It’s one versus four as the Waitakere Magpies prepare to do battle with the North Shore Tigers in their Auckland Australian Football League (AFL) semi-final on Sunday.
Despite an unbeaten season, Magpies captain Shane Tyson-Leat believes his side will need to be at their best to advance to their seventh grand-final in eight years.
“We still haven’t played a perfect game yet this season, which is great in a way,” Tyson-Leat says.
“If we tidy up our mistakes we’ll give ourselves a good chance of getting up for this one.”
The west Auckland AFL team started the year off not knowing what the season would bring following last year’s near miss, dropping out in the semi-finals.
A near perfect season sees the Magpies go through as the top qualifiers and though their captain admits his side have exceeded their own expectations to this point, he says they still have plenty of room to improve.
“There are always work-ons for us, we are never satisfied. Our group has a bunch of younger players who have picked up the game quickly and we have gained two experienced Australians which has been awesome,” he says.
One of those Australians, Brad Johnson, is the Magpies’ leading goal-scorer, with 46 so far this season.
Johnson never planned on playing AFL in New Zealand, and stumbled upon the Magpies by chance after originally relocating for work.
“We’re lucky he came to us. Brad brings a lot of aggression, muscle and competitiveness and for a smaller guy, he sure knows how to throw his weight around,” Tyson-Leat says.
In his ninth year with Waitakere, the captain expects the Tigers to bring a “tough, niggly and physical game” to Parrs Park come Sunday.
“Both teams are big in the forwards and the backs, but if our players do their jobs individually, we can get the win.”
Now a senior member of the side, Tyson-Leat’s focus as captain is to lead the way with his own performance.
Waitakere face North Shore from Oratia’s Parrs Park on November 27. Ball up at 2pm.
Story – stuff.co.nz