Sydney Uni have stormed to their best regular season NEAFL record, after winning their last five games in a row. A huge first quarter against the Redland Bombers, in the last home and away clash, set up a convincing 114-66 win over the home side. With fourteen wins under their belt, the Students will head into finals with confidence after yet another strong performance.
The win against Redland was not the only thing to celebrate over the weekend. As a result of their great on-field performances, multiple Sydney Uni individuals were recognised at the NEAFL Awards Ceremony held in Brisbane, on Sunday. Zac O’Brien, Ryan Hebron and Darcy Baron-Hay were all named in the Team of the Year, with Tom Morrison named as Coach of the Year. Three players, Zac O’Brien, Lewis Stevenson and Tom Young featured on the top ten MVP Leaderboard. O’Brien narrowly missed out on the top honour, by five points, despite missing five games.
Sydney Uni’s game preparations did not quite go to plan. Their scheduled Friday afternoon flight was cancelled due to the wind, and rescheduled for early Saturday morning. Despite a long morning of travel, the Students got out to a great start dominating the Bombers in the first quarter. “We had a strong performance against Redland on Saturday after having an interrupted preparation. The boys handled this particularly well to come out with a dominant 8 goal first quarter,” Coach Tom Morrison said. After an unstoppable opening quarter, Sydney Uni took a 52-13 lead into the first break.
Although Redland made a second quarter push, the Students kept the Bombers goalless in the third and put together a consistent fourth quarter effort to come out 48 point victors.
Morrison was impressed by the positive contributions by each of his players, along with the addition of a few key inclusions in the squad this week. “Tom Derickx played his first NEAFL match for the Club and we welcomed back Captain, Lewis Stevenson, from injury along with Mitch Mahady, Nathan Cooper, Alistair Gillespie & Jon Williams. All contributed well for the team in what was a fairly even team performance, however, the stand out performers were Tom Young, Zac O’Brien and Lewis Stevenson who dominated the match. Ryan Hebron and xavier Richards were solid down back, Tom Derickx was physical in the ruck and Alistair Gillespie kicked 4 goals up forward.”
Captain Lewis Stevenson, returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Round 14 with injury. He was equally pleased by the resilience of his team despite their unorthodox preparations. “As a group we were pretty happy with our performance. Going up to Brisbane the morning of the game was a good challenge for the young side we took up. I felt the boys took on the challenge really well and ticked the boxes that we identified during the week.”
“It was good to see Ryan Hebron continue his good form, as well as Al Gillespie (four goals) hitting the scoreboard. Zac O’Brien had a massive impact for us inside, as did Youngy who finished with three goals,” Stevenson added.
Currently on a five game winning streak, the Students on-field performances have been going from strength to strength, as they strive to put together full four quarter efforts each week. With so many players stepping up, selecting a team for the Elimination final this weekend will prove difficult for the Match Commitee.
“I was happy that we were able to show improvement from the previous week’s performance as this is our aim. We want to evolve from one week to the next. We will welcome back some senior players, who were rested from last week’s match, to freshen them up for a sudden death finals campaign. We are extremely excited and very focussed for the match. There will be some tough calls at Match Committee this week as we look to pick our strongest team to play Aspley on Saturday,” Morrison said.
Morrison was pleased with what his group has achieved so far this year, but is heavily focussed on this coming Saturday’s finals matchup. “I would like to thank the athletes and staff for achieving our best ever home and away result of 14 wins and 4 losses. However, we are very motivated for this weekend’s game and a finals series that we want to span 3 weeks. The home and away season has served the purpose of allowing us to develop our players, build connection and evolve our game plan so that we can perform well in finals.”
Third placed Sydney Uni will take on the sixth placed Aspley Hornets in the first round of finals. The Elimination Final will be played at Blacktown International Sportspark this Saturday August 26. Kick-off is at 1pm.
SYDNEY UNI 8.4 10.6 14.9 17.12 (114)
REDLAND 2.1 8.1 8.4 10.6 (66)
Sydney Uni: A Gillespie 4, T Young 3, M Wilson 2, R Hebron 2, M Manteit 2, J Potter, M Thompson, J Dimery, Z O’Brien
Redland: C Cameron 2, B Sloan, B Lambert, K Walsh, A Christensen, S Cormick, J Huddy, J Licht, L Rogerson
Sydney Uni: T Young, L Stevenson, Z O’Brien, R Hebron, T Derickx
Redland: L Rogerson, C Cameron, J Rolls, A Williams