The Guangzhou Sports University (GZSU) Seagulls, sponsored by the Williamstown Seagulls Football Club, have wrapped up a fantastic second season of Aussie Rules footy in the southern Chinese Province of Guangdong by winning the Guangdong Australian Football League (GDAFL) Premiership Cup,  last Sunday 15th March in HuiZhou.

Hawks vs Giants qualifying game

Hawks vs Giants qualifying game

Led by their inspirational Captain and China National Team representative CHEN Shaoliang (陈少良) the Seagulls had all the momentum going into the finals, finishing on top of the GDAFL ladder unbeaten after 8 GDAFL games.

The first qualifying game saw forth place team the DongGuan Giants against the fifth placed HuiZhou Hawks. The home team showed plenty of confidence controlling the game early on, kicking the first two goals of the game. The Giants defence then lifted, providing supply for their forwards who converted their opportunities to take the lead early in the second half.  In an exciting finish, it was anyone’s game, but the Hawks were the better team on the day running out winners 5.6.36 to 5.2.32 and move on to face the Seagulls in the Semi-final.

Power vs Scorpions Semi

Power vs Scorpions Semi

The second game (first semi-final) saw the second placed team the Pearl River Power against the third placed team the GuangZhou Scorpions. With both teams eager to get the win and play in the final, there was a highly charged atmosphere. Right from the first bounce, both teams fought hard for the ball but it was the Scorpions first to grasp the advantage kicking the opening three goals. While the Scorpions controlled the first half, it was the Power that would come out of the half time break the more determined, applying some strong tackling to help get themselves back in the game. Three straight goals to the Power at the beginning of second half levelled the scores and it was game on! The two teams would then alternate the lead on several occasions but it was the Scorpions who steadied down the stretch, kicking the last two goals to win 10.6.66 to 8.1.49 and move on to the Final

The third game was the second semi-final. The first placed team the GZSU Seagulls playing against the qualifying game victor HuiZhou Hawks. As reigning champions and and league leaders, the Seagulls went into their first game of the day relaxed with the result turning out as most people had expected. Seagulls wasted no time putting the first goal on the scoreboard and quickly began to control the mid-field. The Hawks to their credit battled hard, creating a few chances and kicking a few goals. Even while the Seagulls lead by so many points, Hawks’ player Masa performance was very good, providing some great kicks to the Hawks forwards. The Seagulls winning this semi-final with the superior team work 12.9.81 to 3.4.22 and setting up a Grand Final against the Scorpions.

“Fastest Man” and “Superboot” contests were held before the Grand Final, with the Seagulls showing their all-round strength winning both contests. DengXiao Yu winning the 80 meters sprint in a very impressive 9.1 seconds and Chen winning the longest kick with a punt of 51 meters.

Seagulls vs Scorpions Grand Final

Seagulls vs Scorpions Grand Final

The Grand Final played at 4pm saw the Scorpions changing up their formation due to an injury to their ruck man. The Seagulls were quick to assert their dominance over the game with some strong team work and individual ability. The speed of the three Seagull forwards causing the Scorpion defenders many problems, with special attention being made to stop the standout player of the league, Seagulls full forward Chen, who had kicked 46 goals on the past 8 games.

While the Scorpions were largely successful in stoping Chen in the first half, the defensive attention he attracted only provided the other Seagull forwards with opportunities, seeing them up by 35 points at half time. The Scorpions began to fight back on the second half, taking some good marks in their forward line but the margin was just too big. Chen eventually broke the shackles of his Scorpion defenders to boot a couple more home and finish with 7 goals 5 behinds for the day and a huge 53 for the season (average of 5.3 per game), guiding his Seagulls home 9.8.62 to 6.5.41 victors. The second straight Grand Final win for the Seagulls.

Seagulls Captain and GDAFL leading goalkicker Chen Shoaliang with Operations Manager and China footy legend Zhang Hao

Seagulls Captain and GDAFL leading goalkicker Chen Shoaliang with Operations Manager and China footy legend Zhang Hao

Following the games, all teams nominated four representatives to compete in the obligatory boat race. While disappointed not to win the Grand Final, the Scorpions were very happy to win this!

A presentation was held to wrap up the season with Chen receiving his goal kickers award and every team captain choosing three of their best players for the season.

Over the past five months of this second GDAFL season, not only have we seen every team showing great improvement, but also much increased friendship between every team with all games played in great spirit. The growth of this league administered and largely competed in by local Chinese players, is testament to the effort, determination and perseverance to GDAFL Operations Manager Zhang Hao (Howard) and the support he has received from sponsors and supporters such as the Port Adelaide Football Club, Williamstown Football Club, GWS Giants, the AFL, Hong Kong Dragons and many others.

The GDAFL will look to continue its growth in the next 2015-16 season with many players to continue their development in the current SCAFL season and with the China Reds, Beijing Bombers and Shanghai Tigers throughout the 2015 AFL Asia season. Check out the GDAFL Facebook Page for more photos.

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