Ainslie vs UWS Giants
Ainslie player Christopher Barrie gets tackled as he takes a kick. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
AINSLIE star Josh Bennett kicked five goals for the Tricolours in a comfortable victory over the University of Western Sydney Giants, securing a place in next week's preliminary final against Belconnen Magpies.
The Tricolours beat the Giants 15.15 (105) to 5.11 (41) at Ainslie Oval while the Sydney Swans demolished Belconnen Magpies 23.12 (150) to 10.9 (69) in Blacktown to set up another Canberra club showdown next weekend.
Ainslie get the opportunity to avenge last week's 38-point defeat to Belconnen, with the two sides playing off at Kippax next Saturday for a chance to meet the Swans in the grand final.
''Belconnen have beaten us twice this year,'' Ainslie coach Chris Rourke said. ''We got a hammering off the Swans but that didn't really matter … hopefully we can make a better fist of it this time.''
Bennett, who sits on top of the goal-kicking leaderboard of the East Conference, didn't slot his first goal until halfway through the opening quarter.
He kicked three of Ainslie's five unanswered goals in the second term to give the Tricolours all the momentum.
The Giants showed good signs of continuity in their play before the interval but couldn't turn the pressure into points on the scoreboard. Nick Paine's strong performance in the forward pocket assisted the Tricolours, while experienced Ainslie player Eric Stone kept former Carlton stars Setanta O'hAilpin and Bret Thornton quiet in the back pocket.
''Eric has made a big difference to us,'' Rourke said. ''He's been very important, even though he hasn't played a lot for us this year.
Rourke praised his players after turning around a disappointing performance last week against the Magpies. ''We started really well and got some good scoreboard pressure on and stuck to what we spoke about,'' he said.
The Giants' squad included 10 ''top-up'' players, while coach Brett Hand only had two interchange players to start the match.
''That makes it really tough in conditions like this,'' Hand said.
''We were pretty impressed with the way we moved the ball towards the end. [It was a] frustrating day but I'm pretty proud of how the boys fought it out.
''We ran out of legs and they capitalised on our missed opportunities and turnovers.''