APIA Leichhardt Tigers are the 2018 TAFE NSW Waratah Cup Champions.
Deservedly beaten by Hakoah Sydney City East in the 2017 Final, there was to be no giant-killing this time around as the Tigers strolled to a 3-0 victory at Lambert Park.
Having wrestled the NPL NSW Men’s top tier competition lead off Sydney Olympic last weekend, Billy McColl’s side carried the confidence of a team approaching their peak.
And the league frontrunners were certainly in top gear from the opening minute here and avenged the blowout of last year with performance of consummate professionalism.
Jordan Murray’s brace did the damage for the Tigers, with the NPL NSW Men’s golden boot favourite striking early in both halves. When the Tigers’ frontman clinched his brace with a superb bullet header five minutes in the second half, the match as a contest was all over.
It was in stark comparison the cup final of a year ago. Hakoah entered that contest as huge underdogs, but capitalised on a complacent showing from the Tigers with a fantastic display.
Although Gavin Rae’s side approached this encounter with the same diligence they were mercilessly dispatched by the overwhelming favourites.
Anthony Bouzanis had earned man of the match honours from the club’s 2017 win and the Hakoah goalkeeper was once again at the forefront of the action in keeping the underdogs from eastern Sydney in the contest.
But the Hakoah number one will lament a horror error early on for Murray’s opener, with a miscommunication between captain Mitchell Stamatellis allowing the Tigers’ frontman to nudge the Tigers in the lead.
The APIA striker has notched 18 goals in the NPL NSW Men’s this season and should’ve doubled the lead fifteen minutes later after racing onto Tasuku Sekiya’s pass, only for Bouzanis to stand tall. Bouzanis’ heroics continued up until the half time whistle with strong saves from Sean Symons, Nathan Millgate and Sekiya.
Millgate was rarely troubled at the back for the Tigers and supplied the killer diagonal ball for Murray to plant APIA’s second past Bouzanis five minutes after the interval.
Hakoah coach Rae threw caution to the wind later in the second half but his side was unable to carve a way through a resolute Tigers backline, and were nullified by APIA at each attempt.
Their desperate attempts to get back into the match saw the Tigers add gloss to a dominant display late on, when Sean Symons combined with Franco Parisi and unleashed an unstoppable drive from outside the box.
Hakoah Sydney City East 0
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 3 (Murray 10’, 50’, S. Symons 80’)
Saturday 14th July 2018
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 19. Dominic Cox (12. Nathan Roberts 70’), 10. Andre De Jong, 6. Cameron Draper, 14. Anthony Frangie, 21. Amaury Gauthier, 8. Oliver Green (17. Harry Jones 80’), 3. Michael Kouta, 60. Takayuki Noji, 16. Joshua Orchard (11. Jordan Crighton 70’), 5. Mitchell Stamatellis
Substitutes not used: 20. James Combes, 25. Max Ephraim
Yellow cards: Gauthier 62’
Red cards: N/A
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 8. Corey Biczo (10. Franco Parisi 62’), 7. Howard Fondyke, 19. Brandon Lundy (5. Stephan Adattini 86’), 15. Themba Muata-Marlow, 1. Ivan Necevski, 20. Tasuku Sekiya, 4. Joshua Symons, 16. Sean Symons, 18. Adrian Ucchino (3. Paul Galimi 86’), 11. Jordan Murray (17. Samuel Gulisano 83’), 2. Nathan Millgate
Substitutes not used: 22. Blake Tuxford
Yellow cards: Ucchino 33’, Millgate 76’
Red cards: N/A
Hakoah Sydney City East
Anthony Bouzanis – 7
Michael Kouta – 6
Mitchell Stamatellis – 6
Cameron Draper – 6
Oliver Green – 6.5
Andre De Jong – 6
Anthony Frangie – 6
Joshua Orchard – 6
Dominic Cox – 6
Amaury Gauthier – 6
Takayuki Noji – 6
Jordan Crighton – 5
Nathan Roberts – 5
Harry Jones – N/A
APIA Leichhardt Tigers
Ivan Necevski – 7
Nathan Millgate – 8
Joshua Symons – 8
Brandon Lundy – 7
Howard Fondyke – 8
Corey Biczo – 7
Sean Symons – 8
Jordan Murray – 8.5
Themba Muata-Marlow – 7
Adrian Ucchino – 6.5
Tasuku Sekiya – 7
Paul Galimi – N/A
Stephan Adattini – N/A
Franco Parisi – 7
Samuel Gulisano – N/A
Blake Tuxford – N/A