Since a first-round loss to the Melbourne Flames, the Suns have been on an unstoppable winning run… Now we have come full circle.
Ever since that loss to the Flames in the season opener, it’s felt like Sydney have been playing in the Flames shadow. But now it’s their time to shine in the hometown final to decide the inaugural champion of the Australian Ultimate League.
Sydney are primed to win this game, just have a look at their recent match history. Where the Flames have had close games, the Suns have slaughtered their opponents.
Flames 13-11 Freeze
Suns 13-7 Freeze
Flames 13-10 Dragons
Suns 13-5 Dragons
Flames 13-11 Breakers
Suns 13-5 Breakers
The Suns have been winning by significantly larger margins than the Flames, yes, but this is not time for complacency. The Flames are red hot. They have a deep roster with a multitude of threats that the Suns need to shut down, and Saturday’s final won’t be easy for anyone.
Tom Rogacki and Seb Barr are the foundation of the Flames offence. The disc must move through their hands before flying downfield to deep receivers, and they’ll be key to getting Melbourne going.
Even if the Suns manage to shut these two down, they are only part of the problem.
The Sydney women have a tough assignment: they need to contain Alex Prentice and Cat Phillips, who are the joint League leaders for most goals scored. If either of these women are let loose, Sydney will find themselves in major trouble.
Following closely behind them, though, are two Suns players – Rosie Dawson and Peter Blakeley. They’ve scored nine goals each and they are going to fire back this Saturday.
Dawson has looked unguardable all season, she’s been burning people with her speed and tenacity and she’ll need to maintain that intensity to beat her female Flames counterparts.
Blakeley has been doing it all for Sydney. He is the Suns’ leader in blocks, goals, and assists. He just seems to be in the right place at the right time, almost like magic.
But Sydney’s biggest threat isn’t just individuals like Blakeley or Dawson… it’s their team’s potential. And you might be saying “But Michael, we’ve seen the Suns play all season. Surely we know what they’re capable of by now?”
And my answer to that is, “No.”
I’d like to bring your attention to a handful of Suns of players: Tom Tulett, Sarah Wentworth, Deb Lee, and Bec Carman. Though these players don’t have the most stats next to their names, Ultimate isn’t played on calculators. Blocks, goals and assists don’t define a player’s performance, and the contributions of all of Sydney’s roster will help get them over the line this Saturday.
It may seem like the Suns have a lot to fear with the Flames’ many threats. It may even seem that history is doomed to repeat itself. But Melbourne have just as much, if not more, to fear.
Sydney are capable of beating the Flames and they’re capable of beating them with DOMINANCE in front of a home crowd.
This is the game to watch, the game to froth for, the game to cheer on our home team. Gather friends, your family, your team and buy tickets to the grand final here.
Written by: Michael Vo
Photography: Mark Milne