The North Shore Tigers have claimed the 2017 Auckland AFL Premiership after a nail biting 23 point victory at QBE Stadium in Albany on Sunday afternoon. It is the Tigers first Premiership in nine years when they defeated the University Blues back in 2008.
Scorching conditions greeted both sides at the new upper oval at QBE Stadium as minor premiers, North Shore Tigers came up against 2016 premiers, the Waitakere Magpies. Both sides finished the regular season only losing one game and deserved their spot in the big dance.
The Tigers were kicking with the wind in the first and North Shore forward Tyler Paull kicked the opening goal of the game. The Magpies managed to respond straight away as Ben Hutton slotted two goals up front.
New Zealand Ruckman Ty Smith wowed the crowd early on as he gathered the ball on the 50m line, sold a dummy to a Waitakere defender and kicked the Tigers final goal of the term to give them a 12 point buffer at the first break.
Robbie Mostert extended the lead for the Tigers in the second quarter before a Magpies fightback through AFL New Zealand Academy graduate, Clayton Walters who burst down the wing to kick a stunning goal from 50m.
At halftime, the Tigers had kicked eight straight goals and led the Magpies by 17 points. Jackson Clince and Josh White were strong contributors for the Tigers in the first half while David Rattenbury and Sean Butler were the Magpies best.
After the main break, both sides couldn’t break through each others defence for the first 15 minutes of the quarter until Tyler Rakich and Ronan Bourre broke the deadlock for the Tigers to extend their lead.
Key forward Declan Crann got the Magpies back into the game kicking two late goals in the dying minutes of the third quarter to reduce the margin to three goals.
With the wind behind them in the final quarter, the Magpies needed to strike early but it was the Tigers who were first to get on the scoreboard through Ronan ‘Frenchy’ Bourre, who kicked his third goal for the match and saluted the Tiger Army with his famous ‘Eiffel Tower’ goal celebration.
Sean Butler responded with two quick goals for the Pies but man of the moment Ty Smith gathered a loose ball in the Tigers goal square to kick his fourth goal of the game and seal the 2017 Auckland AFL Premiership for North Shore.
“I am super proud of the team for all their efforts over the season. Today, we focused on our tackle pressure and the boys executed it brilliantly as we snuffed out Waitakere’s attacking game. Thanks to all the players, management staff and the Tiger Army for all that you done throughout the season as we couldn’t have done it without you.” Tigers Head Coach Mitchell Ryan.
Tigers Ruckman Ty Smith was awarded the ‘Wells Medal’ for Best on Ground after a terrific performance in the middle of the ground along with a four goal haul. Smith will now turn his focus to the 2018 AFL New Zealand Premiership which commences in February next year.
This is North Shore’s first Premiership since 2008 and the Tigers will be favourites to go back to back in 2018 with a squad full of young talent.
“From the get go we felt the ball just wasn’t bouncing our way but we we managed to stay in the game and felt that we were in with a chance at three quarter time. All credit must go to the Tigers though as they have been the best team all season and deserved everything they got yesterday with the win. As a club, we have some good talent coming through the club with players like Declan Crann and Clayton Walters. The culture at Waitakere is a good one and we will be back bigger and stronger in 2018.” Waitakere Captain, Shane Leat.
That concludes the Auckland AFL 2017 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 2018.
North Shore Tigers: 14.3: 87 def. Waitakere Magpies: 10.4: 64
North Shore Tigers: Ty Smith 4, Ronan Bourre 3, Robbie Mostert 3, Tyler Rakich 2, Tyler Paull 1, Troy Brown 1.
Waitakere Magpies: Sean Butler 4, Ben Hutton 2, Clayton Walter 1, Declan Crann 1, Jamie Hunt 1.
Story – AAFL.co.nz