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2009 Japan AFL: Season Wrap

  • Friday, November 06 2009 @ 09:25 pm ACDT
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The minor rounds of the 2009 JAFL season have finished in exhilarating fashion with the makeup of the Top Four not settled until the final seconds of the final match.

Heading into the final round, the top two teams, the Eastern Hawks and the Tokyo Goannas, would play off to decide the minor premiers. The Tokyo Goannas earned that honour by running out 14.9 (93) to 7.13 (55) victors.

The Senshu Powers played the Komazawa Magpies, an important game for the Powers, because with their superior percentage a victory would see them take fourth spot in the finals. They won a tough encounter 11.8 (74) to 9.6 (60) to jump into fourth spot.

The Osaka Dingoes hosted the Nagoya Redbacks with the winner to take third and the loser to miss the finals. The first three quarters were tight, tough affairs, neither team giving an inch, as the Dingoes went into three quarter time with a 9 point lead. The last quarter was all-or-nothing. The Redbacks struck with the first goal of the final term before the Dingoes replied with two majors. With a 15 point lead and time running out, a finals berth was seemingly assured. The Redbacks were relentless, however, and continued to run until the final siren, piling on three quick goals, the last one with mere seconds left on the clock, to win a classic by 3pts.

The fixture for the first week of the finals sees the Tokyo Goannas host the Senshu Powers in the 1st Semi Final, whilst the Eastern Hawks play the Nagoya Redbacks in the 2nd Semi Final.

1st place: Tokyo Goannas
5 wins, 1 loss; 161.7%
Backed up last year's premiership-winning season with another dominant year. Their only loss came against the Dingoes on a very hot Himeji day when the Goannas played without a bench. They were in the game until the last quarter when they could run no more. Still the powerhouse of the competition and, with their final round victory over the Eastern Hawks, the favourites to take out another JAFL premiership.

2nd place: Eastern Hawks
4 wins, 2 losses; 208.2%
A very good season for the Hawks. Despite losing two games, some thumping victories saw them finish with an imposing percentage of 208.2. Losing the last game of the regular season against the Goannas should not bother them too much as a top two berth was already wrapped up.

3rd place: Nagoya Redbacks
4 wins, 2 losses; 92%
In their first JAFL season, the Redbacks proved to be a classy outfit. Their inspired final round victory over the Dingoes will go down as an all-time JAFL classic, considering the stakes. They will play the Hawks in the first round and, having beaten them earlier in the year, will enter the game full of confidence.

4th place: Senshu Powers
3 wins, 3 losses; 114.7%
A impressive year, winning the game they had to win to give themselves a chance of making the finals. Their first final is against the Goannas and will have to play to their absolute best to be a chance of an upset.

5th place: Osaka Dingoes
3 wins, 3 losses; 105.2%
An uneven season from the Dingoes. The forfeited match against the Powers cost them a place in the finals. The undoubted highlight of the year was the round 3 victory over long-time rivals Tokyo Goannas, ending the Goannas’ 15 game winning streak.

Club President Yazid Dardah: “This year was a transitional year for the Dingoes. The new season will bring new challenges to replace experienced members on and off the field. The competition in the Top League is improving every year, with more games & a greater variety of teams to play. This year, the best two teams have clearly set the standard. The future of the Samurais looks bright. With that in mind we look forward to developing a strong team of local & foreign players and push for the finals next season.”

6th place: Komazawa Magpies
2 wins, 4 losses; 56.9%
Improved upon past seasons and had some strong performances from first year forward Sato and the 2009 Scholarship player Nakamura, who lead the team from the front.

Captain Kohei Kamoshita: “This season was a year of 'Reformation' for the Magpies since the team managed to record the first win in the Top League since the foundation in the early 2000s. In the past, since the team were formed mainly by University students and it was difficult to maintain both uni classes and football, the time for training was limited. However, this year, the motivation of the players and staff was very strong and was also tight within the team. We are hoping to finish in a better position next year and would like to show our Magpies spirit.”

7th place: Tokyo Leopards
0 wins, 6 losses; 53%
A difficult season for the young Leopards, but they’ll be better for the experience. Some impressive young players point at a bright future.

Captain Yosuke Kuno: “The reason for the bad season was lack of communication within the team. The quality of individual players was not so bad compared to other teams but we went straight through to the games before we had good training within the team. In the next season, some of the experienced Uni 4th year players, like Fujisaki or Taniguchi who experienced the International Cup in 2008, will be leaving. On the other hand, the young players such as Kamagata managed to experience the tough season this year and we are hoping those young players would be leading the team to fight back.”

Comment will be sought from the Presidents/Captains of the final four teams at the conclusion of the JAFL finals.