The AFL New Zealand Level 2 Academy hosted the Mornington Peninsula BlueScope Steelers in a 2 match series in Wellington over ANZAC weekend.
The Level 2 side was coached by Auckland based Dave Abetz and with a new batch of young talented players, the side was looking to develop their knowledge of the game.
Game one at Hutt Park was dominated by a skillful Mornington side as full forward Clayton Gay bagged 8 goals for the BlueScope Steelers.
The Academy side unearthed a new talent in Manny Snooks from Whangarei Boys High School. The 188cm, 15 year old was electric during both games and playing in multiple positions, Manny dominated the ruck and covered off most areas on the ground and was rewarded with a best on ground performance in game 1.
Game 2 provided a magnificent experience for both sides as they played in the curtain raiser to the NZ Hawks senior side on Westpac Stadium.
The Level 2’s came out with a point to prove and got on the scoreboard early through a magnificent goal from Isaac Piper from St Peter’s College in Auckland. Although holding a slender lead for parts of the game, the talented Mornington side strung together some brilliant passages of play to run out winners by 83 points.
Other stand out players during the campaign were Otago based Liam Neilson who made his debut for New Zealand along with fellow debutant Milo Crispin from Wellington College.
Both games were played in great spirit and AFL New Zealand would like to thank Andrew Souter and Grant Tyndell 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.
Also, a big thanks to management, umpires and all the parents and supporters who showed tremendous support for both sides.
A number of the players from the Level 2 Academy will join the U18 NZ Hawks in preparation for their trip to Melbourne when they take on a Mornington Peninsula Interleague side this Friday night at Ferrero Reserve, Mt Martha.
NZ Level 2 Academy: Clayton Walters
Mornington Peninsula U16 Boys: Clayton Gay 8, Zac Cordina 4, Nathan Cincotta 2, Josh Cottier 2, Cooper Wisken 2, Hugh Buntine, Joe Collins, Ashley Cadd, Zac Maynard, Max Urwin, Ryan McNamara.
Best on Ground Awards:
NZ Level 2 Academy: Declan Crann and Manny Snooks
Best on Ground Awards: Zac Maynard and Max Urwin
NZ Level 2 Academy: Milo Crispin 2, Liam Neilson, Luke Williams, Braithan Anderson, Jacob Burri.
Mornington Peninsula U16 Boys: Ryan McNamara 3, Zac Cordina 3, Max Urwin 2, Hugh Buntine 2, Clayton Gay, Riley McKenzie, Cooper Wisken, Zac Maynard, Nathan Cincotta, Todd Dupas, Ashley Cadd.
Best on Ground Awards:
NZ Level 2 Academy: James Dakin and Devin Pullyblank
Best on Ground Awards: Charlie Dixon and Jared Whitten