The Mid Canterbury Eagles have claimed the Canterbury AFL Premiership after they defeated the Eastern Blues by 28 points on Saturday afternoon at Hagley Park.
The crowd was brimming with expectations to see if the fast finishing Blues could upset the fancied and undefeated Eagles like they had done to come from fourth to their first Grand Final since 2014.
At the bounce of the ball the Eagles centres fired up and they quickly delivered the ball to key forward spearhead Mark Orr who kicked the first goal of the game.
The Eagles were quick out of the blocks again as Captain Josh Robles and Coby Dodd combined to go long and find the big sticks.
It was all one way traffic early on, but the Grand Final nerves settled and the Blues went into their work with Tahlor Cahill and Jay Johnson combining well around the ruck and the Blues started controlling the ball and playing it in their own fifty. They couldn’t quite find the scoreboard and the Eagles went into the quarter time break leading by 4 goals.
The Eagles were at it again early in the second quarter as Paddy Smith, Chris Morel and Luke De Roo combined down the wing for a great goal. This was quickly followed up by another goal by Mark Orr and the undefeated Eagles were running hot.
The Blues managed to reply with a couple of goals through some hard work around the ground by Jay Johnson who delivered some great ball to AFLNZ veteran James Bowden.
Throughout the season, the Eagles have blown the opposition off the paddock in the first half and then coasted through the second but the Blues backed their ability and got the first centre clearance of the second half to get themselves back in the game.
When the Eagles did move the move down their end, Jared Court wound back the clock and was playing his sweeping best and collecting plenty of ball from half back for the Blues and helped move the ball forward.
Just when the Blues started to get on top, the Eagles moved Mark Orr into the ruck and that helped steady the ship as they kicked another 3 goals.
The Eagles then controlled most of the final term and run out 28 point winners.
Aside from the early onslaught from the Eagles, the following three quarters were fairly even on the scoreboard and the inexperienced Blues really tested the more fancied Eagles to prove themselves worthy of a Grand Final flag. Which they did convincingly in the end and find themselves in the exclusive “UNDEFEATED CLUB.”
The return of the Prodigal Son Andrew Howison to the Eagles marked a significant uptick in the performance of his old club that he started with way back when he was young. His solid performance as sweeper cleaning up the mess and delivering clean ball to the forward line saw him voted as Best on Ground and awarded the 2020 Niki Dow Award. Howison played against Niki in 2009 and was very honoured to receive the award.
“Firstly, it goes without saying that none of this 10-0 season would have happened without the return of Andy Howison, and his ability to execute the bridge of what I’ve tried to lead, coach and inspire the group over the past now four seasons. His contribution and execution of easy to understand mentality is the reason the group solidified the way it did on the park this year. Secondly the amount of work that both Ricky van Olphen & Patrick Smith do behind the scenes shouldn’t go unnoticed as they are the glue that binds a well polished outfit that is now us, four seasons in the making. The game itself had absolutely everything, we knew coming in the Eastern Blues outfit led by James Bowden, Jared Court & Jay Johnson wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. For a side to come from third position with the level of improvement and find a way to win gritty attitude, is what football is all about. The Blues came out hard, hard at the footy and their win at all gritty mentality served them well. The Blues were a formidable outfit on the day, and to their credit kept us to our lowest score of the year. We were however able to dig deep and utilise our depth of stars like Andy Howison, Paddy Smith, Chris Morel, Azza Sawers and Mark Orr, with some positional changes which saw us grind out the win. The Canterbury Australian Football League should also be congratulated on such a ripper well organised season on the back of Covid.” Adem Manderovic, Eagles Head Coach.
Mid Canterbury Eagles – 10.14: 74
Eastern Blues – 7.4: 46
Story – Canterbury AFL
Photo Credit: Mattylouis Photography
- From Auckland to the AFL, Mykelti Lefau a Richmond Tiger
- BREAKING: Former Falcon set to sign with Richmond for the 2024 AFL Season
- AFLNZ Academy Footy Frenzy Weekend to Hit North Harbour Stadium in Auckland
- Youth Programme’s Auckland Hubs have a successful season
- Premiership Players begin preparations for a big year ahead