UNDER 18’S BATTLE UNTIL THE END
By SAM RICHARDS
Under a clear autumn sky, the very best players from the Western Regional Football League (WRFL) went head-to-head with Goulburn Valley’s finest, in the 2019 WorkSafe AFL Community Championship, played at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee on Saturday.
WRFL was spearheaded by the Hoppers Crossing star Ezzat Haddara, Altona’s Silver Yousif and Eagle Zachary Pritchard, while Gouldburn Valley was strongly represented by midfielders Dylan Cook, Riley Smith and the sublime ruckman Max Daunt.
In front of a boisterous crowd, Goulburn Valley came out on top winning by 23-points, 9.13 (67) to 6.8 (44).
An exhilarating opening term would set the stage for a classic contest between the two league’s best young talents.
Led by Jai Carn, Thomas Panuccio and Max Daunt, the strength of Goulburn Valley’s transition game shone early, kicking three of the first four goals for the match and taking in a 19-point lead at half-time.
But WRFL’s ferocity would never wander and thanks to second-half majors from James Callaway, Lachlan Green and Silver Yousif (2 goals), Western Region’s finest would stage a dramatic last quarter comeback to pull within 3-goals of a miraculous victory.
For the victors, Daunt was awarded the best afield for his remarkable display of aerial dominance in the ruck, while Dylan Cook, Riley Smith, Thomas Panuccio and Sheldon Bogdan all had influential games.
Gallant in defeat, Jordan Busuttil won WRFL’s best on ground award for his inspirational four-quarter effort, while Ezzat Haddara, Luke Fava, Dary Phillips and James Callaway all successfully transferred their strong club performances to impressive championship efforts in the 23-point loss.
Punctuated by relentless tackling, gut wrenching running and high-flying marking, both sides can walk away from the contest with their heads held high, after an entertaining 2019 AFL Community Championship match.