Although primarily known for producing scores of talented players in rugby union, the nation of Samoa (population 179,000) has a recently established presence in Aussie rules.
The game was first introduced in the Samoan capital of Apia back in 1997, with the country’s governing body being founded the following year as the Samoa Australian Rules Football Association (SARFA). An exhibition match drew an impressive crowd, and the new footy players showed athleticism, toughness, and a natural aptitude for the game.
Due to Samoans’ rugby fanaticism, the first games of footy were played under hybrid rules, including 15-on-15, restricting certain players’ movement and playing on rectangular rugby fields, as opposed to cricket ovals. This was called Samoan rules and was used as a catalyst to get people involved in the basics of footy. The SARFA also developed a mutual relationship with the AFL’s Western Bulldogs, as Samoa shares the same colors (blue, red, and white) as the Bulldogs’ jumper. Several AFL players visited Samoa for coaching clinics and development camps, most notably Bulldogs legend Brad Johnson.
Thanks to Mathew Batsiua and AFL Nauru for supplying reports of the AFL Nauru season.
Despite the rain, the Grand final was packed with hundreds coming out to the ground to watch this season's grand final between two form sides of the competition the Magpies and the Bombers.
When the big game finally started, it was the Magpies who hit the ground running, dominating clearances and controlling the first quarter.
Young Magpie Richmond Spanner was a strong target for the Magpies, taking brilliant contested marks in their ...forward line and kicking 2 first quarter goals to help his team take control of the game early on. In the middle Magpies skipper Yoshi Harris controlled the ruck in the first quarter giving his on-ballers first use and control of the clearances. The Bomber's cause was not helped when Captain Johnny Dagiaro hobbled off the field with an ankle injury and did not return again for the remainder of the match.
They were the best two teams this year so it comes as no surprise to see these the Magpies and the Bombers battle out this year's AFL Nauru grand final which will be played today.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Yoshi Harris - the big young man has had a solid season. Can play in different positions so he is very versatile and is a hard match-up for any opposition coach.
Dave Mwaredaga - strong clearance player who hardly plays a bad match. Very consistent and has a damaging long kick.
Richmond Spanner - #1 draft pick who has had a great season. Great contested mark and can be a match winner.
Agir Nenabo Amwano - quality player with great skills. Will be busy in the Bombers engine room.
Johnny Dagiaro - on his day he is unstoppable. Highly skilled and competitive both in the air and on the ground. Can win the game for the Bombers if he is on song.
Kais Tatum - has been the form ruckman this season and will have his biggest challenge yet up against the Magpies big men. Kaison has also been dangerous up-forward when he rotates.
Results of the finals played in the last two weeks can be seen below.
With the 2017 AFL Queensland U/16 tournament getting under way last Sunday - this weeks only mid week match saw the South Pacific squad make it's first appearance against the strong North Queensland side. The South Pacific lads arrived Tuesday morning and were straight into a training session to try to 'gell' before the game the next day.
The venue was Burpengary, a northern suburb of Brisbane overlooking Moreton Bay and also home to a recently developed AFL facility including 3 playing fields. As it was yesterday - from 1 pm the venue played host to the South Pacific side. However - the task was too great and the inability to finish off their hard work saw North QLD able to set up play after play rebounding from defence.
The 2017 NAB AFL Academy Level 1 Squad will depart for Wellington today as part of a High Performance Camp that will include a clash against an open-age New Zealand side on Monday, April 24 at Westpac Stadium.
The challenge match will be the sixth year an Australian Under 17s side has played against a New Zealand team, with players part of this year’s Level 1 Squad following in the footsteps of Melbourne’s Jesse Hogan, West Coast Eagles’ Dom Sheed, GWS’ Josh Kelly, St Kilda’s Luke Dunstan and Jack Billings, North Melbourne’s Luke McDonald and Gold Coast Suns’ Jack Martin who were part of the NAB AFL Academy in 2012.
AFL National and International Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan said the opportunity to represent Australia and develop as individuals and footballers presented an incredible opportunity for NAB AFL Academy members.
“Australia’s best under 17 players really value the opportunity to play for their country against another country in a foreign environment,” Sheehan said.
A huge round of footy in Nauru on the weekend saw the top of the table clash decided by a goal and the other two matches by five points. The Magpies cemented top spot with their 6 point win over the Bombers with Kenneth Oppenheimer kicking three goals for the winners. Both sides will play off again next week, this time in the Qualifying final for a spot in the Grand Final.
FRIDAY APRIL 7, 2017 CATS SCRATCH DOGS IN A THRILLER It was a tight and tough contest from the outset as players went in hard. The contest was tough as both teams tried hard to gain control but nothing could separate them going into the last quarter. Going with a slight breeze in the last quarter, it was the Cats that won most of the ball and kept the game in their half for most of the quarter.
But despite winning more possessions in the last, the Cats squandered their opportunities frequently missing easy shots at goal. The Bulldogs were more accurate and with young player Blame Maaki kicking 2 goals in the last quarter, they remained dangerously close.
In the dying minutes Cats dangerman Shawn Kemp Maaki slotted a goal from a tight angle to take the lead and they held on to win by 5 points in a thriller.
Round4kickedoffonSaturday with the Magpies unbeaten run ended by the previously winless Kangaroos. On Sunday the Hawks and Dogs ended their clash with scores level and the Hawks wishing they had kicked a little straighter. For all the details read on.
BOMBERS TOO STRONG FOR THE CATS
A strong start from the Bombers kicking 6 straight goals in the first quarter to set up their win. Kaison Tatum was in devastating form in the first quarter taking strong contested marks and kicking 3 majors. Tango Hubert continued his recent good form for the Bombers competing strongly in the forwards, both in the air and on the ground. To the Cats credit they fought back hard after their slow start and kept close to the Bombers eventually going down by 22 points.
Round3kickedoffonSaturday with the Magpies 17 point winners over the Bulldogs to take outright top spot on the ladder. The Magpies spearheaded by Kenneth Oppenheimer may have stretched that lead if they kicked accurately.
In other games, the Cats defeated the Hawks by 32 points and the Bombers had the biggest win of the round with a 39 point win over the Kangaroos. Khyde Menke and Bronco Deiderang both kicked 5 goals in that match with Deiderang leading the league with 16 goals from the three matches so far.
The South Pacific country of Tonga has been introduced to footy fairly recently, but they’ve taken to the sport quickly and have been able to earn their stripes on the international level. The small Polynesian archipelago of roughly 103,000 people is home to many talented athletes.
Tongans have historically favoured other full-contact sports throughout their history, as rugby union is their national sport and rugby league is also widely played in the islands. This influence is apparent in the growing Tongan diaspora, specifically in Australia and New Zealand.
Footy wasn’t introduced to Tonga until the 1980s, when a couple of Australian teachers visited Tongan schools and managed to show the kids the rules of the game. Later on in the 90s, Ewen Gracie, a teacher from Melbourne, worked at a Tongan high school and attempted to establish an ongoing school-based Aussie rules competition with reasonable success