle showed he
was pumped for a big performance; which was further illustrated when he marked on an even
tighter angle on the opposite pocket to kick his third. Alister Richardson got one back for the
Demons, but a set shot from Declan Donohue and a fine double on the run from Troy Cole
saw the Crows race to a commanding 33-point lead at quarter time.
Pennant Hills needed a solid start to the second quarter, and from their first attacking move
Laine Spencer took what looked to be a mark; but the dreaded in-the-back rule was to deny
him. Instead, the first goal of the quarter would come from St George's Brad Percy from a
holding the ball decision; and when Robbie Ahmat led out to mark uncontested and added
another, the margin was 44 points and it was looking a blowout. But the Demons fought back
late in the second, with a fine lob from Brant Jack and a double from Clint Setford reducing the
margin to 32 points with Seb Parker lining up a kick from the pocket as the siren sounded. A
goal would have given the Demons some momentum going into the long break, but the shot
St George had a big lead on the scoreboard, but it could have been closer. The Crows'
accuracy, with a score of 10.2 to Pennant Hills' 4.8, would contribute to their strong form.
Shineberg and Donohue were both getting plenty of possession; while the presence of
Dugmore up forward had given St George the target they were so sorely missing last week.
For Pennant Hills, too many of their key players were down; although a bright light for the
Demons was the form of Ranga Ediwickrama, who impressed with his pace and ball-getting
The premiership quarter would be a test of whether the Demons would be able to force their
way back into the contest; but the Crows were inspired and defended magnificently, holding
the minor premiers to just a single goal for the quarter to lock them out of the match. Despite
a last-quarter fightback, led by Clint Setford who finished with 6 goals, the final winning
margin for the Crows was 34 points. Peter Dugmore finished with 6 and Troy Cole 3; while
Declan Donohue, Jon Shineberg and Joel Minichiello were St George's best. For Pennant
Hills, Clint Setford scored 6, while Ediwickrama and Scott Reed were their best.
The result sees the St George side get the week off and go straight into the grand final; in the
box seat to take out their first premiership since 1993. Pennant Hills have another chance
next Sunday, but recent history is against them. Since the finals system was reworked in 2003
to play both semi-finals on the same weekend, no second semi-final loser has ever bounced
back the next week to win the prelim final. But the Demons have proved their ability to bounce
back when in trouble; and with the memory of last year's epic grand final still fresh in mind it
would be dangerous to write them off.
Sunday's minor semi-final was played in even better weather. For North Shore, after missing
out on finals action last year, it was a chance to re-establish themselves as a force; while it
was a welcome return to playoffs action for Campbelltown, playing their first final since 2003
and their first ever at Henson Park. But it was a rocky start for the Blues, with Simon Webb
earning the wrath of the umpires and given 15 in the bin in the opening minute. Even though
he was able to be replaced, Campbelltown were forced to play most of the first term without
one of their key playmakers; and found themselves on the back foot for the remainder of the
The Bombers made the front-running, kicking 6 goals to 2 in the opening term; and keeping
the scoreboard ticking over for the remainder of the afternoon to
run away with a dominant 67-point victory. It was the old guard for the Bombers; Jarrod
Crosby, Tom Hill and Matt Parker, who were again dominant, Crosby and Parker each
contributing 4 goals. For Campbelltown, Simon Webb once he returned to the field worked
hard to atone for his earlier indiscretion, while Troy Parker also put in a solid performance for
the Blues. Although the Bombers won comfortably, their 6th victory in a row, the Bombers
would be concerned that in all 6 of their wins they have scored more behinds than goals -
inaccuracy that could potentially cost them dearly if it is maintained at the business end of the
Campbelltown's season is over; but it was a season they can be pleased with. After wooden
spoons in 2004 and 2005, coach Glenn Garner has worked hard to build a side that can
compete with the top sides. Some well-targeted recruiting, attracting Chris Lees and Matt
Withers back to the club after stints elsewhere, has played a role in the Campbelltown revival.
But just as important has been the continuing development of local talent such as Shannan
Kershaw, Mark Maher and Chris Kendrick - and although those players were all well beaten in
their first finals match, the learning experience will serve them in good stead next time the
Blues find themselves in September action. With a strong junior base to draw from, and a
much stronger club structure in place, this season has been an important step along
Campbelltown's road to return to their former status as a powerhouse of Sydney football.
In reserve grade, Pennant Hills are through to the grand final after a comfortable 35-point win
over East Coast Eagles. The Eagles have another chance to qualify for the grand final and
defend their premiership crown; and will be taking on Sydney Uni in the prelim final after the
Students had too much firepower for St George to take a 66-point win.
The Under 18s Premier Cup semi-finals were both closer battles. North Shore Wildcats
qualified for the grand final, but had to hang on for dear life in the last term as a fast-finishing
Pennant Hills side closed the gap to just 10 points. Pennant Hills' opponents in the
preliminary final will be St George, after the Crows overcame their early inaccuracy in front of
goals and a solid start from North Shore Bombers to over-run the Bombers in the last term
and take a 10-point victory.
In First and Second Divisions and the Under 18s Challenge Cup, the weekend saw
preliminary final action. First Division seniors saw another upset, with Manly-Warringah
recording a 44-point win over UTS. It was a disappointing end to the season for the Bats, who
had been undefeated until the last home & away round before a 3-match losing streak ended
their season without a grand final appearance. Instead, it was the Wolves who qualified for
the grand final, in which they will take on Southern Sharks - the first time in many years the
First Division grand final hasn't involved a university team.
Manly were also successful in the reserves, defeating Southern Sharks by 10 points to set up
a date with UTS in the grand final. Completing a hat-trick of success for the Wolves, they were
also victorious over Southern Sharks in the under-18s Challenge Cup prelim final by 60
points; setting up a grand final against St Ignatius Riverview. In Second Division, UNSW-ES
Bulldogs set up a grand final against Pennant Hills when they defeated South-West Sydney
by 20 points.
St George 7.1 10.2 13.6 14.8 (92)
Pennant Hills 1.4 4.8 5.8 8.10 (58)
Goals : St George - P Dugmore 6, T Cole 3, R Ahmat 2, B Percy 2, D Donohue. Pennant Hills -
C Setford 6, A Richardson, B Jack.
Umpires - A Lewis, F Kalayzich, N Lessels.
Reserves - Pennant Hills 9.12 (66) d East Coast Eagles 4.7 (31).
At Henson Park, Saturday 1st September 2007.
North Shore 6.3 8.10 12.15 18.25 (133)
Campbelltown 2.1 3.3 8.5 10.6 (66)
Goals : North Shore - M Parker 4, J Crosby 4, T Hill 3, B Barnes, A Lord, B Attwood, M Sawyer,
P Brackin, R Davis, C McLaughlan. Campbelltown - M Skuse 3, M Foran 2, S Webb, C
Everson, J Fleming, M Irving, E Wilson.
Umpires - S Richardson, P Barron, D Anderson.
Reserves - Sydney University 15.10 (100) d St George 5.4 (34).
At Henson Park, Sunday 2nd September 2007.
First Division Seniors:
Preliminary Final - Manly-Warringah 15.10 (100) d University Technology Sydney 8.8 (56).
First Division Reserves:
Preliminary Final - Manly-Warringah 7.11 (53) d Southern Sharks 7.1 (43).
Preliminary Final - UNSW-ES Bulldogs 7.9 (51) d South-West Sydney 4.7 (31).
Under 18s Premier:
Major Semi-Final - North Shore Wildcats 7.10 (52) d Pennant Hills 6.6 (42).
Minor Semi-Final - St George 8.16 (64) d North Shore Bombers 8.6 (54).
Under 18s Challenge:
Preliminary Final - Manly-Warringah 14.9 (93) d Southern Sharks 4.9 (33).
NEXT WEEK'S FIXTURES:
KELSO OVAL - Saturday 8th September
9:30am - Second Division Grand Final - Pennant Hills v UNSW-ES Bulldogs
12:00pm - First Division Reserves Grand Final - UTS v Manly-Warringah
2:30pm - First Division Grand Final - Southern Sharks v Manly-Warringah
HENSON PARK - Sunday 9th September
8:15am - Under 18s Premier Preliminary Final - Pennant Hills v St George
10:15am - Under 18s Challenge Grand Final - St Ignatius Riverview v Manly-Warringah
12:30pm - Premier Division Reserves Preliminary Final - East Coast Eagles v Sydney Uni
2:30pm - Premier Division Preliminary Final - Pennant Hills v North Shore
|ALSO IN SYDNEY AFL:
Semi-Finals 2007 Report
Prelim Final 2007 Report
Grand Final 2007 Report
Round 1 2008 Scoreboard
Round 2 2008 Scoreboard
Round 3 2008 Scoreboard
Round 4 2008 Scoreboard