Giants survive late scare as the Suns topple the Saints

In round 2 of the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership, the Central Giants have survived a late scare from the Western Crows to win their second game of the season by 21 points. Both James McKenzie and James Bowden were phenomenal up front for the Giants as they kicked 7 goals between them for the match. 


In game 2, the Northern Suns overcame a halftime deficit to claim an 11 point victory over defending premiers, the Southern Saints.


Western Crows vs Central Giants:


It was an early season top of the table clash after the Western Crows and Central Giants both had big wins during round 1 last Sunday.

Declan Crann played a pivotal role again for the Giants.

Crow’s midfielder, Jake Tucker picked up where he left off last week and got his side on the scoreboard after two minutes by picking up a stray ball in the forward line and punching it through for the first goal of the game.

The Giant’s were quick to counter through a stunning goal from Sam McKenzie and for the next three quarters, the Giant’s put on an all round display to suffocate the Crow’s in all aspects of the game.

James Bowden and James McKenzie were the stars of the show as the Giant’s forwards were dominant up front, kicking three and four goals respectively for the match.

Not only were they taking strong contested marks but were fast to pick up any loose ball and find the goals.

The Giant’s backline kept the Crow’s scoreless in the third quarter.

Dean Smith, Nicholas Rhodes and New Zealand senior squad member Harison Manks snuffed out any opportunities the Crow’s created.

They combined well with Chris Bailey and Tayne Lockwood who showed speed off the half back flank.

Trailing by 60 points at three quarter time, the Crow’s almost pulled off the impossible as they kicked seven goals in the first eight minutes of the final term to get them back within 20 points.

Young gun, Joey Alesich-Tamariki was the main destroyer kicking four goals in six minutes and looked back to his best.

The Crow’s left their run too late and it was the Giants who were victorious by 21 points.

“Full credit to the Giants today, (James) Bowden and James McKenzie were dominant all game. For the Crows, we took a while to get into the game today. When Jake Tucker moved into the midfield in the fourth, the game opened up for us but we left our run too late to secure the win.” Western Crows stand in captain Shane Leat.

Giants Captain Sam McKenzie noted a few work on’s if they are to win this year’s Premiership.

“The Crows stepped up a level in the last quarter and we didn’t respond how we would like to, so it’s quite a good learning for us going into round 3.”

“We have been getting the ball into our territory a lot over the past two games and haven’t been able convert scoring shots into goals.”

The hero:

Cantabrian Dean Smith had a game to remember as he put in a man of the match performance for the Giants.

Smith was the spearhead in the backline as the Giants defence kept the Crows to two goals for three of the quarters.

The support cast:

The Giants forward duo of James McKenzie and James Bowden were a powerhouse all game as they kicked seven goals between them for the game and were ruthless on attack in their forward 50.

The consolation effort:

Sam Burdett’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed in defence as he chased, tackled and spoiled everything that came near him.

Jake Tucker was named the Crows best on ground with another scintillating display, but it was young forward Joey Alesich-Tamariki who sparked a late comeback by kicking four goals in six minutes to almost pull off one of the great comebacks.


Goal Scorers:

Central Giants: James McKenzie 4, James Bowden 1, Tayne Lockwood 1, Declan Crann 1, Sam McKenzie 1.

Western Crows: Joey Alesch-Tamariki 4, Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas 2, Jake Tucker 1, Ty Smith 1, Matt Kemp 1.

Best on ground:

Central Giants: Dean Smith

Western Crows: Jake Tucker


Southern Saints vs Northern Suns:


The Northern Sun’s and Southern Saint’s produced three stellar games during last season’s Premiership and they continued their rivalry in 2018 with another thriller.

The Saint’s welcomed back New Zealand U18 player’s, Josh Morgan-Ranui and Misilifi Faimalo who bolstered their midfield. The pair made a sudden impact with Faimalo delivering to Morgan-Ranui who kicked the first goal of the game.

2005 International Cup forward Alex Fakatoumafi impressed again in his second game kicking two out of his three goals in the second quarter as he gave the Saints a three point lead heading into halftime.

Sun’s playing assistant coach, Mitch Ryan controlled his backline as enforcer Alex Awatere had a great all round game combining hard running, a will to win the loose ball and great decision making.

In the third quarter, Robbie Mostert, playing in his first game at full forward for the Sun’s kicked two late goals to level the scores at the final break.

It was a tight tussle in the final term as both sides were throwing themselves into every contest.

With five minutes left on the clock, Joel Brown broke the deadlock by kicking a stunning goal on the run. This was quickly followed by another goal from New Zealand International Cup star Jackson Clince who sealed the Sun’s first win in 2018.

“It was another disappointing loss for us today, but the Sun’s are a good side and deserved the win today.” Southern Saints Captain Michael Boyce.

The Saints are yet to secure a win in 2018 but with a strong squad, they will bounce back quickly.

The hero:

Playing in his first game of the season, 19 year old Alex Awatere from Wellington produced a best on ground performance playing in defence for the Sun’s. His relentless defence and strong tackling around the contest put the Saint’s forwards under pressure for the whole game.

The support cast:

16 year old Development player Manny Snooks, looked like he fit right in at the top level of footy in New Zealand. At 190cm, the Northlander rotated between the forward line and the ruck and outshone his opponents with his clear height advantage.

Premiership debutant Robbie Mostert, kicked three goals up front for the Suns and will be a key player throughout the season with his strong marking ability and accurate kick.

The consolation effort:

New Zealand U18 players, Josh Morgan Ranui and Misilifi Faimalo showed their flare as the pair were the clear standouts for the Saints in a losing effort.

Goal Scorers:

Northern Suns: Robert Mostert 3, Joel Brown 2, Jackson Clince 2, Heta Scarf-Matthews 1, Willy Walker 1, Josh Sedgwick 1.

Southern Saints: Alex Fakatoumafi 3, Andriu Sucu 2, Daniel Howie 1, Justin Du Toit 1, Josh Morgan-Ranui 1.

Best on ground:

Northern Suns: Alex Awatere

Southern Saints: Josh Morgan-Ranui


What’s next?

Round 3 will feature the Central Giants looking for 3 wins in a row for the first time when they take on the Northern Suns at 11.30am. The Suns will welcome back Captain James Kusel, who will be looking to play a big role in defence against a very polished Giants forward line.

At 1.45pm, 2017 Premiers, the Southern Saints take on 2016 Premiers, the Western Crows at QBE Stadium. Crows midfielder, Brad Mavor makes a return to the side after missing out on last week’s game.