Southern Saints start strong in opening game
10 Feb, 2020
The Southern Saints have got their 2020 Premiership season off to the perfect start after defeating 2019 Premiers, the Western Crows by 11 points in the opening game of the national competition held at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.
In a rematch of last year’s Grand Final, the Western Crows and Southern Saints kicked off the new season in style as they provided the big crowd in attendance with a high quality game of AFL.
The Saints set up the win with a strong performance in the first half as they managed to hold the Crows to only 2 points in the first term and piling on 4 goals in the second quarter to hold a 28 point lead at halftime.
New draftee and former Suns Captain James Kusel was proving hard to beat early on as he set up his forwards James Southby (4 goals) and Harley Jenkins (3 goals).
Captain Michael Boyce was leading his troops around the field with authority from the first bounce as the Saints were hungry for victory.
The Crows made the most of the wind after the halftime break as they kicked 5 goals to get them back with 4 points of the Saints. Midfielders Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, Jay Johnson and Jay Green clicked into gear and fed forwards Kris Wilder and Peter Van Kampen who both kicked 2 goals for the game.
In the final quarter the Saints kept their composure and kept their noses in front to secure their first victory of the season by 11 points.
In round 2, the Saints take on the Giants at 12.30, while the Crows will have to handle the heat of the Suns at 2.45pm
Full forward James Southby nabbed 4 goals in an impressive performance. Playing in his second season, the Cantabrian took some strong contested marks and was accurate in front of goal.
The support cast:
2019 Rising star Xavier Bryham had a big game in defence. Playing in his first full season, the North Shore Tigers youngster was named Best on Ground for the Saints as he troubled the opposition for all four quarters.
Harley Jenkins supported James Southby well in the forward line kicking 3 goals for the game.
The consolation effort:
Shane Leat, Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas and Jay Johnson slotted straight back into their best form playing a pivotal role in the midfield. Add Jay Green to the mix and it won’t be long until the defending Premiers get their first win.
“It was a very high quality game given how early it is in the season. An excellent effort from the whole team today and we have a number of new guys that slotted into the side that did their part today.” Southern Saints Manager, Howard Gilbert.
“We had a number of opportunities today and were a tad slow clicking into gear. We brought the intensity in the third quarter and that’s how we want to play for the rest of the season but congratulations to the Saints on a great game and looking forward to our next encounter.” Crows Head Coach, Matt Cawley.
Southern Saints: James Southby 4, Harley Jenkins 3, James Kusel 1, Carlos Donnell-Brown 1, Kieran Charlton 1.
Western Crows: Kris Wilder 3, Peter Van Kampen 1, Sam Anderson 1, Luke Dunning 1, Brendan Clark 1, Clayton Walters 1, Daniel Howie 1.
Best on ground:
Southern Saints: Xavier Bryham
Western Crows: Shane Leat