A grand day out for the Multiplex Bulls has seen the club win its second AFL Middle East premiership, going back to back to take the 2019/20 title after taking their maiden flag last season. Their victory over former powerhouse, the Dubai Dragons, has seen the Bulls usher in their own potential dynasty.
After enduring four consecutive grand final losses to the Dragons after their entry to the competition for the 2014/15 season, the revenge has been all the sweeter for the Bulls. Now with two flags banked, the club will be set to build even further.
The Bulls went into the clash as clear favourites after the Dragons clawed their way into the grand final downing the previously second-placed Aby Dhabi Falcons. Prior to that, the Dragons endured a horrid 100+ point loss to the Bulls. The Bulls lost just one game across the season – against the Dragons in Round 1. Since then they had dominated the competition.
One of the most famous quotes of all time is a fitting response to the Dubai Dragons’ Preliminary Final win today over the Abu Dhabi Falcons. With the Dragons limping into third place at the end of the home and away rounds, the end of an era was widely predicted.
Heading into the game, the Abu Dhabi Falcons held many aces. They had won both games against the Dragons this season. Also, the Dragons were coming into the game on the back of a 114-point loss to the Bulls.
But finals are always very different beasts, and the Dragons defied the Falcon’s home ground advantage to win by 51 points.
Round 6 of the AFL Middle East season was played at The Seven’s Stadium in Dubai with results determining the final finals makeup. The Multiple Bills will have the first week of finals off, having earned the minor premiership.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons won the battle for second place and will meet the Dubai Dragons in the Preliminary Final.
The season is over for the Dubai Dingoes after they went down to the Falcons. They will not compete in the finals.
The Abu Dhabi Falcons have enjoyed a very good season. With four sins from their six matches, they deserve favouritism against the Dubai Dragons to fight for a grand final berth. Their match against the Dubai Dingoes saw them record a powerful 74-point win. Whilst percentage became irrelevant to ladder positions, the win headed into the finals was extremely valuable as it gives the Falcons strong momentum.
Heading into the penultimate round of the AFL Middle East season, the Abu Dhabi Falcons had to down the Multiplex Bulls for a chance at the minor premiership. The Dubai Dingoes had to upset the Dubai Dragons for a chance to avoid the wooden spoon.
Instead, the Bulls firmed for premiership favouritism by downing the Falcons down in Abu Dhabi by 63 points. Likewise, the Dubai Dragons proved that they are far from removed from premiership calculations by hammering the Dingoes in Dubai by 116 points.
The match in Abu Dhabi saw the Bulls get away to a strong start, leading by more than four goals at the first break and going on to record a 12-goal opening half and lead by almost seven goals. The game wasn’t over, but the Falcons would need to find something otherworldly to bridge the gap, which they couldn’t.
With two rounds to go in the 2019/20 AFL Middle East competition, the Multiplex Bulls stand as favourites to complete back to back premierships. Nothing is guaranteed, but their 103 point demolition of the Dubai Dingoes sent an unnerving message to the rest of the competition.
The greater interest centres on the two teams most likely to play off to meet the Bulls on Grand Final day. The Abu Dhabi Falcons defeated the Dubai Dragons in a tight clash, putting them two games clear in second spot. They have booked a Preliminary Final berth, at least, but importantly they have the psychological advantage over the Dragons for next time they meet – likely in the first final.
Round 4 action at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai saw the Dragons and the Falcons play out three intense and tight quarters. However, a six goal third term from the Falcons took the game away from the Dragons. True to form, the Dragons fought hard to come back in the final quarter, but could not bridge the gap.
Back in 2014, the Doha Kangaroos were set to be “the next big thing”. Fresh from taking the 2013/13 season premiership after downing the Dubai Dragons, the ‘Roos had the Middle East football world at their feet. Dreams of going “back to back” were tempered by a greater ideal – a dynasty growing with sustained success.
However, the script changed. Off and on field changes occurred which made it difficult for the Kangaroos to maintain momentum.
Then along came the Qatar Blockade in June 2017 – ostensibly seeing other nearby Middle East nations cutting links (across many fronts, including travel) with the nation. The political arguments can be discussed elsewhere, but the impact saw the Doha Kangaroos having to pull out of the AFL Middle East competition and effectively losing much of the traction built around their maiden premiership.
The Dubai Dingoes have pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent years, surprising almost everyone in the AFL Middle East world. Their victory over competition behemoth, the Dubai Dragons, on Friday was as unexpected as it was exhilarating – especially for the Dingoes.
The club has had a tough time over the past few seasons, being a perennial prey for other teams, secure in the knowledge that at least they’ll get a win against them. How that has now changed. The Dingoes 34-point victory over the Dubai Dragons has made the club believe that they can be a finals candidate again. Other clubs can now wipe away the smug smiles when they play the Dingoes with victory no longer a given.
Winning your opening two matches in a season is no guarantee for success at the pointy end of the journey. However, it is a huge advantage in a six-match season. Two wins from two is a solid foundation for success, and the Abu Dhabi Falcons are in a great position to achieve bigger things this season.
Their victory over the Dubai Dragons at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi has seen them win two from two so far this season. This result is more compelling when their two biggest hurdles to success – the Dragons and Multiplex Bulls – have each lost a match.
The Falcons have a tough run over the next three matches – meeting the Bulls twice, and a return clash with the Dragons in between. It is possible they lose all three. But, one win across that streak, and a final round win over the Dubai Dingoes, might set the Falcons up for their best flag tilt since they took the title in 2011. They would likely need to reach the grand final via the preliminary final, but would do so knowing they have beaten quality opposition along the way.
If you thought that the Dubai Dragons’ reign as a power would end with their loss to the Multiplex Bulls in last season’s Grand Final, think again. Rather than ceding their title as the greatest and handing over to a new era of the Bulls, the Dubai Dragons have sent a new message. The past is the past – the future is us.
The eyes of the AFL Middle East world were firmly fixed on Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi for the Round 1 fixtures to kick off the new season. The hosts were up first against the Dubai Dingoes, but the match with the most talking points was second up with the Dubai Dragons tackling the Multiplex Bulls.
In a tight match for the first half, both sides threw their all at each other for scores to be level at the main break. An arm-wrestle between past and present powers was underway for the audience to see. However, a four goal to two third quarter for the Dragons gave them wriggle room and they were able to take that further with another five goals to one in the final term.
The winning ways of the Multiplex Bulls have continued in the Middle East with the team taking out the 2019/20 Pre-Season Cup after downing the Dubai Dingoes in the final. This follows on from the maiden AFL Middle East premiership earlier this year and sets the scene for another big year for the Bulls.
The big improver from the event were the Dubai Dingoes. After a few torrid seasons without much success, the Dingoes showed that their off-season recruiting, planning and drive has paid off. They contested the final after impressing in their two wins against eventual winners, the Bulls, and a dominant performance against the Abu Dhabi Falcons. Their only defeat was a narrow loss to the Dubai Dragons by just three points.