VAFA take 2nd tour match over NZ Hawks

The Victorian Amateur Football Association have continued their winning ways in New Zealand, beating the U-18 New Zealand Hawks 105-60.

The match was a fitting finale for the tour, with the result reflecting both the competitive nature of both matches, and the superior skill of VAFA.

Throughout the match, VAFA displayed their patience and skill in carefully setting up attacks, putting a man into space and converting the opportunity. Many of their goals came through many pairs of hands getting a touch and passing it on. Their win was a team effort with moments of individual brilliance.

For the Hawks, there were a number of strong performances. Rhys Panui-Leth played a match befitting the honour of captaining his country, through his leadership in the midfield and poise in front of goal. Alex Barnsley was also a threat throughout the game, using physicality fearlessly to put pressure on his opposition.

The first quarter began at a furious pace, with both teams gaining and losing the lead. A run of points for VAFA near the siren gave them a 28-15 advantage going into the break.

The teams traded goals through the second quarter, with VAFA’s lead being cut down thanks to a monstrous punt by Kade Riddell from outside the circle. The tourists slowly extended their lead, putting the Hawks under constant pressure.

James McKenzie managed to convert a goal from the most unlikely of positions right on the stroke of half time. After collecting the ball on the verge of going over the goalline, he bounced off the outside post to push himself into a better angle, before flicking the ball through the middle. It was the final action of the half, which finished 54-35 to VAFA.

The Hawks came out after the break with fearsome intent, using their superior physicality in an attempt to disrupt VAFA. They were unsuccessful in keeping VAFA from scoring though, thanks to a brilliant diving mark under pressure from Rifki Ergul, who then converted the first goal of the half.

It opened the floodgates for VAFA, who took charge of the match through capitalising on the inexperience of the Hawks. The lead stretched to 90-42 by the end of the third quarter.

A hallmark of Hawks teams though is a refusal to stop competing until the final siren. Once again in this series, the Hawks won the 4th quarter. In a gutsy display, they outscored VAFA over the period 18-15.

This tour will be remembered for two engrossing and entertaining matches, between two teams who embraced an attractive brand of football. While VAFA will be returning to Australia with the Challenge Cup, the Hawks earned the respect of their opposition and their supporters.

Goals:

NZ Hawks: Panui Leth (3) Morgan (2) Riddell, McKenzie, Baker-Thomas

VAFA: O’Toole (3) Hickey (3) Hard (3) Ergul (2) Katsambanis, Gregory, Henley, Douglas, Filsell