By JESS WEBSTER
Sydney University has started 2019 off on a winning note after a come-from-behind 10-point practice match victory over Sydney at Henson Park on Saturday.
In wet condition, goals were at a premium and it was the Students who found four majors to one in the second half to come out 7.10 (52) to 5.12 (42) winners.
It was the first major test for Sydney University as a new-look squad came up against a Swans side featuring 12 AFL-listed players.
Despite the scoreline not being the focus for coach Tom Morrison, he was pleased with the early signs showed by a younger, revamped playing list against quality opposition.
“It’s only a preseason game so you don’t want to get carried away, but the pleasing thing is we felt the boys played team first footy, and everything that we’ve worked on in the past 14 weeks showed in the game,” he told neafl.com.au.
“We looked significantly different than what we did this time last year and so that evolution is there.
“The boys enjoyed the experience and they’ll be better for it next week. It was fun to watch, it was fun to coach, and we had a lot of young guys run around and improve as footballers, so we’re really pleased.”
Tristan Davies booted three goals for the Students, with Josh Stern, Nathan Coxall, Austin Lucy and Harry Morrison all kicking one each.
James Bell led the goal scorers with two for the Swans, with James Rose and Ben Ronke (one each) performing well in a midfield and forward role.
For Sydney, it was a chance to get a good look at some of their first and second year draftees, with James Rowbottom, Justin McInerney, Harry Reynolds, Ryley Stoddart and new recruit Hayden McLean – who joined the club just this week – among those who showed good signs.
Sydney NEAFL coach Jeremy Laidler said there were plenty of positives to come out of the match.
“I was quite pleased. We got through the game unscathed. It was a really young squad and I thought our hit around the ball and our intent – the contested footy side of things was really pleasing,” he said.
“We had a few young blokes really put their hand up. For some of them it was their first game against opposition instead of playing against ourselves.
“Rowy (Rowbottom) – his hits around the ball were pleasing. Hayden McLean – he’s been there three days – he was a real competitor. We’ll take a lot of positives out of the game with a young group.
“I think the first year (players)… they’ve really bought in to what we want. It’s going to be an exciting future for them and hopefully we can push them up in to the senior side.”
Sydney University will have a week off before taking on the GIANTS at Tom Wills Oval. The Swans are back in action on Saturday when they host Canberra at Waratah Oval.
“A lot of it (practice matches) is just about camaraderie and getting the boys to play together,” Laidler said.
“We’ll keep trying to develop them young kids as much as we can and try to get them to put pressure on the senior side to perform.”
Check out the full NEAFL practice match schedule here.
NEAFL Practice Match at Henson Park
SYDNEY UNI 1.2 3.3 5.4 7.10 (52)
SYDNEY 2.3 4.5 4.6 5.12 (42)
GOALS – Sydney Uni: T Davies 3 J Stern N Coxall A Lucy H Morrison. Sydney: J Bell 2 J Rose B Ronke Z Cameron.
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