Sutherland Sharks claimed the premiership and championship double after defeating APIA Leichhardt Tigers 2-0 in Sunday afternoon’s Grand Final at Leichhardt Oval.
The Sharks opened the scoring through Jeremy Cox’s strike two minutes into the second half and sealed the match late on when substitute Jack Press poked home from close range.
The victory crowns a superb campaign for Nick Dimovski’s side who led the premiership race outright from round one and underlined their league dominance against the Tigers in what was a workman-like Grand Final showing.
Although APIA Leichhardt were below their best the Tigers created several good opportunities throughout the contest and came closest to taking the lead early on when Samuel Gulisano’s floated cross came back off the crossbar.
Franco Cosentino’s men will in particular lament a great chance that fell to golden boot winner Aedon Kyra on the stroke of half time who tried to scissor the ball home from the penalty spot on the turn but sent the opportunity wide.
It proved to be a critical miss from the normally-deadly Kyra with the Tigers’ gloveman Luke Turnbull forced into action early in the second half to keep out a brilliantly improvised near post flick from Cox.
The Sharks speedster broke the deadlock ten minutes later after bursting in behind the APIA defence before firing past Turnbull on the half volley.
APIA valiantly withstood more Sutherland pressure and crafted a superb chance to restore parity midway through the second half when Dominion Nasrabadi exchanged passes with Nicholas Chymiak on the edge of the area but the Tigers midfielder struck his effort straight at Sharks custodian Nathan Denham.
The Premiers continued to stifle APIA out of the affair and doubled their lead on the counter attack when Adam Massoud’s cutback was palmed away by Turnbull and eventually poked through a crowd of bodies by Press.
Sutherland manager Nick Dimovski commended a gallant APIA outfit and praised his charges for asserting their authority early in the second half.
“It was a really tight opening 45 minutes and I don’t think we were at our best, APIA were hard to break down defensively and we knew that was going to be the case.
“At half time I told the boys that we would need to weather the storm at some stage but to go out in the second half and play the Sharks way was fantastic to see.”
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Cox 56’, Press 77’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 0
Sunday 10th of September 2017,
Leichhardt Oval, Leichhardt
Referee: Adrian Brett
Assistant Referees: Hassan Jomaa & Bradley Wright
Fourth Official: Michael Bailey
Sutherland Sharks: 34. Jake Borromeo (23. Deren O’Brien 84’), 13. Jeremy Cox (29. Daniel Krkovski 89’), 5. Matias Da Silva Santos (26. Harry Sutherland 80’), 1. Nathan Denham, 30. Lachlan Everett, 24. Adam Massoud, 8. Christopher Mcstay, 33. Thomas Papa (7. Jack Press 68’), 27. Harrison Quirk, 36. Matthew Stewart, 31. Robert Watson
Substitutes Not Used: 14. Angelo Parashis,
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 35. Nicholas Azzone, 56. Gino Cerasoli, 27. Nicholas Chymiak, 23. Mathew Cook, 38. Samuel Gulisano, 25. Aedon Kyra, 37. Dominion Nasrabadi, 39. Samuel Paslis, 41. Zander Regan, 30. Rainer Smahel, 22. Luke Turnbull
Substitutes Not Used: 50. Zane Hickman, 28. Matthew Taverniti, 26. Christian Theuma, 55. Cameron Ward
Yellow Cards: Smahel 36’
Red Cards: N/A
–By Jacob Windon