A spirited first quarter was the catalyst behind the Central Giants victory of Western Crows at North Harbour Stadium on Sunday. Following on from the Easter break, teams were all set for “redemption round”, a replay of the match ups they encountered in Round 6 of the competition.
Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:
A strong six goal final quarter from the Northern Suns could only serve as damage control against a fast moving Saints line up that piled on 8 goals in a dominant third quarter at North Harbour on Sunday.
Recent New Zealand squad addition Troy Brown was excellent for the Saints with four goals including a fantastic snap from the pocket and some fine work at ground level. This in conjunction with another 5 majors to the competitions leading goal kicker Reyne Westbury, has pushed the Saints to the top of the ladder with two rounds to go. Kyle Smith and Sven Guttenbeil added to a dominant forward display for the Saints and if not for the strong efforts of Giovanni Mountain-Silbery and Jamie Exeter in the Suns backline, the flood gates may have been opened further.
The Suns midfield was well lead by James Kusel and on ballers Liam Beattie and Heta Scarf-Matthews both put in solid performances. Beattie’s snap from the pocket was a game highlight and inspired a drive by the Suns to post six goals to two in the last quarter and peg back a substantial lead. Suns youngster Joel Brown showed some excellent form up forward late in the game and his combination with Jordan Drinkall up forward shows that when provided with opportunities, there is a spark in the Suns.
Wellingtonian Jack Green provided his best performance for the season in midfield for the Saints and his link with Saints ruck man Kahurangi Robinson provided first use of the ball around the centre of the ground. On occasions where the Suns moved into their forward line quickly from the centre, Saints backs Brandon Sucu and Jordan Thompson, did their best to repel the attacks with steady heads and precise delivery on the rebounds.
Southern Saints: Reyne Westbury 5, Troy Brown 4, Kyle Smith 3, Sven Guttenbeil 1, Nick Bailey 1, Jack Green 1
Northern Suns: Joel Brown 4, Liam Beattie 2, Jordon Drinkall 2, Josh Cunliffe 1, Heta Scarf Mattews 1
Player of the match awards:
Southern Saints: Jack Green
Northern Suns: Liam Beattie
Western Crows vs Central Giants:
Twelve scoring shots to two gave the Giants a 20 point buffer at the first break and this was enough to carry them through to a 15 point victory at full time. James Bowden was once again potent for the Giants with four goals up front before switching to the backline later in the game to sure up defence against a fast finishing Crows team that kicked 4 goals to nothing in the last quarter. Liam McMaster and Jamie Grisham supported with some tidy work in defence.
The centre of the park saw an interesting contest between the Giants New Zealand representative Will Gregson and Crows ruck man Ty Smith. Gregson took the honours around the ground with his physical presence and this also provided a strong platform for young Wellington midfielder Tayne Lockwood who had his hands full containing Crows best, midfielder Adam Rice.
Tim Morton continued to gain confidence in his comeback from a shoulder injury for the Giants and was well supported by Steve Parton. The workload up front for their Crows counterparts was once again spread well with six goal kickers making up the 9 goals. It was pleasing to see the newest addition to the New Zealand squad, Crows Jessie Baty coming into form with two goals following a long layoff with a hand injury. Justin Gauci and Joseph Ligaliga also added support to young gun Joey Alesich-Tamariki up front for the Crows, but the Giants all round versatility proved too strong in the end.
The Crows backline played there part through Alistair Maisey and Sam Burdett but a strong third quarter by the Giants ensured their second win of the season.
Western Crows: Joseph Alesich-Tamariki 2, Joseph Ligaliga 2, Jessie Baty 2, Matt Kemp 1, Fraser Stevens 1, Adam Rice 1
Central Giants: James Bowden 4, Stephen Parton 2, Chris Bailey 2, David Rattenbury 1, Max Stuart
Player of the match awards:
Western Crows: Adam Rice
Central Giants: Will Gregson
After a dominant display from the Saints and the Crows defeat, Round 8 of the AFL New Zealand Premiership sets up some fantastic clashes. The Saints and Crows, both with 5 wins from their 7 games battle it out for top spot with a win for either likely to lead the teams to the inaugural AFL New Zealand Premiership victory. The Suns take on the Giants in a game for pride with teams equal with 2 wins from their 7 games.
New Zealand squad members Christian Blackie, Waylon Baker and Dan Benny return for the Crows, whilst Captain Michael Boyce and Cantabrian Charles Barnes come back for the Saints in what will be a mouth watering clash at 11.45am North Harbour Stadium.
In the late game, young Misilifi Faimalo returns for the Suns alongside tall forward Willem Van der Wilt, whilst the Giants welcome back veteran Stan Chung, Sam Green and Otago goals sneak Logan Toomer back into the team. Game commences 1.45pm.[interaction id=”56b3e6d8ef54eee31e8f894c”]