The senior NZ Hawks have been beaten in their one off game against a slick AFL Academy side at QBE Stadium over ANZAC weekend.
This was the fifth meeting between the two sides and the first time the game was being played in Auckland.
The Hawks had a mix of experience and youth with Andrew Howison returning to captain the side once again.
Coached by former Adelaide Crows head coach Brenton Sanderson, the AFL Academy had a lot of depth in their side but the Hawks know that representing their country is an opportunity not to be missed and were ready to give it their all for the silver fern.
In wet conditions, the AFL academy moved the ball around the field with ease. Their smooth transitions and slick ball handling had them on the scoreboard early.
NZ Hawks full forward Joe Baker-Thomas gave the crowd some early cheers as he took a spectacular mark in the first quarter. The St Kilda International scholarship holder who now resides in Melbourne is always honoured to pull on the NZ Guernsey and come home to represent his country.
Midfielder Ben Hick was outstanding for the Hawks as he worked tirelessly all game and managed to keep up with the fast paced football that the academy side produced.
Debutant Christian Blackie from Otago also showed that he will be one to look for in the future. The 19-year-old worked hard in gaining possession for the Hawks as he made tackle after tackle all game and will have gained a lot of experience from the game.
Ruckman Ty Smith was awarded best on ground for the Hawks as he challenged his opposing player at every stoppage in play. His aerial ability made the opposing coaching staff take note and adapt to try and counteract his style of play.
The scoreboard suggested that it was all one-way traffic but the Hawks showed tremendous passion and never gave up all game. The younger players in the side learnt a lot and will be much better off playing against a highly skilled and knowledgeable opponent.
Goals: Behinds: Total: 19 15 129 2 7 19
AFL Academy: J. Powell 4, C. Ballenden 3, T. Hayes 3, D. Fogarty 3, A. Paech 2, C. Coleman-Jones 1, J. Houlahan 1, J. Higgins 1, C. Spargo 1
NZ Hawks: J. Baker-Thomas 1, B. Clark 1
NZ Hawks: Ben Hick
NZ Hawks: Ty Smith
AFL Academy: Jack Powell
AFL Academy: Charlie Spargo