By Jess Webster (NEAFL Media)
Aspley has stormed in to the top four by delivering Sydney University’s third consecutive loss in a 13-point heart-stopper at Blacktown on Saturday afternoon.
The Students led by 12 points at the main break but the Hornets swung the match in their favour during the third, and stood firm in a low-scoring last quarter to come out on top 13.10 (88) to 11.9 (75).
The Students were coming off a horror run in the past fortnight, losing two matches by a combined 161 points and lost star players Adam Gulden, Damien Bonney, Tom Young, Xavier Richards, and Nathan Cooper for their clash with the Hornets.
But they made sure they came to play, taking a three-point lead in to quarter-time and dominating possession around the ground.
A further four goals to three created a two-goal buffer at the main break, but they kept the door ajar for Aspley with inaccurate kicking ensuring the lead was within reach.
It certainly came back to haunt the Students in a stunning third quarter effort from the visitors.
First, Jono Giles and Jack Coghlan booted majors within the first three minutes to level the scores.
The scoring dried up for the next 12 minutes, but the match sprung back to life by an incredible goal of the contender from Aspley co-captain Ben Warren.
Running towards the boundary line from a forward 50 entry, Warren gathered under pressure, threw it on the boot from right on the boundary line as it sailed through from 40m.
The Hornets found two more majors – including another from Warren – and the margin was soon out to 19 points.
Not to go down without a fight, the Students then wrestled back momentum with the next three, with returning midfielder Zac O’Brien getting himself on the scoresheet in his comeback game from injury.
Leading by just five points at the last change, Aspley made it a two-goal buffer when Connor Stackelberg converted a free kick 30m out.
Matt Wilson gave the Students a chance when he roved a boundary throw in and snapped truly at the 11-minute mark to cut the margin back to six points, but the Hornets edged clear again when Harrison Pearce slotted a goal four minutes later.
It would prove to be the decisive blow as only three more behinds were registered for the remainder of the game in a tense finish.
Andrew Swallow was one of the key instigators for the Hornets with 23 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal, while Warren finished with four majors
But the standout best afield was Sydney University defender Ryan Hebron. The 21-year-old finished with a game-high 30 disposals and 14 marks in a dominant performance.
Sydney University hosts Gold Coast next week in a bid to reclaim outright first place on the ladder, while Aspley faces Canberra at South Pine Sports Complex.
Sydney University v Aspley Hornets at BISP
ASPLEY 3.1 6.1 11.6 13.10 (88)
SYDNEY UNI 3.3 7.7 10.7 11.9 (75)
GOALS – Aspley: B Warren 4 J Coghlan 2 B Batchelor J Freeman J Giles A Swallow C Stackelberg C Stackelberg H Pearce. Sydney Uni: J Derickx 3 M Wilson M Thompson N Reinhard S Tagliabue N Foster S Fong T Davies Z O’Brien.
BEST – Aspley: G Grose B Warren Cody Stackelberg J Allen A Swallow J Spencer. Sydney Uni: R Hebron H Morrison C Bird T Davies Z O’Brien J Bartholomaues.
*Image courtesy of Brad Redfern Photography