The final round of the AFL Middle East 2018/19 season played out almost exactly as many predicted, with the Multiplex Bulls and Dubai Dragons winning their game comfortably to finish one and two. The Abu Dhabi Falcons lost, but still find themselves in the Preliminary Final, whilst the Dubai Dingoes will commence planning for next season.
Percentage was going to be the biggest determining factor of the weekend as top spot – and the transit straight to the grand final – would probably go to the biggest winner of the round. Bottom spot was more hinging on massive upsets but nevertheless went down to the final sirens.
In the opening match at Sevens Stadium in Dubai, The Dragons got off to the flyer they wanted in very ordinary weather conditions – wet and dusty. A five goal to nil opening stanza immediately chased away any upset result. The Falcons kicked two second quarter goals, but that would be it for them as they went goalless in the second half. Defensively, the game was different. The Dragons still managed to score and increase their lead, but never really cutting loose for a cricket score.
Lia Timson is Deputy Foreign Editor at Fairfax Media. The following story from Lia at www.theage.com.au looks at how the “Santiago Saints get their kicks in very Aussie way”. Her story brings the Santiago Saints back into the international spotlight after playing an almost secondary role to the Bogota Bulldogs in recent years as Colombian footy has grown.
This story also touches on the mechanics of a club behind the scenes and how they develop and exist many miles from the Australian Rules football heartland in Australia – how the ex-pat Aussies drive the game with the help of people from all over the world and locally in Santiago.
Santiago: What’s uniquely Australian but becomes global as soon as a bunch of Aussies get together on the other side of the world?
If you said AFL, welcome to the Chilean capital, where Australian rules is proudly played by expats from all states Down Under, as well as from France, the United States and Colombia. Locals join in too.
On a purely win/loss basis, the final round of the AFL Middle East season won’t have too many surprises. Based on season form (and barring remarkable upsets), the Multiplex Bulls should be too good for the Dubai Dingoes and the Dubai Dragons are unlikely to drop their game against the Abu Dhabi Falcons despite a narrow result last meeting.
The devil is in the numbers. If the Dragons absolutely hammer the Falcons, and the Bulls only just get home against the Dingoes, it is possible for the Dragons to grab the minor premiership and avoid an elimination final ahead of a possible grand final.
The Bulls hold a 6.5% lead over the Dragons on for and against, and will be keep to retain that and take the minor premiership.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons need only put in a serviceable performance in their match and either score an upset win or at least mitigate the scoreboard damage to play finals. What they don’t need is to fall apart at this hurdle and be wiped off Sevens Stadium by a cricket score.
Club founder, Elliott Takolu, is proud of his footy team. The Salamander Power club is based in Lae, north of the Papua New Guinea capital city of Port Moresby, and operates within its own small league – AFL Lae - well out of the glare of the rest of the football world.
Whilst it is known to some that footy is played as far and wide as Iceland, Chile, Myanmar, Uganda and many other exotic, far flung nations, this club which is close to Australia’s doorstep is almost anonymous.
Elliott tells the story by saying that “the club had been formed in 2008, fielding only Under 12, 13 and 15 boys. In 2009 and 2010 we decided to field Under 16 girls. Seeing interest grow from kids and youths we decided to field our senior men team in 2012.”
(Picture: Elliott and his 2012 Salamander Power premiership team)
The following article from the AFLNT (AFL Northern Territory) summarises the growth of the game in the NT. The high points are the increase is higher than the national average – driven heavily by women’s footy – and in an extraordinary piece of data, the participation of people in the Northern Territory playing the game is around one in every five people, making the Northern Territory the highest per capita playing state/territory in Australia – an amazing achievement.
Irish sporting website The 42 reports that the programme that brought Irish players to AFLW will hold their first overseas camp in Ireland later this year. The article looks at the successes of the programme from last year and the benefits for the future, especially by holding the event close to a pool of Irish players for greater opportunity.
AFTER THE HUGE success of the 2018 programme, CrossCoders have announced that they will host their first-ever overseas AFLW camp in Ireland this May.
Last September, 11 Irish hopefuls went to Melbourne for an intensive week-long trial with Donegal’s Yvonne Bonner, Tipperary’s Aisling McCarthy and Clare native Ailish Considine all signing professional rookie contracts off the back of it.
The three Gaelic football stars have been successful products of the programme thus far, impressing with Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide Crows respectively.
The two matches in the NTFL Premier League finals series on Saturday have again seen the agony and ecstasy of a season finished or a season on a roll. Waratah kept their flag hopes alive and the Tiwi Bombers continued to be the form team in the league. Last year’s grand finalists, the Darwin Buffaloes, had an early exit and end to their season whilst the Southern Districts Crocs lost but can fight another day.
The Nightcliff Tigers watched on and learned as the other teams battled before them.
The first match of the finals at TIO Stadium saw Waratah and Darwin battle for the second successive week. Last weekend it was jostling for finals positions – this weekend it was sudden death to the loser. Remarkably, the script was eerily similar. A tight first quarter was followed by a big Waratah second quarter. At half time, Waratah were five goals up, also similar to last week.