The Canterbury Cobra’s have won the regional tournament held at Hagley Park over the weekend as they defeated the Wellington Tigers and Otago Riot.
The AFL New Zealand Canterbury Youth teams played the curtain raiser, highlighting the development of the game and a good step in the right direction for AFL in Canterbury.
To fight for the resurrected Air New Zealand trophy Otago Riot played Canterbury Cobra’s and Wellington Tigers and while the scoreboard didn’t do justice for the Riot their passion for the game was just as intense and the skills displayed put them in good stead for years to come.
With the Cobra’s and the Tigers gaining 100+ point wins over Otago, the final game between Canterbury and Wellington was set-up for winner takes all.
From the first bounce, the battle for the ball was tight and electric.
Canterbury’s talisman Jacob Edy opened the scoring with a running side angled kick through the big sticks.
A few minutes of end to end action ensued where the Tigers with good use of the inside outside handballing found a way forward to goal truly and it was a one point ball game at the first change.
The second quarter started with a hiss and a roar for the Cobra’s with a fast break from Steph Van Gruting who pumped long into Jacob Edy’s direction and he finished off with a major.
In reply, Tiger’s midfielder Misilifi Faimalo used his speed to get the centre clearance and link up with Josh Morgan-Ranui. Morgan-Ranui launched a long ball into Wellington’s forward line but was cut off by Canterbury defender Dan Reynolds who took a strong intercept mark.
New Northern Suns (AFL New Zealand Premiership) recruit Paul Hogan was playing well for the Cobra’s with plenty of intercepts marks and clearance kicks.
The Canterbury defence was working over time to keep the Tigers scoring, even to the point big Dan punching the ball clear from the goal line to keep the Tigers goalless for the second quarter.
The Cobra’s caught the Tiger’s napping at the start of the third term as Cobra’s Vice Captain Sam Anderson got his hands on alot of ball early on.
The game then opened up as the Tiger’s new recruit Luke Vincent made himself known. The Tigers got themselves back into the game but against the flow of traffic, young Tom Turner got a hard ball get in the centre and was able to push the ball forward to Jacob Edy who was able to convert and give the Cobra’s a five point lead heading into the final quarter.
With the infamous easterly wind blowing, Wellington had the wind at their backs and were heaping a huge amount of pressure on the Canterbury defence.
Josh Morgan-Ranui took a strong mark in the forward line and had a chance to win the game but his drifted to the left for a behind.
With the breeze picking up Canterbury couldn’t get past the centre the square as the Tigers were cutting off every ball coming through. However the Canterbury back 6 stood strong and closely checking every contest made it hard for clean ball to be delivered.
The Tigers kept the Cobra’s scoreless in the final term but a number of missed opportunities saw them fall short by two points as Canterbury took the honours.
Canterbury Cobra’s 3.4: 22
Wellington Tigers 2.8: 20
Congratulations to the Canterbury Cobra’s who were awarded the resurrected Air New Zealand Cup last played for in 1989 and the resurrected George Lanyon Shield – the Wellington v Canterbury Shield last played for in the early 2000’s.
Well done to the organisers from the leagues – Craig Varcoe (Canterbury), John Jackson (Wellington), Warwick Kain (Otago) for putting on a very succesful tournament.
Story – Canterbury AFL