September 2015 and the Box Hill Hawks went down in the VFL Grand Final at Etihad Stadium. I was reporting that day for WorldFootyNews because of the presence of Kurt Heatherley and Shem Tatupu - 2 NZ products who had made it to the cusp of the big time in footy.
For Heatherley - a sprinkling of (5) AFL games for Hawthorn since then - a lack of opportunities in 2018, in part due to injuries in the first half of the season - is finishing off solidly with the Box Hill Hawks. For Tatupu - after that loss at Etihad - his career took a U-Turn as he quit the Hawks and tried his luck at Melbourne Storm (Rugby League).
PNG young gun Hewago Paul 'Ace' Oea was recently signed by the Gold Coast Suns to an International Scholarship giving the club first rights to sign the footy prodigy at the 2019 AFL Draft. The AFL Academy listed Oea starred for PNG at the 2017 International Cup and was named best on ground in the Grand Final at the MCG.
The following video is from the Gold Coast Suns telling of Ace's time at the club so far.
Westpac stadium in Wellington has hosted a big day of footy with the AFL NZ team taking on the highly talented AFL AIS Academy squad. The curtain raiser was the NZ girls against the touring Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League girls side in a follow up to their Sunday morning first instalment.
Following on from their 4.9.33 to 1.0.6 win on Sunday morning - the NZ Youth Girls backed up with a 3.6.24 to 1.6.12 win.
The senior AFL NZ line up included a number of familiar faces from the IC17 squad along with some new comers. Debutant Dean Staunton scored the first behind for the Hawks.
After the Easter weekend break, the final two rounds of AFL New Zealand certainly did not disappoint. Despite an upset (courtesy of the Western Crows) that derailed their hopes of an undefeated season, the Central Giants finished off as the recipients of the 2018 AFLNZ premiership.
Round 8 Recap
The Southern Saints took on the Northern Suns at QBE Stadium in the first game of the day. This north-south rivalry has been hotly contested all year, and the Round 8 edition was no exception.
The past three rounds of the AFL New Zealand premiership have seen a whirlwind of action, but one thing remains clear: the Central Giants are the class of the competition heading into the Easter weekend.
Round 5 Recap
The Southern Saints were looking to capture their elusive first win in 2018 and they finally got it, defeating the Northern Suns by 13 points at QBE Stadium. The first half was tightly contested, with both sides trading blows, but the Saints used excellent performances from Misilifi Faimalo and Pat Gibbs to lift them to a three-goal lead at the half.
We’re one month into the AFL New Zealand premiership season, and the Central Giants have stayed atop the ladder with two convincing victories in as many weeks.
Round 3 Recap Round 3 saw the Giants take on the Northern Suns at QBE Stadium in Auckland. The Suns were feeling confident after a strong two weeks of competition, but the Giants kicked the first four goals of the match to gain a 30-point lead heading into halftime. Once again, the two Jameses -- Bowden and McKenzie -- were dangerous in the forward line for the Giants.
All was not lost for the Suns, however, as they put in a spirited effort throughout the match. Defender Alex Awatere received best on ground honors, and Jackson Clince managed to kick a pair of goals as well. However, the Giants ended up bringing home their third straight victory with a big second half.
The autumn season brings a lot of things to Auckland - the Chinese New Year celebrations and test cricket matches at Eden Park, just to name a few - but it’s also the beginning of AFL New Zealand’s premiership season. The quartet of teams have produced lots of highlights in the previous two seasons of competition, and the excitement continues as participation rates grow across the Tasman Sea.
With Nauru celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence in 2018, the Jubilee Cup has kicked off the festivities early.
The cup was a round-robin tournament featuring some of the most talented young footballers on the island, with 11 different sides all competing for the cup -- plus island-wide bragging rights. The initial tournament ran from January 17-20, organized into pools A and B, culminating in the grand final on the 27th.
One of the world’s biggest overseas youth tournaments, the Oceania Cup was hosted at Albert Park in the Fijian capital of Suva this past week, with the hometown Fiji Tribe defeating Nauru in the grand final to take home the bragging rights.
The week began with a lightning football tournament in round-robin format, featuring the teams from Fiji, Vanuatu, and the representative side the Pacific All-Stars. The Vanuatu Volcanoes were the early surprise of the tournament, winning the first two matches convincingly over their Fijian hosts and the All-Stars.
The 2017 AFL Oceania Cup will be returning to Fiji on December 4th.
A total of four countries will be competing at the event, which is one of the most significant summer footy tournaments in the world. AFL Fiji has experienced rapid growth within the past few years, highlighted by the men’s national team (the Tribe) finishing sixth earlier this year at the International Cup. The Fiji Vonu, the women’s team, finished fifth.
A country with no shortage of raw athletes, Fiji has recently become home to an AFL girls’ developmental academy, as well as a rapidly-growing Under-15s program, known as the Junior Tribe.