The AFL New Zealand Level 1 Academy have produced some quality football against the Mornington Peninsula BlueScope Steelers U14’s in Wellington over ANZAC weekend.
The side was coached by Reyne Westbury from Otago and featured a host of players who were representing their country for the first time.
In game 1, the Level 1 side matched it with the MPJFL as they worked hard on their defensive pressure early on.
A four point deficit at quarter time turned into a four point lead to NZ at the main break.
Debutant Xavier Mexted from Whangarei Boys High School in Northland was superb in his first game for NZ and was awarded best on ground for his hard work for all four quarters.
The Level 1 side managed to hold onto their lead throughout the third quarter and went into the last break with a three point lead.
A three goal final quarter saw the visitors overtake the home side and claim game one by 13 points.
Joseph Cole and Josh Wiltshire from Wellington had strong games for New Zealand while Alan Alexander and Thomas Buckley were named best for the MPJFL U14’s.
Game 2 was another tight match and the visitors kicked two early to hit the front early.
Connor Hotton from Canterbury was on fire as he racked up multiple possessions for New Zealand. Hotton, along with fellow Cantabrian Angus Hammett were named best on ground with Hammett kicking two goals for the match.
Trailing by two goals at three quarter time, the Level 1 side never gave up as they sparked a huge comeback by kicking two goals to zero in the final quarter, only to fall short by a single point.
Other notable performances from New Zealand were Hari Below (Wellington), Jaydn Robson (Wellington), George Hopkins (Wellington) and Luke Lentner from Auckland.
Both game were played in great spirit and all the players came away from the series having gained a heap of experience and will look to come back next year bigger and better.
AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Luke Lentner 1, Jack Mead 1.
MPJFL U14’s: Henry Hustwaite 1, Nicholas Collier 1, Fox Handley 1, Toby Dilorio 1, Caiden Sonneveld 1
Best on Ground Awards:
AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Hari Below and Xavier Mexted
MPJFL U14’s: Alan Alexander and Thomas Buckley
MPJFL U14’s: Ryan Bennett 2, Henry Hustwaite 1, Nicholas Collier 1.
AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Angus Hammett 2, Rico Tuhua 1, Josh Wiltshire 1.
Best on Ground Awards:
AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Angus Hammett and Connor Hotton
MPJFL U14’s: Ben Fisher and Nicholas Collier
AFL New Zealand would like to thank Andrew Souter, Paul Lonsdale and Bec Mantell along with their team from Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League for making this trip possible and giving their side an opportunity to experience something special in playing International footy.