Wednesday, June 15
With the Think! Road Safety Country Championships only four weeks away, we take a look at some of the names who stood out in regional men’s interleague football over the long weekend, a forerunner to Zone selections.
By Peter Argent
Across the State, the best crop of country footballers played representative football on the Queen’s birthday long weekend, donning the jumper of their respective associations in interleague games, with the pride and reputation of their competition on the line.
An annual fixture for the past decade has been the clash between the Southern Football League (SFL) and the Great Southern (GSFL) competition, this year held at Bice Oval.
Coached by McLaren’s Gianni Petrucci and with Brett Ellis as captain, the GSFL lifted the Barry Pilmore Cup in triumph.
The GSFL produced a strong all round display winning in the senior match winning by a commanding 52-point margin, 16.12 (108) to 8.8 (56).
Cameron Hutchins won the medal as best on ground for the winners, while former SANFL player Anthony Biemans collected the SFL’s best player nod.
Both Samuel Basham and Tyson Neale slotted through five majors each for the visitors, while another strong performer Luke Mitton chimed in with three.
Crows top up player Bailey Marshman kicked three goals for the SFL, while Blake Carter and Tate Coleman each finished with a brace.
A fixture between the North Eastern, Northern Areas, Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide Plains competitions since 2007, the 2022 Nutrien Cup (formerly Landmark Cup) was played at Port Broughton oval.
Captained by BBH Rams Tommy Drew and former Eagles defender Joe Heinjus (now back at BSR Tigers), and with Kane Stewart as coach, the North Eastern side won the final in a tough fight against Yorke Peninsula 4.6 (30) to 3.7 (25) – getting home by less than a single straight kick.
Meanwhile, Northern Areas won the consolation final against Adelaide Plains.
St Kilda footballer Jack Hayes’ younger sibling, Cooper Hayes, was the NEFL best under 21 player while young ruck from Blyth-Snowtown Tom Pratt was the best for the champions.
CMS Crow wingman Shaun McNeilly was the YP’s best under 21 footballer for a second season in a row, while defender Jack Elsworthy from Kadina led the way for the Yorkers.
Beau Shinnick from Angle Vale was the Adelaide Plains player of the carnival and Luke Barnett from Two Wells was named the best under 21 player from the APFL.
At Centenary Oval, across Saturday and Monday of the long weekend, the Mortlock Shield has been an institution of Eyre Peninsula football since 1936.
This year, Great Flinders dominated the competition, winning all five games, starting with a six-point win over Lincoln Districts and 52-point thumping of Lincoln City on Saturday afternoon.
They faced off against their eventual Grand Final foe Eastern Eyre in the first game on Monday, winning by 16 points, before another solid 16-point win against Western Eyre in the last round robin match.
The final saw Great Flinders win a third successive title, after victories in 2019 and 2021 and no carnival played in 2020 due to Covid. This is Great Flinders’ 10th title since 2000, and 27th title overall.
Great Flinders won the decider 6.5 (41) to Eastern Eyre 5.3 (33) with Isaiah Wilksch and Kingsley Bilney dominating, while Aseri “Bobby” and Aisea “Magic” Raikawasa were Eastern Eyre’s best.
Daniel Minney (14 votes) from Lincoln Districts secured the Bampton Medal for Best and Fairest player for the Carnival, while the Wes Crosby Medal for runner up was awarded to Jack Kenny (12 votes) from Eastern Eyre.
The Don McSweeny Best Under 21 Medal was secured by Harlee Chandler from Western Eyre.
The Laurie Martin Trophy for the leading goal kicker in the Morlock Shield was collected by Sid Masters of Eastern Eyre with 10 goals. Sammy Newman was awarded the best umpire of the carnival.
The Limestone Coast Regional Football Carnival at Kongorong Oval culminated in the senior game between the Mid South Eastern Football League (MSEFL) and Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League (KNTFL), with the KNTFL running out winners by 77 points, 18.10 (118) to 6.5 (41).
This was achieved on the back of a seven-goal best on ground performance by former Eagles and South Adelaide marking forward Tom Whittlesea.
MSEFL were still in the game up until half time, with just over five goals separating the teams as this point.
After the long break the KNTFL further asserted its ascendancy on the contest with its quick and direct movement of the ball.
Along with Whittlesea performance, Mundulla midfielder Darcy King, Penola veteran Brad Bryant, Nathan McCarthy (KNT best 21), Travis Lockwood from Kingston, who kicked a personal four-goal haul, all took the eye.
Captain Matt Willson, who is the Naracoorte Demons coach this year also had a presence for the KNT side.
Big Tom Wachtel, Robe’s coach was MSE’s best, followed by Kalangadoo midfielder Ben Gregory, the Mt Burr Mozzies pair of Sam Wallis and Will Bowering, while Jack Ryan kicked the MSE’s first four goals.
Played at the home of the 2022 Country Championships, Bennett Oval in Whyalla, the Whyalla Football League (WFL) had an outstanding win over the Spencer Gulf (SGFL) lads.
Except for the third quarter, when the SGFL lads sparked a revival kicking five goals, the hosts controlled the contest, coming home a handsome 57-point winners.
The final scoreboard read Whyalla 18.12 (120) defeating the Kriston Thompson-coached Spencer Gulf lads, 10.3 (63).
Steven Jackson led the way for the Whyalla side, followed by Clayton Mesecke, Dwayne Colson and four-goal hero Aaron Rogers.
Mesecke and Marko Tansell kicked three goals each, while Indigenous talent Rian Smoker chimed in with two goals.
Luke Patterson was Spencer Gulf’s best, along with Ethan Reid, Thomas Faulkner – who was prominent when he was moved to centre half forward in the second half – Dylan Boundy and Billy-Jo Russell.
In a thrilling interleague game at Johnstone Park in Murray Bridge on Saturday, the River Murray held a slender three-point advantage at half time, before the Hills Division One team forced their way past the hosts to win by nine points, 10.15 (75) to 9.12 (66).
Leading performers in the Hills triumph included Sam Williams, Matthew Raitt, Tim Jenkin, Sam Haydon and James Elliott, while Harrison Bailey kicked three goals and Jacob Quarisa slotted through a pair.
From the River Murray league Alex Pfieffer was their best.
Sam De Michele kicked four goals in a strong individual performance, while Stephen Mills, Bailey Boughen and Mitchell Noye all were productive.
For the second year, Hills Country played Riverland/Mallee combined representative team in a clash.
Already 49 points ahead (8.10 to 1.3) at the long interval, the Riverland/Mallee won the game by an emphatic 62 points, 14.14 (98) to 5.4 (34).
Coached by former AFL footballer Matthew Dent, now in charge at Lameroo, and captained by Renmark’s Tim Woolford, the defensive pressure of the Riverland/Mallee side was a standout attribute.
Best on ground was 18-year-old midfielder-forward from Peake George Dutton, who collected the Leighton Huxtable medal, while the younger Woolford sibling, Dan, was Riverland’s best.
Others to impress included Barmera Monash skipper Sam Butterworth, Nicholas Bailey from Murrayville in defence and Tim Woolford.
For Hills Country, Jed Russell was the best, followed by Jack Parker, Josh Rosman and Kacee Brooks.
While only several women’s representative games were played on the weekend, a game between Hills and the Riverland, played earlier in the day, showed the growing strength of regional women’s footy.
In a one-sided game where the Hills won 15.15 (105) to 0.2 (2), Brienna Medder was impressive with a best-on-ground seven-goal haul. Paris Tieste from Berri was the Riverland’s best.
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