The Northern Suns have come from behind to hand the Southern Saints their first defeat of the season during Round 5 of the AFLNZ Premiership. The Suns held off a determined Saints side to win by 3 points on the brand new AFL oval at QBE Stadium on Sunday.
In the final fixture of the day, the Central Giants young guns showed their flare to notch up a 26 point victory over the Western Crows.
Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:
The top of the table clash between the Southern Saints and Northern Suns lived up to it’s name on Sunday after a thrilling match where there were multiple lead changes, outstanding skills in wet conditions and desperation from both sides.
The competitions leading goal scorer Jordan Drinkall put the Suns on the board early as the Suns kicked three goals to one in the first quarter to lead by thirteen points at the first break.
At the start of the second quarter, the heavens opened as heavy rain streamed down on the new AFL oval at QBE Stadium. The Saints adapted to the conditions faster, kicking four goals into the wind to take the lead back at halftime by ten points. The midfield duo of Ben Hick and Sam McKenzie had a solid first half for the Saints while Misilifi Faimalo and Will Dickinson shone for the Suns.
“I couldn’t fault the performance of the Saints today. The skills in the first half were sensational and the result could have gone either way.” Southern Saints Head Coach Warwick Kain.
The Suns got themselves back into the game in the third quarter when the rain eased and found themselves down by only three points at the final break. Cantabrian Brad Mavor continues to impress the New Zealand selectors after another sensational game for the Suns. Along with his three goals, Brad’s evasive skills and effective disposals are among the best in the competition.
An early goal from the Suns in the fourth quarter put them in front for the first time since the second quarter. The Saints missed chances to regain the lead through Sam McKenzie and Tom Bekkers late in the game and the Suns held on to win a famous game.
Saints forward Jordan Thompson finished the game with three goals and defender Andriu Sucu was named best on ground after a solid performance down back.
“It was a good hard game and we knew were going to be in for a contest today. The Suns players did everything they were asked and continued to work hard in tough conditions.” Northern Suns Head Coach Dave Abetz.
Southern Saints: Jordan Thompson 3, Kyle Smith 1, Keegan Mcauley 1, Josh Morgan-Ranui 1.
Northern Suns: Brad Mavor 3, Jordan Drinkall 2, Jackson Rolleston 1, Misilifi Faimalo 1.
Player of the match awards:
Southern Saints: Andriu Sucu
Northern Suns: Misilifi Faimalo
Western Crows vs Central Giants:
When these two sides last met back in Round two, it was the Giants who got the better of the Crows by 22 points and both sides were hungry for a win.
The Giants welcomed back Tristan Burnett who returned from a leg injury and fielded a strong side. They kicked four goals in the first quarter to lead by 20 points at the first break and coach Rob Malone urged them to continue to work hard for the next three quarters.
Khyal Jacobson was a standout for the Giants. Still at only 17 years old, the Beleura Junior Football Club player stole the show with plenty of disposals and three goals earned him a best on ground award. Khyal’s Beleura team mate Matt Mayne was also impressive kicking two goals.
“We have had a mixed season so far and was really impressed with the boys efforts today.” Central Giants Head Coach Rob Malone.
The Crows fought back strong during the second and third quarters but the Giants didn’t give in and kept a healthy 3 goal lead for most of the game.
16 year old debutant Will Kempt from Wellington kicked the first goal of the game and played well above his years to star for the Giants.
The 26 point win give the Giants their second win of the season and take confidence into next weeks game against the Northern Suns.
“It was a tough day today but the team will rest up, work hard and get the bodies right for next weeks game against the Southern Saints” Western Crows Assistant Coach, Kieran Houlker.
Northlander Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas was named best on ground for the Western Crows with Steph Tabaillou continuing his impressive season with another two goals.
Central Giants: Khyal Jacobson 3, Craig Morgan 2, Matt Mayne 2, Will Kempt 1, Tristan Burnett 1, Blake Nahu 1, Liam Ackland 1.
Western Crows: Steph Tabaillou 2, Chris Mundell 2, Alastair Maisey 1, Nick Bailey 1, Shane Leat 1.
Player of the match awards:
Central Giants: Khyal Jacobson
Western Crows: Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas
Round 6 will see the Central Giants taking on the Northern Suns at 11.30am followed by the Western Crows and Southern Saints at 1.45pm on Sunday 19 March at QBE Stadium in Albany, Auckland.