The North Shore Tigers have stumbled in their first outing in the 2018 Auckland AFL season as the Mt Roskill Saints have upset the reigning premiers by 26 points in a wet and windy game at War Memorial Park.
It was a thrilling finish at Howick as they snatched a draw against Waitakere after kicking a goal in the dying seconds and University put the Manurewa Raiders to the sword kicking a whopping 15 goals to secure an 83 point win.
Manurewa Raiders vs University Blues
2nd September, Mountfort Park, Manurewa.
In trying conditions at Mountfort Park in Manurewa, both the Raiders and University were itching to get back into footy after both clubs had strong off seasons.
It was a solid start for University as clean ruckwork from the middle allowed their delivery to penetrate deep into the forward line where full forward James Considine was doing the damage up front.
As they look to do every season, University was looking to lock in small improvements within the team and gain momentum through to next the next round.
The Blues continued their dominance over the young Raiders side in the second half as they moved the ball with great skill execution and retained possession for much of the game.
Rover Nic Holdsworth was working closely with ruckman Patrick Landy as they controlled the centre clearances all game.
Manurewa looked good in patches with Joel Brown playing well in the middle of the ground and linking with winger Isaac Piper who used his superior speed to evade his University opponents.
University travel to the Hornets nest to take on their local rivals and will look to improve on their accuracy in front of goal and patience with the ball in hand.
Howick Hornets vs Waitakere Magpies
2nd September, Paparoa Park, Howick.
Howick were the most improved side last year and a solid pre-season meant they were ready to tackle any side that came their way.
2017 runners up, the Waitakere Magpies travelled to the Hornets nest and opened the scoring through key forward Dan McGregor.
A strong wind made the game scrappy as neither team struggled to get clean ball inside 50.
Waitakere appeared to dominate the first half with Declan Crann and Ben Hutton exerting their dominance. However, a small lapse in concentration allowed the Hornets to kick some needed goals to trail by six points at half time.
In the second half, a strategic swap moving Dan Bushett (Howick) into half forward paid dividends with the half forward kicking a goal through congestion on his first touch.
The fourth quarter was a tight arm wrestle with Waitakere giving away a number of free kicks which helped Howick get back into the game. Elliott Bennetts was the saviour for the Hornets, taking a stab from 40m out kicking over an open full forward to clinch the tie in the dying seconds.
2017 AAFL Best and Fairest Carlos Donnell-Brown is proving to be a force for the Magpies early on in the season as defender Josh Copeland was a rock in the backline getting to every contest and not giving any marks away.
“Trailing for most of the game the team picked up in the final quarter to come back and tie the game. Our team showed a lot of heart and determination to come back like that.” Hornets Head Coach Ryan White.
Mt Roskill Saints vs North Shore Tigers
2nd September, War Memorial Park, Mt Roskill.
Wet weather footy was the order of the day at May Rd as the Mount Roskill Saints outclassed the reigning Premiers in a sloppy affair.
Both teams struggled early to get a hold of the ball and make any significant impact on the scoreboard with scores staying within a goal at the first break.
In the second, the Tigers looked to make the most of the advantage being provided by the wind with good run through the middle from skipper Jackson Clince and Josh Cunliffe. The Saints had other plans as defenders, Al Maisey and Lachie Stewart made it hard on the Tigers forward line through tough defensive pressure.
The Saints started the third quarter well, getting plenty of numbers around the loose ball and working out of the stoppages. Tristan Burnett was brilliant for the Saints playing in the midfield and worked hard getting the ball into the home sides attacking 50.
Some costly free kicks from the Tigers back line gifted the Saints a couple of goals and gave them a strong advantage going into the last quarter.
Seasoned campaigners, Ty Smith, Xavier Rice and Mitch Ryan tried valiantly to get around the ball and get some momentum back the other way but the Saints handled the pressure and held on for a solid victory.
Captain Sam McKenzie was excited with the win.
“A great first up game from the team. I’m most happy about how the team applied themselves in the wet. Pretty tough conditions with a few new faces who are still getting used to playing together.
The wet didn’t stop us trying to play attacking football and getting 20 scoring shots validated that approach.
Looking forward to refining how we play as we move through the season”
Tigers head coach Andriu Sucu expects the Tigers to bounce back.
“Not the result we wanted but good to get the first game out of the way and find our starting point for the season. With a number of players returning for round 2, I’m really excited to see the improvement of the side over the next few weeks”. Tigers Coach Andriu Sucu.
Story – AAFL.co.nz