The Southern Saints have come from behind to win their blockbuster clash against the Northern Suns to all but secure their maiden AFL New Zealand Premiership after winning by 17 points at QBE Stadium on Sunday.
In the early game, another thrilling finish was played out as the Central Giants snatched a five point victory over the Western Crows to give them their third win of the season.
Western Crows vs Central Giants:
The Western Crows were hungry for a win and were ready and focused to take on the Central Giants in a bid to finish of the season on a high.
Four goals in the first quarter set up the Crows nicely. Young Wellington development player and Round 5 rising star recipient Will Kempt showing his class with some great early marks and two goals. Steven Howard played a big role in defense for the Crows to hold the Giants to only two goals and went into the first break brimming with confidence.
The second quarter was a stale mate and both sides snuffed out opportunities of their opposition. Giants midfielder Blake Nahu (best on ground) was on fire as he gathered multiple possessions and used his disposals effectively.
“We were in a position today to win the game but unfortunately couldn’t get over the line.” Chris Mundell
Logan Toomer (Otago) got the Giants back into the game in the third quarter kicking two of his four goals for the game and handing them a 5 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The lead changed four times in the final quarter and the Crows held a one point lead with 2 minutes remaining before the Giants snuck home a late goal to snatch victory in the dying seconds and win by five points.
“We stuck to the game plan today and the intensity and the effort from the boys was great throughout the whole game.” Giants Head Coach Rob Malone.
Central Giants: Logan Toomer 4, Brad Ingram 2, George Read 1, Stephen Parton 1, Adam Clarke 1, Craig Morgan 1, Blake Nahu 1.
Western Crows: Chris Mundell 4, Will Kempt 3, Ty Smith 1, Nick Bailey 1.
Player of the match awards:
Central Giants: Blake Nahu
Western Crows: Ty Smith
Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:
As they have done all season, the Saints and the Suns played out another thrilling game of AFL. Both sides were equal on points and were only separated by percentage and the winner of this game would put one hand on the 2017 Premiership trophy.
The Suns came out fired up and added four quick goals to surprise the Saints. The competitions leading goal kicker Jordan Drinkall kicked 2 of those goals as they took a 12 point lead into the quarter time break.
Captain Michael Boyce and his Saints responded well in the second quarter as they turned the game on it’s head kicking six goals to one. Saints midfielders Carlos Donnnell-Brown and Seb Serrano (best on ground) dominated the middle of the ground to set up forwards Sam McKenzie (3 goals) and Jordan Thompson (3 goals).
In another turn of events, the Suns won the third quarter as Cantabrian Brad Mavor and Liam Beattie (best on ground) found another gear. Both players along with midfielder Tim Stokes were unstoppable and got the Suns back to within a goal heading into the final quarter.
“Our young players played really well today with Couper, Jake, Declan and Clayton all having outstanding games.” Craig Goodhue
Both sides threw everything they had into the game and the result could have gone either way. With the Saints up by five points with five minutes remaining in the final quarter, Jordan Thompson marked thirty metres out and stayed calm under pressure to kicked his third goal for the day and extend their lead to eleven points. The Suns tried hard to get the ball into their forward line but a turnover saw young development player Declan Crann (Saints) become free and slot the winning goal in what was the last kick of the game to see the Saints home.
“It’s been three great games against the Suns throughout the season and we did ninety nine percent right today but it wasn’t to be. We can hold our heads high and will come back next week and finish the season strong” Suns Head Coach Dave Abetz has been proud of his teams efforts all season long. .
All the Saints need is a win next week when they take on the Western Crows and they will become the 2017 Premiers and win the competition for the first time. The Suns can still become Premiers if they score a big win over the Giants in Round 9 and then hope that the Crows cause an upset win over the Saints.
Southern Saints: Sam McKenzie 3, Jordan Thompson 3, Clayton Walters 1, Declan Crann 1, Sam Blackler 1, Troy Brown 1, Carlos Donnell-Brown 1, Seb Serrano 1.
Northern Suns: Tim Stokes 2, Jordan Drinkall 2, Will Dickinson 2, Liam Beattie 1, Jackson Clince 1.
Player of the match awards:
Southern Saints: Seb Serrano
Northern Suns: Liam Beattie
Next weekend is the final round of the 2017 AFLNZ Premiership and the first game features the Central Giants take on the Northern Suns at 11.00am* followed by the Western Crows and Southern Saints at 1.05pm*.
*Please note that the game times have changed to accommodate after match presentations.