The University Blues and the Waitakere Magpies will be meeting in the Auckland AFL Grand Final, after two hard fought semi finals.
In the first semi final, the North Shore Tigers travelled West to take on the Waitakere Magpies at Parrs Park, in a bid to avenge their narrow loss in the final round of the regular season.
The match started well for the Tigers, with the first goal of the game. However the Magpies hit back early, with players stepping up at crucial moments to kick long goals.
Over the 2nd quarter, Mitch Ryan began to fire for the Tigers, taking outstanding marks. However the Magpies pushed forward constantly, and continuously fired shots at the Tigers’ goal. The pressure began to take a toll on the Tigers, who weren’t able to catch up with the players they were tasked with defending. As a result, the Magpies went into the break with a 4.6:30 – 2.5:17 lead.
The Tigers came out in the 2nd half with a furious intensity, and soon fought their way back into the game with two early goals. An opportunistic shot from Will Gregson put the Magpies back in front, but two more quick goals to the Tigers followed. The Tigers mauled the Magpies throughout the quarter, playing with superior pace and aggression, however once again the Magpies were able to create a goal from nowhere near the end of the quarter to reduce the deficit to 3 points going into the final quarter.
The Magpies struck first, with Michael Gregson storming down the flank on a long run, before kicking to Dusan Hakaraia at full forward who converted the goal. The Tigers responded to the pressure, with Reyne Westbury taking back the lead with a goal. Eugene Hanna kicked a long set shot with poise to put the Magpies back in front. The quarter took another twist, when Mitch Ryan soared above the pack to take a mark right in front of goal, converting to put the Tigers back in front. However, Hakaraia managed to step up again, kicking two more goals to give the Magpies an unassailable lead near the final siren. The final score reflected the intense tussle throughout the match, with the Magpies winning 10.10:70 – 9.8:62.
Waitakere Magpies: 2.3 4.6 6.9 10.10:70
North Shore Tigers: 1.4 2.5 7.6 9.8:62
Best on Ground:
Magpies: Will Gregson, Jamie Gresham, Dusan Hakaraia
Tigers: Mitch Ryan, Andriu Sucu, Ty Smith
The University Blues continued their march towards a Premiership with a commanding win over the Mt Roskill Saints. The Saints fought hard to stay in the game, but were overwhelmed by the University midfield and forwards.
In a physical contest, the Saints scored the first goal of the day into the wind, suggesting an upset could have been on the cards. However, the Blues enthusiastically hit back, kicking four across the quarter to take a big lead. The 2nd quarter followed a similar pattern, with the Blues kicking another four to extend their lead to 32 points at half time.
The Mt Roskill Saints are a proud team, and were not about to give their chances of playing in a Grand Final up lightly. After tightening their play in the midfield, and with forwards making clever leads to pull away from their markers, they managed to come back and win the 3rd quarter, kicking 5 goals and reducing the deficit to only 15 points.
However, the Blues are widely considered to be the strongest team in the league this season, and their 4th quarter showed why. With a focused game plan they dominated from the outset, and kicked 5 more goals to push the lead beyond the reach of the Saints. The fitness of the Blues was evident, with the 4th quarter their best at both ends of the field. Nick Trask finished with 6 goals for the Blues, with a remarkable display of how to play as a small forward. For the Saints, Andrew McKenzie led the scoring with 3 goals.
University Blues: 4.3 8.4 11.4 16.8:104
Mt Roskill Saints: 1.1 3.2 8.7 9.7:61
Best on Ground:
Blues: Nick Trask, Liam Beattie, Daz Vernon, Rowan Bilkey, Brendon Roxburgh
Saints: Aaron McConchie, Ben Horne, Hayden Miller, Justin Summons
Auckland AFL Grand Final
The Waitakere Magpies will defend their title against the University Blues, in a match that promises to be a clash of contrasting styles. The mercurial Magpies are capable of feats of brilliance unmatched by any other team in the league, but have shown a worrying tendency to go off the boil throughout the season. The Blues, led by highly regarded coach Chris Mundell, are a well drilled machine, and if they play with focus and discipline they will be favourites to win.
Sunday 30th November, 2.00pm, Onepoto Domain.
The plate final, between the Mt Roskill Saints and North Shore Tigers, will take place from 12.00.