Some shock results took place in the weekend of AFL matches for the 1st and 2nd of November, with the Auckland AFL points table in particular looking very different from the week before.
The North City Demons fired a warning shot to the rest of the WAFL competition with a strong win over the Hutt Valley Eagles. On a windy day, in which one end was heavily favoured for scoring, the Demons used the third quarter to pull away from the Eagles and stamp their mark on the game, kicking 6 goals.
1. 5 11 0. 1 1
3. 5 23 3. 5 23
9. 9 63 3. 5 23
9. 11 65 4. 7 31
Demons: Sam McKenzie 4, Callum Gill 2, Dean Ellis 1, Jack Green 2,
Eagles: Jack O’Callaghan 2, Connor McGeough, Craig Morgan
In the other match, the Bulldogs pounded an understrength Wellington City Saints. The Bulldogs were simply too strong and intense, particularly over the first half and 3rd quarter. The Saints did manage to secure the 3rd quarter, holding the Bulldogs scoreless and kicking their 2 goals for the game, but unfortunately it was not enough to get them back into the game. The Bulldogs were merciless in the final quarter, kicking 35 unanswered points.
3. 0 18 0. 4 4
5. 2 32 0 . 5 5
5. 2 32 2. 9 21
10. 7 67 2 9 21
Bulldogs: Ryan McLean 4, James Terry 2, Cameron Ross, Chris Buckley, Liam Townsend, Rob Murphy
Saints: Dan Annand 2
Special thanks to the umpires for the day, Mark Langdon, Chris Newlove and James Terry.
The Auckland AFL saw a remarkable pair of upsets, that could well have an impact on the finals series matches.
The first match of the round, played on Saturday, saw the unfancied Pakuranga Panthers take on the highly regarded Waitakere Magpies. Going into the match the Panthers were yet to record a win, but they came out with passion and vigour right from the start. After taking an early lead, the Panthers then pulled the game into a more defensive pattern, with Ryan White and David Quigg especially holding the backline down throughout the match. At the other end, Patrick Cleave kicked 3 goals, with Patterson and Arnold chipping in. The Magpies were in the rare position of being outplayed, and eventually went down by a small margin. The final score was 5.8:38 – 3.11:29, with the accuracy of the Magpies forwards letting them down at crucial moments.
The 2nd major upset of the day was the North Shore Tigers pulling off a win against the Mt Roskill Saints. The Tigers, who have been inconsistent over the season, beat the Saints for the 2nd time in the year. The Tigers played a hard running and defensively sound game, finding gaps in the Saints midfield and flooding forward. Many attacks were repulsed by the Saints backline of McConchie, Boyce and Hollingsworth, but Ryan, Adam Rice and Packer were able to find ways to crack open the defence for the Tigers. Goalkickers were also spread across the team, with Rakich leading the Tigers with 2. The other major leader for the Tigers was Andriu Sucu, who dominated the Saints almost every time they moved the ball into the attacking zone. The final score was 54-26, with the Saints fighting hard right until the end and winning the final quarter.
Overall it was a commanding performance from a team that has shown potential in 2014, but as yet hasn’t managed to consistently perform on a weekly basis. For the Saints, their season hangs on the next few games. Now in 4th place on the ladder, last year’s runner up team need a big improvement before they play Waitakere next week.
In the final match of the season, the University Blues continued their march towards the finals with a comprehensive victory over the Manurewa Raiders, taking the match 16.16:112 – 6.6:42. The scoreline was a reflection of the dominance of the Blues across the game, but in no way diminishes the effort put in by the Raiders, who were competitive throughout. University were led by the powerful Matthew Gale in the ruck, with 6 goals coming through the boot of NZ Hawk Tim Morton. Liam Beattie, Ben Hick and Chris Mundell also earned plaudits during the performance, which saw University advance to the top of the table.
The Eastern Blues have powered into the Grand Final, to be played next week, after sweeping an understrength Eagles team aside. The Eagles played with passion and flair, and kicked the first two goals of the game, but fatigue quickly set in and they were unable to hold onto the lead.
Led by their New Zealand representatives, the Blues began to capitalise on the tiredness and mistakes of the Eagles, pushing the lead out to 49 points at half time. Robles, Heazlewood and Crighton, so regularly among the best of the Eagles this season, battled doggedly in a doomed cause, but they were stymied by the efforts of Jared Court and James Bowden in defence for the Blues, and punished by Dan Benny and Logan Toomer on attack.
For the Eagles, the match will conclude a season in which many new players were brought to AFL. While the results may not have always gone their way, the team showed at many times over the season that they were capable of footing it with the rest of the CAFL. The club presented the following players with end of season awards:
With the win secured, the Blues will now look forward to a Grand Final showdown against the Christchurch Bulldogs. As the reigning Champions and Minor Premiership winners, the Bulldogs will start the match as favourites. However, the Blues have shown they are capable of matching the Bulldogs across the season, winning 1 out of their 3 matches, and only narrowly losing the other 2. The match, to take place at Northwood Park on the 8th of November, is sure to draw a crowd.
Blues 16.17:113 def Eagles 5.5:35
Best Blues: L Ingliss, Lubransky, Toomer, Benny, Court, Hyde
Best Eagles: Robles, Crighton, Hazlewood, Burr
Battle of the Lake
Auckland have taken out a tightly contested ‘Battle of the Lake’ match against Wellington. Played in Taupo as a trial and warm up for the NPC, the match saw a strong Wellington squad come close to unseating the current reigning Champions of New Zealand. The final score, 46-40, was a reflection of how hard Wellington went into the match. Auckland’s squad featured a number of players who featured for the New Zealand Hawks in the International Cup, and it is clear that they will need to work hard to stay ahead of the pack at the NPC in December.
Club members are encouraged to get along to their local Hawks Cup competition to scout potential players for future seasons. The Hawks Cup is an ideal opportunity for Secondary School students to become involved with AFL, and many club members are taking on the responsibility of coaching school teams. Tournament details are as follows:
Wednesday 5th November
Waitakere Cluster Tournament: Trusts Arena, from 2.30pm to 6.00pm.
Counties Cluster Tournament: Papatoetoe Sports Centre, from 3.00pm to 6pm.
Wellington Cluster Tournament: Martin Luckie Park, from 1.00pm – 4.30pm.
Thursday 6th November
Harbour Cluster Tournament: Onepoto Domain, from 3.00pm to 6.00pm.
Central Auckland Cluster Tournament: St Paul’s College, from 3.00pm to 6.00pm.
Tuesday 11th November
Canterbury Cluster Tournament. Northwood Park, 3.00pm to 6.00pm.