GNFL colts outclassed in country championships final against Peel

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
GNFL colts finished runners up at the country championships.
Camera IconGNFL colts finished runners up at the country championships. Credit: Supplied

The Great Northern Football League colts went down to a tough Peel Cavaliers outfit in the grand final of the Nutrien Ag Solutions Country Football Championships on Friday afternoon.

They started day two facing a mountain to climb sitting in fourth place and more than 60 percentage points behind Great Southern.

With only the top two sides going on to contest for the final, Great Northern needed some big wins to keep themselves in the hunt.

Their first match was against the Northern Suns who stunned the South West Football League on day one.

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Great Northern played with much more intensity than in their first game showing a much stronger tackling game and urgency with the ball to run out with a huge 10.5 (65) to 0.2 (2) victory.

It was a tight opening with the Suns arguably having the better running as multiple turnovers saw the GNFL boys have to defend hard in the opening exchanges.

However a strong tackle forced a turnover in their own forward 50 allowing Jordan O‘Brien to kick their first after seven minutes.

Great Northern were gaining the ascendancy but their urgency with the ball perhaps saw them try to off-load too quickly at times but their pressure on the Suns whenever they got the ball meant they kept themselves on top.

Jaxon Luff grabbed a goal after some good ruck work from Jack Cocking to get GNFL’s second before Cocking got himself on the scoreboard with a strong mark and goal after some lovely ball movement from half back.

He then scored with magnificent a check side snap from tight in the forward pocket to end a dominant half with Great Northern leading 33 to 0.

After the half the floodgates were well and truly open with Clay Azevedo getting his first and O’Brien adding another.

Great Northern’s forwards showed strong marking skills as Cocking got four and O’Brien three as they secured a big percentage boosting win.

After the Great Southern managed to only squeak past the Suns by two points, Northern’s last group game against Regional Districts effectively became a preliminary final with the winner going on to face Peel.

They got off to the perfect start with Cocking getting the opening goal inside the first few minutes.

Regional Districts then got one back out-muscling GNFL through the midfield and followed it up shorlty after to take the lead.

From there GNFL was on the back foot defending desperately and to make matters worse they lost Taj Satie to a nasty looking ankle injury.

Regional were constantly able to recycle the ball for repeated entries with only Xavier Wright with big defensive marks preventing the scoreline getting worse as they trailed at half time 2.1 (13) GNFL 1.0 (6).

GNFL were still on the back foot until they caught a break when a Regional Districts player was sent off and shortly after Cocking got a 50m penalty allowing him to slot his second.

He then followed up with a good mark 35m from goal and booted a third to retake the lead 3.0 (18) 2.3 (15).

Regional then had another player sent off just as they threatened to counter before Cocking was again involved, going up the ground and moving the ball forward as Azevedo got his first.

The game was sealed when Cocking then snuck up like a church mouse on the Regional defence to score his fourth goal and the 5.2 (32) to 2.3 (15) win.

They played defending champions Peel in the final who went undefeated in the group stage and went down 1.5 (11) to 8.2 (50).

They could have got to the perfect start but Thurston missed to the right inside the first minute before Azevedo missed a dribble kick, not getting the bounce, as they started brightly.

GNFL were bringing a high intensity but Peel got the opener before giving away two free kicks in defence to give Peel their second.

Peel then got a third and GNFL needed to respond but O’Brien could only hit the post as Peel got a fourth to lead at half-time 4.1 (25) to 0.3 (3).

Great Northern finally got their first goal after Peel had a player sent off and fought hard to try to come back.

But Peel outclassed them to run over the top to be deserving winners.

Captain Cocking was immense all carnival finishing as the best goal kicker for the competition with 11 goals..

Four GNFL players were selected in the all-star team for the carnival — Cocking, Shaun Brennan, Riley Zimmerman and Taj Satie.

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