Brave interleague defence from West Gippsland

Coach Jason Kelly gives his players their final instructions before running out for their final game at the Gippsland U18 Interleague Carnival. 344508 Pictures: DAVE NAGEL

By David Nagel

The best young talent in Gippsland converged on the Morwell Recreation Reserve on Wednesday 28 June for the 2023 Under-18 Gippsland Interleague Carnival.

A bitterly cold day, and the occasional shower, couldn’t stop the elite talent of the players from shining through with some great football the order of the day.

Five leagues were represented, with Ellinbank and District, Gippsland, Mid Gippsland, North Gippsland and the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) competing across 10 matches consisting of two 18-minute halves.

West Gippsland was coached by former Berwick stalwart and now Kooweerup assistant-coach Jason Kelly, who took on the role at late notice with David and John Ramos as his support staff.

Gippsland and West Gippsland were the dominant two teams on the day; both defeating Ellinbank, Mid Gippsland and North Gippsland to set up a title-decider in the second last match of the carnival.

Gippsland claimed the crown from the reigning champions West Gippsland with a 5.7.37 to 5.1.31 victory after an absorbing contest.

West Gippsland skipper, Phillip Island’s Finn Cashman, won the toss and kicked with a two-to-three-goal breeze blowing towards the entrance end at Morwell.

Inverloch-Kongwak pair Cade Brown and Jarvis Harvey started the contest in fine style, with Brown finding plenty of the football early while Harvey marked and goaled after a minute of play to get the WGFNC off to flyer.

Gippsland forward Tom Wrigglesworth was proving a tough match up for a strong WGFNC defence, and his right-foot snap after four minutes locked away the contest at six-apiece.

The West Gippsland boys then clicked into another gear with Kooweerup’s Zak Banks finding room in congestion to nail a clever right-foot snap, before Brown found his Sea Eagles’ teammate Harvey to open up an 18-6 advantage.

Wrigglesworth then answered again with a set shot, before Harvey kicked his third – with two minutes remaining on the clock – to give WGFNC an 11-point lead at half time.

Kelly spoke specifically with his defensive-seven at the break, asking them to shut down space after the Gippsland forwards looked dangerous kicking into breeze.

With the title on the line…both teams lifted their intensity for the last 18 minutes of footy.

It didn’t take long for Gippsland to make its mark, with small forward Tom Matthews kicking a great goal on the run to close the margin to five points after three minutes of play.

Matthews and fellow small-forward Jesse Bills were causing headaches for the WGNFC defence and it was no surprise to see Bills handball to Matthews for his second for the quarter….to lock scores away.

Wrigglesworth – twice – and Bills then missed golden opportunities in front of goal, before Riley Senini snapped truly to give Gippsland an 11-point lead with six minutes left on the clock.

But West Gippsland refused to surrender, winning the next centre clearance, with the ball ending in the hands of Cora Lynn’s Max McDermott, who calmly slotted a set shot to cut the margin to three points with five minutes left to play.

Gippsland then controlled the football in the dying stages, kicking three points, to end six points to the good.

The West Gippsland backline was clearly the best at the carnival, conceding just 59 points in their four games.

Logan Downe, Charlie Shinners (Tooradin-Dalmore), Chris Inverno, Lachie Coverdale (Cora Lynn), Will Grummisch (Warragul Industrials), Owen Thomas (Kilcunda Bass) and Jaxon Foon (Dalyston) combined brilliantly to repel the opposition’s forward thrusts.

Callan O’Flynn (Inverloch-Kongwak) and Brayden Kleverkamp (Phillip Island) competed well in the ruck for West Gippy, while Will Turner (Inverloch-Kongwak) was a damaging player throughout the day.

Midfielder Jett Edwards (Cora Lynn) was awarded the best player for the carnival for the WGFNC, mixing his time through half back and half forward.

Despite the loss, Kelly was full of praise for his side – which contained 17 players with senior football experience this year – as he addressed them after the game.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from you boys today, you put your head over the footy when you had to, and you should hold your heads high,” Kelly said.

“We played three games of good footy, and in the fourth game we weren’t quite there…they were better than us on the day…thanks boys.”

WGFNC Operations Manager Brett Tessari also spoke to the group.

“I joked with the coaching group that only a win would do today but, seriously, the league couldn’t be prouder of how you represented us today.”

McDermott finished as the leading goal-scorer for the carnival, with five, while Harvey ended the day with four and Turner three.

The West Gippsland team that played against Gippsland started as follows:

Backs: Logan Downe (TD), Chris Inverno (CL), Will Grummisch (WI). Half Backs: Charlie Shinners (TD), Lachie Cloverdale (CL), Jaxon Foon (Dal). Centres: James Ahern (TD), Zak Banks (Koo), Archer Burgmann (Gar). Half Forwards: Cade Brown (IK), Max McDermott (CL), Will Turner (IK). Forwards: Seth O’Hehir (Koo), Jarvis Harvey (IK), Panos Papas (TD). Rucks: Brayden Kleverkamp (PI), Finn Cashman (PI), Jett Edwards (CL). Interchange: Callan O’Flynn (IK), Noah Rogers (WI), Kyron Smith (NNG), Owen Thomas (KBA), Jed Pinkerton (WI), Max Connell (Dal).



Game 1

Ellinbank 4.2.26 def North Gippsland 2.3.15

Game 2

Gippsland 4.9.33 def Mid Gippsland 1.2.8

Game 3

West Gippsland 4.5.29 def North Gippsland 2.3.15

Game 4

Gippsland 6.3.39 def Ellinbank 3.2.20

Game 5

West Gippsland 5.9.39 def Mid Gippsland 0.0.0

Game 6

Gippsland 5.7.37 def North Gippsland 4.1.25

Game 7

West Gippsland 6.6.42 def Ellinbank 1.1.7

Game 8

North Gippsland 3.6.24 def Mid Gippsland 2.3.15

Game 9

Gippsland 5.7.37 def West Gippsland 5.1.31

Game 10

Ellinbank 6.2.38 def Mid Gippsland 4.3.27

Gippsland 4 0 146 84 173.81 16
West Gippsland 3 1 141 59 238.98 12
Ellinbank District 2 2 91 123 73.98 8
North Gippsland 1 3 79 107 73.83 4
Mid Gippsland 0 4 50 134 37.31 0