The Southern Saints have booked a spot in the 2019 AFL New Zealand Premiership Grand Final after coming from behind to beat reigning Premiers, the Central Giants by 9 points on Sunday afternoon at QBE Stadium.
The Giants were desperate for a win as they were keen to leapfrog the Crows into second place and both sides started slowly with the Giants unable to take advantage of the strong wind in the first quarter.
Andriu Sucu and Hayden Johnston were providing quality defence down back for the Saints as Johnston was outplaying his opponents with his strong athletic build while Sucu was transitioning the ball out from defence while also organising the backline.
The Saints weren’t much better kicking with the wind in the second as they only managed 2 goals for the quarter.
Giants defenders Nick Rhodes and Harison Manks both had strong games as they push for a spot in the New Zealand side for the ANZAC Campaign.
Giants Coach Izaak Williams came up with a plan at half time that worked as the Giants kicked 3 goals and managing to keep the Saints to only 2 points.
Wayne Sullivan was providing alot of go forward ball and James McKenzie was doing the damage up front .
Finding themselves trailing by 15 points at the last break, Saints Captain Michael Boyce rallied his troops and urged them to finish strong.
Saints small forwards Zac Maio and Dom Parkes-Dolan kicked the first 2 goals of the final quarter and when Boyce kicked a ‘Captains goal’ at the 12 minute mark, the Saints regained the lead as the crowd erupted.
Harley Jenkins sealed the win with a goal with a minute left on the clock and sent the Saints into the Grand Final on April 14th.
New Zealand Falcon Andriu Sucu was a rock in defence in yesterday’s game. He kept his composure all game and made a number of efforts releasing the ball out from the defence.
The support cast:
Travis Walker and Captain Michael Boyce were a formidable duo in the midfield. They combined well and created a number of entries into their forward 50.
The consolation effort:
Central Giants defender Nick Rhodes has avoided the ‘second year blues’ and has had another outstanding season. He once again gave it his all and left nothing out on the field.
“We did strike a bit of a rough patch in the third quarter but we managed to keep the composure and had a really strong final quarter which got us home in the end.” Southern Saints Head Coach, Andrew Congalton.
“The Saints have been the benchmark all year and congratulations on securing a Grand Final spot. For us, the effort was there all day but couldn’t convert our opportunities when we had the wind behind us.” Central Giants Head Coach, Izaak Williams.
Southern Saints: Harley Jenkins 2, Zac Maio 2, James Southby 1, Michael Boyce 1, Josh Sedgwick 1
Central Giants: James McKenzie 3, Wayne Sullivan 2, Matt Keyse 1
Best on ground:
Southern Saints: Andriu Sucu
Central Giants: Nick Rhodes