Despite hot conditions at The Sevens, both sides put on a ferocious contest but the Dragons did enough to come out on top to win 68-45 (10.8.68-6.9.45)
The Bulls began well and were unlucky with a few missed set shots, before Ryan Perkins got the first points on the board for Dragons.
Bulls skipper Nathan Holly and forward Ted Stobart then answered with an important goals. Dragons big man Daniel Gribbin closed the difference to just three points at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, much of the momentum was largely going the Bulls’ way but they suffered a blow when Ted Stobart picked up an injury which saw the game halted.
The stoppage allowed Dragons to recalibrate and they went on to get the next two goals to help command a narrow half-time lead of 5 5 35 to the Bulls’ 3 6 24.
In a closely-fought third quarter, it was the Dragons who broke the deadlock with vital goals through Ryan Perkins and Jake Kane. But there was still time for Jack Egan to kick a team lifting goal after the three-quarter time siren to reduce the deficit for Bulls to three goals.
With all to play for, Bulls threw one last major challenge at the Dragons in the last quarter when players Gerry Tubridy and Nick Burchell kicked back-to-back goals.
That saw the margin to just 10 points half-way through the final quarter, but Dragons found that extra kick. Perkins marked 34 metres out and calmly went back and slotted the sealer. Mark Nancarrow kicked another goal late on to complete another AFL Middle East title and their sixth in seven seasons.
Best on ground for the day was Jake Kane who capped off a remarkable first season with the Dragons as he also won the League Best & Fairest voted by the umpires.
The result meant Dragons finished the season unbeaten and Richard Wharton, coach of Dubai Dragons, lauded his team’s efforts.
“I had plenty of belief in our players and yes we had the right to go in as favourites. But you can never be very confident as Grand Finals never follow a script,” he said.
“We knew the Bulls would come out strong and they had their tails up in the first quarter. We were just lucky that they missed a few shots on goal so we kept in touch. The boys stuck to the task and did the simple things well and the ball seemed to start bouncing started our way.”
He added: “To their credit the Bulls never went away but we’re lucky to have strong leaders that stepped up when it was needed. To go through the season undefeated is an incredible effort regardless of code or competition, and especially considering we had a completely new look this year. Premierships never come easy and to win four straight is unbelievable for our club. We’ll be enjoying this one for a while, that’s for sure.”
The 18th Fazza Open Championship for Shooting – Saktoun Rifle brought the talent of Emirati girls to the fore on Saturday, March 17th at the Hamdan Heritage Centre (HHC) shooting range in Ruwayyah.
Emirati shooter Azza Al-Deri finished first place in the Women’s Open Division after scoring a near-perfect 78 points out of a total of 80 in the finals.
Omani shooter, Awatif Bint Khamis came in second place with 75 points and Aisha Bint Saif Al-Derai placed third, who also scored 75 points.
The tournament attracted a staggering 2,500 participants from all over UAE and the GCC, with big prizes up for grabs that included 4X4’s and huge cash rewards.
Charlotte Sarrazin and Anne-Laure Laine, seasoned participants of the HHC Camel Trek, also competed in the championship.
This was Charlotte’s second time participating in the tournament and this time around, she actually made it to the semi-finals and claimed that her training from last year came in very handy for this year.
“I was here last year for the championship, but I didn’t perform that well. Usually, the top 22 contestants move to the next round and this time I have qualified until the semi-finals, so it’s a huge improvement on my part,” she said.
From the training to the shooting, there are several challenging elements in the sport that Charlotte described to Sport360.
“We are given 12 rounds and there are six targets altogether, out of which the top two are just for practice and adjusting the front and rear sight. Once that is done, we have to hit the remaining four targets twice and we only have eight minutes to do all of this. Adjusting the focus is the hardest part, especially since the rifle is also used by other contestants who adjust the iron sights as per their convenience. This is why the aim during the last couple of rounds is always the best,” Charlotte explained.
“We are given points out of a total of 80, but some girls are so good that they often end up getting the same score, so the ranks are decided according to the number of times the shooter has hit bullseye.”
Both Charlotte and Anne loved taking part in the sport and it filled them with even greater love and appreciation for the Emirati culture, which had already been inculcated in them by the annual Camel Treks.
The turnout of this year’s competition drew the attention of the Chairman of the Planning Committee of the National Olympics Committee, Maj. Gen. Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, who believes that such competitions provide a good platform for future Olympians to further hone their talents.
“We are discovering new talents and I would like to call on the attention of the shooting federation to develop the skills of our local shooters who have a bright future of reaching the Olympics,” he said.
He further added: “I congratulate the HHC and everyone behind Fazza Open Championship for Shooting for organising this annual tournament. We know that some of best shooters started in traditional shooting and we are giving them the experience.”
Saktoun Rifle shooting is not just a sport, but an important part of Emirati heritage that the HHC has been trying to preserve and promote to strengthen national identity of the UAE.
Outstanding athletes from over 32 countries competed on the opening day of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games in Abu Dhabi.
Dignitaries and honored guests handed out gold, silver and bronze medals as well as participation medals to the athletes as their friends, family and compatriots cheered and applauded.
The UAE topped the medals charts in cycling winning a total of six in a series of races held at the Yas Marina Circuit, including golds in Divisions 2 and 4 of the men’s 5km time trial.
More than 20 Special Olympians from eight countries strapped on their roller skates to compete in the 30m straight line, 100m, 300m and 2x100m relay races.
At the awards ceremony, Emirati Khalifa Ahmed Alamiri proudly wore his tally of three medals in roller-skating around his neck.
Aya Esmail from Syria, Tinhinane Tamzait from Algeria and Seyed Saeid Eilali from Iran won Gold in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 respectively in the 30m straight line.
A series of exciting 300m races saw Emiratis Aysha Alnuaimi and Sayah Alhabash, Egyptians Shahd Nasser Soliman and Sherif Mohamed Abdelhamid Nada, and Jordanians Abdallah Alnahhas and Yousef Yousef all take home gold medals for claiming victory in their divisions.
Aya Esmail from Syria, a winners in one of the 30m straight line races, said: “I have been practicing for the last year with my coach to be part of this wonderful game and that hard work has paid off today.”
Syrian Nejmeh Al Amouri was making her debut in the powerlifting competition. The 16-year-old athlete won a silver medal for squat lifting 60kg in division F2.
In athletics, Egyptian Aya Salah Abdulrahman celebrated winning a gold medal in the 200 meters Division 3.
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.