The University Blues are the 2018 Auckland AFL Premiers as they defeated the Mt Roskill Saints by 19 points in a rain sodden match at QBE Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The most successful club in AAFL history added another Premiership to their tally as they produced a dominant first half to set up the win.
The record this year was all square as each side took the honours in the two games they played earlier in the season.
Playing the game in torrential rain meant that both sides had to reconfigure their game plan and it was University who got the jump early kicking three goals in the first quarter to stun the Saints.
Louis Watt (University) was given the job of tagging Sam McKenzie (Mt Roskill) and did a great job keeping him quiet early on.
Blues midfielder Damien McDowell started the game strong getting plenty of possession around the contest.
The second quarter was much of the same as Mt Roskill struggled to convert their opportunities.
Harison Manks continued his dominance over Saints forward James McKenzie while Ben Hick was playing well off the half back flank.
With a four goal lead at the half time break, the Saints needed a miracle in the second half to claw back the margin.
They started well with Tristan Burnett and Will Dickinson getting a lot of the footy early in the quarter but the University defence still held strong to keep them goal less for the third consecutive quarter.
Blues ruckman Patrick Landy had a big game in the middle along with University stalwart Liam Beattie. The pair combined well with the Blues kicking another goal to extend their lead to thirty points.
Mt Roskill sparked up in the fourth quarter kicking two goals for the term as their defence managed to hold the Blues scoreless.
With the rain still teeming down, the margin was too great and as the full time siren sounded, a jubilant University squad celebrated yet another Auckland AFL Premiership.
Blues coach Chris Mundell changed the way the Club played during the off season, which payed dividends.
“When you get humbled by 100 points the season before and are labelled ‘Dad’s Army’ it is a massive challenge to go away, re-design the gameplan, work hard during the off season both on and off the field and to come back and win the flag is hugely satisfying for our club.
It was a shame that the weather didn’t allow for a free flowing game as it would have given both sides an opportunity to highlight why they were the best two all year. Congratulations to Mt Roskill on an outstanding year, they have pushed us at every turn and continued that for the four quarters on Saturday.
For us as a club, we know we have a summer ahead with targets on our backs and no doubt Round 1 next year will see all clubs gunning for us. It is important then, that we continue to evolve and work hard to ensure we can repeat the successes of this year.”
Although losing a Grand Final always hurts, Saints Captain Sam McKenzie was satisfied with the season.
“Congratulations to University on winning the title. They deserved to win, doing a much better job than us of adapting to the conditions, and we weren’t able to get a good run at them.
Regardless of the result we have had a great season at Mt Roskill both on and off the field.
So very happy with where we are at as a club. This experience will help us for next year, and we can’t wait to get stuck into the 2019 season.”
Blues ruckman Patrick Landy was judged the best player on the field and took home the ‘Wells Medal’ for 2018. Landy will line up in the AFL New Zealand National Draft this Wednesday the 28th where all four teams will have him in their sights.
The Howick Hornets won the reserves Grand Final as they stormed home to win by 6 goals over the Mt Roskill Saints. The scores were tied at half time but a stunning second half display from the Hornets secured the McKay-Rogers Shield.
That concludes the Auckland AFL 2018 season.
The Auckland AFL executive would like to thank all the players, coaches, umpires, volunteers and supporters for their contributions over the season and look forward to welcoming you all back in 2019.
University: Patrick Landy, Liam Beattie, Harison Manks, Ben Hick
Mt Roskill: Tristan Burnett, Will Dickinson, Lachie Stewart, Hamish Mackay
Story – www.aafl.co.nz