This was a match played on a great surface under ideal cold and sunny conditions. On paper it promised to be a tight encounter and it turned out to be that way with neither side able to break the stalemate.
Auckland Grammar started the game at a frantic pace, obviously determined not to allow the MAGS team to slip into their slick passing game. With an early Grammar corner scrambled away by Duncan and good pressure in midfield, it took MAGS a quarter of an hour to settle.
On 15 minutes, quick passing through the MAGS midfield allowed Te Anau to wriggle free on the left and cross to Lucas at the far post, who shot just wide on the stretch. Lucas was also just off the target from 20 yards shortly after, but at least the Grammar pressure was relieved. Martin and Bawdekar had goal attempts for Grammar with the midfield battle being keenly fought by both sides.
The combative nature of the contest was exemplified by MAGS winger Hamilton and Grammar full-back Patterson with both players ending up in the referee's note book for separate challenges on each other.
With 33 minutes gone, Boxall managed to get on to the end of an Elder free kick, but could only manage to blast over from 8 yards out. In the 44th minute, Felton latched onto a through ball for Grammar, but was foiled by a quick off his line Patrick George in the MAGS goal, with referee Reibelt correctly turning down appeals for a penalty.
Half time 0-0
The second half commenced at the same high tempo as the first half with an attractive passing game being attempted by both sides.
With half an hour to go MAGS finally started to impose their passing game, with Boss getting into more advanced areas to link effectively with Te Anau, Lucas and Hamilton. A sharp wall passing movement between Te Anau and Boss in the 70th minute opened up a chance for Te Anau that fizzed just over the bar from 30 yards.
MAGS won a corner in the 71st minute, Lucas heading just over on the near post from the set-piece move. MAGS were now on top and pushing hard for the winner.
With 12 minutes left a mazy run from Lucas resulted in him being brought down on the edge of the penalty area. The free kick angle was ideal for Te Anau who curled the ball over the wall but also just wide of the top corner with the Grammar keeper reduced to a spectator.
In the final 10 minutes both sides created half chances with Grammar midfielder Yee coming closest to a winner with a speculative 20 yard effort in the 84th minute that cleared the crossbar.
As the score suggests, this was a day where defences were on top with Duncan the stand out in the centre of the MAGS backline.
Full time score: 0-0
MAGS: George, Elder (c), Duncan, Rowlands, Porter, Poi, Boxall, Boss, Te Anau, Lucas, Hamilton.
Fitzpatrick not used, Lynch not used and Vale not used.
Cautions: Hamilton (29), Duncan (48) and Poi (83)
Man of the Match: Caleb Duncan.
Referee : Ms Casey Reibelt
Photos courtesy of Dave Elder.