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THE TIGER’S ROAR: ROUNDS 1-5

It’s been a funny start to the season, with not one but two rounds being rained out back-to-back. No one in Wellington can remember the last time a season was disrupted to this extent, but as they say: the show must go on!

Fortunately for the newly created Women’s league, the field size required this season can fit on a rugby field, so the Women have completed 5 games of AFL with a quick relocating of the grounds for the cancelled open games. There have been some great individual and team performances throughout the rounds, and it is great to see all of the Women’s skills with the Sherrin improving every week! Come on out on Sundays to watch them play from 11-Noon!

Wellington Women’s Giants & Bulldogs showing off their skills during Round 3
Credit: Jun Tanlayco Sports Images

As for the WAFL Open games, relocating a 165m oval at the last minute is not an easy feat, so all missed games have been recoreded as ‘draws’ with each team receiving 2 points for each missed game. This has left the season well and truly open, with every team a chance at making the finals.

The N.C. Demons have a few key players return to Wellington, led by superstar Josh Morgan-Ranui making his return from playing in Australia. The Demons’ spirits are high, with hope for a momentum swing for the back half of the season!

Eagles and Saints flying high in Round 1
Credit: Jun Tanlayco Sports Images

The H.V. Eagles have started strong, with key wins over the Demons and Saints. They are fare-welling Peter Van Kampen on his return to Wellington, who was instrumnetal in getting the Eagles back in to winning form – narrowly missing out on a Grand Final Spot in the fianl round last season. They welcom Andrew Symmans into the nest as team manager. Currently behind the Saints only on percentage, they are looking to right the wrongs from last season and book a slot in this year’s WAFL Grand Final!

The E.S. Bulldogs have started off with 3 wins from 3 games, but the two draws mean that they have yet to face their arch-rivals – the Saints. Still stinging from a narrow loss to them in the Grand Final in 2018, the Bulldogs are determined to put their stamp on the league and regain the cup.

The W.C. Saints must still have had a hangover from last season’s Granf Final, with a loss to the Eagles first up, but have bounced back with two strong wins against the Demons. As always, Gregor Kempt’s team is posing a formidible force, but has yet to be tested by fellow 2018 finalists, the Bulldogs. Regardless, the Saints are keen to keep their hands on the cup and look to erase any doubt caused by their round one stumble.

Here is the table after the first three games played:

PositionTeamPrem PointsPlayedWonLost%Form
1Bulldogs16330387DDW
2Saints12321217DDW
3Eagles832159DDL
4Demons430320DDL

2018 WAFL Grand Final Review

Saints Depose Bulldogs Dynasty

Wellington City Saints Captain Andrew Bissett raises the cup after their 2018 Grand Final win.

It may have been the third consecutive Grand Final match-up between the Bulldogs and the Saints but it was anything but routine. It was a warm, sunny day with a sizable northerly breeze blowing down the ground when the two teams marched onto Hutt Park for the last time in 2018. The Saints were able to take the lead in the first, playing with the wind, but by halftime the Bulldogs had brought the scores level at 17 a piece in what was proving to be a grinding, low-scoring affair.

After the halftime break, the Saints came out of the blocks firing, piling on an additional 20 points before the 4th quarter, with the Bulldogs scrounging up just a lone behind in response. The skills of the Saints shone through, with clean kicking and marking setting their side well above their competitors.

Early in the 4th there was a friendly fire collision, and the game had to be put on hold for the ambulance to come and ferry one of the Bulldogs off to the hospital. Fortunately he is recovering well, suffering ‘only’ a concussion, broken nose, and requiring a few stitches for bleeding on the inside of his lip. Once play resumed, the Bulldogs mounted a massive comeback, but the Saints defence was able to hold strong. Under immense pressure of the momentum shift, the Saints were able to fend off the loss, and when then final siren went, were 3 points ahead on the scoreboard, despite the fact they didn’t score in the final term.

Final score:
WC Saints: 5-7-37
ES Bulldogs: 4-10-34

After the Cup and medal presentations on the field, players and coaches from all the teams headed to the Stop Out Clubrooms for the end of season awards presentations. Congratulations to all awards recipients, and the All-Wellington Team:

League MVP: James Kusel (HV Eagles) – 26 votes, played 7 games

Leading Goal Scorer: James Terry (ES Bulldogs) – 29 goals over 8 games. Most goals in a game: 10 vs Demons, Round 6

Rising Star (under 18): Doug McJarrow (WC Saints) – 9 votes, played 8 games

Margaret Lavery Award (Volunteer of the Year): Donna Gill – Demons Manager

-All-Wellington Team-
Full Backs: Alex Awatere (Demons), Pat Lovelock (Eagles), Adam Moore (Saints)

Half Backs: Sam Sherring (Eagles), Andrew Gavaghan (Saints), Andrew Bissett (Saints)

Centres: Blake Neve (Bulldogs), Tom Robby (Bulldogs), Tayne Lockwood (Demons)

On Ball: Peter Halstead (Bulldogs), Jalan Farris (Eagles), Stanley Chung (Bulldogs)

Half Forwards: James Sharp (Bulldogs), James Kusel (Eagles), Will Kempt (Saints)

Full Forwards: Phil Wakefield (Bulldogs), Luke Vincent (Eagles), James Terry (Bulldogs)

Interchange: Ray Turner (Eagles), Luke Shervey (Bulldogs), Michael Martinez (Bulldogs), Coby Dodd (Saints), Doug McJorrow (Saints), Paul Willis (Bulldogs)

Congratulations to the Saints on an impressive victory, after a hard-fought campaign in a much more competitive WAFL season. Congratulations as well to the Bulldogs on yet another impressive season. This loss will be hard to take, but will surely strengthen their resolve in 2019.