NZ shine early against classy AFL Academy
26 Apr, 2018
The New Zealand national Senior Men’s side put on a gallant effort against an AFL Academy side full of talent as they were defeated by the visitors in their annual ANZAC clash on Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday.
New Zealand suffered an early setback losing key midfielder Sam McKenzie to a rib injury in the opening two minutes of the game.
Casey Demon’s star forward Mykelti Lefau was strong again for New Zealand as he kicked the first goal for the home side.
Barclay Miller had Deja vu from his International Cup game against Ireland when the St Kilda International Scholarship holder marked with seconds left in the first quarter and kicked a goal after the siren to make it a one point ball game at the first break.
Straight after the quarter time break, NZ Captain Andrew Howison kicked a goal to draw the scores level.
AFL Academy Captain, Noah Anderson was exciting for the visitors where he kicked two goals and starred through the midfield in front of AFL club recruiters who also made the trip to New Zealand.
2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership ‘Golden Boot’ winner James McKenzie got himself on the score sheet kicking a goal late in the second quarter before the AFL Academy piled on five goals to give them a handy six goal lead at half time.
Rhai Arn Cox, a small Indigenous forward from Western Australia, was scintillating in attack with four goals, while fellow forward Hewago Oea, the first Papua New Guinea player to be picked in the national academy, was also lively.
Young gun Misilifi Faimalo was rewarded with a goal in the third quarter after having a strong game in the midfield.
Defender Jay Johnson was phenomenal down back for New Zealand, producing a man of the match performance. The Cantabrian was around every contest in the back line and his defensive pressure was making the visitors think twice.
Debutant Dean Staunton was terrific for NZ.
New Zealand born midfielder Dean Staunton had an impressive debut. The 25 year old plays for the Southern Districts Football Club in the Northern Territory League over in Australia and after missing out on selection in 2014 due to injury, Staunton played a key role in the midfield with effective disposals and terrific defensive pressure.
Superior fitness and speed was the difference in the end as the AFL Academy ran out 105 point winners in 2018.
The contest is the centerpiece of the Academy’s six-day trip in New Zealand, where a selection of the Australia’s best 2019 draft prospects have been on tour.
The players from the Academy Squad rounded out the trip by attending the ANZAC Day service on Wednesday morning before making the trip back to Australia.
NAB AFL Academy: Rhaiarn Cox 4, Caleb Serong 2, Noah Anderson 2, Jamieson Rossiter 2, Liam Delahunty 2, Emerson Jeka 2, Anthony Davis 2, Kysaiah Pickett 1, Jack Mohony, Deven Robertson, Dylan Stephens, Mitch O’Neill
New Zealand : Mykelti Lefau 2, Misilifi Faimalo 1, Andrew Howison 1, James McKenzie 1, Barclay Miller 1.
NAB AFL Academy: Rhaiarn Cox, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Hayden Young, Mitch O’Neill
New Zealand : Jay Johnson, Dean Staunton, Mykelti Lefau, Andrew Howison