Defending Premiers stunned in opening round of Auckland AFL.

Defending Premiers, University Blues have been stunned in the first round of the season as the Mt Roskill Saints took the victory by 7 points.

Elsewhere, the North Shore Tigers ran riot over the Waitakere Magpies while the Howick Hornets AFL ran out 47 point winners over the Manurewa Raiders.

North Shore vs Waitakere

The North Shore Tigers were back at their spiritual home of Onepoto Domain to host Waitakere in the opening round of the delayed 2020 AAFL season.

Both teams were looking for a solid start to the season and it was the Tigers that opened with a bang.

New recruit Dale Johnson was on the scoreboard within the opening minutes with a well executed set shot from beyond the 50m arc. This set the tone for the match with the Tigers controlling possession with the wind behind them, holding the Magpies scoreless going into the break with a 3 goal advantage.

The Tigers were dominant across the ground throughout, controlling the speed of the game. Dominic Parkes-Dolan and Justin duToit combined well upfront with man of the match Ben Armstrong getting much of the ball from the middle supported well by Christopher Wong.

In the back line, Jake Tucker was given the task of disrupting the Waitak forwards and led the back 6 for the entire game.

The Tigers continued to be strong in the contest and kept the Waitakere forward pressure under wraps eventually running away comfortable 51 point winners.

“A great start to the season for the team – exactly what we wanted. With a
few key players still to return, the pre-season work has paid off and we’ll look to go again against Howick next week.”
Dan Pearce, North Shore Captain.

Manurewa vs Howick

Beautiful conditions greeted Manurewa and Howick at Mountfort Park.

Pete Jones and Ken Rowe were on song early for the Hornets as Howick started strong to take a 2 goal lead at the end of the first quarter.

Howick dominated the second quarter through Armani Wright and Steph Tabaillou as they took a 36 point lead into halftime.

Manurewa showed what they can do in the second half with Vandyn Hartman and Isaac Piper showing off their skills while Ash Thompson was controlling the defence at centre half back.

It was a tight last quarter but the Hornets first half efforts earned them a 47 point win. The hard contested game was won with efficiency of scoring inside 50 and good defensive work created a lot of scoring opportunities.

New Hornets Coach Dillon Dix is confident that the Hornets will be in contention for a Grand Final spot in 2020.

“Started off slow but second half showed some glimpses of how we want to play the season.” Jordan Thompson, Manurewa.

University vs Mt Roskill

After month of uncertainty the energy before the game was electric with everyone relishing the careful pregame preparations and boy what a cracker the opening round between these two rivals was. 

The Saints, who in the past few years have been known for a slow start were fast off the blocks in the first quarter clearing showing how the new Commander in chief Peter Boyce had been running them all preseason.

On his debut in a Saints jumper but 100 of his career Matt (Dalla) Dalla-Libera took control in the air and with Burnett, Dickinson and Weir at his disposal the Saints had the lion’s share of the possession. 

But as we all know possession alone will not win you the game and inaccuracy hammered the Saints plans to run away with in and allowed the reining champions right back into the game.

The second and third quarters were a dog fight with the Saints holding the balls but Uni using the little possession they had more effectively.  

For the Blues, Tim Stokes and Liam Beattie were working well off ruckman Will Morris-Whyte as they took a 2 goal lead into the final term.

After a rousing speech by Peter Boyce the rejuvenated Saints team took to the field for the final leg. Down by 2 it was all uphill but the heart was there and matched with work rate right through the ground with second and third efforts making it impossible for Uni to find the pace they had in the early on. After a crucial mark on the edge of the square by Logan Twoomey the Saints took charge and never looked bad. 

“Our accuracy in front of goal today let Uni right back into the game and nearly handed it to them on a platter but the boys dug in deep and took complete control in the last quarter but it will be an area of focus as this year points difference could have a big part to play!” Saints Head Coach, Peter Boyce.

“Always a tough outing against Roskill who took the game on well and came ready to play. We will take some great learnings from this week as we look to get back in the winners circle.” Blues Head Coach, Chris Mundell.

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