Level 1 Academy show potential against NSW Independent Schools in Wellington

The NSW Independent Schools returned to NZ once again to take on the AFL New Zealand Level 1 Academy side in Wellington over ANZAC weekend. Travelling to Wellington for the first time, NSW boasted a young, strong side for their two match series while with many new faces, the Level 1 squad showed plenty of potential during the campaign.    


Game One:

Unseasonably warm Wellington weather greeted both the New Zealand Level 1 Academy and New South Wales Independent Schools at Hutt Park in Seaview.

An emotional Haka from the home side opened the match and set the scene for a tough, cross-Tasman clash.

Despite the odds being stacked heavily in the New South Wales team’s favour, the Level 1’s were quick out of the blocks from the first centre bounce. Unfortunately for the home side, the Independent Schools team was able to withstand this early flourish, and take control of the game from the first quarter.

Clean skills and solid teamwork from the Australian team stood out in the first half of the match, however inaccuracy in front of goal hampered the travelling side’s chance to post a higher score.

Level 1 Captain Doug McJorrow lead from the front with a best on ground performance along with Canterbury debutant Layton Cahill who was busy all over the park.

Stepping away from the game plan in the third term, the New South Wales team put their own defense under unnecessary pressure. The Level 1 side had a few opportunities to get on the scoreboard through Wellington Youth player Beren Goodwin but were unable to convert.

Despite the third quarter lapse in concentration, Head Coach Brent Trewin was able to lift his team during the break, reminding the young side of their ‘team first’ mentality.

From there, the New South Wales Independent Schools side overran the New Zealand Level 1 Academy by 72 points.

Level 1 Head Coach Shannon Wall saw a lot of positives out of the game with some glimpses of some good passages of play.


NSW Independent Schools: Nathanael Mooney 3, Will McGowan 2, Errol Gulden 2, Josh Currie, Johnathon Stuart

Best on Ground Awards:

AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Doug McJorrow and Layton Cahill

NSW Independent Schools: Nathanael Mooney and Oscar Davis


Game Two:

Windy Wellington lived up to its name during game two of the series, with a solid four-goal wind flying in from the south, having a great impact on the match.

New South Wales Independent Schools kicked with the wind in the first quarter, however found themselves wasting opportunities in front of goal.

New Zealand made the most of the wind in the second quarter, kicking their first two goals of the tournament through George Hopkins from Heretaunga College and Joel Hetherington from Kingsway School .

The third quarter finally saw the young New South Welshman kick into gear as goals streamed from all over the park.

With both teams wanting to finish their respective tours on a high note, the physicality of the match reached new heights.

New Zealand kicked two more goals through George Hopkins again and Luke Buckley from Westlake Boys High School, but it was not enough to override the visiting side.


NSW Independent Schools: Errol Gulden 4, Nathanael Mooney 3, Harry Martin 2, Louis Grigg, Edouard Grigg, William Gibbs

AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: George Hopkins 2, Luke Buckley, Joel Hetherington

Best on Ground Awards:

AFL NZ Level 1 Academy: Beren Goodwin and Ronan Morling

NSW Independent Schools: Errol Gulden and Keegan Brady


In addition to the two matches played, the New South Wales Independent Schools team spent five days touring Wellington.

The squad visited Te Papa (The Museum of New Zealand), explored Zealandia, and conquered the high ropes course at Adrenaline Forest.

Roaming Wellington Zoo and hunting for the elusive ‘Red Rocks’ on the South Coast were also ticked off the Wellington to-do list.

While football was the main reason for the Under 16s tour of New Zealand, understanding the plight of the Anzac’s was paramount for the travelling team.

Congratulations to both sides on a on a fantastic tour.

A special thankyou to Rebecca McGowan, Brent Trewin, AFL NSW/ACT and the NSW Independent schools programme for all your efforts in organising the tour.

Also, a big thanks to management, umpires and all the parents and supporters who came to cheer on the boys.