The East Coast ‘Eagals’ win their first game in Women’s Div One

Zoe Watson marks strongly

Congratulations to the East Coast ‘Eagals’ (as they love to call themselves) in winning their first ever game of footy by 33 points against Sydney Uni in Round 1 on April 1st 2017.

Thanks to Andrew McMurtry at the Rouse Hill Courier who went with the following story in Monday’s paper.

You can see the on-line version by clicking here.

 

The East Coast Eagles women’s side has claimed a 33-point win in its first match in the Sydney AFL division one women’s competition on Saturday.

Playing fellow debutants the Sydney University Bombers, a strong second quarter gave the Eagles a 25-point lead at half-time, eventually running away 7.17 (59) to 4.2 (26) winners.

Inaugural women’s captain Sarah Ford said she was thrilled by the result. “I’m speechless, I just couldn’t be prouder of those girls,” she said.

“I wish we kicked a bit straighter but for some of these girls, they only picked up a ball three weeks ago so we could not be any happier.”

For Ford, who was voted captain by her teammates, said it was a huge honour to lead the team to its first win.

Having been around the club for over a decade supporting her brothers, it was her first regular season game with only five of the Eagles boasting football experience.

“To be able to be a part of it, not just as a supporter but as a player, is just amazing,” she said. 

“There are so many girls in the same situation and they’ve been around for ages and there’s no other club we’d rather play for.”

After the success of the national AFL Women’s competition earlier this year, club president Jon Gawley said an Eagles women’s team had been on the cards for quite some time.

“There has been a growing interest in women’s footy for years,” he said.

“I honestly think it will just grow and grow and it will complement the whole football club as well.

“For the club, it’s the direction the AFL is going and we’re glad to embrace it.”

With the women’s side kicking off the season with a win, it was a mixed weekend across the other grades with a huge 13.19 (97) to 0.1 (1) win over the South West Sydney Magpies in division four, but losses in all three other grades.

The under-19’s side went down 12.15 (87) to 7.7 (49) to Sydney University, Reserve Grade lost 11.10 (76) to 10.7 (67) to the UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs and the defending champions in Premier Division were edged out 11.6 (72) to 10.10 (70) also by the Bulldogs.

 

 

 

Jamie Vlatko to coach the Eagles in 2017

Jamie Vlatko

Jamie sits proudly with the three Premiership Cups he was part of with the Eagles. Photo by Scott Waterhouse

East Coast are proud to announce the appointment of all coaches for season 2017.

Premier Division              Jamie Vlatko

Under 19’s                         Peter van Vliet

Reserve Grade                  Matt O’Connor

Third Grade                       Matty Mack

The two Matthews, O’Connor and Mack have been re-appointed to their 2016 roles, whilst Jamie and Peter are new appointments replacing Michael Sankey and John Hupfeld respectively.

Vlatko progresses to the coaching ranks following a stellar career at the Eagles where he joined his brother Jon in 2010 following 85 SANFL games with Norwood.  At East Coast he is revered as a Triple Premiership player with 113 senior First Grade games, 332 goals and dual Club Champion Trophies in 2011 and 2012.

When asked about his ambitions and goals for season 2017, Jamie responded with “I’m excited to be part of a great group that is bonding closer and closer together every year.  Whilst we will lose players from the Premiership side, we will gain others and I’m really interested in developing and improving players’ on-field performance, which in turn will further build the culture and momentum of the Eagles.”

Pre-season training commences Tuesday November 15th.

Up to Christmas, venues will be:

Tuesdays             6.30pm Kanebridge Oval

Thursdays           6.30pm Charles McLaughlin Reserve (Crestwood Drive; Baulkham Hills)

East Coast Eagles win the 2016 Premiership

The Premiers pre-game – (Photos by Michael Vettas/Vettas MEDIA)

Story courtesy Michael Shillito.
Photos from Michael Vettas/Vettas MEDIA.

A marathon season had come down to one last game. The premiership was on the line as East Coast Eagles took on St George Dragons at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday afternoon.

Conditions were perfect. The sun was shining and the ground was in great shape. There was a bit of wind favouring the Eastern Road end, but nothing too serious and it was certainly possible to score at the other end.

The Eagles suffered a shock loss in last year’s decider, but dropping just two games, completing the minor premiership and getting through to the Grand Final only playing one final gave the Eagles favouritism.  But the Dragons had also enjoyed a successful year, finishing in second place and winning two out of three finals to make it through to the big game. There were some heavy knocks in the first quarter. East Coast’s Luke Gemmill found himself with 15 minutes in the sin bin after a yellow card and within moments of his return St George’s Ben Wharton also incurred the wrath of the umpires and found himself banished for 15 minutes after Andrew McConnell was carried off, heavily concussed.

But for much of the opening term, it was a high-scoring shootout. The Dragons scored the first two goals of the game within four minutes and had plenty of the ball during the first term. But some inaccurate finishing would hold them back while the Eagles were making every post a winner when it was their turn to be in attack.

It had been an opening term of frenetic action; big hits, quick ball movement and non-stop activity around the ground. With six goals to four, the Eagles were leading by six points at the first change, but it had been a quarter of see-sawing momentum and the game was still very much in the balance.

In comparison to the first quarter, the second started slowly with the ball travelling around the wings and neither side disturbing the goal umpires for nearly 10 minutes. A few minutes later the Dragons moved the ball forward to the square, where Earl Shaw can’t hold the mark but a good second effort sees him re-gather and snap truly to get the Dragons within a kick.

Dragons’ hopes are raised, but fleetingly as the Eagles would get the centre break and move it forward for Rowan Bilkey to mark and goal. The veteran Eagle, after playing most of his career as a defender, has re-invented himself as a forward this season and again showed his ability to come up with goals when needed.

Jamie Vlatko added to the Eagles’ advantage two minutes later, marking next to the goal square, with a resultant 50 metre penalty eliminating what would have been a tight angle. But the Dragons came up with a reply during time-on, as Nick Ryan snapped a tricky goal from the pocket to reduce the margin to 10 points.

It had been two goals apiece for the second term. The Eagles were holding the lead at the break, but the Dragons were still within striking distance. And if last year’s Grand Final, when the Eagles ran out of legs in the final term, was still haunting the Eagles, they knew they had to build up a buffer in the premiership quarter. Jamie Vlatko on the lead extended the Eagles’ margin in the opening moments of the third term, but the Dragons got it back when Jake Brown was paid a free kick within scoring range. Kicking the goal and signalling to an increasingly vocal group of St George supporters on the hill. Standing with a giant Dragons flag, the St George faithful roared their approval; and as the minutes ticked by with just eight points separating the two sides, the game was delicately poised.

But four minutes of magic from Jamie Vlatko blew the lead out, putting the game beyond the Dragons’ reach. It began with a 50 metre penalty that turned a hard shot into a certainty. A minute later after drawing Dragon defenders, he found an unmarked Damian Charleston. And then from a tight angle near the scoreboard, it was Jamie Vlatko again threading a shot through. The vocal East Coast contingent behind the goals at the railway end were loving it as the lead was suddenly out to 26 points. And nerves in the Eagle camp were steadied.

The Dragons were briefly thrown a lifeline when Paul Sain was paid a free for kicking in danger in the goal-square, but that was cancelled out by a second effort by Rowan Bilkey deep in time-on. 25 points the margin at the last change; and it looked like too much for the Dragons to pull back.

The clouds were gathering, day was turning into night. And the wind was picking up, with the Eagles coming home with it in the final term. There were no shortage of well-wishers around both huddles as coaches Michael Sankey and Terry Mudge pleaded with their charges for one last effort. But the momentum had swung the Eagles’ way. As the final quarter got under way, the Eagles fans on the hill made the decision to change ends, and a procession along the hill took place. They had barely made it to centre wing before their team had extended their lead as Connor Stewart played on to do the honours. There were wild scenes on the hill as the Eagle procession passed the Dragon Army flag, with security having to separate the two groups; but the Eagle fans got to the goals where their team was kicking to.

And as soon as they got there, James Ford soccered a goal through. A minute later Jamie Vlatko kicked his sixth and the Eagle fans were banging their metallic drum in celebration. And when Jack Dimery scored, he came over to the Eagle fans; a gesture to the crowd and sharing the moment with them.

For St George, the dream of a flag was not to be. A kick in the dying moments was a microcosm of their game, as a long bomb landed in the goal square, then sat up and didn’t bounce through for a goal. They had done so much right this year, but weren’t able to finish it off when it mattered. The siren sounded, and all the pressure was released; as the fans raced onto the field to celebrate.

Walking across the ground, the emotion on both sides is plain to see. Pleasure and agony separated by just a few metres. Dragon players slumped to the ground, the empty feeling of having come so close; and unable to muster the energy to stand up. The Dragons will be disappointed. It’s been a long time between flags for them, their last coming in 1994. But they can walk away with pride at what they’ve achieved this year and if the trajectory of improvement can continue in 2017, they will surely be flag contenders.

Just metres away is the pure joy of the Eagles as players embrace. There’s a massive cast with them – coaches, volunteers, players from other grades, past players, families, supporters. They’re all part of it; and a premiership is for the entire club, not just the 22 players on the day.

It was an emotional win for the Eagles. They left their NEAFL existence two years ago in desperate financial straits, and almost went under. Further pain had come in last year’s Grand Final defeat. But their playing group stood by the club in tough times, and with this flag their reward has come. The unfinished business is finally complete. Some may retire, some may move on; but this is a moment they will always have together.

The Eagles had to dig deep to get this win. On the day, they had to battle a rising injury toll, several players struggling to get to the stage to receive their medals. But they got it done; and the watering holes in the Rouse Hill area are sure to be flooded with orders for celebratory beverages. The last 11 years have delivered seven grand final appearances and four premierships; three out of the four years they’ve missed were when their Premier Division team were NEAFL reserves. We’ve been used to seeing the Eagles on the big stage.

Kieran Emery was awarded the Podbury Medal as best on ground, in what must have been a close call ahead of Jamie Vlatko who finished with six goals. The final margin was 41 points, although the run of play was closer than that with the Dragons only having one less scoring shot. It had been a hard-fought and entertaining battle worthy of a Grand Final. But there can only be one winner, and on the day it was East Coast who emerged triumphant.

East Coast Eagles 6.0 8.4 13.4 17.5 (107)
St George 4.6 6.6 8.9 9.12 (66)
Goals:
East Coast –
Jamie Vlatko 6, R Bilkey 4, J Dimery, D Charleston, B Anderson, E Kruger, J Ford, C Stewart, A Savage
St George – P Sain 2, J Brown, K Merson, D Addison, D Tomlins, E Shaw, N Kenny, N Ryan
Best:
East Coast –
K Emery, Jamie Vlatko, R Bilkey, A Drinkwater, J Dimery, D Costello.
St George – E Shaw, R Mercer, A Wynn, D Addison, J Mudge, K Merson.

At Blacktown International Sportspark, Saturday 17th September 2016.

East Coast head into the Grand Final – September 17th 2016

Big AB – Andrew Browning – Photo courtesy of Tracey Stewart.

With thanks to Michael Shillito for providing the words ….

We’re into September, and the finals action is heating up. A big weekend of finals footy saw East Coast Eagles become the first team to qualify for this year’s Grand Final. St George and North Shore will fight out for the other spot.

Saturday was fine, but windy and despite some rain during the week Blacktown International Sportspark was in good condition. There had already been plenty of action with two NEAFL semi-finals played before the evening saw the Second Semi-final, with East Coast Eagles taking on St George.

The Eagles have enjoyed a stellar season, despite a shock loss to North Shore in the last round of the home and away season. Finishing minor premiers for the second year in a row had given them last week off.

St George had also enjoyed a highly successful regular season, dropping only three games to finish second on the ladder. A comfortable Qualifying Final win against UTS had taken them to the Second Semi. And with a place in the Grand Final on the line, it was always going to be a toughly-contested game.

The first quarter was tight, with easy possessions hard to come by. The stakes were high, and both teams were determined to deny the other any advantage they could. And the fluky, inconsistent wind wasn’t helping, with frustration setting in as both sides were forced into turnovers. But around the ground, although there wasn’t much in it, the Eagles looked to have the edge. With three goals to one, the Eagles led by 12 points at the first change.

The lights had taken over by the time the second quarter had got under way. It would be a more open quarter of footy, as the two sides tried to build a winning score. The Dragons attempted to get back towards the lead, only for the Eagles to find the answering goals. And when East Coast attempted to pull away, the Dragons had the replies to keep themselves in the contest. Three goals apiece for the quarter saw the Eagles leading by 13 points at the long break, but the contest was far from over.

But the third quarter is often known as the premiership quarter, and this is where the title contenders can pull away from their rivals to build a winning lead. That’s what happened this time, as the Eagles emerged from the rooms after the half time break having lifted a gear. And the increased intensity and speed was too much for the Dragons to counter. The scoreboard would tell the tale, as the Eagles added four goals to one to extend the lead to 31 points at the last change. Ruthlessly efficient and getting the job done when it mattered, the Eagles had a scent of a Grand Final in their nostrils and weren’t letting go.

The game was safely won by the last quarter, and the Eagles already knew they would get next week off to prepare for their assault on the title. But to the Dragons’ credit, they weren’t giving up and St George would win the last quarter. A run of four goals to three restored some momentum to the Dragons, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Eagles taking the game by 29 points.

Jamie Vlatko was again outstanding for the Eagles, controlling proceedings on the forward line with an impressive bag of six goals. He, along with Eugene Kruger and The Recruit contender Jack Dimery were amongst the Eagles’ best. The shock defeat in last year’s Grand Final still hurts the Eagles and has motivated them through this season. Now they are just one game away from putting things right. But, as they know all too well, the last game is no certainty and there’s plenty of hard work to be done in two weeks of preparation. Nick Shipley, Karl Merson and Jesse Mudge performed impressively for the Dragons. It wasn’t their day, and they were never really able to get their best game going; but as they showed in the last quarter, they are capable of being competitive against the Eagles.

St George’s season isn’t over, and they have another chance to qualify for the Grand Final. It’s their fourth Preliminary Final in a row next Sunday, but the Dragons will be hopeful that this time they can finally break through and be a part of AFL Sydney’s showpiece game.

Eagles into the Sydney AFL Premier Division second semi-final

IMG_4786

Photo courtesy of Tracey Stewart

One of the benefits of finishing top of the ladder at the end of the minor round is a week’s break between the last home and away match and the second semi-final.  The Eagles have earned that right, despite a four point loss to North Shore in Round 18.

Last Saturday’s qualifying final between St George and UTS saw a 32 point victory to the Dragons which provides a second semi matchup this coming Saturday between the two most dominate sides of the 2016 Premier Div competition.

The Eagles were victorious on each occasion the two clubs met during the minor round. In Round 5 at Olds Park, East Coast held on to win by five points after establishing a 27 point lead at quarter time. Whilst in R12 at Kanebridge, St George raced away to a four goal break at quarter time, but failed to hang on to that lead, kicking only four more for the duration whilst East Coast slotted through 11 goals to win by 19 points.

It’s a late start to the match on Saturday September 3rd at Blacktown International Sports Park. The siren will sound at 5.00pm to start the Premier Div game, owing to two NEAFL semi-finals being played earlier in the day.  If you’re a Giants or Swans supporter with nothing to do on Saturday because there is no AFL football on across the country, then why not head out to Blacktown to get your footy fix?

$10 admission will get you the following line up of matches:

  • 9.00am        U/19’s Div One (2nd semi) / North Shore v UNSW/ES
  • 11.25am       NEAFL (Prelim 1) / Sydney Swans v Aspley (Qld)
  • 2.15pm         NEAFL (Prelim 2) / GWS Giants v Sydney Uni
  • 5.00pm        Premier Div (2nd semi) / East Coast Eagles v St George
  • 7.30pm        Division One (2nd semi) / UTS v St George

See you out there, wearing plenty of Eagles’ blue and gold …..

Rounds, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 Premier Division match reports

Michael Shillito’s Round 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 Premier Division match reports are posted below.

The Eagles have performed well since their shock R3 loss against North Shore (see below), remaining undefeated since that match.

The premiership table as at the end of Round 7 is shown at this foot of this page.

ROUND 3 v NORTH SHORE

Footy can throw up some unexpected results, but not even the staunchest North Shore optimist could possibly have imagined what would transpire at Kanebridge Oval on Saturday afternoon.

East Coast Eagles were shock losers in last year’s Grand Final, but had kept most of their players for this year to attend to their unfinished business which started off with a big win in the Grand Final replay and a comfortable round 2 result. Playing at their home ground against a North Shore side that won just three games last year, and despite recruiting well and a good first-up result last week, wasn’t expected to trouble the Eagles.

North Shore had never beaten the Eagles’ seniors at Kanebridge and the last meeting between the two clubs late in 2015 saw the Eagles bring up a double-century. But that drought would be broken in emphatic style.

After the first 15 minutes, scores were locked together at two goals apiece. The Bombers were taking the fight up to the Eagles around the ground, denying easy possessions in what looked like a closely-contested passage of play. But as the clock ticked towards quarter time, it was North Shore who stepped up a gear and took control of the contest. Picking up the pace, finding run in their legs and with forward options presenting themselves, the Bombers kicked the last four goals of the quarter to lead by 23 points at the first change.

A footy game is a marathon, not a sprint and there was plenty of time for the Eagles to work their way back into the contest. Kicking the first two goals of the second term to get the margin back to 10 points, a return to the generally-expected form lines was a strong possibility.

But this was a North Shore side with more self-belief and more of a spring in their step than many thought they had in them. Backing themselves in the contests, shrugging the tackles and finding loose opponents when they needed to, the Bombers would only trouble the scoreboard attendant three times in the second term, but all three of them were goals, extending the lead to 25 points at half time.

When the premiership quarter came around, the Eagles attempted to fight their way back into the contest; but some uncharacteristic turnovers and some inaccurate finishing up forward would let them down. The run of play was going the Bombers’ way and the Eagles were powerless to prevent the margin blowing out further as North Shore added three goals to one to lead by 36 points at the last change.

Frustration was setting in among the Eagles, with some silly 50 metre penalties, while Damien Charleston finished the match with a yellow card. But the Bombers were playing with a new-found confidence and everything they touched turned to gold. Another quarter of three goals to one saw the Bombers complete a 47-point victory.

Around the ground, Wayd Blackburne, Selby Lee-Steere and Charlie Parsons wielded significant influence for the Bombers. But this was a stunning result and one that will make the Sydney footy world sit up and take notice. The Bombers had flown nicely under the radar until now, but suddenly they look to be genuine contenders.

The Eagles found willing workers all day in Bryce Joynson, Bailey Stewart and Ben Bourke, but it wasn’t to be their day. No doubt they’ll be up there at the business end of the season, they have too much talent not to; but they were caught off-guard by the resurgent Bombers this time.

North Shore 6.1 9.1 12.4 15.6 (96)
East Coast Eagles 2.2 4.6 5.10 6.13 (49)
Goals :
North Shore –
D Roberts 3, S Lee-Steere 3, S Mason 2, W Blackburne 2, W Bradley 2, A Quail, E Strudwick, K Latham.
East Coast – A McConnell 2, J Ford, M Eastman, T Baker, M Skuse.
Best :
North Shore –
W Blackburne, S Lee-Steere, C Parsons, S Mason, W Bradley, N Hurrell.
East Coast – B Joynson, B Stewart, B Bourke, A Browning, A McConnell, A Drinkwater.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 16th April 2016

 

ROUND 4 v MANLY WARRINGAH

Saturday afternoon saw the first wet weather footy for the season, as the heavens opened and the rock-hard surfaces of the early rounds were softened. Rain falling, a slippery ball; the running players struggle and the physical hard-tacklers come into their own.

But sunny weather was back on Sunday, as East Coast hosted Manly at Kanebridge Oval. The two sides had played a memorable match in the opening round last year when Manly came from nowhere to steal the game and this time around it would again go down to the wire. Little separated the two sides in the opening term as both sides put the defensive pressure on and neither was able to obtain a decisive advantage. Both were looking to bounce back from disappointment last week. And both were determined through a gritty opening term in which two goals apiece were scored with the Giants held a two-point lead at quarter time.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to hit the front in the second term, as the home side lifted a gear and threatened to break away from the Giants. Manly were forced into resolute defence, as the Eagles were on top around the ground. With four goals to one in the second term, the Eagles took a 17-point lead into the rooms at half time.

The rain of Saturday, which hadn’t been as heavy in the north-west compared to the coast, had cleared by Sunday. There was nothing wrong with the conditions at Kanebridge Oval; the low scores were more a reflection of the tight tackling and defensive pressure. And there was plenty of that in the premiership quarter, as the Giants tried and succeeded in stopping the Eagle dominance of the second term and then tried to eke out some scoreboard pressure to get back into the game. The Giants won the quarter by two goals to one, cutting the margin back to nine points at the last change. But with memories of last year’s classic still fresh in everyone’s mind, this game was far from over.

A thrilling last quarter would see the Giants throw everything they had at the challenge. For much of the final term, the margin would be within a kick. Manly’s efforts to find the winning goals couldn’t be faulted and they would penetrate the big sticks three times during the final term. But the Eagles had the answering goals, three of them, enough to prevent the Giants from taking the lead. And when the final siren sounded, the Eagles had taken a narrow 10-point win.

Aaron Savage, Damien Charleston and Andrew Browning picked up plenty of the ball for the Eagles, keeping the ball moving their way when the game was there to be won. For East Coast, it was a return to the winning list and a result that keeps them comfortably inside the top five.

Gareth Benbow, Eric Burke and James Brain were best for Manly, but it wasn’t enough to take the points. The draw in the early rounds hasn’t been kind to the Giants, who find themselves winless after round four; but that includes a bye and losses to the three teams that finished ahead of them last season. There’s plenty of time for the Giants to work their way up the ladder, but they’ll be coming from a long way behind.

East Coast Eagles 2.2 6.4 7.5 10.8 (68)
Manly-Warringah 2.4 3.5 5.8 8.10 (58)
Goals :
East Coast –
A McConnell 3, Z Johns 2, M Eastman 2, B Joynson, M Skuse, T Baker.
Manly – A Robertson 3, T McCaffrey 2, D Meadows, E Burke, L Behagg.
Best :
East Coast –
A Savage, D Charleston, A Browning, B Joynson, A McConnell, S Turner.
Manly – G Benbow, E Burke, J Brain, H Koch, L Brain, J Weir.
At Kanebridge Oval, Sunday 24th April 2016

 

ROUND 5 v ST GEORGE

Five rounds have been played so far this season, but the ladder is far from settled. After a round in which Manly enjoyed their first win and St George suffered their first defeat, for many clubs the season is intriguingly placed. Two teams expected to be thereabouts at the business end of the season faced off at Olds Park on Saturday afternoon when St George hosted East Coast. It would be a cracker of a contest. St George suffered their first defeat of the season, but not before taking up a massive challenge up to the Eagles.

Early on, it wasn’t looking like it would go down to the wire. The Eagles hit the ground running and got off to a flyer, dominating through the midfield and pumping the ball up forward with regularity. The Dragons were left to chase the contest and although they did manage two goals, were well and truly outplayed by a rampant Eagles side intent on doing maximum damage. And up on the forward line, they couldn’t miss as they kicked seven straight goals for the quarter to lead by 27 points at the first change. St George mentor Terry Mudge ripped into his charges at the first break, but there was to be no quick way back into this contest. The Eagles had been on fire, and it took the second quarter for the Dragons to stem the tide of possession that had been flowing so steadily East Coast’s way in the first term. The Dragons won the quarter by three goals to two, but there was still a 22-point margin in favour of the Eagles at the long break.

But when the teams returned from the rooms for the second half, one might have been forgiven for wondering if the teams had swapped jumpers during the break. Gone was the Eagles’ run that had so dominated the opening term and they found themselves hassled out of every contest by the relentless drive of the Dragons. The Eagles were unable to record a score for the quarter. But at the other end, unlike the Eagles’ dominant quarter in the first, the Dragons’ goal-kicking radar wasn’t giving them reward for effort. A return of 2.5 for the quarter had cut the margin to five points, but momentum was running the Dragons’ way.

The three quarter time break gave the Eagles a chance to steady, but the last quarter would be a desperate battle of wills between two determined sides. The Eagles managed one goal and the Dragons got it back. For much of the final term the ball was camped in the Dragons’ attacking zone. Spurred on by a vocal crowd, the Eagles were holding on for dear life as St George threw everything at them, searching for the winner. Time was ticking down and repeatedly the Eagle defenders were putting themselves on the line to intercept, clear, tackle and deny the Dragons a score from any of the numerous chances they would create.

Finally the siren sounded. The Eagles had defended grimly and managed to hold the Dragons out. But not without having had an amazing fight. In the end, the good start and getting the score on the board early would be the difference. On the ladder, both teams now have four wins from five matches with only St George’s superior percentage separating them on the ladder.

Andrew Browning, Dean Costello and Damien Charleston had been East Coast’s best; while the Dragons had excellent service all day from Xavier Stevenson, Tim Coenen and Blake Guthrie. It had been quite a game and if those sides play again when we get to the finals, everyone will be hoping that contest is as good as what happened on Saturday.

East Coast Eagles 7.0 9.3 9.3 10.6 (66)
St George 2.3 5.5 7.10 8.13 (61)
Goals :
East Coast –
D Costello 2, S Pierce 2, J Dimery, J Battistella, A McConnell, D Charleston, C Arndt, M Eastman.
St George – N Kenny 2, D Cooper 2, X Stevenson 2, B Jones, K Merson.
Best :
East Coast –
A Browning, D Costello, D Charleston, K Emery, B Bourke, J Dimery.
St George – X Stevenson, T Coenen, B Guthrie, K Merson, T Martin, N Ryan.
At Olds Park, Saturday 30th April 2016

 

ROUND 6 v UTS

We’re a third of the way through the home and away season, and there’s a logjam of teams at the top of the ladder. There are no undefeated teams, four teams have only lost once and two of those teams were not in last year’s finals. Defending champions Pennant Hills hang on to fifth spot, but Manly are ready to pounce after a slow start. All of the Premier Division matches were played on Saturday afternoon, amid a backdrop of smoke from back-burning operations. With no wind to speak of for much of the day, visibility was affected before it became cold and dark earlier than normal for this time of year. UTS are the other big improver this season. The Bats suffered their first loss of the year, but not before they gave East Coast Eagles a massive fright at Kanebridge Oval.

The lead changed several times in an entertaining first quarter, as two of the competition’s form teams searched for the edge they had over the other, but neither was able to establish themselves as a dominant force. The quarter finished with the Bats kicking four goals to three and leading by five points at the first change.

The Eagles found themselves under pressure, as the Bats lifted their work rate in the second term. The UTS side were putting themselves on the line and preventing the Eagles from getting the run and easy possessions they love so much. A keenly-fought and sometimes physical second term saw the Bats score three goals to two, opening up a nine-point lead at the long break.

For the home side, they knew they had a fight on their hands. But when they emerged from the rooms for the second half, they came out firing. Players who had been well held in the first half began to emerge from their shells to make a bigger contribution to the Eagle cause. But the scoreboard stubbornly refused to move, as some missed shots made the Eagle comeback harder than it should have been. But the weight of possession eventually took its toll, with three goals to two and the UTS lead was cut to one point at the last change.

The tide had turned, and the Eagles had seized the momentum. Taking the lead early in the last quarter, they would not be stopped. It wasn’t high scoring, just three goals to one, but the Eagles had the ball under control and there was no way back for the Bats. It had been an impressive start to the season to have been undefeated until now, but the unbeaten run ended here as the Eagles had done enough to record a 14-point win.

Andrew Browning, Rowan Bilkey and Stuart Turner were ball magnets for the Eagles, spearheading their second-half comeback. The Bats received solid service all afternoon from Brad Hunt, Anthony Herring and Thomas Perks. Both sides have only lost one game this season, and are well placed to be there at the business end of the season; and if they were to meet in the finals, it could well be a hard-fought battle like this match.
East Coast Eagles 3.4 5.8 8.12 11.15 (81)
University of Technology 4.3 7.5 9.7 10.7 (67)
Goals :
East Coast –
R Bilkey 3, J Battistella 2, Z Johns 2, D Costello, M Skuse, S Turner, A McConnell.
UTS – S Tregoning 2, D Breese 2, S Dadswell 2, T Larby 2, P Brennan, B Nethersole.
Best :
East Coast –
A Browning, R Bilkey, S Turner, A McConnell, J Dimery, Jon Vlatko.
UTS – B Hunt, A Herring, T Perks, S Tregoning, R Bates, S Dadswell.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 7th May 2016.


ROUND 7 v WESTERN SUBURBS

After seven rounds, the ladder is beginning to take shape, but there’s some tight battles for positions still to be played out. In the last couple of years, by this stage of the season it was already clear who the final five would be. But this year that’s still far from settled.

St George and East Coast are the front-runners and have already racked up six wins from seven games, but neither have had a bye yet. They’re followed by North Shore and UTS, teams that were not in finals calculations last year, with four wins from six games. Recent premiers Pennant Hills and Manly are a game behind with three wins from six; two games clear of seventh spot. All Premier Division games this week were played on Saturday afternoon, in a day of glorious sunshine and exceptionally warm conditions for this time of year, with the mercury climbing into the high 20’s. And with little rain having fallen recently, all grounds were in good condition.

East Coast Eagles remain in second place, like St George they have six wins from seven games. And the Eagles made significant progress towards bridging the gap in percentage as they dominated Wests from start to finish to complete a 165 point win at Kanebridge Oval.

From the start, it was clear that the Eagles would be a dominant force. This was one of the competition’s top fancies at home and they’d come to play. Loose men were everywhere and there were no shortage of targets presenting themselves up forward. Incursions into the Magpies’ forward line were rare, but the Eagles in most occasions had little difficulty in clearing the ball out of trouble. Five goals to one in the first quarter set up a 26-point lead at quarter time, but there were already signs that this game was heading for a blowout.

The Magpies were unable to do anything to hold back the Eagle tide in the second term and the goal umpire at the Wests’ forward line had nothing to do but wave the flags after scores at the other end. And there were plenty of them, as the Eagles fired the ball up forward with regularity. The shots weren’t always accurate and the margin could have been even bigger, but so strong were the Eagles that six unanswered goals saw them go into the rooms at half time with a 69-point lead.

If the floodgates weren’t already open in the first half, they certainly were in the third quarter. Time and again the Eagles were controlling the ball at will, finding unmarked players to run the ball forward and there were no shortage of forwards to share the goal scoring around against minimal resistance. It was a horrible quarter for the Magpies and although they managed to get one goal, the Eagles surged forward time and again to finish with nine for the quarter and the lead was out to 123 points at three quarter time.

There would be no respite for the Magpies in the final quarter and there was nothing they were able to salvage from the contest. They would be unable to score a goal in the last quarter. With the sting well and truly gone from the contest and players cramping after such a hot day, the goal-scoring slowed slightly with the Eagles scoring six goals in the final term. But throughout the day it had been an emphatic statement by the Eagles. A top team playing their top football and never allowing their opponents into the contest in any way.

The final winning margin was 165 points, a substantial percentage boost for the Eagles. Andrew McConnell finished with six goals and Matthew Eastman four who together with Jack Dimery, were the Eagles’ best. But it was hard to find an Eagle who didn’t fulfill their role magnificently on the day. Timothy Woods, Pat Wilmot and Ben Zoppo tried hard for the Magpies, but it was a disappointing day for them. At times this season the Magpies have put in competitive performances, but this game was one they would want to put past them and move on.

East Coast Eagles 5.4 11.11 20.18 26.25 (181)
Western Suburbs 1.2 1.2 2.3 2.4 (16)
Goals :
East Coast –
A McConnell 6, M Eastman 4, S Pierce 3, D Costello 2, J Dimery 2, E Kruger 2, R Bilkey 2, K Emery, Z Johns, D Charleston, B Anderson, M Skuse.
Wests – B Zoppo, S Pearson.
Best :
East Coast –
A McConnell, M Eastman, J Dimery, K Emery, D Costello, T Baker.
Wests – T Woods, P Wilmot, B Zoppo, T Lambert, C Gordon, M Brown.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 14th May 2016

 

Current Ladder after the completion of Round 7
POS TEAM

P

W L D F A    % PTS
1 St George Dragons

7

6 1 0 718 387 185.53

24

2 East Coast Eagles

7

6 1 0 631 412 153.16

24

3 North Shore Bombers

6

4 2 0 527 402 131.09

16

4 UTS Bats

6

4 2 0 548 469 116.84

16

5 Pennant Hills Demons

6

3 3 0 486 425 114.35

12

6 Manly Warringah Giants

6

3 3 0 442 425 104.00

12

7 Sydney University

6

1 5 0 377 522 72.22

4

8 UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs

6

1 5 0 392 713 54.98

4

9

Western Suburbs Magpies

6 0 6 0 357 723 49.38

0

 

East Coast take the points against Sydney Uni in Round 2

IMG_2565

Article courtesy of Michael Shillito.

It’s been an exceptionally warm and dry autumn in Sydney, and during the week the temperature climbed into the mid-30’s. Thankfully for the players it wasn’t that warm over the weekend, but sunny weather and grounds in good condition greeted the players for the second weekend of footy this season.

A Saturday twilight clash at Henson Park saw two first-round winners, Sydney Uni and East Coast, face off in the Gordon–Physick Cup, competed for once each season. And it was the Eagles who would keep their unbeaten 2016 record intact, but they were made to earn it by a determined Students’ outfit that refused to concede easy goals.

The Eagles went into the match as hot favourites and everything looked to be running to the form lines in the first quarter. The Eagles took the lead early and looked in control and although scoring wasn’t easy, four goals to one and an 18-point lead at quarter time would have caused few surprises.

That first quarter ensured the Eagles would never be headed and they would go on to extend their lead in the second quarter. But this would be a battle of the defences, as the Sydney Uni backline stood their ground, manning up, refusing to concede easy possessions and making the highly-fancied Eagle forwards earn every kick. It was a tight and sometimes physical quarter of footy and loose men were hard to find as numbers gathered around the ball at every opportunity. The Eagles kicked three goals to one for the quarter and led by 31 points at the long break, but this was going to be a game where the defences were on top.

The Students didn’t have the firepower to make any inroads into the deficit during the third term, but they were defending resolutely and steadfastly refusing to allow the Eagles to dominate. Two goals apiece would go onto the scoreboard in another hard-fought quarter of footy, with the Eagles leading by 32 points at the last change.

It had been a good quality contest. Not one for the forwards to take delight in, but plenty of entertainment value despite the low scoring. The Eagles had the game comfortably won and would score three goals to two in the final term to run out 36-point winners. Two wins to start the season is what the Eagles were looking for, and mission accomplished. But the Students, although unable to take the premiership points, gave a good account of themselves and could have got closer if they had finished more accurately than their eventual score-line of 6.14.

Stuart Turner, Bryce Joynson and Zac Johns were standout contributors for the Eagles, while the Students had been well served by the efforts of Oliver Mahony, Nick Bowen and James Lewington.

East Coast Eagles  4.3 7.6 9.11 12.14 (86)
Sydney University 1.3 2.5 4.9    6.14 (50)
Goals:
East Coast –
L Gemmill 3, A McConnell 2, E Kruger, T Baker, B Joynson, B Bourke, J Ford, Jamie Vlatko, M Skuse.
Sydney Uni – M Vicic 2, B Hawtin, M Powys, L Vella, J Lewington.
Best:
East Coast –
S Turner, B Joynson, Z Johns, M Eastman, L Gemmill, B Bourke.
Sydney Uni – O Mahony, N Bowen, J Lewington, G Smith, T Elkington, A Clarke.
At Henson Park, Saturday 9th April 2016.

North Shore made their first appearance in Premier Division for 2016 after an opening round bye with a home clash against UNSW-ES on Saturday afternoon. These two clubs were the bottom two teams in 2015, with the Bulldogs’ only win for the season being their visit to North Shore. But this was a new-look North Shore team, with their home ground renamed Mortgage Choice Oval after a sponsorship deal and coached by Ryan Meldrum for the first time.

The Bulldogs, after going down to UTS in the opening round, were keen to get themselves on the board for the new season and in the opening exchanges there wasn’t much to separate the two sides. Both were keen to get on the front foot, playing an attacking brand of footy as they went goal for goal early.

The Bombers had a modest lead at quarter time, but as the second quarter unfolded, the lead began to blow out. The Bulldogs were struggling to find the run in their legs, while the Bombers were finding loose runners and forward options were opening up. And with seven goals to two for the quarter, including the last four, it was North Shore by 34 points as they went into the rooms at half time.

Into the premiership quarter and the game had become one-way traffic. It was a similar trend to the second, seven goals to two, as a North Shore side that had won just three games last year regained their confidence and weren’t letting go of this opportunity to post an impressive first-up win. And holding a 65-point advantage at the last change, the battle had been won.

The sting had largely gone out of the contest by then, but the Bombers weren’t finished yet. They would score five unanswered majors in the last, finishing with an imposing 97-point win.

Danny Roberts directed proceedings on the North Shore forward line to finish with six goals and along with James Loneragan and Chris Holmes, was among the Bombers’ best. For UNSW-ES it was a tough afternoon but Joel Robbie, Alex Foote and Jarrod Wachman toiled tirelessly all afternoon. Both clubs have young teams this year, with several players from last year’s Under 19’s Grand Final getting a run in Premier Division. UNSW-ES will no doubt improve as the season goes and their youngsters gain experience. But for North Shore, 2016 is off to a flying start.

There’s an oft-quoted saying that bad kicking is bad football: that a team which fails to make the most of their chances can lose a game they otherwise could have won. The inverse of this, that good kicking is good football, was laid out in stark reality thanks to some extraordinarily accurate work by UTS in their 46-point win over Wests at Picken Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The Bats burst out of the blocks, setting up what was effectively a match-winning lead in the first quarter. The Bats were finding options aplenty up forward which the Magpie defenders were struggling to contain. And the scoreboard was ticking over rapidly, as the Bats landed seven goals to one in the opening term to lead by 35 points at the first change.

The Magpies steadied the ship in the second quarter after the opening onslaught, and were looking more competitive around the ground. At last they were able to get the ball to the forward line and get themselves on the scoreboard; but they were unable to make any inroads into the deficit. It was four goals apiece for the quarter, with UTS scoring the only behind of the term to extend the margin to 36 points at half time. Amazingly, it would be their last behind for the match.

Whatever was said in the UTS rooms at half time had the desired effect, as the Bats resumed the dominance they had established in the first quarter. This was UTS at their best, dominating around the ground and hurting the Magpies on the scoreboard with a run of seven goals to one; extending the lead to 69 points at the last change.

The game was safely won, but the Magpies salvaged some respectability and percentage in the final quarter. Suddenly they were finding it easier to get the ball out of the midfield, and the ball was spending extended periods of time within the Magpies’ forward 50. The result of the game wasn’t in doubt, but the Magpies’ final quarter of five goals to two pegged the final margin back to 46 points and Magpie mentor Lindsay Scown had some positive material to work with in their quest for a breakthrough first win of 2016.

Amazingly, despite the conclusive final margin, the Bats only had one scoring shot more than the Magpies. It wasn’t as though Wests were inaccurate. A return of 11.11 was reasonable. But UTS’ amazing scoreline of 20.3, highlighted by those dominant bursts in the first and third quarters, had put the game out of the Magpies’ reach. On the back of a scoreline of 16.5 in the opening round, by any measure it would have to be up there among the most accurate opening fortnights to a season ever.

Despite the vast majority of the scoring being at one end of the ground, there was no howling gale favouring that end; but Daniel Breese was blowing an ill wind for the Magpies with five goals. Nick Morling also had a productive day up forward to finish with four goals; while Zac Parsons, Rohan Bates and Daniel Breese were standout contributors for UTS. Despite the loss, John Haggerty established himself in the Magpie forward line with five goals and along with Cameron Gordon and Martin Brown was among the Magpies’ best.

The round was completed on Sunday afternoon when St George and Pennant Hills, combatants in the last three Preliminary Finals, faced off again at Olds Park. A low-scoring but absorbing contest would be in the balance all afternoon as the two sides, again likely to still be there when we get to the business end of the season, sought not just the four points on offer but also what could be an important psychological edge.

It was goal for goal in the first quarter, as both sides strove to establish an early edge but both coming up blank. Three goals apiece would see the Demons with a three-point lead at quarter time, but neither side feeling that they had established any form of supremacy over the other.

Goals were hard to come by in the second quarter, both sides pushing numbers back and the vast expanses of Olds Park looked to be massive acres of ground that neither side could comfortably traverse. The Demons managed an early goal, but the Dragons came back hard late in the quarter with two goals in time-on to take a five-point lead into the half time break.

The Dragons had their chances to put the game out of Pennant Hills’ reach in the third quarter, with two early goals and the ball spending significant periods of time camped inside the forward 50. But some inaccurate finishing, in part thanks to the resolute defence of the Demons, but also due to some wasteful work when in possession, would hold them back. St George would score 2.7 for the quarter, leading by four goals as the clock ticked into time-on. But the Demons would work their way back into the contest late in the term with two late goals, cutting the margin to 11 points at the last change.

The sun had been shining brightly, but the shadows were lengthening; the natural light fading but being supplemented by the turning on of the new lights at Olds Park, with a later Under 19s match to be the first night game at the venue.

The Demons had fought back late in the third term, but could get no closer. The final term was a battle of the defences, as the Demons threw everything they had at the Dragons but were unable to penetrate the big sticks at the rate they needed to. Just one goal apiece would be scored in a tense final term, as the home side held on for an important 11-point win.

Nick Shaw, Jesse Mudge and Karl Merson made key contributions to the Dragon cause when they were needed, enabling them to get over the line. Two wins against finalists from last year is a solid start to the season for the Dragons and after losing to the Demons in the penultimate game of the season for the last three years in a row, this could be an important moral boost for the Dragons as they look to go better this year.

Aaron Crisfield, Matt Thomas and Tim Wales were ball magnets for the Demons, doing everything that could have been asked of them. Two losses from two games will be a disappointment for the defending champions, but it wasn’t an easy draw for them and there’s plenty of time for the Demons to start accumulating those wins and climb up the ladder.

Four Saturday afternoon matches will be played in Premier Division next week. Two undefeated sides, East Coast Eagles and North Shore, will face off at Kanebridge Oval; while university pride will be on the line at Trumper Park as UTS host Sydney Uni. Two traditional rivals will take each other on at Olds Park as St George play host to Wests, with the Magpies keen to pull off the upset and get their season on track. And two sides that played off in Grand Finals in 2013 and 2014 will again face off at Mike Kenny Oval as Pennant Hills host Manly. And in the context of a season where neither has yet managed a win, the stakes are high.  UNSW-ES have the bye.

PREMIER DIVISION – ROUND 2

Current Ladder

POS TEAM P W L D F A % PTS
1 St George Dragons 2 2 0 0 178 104 171.15 8
2 East Coast Eagles 2 2 0 0 186 114 163.16 8
3 UTS Bats 2 2 0 0 224 156 143.59 8
4 North Shore Bombers 1 1 0 0 155 58 267.24 4
5 Sydney University 2 1 1 0 153 164 93.29 4
6 Pennant Hills Demons 2 0 2 0 116 163 71.17 0
7 Western Suburbs Magpies 2 0 2 0 155 226 68.58 0
8 UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs 2 0 2 0 137 256 53.52 0
9 Manly Warringah Giants 1 0 1 0 52 115 45.22

 

Results in other Eagles’ matches:

U19 / North Shore  16-9 (105) defeated East Coast 5-6 (36)
Division One / Sydney Uni 11-16 (82) defeated East Coast 6-9 (45)
Division Three / Campbelltown 27-15 (187) defeated East Coast 3-2 (20)

Next weeks matches: All games at Kanebridge Oval on Saturday April 16th

10.00am    Division Three v Wollondilly

Midday       U19 v Sydney Uni

2.00pm      Premier Division v North Shore

4.45pm      Division One v Holroyd-Parramatta

Eagles swoop on Pennant Hills to win by 36 points

Sanks delivers the 3/4 time address

Sanks delivers the 3/4 time address

SYDNEY AFL ROUND 1 2016
Article by Michael Shillito

Players and coaches may come and go, and many did during the off-season. But the game of footy goes on. A long hot summer, clubs working hard in pre-season training; all building up to the start of a new season. A fresh start, the slate wiped clean. Over the upcoming months, dreams will be realised and dreams will be shattered.

The season started on Saturday, under bright sunshine and with the mercury moving over 30 degrees, one of the warmest season opening days for many years.

A twilight clash at Mike Kenny Oval saw Pennant Hills unfurl their premiership flag, one final chance to bask in the spoils of last September’s heroics. It had been a remarkable Grand Final, and the record books will forever show that the Demons are 2015 champions.

But winning the competition is one thing, defending the title is another; as teams will lift to play them and the hunter now becomes the hunted.

The Demons were taking on East Coast Eagles, the team they beat in last year’s decider, in the Warren “Pops” Quintrell Shield. And both clubs had lineups not too dissimilar to those playing on Grand Final day last year. Every club has players come and go, but neither had lost too many. There wasn’t that much separating the teams in the first quarter. Both sides were keen to make their mark on the season with some early attacking, leading to a high-scoring and free-flowing opening term. Five goals to four in the first quarter saw the Eagles lead by eight points at quarter time.

The Eagles took the upper hand in the second quarter, as the defence tightened and the Demons were unable to find any avenues to goal. At the other end, the Eagles were getting plenty of run through their midfield, and Andrew McConnell in particular was presenting as a handy target up forward. A string of 50 metre penalties didn’t help the Demon cause; but there was no denying this was an Eagles side with plenty of quality still on their list taking the first step towards dealing with some unfinished business after last year’s shock.

Five goals in the second quarter while holding the Demons scoreless saw the Eagles leading by 40 points at the long break. And although the Demons did manage to conjure up two goals in the third quarter, the Eagles slammed four through the big sticks to extend the margin to 50 points at three quarter time.

The game was safely won, and the Eagles took their foot off the gas in the last quarter. The Demons salvaged something back in percentage during the final term with four goals to two, cutting the final margin to 36 points. But this was East Coast’s night, extracting some level of atonement and getting their campaign to go one better in 2016 off to a flying start.

In a display of impressive accuracy in front of goal, the Demons didn’t score a behind in the first half and the Eagles likewise after half time; with a combined total of 26.8 for the night.

Andrew McConnell was a dominant force for the Eagles, kicking six goals in a best-on-ground performance; while Stuart Turner and Ben Bourke also featured prominently for the Eagles. It wasn’t Pennant Hills’ night, but Aaron Crisfield, Tim Wales and Ted Widmer worked hard all game.

Other matches

An Eastern Suburbs University derby at Waverley Oval saw UTS play host to UNSW-ES in what has become a traditional season opener. It was a day that saw an evenly-contested first half before UTS pulled away after half time. Both clubs field plenty of teams that had been playing each other earlier in the day, so there was no shortage of lower-grade players happy to stick around to support the seniors. And they were treated to an absorbing contest early. The first quarter was an arm-wrestle, both sides working hard to find a weakness in the other and putting on some tight and tough defence. The Bulldogs looked to have a slight advantage around the ground and added three goals to two, holding a nine-point advantage at quarter time.

The second quarter was a shootout. The lead changed hands several times as both sides threw caution to the wind in their quest for attacking football and the priority to put a score on the board. Forwards on both sides were looking lethal as the goal umpires’ flags were waving with regularity. Seven goals to five in favour of UTS saw the Bats turn their quarter time deficit into a five point half time lead.

It had been an entertaining half to watch, and the match was in the balance, but when the teams returned for the second half, the momentum of the game had changed. The Bats emerged full of running, handling the hot conditions better, finding options to move the ball forward and cutting down on the turnovers. And the scoreboard began to reflect the Bats’ emerging dominance as they scored five goals to one for the quarter to stretch the lead to 27 points at the last change.

The Bulldogs refused to capitulate and won the quarter with three goals to two to cut the final margin to 22 points. It had only been one lopsided quarter that decided the contest, with the rest of the game being evenly fought. But that quarter was enough to give the Bats the valuable competition points.

On a hot day, Daniel Breese was a welcome relief for the Bats with four goals, while Zac Parsons, Rohan Bates and Jason Fleming made important contributions around the ground to the UTS cause. Alex Foote, Alex McKenzie and Joel Robbie were the Bulldogs’ best.

Manly’s quest for a premiership three-peat last season came to an end when they were beaten by St George in the first semi-final. And the Dragons repeated the dose at Weldon Oval on Saturday with a comprehensive 63-point win over the Giants. Preliminary Finallists for the last three seasons, St George have got the services of some handy recruits to further bolster their lineup for 2016 and aim to go all the way to the Grand Final this year. While it’s been a relatively stable off-season for Manly, with not many departures and keeping a similar side to those that have been so strong since they went up to Premier Division in 2013.

The first quarter saw little to separate the two sides, both taking the time to try to work out each other’s weakness and defending resolutely when the pressure was on. The Dragons scored three goals to two in the first term, holding a nine-point lead at the first change.

St George got on top in the second quarter, and the scoreboard began ticking over with regularity. Not every kick hits its target, and several went sailing wide of the big sticks when they should have been kicked. But weight of possession took its toll as the quarter unfolded and with five goals to one in the second term, the Dragons returned to the rooms at half time with a 36-point lead.

The third quarter was tighter and more physical than the second, but the Giants were unable to make any dent in the deficit. Instead it was the Dragons who asserted themselves further, scoring three goals to one in a low-scoring quarter to extend the margin to 47 points at three quarter time.

St George had the game in their keeping, and the pressure valve was released in the final term. It was a more open and free-flowing contest, with the players given more licence to exhibit their skills during the last quarter. But again it was St George who had the edge, taking advantage of every opportunity to score six goals to three for the quarter.

In the end it was a 63-point margin in favour of the Dragons. Nick Ryan spearheaded the charge up forward to finish with five goals; while Paul Sain, Daniel Tomlins and Earl Shaw were ball magnets around the ground. The Giants, although well beaten, found hard workers for the duration in Connor Pettersson, Anthony Robertson and Eric Burke.

The round was completed on Sunday under lights at Henson Park when Sydney Uni took on Wests in a game that would be up for grabs until the final minutes.

It was a tight and tough opening quarter, both sides laying on plenty of physical pressure and defending resolutely. Goals were hard to come by in a quarter in which the backlines had the upper hand and easy possessions were rare. Just one goal apiece was kicked, with the Students leading by two points at quarter time.

The Students finally found some avenues to goal in the second term, at times threatening to run away with the contest. But the Magpies weren’t going to go down without a fight, and some crucial answering goals kept them within striking distance. It wasn’t always pretty to watch, but this was a contest between two willing opponents. And with five goals to three in the second term, Sydney Uni took a 10-point lead into half time.

The Magpies lifted their work rate in the third quarter, but their inaccuracy in front of the big sticks would hurt them as their return of 3.5 for the quarter would prevent them from regaining the lead. The Students would also score three goals, but their defenders were required to dig deep at times during the quarter as they repelled several attacking moves by the Magpies. And with just seven points separating the two sides at the last change, the game was set for a thrilling finish.

It hadn’t been an easy pre-season for the Magpies, but they were near enough to have a crack at a first-up win. And they gave it their best shot in the last quarter; and reaped four goals for their efforts. But they were unable to get themselves in front, and it was the Sydney Uni side who had the fresh legs and were able to run the game out. Seven goals would come to the team in blue and gold hoops during the final quarter, enough to take out a 25-point win.

It may not have been a game that reached any great heights. But the Students, aiming for a third straight finals appearance in Premier Division, got their campaign off to the start they needed. And for Wests, although beaten on the night, they showed enough to assure themselves that they have what it takes to be competitive against the top sides in 2016.

Next week sees Wests take on UTS at Picken Oval, a clash between two sides that missed the finals last year and are keen to be part of the September action this time round. Meanwhile at Blacktown, it will be a blue and gold derby as Sydney Uni take on East Coast.  North Shore enter the competition after the opening round bye when they host UNSW-ES at Mortgage Choice Oval (formerly Gore Hill), while a Sunday blockbuster at Olds Park sees St George host Pennant Hills.


East Coast Eagles 5.2 10.4 14.4 16.4 (100)
Pennant Hills 4.0 4.0 6.2 10.4 (64)
Goals:
East Coast –
A McConnell 6, L Gemmill 3, M Skuse 2, D Costello, B Joynson, Jamie Vlatko, P Vlatko, A Savage.
Pennant Hills – T Moraitis 2, M Preen 2, T Wales 2, J Gourlay 2, S Wray, A Crisfield.
Best:
East Coast –
A McConnell, S Turner, B Bourke, K Emery, Jamie Vlatko, A Drinkwater.
Pennant Hills – A Crisfield, T Wales, T Widmer, D Dell’Aquila, K Wright, J Gourlay.
At Mike Kenny Oval, Saturday 2nd April 2016.

Under 19s One:
Pennant Hills 9.10 (64) d East Coast 6.4 (40)

Division One:
Pennant Hills 14.13 (97) d East Coast 4.2 (26)

Division Three:
Pennant Hills 28.16 (184) d East Coast 1.2 (8)

PREMIER DIVISION LADDER

Played Won Draw Lost For Against %tage
St George 1 1 0 0 115 52 221.15
East Coast 1 1 0 0 100 64 156.25
Sydney Uni 1 1 0 0 103 78 132.05
UTS 1 1 0 0 101 79 127.85
UNSW-ES 1 0 0 1 79 101 78.22
Western Suburbs 1 0 0 1 78 103 75.73
Pennant Hills 1 0 0 1 64 100 64.00
Manly 1 0 0 1 52 115 45.22
North Shore 0 0 0 0 0 0 DNP

 

Next week’s games are all on Saturday April 9th.

Premier Division take on Sydney Uni at Henson Park at 4.00pm in the Physick-Gordon Cup challenge.

Division One play Sydney Uni at Henson Park at 2.00pm.

Under 19’s are up against North Shore at Mortgage Choice Oval (formerly known as Gore Hill) at 5.15pm.

And Division Three play Campbelltown at Kanebridge Oval at 10.00am.

The Bundaberg Bullet dominates Round 4

Apparently Bundaberg, Queensland may be his home town, but no one except his Mum really knows exactly where he came from.  His Facebook page (which presumably he himself updates) says he was born July 5th 1986, so the world has had the pleasure of his company now for nearly 29 years.

Just where he cohabitated between 1986 and 2007 is anybody’s guess.  In 2008 (which is the first year Google can find any reference to him) he played with Morningside in Brisbane and represented the QAFL against WA in Townsville as a team mate to some big names who finished up with Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  But our boy didn’t get to AFL level with them because he decided to hitch a ride north to Cairns ready for a tropical 2009.

Crathern Medal 2009 172  Pic. Supplied CC181134

Crathern Medallist 2009 …………… Andrew Browning

He decided to play with the South Cairns Cutters (I’m tipping they were in sugar cane country) and no doubt with a bellyful of Bundy Rum in him he enjoyed a stellar debut season. In fact it was so good he won the Crathern Medal with 25 votes in the far north Queensland comp. The gala presentation night completely belonged to Andrew Browning who treated the audience to a full length rendition of the Van Morrison classic “Jackie Wilson Said” – complete with dance moves after accepting his award.  Later that week big AB’s side the Cutters lost the GF to the Cairns Saints.

Click here to watch a video of the great man’s 2009 season.  Check out the haircut at the end!!

Not sure where he disappeared to after 2009, although I think Tatura in the Goulburn Valley League may have played some part in the big man’s burgeoning footy career. But in 2013 he popped up at Belconnen to play with their NEAFL side. The Magpies met the Swans in the Grand Final that year but lost when AB went down for the count with concussion.

And then in 2014 he became an Eagle when he and his lovely partner Kimberly Gorrie wandered into (then) Bruce Purser Reserve looking for a game. The bearded one made an immediate impression on everyone with his unbelievable energy and drive for the game which was never more evident than in last Saturday’s top of the table clash against Pennant Hills.

His performance in at times torrential rain inspired this writer to research his background because he won’t tell us. Coach Michael Sankey commented after the game …. “AB was best on by a country mile today. His was a herculean effort considering the conditions and deserved to win it twice.”  AB took it upon himself to ruck all day, kick the longest goal of the match with a second quarter drop punt using a very wet and heavy footy and lead the side to the top of the Round 4 ladder.

Pic by Les Cass from “Team Cass”.

Directed by Browning, the Eagles showed extraordinary commitment and skills in the difficult conditions to win the Warren “Pops” Quintrell shield for the first time since 2011.  (It was competed for during our time in the NEAFL but it was always going to be difficult to win it.)  Understandably scores remained low, but nevertheless the final margin of 28 points was indicative of East Coast’s superiority on the day.

The re-match at Kanebridge Oval takes place on July 4th when the Back to Baulko day and Mr Perpetual Motion explode into action. Don’t miss it …..

Pennant Hills 0.0 0.3 1.3 3.4 (22)
East Coast Eagles 2.4 3.7 6.8 7.8 (50)
Goals : Pennant Hills –
R Ediriwickrama, M Carey, P Witt.
East Coast – T Stubbs 3, A McConnell 2, D Spiteri, A Browning.
Best : Pennant Hills – T Angel, R Ediriwickrama, D Dell’Aquila, D Witt, K Wright, M Johnston.
East Coast – A Browning, S Turner, K Emery, D Charleston, Jamie Vlatko, Josh Cass.

This week’s Red and White Online summary of Round 4 can be found here.

Division One saw the debut of 26 year old Blake Anderson who has just arrived at East Coast from Perth where he was a regular League player with Claremont. The club took the opportunity of acclimatising Blake in the ‘twos’ this week against Pennant Hills, but his inclusion was not enough to avoid a 22 point defeat at the hands of the Demons. Matty Scholz was best and Anderson obviously impressed his new team mates with them judging him as their Players’ Player.

Final score: Pennant Hills 8-4 (52) defeated East Coast Eagles 3-12 (30)         

The U19’s opened like a bullet out of a gun against the highly fancied Demons’ outfit and surprised the host team by leading well at quarter time, 3-1 to 1-2. Isaac Heath was the spearhead and confidence was high. From here however Pennant Hills took control kicking 10-13 in the last three quarters to finally win by 55 points. Best for the Eagles were James Monks and Alexander Van Vliet.

Final scores: Pennant Hills 11-15 (81) defeated East Coast Eagles 4-2 (26)        

Pic by Tracey Stewart.

The first game of the day saw a very popular breakthrough win for Matt O’Connor’s Division Three side. Once again the opponent was arch rival Pennant Hills and the lads had been fired up for victory for two weeks, having been rained out last week. It was neck and neck in the first two quarters with just three and two points between them at the first two breaks. But a strong third quarter during which the Demons were held goalless saw the Eagles pull out a match winning break which was further enhanced in the last to win by 18 points. Nick Murfitt played his best footy for the season thus far to take out the BOG honours.

Final score: Pennant Hills 5-8 were defeated by (38) East Coast Eagles 8-8 (56)        

All updated Eagles Extravaganza results can be found at this link.

Rounds 1- 3 wrap for the Eagles

The first three rounds of AFL Sydney football have provided contrasting fortunes for all the East Coast Eagles teams.

ROUND 1

Jack Dimery leads out the Eagles in his 100th game.  Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

Jack Dimery leads out the Eagles in his 100th game. Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

At Premier Division level this was the match up that most in Sydney football had waited five months for since the 2015 fixture was announced by AFL Sydney. The reigning Premiers Manly Giants (2013 / 14) up against the returning East Coast Eagles who, prior to joining the NEAFL in 2012, had taken out successive flags in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The weather was fantastic, the newly named Kanebridge Oval was in superb condition and the crowd was rolling in to watch two sides go at it hammer and tong in an attempt to claim early bragging rights. Jack Dimery playing his 100th senior game for the Club led the team out into the abundant sunshine. Every one of those 100 games has been at Premier Division or NEAFL level.

Both sides started well and had four each on the board at quarter time. But it just “looked like” the Eagles were gaining the upper hand.  Kicking to the Vesta Homes Commercial Road end in the second term, East Coast piled on 7-1 to go into half time 27 points up.

On the terraces the Eagles supporters were happy to see their returning side well on top but as always every fan knows that the second half can play tricks. In a very tight and tactical third quarter the Eagles could only increase their lead by seven points. The score at ¾ time was 13-2 to 6-10.  The Giants had more scoring shots, which can often be an indicator as to whether a side still remains in touch with the leader.

And that’s the way it turned out. A cracker of a last quarter saw East Coast in front at the 20 minute mark by 23 points, 15-5 to 10-12.  At the 25 min mark it was 16 points, and at the 27 minute mark it was 10. With 29 seconds left the Eagles were desperately hanging on to a three point margin which they still held when the final siren blew. Trouble was the ball was in the hands of Manly’s Tom McCaffery who had marked 40 metres out from goals at the Vesta Homes School end.  His shot wobbled through, but shaky or not, it still counted for six points and the Giants had stolen a most unlikely victory.

Trent Stubbs was best for the home side and also took the goal kicking honours with five.

East Coast Eagles 4.0 11.1 13.2 15.5 (95)
Manly-Warringah 4.2 6.4 6.10 14.14 (98)
Goals: East Coast –
 T Stubbs 5, A McConnell 2, D Spiteri, J Dimery, D Charleston, M Eastman,  S Turner, Jon Vlatko, D Costello, S Reed.
Manly – C Pettersson 3, J Pola-Smith 3, T McCaffery 2, C Livori, H Washington, B Fowler, D Bonney, J Parker, S Batten. 
Best: East Coast –
 T Stubbs, D Charleston, A McConnell, J Dimery, E Kruger, D Costello.
Manly – W Brassil, J Brain, T McCaffery, R Wearne, C Pettersson, R Whitton.
At Kanebridge Oval, Saturday 11th April 2015.

In other grades East Coast had a fabulous win over a shell shocked Southern Power by 60 points with James Ford starring in a wonderful comeback to AFL footy after two years away overseas.

Division Three went down by 37 points in what was really a high standard game. Our boys were good, but Sydney Uni were simply better.  Will Dickinson took the honours for best on and put some cash in his owners’ pocket in Round 1 of Extravaganza. You can always read about all the results in Eagles Extravaganza each round by clicking here. 

The U19’s, most of whom are new to the Eagles in 2015, lost to Manly by 69 points under lights after the Premier Division game had finished. Josh Rodman was East Coast’s best while Connor Stewart kicked two of the Eagles’ four goals.

Click here to read Michael Shillito’s AFL Sydney Round 1 review.

ROUND 2

After the hurly burly of Round 1 home matches it was nice to head for away pastures. Unfortunately the Divisional nature of the AFL Sydney competition means teams are scattered far and wide across the city for away matches.

Dean Costello is the Leader of the Pack.   Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri

Dean Costello is the Leader of the Pack. Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri

Premier Division were at Picken Oval, the home of Western Suburbs who proudly play on a ground which is side by side with their long established Licenced Club of West Magpies. Wests haven’t had a lot to cheer about in recent years, but it is often a danger to play the Magpies early in the season as traditionally they are always good off season recruiters. 2015 was no different with lots of new names in the Football Record, including some from the much maligned Campbelltown Club who had withdrawn from the Premier Division competition in the week leading up to Round 1.

Both sides had lost their opening round clashes by less than a kick, but it was the Eagles wearing their brand new away strip who started magnificently and had three goals on the board in as many minutes to shell shock a confident Wests. They never recovered from that early onslaught and went further behind both in confidence and on the scoreboard the further the game went. 24 points behind at quarter time, 39 at half time, 74 at ¾ time and eventually losing to a rampaging Eagles outfit by 88 points. East Coast were determined not to experience a last quarter brain fade like last week.

Scott Pierce in his best ever performance in an Eagles jumper kicked seven from full forward and Andrew McConnell got four which along with his superb around the ground game, earned him the match committee’s nomination as the Eagles’ best.

The bearded Andrew Browning leads the East Coast Eagles victory song.  Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

The bearded Andrew Browning leads the East Coast Eagles victory song. Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

Western Suburbs 1.1 4.4 6.4 7.4 (46)
East Coast Eagles 4.7 10.7 17.12 20.14 (134)
Goals: Wests – B Mumme 2, J Robinson 2, J Ross, P Maxwell, D Clout.
East Coast – S Pierce 7, A McConnell 4, S Reed 3, T Stubbs 2, A Browning, M Skuse, W Bradley, J Ford. 
Best: Wests –
 J Robinson, T Etto, R Speed, T Charles, C Gordon, P Bevan.
East Coast – A McConnell, T Stubbs, A Browning, S Pierce, W Bradley, S Turner.
At Picken Oval, Saturday 18th April 2015.

Division One were at Macquarie Uni for a match which most expected them to win. The players did too in the first quarter when they opened strongly with an impressive first quarter performance. Unfortunately things fell away after that for the visitors with only three more majors being posted, compared to Mac Uni’s 11 goals. Cameron Arndt was best in an unexpectedly disappointing team performance.

The Div Three boys came up against a Magpies side that boasted more fire power than we could muster. A very poor second quarter saw the Eagles held goalless and it was the five majors that Wests kicked in this term this term which was ultimately the difference between the two sides.

Anthony Baddock played a blinder in the centre and got the coach’s nod for BOG on the day.

At Sydney Uni, Greg Thomas’ U19s got off to a great start and remained strongly in the game up to three quarter time. Injuries however proved their downfall in the last quarter and a depleted team was overrun by the home side when they allowed them to kick six goals in the final term.   Joel Walsh and James Monks were best for the young Eagles while Isaac Heath steered four through the big ones.

Michael Shillito’s Sydney AFL Round 2 full report

ROUND 3

Trent Stubbs nails one of his five goals for the day.  Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

Trent Stubbs nails one of his five goals for the day. Picture courtesy of Mark Spiteri.

Sydney’s big wet during the week was caused (believe it or not) by an “East Coast low” as the Weather Bureau calls it out in the Pacific Ocean. This low pressure system brought unbelievable rain to the city and suburbs, the outcome of which caused AFL Sydney to postpone all matches apart from Premier Division.

Kanebridge Oval was in excellent condition brought about by the purpose built drainage system beneath the turf.  So much so that the Club invited the Kellyville / Rouse Hill Magpies Junior club to play four matches in the lead up to the big one at 2.30pm.

The kids and their parents responded big time. Geez, they can eat those kids!!

Kieran Emery concentrates hard at 3/4 time - Picture by Mark Spiteri

Kieran Emery concentrates hard at 3/4 time – Picture by Mark Spiteri

After the traditional on field memorial service for the Anzac Round, the East Coast Eagles and the UTS Bats commenced their own battle. UTS were sitting on top of the ladder coming into Round 3 and a difficult match was expected for the afternoon.  UTS won the toss and kicked with a strong breeze to the northern end but it would be the only thing they would win all day however as the home side made mincemeat of a team which promised so much.

38 scoring shots to 6 at the end of a miserable day for the Bats was the unfortunate story for the visitors. They were crushed by a hard running, hard tackling side which took all before it in an emphatic 122 point victory.

Trent Stubbs with five goals, James Ford with four and Diamond Jack Dimery around the ground took the best player and goalkicking honours.

East Coast Eagles 6.2 10.9 16.13 21.17 (143)
University of Technology 1.1 1.2 2.3 3.3 (21)
Goals: East Coast – T Stubbs 5, J Ford 4, Jamie Vlatko 2, S Pierce 2, A McConnell 2, S O’Connor, W Bradley, S Turner, J Dimery, A Drinkwater, Josh Cass.
UTS – J Law, T Larby, T Nixon.
Best: East Coast – T Stubbs, J Dimery, J Ford, A Drinkwater, S Turner, K Emery.
UTS – J Law, T Larby, M Puhle, D Ipaviz, J Hewitt, W Bland.
At Kanebridge Oval, Sunday 26th April 2015.

Read this weeks Red & White Online review of the Round 3 action.