The AFL Middle East season opened with the double-header draw at Sevens Stadium in Dubai yesterday. The local footy community was treated to two games, both hotly contested and exciting, though for very different reasons.
The match between last year’s grand finalists, the Dubai Dragons and the Multiplex Bulls, was tight at half time. Both teams were out to make statements and locked horns, if you will, in a territorial fight where neither was prepared to concede. However, after the main break it was the Bulls that hammered home eight goals to one to run out convincing 34 point victors 11 11 77 to 6 7 43.
The new 2016/17 AFL Middle East season gets under way at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai with a double-header on Friday, 21st October. In the opening match of the fixture the Entertainer (Dubai) Dingoes will take on the Abu Dhabi Falcons. This will be followed by the grand final rematch between the Multiplex Bulls and title holders the Dubai Dragons.
The Doha Kangaroos will start their season in coming weeks once all future fixtures are finalised.
The new season brings all sorts of possibilities, and each team playing on Friday will have the belief that a new season brings.
The Entertainer Dingoes won their first trophy two weeks ago when they claimed the pre-season cup. It heralds a new era for the Dingoes and they go into Friday night’s match against the Falcons with their own bar raised and a second cup on the horizon for this season.
The Entertainer Dubai Dingoes have kept part one of their 2016/17 season promise by taking out the Pre-Season Cup last night, downing reigning premiers, the Dubai Dragons, and claiming new silverware for the trophy cabinet.
In an interview last week (see Dingoes Hoping To Revamp History) Myles Lynch stated that “off the back of an extremely inconsistent year last year we are once again desperate to secure the silverware for the oldest club in the AFLME and the focus and mission for the year is to bring everyone together as a tight-knit club - as a champion team will beat a team of individual champions every time.”
With that first task done, the Dingoes now have the momentum and belief to push further into the season proper and seek to win the AFL Middle East premiership for the first time.
According to Dubai Dingoes boss, Myles Lynch, the Dubai Dingoes are set to enter the new season tomorrow with a new mindset and a desire to rewrite the history books for AFL Middle East’s oldest club. The Pre-Season Cup tournament in Dubai tomorrow is as good a place to start as any.
Myles stated that “off the back of an extremely inconsistent year last year we are once again desperate to secure the silverware for the oldest club in the AFLME and the focus and mission for the year is to bring everyone together as a tight-knit club - as a champion team will beat a team of individual champions every time.”
Back in the 2013/14 season, the Doha Kangaroos were a team on the rise, and rose so far they toppled the Dubai Dragons to take their inaugural AFL Middle East premiership. In fact, the Kangaroos are the only team to have interrupted what might otherwise have been five straight Dragon flags. That in itself shows the magnitude of the Doha Kangaroos performance.
Since then, the Qatar-based Kangaroos have found life a little tougher. A series of injuries, player departures and access to training facilities have conspired to make things harder. But, according to the Kangaroos coach, Pitre Bourdon, things are set to change. “Things are looking up this year and we are hoping to be a more competitive unit this season”.
The Dubai Dragons have created an amazing dynasty in recent years. With four flags from the past five seasons there is an argument that maybe it’s time for a rebuild and maybe the new season will belong to fellow Dubai teams the rising Bulls or the rebuilding Dingoes, the Kangaroos from Doha or the Falcons from Abu Dhabi.
But the club, whilst losing some players, have also rebuilt their list for yet another flag tilt.
Former club president and now AFL Middle East President, Matt Burn, updated the Dragon’s progress. “The first session for the pre-season was August 16. [The team] have been training twice a week since then with numbers getting better each week.”
The new AFL Middle East 2016/17 season is now only weeks away and the Multiplex Bulls have already thrown down a gauntlet to make this season their own. After entering the competition just two seasons ago they have twice reached the AFL Middle East Grand Final and twice the pre-season tournament. Only last season did they taste victory in any of those grand finals, most recently going down to the Dubai Dragons in last season’s finale.
But, according to the club, that is all about to change.
It has been two weeks since the Dubai Dragons completed their fourth premiership win in five years. Most of the time has been spent either celebrating, recovering or returning to a balance of home and work life minus the demands of footy.
The Dragons won the grand final against the BM Bulls in comprehensive fashion despite the Bulls being first out of the blocks within seconds of the first bounce. The final scores saw a 72 point victory:
The Dubai Dragons have further etched their name into the history books of the AFL Middle East, downing the BM Bulls for the second year running to win the premiership.
The remarkable win sees the Dragons with four titles in the past five seasons, broken only by the Doha Kangaroos win against the Dragons in 2013/14. This if the fourt flag for the Dubai Dragons after winning back to back titles in 2011/12 and 2012/13 and now going back to back again with titles in 2014/15 and now 2015/16.
For the BM Bulls it is a tough pill to swallow, going down in consecutive grand finals, but they are sure to bounce back strongly next season based on their incredible growth and success in just two seasons.
With the final home and away match now completed in the AFL Middle East competition for the 2015/16 season, attention will now turn to the Grand Final, to be players at Seven’s Stadium in Dubai on March on Friday 11th March.
The final match saw the Abu Dhabi Falcons host the Dubai Dragons. The Falcons’ remote finals chances had been ended last round, so the game was about pride and building for next season. For the Dragons it was a chance to tune up ready for their premiership tilt in two weeks’ time.
The Dragons had little trouble in downing a game Falcon’s outfit, eventually running out winners by 51 points. The final score saw the Dubai Dragons 18 8 116 defeat the Abu Dhabi Falcons 9 11 65.