The AFL's Saints might be headed for Wellington but up north Auckland has felt the power of another group of Saints. The Mt Roskill Saints have triumphed over last year’s AAFL Premiers Waitakere Magpies in a close fought encounter for the 2012 title.
Waitakere had faced off against the perennial Auckland Grand Final team, University Blues, in the Preliminary Finals and knocked them out of the race. The Saints squad had been more consistent this year and this reliability, often absent from Saints sides in previous years, was to be to their benefit.
With a strong forward line capable of high marks and good kicks, mid-fielders fast and tough at the hard-ball gets, and a rock-solid back line that have simply been outstanding all year, things didn’t need to change at all for Mt Roskill in the Grand Final.
The 2012 AFL Oceania Cup in Fiji got underway with the matches proper on Friday after the warm up afforded via the lightning premiership played on Thursday.
With tropical cyclone Evan having smashed Samoa with minimal notice; at least the island nation of Fiji was able to bunker down - as it turned out, after Sundays rest day the AFL Oceania Cup squads and staff were laid low by the force of nature on Monday with scheduled matches postponed. By Tuesday, with debris cleared - the final round robin matches were completed to pave the way for the play-off matches and grand final.
Please note that all scores have now been updated from official sources - including the lightning carnival matches from Thursday.
On behalf of World Footy News and followers of Australian Rules football world wide, our thoughts are with the people of Samoa who have just had their communities and homes devastated by Tropical Cyclone Evan.
We have seen the footage and our hearts go out to the people who have suffered loss at this time.
We also wish to extend our thoughts for the safety of those in Fiji, where the cyclone is said to be tracking now. Obviously the Oceania Cup would be disrupted, but that can be played another time. More importantly, we hope that this potential Category 5 cyclone can change course and spare Fiji the devastation being felt by those in Samoa.
The 2012 AFL Oceania Cup week of events kicks off on Thursday December 13th with a Lightning Carnival across the day; with matches commencing at 10am and wrapping up with a 3.30pm Grand Final followed by the presentations. Friday sees the main competition firing up – with ideally the travel cobwebs shaken off the day before. The official opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday 10am.
The 2012 Youth AFL Oceania Cup will commence this week and once again to be held in Suva, Fiji. As the AFL’s Andrew Cadzow (Development Manager for AFL Asia Pacific) welcome message states "The Oceania Cup will play a vital role in showcasing the many talented players in our great game and more importantly highlight the development and growth of football through Asia Pacific."
This is the fourth year of the tournament, but this year there have been some important structural changes. For the first time both PNG and New Zealand have been placed directly into the South Pacific Cup, whilst players from Fiji, Nauru, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands will battle it out in the hope of being selected in the U16 Oceania Squad to then compete against PNG and NZ in the South Pacific Cup April of next year in Townsville.
On Saturday the Solomon Islands AFL representatives departed for Fiji to compete in the 2012 AFL Oceania Cup. 9 young footballers plus AFL Solomons Job Vulita, with the support of key sponsor QBE Insurance (Head office in Honiara) the Solomon Sharks have been able to expand their representation this year after the success last year of Jave Sarere and Francis Ramo when they competed in an AFL combined team.
This year, the Solomons players will play for the “Solomons All Stars” in the Oceania Cup in Suva against teams from Tonga, Nauru, Fiji and Vanuatu.
The Victorian Amateur Football Association continued its unbeaten record against the New Zealand Hawks with two wins over the Under 18’s in Wellington. The VAFA is in its third year of sending an U18 invitational side to New Zealand to play matches against an U18 AFL NZ representative side.
This year saw an age shift for the NZ Hawks with the team previously fielding Under 20 teams against their competitors. With the upper limit now U18 new challenges were faced with a large gap in experience between the sides contributing to the result.
The loss of Hawthorn Scholarship players Shem Tatupu and Rhys Panui-Leth before the weekend was a blow but this also provided new talent with opportunities.
From International Scholarship Holder to an International Rookie at Hawthorn by the end of next season, the journey continues for NZ’s Kurt Heatherley.
He signed on an International Scholarship at the end of 2009 so the progress has been about carefully developing his football nous and skills to match his athletic capacity which saw him test extremely well at this year’s AFL Draft Camps. At 192cm, and weighing 83kg the teenager came second in the 20m sprint with a time of 2.84 seconds.
The 17-year-old will join the club in a near full-time capacity in 2013, training alongside his future Hawks teammates at Waverley while playing with the Sandringham Dragons in the TAC Cup.
Hawthorn head of coaching and development Chris Fagan described Heatherley as a “real competitor” with a great attitude. “He’ll do a full year of training with us this year, which is pretty exciting,” Fagan said. “We’ll be focussing on improving his kicking and his game sense.
So good has been his development since taking up football after being spotted by the Hawks as a 14-year-old, experts consider him a likely top 20 NAB AFL Draft pick if we was in the draft pool.
Kurt is not the only International Scholarship holder at the Hawks - fellow Kiwis Shem Tatupu and Ben Miller are also listed by the AFL club.
AFL PNG star graduate Gideon Simon will wear number 50 in 2013 at Richmond, and in early club training has made a good impression already.
Simon has progressed through the AFL PNG Coca Cola talent pathway, including the Under 16 Binatangs, the South Pacific squad and the AFL PNG Academy in Port Moresby.
He was identified early and signed by Richmond as an international scholarship player a couple of years ago, and in October this year attended the AFL draft camp, along with
other international scholarship players Brendan Beno (PNG - Bris) and Yoshi Harris (Nauru - GWS). It was at this time that Richmond announced that he was to be
listed as a full international rookie - a path previously trod by many an Irish hopeful and a Canadian named Pyke.