The AFL New Zealand Premiership was into the second week of the new competition where both games provided some top quality entertainment at QBE Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore.
Western Crows vs Central Giants:
The Central Giants were looking to make up for their close loss to the Saints in their inaugural match when they took on the high flying Western Crows still buzzing from their big win against the Northern Suns in round 1.
A solid start by both teams in the first quarter set up what was in the end an exhiliarating game to watch.
The Giants were bolstered by the inclusion of NZ Hawks representatives Sean Butler and Matt Van Wijk. Their inclusion was hoped to counteract Crows fast running midfield including Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas. Butler, from the Coromandel, showed no sign of rust with a best on ground performance for the Giants. In attack, he produced a goal in the fourth quarter and was sensational in chasing down the opposition throughout the game.
At half time, Giants held onto a narrow lead by 7 points thanks to Jonathan Illaua who was given the task of tagging the competition leading goal scorer Zeon McNabb who was kept goalless for the entire game.
The Giants continued to pressure the Crows in the third with Steph Tabaillou kicking 2 goals and producing a contender for goal of the year by curling one in from a tight angle.
The Crows had some work to do in the fourth quarter if they were to hold onto top sport on the ladder. They produced some scintillating footy with Ty Smith and William Warbrick dominating the rucks and providing quality footy for Brisbane based wildcard Aaron Harris who showed his experience when the pressure was turned up by kicking a goal to put the Crows back in front with only 5 minutes to go.
Joey Alesich-Tamariki from Rosmini College kicked 2 late goals to once again heap pain on the Giants for the second week in a row and run out winners by 12 points.
Western Crows: J. Alesich-Tamariki 3, J. LigaLiga 2, T.Tipene-Thomas 1, M.Kemp 1, A. Harris 1, W. Warbrick 1
Central Giants: S. Tabaillou 2, S. Parton 1, S. Butler 1, C. Bailey 1, J. Illaua, R. Panui- Leth 1.
Player of the match awards:
Western Crows: Aaron Harris
Central Giants: Sean Butler[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT9hop_ivwE&w=560&h=315]
Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:
The Suns aim was to work hard at training during the week after their tough loss last week to the Crows. A good fight would be required against a strong Southern Saints squad , judging from their excellent form in Round 1.
The Saints jumped out to an early lead with young bloods, Carlos Donnell-Brown and Jack Morris kicking 2 early goals in the first quarter.
The battle in the ruck between Northern Suns veteran James Kusel versus and Southern Saints rookie Kahurangi Robinson made for compelling viewing. The two battled it out in the middle all game with the NZ Volleyball rep Robinson taking the honours this time around.
Brad Wade who was positioned at full forward for the Saints kicked 3 goals for the game and team mate Nick Bailey was solid in his defensive midfield role.
Tim Stokes had a solid game for the Suns in the midfield throwing himself into every contest and making it hard for the Saints midfield with Ben Hick showcasing a strong showing in his first game of the season..
Down by only 11 points at half time the Suns did take the lead during the second half due to some excellent forward line movement with James McKenzie once again creating several opportunities to have his team back in the match. With ten minutes to go the game was in the balance but a fast finishing Southern Saints maintained their unbeaten run finishing the game with an avalanche of goals.
Southern Saints: B. Wade 3, T. Brown 2, N. Bailey 2, S. Guttenbeil 1, C. Donnell-Brown 1, B. Hick 1, S. Shearer 1, J. Morris 1, T. Misiloi 1.
Northern Suns: J. Watkins 1, J. McKenzie 1, M. Te Whata 1, L. Beattie 1, D. Carston 1, J. Rolleston 1, J. Kusel 1.
Player of the match awards:
Southern Saints: Sam McKenzie
Northern Suns: Josh Copeland
Next week’s games will see the Giant’s and the Sun’s gunning for their first win of the season at QBE Stadium at 11.45am. Game 2 will see a top of the table clash when the Western Crows and Southern Saints will battle it out for top spot on the ladder at 1.45pm.