By Matt Fotia
They may have only collected three wins between the lot of them, but all of the AFL Outer East Junior Interleague sides can hold their heads up high, after doing the league proud across the respective junior championships.
Competing in the South East Junior Championships, the AFL Outer East Under 13’s came away winless from their two matches against Frankston and District and the South East Juniors.
In Game One against Frankston the boys were outclassed by a much more developed side, going down 10.10(70) to 2.2(14).
Seville’s Blake Morrison and Emerald’s Fraser Daff were the two Outer East goal kickers, whilst Upwey-Tecoma’s Shaun Gamley and Woori Yallock pair Gabriel Conboy and Harvey Smith were the best players for the Outer East.
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Their second and final game pitted them against the South East Juniors in a game which the Outer East could’ve won if it weren’t for in accurate goal kicking. The match finished 4.2(26) – 1.8(14) in favour of the South East, with the Outer East having chances to win the game in the last quarter, despite being 0.5(5) at the final change.
Blair Wilson kicked the only goal, whilst Shaun Gamley, Kynan French (Woori Yallock), Harvey Smith and Jack Ryan (Woori Yallock) were the best Outer East performers.
Shaun Gamley was awarded the Outer East’s Player of the Carnival after a consistent showing across the two games.
The Under 14 side competed in the Metro Junior Championships, and faced a very strong Essendon and District Football League in the first round, out at Greenvale in the last week of May.
The Outer East battled gamely throughout the match, and despite being goalless to half time they managed to find two goals in the second half through Baylin Spencer (Woori Yallock) and Iliro Smit (Mount Evelyn).
Gembrook-Cockatoo’s Marley Appleyard, and Emerald’s Thomas Lambe were the best players.
Round Two saw the Outer East run Riddell right to the wire, despite having six less scoring shots than their opponents. The game was tight from the outset with the biggest lead at any change that of seven points to Riddell at the final change.
In reality Riddell should’ve won by more than the actual margin of six points, having 14 scorings to eight, the final score 4.10(34) to 4.4(28).
Jackson Hudson (Gembrook-Cockatoo), Brodie Prescott (Belgrave), Lambe and Nathaniel Capuano (Mount Evelyn) were the goal kickers for the Outer East, with Noah Van Haren of Emerald the best afield.
Their final game saw them face a rampant Western Region, with the boys from the West running out 107 point victors, 17.12(114) to 1.1(7).
Belgrave’s Casper Griffiths booted the Outer East’s solitary goal, whilst Thomas Lambe completed a fine tournament, named best on ground.
In Round One of their Metro Junior Championships tournament, the Outer East Under 15’s also faced the Essendon District and unfortunately suffered the same fate as their Under 14 counterparts, going down by 40 points, 9.13(67) to 4.3(27).
Essendon kicked five goals to one in the first half before the Outer East restored some parity throughout the second half kicking three goals to Essendon’s four after the main break.
It was a different story in their second match, as they ran away with a nine point victory over Riddell. The Outer East stayed in the game through the early stages with very accurate goal kicking, finding themselves 6.0(36) at the final change, trailing Riddell [6.6(42)] by six behinds.
The Outer East then steamrolled Riddell in the final quarter, having six scoring shots to one to finish with the nine point win, 8.4(52) to 6.7(43).
Mount Evelyn’s Daniel Chamberlin was best on ground for the Outer East, with Lachlan Whyte(Emerald) also in the best players. Connor Smith of Wandin kicked a major and found a place in the best players, whilst Joshua Wentworth of Upwey-Tecoma finished with two goals, the Outer East’s only multiple goal kicker.
They were bought back to earth slightly in their last game against the Western Region, with their opponents jumping out to a three goal lead at the first break before extending it even further in the second quarter with a six goal to one second term.
The Outer East found some parity in the second half, much like their first game against Essendon, but were unable to get close to the Western Region, who finished 62 point winners, 15.6(96) to 5.4(34).
Gembrook-Cockatoo’s Samuel Gerencser kicked a goal to make it two in two games for him, whilst Bailey Humphrey (Wesburn), Daniel Ebbels (Healesville), Lachlan Whyte, Chris Beattie (Healesville) also found the big sticks.
Connor Smith completed a strong carnival with another best on ground performance, with Yarra Glen’s Aidyn Thompson also playing well against the Western Region.
Back in the South East Junior Championships, the Outer East Under 16’s were challenging for the title, after winning last year’s competition.
The Outer East started with a big win over the South East Juniors, having led at every change and kicking five goals to one in the second half. The South East were also held scoreless in the last quarter.
Olinda Ferny Creek pair Bradley Langridge (Three goals) and Tyler Belloni (Two goals) were major players in the forward half, with Belloni also named best afield. Ben Bourke from Wesburn booted two majors as well for the Outer East.
The Outer East continued its winning theme in the second game against Frankston and District, coming from behind to win by 11 points, 4.8(32) to 3.3(21).
The Outer East’s inaccurate goal kicking had let Frankston hold the lead for majority of the match, before they found their kicking boots in the last quarter, kicking 2.2 to 0.1 in the final quarter.
Ben Bourke once again bobbed up with two majors, whilst Player of the Carnival Bailey Syswerda of Mount Evelyn was sublime across the ground, supportably ably by Angus Smith (Woori Yallock) and Lachlan Marr (Wesburn).
Heading into the last game, the Outer East needed just a win to claim back to back titles, but unfortunately went down to the Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League, 8.1(49) to 5.2(32).
Ben Bourke completed a consistent carnival, yet again kicking two goals, whilst Flynn Kroeger of Wandin and Dylan Briggs of Woori Yallock were two of the better Outer East performers.
With Mornington and the Outer East both holding a 2-1 record at the conclusion of their match, the final ladder positions would be dependent on the results of the Frankston v South East game, with Frankston also looking to finish 2-1.
If Frankston won by 18 points or more they would be crowned champions. Any margin below that would see the Outer East claim back to back crowns, due to their superior percentage to Mornington.
Unfortunately Frankston were able to kill the game early, kicking five goals to none in the first half, and held onto that 30 point margin, winning 8.4(52) to 3.4(22).
League Football Development Manager Daniel Ryan said that all of the boys who represented the league should be proud of their efforts, despite the challenging competition and overall losing record.
“It was a great introduction to representative footy for the Under 13’s who put in a good performance, especially given a number of Under 13 boys were playing in the Under 14 side,”
“The Metro Championships were a challenge for both the Under 14 and 15 sides but the boys should take plenty of learning from their coaches and the competition, with the Under 15’s win over Riddell a great reward for all their effort,”
“Despite falling short of back to back glory, the Under 16’s can be extremely proud of their efforts across the program and we are sure that they will reap the benefits of playing representative football going forward.”