Saigon’s first ever AFL 9’s competition came to an end on 24th January with a blockbuster finals day, coupled with Australia Day celebrations. Over the course of the 4-round tournament (with a special International Rules event in the middle), we saw around 75 men and women join in to try out the modified rules format, with some huge improvements seen in many players by the end.
The first game of the day was the battle for 3rd place, with Dan Morrison’s Commonwealth Bank team taking on Siobhan Synnott’s Spotted Cow team. With captain Siobhan partying it up in Singapore that weekend, it was up to Bill Crang to take the reins. The Commonwealth team were boosted by the cameo appearances of Luke Philpott and Siara North, while the Cow team welcomed newer arrivals Ben Armstrong and Colum John. In what was a close game skills-wise, it was the Supergoals of Penny, Jo and Maz that got the Commonwealth Bank team over the line in the end.
The main attraction of the day was the hotly contested grand final between two powerhouse teams, Tuan Nhan’s Dragon Industries Asia team, and Kelli Trinidad’s Wide Eyed Tours team. The Dragon team was (as usual) warming up and psyching out well before the match began, while Kelli seem somewhat Wide Eyed at the lack of attendance of many of her team. Luckily, James Teague brought a raft of Irish lads down to help bolster numbers. The Dragon team came out firing, with a whitewash first quarter that could have sealed the game early. However, the Wide Dragon Industries Asia AFL 9s winnersEyed team came firing back in the second and third quarters, with some fantastic forward presence by Penny (who has managed to play on three teams over the tournament) bringing the margin very close. The final quarter was a great battle, with both teams as determined as each other to reach victory. However, a final hour goal from Tim Pickert confirmed the win for the Dragon team, who were without doubt the most focused and determined team of the series.
Player-of-the-tournament awards went to Penny Wilmott and Dan Morrison for their solid and consistent performances on the field, as well as their dedication with umpiring and on-the-day tasks. A huge congratulations goes to the Dragon Industries Asia team for their mighty performance over the tournament, as well as to all new players who stuck with it and saw their skills improve every week. Big thank you’s to all team captains, as well as Andy G, Nath Milner, Sean Milner, Billy, Tim Burdeu and Penny for help with umpiring.
The day’s festivities continued with some “backyard” cricket with members of the Saigon Australia Cricket Club, as well as touch rugby with the Saigon Geckos. The cricket proved to be a great hit, with Canadian Christine finding her new sport. The “one-hand-one-bounce (as long as other hand contains beer)” rule certainly made for some entertaining watching, to round off a fantastic day of sport at RMIT.
It is expected that the 9’s series will become a regular “off-season” fixture for the Swans and Gaels, so be sure to watch this space towards the end of the year!