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It was a very successful day for the Under 13 interleague squads at Bulleen Park on Sunday, with the Division 1 boys taking out the inaugural interleague shield and the Division 2 boys going agonisingly close to repeating the dose… Let’s wrap up what happened:

Under 13 Division 1

SMJFL 9.5 (59) defeated NFL 1.1 (7)
Goals: Cappiello 2, Berlinski, Harris, Higgins, McLean, Morrisby, Murphy, Raffa 1
SMJFL 8.5 (53) defeated YVJFL 3.0 (18)
Goals: Berlinski, McLean 2, Cappiello, Higgins, Morrisby, Wardlaw 1
SMJFL Player of the Carnival: Gianluca Cappiello (Mt Waverley)
An outstanding team performance helped the SMJFL take out the inaugural Under 13 Division 1 Shield on Sunday.

Our tall brigade was superb, led by Ethan Casey who controlled the ruck all day and gave our rovers first use – absolutely brilliant. Hayden McLean was used in short spells also, but his value in the goalsquare as a marking target netted him three goals for the day – you know a team is going alright when H is the back-up ruck! It was often a case of twin towers as big Isaac Morrisby presented time and time again, mainly at centre half-forward, playing a perfect role whether marking the ball or giving our smalls first option. Two unsung heroes down back, Josh Gorman and Howie Persson were absolutely superb and are prime examples of what representative footy is all about – playing your given role as best you can.

We had several players whose class came to the fore when the team needed it most. Asher Berlinski was a vibrant option all day when pushing forward and also enjoyed a stint on the ball. Harry Wardlaw must surely be the fastest footballer in Victoria; his bursts up and down the wing led many a forward thrust. Nathan Murphy showed why he is so valued by East Sandringham, playing as both a tall and a small during the afternoon – another fine example of simply playing the role you are asked. Zebras teammate Charlie Constable boasts much the same repertoire and was seen all over the ground, including in the guts.

Our medium-sized players simply did as they wished at times; an embarrassment of riches saw Angus Styles and Will Sutherland swapping off a wing – both are seriously good junior footballers and have very bright futures. Oscar Bennett, the boy with a sidestep to rival Judd and Ablett, danced around many despite a sore Achilles and was pivotal in the middle throughout the afternoon. Gianluca Cappiello is an excitement machine who was eventually awarded the team’s Player of the Carnival – enough said! Daniel Keating put his foot skills on display, and despite a lack of kicking-in opportunities, managed to break the lines on many occasions with his signature long ball. Jack Higgins oozes class and shone on the biggest stage – his strong core sees many opponents hitting the deck while he extracts the pill. Tom Yorgey did what Tom Yorgey does best, staying cool and calm down back while chaos reigned, and as a result repelled some very decent attack throughout the day.

We stayed true to our word and picked players on pace and attack rather than sheer body size, and wasn’t the small brigade worth its weight in gold?! Cam Hodges is silk on two legs, his clean ball skills while others struggled with the slippery ball was matched only by his forward pressure and ability to lock the ball in our arc. Edward Newman and Finn Campigli found themselves swapping off a back flank due to their supreme foot skills and didn’t disappoint; both are smarter footballers than most. Charlie Cormack paired up brilliantly with the talls at half-forward and fed off their hands – he should be proud he executed the exact game we asked him to. So too Sam Loewe, who didn’t have as much of it as he would in a club game, but played three varying roles – forward pressure, on-ball and defender – another who holds his head up high as a player doing his job in a championship-winning team.

Then comes the man with the rockstar name, Jarryd Raffa – the perennial crowd favourite scooting up and down the ground with afterburners on – who niggled, kicked goals and ran them off their legs on a big ground. It was great to see Alfie Jarnestrom spend some time with his team on the bench after pulling out with illness – it takes a strong character to pull the pin in the best interests of everyone after such a long campaign. Regardless of not playing, he will always know he was selected on merit and can call himself an interleague footballer. The final word goes to our skipper Lachlan Harris, who was given the main role for exactly the way he performed on Sunday. Especially during our all-important second game, when we needed a spark or someone to stop their run, L. Harris bobbed up and saved the day. Hardworking, fearless and team-orientated: the complete junior footballer.

All in all, the term ‘Championship-Winning Team’ is spot on. They were picked as individual champions of their local teams, only to form a champion team together: the ultimate goal of representative footy which is the hardest to achieve.

Under 13 Division 2

SMJFL 2.15 (27) drew with YVJFL 4.3 (27)

What can you say about a game in which you dominate everywhere except on the scoreboard? Until three-quarter time we had kicked 0.12 (12) and were staring down the barrel of a first-up loss against a strong YVJFL team. The last quarter called for something special, and that’s what we got from our SMJFL boys. A gutsy effort from everyone to dominate the final term and have the second-last kick of the day heading goalwards, only to be touched on the line to force the draw. It was a lesson in junior football that I’m sure the boys won’t forget – never give up, remain positive and opportunities will present themselves. Our best for the game included Adam Schache, Ethan Philips, James Mangoni, Jayce Morgan, Lucas Barrett, Mason Bode and Tom Conron. Excellent performances also from Jackson Hille, Cooper Balic, Mason Goldin, Sam Roberts and Jake Richardson.

SMJFL 6.5 (41) defeated NFL 5.2 (32)

The second game turned into a hard-fought slog in very wet conditions. It became a game of ‘inches’ in the second quarter as the heavens opened up and the ball became a piece of soap for the remainder of the game. Our in-and-under players dominated around the packs and the boys were able to move the ball out wide and create opportunities to play a running style of footy even in those terrible conditions. Thank goodness our aim was a little truer than the previous game, but on many occasions – due to the water-logged ball – we found ourselves having shots from goal from only 30 meters out and coming up short of the goals. A strong team performance, with our best including Ben Rekic, Adam Schache, Will Burmeister, Remmi F-Wood, Noah Answerth, Quintin Montanaro, Nic Flocas, Mason Goldin, Max Lohan, Julian Howard and Lachie Height. Great contributions from Aaron Trusler, Riley Thompson, Jayce Morgan, Ethan Phillips and Mason Bode.

A great team effort by all the boys over the carnival and a special thanks to the parents for their support on the day. To the leadership team – Mason Goldin (captain), Jayce Morgan (vice-captain) and Adam Schache (vice-captain) – the coaches were extremely proud of the way you led the team on and off the field. Congratulations on being undefeated in the carnival.

SMJFL Player of the Carnival: Adam Schache (Dingley)

* To view sample photos from Greg Miller Photography for all interleague games, please visit our photo gallery under the ‘Media’ tab at the top of this page (photos will be posted soon). For the full range, head to Opens external link in new and click on ‘Portfolio’. All photos are available to be purchased on the Greg Miller Photography website.