The two best AFL teams in Auckland are set to go head to head, with the Waitakere Magpies and the Mt Roskill Saints both qualifying for the Auckland AFL final.
The match will be held on the 1st of December at 2.00pm, at Onepoto Domain on the North Shore. The Sunday scheduling will allow players and spectators, who may have other sporting commitments, to be part of what promises to be an exciting culmination to the season.
The current Premiers are the Mt Roskill Saints, who have also enjoyed a strong season in 2013, finishing top of the table. The young James McKenzie has been a significant presence in the side, and has also recently been part of the Under-18 New Zealand Hawks, along with Saints team-mates Taylor Alaelua and Gray Samuels. Dan Carman, Michael Boyce and Matt Kemp will all be players to watch out for too in the final.
Waitakere Magpies boast a star-studded lineup, including current New Zealand Hawks Michael Gregson, Shane Leat and veteran David Rattenbury, who was also awarded the Best and Fairest Award for the Auckland AFL in 2013. The Magpies also feature players who have excelled in other codes, notably former Auckland cricket representative Dusan Hakaraia.
AFL in Auckland has benefitted heavily from players being involved in the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme. Young players have come through New Zealand age-representative teams. Many senior players have been hardened through their involvement with the New Zealand Hawks.
The AFL New Zealand High Performance pathway does not just involve players. Coaches and team managers, such as University Club, Auckland, and U-18 New Zealand Hawks coach Chris Mundell, have also benefitted through their involvement.
Players from the two clubs contesting the grand final will feature heavily in the Auckland representative team, who will compete at the National Provincial Championships on the 7th and 8th of December in Christchurch. The rest of the squad will be made up of players from the remaining 6 teams who compete in the Auckland AFL.
Two of those teams will face off in a curtain raiser match, to decide the winner of the Plate competition. Manurewa Raiders have finished top of Division 2 over the course of the season, but will have to work hard to overcome the home ground advantage that will be enjoyed by their opposition, the North Shore Tigers.
The Auckland AFL was formed in 1974, and in recent years has been incredibly competitive. Four different clubs have won Premiership titles over the past 5 years, showing the strength and depth that exists in the league.
The split into two divisions has been a recent development in the Auckland AFL. Formerly, six clubs competed across one division, but with the introduction of a second team from the University Club, and a team drawn from new players known as the Barbarians, enlarging the competition structure became necessary to support the growth of AFL in Auckland.
Auckland AFL Grand Final
Mt Roskill Saints vs Waitakere Magpies
Sunday 1st December, 2.00pm
Auckland AFL Plate Final
North Shore Tigers vs Manurewa Raiders
Sunday 1st December, 12.00pm