The Western Crows were given a late scare by the Southern Saints to just hold on for an 8-point victory while the Northern Suns are running hot after a 16 goal team effort to defeat the Central Giants by 26 points.
Western Crows vs Southern Saints:
The Saints overtook the Crows on the top of the ladder in round 4 which set up another table topping clash against a strong Western Crows squad. The equation was simple, win and you go top.
The Rob Malone lead side were beating the Saints in the middle of the park early through midfielders Adam Rice, Canterbury based Jay Johnson (player of the match) and Shane Leat. With a focus on his kicking accuracy during the week, ruckman Ty Smith gave the Crows a strong lead by kicking three early goals.
The strong midfield continued to haunt the Saints and they kept the attacking pressure all throughout the first half and was linking well with the forward line of Joseph Ligaliga and Joey Alesich-Tamariki who once again put on a solid display. Tamariki has found a home in the forward line after playing down back at club level and is blossoming into a great small forward who knows how to kick accurately at goal.
Saints Ben Hick (player of the match) and Sam McKenzie once again worked tirelessly in the middle as did Nick Bailey but were unable to match the speed of the Crows.
Down by 41 points at three quarter time, the Crows surely had this one in the bag. But the Saints had other plans and their never say die attitude shone through in the fourth quarter as they nearly produced a stunning comeback. The forward duo of Brad Wade and Otago Riots Reyne Westbury kicked 5 goals between them to get them back within 8 points of the lead. But they fell just short as the siren sounded to send the Crows back into first place on the ladder.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 12 5 77 10 9 69
Western Crows: T. Smith 3, J. Ligaliga 3, J. Alesich-Tamariki 2, J. Gauci 1, J. Baty 1, J. Johnson 1, M. Kemp 1.
Southern Saints: R. Westbury 4, B. Wade 3, S. McKenzie 1, J. Thompson 1, B. Hick 1.
Player of the match awards:
Western Crows: Jay Johnson
Southern Saints: Ben Hick
Central Giants vs Northern Suns:
After coming off their famous victory against the Crows last week, many wondered if they could back it up again this week against a Giants side full of hard runners and a strong international forward line.
Two injuries in the warm up meant the Suns started the game with a handicap, but managed to go toe to toe with the Giants in the first quarter by kicking 4 goals to 3 thanks to Joel Brown and Josh Cunliffe and go into the first break with a 9-point lead.
Giants midfielder, Coromandel based Sean Butler pushed his case to be selected in the NZ Senior squad as he produced another outstanding game by gathering many possessions in the midfield.
Heta Scarf-Matthews continued to impress with another sold game for the Suns. The young Otago based player continues to develop his game and has the skills and body shape to become a NZ senior player in the future.
The Suns kicked 6 goals in the third quarter to give themselves a handy lead as 16 year old Misilifi (Richard) Faimalo continued on from his regional form for Wellington in December last year, to put on a man of the match performance as he was unstoppable in the middle and worked hard in moving the ball down the field.
In his first game of the season, Otago based Logan Toomer was awarded man of the match for the Giants as he kept his side in the game by kicking 6 goals for the match.
A whole team effort by the Suns gave them back to back victories in the competition and are now in third place on the ladder.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 16 8 104 12 6 78
Northern Suns: K. Whitford 3, J. Kusel 3, C. Mundell 3, J. Brown 2, T. Stokes 1, L. Dunning 1, T. Rakich 1, R. Faimalo 1, N. Lenihan 1.
Central Giants: L. Toomer 6, J. Bowden 2, S. Butler 2, D. Rattenbury 1, B. Clark 1.
Player of the match awards:
Northern Suns: Richard (Misilifi) Faimalo
Central Giants: Logan Toomer
Next week’s games in the AFLNZ Premiership will see the Giant’s take on the Crows at QBE Stadium at 11.45am. Game 2 will see the Northern Suns look to go for 3 wins in a row as they tussle with the Southern Saints at 1.45pm.