In the second round of the 2017 AFL New Zealand Premiership, Captain Dave Rattenbury lead from the front with a stellar performance to give his Central Giants side their first win of the season over the Western Crows.
In the final match of the round, the Southern Saints fought a hard battle with the Northern Suns where they overcame a half time deficit to claim an 18 point victory to remain the only unbeaten side in the competition.
Western Crows vs Central Giants:
Both the Crows and Giants suffered heavy losses in Round 1 and were looking to get their first win of the 2017 Premiership season.
Brad Ingram got the Giants off to a quick lead kicking the first goal of the game where the lead was doubled soon after with Stephen Parton on the board early.
The Crows made a comeback in the second thanks to the hard work of Christian Blackie (Otago). His defensive pressure in the midfield lead to attacking footy from the Crows and he was rewarded with a goal which narrowed the lead to 2 points.
With the experience of the Coach and Captain duo of Rob Malone and Dave Rattenbury, the Giants dominated the majority of the match with Rattenbury gathering multiple disposals through positioning himself in the correct spots to receive the footy.
The Crows kicked 2 late goals in the final term but managed to fall short by 17 points and hand the Giants their first victory in 2017.
Giants youngster Sam Green (Sam Green) teamed with the experienced James Bowden (Canterbury) to hold the Crows to only 6 goals for the game, with Green being awarded Best on Ground. Overseas player Brendan Clark enjoyed his return to New Zealand being named among the best in the forward line.
Blake Nahu seemed to be enjoying his new role in the midfield for the Giants after another effective game and provides good support for Dave Rattenbury.
2016 Goal scoring runner up Joey Alesich-Tamariki kicked 3 goals for the Crows while Australian based Adam Simpson was named best as a solid contributor off the half back line.
Central Giants: George Read 1, Blake Nahu 1, David Rattenbury 1, Dawson Nanai 1, Chris Bailey 1, Max Hicks 1, Andrew Johnston 1, Brad Ingram 1, Brendan Clark 1.
Western Crows: Joey Alesich-Tamariki 3, Christian Blackie 1, Sam Traynor 1, Matt Kemp 1.
Player of the match awards:
Central Giants: Sam Green
Western Crows: Adam Simpson
Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:
The Southern Saints were well prepared for the new look Northern Suns side and this game shaped up to be a battle of the midfielders. For the Saints, Ben Hick, Sam McKenzie and Carlos Donnell-Brown took on the Suns trio of Will Dickinson, Tim Stokes and Liam Beattie.
It was the Suns who started well with stand in Captain Mitch Ryan kicking the first goal of the game. From there, they kept there noses in front and managed shut the Saints down in the midfield. Suns defenders, Pete Rodgers and Callum McLean were making it hard for Saints forwards Troy Brown and Josh Morgan-Ranui in the first half.
Midfielder Carlos Donnell-Brown was unstoppable for the Saints kicking 3 goals for his side and standing up during the key moments of the match when the Suns looked like gathering momentum.
At half time, the Saints trailed by 5 points but came out in the third quarter kicking 4 goals while restricting the Suns to only 1 gave them the leading edge heading into the final term.
With a 13 point lead heading into the last quarter, the hero of the day Carlos Donnell-Brown sealed the win for the Saints kicking 2 of his 3 goals to get them home by 18 points.
Liam ‘Badger’ Beattie was named best for the Suns for his efforts in the midfield with Alex Awatere and Jordan Drinkall also having a strong game.
The win leaves the Saints as the only unbeaten team left in the competition and will have confidence going into the Round 3 match against the Western Crows.
Southern Saints: Seb Serrano 3, Carlos Donnell-Brown 3, Sam McKenzie 2, Justin Du Toit 1, Andriu Sucu 1, Josh Morgan-Ranui 1.
Northern Suns: Liam Beattie 2, Brad Mavor 2, Alex Awatere 1, Mitch Ryan 1, Will Dickinson 1.
Player of the match awards:
Southern Saints: Carlos Donnell-Brown
Northern Suns: Liam Beattie
Round 3 will see old rivals the Western Crows and Southern Saints battle it out at 11.30am, followed by the Central Giants taking on the Northern Suns at 1.45pm on Sunday February 26th at QBE Stadium in Albany, Auckland.