East Coast Eagles nine-game winning streak ended in Round 13 of the AFL Sydney competition when they lost to Pennant Hills Demons in Cherrybrook.
Pennant Hills scored 14.11 (95) to East Coast Eagles: 13.11 (89)
Although the Demons have this year moved to newer surroundings at Mike Kenny Oval in Cherrybrook, Ern Holmes Oval was resurrected fro the local derby which always attracts a large crowd and plenty of raised adrenaline on the field.
East Coast were coming off a nine-game winning streak, including a comprehensive 73 point victory at home in Round 6 over the Demons. Things did not go the Eagles way on Saturday however when Shane Ryan pulled out before the game with injury and Rowan Bilkey was lost after the first minute of play.
Combined with the unavailability of other key players and the determination of Pennant Hills to win at their spiritual home, meant that the visitors were always going to be up against it.
Pennant Hills took control of the game right from the outset and quickly moved to a five-goal lead during the first quarter before the Eagles pulled that back a little with three late goals.
Leading goal kicker Jamie Vlatko was being well held and without his fellow partner in crime Stephen Doyle down forward, the Eagles found goals hard to come by. The second quarter was more of the same with the Demons shooting accurately with another six goals, while the Eagles countered with four majors.
Despite the 20-point half time lead to the Demons, there was an element of crowd expectation that it wouldn’t be long before the Eagles opened the floodgates in the seconds half, as they have done so often this season.
But it wasn’t to be. Although home side were held goal less in the vital 3rd quarter, East Coast were unable to bridge the gap but the three quarter time scoreline of five points difference set up what was to be a memorable last quarter.
Steve O’Connor was again strong around the ground, Damien Charleston and Ben Bourke were defending strongly in the back lines but it was up forward where the Eagles were struggling.
The ball was not being delivered well and the narrow nature of the ground foiled the Eagles’ natural game plan. However with five minutes to go in the last quarter, Jamie Vlatko marked strongly and kicked his first for the game which put the Eagles in front by a point.
The Demons now had it all to do and to their credit, they were determined to win in front of the vocal home crowd. A mark and a goal from straight in front did that for them with just seconds remaining on the clock.
East Coast coach Glenn Garner was disappointed, but not dismayed by the loss, pointing to the team and individual statistics which, for him, provided all the answers he needed.
A 30 per cent reduction on the usual average match possessions, including a 35 per cent drop in forward 50 entries, meant that it was always going to be hard to win with those diminished numbers.
Increasing the on field work rate will mean a return to the victory circle for the Eagles in games to follow.
The Warren “Pops” Quintrell Shield now remains with Pennant Hills until the next hit out. Next Saturday, July 9, sees the Eagles back at Bruce Purser Reserve for the clash with North Shore.
Goal Kickers: Pennant Hills: Brant Jack 3, Ben Urwin 2, Brandon Jack 2, Jonathan Gourlay 2, Joel McInerney, Daniel De Looze, Luke Bilby, Matthew Thomas, Kieran Wright.
East Coast Eagles: Steve O’Connor 3, Ben Rogers 2, Ash Moeller 2, Jon Vlatko, Jamie Vlatko, James Mann, Damien Charleston, Daniel Spiteri, Justin Steer.
Best Players: Pennant Hills Demons: Matthew Thomas, Brant Jack, Jarred Mobbs, Kieran Wright, Joshua Keen, Jonathan Gourlay.
East Coast: Steve O’Connor, Damien Charleston, Ben Bourke, Justin Steer, Aaron Savage, Daniel Spiteri.