This article is courtesy of Sydney AFL.

Sydney University Australian Football Club defeated Wests by 45 points at Picken Oval last Saturday afternoon, keeping the students in equal first position on the ladder.

The match at Picken Oval had the potential to be a blowout, and in the early stages it was. The Students raced out of the blocks, putting on a burst of six goals to one in a lopsided opening term. The Students were first to the ball, running forward at will and encountering little resistance from the Magpies. The Magpies rarely went anywhere near their forward 50, the ball being seemingly permanently stationed at the social club end that the Students were attacking in the opening term, a quarter that finished with the Students holding a 33-point lead.

But if the Students thought they were going to cruise to a big win, they were in for a shock. Whatever Peter Free said to his charges in the quarter time huddle had the desired impact, as the Magpies began to fight and scrap for every possession. The Students found themselves placed under pressure, forced to hurry their kicks forward and their forwards found themselves well held. The Students could manage only behinds from their forward movements.

Later in the quarter, the tide turned and the Magpies began to get the run of play. But without Matt Eurell, who scored all their goals against East Coast last week, the Magpies struggled to turn their period of dominance into goals. The Magpies scored seven behinds for the quarter; most of them long-range bombs from near the 50 metre line, as their forward line were unable to produce leads to give shorter options. Had they been able to get some goals out of that period in the second quarter, they may have been able to get themselves back into the contest. But for all their efforts, the Magpies still found themselves 30 points in arrears at the long break.

The Magpies had plenty of possession-getters, especially during that period of revival. Dwain Watkins was clearly the pick of them, while Clint McGrath and Bill Lafferty were also instrumental. But for all their hard work, they were unable to get the goals that would have put them back into contention; and they couldn’t hold out the Students forever.

It took nearly 15 minutes in the third term before the Students finally ended their goal drought. But while the Magpies, with their desperation and hard manning-up, could hold the Students out at ground level, the Students had an ace up their sleeve at aerial level. Adam Campbell drifted down to the forward line, twice marking over the heads of the Magpie defenders and goaling to break the deadlock. Although the Magpies would score one goal late in the quarter, they had been unable to secure sufficient reward for their efforts, as the Students had extended their lead to 47 points.

The game was safely won for Sydney Uni. For all Wests’ efforts, their defensive work and desperation in the midfield, they had only scored two goals. Finally in the last term they achieved some cohesion up forward, and won the final quarter, but by then it was too little too late.

The Students took out the game by 45 points. Other than the first quarter there were no spectacular efforts, no heroics, just a workmanlike performance that got the job done; even though it was far short of their televised dominance of the last match. Sam Sloane, Clint Wells and Michael Higgins were among the Students’ best; while the Magpies were best served by Dwain Watkins, Bill Lafferty and Matthew Lemme. But it wasn’t a day for dominant individual displays, more of a hard grind where both teams forced each other to work hard for each possession.