Category: HFNL Record

HFNL Weekly Netball Wrap: Fresha Finals Series, Week 3


Another big shout out to the Host Clubs for last week’s Semi Finals.  A very big thank you to the Terang Mortlake FNC and the Port Fairy FNC who hosted a fantastic weekend of Football and Netball especially after the horrendous weather conditions we all endured last Friday.  

A Cap of Last Week’s Games

South Warrnambool have secured their spot in next week’s Grand Final after a comfortable win over Cobden.  The Bomber’s were no match for the minor premiers with the Rooster’s winning almost every position on the court.  Ally O’Connor was outstanding through the centre and Hollie Phillips was hard to stop in the attacking circle.  Amy Hammond and Jaymie Finch combined well in attack but had limited opportunities to capitalise.  South Warrnambool went on to win by 24 goals.  

In the first Semi Final on Sunday, Warrnambool took on Koroit at Port Fairy.  With no more than five goals adrift for most of the game, the spectators were kept entertained.  Molly McKinnon,  shooting 25 of her team’s goals, played some of her best netball to give Koroit the edge and were able to gain a goal or three each quarter.  Amy Wormald played her 150th Open game for the Blue’s but it was not enough to spur her team to a spot in this week’s Preliminary Final.  The Saints were eventual winners 44 – 36.

Grand Finalists

There were some exciting games being played out in other grades and the following teams have made it straight through to the Grand Final

13/U – Hamilton Kangaroos 15/U – South Warrnambool

17/U – Koroit 17/UR – South Warrnambool

Div 3 – Hamilton Kangaroos Div 2 – Hamilton Kangaroos

Div 1 – Cobden

Preliminary Finals

Game times have been changed for this week’s Preliminary Finals.  Listed below is the schedule for this Saturday.  

9.00: 15/U Terang Mortlake V North Warrnambool 13/U: Koroit V South Warrmambool

10.00: 17/U Terang Mortlake V Warrnambool Div 2: Port Fairy V Koroit

11.15: Div 3 Port Fairy V Terang Mortlake 17/UR: Cobden V Warrnambool

1.45: Open Cobden V Koroit

My prediction for this Week

Cobden had the upper hand when they last took on the Saints.  Whilst I know anything can happen in finals, I anticipate the Bombers defence will be back on top this week and will be well supported with accurate shooting at the other end.  The Saints have a young developing team and will be all the more stronger next season but I think this will be a big ask of them this week..  Cobden should come away with a solid win and have another shot at a Premiership Title.  

In other Grades this week:-

13/U – Koroit V South Warrnambool – I think South Warrnambool will win in a close battle.

15/U – Terang Mortlake V North Warrnambool – Terang Mortlake risk going out in straight sets and North Warrnambool have been playing some of their best netball, I think Terang will win just.    

17/U – Terang Mortlake V Warrnambool – Terang Mortlake won their last encounter in the Qualifying final and Alice Suhan has been out with Injury.  Eva Ryan has been instrumental in attack for the Blues but I think the Bloods can do it again.  

17/UR: Cobden V Warrnambool:-  Cobden took out the minor Premiership and have been setting the standard all year.  The Bombers should advance to next week..  

Div 3: Port Fairy  V Terang Mortlake:-  Terang Mortlake have been the stronger of these teams during the season and showed great form in their Semi final.  The Bloods for me.

Div 2:  Port Fairy V Koroit:- The Div 2 competition has been super close this season and any team is capable of going all the way.  Port Fairy will be keen to make amends for their narrow loss last year and will be determined to get the win.

Div 1:-  Koroit V Hamilton Kangaroos:-  Koroit have had the upper hand between these two teams during the Home and Away rounds but the Kangaroos with no Open team to field, may have more players up for selection.  In a tight contest the Kangaroos may just get over the line.

Good Luck to all Teams, both Football and Netball, competing this weekend.  Looking forward to some more great contests in the beautiful Spring weather. 

Around the Grounds with Hilly: Fresha Final Series, Week 3


South Warrnambool are the first team to book a ticket into the 2023 Hampden League Grand Final. The Roosters were sensational in their 2nd Semi Final clash against North Warrnambool at Ridley Recreation Reserve. North Warrnambool will now use their second chance this weekend, when they take on the exciting Terang Mortlake at the Reid Oval. The scenarios at the end of this weekends Preliminary Finals are exciting, with South Warrnambool and North Warrnambool potentially locking horns for the first time in a season decider, while if the Bloods are victorious, it will be the first in 27 years these two sides will battle for silverware.

Roosters Flying High

It was the best team we have seen on paper from South Warrnambool this year, and after half time, it looked like a collective unit that would be hard to stop. The Roosters were strong around the ball, having so much inside and outside talent to move the ball forward. Once South Warrnambool’s leading midfielders started getting their hands on the football (Youl, Stevens, Rantall, Saunders), they were hard to stop. The forward line of the red and white is talented. Star forward Shannon Beks marked everything and potentially could have had a day out with several goals but finished with three majors, well supported by the likes of White, Irving, Dye.The defensive unit of the Roosters is tight and hard to break – all six defenders are strong one on one players but their ability to zone off and create transitional movement from the back 50 is elite . Harry Lee and Issac Thomas were outstanding while Thompson and Mullen were very sound. They will be extremely hard to dethrone in a fortnight’s time at home of football. 

Maskell Medal

It could be one of the tightest Maskell Medal counts we have seen for some time, with a host of players in strong contention. A lot of the general public have identified the years of Mercovich, Sully, Arundell, Lewis, Beks, Hoy, Smith, Hutchins, Sinnott, Spence and O’Sullivan as first rate. Our Hampden League Live Player of the Year leaderboard was tight, with only a couple of votes separating first, second and third. 

So, who are my predictions for Sunday’s coveted award? Here is my top two and smoky;

Winner – Kaine Mercovich (Port Fairy): Port Fairy rebounded hard in the Hampden League this season, finishing just outside the top five. One of the main reasons why the Seagulls were strong and tough competition, was the form of star midfielder Kaine Mercovich. The number 48 is a ball-winning beast and uses it so effectively. He is extremely strong at winning the contested ball and he set-up a number of plays up forward for the Seagulls, building some nice synergy with forward Jason Rowan. Kaine, in my opinion, is one of the hardest working midfielders in the competition and is a very capable goal-kicker. 

Runner Up – Jarryd Lewis (North Warrnambool): What a year it has been for the experienced Eagle. He spent the first five rounds in his normal position in the forward line before a move into defence to cover the loss of Luke Wines. Jarryd has been given a licence to run and rebound at all costs and what a success story it has been. His disposal numbers have been high, his kicking efficiency is elite and he has been amongst the Eagles best players weekly for the second half of the season. The move has  been a master-stroke by Adam Dowie and I think if Chopper was to claim this year’s award, it would be celebrated amongst the competition, as he is one of the fairest players in the league.

Smoky – Ollie Bridgewater (South Warrnambool): Ollie has emerged as one of the premier big men of the competition in 2023. The Roosters star has had a terrific season, which included selection in the U23 Hampden League team. While Ollie’s ruck craft is continuing to develop, so is his ability to find the ball around the ground and use it effectively. He is going to be an important player in the Grand Final. I think Ollie will receive a number of votes, especially being so close to the umpires on the ground.

Preliminary Final Tip

If we have a replay of the Qualifying Final, this weekend’s game is certainly going to be a thriller. It was a tale of two halves a fortnight ago and again, it will be a battle of attrition on the wide expanses of the Reid Oval. After a strong start, Terang Mortlake had their run and go style blocked, making it harder to score, running the ball through the wings. North Warrnambool will need to make sure their midfield group is full of run and carry on the big ground, as the Bloods will flourish at the venue. The Eagles will welcome back Nathan Vardy, he was sound last weekend and will be better for the run. I expect he will play more ruck time, but if forward – he, Parish and Batten need to be better not crowding each other’s space, which was evident in the 2nd Semi Final. The Bloods were tough in the 1st Semi Final. The Kain Train was on fire, but this weekend he will need more help from another big target. I would love to see Alex Moloney play forward to try and stretch the Eagles defenders. A big game is coming up. North Warrnambool aiming for another Grand Final appearance in succession whilst Terang Mortlake haven’;t qualified for one since 2008.

I think Terang Mortlake will win by 7 points.

Hope you enjoy the footy


HFNL AFL Wrap: Finals, Week 1


Week 1 of the AFL finals delivered ecstasy for some of our local exports and heartbreak for others.

The first of our exports to feature over the weekend was Sam Walsh, with his Carlton side recording a spirited win over Sydney at the MCG on Friday evening.

The Blues hit the front early and held off a surging Swans to win their first final in 10 years, with Walsh playing a key role for the victors.

The midfielder had a game-high 28 possessions, laid six tackles, had six clearances and sent the ball inside 50 nine times in a best on ground performance.

Walsh and Carlton will now meet the Demons in the semi-final at the MCG on Friday night, with the winner to play Brisbane for a spot in the decider.

The following day saw Rowan Marshall’s strong season come to an end when St Kilda was defeated by GWS Giants at the MCG.

The Giants kicked out to an early lead and rarely looked troubled as they strolled to a 24 point victory, with Marshall one of the Saints best.

He was dominant across the ground as he collected 31 touches, 18 hit-outs and nine clearances to go alongside a goal.

Giant Toby McMullin missed out on selection in the victory.

The final game saw Brisbane Lions and Hugh McCluggage square off against Port Adelaide Power featuring Willem Drew and Ken Hinkley at the GABBA.

McCluggage and the Lions got the last laugh as they stormed to a 48 point victory, booking a home preliminary final in the process.

The South export was prolific for Brisbane, finishing the contest with 26 touches, nine clearances and a goal, while Drew played a key role for the Power in nullifying Lachie Neale’s influence, restricting him to 19 touches while collecting 20 disposals himself.

The Power will now meet the Giants at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, with the victor to face Collingwood at the MCG in the preliminary final.

Meanwhile, Josh Corbett and Peel Thunder will have to qualify for the WAFL Grand Final via the preliminary final after losing the second semi-final to East Fremantle. The Thunder went down by five points in a thrilling game, with Corbett kicking a goal from five possessions.

2023 HFNL Junior Presentation Night Wrap


Pictured: 17 & Under Netball Rebekah Moroney Memorial Medal Winner Scarlett O’Donnell with Mick and Loretto Moroney.

See a wrap of all of the award winners below from the 2023 HFNL Junior Awards Night.


South West TAFE 13 & Under Reserves Netball Best and Fairest

Winner: Lottie Wilkinson, South Warrnambool

Runner-Up: Athena Chivell, Cobden

South West TAFE 13 & Under Netball Best and Fairest

Joint Winners: Lexie Dwyer, Port Fairy & Molly Sevior, Hamilton Kangaroos

Runner-Up: Charlotte Hinds, Camperdown

South West TAFE 15 & Under Reserves Netball Best and Fairest

Winner: Stella Patterson, South Warrnambool

Runner-Up: Layla Nicholson, Warrnambool

South West TAFE 15 & Under Netball Best and Fairest

Winner: Indianna Cameron, Camperdown

Runner-Up: Lara Carke, Terang Mortlake

South West TAFE 17 & Under Reserves Netball Best and Fairest

Winner: Shelby Cameron, Cobden

Runner-Up: Paige Kermeen, South Warrnambool

South West TAFE 17 & Under Netball Rebekah Moroney Memorial Medal

Winner: Scarlett O’Donnell, Koroit

Runner-Up: Ella Sevior, Hamilton Kangaroos


South West TAFE Under 14’s Football Stuart Brunt Medal

Winner: Oliver Turner, Warrnambool

Runner-Up: Jimmy Stevens, South Warrnambool

South West TAFE Under 14’s Football Goal Kicking Award

Winner: Max Horgan, North Warrnambool Eagles – 38 Goals

South West TAFE Under 16’s Football Doug McConnell Medal

Winner: Sam Rhodes, South Warrnambool

Runner-Up: Hugh Fitzgerald, Hamilton Kangaroos

South West TAFE Under 16’s Football Goal Kicking Award

Winner: Archie Tepper, Koroit – 46 Goals

HFNL Weekly Netball Wrap: Fresha Finals Series Week 2


What an amazing weekend of Finals played in perfect Spring conditions.  Congratulation to both the Camperdown FNC and the Portland FNCC who hosted a fantastic first week of finals and there were some closely contested games of netball played across both days.  

In the main game on Saturday, Cobden had a very strong first quarter and took a nine goal lead into the first break.    Koroit tightened up the contest for the remainder of the game but the defensive pressure from the Bombers was very effective, limiting the Saint’s scoring opportunities.  Cobden were eventual winners 47 – 29.  On Sunday in Portland, when Warrnambool took on the Hamilton Kangaroos , the Blues took the early lead with a five goal buffer going into the second quarter.  The Kangaroos challenged the Blues in patches and had the momentum in the last quarter but inaccurate shooting cost them dearly late in the game.  Warrnambool went on to win 42 – 38.  

Junior Netball Best and Fairest Awards 

Congratulations to all the Award winners at this year’s Junior Best and Fairest Count last Monday night.  

There were some outstanding results across all grades of netball.  Congratulations to the following winners.

13/U Reserves:  Winner –  Lottie Wilkinson, South Warrnambool FNC;  Runner Up – Athena Chivell, Cobden FNC. 

13/U:  Joint Winners – Lexie Dwyer, Port Fairy FNC & Molly Sevior, Hamilton Kangaroos FNC; Runner-Up – Charlotte Hinds, Camperdown FNC

15/U Reserves:  Winner – Stella Patterson, South Warrnambool FNC; Runner Up – Layla Nicholson, Warrnambool FNC

15/U:  Winner – Indiana Cameron, Camperdown FNC; Runnup Up – Lara Clarke, Terang Mortlake FNC.

17/U Resereves:  Winner – Shelby Cameron, Cobden FNC; Runner Up – Paige Kermeen, South Warrnambool FNC.

17/U Rebekah Moroney Memorial Medal – Winner – Scarlett O’Donnell, Koroit FNC;  Runner Up – Ella Sevior, Hamilton Kangaroos FNC.  

My Top Picks for the Dot Jenkins Best and Fairest Award

The Dot Jenkins Medal Best and Fairest Count, along with all the other Grades of netball Best and Fairest Awards are being counted next Sunday, September 17th.  

South Warrnambool took out the Minor Premiership and will have lots of Best on Court votes – I anticipate Annie Blackburn and Ally O’Connor will be amongst the leaders board as the final votes are counted.  Sophie Barr has had a consistent season and Remeny McCann has had another stellar year.  Can Remeny take out Back to Back medals?   Millie Jennings has been amongst the better players for the Saints often throughout the season,  as has Maddison Vardy from the North Warrnambool Eagles.  Amy Wormald has also had a great Season with the Blues.  

My Predictions for this Week

I’m looking forward to witnessing two great contests this weekend in the Open Netball.  On Saturday at Terang, South Warrnambool and Cobden play off for a place in the Grand Final.  Their home and away record is one a piece and both teams are capable of producing high quality netball.  Accurate shooting and high pressure defence are skills both teams possess.  I think the difference between the two sides is through the centre court and perhaps the Roosters will have the edge over the Bombers.  I expect the game to be close but I tip South will get over the line narrowly.  On Sunday at Port Fairy, Warrnambool come up against Koroit.  This will be another tightly contested match and once again I think the game will be won through the centre court.  Warrnambool last week displayed great composure and were a much more settled side than their opponent but I believe Koroit’s young talent through the centre court will be hard to break and will probably be the difference between the two sides.  Koroit will get over the line in another close game. 

Good Luck to all teams competing in Finals this weekend.  

HFNL AFL Wrap: Finals Preview


The AFL Finals Series kicked off on Thursday, with a number of our local exports named in sides over the coming days.

Carlton’s Sam Walsh will line-up in his first final for the Blues when they host Sydney Swans in the elimination final at the MCG on Friday evening (7:50pm).

The following day Rowan Marshall will feature for St Kilda against the GWS Giants in the second elimination final also at the MCG (3:20pm).

Port Fairy product Toby McMullin was also in line for selection for the Giants, having played the last three matches but was an unlucky omission when teams were announced.

The second qualifying final will see Hugh McCluggage and Willem Drew go head-to-head at the GABBA on Saturday evening (7:25pm).

McCluggage’s Brisbane Lions earned the right to host Drew’s Port Adelaide Power after the two sides finished second and third on the ladder, with the victorious club set to enjoy another week’s break and a home preliminary final.

Meanwhile, Fremantle’s Josh Corbett has been named for Peel Thunder ahead of its second semi-final clash with East Fremantle in the WAFL on Saturday.

Corbett kicked two goals from seven touches in the Thunder’s qualifying final win over Subiaco last weekend.

Around the Grounds with Hilly: Fresha Finals Series Week 2


The opening weekend of the Hampden Football Netball League Finals Series was an overwhelming success with beautiful weather and two exemplary games of football.

North Warrnambool and Terang Mortlake played out a thriller, with the Eagles prevailing by a point in front of a large crowd at the picturesque Leura Oval. The dominant premiership reign of the Koroit Saints came to an end on Sunday in the Elimination Final, with Cobden producing one of their best performances of the season to qualify for the 1st Semi Final. Whilst the Saints will be disappointed not to progress, we have to look back at their past seven seasons especially and just marvel at their heroics. An unbelievable football club and I don’t think they will be down for too long, watch them bounce back in a big way in 2024.

Hampden Junior Awards

On Monday night, the Hampden Football Netball League Junior Awards were staged. In front of a big crowd, young Oliver Turner from the Warrnambool Blues was crowned the 2014 Stuart Brunt Medallist for the U14 competition, while exciting South Warrnambool midfielder Sam Rhodes won the U16 Doug McConnell Medal. It was an exciting U14 count with Oliver winning on 28 votes in his first season with the Blues, he finished three votes ahead of South Warrnambool premiership captain Jimmy Stevens on 25 votes, while North Warrnambool leader Charlie Jellie capped off a dominant season with a third placing on 23 votes. It has been a whirlwind season for Sam at Roosterland, with the son of former South Warrnambool star and ex Western Bulldogs recruit Jacob Rhodes, making his senior debut in the final round of the season against Portland with two goals. Sam won the count on 30 votes, with his nearest rival Hugh Fitzgerald of the Hamilton Kangaroos the next best with 19 votes, following a terrific year in the midfield group. One of the biggest applause came for new Koroit cult-hero Archie Tepper, when he was announced as the leading goal-kicker with 50 goals for the season. An exciting talent and a name we should be watching out for in the years to come.

C-MAC is Back at the Saints

There are only a few more coaching positions that need to be confirmed in the Hampden League for 2024, and a familiar face will once again lead the powerful Koroit Saints. Club legend Chris McLaren will once again take the reins at Victoria Park, continuing on the job he has held from 2017. Chris, in my mind, is one of the modern great coaches, tactically he is one of the best in the competition but his biggest strength is the relationships he develops with his players and his ability to get the best out of his players. Despite being knocked out in Week 1 of the finals, he would have been absolutely rapt with the progression of his young team this season. There are a lot of positives that can be reflected on and that will hold the Saints in good stead for the next season. A terrific appointment and its great to have one of the best still having a strong passion for the coaching caper.

2nd Semi Final

A ticket to the Hampden Football Netball League Grand Final is on offer at the Ridley Recreation Reserve this weekend when minor premiers South Warrnambool take on North Warrnambool in the 2nd Semi Final. The Roosters enjoyed the first week of the finals off, which allowed a number of key players to rest some niggling injuries. The Roosters are expected to get quite a few big names back including Henderson, Anderson, Archie Stevens and Sam Thompson. We haven’t seen what South Warrnambool’s best 22 looks like this season, but we might see it on Saturday, a formidable team on paper. North Warrnambool, who have a good record against the Roosters, could welcome back some important players this weekend, with star big man Nathan Vardy likely to return along with small forward Felix Jones and defender Reece Scoble. The Eagles will be happy with the predicted rain and tightness of the Terang ground, allowing them to play their defensive brand of football, covering the corridor and causing stoppages don’t think we will witness a  high scoring affair and it will be a match determined by who can break through the oppositions defence and score. A huge match is coming up and I think South Warrnambool will narrowly win.

1st Semi Final

This is going to be an entertaining clash between two sides that love to use the football quickly, through the corridor and try to out-run teams. It is terrific to see two eastern clubs return to the finals, and last week both looked very impressive on how they moved the football so fluently. Cobden will welcome back Jesse Williamson to the line-up, returning after a hamstring injury last week and what flexibility it gives the Bombers up forward and potentially allowing captain Paul Pekin to play more midfield time. Big man Mark Marriott showed his importance last weekend, dominating the aerial battle and showing his versatility around the ground. Terang Mortlake were consistent all game last week, they just failed to capitalise some good looks up forward when the game mattered most.The Bloods need a little more help for Will Kain, he was dangerous with four goals, but there is a big reliance on the Kain Train to kick goals, that was evident last weekend. I would like to see a Lachie Wareham or Rhys Buck take more control in the forward line to help Kain, as well as Luke McConnell staying a little deeper forward, nipping at the heals of the star full-forward. It could be one of the best matches of the season at the Gardens Oval. I love the journey the Cobden Bombers are on and I believe they will win by 8 points.

Let’s hope for a brilliant second weekend of finals action.

See you at the Footy


HFNL Weekly Netball Wrap: Fresha Finals Series Week 1


It only seemed like a very short time ago we were acknowledging the halfway mark for the season and here we are now with the Home and Away rounds done.  Congratulations to all the teams in all grades who will start their finals campaign for 2023 this week.

A Cap of Last Week’s Results

The Hamilton Kangaroos climbed 2 positions on the ladder going from sixth to fourth when they defeated Terang Mortlake 65 – 48.   Eboni Knights had a great day shooting 35 of her team’s goals and was best on court for the Bloods.  Danielle Vankalken was very effective in the circle  scoring 47 goals for the Kangaroos.    Despite Warrnambool going down to Cobden 53 – 39 they still maintained fifth spot.  Sarah Moroney was at her best for the Bombers playing an important role in defence and Sarah Cowling was strong through the centre court for the Blues.  Camperdown finished off their season on a high with an 8 goal win over Port Fairy.  The Magpies have continued to develop throughout the year and despite only having 3 wins for the season they no doubt will walk away from the season with their heads held high.  South Warrnambool have taken our the Minor Premiers title after defeating Portland 77 to 28.  Holly Phillips added to her season’s tally scoring 58 goals while Remy Grant the best for the Tigers.  North Warrnambool finished their season on a disappointing note when they lost to Koroit by four goals.  They needed the win to keep a spot in the top 5 but went down fighting with the final score 48 – 44.  The Saints played four consistent quarters and withstood a late surge from the Eagles.  Millie Jennings was a strength through the centre for the Saints and Skye Billings dominated the goal circle for the Eagles.  

Milestone Games

Congratulations to Maddison Vardy who played her 100th Club Game for the North Warrnambool Eagles.  Maddy started her Junior Netball with the Eagles at a very young age and went on to play her first Open game at the age of 15.  After stints in Geelong (with the GFNL) and Western Australia Maddie has returned to the Club with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Awesome effort Maddy.  Congratulations once again!.

Hot Shot Award

It’s been a long time since a Goal shooting award has been acknowledged at the Hampden FNL.  The reason behind no such award is that only two players are eligible to shoot goals at any given time.  So it’s deemed unfair to all the other players on the court who are not allowed to shoot goals..  However this season has been one of interest when it comes to a Goal Scoring award.  We can unofficially say that Emily Finch from the Cobden FNC would have won the Award shooting 767 goals for the Home and Away Season – an average of 42.61 goals scored per game  Runner Up would have been Hollie Phillips who scored 751 goals for the season but had a higher average of 50.04 goals due to Hollie missing  a few games for the season.  

Junior Grand Finals

Congratulations to the South Warrnambool FNC who won both the 13/UR and 15/UR Premierships last Sunday in the Junior Sunday Competition Grand Finals.  The 13/UR team defeated Koroit 30 – 18 and played an outstanding game in great weather conditions.  Best on Court as voted by the Umpires was awarded to Lottie Wilkinson from South Warrnambool.  

South Warrnambool defeated Warrnambool in the 15/UR Grand Final 32 goals to 25.  In a great showcase of young talent the game hung in the balance until near the end and was played in great spirits.    Ruby McKinley from South Warrnambool was awarded best on Court in this match.  Congratulations to the South Warrnambool FNC – a great achievement.  

Important Dates

Junior Presentation Night – To be held on Monday, 4 September.

Maskell Medal/Dot Jenkins Medal awards – To be hosted by Clubs, Sunday 17 September.

My Predictions for this Week

On Saturday, the Qualifying Final will be played at Camperdown where Cobden will do battle with Koroit.  The Saints have been playing very consistently in their last few games and I expect this week will be no different.  Cobden have been building all season and are playing a great brand of netball.  The defensive trio – Remeny, Nadine and Sarh, will be too strong for the saints to overcome and I expect Cobden will win.  

In the second game, the Elimination Final, which is being played between Hamilton Kangaroos and Warrnambool on Sunday at Portland.  The Hamilton Kangaroos have been very competitive all season but have struggled with their consistency and will have to be at their best if they are to overcome a much improved Warrnambool. 

HFNL AFL Wrap: Round 24


The final round of the AFL season came to a close last week, with our local exports enduring mixed fortunes amongst their clubs.

Bombers skipper Zach Merrett’s year ended on a disappointing note with Essendon easily beaten by Collingwood.

The midfielder produced a big performance, racking up 36 touches, six inside 50s and five tackles, and almost capped off his night with two goals.

Hugh McCluggage and Rowan Marshall went head-to-head at the GABBA, with McCluggage’s Lions proving too strong for St Kilda as both sides had one last match before the start of finals next week.

McCluggage collected 21 disposals, three clearances, five inside 50s and kicked a goal in the victory, while Marshall produced another dominant display in the ruck for the Saints, finishing with 27 hit-outs, 24 possessions, seven marks and five tackles.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan kicked a goal in the Western Bulldogs win over Geelong but his season ended after GWS Giants defeated Carlton the following day.

The Dogs forward also had 11 touches and four marks in the triumph.

Jamaine Jones capped off one of his best seasons at the elite level yet, kicking a goal in West Coast’s season-ending defeat to Adelaide.

The defender also had 13 touches and six rebound 50s for the Eagles.

Koroit product Willem Drew was influential in Port Adelaide’s win over Richmond.

The midfielder recorded 20 possessions, six clearances, eight tackles and four inside 50s in a solid outing ahead of a qualifying contest on September 9.

The final game between Carlton and GWS Giants saw Sam Walsh make his return from injury for the Blues against Giant Toby McMullin.

Walsh had 28 disposals, six clearances and six inside 50s for the Blues, while McMullin collected three touches and one inside 50 before he was tactically subbed in the third quarter.

Sean Darcy (Fremantle), Gary Rohan (Geelong) and Ben Cunnington (North Melbourne) did not feature due to injury or retirement, while Josh Corbett (Fremantle) had a monster game in the WAFL, kicking 5.3 from 14 touches for Peel Thunder.

Meanwhile, Zach Merrett added to his growing resume with another All-Australian blazer.

The Cobden export was named on the bench of this year’s team which was announced on Wednesday evening.

Portland product Rowan Marshall was unlucky to be named in the final team after originally being included in the 44 man squad.

Around the Ground with Hilly: Fresha Finals Series Week 1


It feels like the opening round of the Hampden Football Netball League was just yesterday, and now our major focus is the upcoming Fresha Fruit Juice Finals Series. It has been a tremendous season with so many great storylines, and now it’s down to five teams who can take home the premiership cup. 

Minor premiers South Warrnambool, who have had a dominant season, will be searching for their first premiership since 2011, whilst second placed North Warrnambool will be chasing their first ever flag. The 2023 season has seen the emergence of Terang Mortlake, they will be looking to break a 15 year drought with their last coming in 2008 under the tutelage of Matthew Irving. Fourth placed Koroit have had a terrific season with a new and youthful list, they have won the last seven premierships and remain a strong chance to add an eight consecutive flag while Cobden is looking to break one of the longest droughts, with their last premiership coming in 1998.

I’m predicting it will be one of the hotly contested finals series in the last 10 years and to be honest, anyone of these five teams can take home the major prize. 

Hampden Junior Grand Finals

I have seen a lot of football played this year, whether it is the Hampden League, WDFNL or AFL and I can honestly say, last weekend’s U16 Grand Final clash between Koroit and Cobden is one of the best matches I’ve witnessed this season. The match, which was decided by a shot on goal seconds before the final siren, had absolutely everything – fast exciting ball movement, fair contested play, high flying marks and impressive goals. 

The final two minutes was exhilarating for the neutral football supporter. Koroit were a couple of points up before an Archie Taylor grab and goal gave Cobden a three point buffer with 90 seconds to go. A Talor Bryne free-kick, followed by a well executed pass to Archie Tepper, allowed the key forward to live out every footballer’s dream, kicking a match winning goal just before or after the siren. Archie had the community of Koroit on his shoulders when approaching from 35m out. He executed the kick beautifully, giving the Saints a long awaited premiership win.

It was an awesome game to call and view, the talent is bright in the Hampden League. Watch out for names such as Tepper, Byrne, Grayland, Taylor, Baker and Hutchins. 

Koroit and Cobden should be extremely proud of their young stars. 

Taylor to lead Bloods

The coaching landscape is almost complete in the Hampden League for 2024, with the latest appointment being Lewy Taylor, who will guide the fortunes of Terang Mortlake for the next two seasons. Lewy, who is an assistant coach at the Bloods this season, will step into the main role, replacing Ben Kenna after five seasons in the role. It is terrific that a person like Lewy wants to come back to his home team and coach after a 100 plus career in the AFL. Terang Mortlake is one of the major players in this year’s finals series and I’ve got no doubt they will be a force for a few years to come with Lewy at the helm.

Qualifying Final

The opening match of the Fresha Fruit Juice Finals Series will see perennial finalists North Warrnambool take on the competition’s big improvers Terang Mortlake. The ledger is one all this season, with the Eagles winning the teams last encounter at Eagle Park. The Eagles will go into the match with strong form, winning their last five including last week’s nail-biter with Koroit. 

There has been a lot to like about North Warrnambool this season, including; the positional changes of Tom Batten and Jarryd Lewis, the emergence of Angus Noske after coming from Hamilton, Bailey Jenkinson and Reece Scoble’s reliability in the defensive half and the year of Felix Jones. On the other side, Terang Mortlake have impressed the football community with their style of play, their multiple targets up forward and flawless adjustment of three players recruited from the WDFNL.

Some of the key elements of the game that I believe will be important in deciding a winner will be North Warrnambool’s finals experience, collectively – Adam and Luke Wines, Jarryd Lewis, Tom Batten, Ben Mugavin have a lot of experience and that will be important on the younger group of players. Terang Mortlake have ultimate flexibility in the ruck with Arundell, Buck, Hobbs and Moloney able to run through there. This places a lot of pressure on Mugavin and Bermingham. 

Overall, it should be a great encounter and I think with Terang Mortlake adding several first choice players into their team over the past three games, they are primed and will get the chance to play in the 2nd semi final next weekend.

Elimination Final

Sunday’s Hampden League Final will be a little unfamiliar territory for the reigning premiers Koroit, with the Saints playing their first Elimination Final since 2012. It’s been six seasons since Cobden have played in a finals series, with their transformation over the past 18 months significant. The Saints have had the perfect path into the finals, albeit, dropping the past two games by a total of 18 points. They were able to take on two top three teams and push them all the way, missing a couple of key players. Cobden’s form in the final weeks has been a little inconsistent but they will welcome back six major players, none bigger than ruckman Mark Marriott and key defender Christian Koroneos.

The contest will be intriguing, Koroit likes to control the game through maintaining possession and enter the forward 50 when the timing is right. Saints forwards Will and Tom Couch and Jyron Neave have looked dangerous the past fortnight and could be ready to explode. The interesting coaching move will be the breakdown of minutes in the midfield for Paddy O’Sullivan, he spent most of last round up-forward and we know what impact he can have in both areas of the ground. The hallmark of Cobden’s game this season has been fast fluent ball movement and unpredictability up forward. The Bombers will be relying on the likes of Pekin, Williamson, Mahoney, Watson to gain an edge in the midfield. Cobden’s game style is exciting and when it’s up and running well, it’s very hard to beat. 

The do-or-die encounter is going to be high quality, with two home and away season fixtures this season having produced quality encounters. I would love to see the emerging Cobden take another step up the ladder this season but I think Koroit’s experience will prevail in a game that could be decided by a kick.

Let’s hope we see two quality crowds this weekend at Camperdown and Portland to kick off the finals. 

See you at the Footy. 


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