Northwood Park in Christchurch played host to the 2015 Canterbury AFL Grand Final between the Mid Ashburton Eagles and the Christchurch Bulldogs.
The two teams deserved their spot in the final being dominant throughout the season and the game turned out to be one of the closest finals in years.
In the first quarter, The Eagles seemed more switched on from the first contest and dominated possession. They were kicking with a slight breeze and managed to kick four goals whilst keeping the Bulldogs to zero. CAFL Best and Fairest, Richie Hazlewood (Eagles) was everywhere and he picked off anything that looked like a Dogs attacking move. It looked like the Bulldogs were going to be outclassed and in for a torrid afternoon but to their credit, they managed to dig deep in the second quarter and ace forward Dale Stevenson kicked truly when given an opportunity in front of goal. Suddenly it was the dogs winning the contested ball and their superior ball movement meant that the Eagles could not exploit their aerial marking advantage. When the half time siren blew, only 2 points separating the sides.
The Eagles had use of a dying breeze in the third quarter and used it to extend their lead to 11 points. Eagles Captain and NZ Hawks rep Josh Robles was fantastic in the midfield. His never give up attitude stood out and his linking with Hazlewood was good footy to watch. The Eagles early accuracy on goal waivered in the third quarter and rather than putting the Dogs away, the door was left open.
The last quarter was promising to be cracker and the crowd was not disappointed. The Eagles dug deep and managed to kick three goals, seemingly putting the game beyond reach of the Bulldogs, but Captain Kyle Smith and the Dogs would not be denied and frantically tried to close the gap. The team lifted for the last 10-minutes and propelled the ball forward, entering the 50 metre arc on numerous occasions. Key defender and senior NZ Hawk Matt Crighton was crucial for the Eagles and showed his experience by neutralising the ball in defence.
In the end, the Mid Ashburton Eagles stood strong in the last quarter to withstand a determined Christchurch Bulldogs running out winners by 10 points and claiming the 2015 Canterbury AFL Premiership.
Eagles: 10.6: 66
Christchurch Bulldogs: 9.2: 56
Eagles: Hazlewood, Barnes, Crighton, Robles and S. Carden
Bulldogs: K. Smith, Sullivan, Stevenson, Berkelaar, Cameron