2019 NPC = intense footy !!
The NPC 2018 Wellington V Otago V Canterbury
One of the most intense NPC’s played for in living memory occurred today at the Hagley Carlton Corner (HCC) In Christchurch. Given the constant rain all week, the gods once again shined upon Saturday footy and the clouds broke to reveal a perfect day of sunshine with an intermittent breeze.
The curtain raiser was the combined AFLNZ Canterbury Youth teams Under 17 and under 15 final, highlighting the development of the game and a good step in the right direction for AFL in Canterbury.
To fight for the resurrected Air New Zealand trophy Otago Riot played Canterbury Cobras and Wellington Tigers. And whilst the scoreboard didn’t do justice for the Riot their passion for the game was just as intense and the skills displayed put them in good stead for years to come. With the Cobra’s and the Tigers gaining 100+ point wins over our southern cousins the final game was set-up for the last game for winner takes all.
An intense game of man on man ensued with every possession hard fought for and any player going for the ball knew he would be closed checked quickly by his opponent. From the centre throw from tournament organiser and head umpire Craig Varcoe the battle for the ball was tight and electric. Somehow the ball made it’s way to Canterbury’s Talisman Jacob Edy who opened the scoring with a running side angled kick through the big sticks. A few minutes of end to end action ensued where the Tigers with good use of the inside outside handballing found a way forward to goal truly. On the restart the ball was delivered swiftly through hand from Dean Cameron to find young Moff taking a long running mark deep in the pocket. Centering the ball to Stoat into the corridor but the defence was too strong for clean marking today and the ball was brought to ground and whisked away.
Quarter time score Cobra’s 1 1 7 to Tigers 1 0 6
Second quarter started with a hiss and a roar for Cobra’s with a fast break off Sas’s tap to Steph who pumped long into Edy’s direction and he finished off with a major. In reply the ball got spread from the restart with the Tigers Missy running hard with the flight of the ball to collect a clever mark then push to the wing to find Josh where he pumped long but standing solid in defence was Dan Reynolds who marked strongly. Irish import for the Cobra’s Paul Hogan was playing well with lots of intercepts marks and clearance kicks but this time went in hard to the contest and got crunched ending up on the deck with sore ribs. Jinxy started remonstrating and JT came in to express his opinion and the tone was being set for handbags at sunset for the rest of the game. Not long after Jinxy took a strong solo mark in defence to have JT flatten him. With a 50m paid Jinxy kept up the banter and got flattened again from a Tiger. Even with a 50m penalty the ball was still played mainly between the two 50m arcs. The Canterbury back 6 was working over time to keep the Tigers scoring with the light breeze, even to the point big Dan punching the ball clear from the goal line to keep the Tigers goalless for the second quarter.
Half time Cobra’s 2 2 14 Tigers 1 3 9
Once again the restart seemed to catch the Tigers napping with the Cobra’s through Ando getting a long ball from the centre to Full forward Stoat who marked but was not able to convert. The game started opening up – especially the Tigers forward line and new recruit Luke Vincent made the most of the easy marking. Unfortunately, his conversion was 1 point one goal one point. Against the flow of traffic young Tommy Turner got a hard ball get in the centre and was able to push the ball forward to D. Cameron who pushed wide to Edy who on the run with a mongrel punt was able to find the big sticks again.
¾ time Cobra’s 3 4 22 Tigers 2 5 17
3rd quarter break With the game in the balance quarter time chats by coaches was put back on the players “Do you want to win this or NOT – it’s up to you” .
Vice captain young Ando made his feelings known by putting his body on the line in front of the hefty Tigers full forward Luke Vincent and taking an intercept mark. After he dusted himself off and got his wind back he kicked to a pack on the wing but the Tigers won it and it came back in just as swiftly, but this time the umpire called a ball up, but some ill discipline and exaggerated remonstrating saw a free kick paid. He kicked to Paul Hogan who came on with broken ribs and cleared the ball again. By this stage the infamous easterly had kicked in and kicking into it was not going far. Once again the half backs had more balls than Scarface and when Wellington Josh took a strong mark over his direct opponent Toby - he had a chance to win the game. Trash talking aside – Josh needed to slot this - but Tobes is no wallflower and was under his skin and the kick drifted to the left of the big sticks. Another incident gone begging was Missy taking a 50m run down the wing with multiple bounces hopefully to set up the winning goal only to run into the brick wall of Grand-pa ( yes we call him Grand-pa at age 29!) and Toby for a well deserved free kick. With the breeze picking up Canterbury couldn’t get pass the square as the Tigers were cutting off every ball coming through. However the Canterbury back 6 stood strong and closely checking every contest made it hard for clean ball to be delivered even to the point of three defenders on Luke Vincent to stop a mark and probable winning scoring shot. In the end the Tigers scored 3 points and even though they kept the Cobra’s scoreless in the last quarter – when the final siren sounded that sweet sound of victory it was the Cobra’s who still had 2 more points on the scoreboard.
Final score Canterbury Cobra’s 3 4 22 D Wellington Tigers 2 8 20
Congratulations to the Canterbury Cobra's who were awarded the resurrected Air New Zealand Cup last played for in 1989 and the resurrected George Lanyon Shield - the Wellington v Canterbury Shield last played for in the early 2000's. Well done to the organisers from the leagues - Craig Varcoe (Cant), Jacko (WLG), Warwick Kain (OTA) for putting on a very succesful tournament. We look forward to Qtown 2019 - scheduled for Labour Day weekend where the pride of the provinces will be on display for the first time with Otago hosting.
by Steve Langridge