By Will Hunter
The Queen’s Birthday Monday saw a massive Under 15s triple-header at Trever Barker Oval, while the Under 14 boys travelled out to Werribee to bring to a close the stages of the AFL Victoria Metro Junior Championships. And what transpired was the most successful day of interleague the SMJFL has ever had, with all five teams registering wins.
As a result, all four of the boys’ sides qualified for Grand Finals in their respective Under 14 and Under 15 divisions, while the girls finished the tournament at the top of their group.
Check out some of the photos captured during the carnival of our Under 14 and Under 15 Boys by Diggle Photography.
For even more action see the coverage of our Under 14 Boys and Under 15 Boys & Girls by Memento Sports Photos.
UNDER 15 DIVISION 1
SMJFL: 13.15 (93)
WRFL: 4.5 (29)
The Division 1 Under 15s managed to sneak into the top two of their group after a percentage-boosting 64-point victory over Western Region FL at Trevor Barker Oval.
Kicking with the aid of a breeze that had steadily increased in velocity throughout the day, the Stars took control, kicking the opening three goals and keeping their opponents scoreless in the first term to build a 26-point quarter time lead.
Despite the early break, you could be forgiven for thinking the SMJFL had wasted their chances to blow Western out of the water. They registered 3.8 in the first term, and should have really have been further in front given their forward opportunities. However, those fears were soon allayed with some outstanding work by the Stars’ defensive unit to restrict the WRFL to just 1.3 with the wind in the second. The Star also managed to pinch a major themselves.
Facing a 25-point deficit at the main break, WRLF booted the first goal of the second half into the breeze to signal their intent. However, that was as close as they got, as Fischer McAsey sent through a prompt reply that kick-started a run of five consecutive South Metro goals that put Western to the sword, three of which were scored from the goal line.
By three quarter time the margin stood at an insurmountable 53 points, and the Stars added another three against the wind in the last to push out their margin of victory and boost their percentage sufficiently to secure a top two berth.
Josh Le Grice won the medal as South Metro’s best, but McAsey proved the game-changer with his two crucial goals in the second term. Sam Kristensen and Jack Mahoney (two goals) were industrious all day while Tyson Murray and Toby Lipton impacted the scoreboard with two goals each.
UNDER 15 DIVISION 2
SMJFL: 10.14 (74)
WRFL: 6.3 (39)
Another promising start in the day’s second game at Trevor Barker Oval saw the South Metro Stars home over Western by 35 points.
The Stars made full use of the breeze in the opening stages, booting four opening term goals to burst out of the blocks. The dominance through the midfield limited their opponent’s forward entries, and resultantly kept them scoreless for the term.
The boys faced a bigger challenge into the wind in the second quarter and they lifted accordingly. Western were able to put two through the big sticks, but the Stars matched it with them in all areas, including the scoreboard. The outcome was a stalemate in the second term, and a 28-point half time lead to the home side.
The third term was almost a carbon copy of the first, with South Metro gaining the ascendancy and finding avenues to goal through cleaner ball use. Again, they monopolised possession and kept Western scoreless en route to a commanding lead at the final change.
Although Western scored four goals in the final quarter, it wasn’t enough to affect the result as the Stars secured their second win of the tournament.
Kya Austin and BOG medallist Chris Perkins were influential in the results, so too were multiple goalkickers Charlie Yee and Josh Webb.
UNDER 15 GIRLS
SMJFL: 11.17 (83)
YJFL: 0.0 (0)
The girls ended their interleague tournament and launched the Trevor Barker triple-header in spectacular fashion, cruising to an 83-point victory over YJFL.
In the process, the girls sewed up to spot on the Under 15 Division 2 ladder.
The girls were dominant from start to finish, and had winners across every line.
Their halfback line in particular were superb, chopping off Yarra ball time and again and limiting their forward 50 entries. Because of this, Yarra scoring opportunities were in extrememly short supply, and South Metro were able to keep them scoreless for the entire morning.
The Stars’ midfield got on top early and never let up, dominating the possession and spotting targets in scoring positions.
Up forward, the pressure applied to the Yarra backs was immense, leading to frequent turnover at half back. Moreover, it showed a willingness for the Stars’ girls to work hard defensively and create opportunities for teammates in better positions – the epitome of well-drilled outfit and a team-first mentality.
Perhaps the only area for improvement would be the early yips in front of goal, yielding 5.14 to half time. A few of these misses should have been converted in majors, however it mattered little to the result and in any case was rectified after the long break anyway.
Overall this was a stunning performance the girls should be immensely proud of.
Bryanna Arnold was awarded the medal as South metro’s best player, but faced stiff competition from the likes of Nayely Borg, Sarah Hartwig and Taylah Grasso.
Eliza James finished the match with a game-high three goals.
UNDER 14 DIVISION 1
WRFL: 4.2 (26)
SMJFL: 16.14 (110)
Over at Galvin Park the Under 14 Division 1 team comfortably accounted for the Western Region to the tune of 84 points.
In doing so, it ensured that the side remained undefeated for the tournament – the only boys team to do so – and secure a home Grand Final.
And it was a tail of two halves, as South metro struggled to shake the plucky Western outfit early on. The visitors’ early inaccuracy didn’t ultimately cost them, but instead ensured the WRFL stayed in the contest.
A four-goal-to-two second term helped give the Stars some breathing space and a 20-point lead heading into the sheds.
But the second half was nothing short of emphatic for the South Metro side as they piled on 10.6 to 0.2 in a clinical display.
It was simply one-way as the SMJFL dominated around the midfield, winning the ball out of the centre time and again and thumping it forward to the waiting forward, who were only too happy to make use of the plethora of scoring opportunities they were given.
Jake Bowey was one of the chief destroyers with three goals, while Amani Karauria-Lunt and Castan Racunica added two each.
Lochlan Jenkins and Patrick Bannister were influential, but it was Karauria-Lunt that took home the medal for his best afield display.
UNDER 14 DIVISION 2
WRFL: 3.4 (22)
SMJFL: 6.15 (51)
Earlier, the South Metro Division 2 Under 14s did enough to get over the line against a spirited Western outfit, emerging victorious by 29 points at Galvin Park.
The opening stanza was a hard-fought and low-scoring arm wrestle as both sides felt each other out, much like a pair of boxers in the first round of a welter-weight bout.
But after a goalless first term, the Stars came out swinging in the second, gaining the upper hand with a three-goal counter punch. It didn’t quite put WRFL on the canvas, but was enough to turn a two-point quarter time deficit into a nine-point half time lead.
The visitors got on top in the third term, but set about building their lead the hard way. They peppered the goals, but after 15 minutes of hard work had just 1.7 to show for their efforts. Nevertheless, it was enough to extend their lead to 15 points with a quarter to play.
South Metro then further asserted their dominance by adding two more goals in the final term to put the result beyond doubt.
Zac Buckley, Liam Hayes and Archie Perkins were the chief architects in the win, while Louis Dalgleish was the Stars’ only multiple goalkicker.