The Auckland AFL season kicked off yesterday around the city with familiar faces and even some new ones as 6 clubs strive to become 2016 AAFL Premiers.
Back to back premiers, the University Blues got their 2016 campaign off to a great start with a win against the Pakuranga Panthers while the North Shore Tigers were solid against a young and talented Manurewa Raiders side. Over in Mt Roskill, the Waitakere Magpies held on to a 14 point win against the Mt Roskill Saints.
Pakuranga Panthers vs University Blues
4th September, 12.00pm, Mountfort Park, Manurewa.
The defending back to back Premiers University Blues got their AAFL campaign off to a solid start as they kicked 25 goals to defeat the Pakuranga Panthers by 144 points in dry conditions at Mountfort Park.
University midfielder, Ben Hick continued his NZ representative form as he racked up a number of disposals and controlled the game through the middle of the park providing some quality football to full forward Nick Trask who kicked 8 goals for the game. AAFL stalwart James Monaghan’s skills were as sharp as ever and Chris Mundell and Tim Stokes also made their mark on the game with solid performances.
The Panthers looked good in parts of the game and will continue to only get better as the season progresses with having a focus on skills and game structure.
The Blues looked slick and will once again be the benchmark in the AAFL.
Manurewa Raiders vs North Shore Tigers
4th September, 2.00pm, Mountfort Park, Manurewa.
A young and talented Manurewa side took on last year’s runners up the North Shore Tigers. Both sides boasted strong squads and were eager to compete and start the season off with a win.
The Tigers started fast and were on the board early when new recruit Riley Coleman slotted a goal from 50 metres out. Captain Adam Rice lead from the front along with strong performances from Josh ‘Pom’ Cunliffe and Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas who performed well in the middle of the ground.
Manurewa lost the services early of full forward Alex Fakatoumafi as he injured his knee and were unable to find that marking forward to get them on the scoreboard.
The Raiders, who are coached by ‘AFLNZ 2016 Coach of the Year’ Dave Abetz strung together some good passages of play in the first half with Wesley College student Zeon McNabb, Sean Andrews and Vandyn Hartman all providing highlights during the game.
After halftime, the heavens opened and the game plans switched to keeping the ball close to retain possession. From then on, experience shone through for the Tigers as they ran out 38 point winners.
Mt Roskill Saints vs Waitakere Magpies
4th September, 2.00pm, War Memorial Park, Mt Roskill.
In the match of the round, the Mt Roskill Saints hosted the Waitakere Magpies at War Memorial Park in Mt Roskill. Both sides finished third and fourth in last year’s competition and were evenly matched. Lead by new captain Sam McKenzie, the Saints were keen to get off to a winning start and the Saints had the services of William Dickinson who returned to the Saints after a stint over Australia and bolstered their defence in the backline.
In a tight tussle, the Magpies seemed to have it over the Saints for most of the game with a number of national representatives with NZ Hawks, Dave Rattenbury, Will Gregson and Captain Shane Leat leading the way for the Pies. Youngster Carlos Donnell-Brown from Green Bay High School had a best on ground performance which is positive news for the Pies as he has been prone to injury over the past few seasons.
The men from the West held on for a 14 point win and will look to build throughout the season to challenge for the Premiership.
Team: Played: Won: Lost: Draw: %: Points: 1 10 9 0 1 197 38 2 10 6 3 1 192 26 3 10 6 3 1 178 26 4 10 5 4 1 126 22 5 10 2 8 42 8 6 10 0 10 19 0
Story – AAFL