NPC: Auckland back to back Champions
10 Dec, 2017
The Auckland Buccaneers are once again National Provincial Champions for the second year in a row after going through the 2017 tournament undefeated.
Held at QBE Stadium in Albany, Auckland on December 9th and 10th, four regions (Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago) from around the country contested the 2 day tournament which saw some tremendous football skills on show.
The Buccaneers have now gone 6 games unbeaten spanning over the last two years. On day one, Auckland came up against Wellington in the first game and after a fightback from the Tigers, they managed to hold on for a 14 point victory.
Auckland’s second match against Canterbury saw them held for the first half but a 5 goal third quarter sealed their second win for the Buccaneers.
With two wins from their first two games, Auckland only had to win their final game against Otago to secure the title and they did it in style running out 51 point winners. A strong defensive effort all tournament saw AFL New Zealand Premiership Southerns Saints Captain, Michael Boyce take home Auckland’s Best and Fairest award as Captain David Rattenbury, Te Kopa-Tipene-Thomas and Michael Gregson were notable mentions for the champs.
The Wellington Tigers flew another strong squad up to Auckland and were confident that they could depart on Sunday with the champions trophy in hand. After the narrow loss to Auckland on day one, the Tigers played their best football of the tournament on Sunday and after overcoming an early scare from Otago, they went on to win their final two games. Andrew Bissett was awarded their best and fairest with winger Blake Neve finishing in third place in the tournament’s best and fairest award. Craig Morgan backed up his New Zealand International Cup selection holding down the fort in the backline as youngsters, Misilifi Faimalo, Josh Morgan-Ranui and Tayne Lockwood all performing well and will become key figures in the Wellington line up in the future.
The Canterbury Cobras fielded their strongest squad since 2015 at this years tournament and were coached by Central Giants Premiership Coach Izaak Williams. Captain Jay Johnson and midfielder Sean Butler led the way for the Cobra’s and linked well with Full Forward Brad Mavor who was strong up front for the Cobra’s Canterbury side. Canterbury stalwart Sam Burdett proved a hard man to stop in defence as he was solid down back in all three games.
The Otago Riot almost claimed their first win in NPC history but fell just short in losing to Canterbury by 11 points on day one. A team on the way up, Otago are full of youth and talent and are a pleasure to watch. Captain Logan Toomer collected the Tournament Leading Goal scorer award as he booted 8 goals for the Tournament ahead of Canterbury’s Brad Mavor (7) and Auckland’s Sam McKenzie (6). Teege Westebury was awarded the Riot’s Best and Fairest while Josh Mackie, Tristan Burnett, Christian Blackie and Conner Hamlin were notable mentions after a strong tournament.
The tournament Best and Fairest award went to Auckland midfielder Shane Leat who polled 10 votes for the tournament. Also celebrating his 24th Birthday, Leat was clinical in the midfield for the Buccaneers providing effective disposals and great pressure in both attack and defence in all three games. The Waitakere Magpies Captain will now turn his focus the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership where he will look to restore glory with the Western Crows.
Congratulations to everyone involved who were apart of the tournament and in particular a strong performance from umpires who represented from Canterbury, Wellington and Auckland. AFL New Zealand would also like to thank photographer Jun Tanlayco once again for his outstanding images. Head to www.juntanlaycosports.com for more information.
Tournament Leading Goal scorer: Logan Toomer (8 goals)
Tournament Best and Fairest: Shane Leat (Auckland)
Tournament Winners: Auckland
2017 NPC Results: