Contributed by: Rod Shaw
Touring teams provide AFL New Zealand High Performance players with the best opportunity to test and push their skills, and VAFA were certainly effective at that. With the annual two game series this year the Ammos certainly provided some lessons to the Kiwis in how to play footy.
However, the experience gained by the New Zealand players will be invaluable in their journeys as AFL players and athletes. Many of the players in this side will go on to be Senior New Zealand Hawks representatives, a few already have been. For now, many players within the squad will be returning to club matches around the country, and will be in a fantastic position to apply what they have learnt through regular time on the field.
In the first game of the series played in slippery wet conditions, the VAFA were unstoppable moving the ball into the attacking area, and were simply too classy despite a valiant effort from the New Zealanders.
New Zealand Hawks coach Chris Mundell noted that at times all he could see were white jerseys, with VAFA showcasing exceptional skill in maintaining possession and pressuring the Hawks into mistakes while on defence.
A superb instinct for the goal was also on display, with the creativity, tenacity and accuracy of the Australians rewarded time and again.
There were bright spots for the Hawks, with Waylon Baker leading the charge defensively, Te Kopa Tipene Thomas distributing the ball with great skill, and the team as a whole fully committing to defensive efforts throughout the game.
Brian ‘Benny’ Goodman, VAFA tour manager, paid tributes to how both teams went about the game.
“We were in awe of the way the Hawks threw themselves into this game. For us, it’s been great to see our team bond and grow, and our skipper (Brandon Droessler) has led from the front.”
Many observers described the VAFA team as exceptionally strong relative to previous touring sides. Head Coach Owen Lalor believes this to be the strongest VAFA touring team ever sent to New Zealand, and thinks they would be very competitive against representative teams from other Australian leagues.
AFLNZ CEO Robert Vanstam agreed with the assessment, suggesting that apart from the AFL matches featuring St Kilda, this VAFA side probably plays the highest standard of football ever seen in New Zealand.
U18 NZ Hawks vs U18 Victorian Amateur Football Association
0.4:4 – 24.15:159
VAFA Goalscorers: Tabakman (4) Cusack (3) Malt (3) Peele (2) Palleschi (2) Cayhan (2) Droessler (2) O’Halloran (2) Ramsey, Miller, Sterling, Toouli.
Best on Ground Winners:
NZ Hawks: Te Kopa Tipene Thomas and Waylon Baker
VAFA: Ben Dickson and Jordan Tabakman
The New Zealand Hawks made a strong statement in their 2nd match against the Victorian Amateur Football Association, playing with intensity and passion.
15 minutes into the first quarter, the scores remained 0.1 – 0.1, with the Hawks kicking the first point of the game, and keeping VAFA quiet with ferocious defence.
VAFA Coach Owen Lalor lauded the performance of the Hawks.“They came out with a fantastic attitude, and they just need to learn how to sustain that, and that will come with experience.”
The New Zealand Hawks swarmed over anyone in a blue and white uniform, with crunching tackles and physicality at the loose ball.
Waylon Baker and Hawthorn international scholarship holder Siope Ngata were instrumental in the Hawks performance. Kieran Brunel was another standout on defence, making brutal tackles and attacking every contest.
Josh Copeland, Christian Blackie and Carlos Donnell-Brown were also suggested by Head Coach Chris Mundell as players who excelled.
However the Hawks performance overall was a team effort, with the support play and communication among the team improving dramatically.
The Victorian Amateur Football Association were again able to dominate the scoreboard with Ben Dickson and Jordan Tabakman again effective at pushing the score out rapidly.
U18 New Zealand Hawks vs U18 Victorian Amateur Football Association: Game 2
0.2:2 – 18.15:123
VAFA Goalscorers: Dickson (3) Tabakman (3) Cayhan (3) Ramsey (2) Toouli (2) Peele (2) Palleschi, Malt, Meadows
Best and Fairest:
NZ Hawks: Josh Copeland, Christian Blackie, Waylon Baker, Kieran Brunel, Carlos Donnell-Brown
VAFA: Ryan Malt, Johnny Ross, John Cayhan, Michael Caven, Jack Toouli, Ben Dickson
For more see:-
World Footy News