VAFA U18 v NZ Hawks U18 Tour Report

The Victorian Amateur Football Association continued its unbeaten record against the New Zealand Hawks with two wins over the Under 18’s in Wellington on the weekend.

This year saw an age shift for the NZ Hawks with the team previously fielding Under 20 teams against their competitors.  New challenges were faced with a large gap in experience between the sides a contributing factor to the result.

The loss of Hawthorn Scholarship players Shem Tatupu and Rhys Panui-Leth before the weekend was a blow but this also provided new talent with opportunities.

Sean Butler from Canterbury was adjudged best player for New Zealand in the opening clash with his close marking work in the backline showcasing a disciplined effort. Kade Riddell, the Hawks youngest player at 16 was nominated as best player by the VAFA. Kade’s calmness under pressure and strong work rate will help push his claims for a future International Scholarship.

Asia Pacific Manager Andrew Cadzow attended the weekend and spoke of the growing participation numbers within the Pacific as well as the increasing representative opportunities for those based in New Zealand.

The Hawks will look to field national teams in Under 15,16,17, 18 and Seniors in 2013 and with the ANZAC Day fixture between St Kilda and Sydney just round the corner, talent eyes will turn towards New Zealand.

Game 2 saw an improved performance from the Junior Hawks after a sluggish first quarter. The Victorians quickly shot away to a 46 point lead at the first change but then steadied and won two of the last three quarters for a respectable finale to a great weekend of football.

Promising signs for 16 year old Hugo Phillips named as best player for the Hawks but a tremendous effort in defence from Brandon Sucu certainly earmarked him as a great chance to move into senior ranks and participate in the Wellington Stadium match against the Australian Under 17 team on January 26th 2013.

The VAFA could be considered pioneers with their ongoing association with the development of Australian Football within New Zealand. There is no doubt that the efforts of the VAFA have led the way to the opportunities now being presented to AFL within New Zealand.

Scores – Game 1

1st QtrHalftime3rd QtrFulltime

Goal kickers NZ: J.Mager 1, F.Barclay 1, W.Gregson 1

Game 2

1st QtrHalftime3rd QtrFulltime

Goal kickers NZ: C.Morgan 2, F.Barclay 1, J.Farris 1, D.Annand 1, H.Phillips 1

Click here for interviews with New Zealand Players and staff.

Get the VAFA perspective here.

More photos from the game can be found here thanks to Jun Tanlayco.