Peel smash GNFL before win over Pilbara as colts as country championships start

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Hugh Menzies for Peel as they recorded a big win over GNFL.
Camera IconHugh Menzies for Peel as they recorded a big win over GNFL. Credit: Justin Fris

The Nutrien Ag Solutions Country Championships have started in Perth with some of the region’s best young talent on display in the colts competition which began on Thursday.

The side which was announced on Tuesday morning will be led by Railways and star forward Jack Cocking, who has had a strong year so far booting 26 goals in eight games and four best-on-ground nominations in his past five games.

All eight teams have at least one representative with the side, with Rovers supplying the most with six players followed by Towns, Brigades and Northampton with four.

Country championships are shortened games of two halves as opposed to the traditional four quarters.

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The side will be coached by Jason Graham who was hopeful of their chances.

“I’m quietly confident we will be able to go far in this competition,” Graham said.

“A lot of these boys have league experience which should keep them in good stead for this competition.”

Great Northern picked up their first win of the day in the afternoon match against Pilbara who had lost heavily to Regional Districts earlier in the day.

The colts were much improved from their opening match to win 7.7 (49) to 1.3 (28).

Jack Cocking led the way with three goals as they got their running game going.

Poletti sharpened up his foot skills to score a lovely goal on the run after a good handball chain and Jordan O’Brien was quick on the ball to snap a goal off the back of the pack.

It was a strong win and leaves them with a chance of making the final.

Earlier their first match against defending champions Peel was a much tougher affair.

They were under siege early in the first half with the game being played mostly in Peel’s attacking 50. They did well to force shots from wide positions and had to defend desperately.

Eventually the colts regrouped and balance out the contest as they managed to get their own attack going.

Riley Zimmerman was big in the midfield and they should’ve scored by Clay Azevedo butchered the ball in the goal square.

Great Northern were often looking for Cocking going forward but Peel were keeping him manned up and outnumbered and Great Northern was not able to get the crumb to keep the pressure on.

Peel then kicked the first goal through Jack Norris to lead at the half 1.3 (9) to 0.2 (2).

Jaden Poletti racked up plenty of possessions but was poor in his ball use as they manage just one behind despite a bright start to the second half.

Ewan Whitley then suffered a collarbone injury deep in defence with Peel rubbing salt into the wound as they scored their second off a free kick.

Great Northern then gave away a costly 50m penalty to gift Peel’s third as they continued to get smashed at the centre bounce losing all but two in the centre half.

Kobe Foster then added a fourth for Peel before taking a good grab to add a fifth as Greta Northern fell away badly towards the end not able to match Peel’s physicality as they ran away 5.5 (35) to 0.3 (3) winners.

That big loss first up could come back to bite them, despite their later win, as it leaves them with a poor percentage.

Only the top two sides will play in the championship final and with only four group games before the final there is little room for error meaning Great Northern will want to win and win big in their two games today to be in with a chance.

The senior competition starts today although there will not be a representative GNFL side.

Instead a smattering of GNFL players will be featured across the Gascoyne and North Midlands teams who will be both competing in division 2 with North Midlands starting first-up against Eastern Districts.

Keep an eye out for Kristerfer Ryder turning out for North Midlands after his huge speccy a fortnight ago while former Bulldog and current Brigades player Jayden Schofield will be out for Gascoyne alongside fellow Hawk Kalanni Barton.

The final for the seniors comp will be played on Sunday morning at the WACA ground with all matches being streamed through Dartfish or listened live on Radio Mama.

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