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.
The AFL Middle East Grand Final will be a replay of last season’s clash between the Dubai Dragons and the BM Bulls. The Bulls had already secured their place when they secured a grand final berth downing the Doha Kangaroos for their third win for the season, enough for a guaranteed berth.
The Dubai Dragons needed to win this round’s game against the improved Dubai Dingoes in the local derby to claim the other grand final spot. For the Dingoes, they also needed victory to have a faint chance of reaching the final.
But the Dragons snuffed out the Dingoes chances with a solid win, downing the Dingoes by 50 points with the final scores: Dubai Dragons 11 14 80 d Dubai Dingoes 3 12 30.
The second half of the AFL Middle East competition got under way last Friday after the winter break. Whilst the scheduled Muscat Magpies versus BM Bulls match had long been cancelled, the other match went ahead with the Dubai Dingoes hosting fellow finals aspirant, the Abu Dhabi Falcons. The BM Bulls also played the Doha Kangaroos with their match being brought forward.
The final scores saw the Dubai Dingoes 9 14 68 defeat the Abu Dhabi Falcons 7 3 45.
The BM Bulls, however, defeated the Doha Kangaroos - 14 17 101 to 1 6 12 to secure the first grand final place with their third win for the season.
The Dingoes/Falcons match was like a mini final for both teams. Locked on a win apiece heading into the match, whichever team won would go into finals calculations whilst the other would almost certainly be out of the running. The result now sees the Falcons unlikely to reach the final as their final match is against the league leaders, the Dubai Dragons.
The AFL Middle East season has reached the mid-season, or winter, break with the Dubai Dragons having their say once again. In a shortened competition due to the withdrawal of the Muscat Magpies, the Dragons recorded their second win of the season in an eleven point thriller against the Doha Kangaroos.
The Dragons undertook a significant off-season rebuild with players departing, putting pressure on their claims to another flag. But the win against Doha sees them in the prime position to snare another minor premiership. They now have two wins, the same as the BM Bulls, but with two games to play compared to one for the Bulls.
The game in Doha was tight from the outset. The Dragons led most of the early stages, with a one goal half time lead. But the home side came back hard and jumped out to a ten point lead midway through the final quarter. But the Dragons newer players and last minute replacements stepped up to grab back the lead and hold on for a win.
The BM Bulls reacted in a most severe way to their last start loss to the Dubai Dragons with a huge win over the Abu Dhabi Falcons in the Round Four match on Friday. Whilst it was a dark day for the Falcons, playing on the picturesque grounds of the exquisite Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, for the Bulls it was a landmark day of records, including their highest club score and biggest win in their short history. The setting for the match at the Emirates Palace might well be the most opulent location ever produced for an Australian Rules football match anywhere in the world.
For the record, the BM Bulls, with astonishing accuracy, defeated the Abu Dhabi Falcons by a whopping 127 points with the Bulls kicking 27 6 168 to the Falcons 6 5 41.
After a game that had stayed close from the opening bounce, with multiple lead changes, the Dubai Dingoes stole the points from their opponents, the Doha Kangaroos, after the final siren. In a thriller, a Dingo shot on goal after the final siren had blown saw them pinch the game by just one point, much to the horror of the local Doha crowd.
The final scores saw the Dubai Dingoes 11 9 75 down the Doha Kangaroos 10 14 74
The win restores order for the Dingoes after they lost their first match of the season to the BM Bulls. For the kangaroos, the result has compounded a bad start to the season. They are yet to win a game from two outings this season and have to meet powerhouse, the Dubai Dragons, next round in Doha.
The new AFL Middle East season got under way yesterday with the Round One matches featuring the Abu Dhabi Falcons, B M Bulls, Dubai Dingoes and the Doha Kangaroos. Two weeks ago the Pre-Season Cup was played with the BM Bulls winning on the day.
After a big off-season developing skills and fitness for the new footy season, the Abu Dhabi Falcons have started their season in the best possible way. Last night the Falcons flexed their 2015/16 season muscles with a win over the Doha Kangaroos.
After a tough, hard fought match it was the Falcons 13 9 87 defeating the Kangaroos 12 2 74.
According to the Doha Kangaroos Facebook page, “Injuries to key players both before and during the game made it difficult for the Roos but that's not taking away anything from the performance of the greatly improved Falcons.”
Less than a year ago the B M Bulls had not played their first competitive match. They were about a week away from the 2014 AFL Middle East Pre-Season Cup and were a complete unknown quality to everyone. History says that the Bulls went on to record enough wins on the day to reach the Grand Final against the Dubai Dragons.
Back then it was the Dragons team which prevailed, but the signs were clear from their first competitive day that the Bulls would not take long to develop into a competitive unit.
Today that view was vindicated when the BM Bulls reversed last year’s result and have defeated the Dubai Dragons in the 2015 AFL Middle East Pre-Season Cup.
With a little less than 24 hours before boarding a flight from Israel to get to Croatia and, specifically Umag, the manager of the new Peace Team was happy to have a short conversation and give details about the newest national team entering the Euro Cup for 2015’s tournament.
Yonatan Belik, as manager, is in arguably the best position to detail the rise of the team, as well as answering a few questions about the past, present and future and an assessment of the team’s chances in Umag.
The first question looked at the national makeup of the squad, in particular the unique criteria or otherwise relating to selection. According to Yonatan, “The Peace Team Lions are made up of two major nationalities - Israeli and Palestinian - who represent their communities in a 50/50 balance within the team. All Israelis are Jews from birth, whilst the Palestinians are made up of Christians and Muslims."