Successful start to South China AFL
Friday, March 25 2011 @ 09:59 am ACDT
Contributed by: Andrew Sawitsch
The opening day of the SCAFL was a huge success exceeding the expectations of all concerned. The weather was great and the slightly less than capacity crowd were treated to an exciting day of Aussie rules.
The venue, Guangdong University of Technology Stadium or GUTS, proved to be the perfect venue for the opening round of the competition. The first class facilities ensuring that The Guangzhou Scorpions were able to host there visitors from Hong Kong and Macau in a style not always seen on the Asian footy scene.
The opening game saw the hosts take on Macau Lightning in the first of six 12-a-side games played during the day; under an NAB Cup 15 min half format.
Thanks to Jon Hopper of the Guangzhou Scorpions for the following report. Well Done to the SCAFL board and teams on an a great opening round. LEFT: Some members from the Scorpions.
The Scorpions got off to a flying start and quickly opened up a 5 goal lead, with Matt Warren (captain) and Matt Harper striking early blows. The lightening pulled back a couple late in the half, as The Scorpions intensity dropped off towards the break. The second half saw the sides trade a couple of goals early on, before The Scorpions pulled clear and finished with a flourish eventually finishing decisive winners 11-2-68 ahead of Macau Lightning 6-2-38. Top scorer for the Scorpions was Nathan Lieschke with 4-0
In Game 2 the Hong Kong Reds took on their compatriots the Hong Kong Blues.
After a long bus ride and a few last minute selection changes en route the 2 Dragons sides faced off in the first of their 2 scheduled SCAFL encounters for the season. On paper the sides looked relatively even however the Reds did have the advantage of fielding 3 of their starting midfielders from the 2010 champs including player of the champs Troy ‘Woody’ Clements which was always going to be a big advantage in a 12 a-side game with ample room to move. Both sides started strongly and weren’t giving their opposite HK colour an inch.
The Reds as expected were running hard through the middle and had the better of the clearances, but the defensive pressure and rebound attack from the Blues kept them well and truly in the game and at the half time break it was a couple of goals a piece. In the second half the Reds compressed the defensive running game of the Blues though and managed to find more targets up forward themselves, running out the game with a 8.3.51 to 4.7.31 win. Woody and Stuch both kicked 3 for the Reds along with 2 from Wilbur. Mals was at his opportunistic best, kicking 2 for the Blues, helped by Stefan and Packo with 1 each.
Game three saw the Guangzhou Scorpions return to the park against the Hong Kong Blues in what was to prove to be the upset of the day.
Having decisively defeated The Scorpions in their first encounter in December 2010 the Hong Kong side started the game as clear favorites. However The Scorpions entered the game with the benefit of an additional rest period and inspired by their home town support they went on a rampage that left the Hong Kong blues stunned. Quickly jumping out to a 4 goal lead before the Blues were able to pull one back. Led by Grant Dooley (head coach and club patron) the Scorpions back line were an almost impenetrable wall restricting the Blues to 1-2-8 while the international squad fielded by The Scorpions added a further 5 goals to finish up at 9-4-58. Aussie rules virgin Nick Anson (pome), Frenchman Guillaume Adam "GG" and John Browne "Casper" from Ireland all among the scorers. For the Blues, Jono and Mals worked hard up front with a goal each and Winesy Mark 2 and Burnsy resolute in defence.
Game four saw an under strength Macau Lightning side soundly defeated by the Hong Kong Reds, tournament favorites and tipped to take out the inaugural SCAFL championship. Hong Kong Reds' superior fitness, read youth and experience enabled them to score freely quickly running up a 6 goal lead before Macau were able to record a score. There were flashes of the potential hidden within the Macau team as Lightening rookie Tim Jeffares went for a run down the flank eventually floating a pass to team mate Tony Mitchell who kicked a "screamer" from six meters, directly in front of the sticks. However the on-ball brigade of the Reds, and of particular note the exceptionally hard running of Jacko, was too dominant and aided by great ruck work from PK and Browny the Reds went on to an eventual 11-4-70 to 2-1-13. Full Forward Wilbur the notable goal scorer in this game finishing with 4 majors from 5 attempts.
Game five had Macau backing up against Hong Kong Blues and here again the disadvantage of a double header was clear to be seen. From the outset the Hong Kong Blues fresher legs made all the difference and they were able to deny Macau any quality possession and quickly piled on the best score of the day. Finishing with 11-5-71 while Macau only managed to record 4 minor scores to finish 0-4-4. Multiple goal scorers for the Blues were Will, Christiano, Jono, Mals and Coops.
The final game of the day saw Guangzhou take on the Reds, both undefeated this was the game that would decide who took the ultimate honors on the first day of the SCAFL season. The Scorpions entered the game determined to smash their underdog tag however it was clear that at the end of a hard days football they were out gunned by the younger, fitter and more experienced Reds. The Reds on-ball brigade of Stuch, Woody and Jacko continued their dominance from the earlier games and had the Scorpions midfield out on their feet as they struggled to stay in touch with the Reds who lead at the end of the first half 5-2-32 to 3-2-20. In the second half the Reds were able to find much more time and space and would have accumulated a big score if their accuracy had been better finishing with 8-6-54 against The Scorpions 4-5-29. Reds captain Stuch was the standout with 5 goals for the match finishing his day with 10 straight and taking an early lead on the SCAFL goal kicking table.
That saw the Hong Kong Reds finish the day undefeated and lead the SCAFL at the end of the opening gala. With two good wins under their belt The Guangzhou Scorpions were firmly in second place followed by Hong Kong Blues and Macau Lightening, who are yet to record a win in this inaugural season of the SCAFL.
Having completed the business end of the day all the teams celebrated the launch of the SCAFL in superb style at a function hosted by Grant Dooley consul-general of Australia in Guangzhou and his wife Kristan. Jon Hopper president of the Guangzhou Scorpions welcomed the visiting teams and thanked all the sponsors whose generous contributions had made the day possible (Michael Page International, Just Beer, Boomerang Bakery, The Paddy Field Irish bar and restaurant, Clariant and Stahl Chemicals).
Robert Burns, captain of Hong Kong Blues and president of the SCAFL, congratulated the Scorpions on organizing a great start to the SCAFL season, thanked all the teams for their efforts on a day that heralds a new chapter in Asian footy. One that saw the Hong Kong Reds take out the honors but where all agreed, the real winner was the game of Australian Rules Football!
Round 2 will be split round that will see a Hong Kong derby between the Reds and Blues played in Hong Kong on April 2nd, while Macau will host the Guangzhou Scorpions in Macau on April 9th.
The Guangzhou Scorpions, hosts of the inaugural round of the SCAFL
Guangzhou Scorpions vs Macau Lightning
Guangzhou Scorpions vs Hong Kong Blues