AFL North West’s under 17 side delivered a promising performance at a two-day carnival in Coffs Harbour.
The first ever junior representative team fielded from this region lost to the vastly more experienced North Coast 8.5-53 to 4.7-31 over two quarters in the third-place playoff on Wednesday afternoon.
They qualified for the match after beating North Coast 7.4-46 to 4.5-29 on Wednesday morning.
It was a great recovery for a team that was given little chance at the five-team event, especially after favourites Hunter thumped them by 10 goals in the opening game on Tuesday.
In game two on Tuesday, North West rebounded admirably with a six-point loss to Northern Rivers, before beating Central Coast by 33 points.
“Our boys grew in confidence and everything came together, what a turnaround from where they were,” AFL North West development officer Sonia Martin said.
“Our most experienced players have played about 15 home and away games compared to the other teams’ 50 to 60 games, at least.”
“We’re a raw talent, is the way to put it.”
Martin said eight players in North West’s 21-member squad were normally under 15 players. “No other leagues are playing any under 15s,” she said.
Gunnedah’s Harry Snook typified the side’s inexperience but promise.
Having played only a handful of games after switching from rugby league, he was sent to Coffs Harbour after three players pulled out.
The players also came from Inverell, Tamworth, Walcha, Manilla and Armidale.