“We’re still here”.
That’s the message from Cowra Blues under 12s coach Frank Bright ahead of the Central West AFL junior grand finals this weekend.
The Blues’ under 12s and under 14s will play for premiership glory in their respective competitions on Sunday at Bathurst’s George Park.
The two sides are the pride of the Cowra Blues AFL club in 2018 with the senior men’s grade failing to form after spiraling out of the competition in 2017.
Cowra’s youth girls missed out on a grand final spot last week, and the senior women will play their final game of the year on Saturday.
Bright said the club’s juniors are “putting the Blues back on the map”.
“The 12s and 14s have strong playing numbers, it shows that the senior grades can get back in the future,” he said.
On Sunday, the under 12s are up against Orange Tigers.
Previous encounters indicate the two teams are evenly matched, and Bright’s expecting a tough contest.
“They’ll be hard to beat. There’s no expectations we’ll just see what happens. You can’t put too much emphasis on a grand final in under 12s,” he said.
A mixture of both boys and girls form the rosters of the under 12s and under 14s.
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Bright identified Blake Sandry and Mason Bright as two stars in the line-up, however he heaped praise on the eight girls in his squad.
“When the season started we only had about 13 or 14 and looked like staying that way for the year but I became involved in the Paul Kelly Cup school teams and six girls from that have started playing regularly. They’ve become six of our best players this year,” he said.
“There are eight girls in our squad and they are all key players in key positions.
“We have a bunch of players from all walks of life that we’ve thrown together and they’ve turned into good friends, and they have also played really good footy.”
Bright said victory on Sunday, for either the 12s or 14s, would be hugely exciting and would be mean a lot for the Cowra Blues.
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“I just hope it’s a good day for the club win or lose. To get two sides in grand finals is really great for the club and it puts the Blues on the map again.”
The Marc Hyland-coached Cowra Blues under 14s meet Orange Tigers in the under 14s Central West AFL grand final on Sunday, following the under 12s.
The Blues and Tigers have met on four occasions in the under 14s division this season with the two sides sharing the spoils winning two games each.
“It’s been an up and down season, we’ve lost two games to Orange, we just want everyone to play well on Sunday,” coach Marc Hyland said.
The junior grand finals begin at Bathurst’s George Park from 9.30am with the under 12s, followed by the under 14s at 11am.
In the under 17s Bathurst Giants and Bathurst Bushrangers go head-to-head from 12.30pm and in the youth girls it’s Bathurst Giants and Orange Tigers with first bounce set for 2pm in the afternoon.
How the juniors line up
Under 12s Cowra
- Cooper Ballard, Maiah Bright, Mason Bright, Stephanie Dresser, Chamberlain Gillham, Aaron Hall, Mathew Kacarovski, Olivia Kacarovski, Laina Kennewell, Tahlia Lazanski, Eleisha McKone, Brendan Reid, Shakaila Reid, Rodrick Roe, William Roe, Blake Sandry, Lucas Sandry, Ryan Sandry, Toby Swain, Kaleb Nathan John Williams, Nataiya Williams. Coach: Frank Bright
Under 14s Cowra
- Ryan Boswell, Jake Roberts, Craig Johnson, Kaitlyn Spring, Braydon Hyland, Connor Munroe ©, Tobi Casey, Caleb Worth ©, Jayden Gordon, Tyson Williams, Jacob Haeata, Sarah Howard, Isaac Petty, Jayden Williams, Matt Bell, Lavinus Howarth, Kolara Kennewell. Coach: Marc Hyland