Last weekend we had two teams competing in preliminary finals … Premier
Division and Under 19 Division 1; both playing for the opportunity to advance to Grand Finals. With Reserve Grade already qualified, the possibility of having a Pennant Hills side in each of next weekend’s three grand final matches was a tantalising prospect. In contrast to the previous week’s summer-like conditions, the preliminary finals were played in weather more typical of the footy season … cool and a little damp. Some fairly heavy rain was encountered during the second half of the Under 19s match, but by mid-afternoon, the skies had cleared and Prems played in almost perfect conditions.
Against an in-form North Shore, our Under 19s fell behind in the early stages of their match, however, by half-time they had pulled ahead by a narrow 10 pt margin. In the 3rd term, the worst of the wet weather was encountered, probably contributing to a low scoring quarter in which no goals were scored and all that could be managed by both sides were 4 behinds each. Penno still held a 10 pt lead and must have felt confident about their chances of winning through to the Big One. But, as everyone knows, nothing is certain in footy, and Penno simply couldn’t get their “hands on the pill” in the final term and were held scoreless while North Shore kicked ahead with 3 goals, 5 behinds, to take the match by 13 pts. Coach Pinker had no excuses for the loss; North Shore controlled the ball throughout the final term and they simply out-played our boys when it mattered most.
In Premier Division, the Demons took on the Dragons who were surprise winners over Manly in the previous week’s elimination semi-final. The prelim started badly for Penno after we conceded an early free kick to St George allowing them to draw first blood before the match was a minute old. The Dragons had the best of the early running, kicking the first two goals of the match before Penno landed its first major at around 19 minutes in. Luke Bilbe’s day promised great things as he took several ‘hangers’ in the first quarter and kicked Penno’s two goals that quarter. At the first change, St George were ahead by 5 pts and thereafter the match evolved into a close see-sawing affair, with both sides pushing their claims for the grand final spot at different stages of the match.
St George kicked the first goal in the 2nd quarter before both teams exchanged several goals each and the lead changed hands 5 times in the term. At the long break, Penno was ahead by 5 pts after James Dunn kicked the Demons 6th goal right on the half-time siren. After the break, St George came out the strongest, however, Billy’s 3rdgoal increased Penno’s lead to 12 pts and Penno’s tackling pressure was a feature of the game. In a purple patch, St George snatched the next 3 goals and wrested the lead back from Penno. The Demons weren’t done with yet and finished the term off with 2 goals (one of them Billy’s 4th), taking a 6 pt lead into the final term. After a rushed behind to the Dragons, Penno kicked the first goal of the final quarter to go ahead by 11 pts, but St George hit back with consecutive goals to take back the lead. After 12 minutes the match was tied up and it really was anyone’s game at that point. Then with 3 minor scores Penno crept marginally ahead, before Tommy Angel goaled and after 23 minutes we added another goal to take the lead out to 15 pts … surely the game was won? However, in a twinkling St George grabbed back two goals in no time at all and, although the final siren could be only moments away, that St George might snatch a last gasp victory remained a very real possibility! However, the Demons hung tough and, aided by a last gasp match-saving tackle by Stevie Wray, the bell finally did sound to end a highly entertaining, close fought contest with the Demons 3 pts ahead and advancing to this week’s Grand Final. In the final analysis, Penno had greater possession of the ball and more scoring opportunities … 29 to 21 shots on goal. However, the Dragons were more efficient when they had the ball in hand and, combined with our inaccuracy, they were able to stay competitive and were in the match right up until the last seconds.
This week, we have two teams competing in Grand Finals on Sunday at Henson Park. Prems and Division 1 take on East Coast Eagles and Sydney University, respectively. Prems will go into their final as under-dogs but after their performance against the Eagles a fortnight ago, they are still a real chance. Ressies are 1 and 1 this season against the Students, so an even contest is likely. It would be great to see a big crowd of Demons fans at Henson Park on Sunday, so come on out to cheer the boys on.
Dates for the diary: Thursday 1 October 2015 is Vote Count Night to be held at the MKO club rooms; and Presentation Night is on Friday 9 October 2015 at the Epping Club.
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Photo thanks to: Leigh Gazzard