Last weekend saw the long-awaited and much anticipated grand final rematch between last year’s AFL Middle East combatants, the Doha Kangaroos and the Dubai Dragons. A usual with these re-matches the reigning premiers would be keen to restamp their authority on the competition in a bid to set up a shot at back-to back titles. On the other hand, the vanquished from last season’s biggest day would be seeking their own shot at redemption.
The following is an extract from the Dubai Dragon’s club newsletter which gives an insight into one of the year’s biggest games for the Middle East competition. The big day started as a military style operation as a contingent of 35 Dragons (players and support) packed the plane to carry out their plans for a Doha heist. The club can take over the story…
Anyone who watched the Port Adelaide Power team in 2014 was left admiring their impressive ability to run out games. The Power were never dead in the water in any game, as their renowned ability to surge home left their rivals grasping at thin air.
Ask anyone why the club has improved so dramatically in just two years and two factors keep recurring: fitness coach Darren Burgess and their fitness camps to Dubai.
According to the Port Adelaide website “consolidation of the Power’s already strong fitness platform will be the focus of Darren Burgess and his high performance team this summer.
Port Adelaide will begin its preparations for season 2015 in earnest on Monday 17 November, when its 1-4 year playing group hits the track for a three-kilometre time trial. Among that group will be members of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 draft classes.
The newest team in the AFL Middle East competition, the BM Bulls, have added a new entry into their history books by winning their first official premiership match. In just a few short weeks of competition the Bulls have already impressed with their competitiveness, and are now adding victories.
In their outing at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai last week the BM Bulls were too good for their opponents, the Abu Dhabi Falcons. The final score saw a 28 point win to the new kids on the block, with a final score:
The brand new season starts tomorrow for the AFL Middle East, and what a great way to unveil their new 2014/15 product that pitting last year’s premiers against the new boys on the block. After months of waiting the fans and players can finally sink their teeth into the excitement of new battles.
First cab off the rank is the battle in Qatar tomorrow when the Doha Kangaroos, last year’s premiers, have the honour of hosting the brand new BM Bulls team – new to the league this year. Doha deserves the honour of starting off the new season after winning their maiden premiership last season when they toppled an unsuspecting Dubai Dragons in the main event. They also get to make history of a different kind by providing the opposition for the newest club in the league on their maiden voyage in the waters of the season proper.
The BM Bulls have announced their arrival in a big way, having reached the grand final of the Pre-Season Cup last month. Quite a remarkable feat for a club that had not played an official game prior to that event. They will be super keen to prove to all that their efforts that day were no fluke, and can be expected to take it up to the Kangaroos. Whilst some say that teams were not at full strength for the pre-season hit-out, it is still something special that the Bulls made their mark against all teams on the day.
Who would have thought that an eight week old club could reach the grand final of a long established competition in their maiden outingω Well, that’s exactly what happened in Dubai when the BM Bulls, the newest team in the AFL Middle East competition, reached the Grand Final against the Dubai Dragons. It was a highlight of a great day for AFL Middle East, and a carnival which has fans and organisers alike looking forward to a huge season for 2014/15.
Congratulations go to the Dubai Dragons. Keen to make a statement after missing their chance at a third consecutive premiership last year, losing to the Doha Kangaroos, the Dragons went through the event undefeated to add more silverware to their collection.
The new season for AFL Middle East is fast approaching with all clubs currently in pre-season training and making their plans for their assaults on the 2014/15 premiership. Last year the Doha kangaroos bought change and hope to all clubs when they defeated the Dubai Dragons for their maiden flag, and as a result all teams now know that anyone can win.
The new season starts with the Pre-Season Cup to be held in Dubai on Friday October 17th, before Round One kicks off in the first week of November. The season will see five rounds played either side of the Christmas/New Year break, with the Grand Final scheduled for March 20th in Dubai.
Matt Burn, General Manager at AFL Middle East, has provided an overview of all teams in their preparation for the new season.
The new AFL Middle East season will return to a six team competition with the addition of a new club, the BM Bulls. For the past few seasons the Middle East competition has run with just the five clubs since the Bahrain Blues pulled out prior to the start off the 2012/13 season.
This will mean the Bulls will join existing clubs the Abu Dhabi Falcons, Doha Kangaroos, Dubai Dingoes, Dubai Dragons and Muscat Magpies.
According the Matt Burn, General Manager – Football Operations at AFL Middle East, “[BM Bulls are the] new team introduced to the competition for season 2014/15. The league was approached by Andy Campbell who said they had a full squad who were looking to start their own side in the competition. The league and all five clubs agreed that it would be good to introduce a sixth team to the competition. The Bulls are backed by Brookfield Multiplex [hence the BM] and 95% of the players are all employed by the business. They are the unknown side for 2014/15, so watch this space!”
Ed: As the Doha Kangaroos bask in the glory of the recent maiden premiership, the following Grand Final match review has been made available with the assistance of Matt Burn, president of the Dubai Dragons.
It was a hot day out at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai with no relieving wind at the ground. The match was played on the same pitch used for the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens and was in magnificent condition. A good crowd was in attendance with vocal supporters from both teams who stirred into the grandness of the occasion with the national anthem setting the scene for the day.
The opening quarter saw Doha start the strongest and looked switched on kicking the first 2 goals of the game. Just five minutes into the game Dragons lost their leading goal kicker Ryan Perkins with a fractured cheekbone from a big hit. However, the Dragons bounced back to take the lead, with utility Mark Browne making an impact. Just before quarter time another injury blow for the Dragons losing their captain Huwy Jones with a calf injury. At the first break the Dragons held the lead 25-21.
In a situation that might feel eerily similar to 1992 when the West Coast Eagles first removed the premiership cup from Victoria, the Doha Kangaroos have defied all odds and pinched the AFL Middle East flag. Not only does it represent the first premiership for the Doha Kangaroos, which in itself is a wonderful achievement, but it is the first time the premiership cup has left the United Arab Emirates.
The final scores saw the Doha Kangaroos 13. 5 (89) defeat the Dubai Dragons 8. 9 (57).
Going into the game, history was largely working in the Dragon’s favour. Recent wins against the Kangaroos, including last year’s grand-final, the emotion of a possible three peat for the Dragons and the Kangaroo’s own demons after losing last year meant that Doha would need to surmount enormous odds. And they did.
This Friday, March 28th, the OSN AFLME 2013/14 Grand Final will be played at The Sevens Pitch in Dubai featuring the Dubai Dragons and the Doha Kangaroos in a replay of last year’s premiership match. A Middle Eastern rivalry is now brewing between these clubs, and both are keen to rewrite their own history books on the day.
As the weather heats up again across the region, a top temperature of high twenties is expected, and will certainly test the fitness of both teams. The 1pm starting time will place the game at the hotter part of the day, and whichever team handles the conditions better may well win out on the day.