The Victorian Amateur Football Association have served up a masterclass in AFL to the U18 New Zealand Hawks in the first match of the Challenge Cup series.
In slippery wet conditions, VAFA were unstoppable moving the ball into the attacking area, and were simply too classy despite a valiant effort from the New Zealanders.
New Zealand Hawks coach Chris Mundell noted that at times all he could see were white jerseys, with VAFA showcasing exceptional skill in maintaining possession and pressuring the Hawks into mistakes while on defence.
“The VAFA boys played comprehensive football all round. We will be keeping our heads up and looking to have another crack at them on Monday.”
A superb instinct for the goal was also on display, with the creativity, tenacity and accuracy of the Australians rewarded time and again.
The goal of the day was kicked by VAFA’s Jordan Tabakman of Ormond AFC, who slipped and fell on the wet surface while waiting for the ball to come in, and still managed to get back up, challenge for the ball and snap off a shot.
There were bright spots for the Hawks, with Waylon Baker leading the charge defensively, Te Kopa Tipene Thomas distributing the ball with great skill, and the team as a whole fully committing to defensive efforts throughout the game.
Brian ‘Benny’ Goodman, VAFA tour manager, paid tributes to how both teams went about the game.
“We were in awe of the way the Hawks threw themselves into this game. For us, it’s been great to see our team bond and grow, and our skipper (Brandon Droessler) has led from the front.”
Many observers described the VAFA team as exceptionally strong relative to previous touring sides. Head Coach Owen Lalor believes this to be the strongest VAFA touring team ever sent to New Zealand, and thinks they would be very competitive against representative teams from other Australian leagues.
AFLNZ CEO Robert Vanstam agreed with the assessment, suggesting that apart from the AFL matches featuring St Kilda, this VAFA side probably plays the highest standard of football ever seen in New Zealand.
The 2nd match of the series will take place on Monday, at 11.00 at Parrs Park in Waitakere.
U18 NZ Hawks vs U18 Victorian Amateur Football Association
0.4:4 – 24.15:159
VAFA Goalscorers: Tabakman (4) Cusack (3) Malt (3) Peele (2) Palleschi (2) Cayhan (2) Droessler (2) O’Halloran (2) Ramsey, Miller, Sterling, Toouli.
Best on Ground Winners:
NZ Hawks: Te Kopa Tipene Thomas and Waylon Baker
VAFA: Ben Dickson and Jordan Tabakman