Rampaging Suns too hot for defending champions in opening round of the AFLNZ Premiership

The second season of the AFL New Zealand Premiership kicked off with the Southern Saints and the Northern Suns coming away with big wins in the first round of New Zealand’s national competition at QBE Stadium in Albany on the North Shore of Auckland.

 

The Northern Suns steamrolled the defending Premiers as they put on a goal scoring clinic to notch up a massive 55 point win while last seasons runners up the Southern Saints looked sharp as they defeated the Central Giants by 47 points. Regions including, Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago were represented to kick off New Zealand’s Premier competition as the national organisation continues to grow the game in Aoteoroa.

 

Southern Saints vs Central Giants:

 

The Southern Saints and Central Giants finished second and third respectively in last years competition and with both sides recruiting well in the draft, this game could have gone either way.

Cantabrian Kyle Smith got the Saints off to a great start by kicking the first two goals of the 2017 season, much to the delight of new head coach Warwick Kain (Otago). Midfielder Ben Hick was controlling the midfield and linking up nicely with the Saints forward line.

At the start of the second quarter, the Saints had a three goal lead and the wind at their backs, were looking to take advantage. Saints Number 1 draft pick, Josh Morgan-Ranui (Wellington) kicked a tremendous goal 50m out followed up quickly by another goal from Seb Serrano which made it a 37 point difference at half time.

Logan Toomer kicked a goal early in the third and the Giants started to stop the Saints momentum. This was largely due to 17 year old Max Hicks, who was tremendous for his side. Hicks (Rosmini College) managed to out jump and out mark some more experienced  senior players and showed that he will be one to watch all season.

Debutant Harison Manks, was among the best for the Saints with some good quality marks throughout the game along with Carlos Donnell-Brown who was effective all over the ground and even getting on the score sheet with a fantastic goal from 50 metres out in the fourth quarter.

With an experienced and talented midfield, the Saints were too strong for the Giants as they ran out winners by 47 points and sit atop the Premiership ladder after round 1.

A shining light for the Giants was young development player Jake Tucker. The 16 year old from Northcote College looked at home on the wing gathering multiple possessions and taking some strong marks.

Saints defender Josh Cunliffe didn’t stop all game in the back line and was a deserved winner of the teams best on ground award.

 

Goal Scorers:

Southern Saints: Kyle Smith 2, Seb Serrano 2, Hayden Johnston 1, Troy Brown 1, Ben Hick 1, Carlos Donnell-Brown 1, Sam McKenzie 1, Josh Morgan-Ranui 1

Central Giants: Logan Toomer 2, Blake Nahu 2

Player of the match awards:

Southern Saints: Josh Cunliffe

Central Giants: Craig Morgan

 

Western Crows vs Northern Suns:

 

In what could be the upset of the competition so early on, the Northern Suns were red hot as they tore apart defending Premiers, the Western Crows in the second game of the day.

Kicking with the wind in the first quarter, the Suns were fast out of the blocks as they piled on seven goals while restricting their opponents to one. Suns forwards Jordan Drinkall and Jackson Clince (Best on Ground) were on the score sheet early with Drinkall scoring three in the first quarter.

The Suns extended their lead in the second quarter through midfielders Will Dickinson and 2016 AFLNZ U16 Player of the year Misilifi Faimalo and linked in well with returning Captain James Kusel. Former head coach of the Suns Chris Mundell (who is now with the Crows) had no answer as the Suns went into halftime leading by 51 points.

Defender Alastair Maisey (Best on Ground) and Josh Copeland worked hard in the third quarter as they restricted the Suns to only two goals. The pair’s determination and desperation for the footy motivated the Crows to finish strong at the three quarter time speech.

Joey Alesich-Tamariki continued his 2016 form in the forward line as the Crows sparked a late comeback in the fourth quarter, but the damage had already been done early on with the Suns running out winners by 55 points.

Number one draft pick Peter Halstead was outstanding all game for the Suns in his first Premiership game and will be a key player in Dave Abetz side through out the 2017 season.

 

 width=

Goal Scorers:

Northern Suns: Jordan Drinkall 4, Will Dickinson 3, Misilifi Faimalo 3, James Kusel 2, Jackson Clince 2, Josh White 1, Josh Allen 1, Callum McLean

Western Crows: Chris Mundell 2, Steph Tabaillou 2, Christian Blackie 1, Henry Boon 1, Shane Leat 1, Joey Alesich-Tamariki 1, Nick Bailey 1

 

Player of the match awards:

Northern Suns: Jackson Clince

Western Crows: Alastair Maisey

 

Next week’s games will see the Giant’s looking to get over the line in what will be a tough game against the wounded Western Crows at QBE Stadium at 11.30am. Whilst the Saints will look to go two from two as they try and stop the rampaging Northern Suns at 1.45pm.

 

[interaction id=”57cf825eec3cf49f6e751541″]