The Western Crows are now one win away from taking out the 2016 AFLNZ Premiership after defeating the Southern Saints in an epic Round 8 clash at QBE Stadium on Sunday. In the late game, the Northern Suns hung on to a small lead to end up winning by 11 points over the Giants in wet conditions and climb off the bottom of the ladder.
Western Crows vs Southern Saints:
The Crows and the Saints knew that a win in this game would go a long way to winning the 2016 AFLNZ Premiership and both teams were leaving nothing out on the field to ensure victory for their side.
The last time these two sides met, the Saints almost pulled off a dramatic victory by kicking 40 points in the last quarter to almost steal victory from the Crows.
New Zealand Hawks squad members Ty Smith and Kahurangi Robinson were up against each other in the ruck and provided great entertainment for the crowd throughout the whole match.
Aucklanders Danny O’Callaghan and Justin Gauci were solid up front for the Crows but were up against an experienced Saints backline in Brandon Sucu and Captain Michael Boyce who made it hard for the Crows forward line.
The Crows held a 4-point lead into the half time break with both sides enjoying a well needed rest.
Cantabrian’s Sam Burdett and Ryan O’Sullivan were holding down the fort in the backline and extinguishing any opportunities the Saints created.
A 3 goal final quarter from the Crows sealed a famous victory for Rob Malone’s side and a win over the Suns in Round 9 will confirm their spot as champions of the Inaugural AFLNZ Premiership.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 10 10 70 8 5 53
Western Crows: Joseph Alesich-Tamariki 3, Jessie Baty 2, Matt Kemp 1, Jay Johnson 1, Adam Rice 1, William Warbrick 1, Christian Blackie 1
Southern Saints: Sam McKenzie 2, Nick Bailey 2, Kyle Smith 1, Brandon Sucu 1, Justin Clark 1, Tevita Misiloi 1
Player of the match awards:
Western Crows: Ty Smith
Southern Saints: Brandon Sucu
Northern Suns vs Central Giants:
In wet conditions at QBE Stadium, the Giants and Suns battled it out where the winner would move into third place on the ladder.
A fast start by the Giants early on in the first term meant the Suns were playing catch up footy from the get go. Number 1 draft pick Will Gregson slotted 2 goals and Canterbury stalwart James Bowden chipped in with one goal to give the Giants a 20-point lead going into the first break.
During the break, Suns Coach Chris Mundell motivated his team to work hard and focus during the second quarter. His speech worked as the Suns kept the Giants scoreless with Josh Copeland from Auckland and Jamie Exeter from Canterbury combining well in the backline.
Forwards Joel Brown, Tyler Rakich and Jordan Drinkall all kicked a goal each to go into half time with a 1-point lead.
Suns midfielder Tim Stokes was best on ground and he was found gathering many possessions and providing quality football for his forward line.
Although the Suns missed a number of opportunities in front of goal, they still managed to grind out an 11-point win and climb back up into third place on the AFLNZ Premiership ladder.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 5 13 43 4 8 32
Northern Suns: Joel Brown 1, Jordon Drinkall 1, Tyler Rakich 1, Tim Stokes 1, Blake Nahu 1
Central Giants: Will Gregson 2, James Bowden 1, Sean Andrews 1
Player of the match awards:
Northern Suns: Tim Stokes
Central Giants: Will Gregson