GNFL colts make strong start to country week to put themselves in pole position for grand final berth

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Mick Horstman celebrates a goal as GNFL make strong start.
Camera IconMick Horstman celebrates a goal as GNFL make strong start. Credit: Justin Fris

The Great Northern Football League are a strong chance to make it through to the colts country championship final after two dominant victories in their opening matches on Thursday.

Unlike like last year’s tournament, the GNFL side made sure they got off on the right foot, ending up as convincing winners in their first match against Regional Districts.

The local side led from start to finish in the 7.3 (45) to 3.1 (19) win, led by their talls with Mick Horstman, James Simmons and Clay Azevedo all impressing.

However, it was Kodi Giltrow who opened the scoring with a well-taken set shot from about 35m after the GNFL side had broke fast off a turnover at half-back.

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It was indicative of their game style in the first half look to use the ball quickly through the corridor in the greasy conditions with Gregg Galby impressing and Xavier Cottrel the standouts in breaking through the lines.

Regional Districts were under enormous pressure but the final line of defence was preventing damage on the scoreboard until a turnover had Reuben Rowe set up Simmons, who took a strong mark on the edge of the square to grab their second.

Cottrell then went quick out of the centre bounce and Horstman kicked the ball off the deck to make it three straight goals.

The contest evened up thereafter with Districts finding more of the ball and some poor ball use seeing GNFL having to defend repeat entries as Memphis Mayers pulled one back.

But Great Northern were still damaging on the counter and after stealing the ball in the midfield they turned on the jets to set up Horstman again as they went into the half 4.1 (25) to 1.0 (6).

Districts’ Kailen Leahy got them the first goal of the second half with GNFL under pressure but turnovers from both sides kept the ball mostly in the middle of the ground.

Simmons stood tall once again and then pinpointed the kick to Jaxon Graham in the goal square who put the lead back out to three goals.

He then did the same again to set up Azevedo for his first before going himself drifting in beautifully to grab the mark in the middle of the pack and get his second.

Jackson Callope would get one back right on the siren for Regional Districts but it was a strong start for the GNFL.

In their second game against Avon, Simmons came to the fore once again after Galby won it out the middle and made no mistake almost from 50m.

But they were scrappy over the next five minutes missing their targets and turning the ball over, emphasised by Jack Connell giving away a 50 for moving on the mark but Avon couldn’t capitalise.

Draydon Wingo kicked them into gear with play of the day after Jerome Little forced a turnover in the forward half with Wingo kicking on the run from 50 to get their second.

Little then scored himself after Tyler Corlett went end-to-end allowing Little to stroll into an open goal before captain Llewyn Valli put the exclamation point on a dominant first half with a lovely pick-up and goal as they went into the half 4.1 (25) to 0.1 (1)

Avon threw everything they hard to start the second but would not find a goal until 10 minutes had passed when Trent Nicholls put his shot through.

But GNFL settled after Jy Thurstun ran down Avon’s defender out the square before Azevedo sealed the game with a bomb from 51m and Little got his second, taking advantage out the middle to bounce it through 7.2 (44) 1.2 (8).

Valli was pleased with the side’s start to the tournament.

“We’ve done everything we talked about, winning those hard balls and to get the two wins on the board is great,” he said.

If GNFL beat Kimberley in their last group game they will go straight through to the grand final.

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