The AFL New Zealand Level 2 Academy hosted the U15/U16 Mornington Peninsula BlueScope Steelers in a 2 match series in Wellington over ANZAC weekend and after a slow start in game 1, the New Zealand side bounced back in game 2.
The Level 2 side was coached by Christchurch based Izaak Williams 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 best on ground Ben Hickson bagged 4 goals for the BlueScope Steelers.
Debutants Issac Hilliam and Bradley Maloney were impressive in their first game for New Zealand as they both played a smart brand of football to earn themselves a best on ground nod.
Cantabrian Kynan Stowers-Smith and 2018 AFL New Zealand Rising Star Doug McJorrow also had impressive games in defeat.
The New Zealand side came out in game 2 having learnt a lot from the previous game and matched it with the MPJFL U15/U16’s.
Northlander Blake Williamson was named best on ground after an unbelievable defensive performance in the backline.
After conceding over a hundred points in game 1, the New Zealand defence stood tall and only let in six goals for the match.
New Zealand Level 2 Captain Luke Williams showed leadership on and off the field and is showing attributes of a senior player at such a young age.
Other stand out players during the campaign were Beren Goodwin from Wellington along with Caleb Macpherson and Sam Anderson from Canterbury.
AFL New Zealand would like to give 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 New Zealand squad in preparation for their trip to Melbourne (May 8-13) when they take on a local School from Mornington Peninsula and a Mornington Peninsula Interleague side.
Mornington Peninsula U15/U16 Boys: Ben Hickson 4, Jared Gatt 3, Sam Gooda 2, Mitchell Barnes 1, Taj Barber 1, William Walker 1, Adam Harris 1, Jayden Adams 1, Marcus Mantell 1, Max Scott 1, Michael Dickson 1.
NZ Level 2 Academy: Beren Goodwin 1, Doug McJorrow 1, Kynan Stowers-Smith 1.
Best on Ground Awards:
NZ Level 2 Academy: Isaac Hilliam and Brad Maloney
Mornington Peninsula U15/U16 Boys: Liam Wood and Ben Hickson
NZ Level 2 Academy: Kynan Stowers-Smith 2, Caleb MacPherson 1, Finn Moffat 1.
Mornington Peninsula U15/U16 Boys: Ben Hickson 3, Adam Harris 1, Jayden Adams 1, Luke Settineri 1.
Best on Ground Awards:
NZ Level 2 Academy: Blake Williamson and Sam Anderson
Mornington Peninsula U15/U16 Boys: Adam Harris and Xander Robertson
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.