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AAFL GRAND FINAL REPORT 2014
The University Blues have won the 2014 Auckland AFL, narrowly defeating the Waitakere Magpies in a match with a thrilling final quarter.The match pitted two contrasting styles against each other, with the structured and focused game-plan of the Blues trumping the adventurous Magpies.
University captain Chris Mundell paid tribute to the Magpies, who came so close to pulling off what had previously appeared to be an impossible victory.
“It was probably the best final I’ve been part of. Waitakere brought it right to the end.”
Earlier in the AAFL Finals Day at Onepoto Domain, the North Shore Tigers thrashed the Mt Roskill Saints to secure third place for the season.
Throughout the match, a University win appeared to become more likely with every quarter. A tight opening tussle gave the Blues a modest lead of 1 goal at quarter time.
University kicked the first goal of the match, before the Magpies applied sustained pressure that led to a goal in reply. The teams traded another goal each, and with a deadlock at the first break looking likely, Nick Trask stepped forward for the Blues, taking an outrageous diving mark in front of goal and converting the set shot.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern, with brutal battles in the midfield. University continued to extend their lead, with Trask again scoring. The structure of University continued to serve them well, and they took a 9 point lead into half time.
A noticeable aspect of the match was the strong performances of young players on both teams. Teenagers Carlos Donnell-Brown and Josh Copeland both stood up for the Magpies, with Donnell-Brown in particular marking and distributing skilfully. For the Blues, young AFL International Scholarship holders Siope Ngata and Giovanni Mountain Silbery both played with power and presence.
The third quarter of finals is known as the Premiership quarter, and so it proved to be in this match. Waitakere scored first after the half time break, threatening to retake the lead. However, that was as good as it got for them over that quarter, with the Blues grinding out four more goals. Clever possession based play was the key, with the Magpies seeing little of the ball. The lead looked insurmountable at three quarter time, with the Blues leading 9.6:60 – 5.2:32.
However, there is no team in New Zealand more capable of a last ditch fightback than the Waitakere Magpies, and they gave their all in their bid to hold onto the Auckland AFL title.
An all-New Zealand representative midfield of Shane Leat, David Rattenbury, and Will and Michael Gregson took full control of the ball in the 4th quarter, rapidly moving it back into attacking zones. Dusan Hakaraia scored the first goal of the quarter for the Magpies, continuing his final quarter heroics from the semi final.
University hit back quickly, appearing to kill off any chances of a fightback. But another Hakaraia goal kept the momentum going for the Magpies.
Trask kicked his 5th goal of the match to keep the Blues firmly in the lead, but by now the Magpies were dominating the match. A goal to David Rattenbury, followed by two more in quick succession, saw the Magpies trailing by just 9 points.
With just minutes remaining in the match, Hakaraia scored again to spark the vocal Magpies fans into life, who sensed a boilover was about to take place. Immediately after the ruck to restart the match, the Magpies moved the ball back into their attacking zone. Desperate scrambling defence from the Blues prevented a goal, with a wild clearance sending the ball out to the wing. The siren sounded, and the Blues had hung on for the narrowest of victories.
The loss was tough for the Waitakere Magpies, who had to give up the Auckland AFL Shield after taking it against the Mt Roskill Saints in 2013.
For the University Blues, the win meant a return of the Shield that they had not held since 2011, after being a powerhouse earlier in their history. Chris Mundell credited a two year campaign to win back the Premiership as the key to their success.
“80-90% of the players who are here today came in last year. We’ve rebuilt our club after a couple of tough years, and built a culture we can be proud of.”
University Blues vs Waitakere Magpies
University Blues: 3.1 5.5 9.6 11.6 (72)
Waitakere Magpies: 2.1 4.2 5.2 11.3 (69)
Best and Fairest:
University Blues: Rowan Bilkey, Nick Trask, Chris Mundell
Waitakere Magpies: David Rattenbury, Dusan Hakaraia, Shane Leat
AAFL GRAND FINAL REPORT 2014
The University Blues and the Waitakere Magpies will be meeting in the Auckland AFL Grand Final, after two hard fought semi finals.In the first semi final, the North Shore Tigers travelled West to take on the Waitakere Magpies at Parrs Park, in a bid to avenge their narrow loss in the final round of the regular season.
The match started well for the Tigers, with the first goal of the game. However the Magpies hit back early, with players stepping up at crucial moments to kick long goals.
Over the 2nd quarter, Mitch Ryan began to fire for the Tigers, taking outstanding marks. However the Magpies pushed forward constantly, and continuously fired shots at the Tigers’ goal. The pressure began to take a toll on the Tigers, who weren’t able to catch up with the players they were tasked with defending. As a result, the Magpies went into the break with a 4.6:30 – 2.5:17 lead.
The Tigers came out in the 2nd half with a furious intensity, and soon fought their way back into the game with two early goals. An opportunistic shot from Will Gregson put the Magpies back in front, but two more quick goals to the Tigers followed. The Tigers mauled the Magpies throughout the quarter, playing with superior pace and aggression, however once again the Magpies were able to create a goal from nowhere near the end of the quarter to reduce the deficit to 3 points going into the final quarter.
The Magpies struck first, with Michael Gregson storming down the flank on a long run, before kicking to Dusan Hakaraia at full forward who converted the goal. The Tigers responded to the pressure, with Reyne Westbury taking back the lead with a goal. Eugene Hanna kicked a long set shot with poise to put the Magpies back in front. The quarter took another twist, when Mitch Ryan soared above the pack to take a mark right in front of goal, converting to put the Tigers back in front. However, Hakaraia managed to step up again, kicking two more goals to give the Magpies an unassailable lead near the final siren. The final score reflected the intense tussle throughout the match, with the Magpies winning 10.10:70 – 9.8:62.
Waitakere Magpies: 2.3 4.6 6.9 10.10:70
North Shore Tigers: 1.4 2.5 7.6 9.8:62
Best on Ground:
Magpies: Will Gregson, Jamie Gresham, Dusan Hakaraia
Tigers: Mitch Ryan, Andriu Sucu, Ty Smith
The University Blues continued their march towards a Premiership with a commanding win over the Mt Roskill Saints. The Saints fought hard to stay in the game, but were overwhelmed by the University midfield and forwards.
In a physical contest, the Saints scored the first goal of the day into the wind, suggesting an upset could have been on the cards. However, the Blues enthusiastically hit back, kicking four across the quarter to take a big lead. The 2nd quarter followed a similar pattern, with the Blues kicking another four to extend their lead to 32 points at half time.
The Mt Roskill Saints are a proud team, and were not about to give their chances of playing in a Grand Final up lightly. After tightening their play in the midfield, and with forwards making clever leads to pull away from their markers, they managed to come back and win the 3rd quarter, kicking 5 goals and reducing the deficit to only 15 points.
However, the Blues are widely considered to be the strongest team in the league this season, and their 4th quarter showed why. With a focused game plan they dominated from the outset, and kicked 5 more goals to push the lead beyond the reach of the Saints. The fitness of the Blues was evident, with the 4th quarter their best at both ends of the field. Nick Trask finished with 6 goals for the Blues, with a remarkable display of how to play as a small forward. For the Saints, Andrew McKenzie led the scoring with 3 goals.
Saints: Aaron McConchie, Ben Horne, Hayden Miller, Justin Summons
Auckland AFL Grand FinalThe Waitakere Magpies will defend their title against the University Blues, in a match that promises to be a clash of contrasting styles. The mercurial Magpies are capable of feats of brilliance unmatched by any other team in the league, but have shown a worrying tendency to go off the boil throughout the season. The Blues, led by highly regarded coach Chris Mundell, are a well drilled machine, and if they play with focus and discipline they will be favourites to win.