Tigers juniors have year to remember as Under 14s win minor premiership.
Despite an unfortunate end to the season due to COVID restrictions, the Orange Tigers Under-14s can still hold their heads up high as the junior side took out the minor premiership.
The team looked dominant all season long, winning eight out of nine games played and sat three-games clear of second placed Bathurst Bushrangers on the ladder.
While the season may not have ended as he hoped, Tigers Under 14s coach Matt Shephard spoke highly of all the effort the team had put into the season.
“We had fantastic numbers this year. I think for the side this year we had 26 players. 4 girls and 22 boys. There was great attendance during preseason training and good training numbers all throughout the season,” he said.
“We had a pretty strong side I thought. A good midfield, solid back line and key targets up forward. Overall, we had a well-balanced side, and the team just gelled together really well. They trained hard, worked hard on their skills and got good results.”
Led by the competitions leading goal kicker in Thomas Mcrae, the Tigers scored 584 points in nine games, 107 more points than the next team. The team was also dominant in defence, only allowing 200 points scored against them. Shephard acknowledged that all his players played a key role during the season.
“Some of our players weren’t the most skilful, but they all contributed. They might have four, five, or six touches in a game, but they were always to our advantage. I believe that made the difference between us and the other teams,” he said.
“The main thing for us in junior footy was that if we could win the majority of the 50/50 contests, then we would win the game.”
This season also brought a couple of new players to the Tigers from both codes of rugby, and Shephard couldn’t be prouder of their first year of AFL football.
“We had Cameron Ross come into the side this year for the first time. He previously came from a rugby union background and we were able to develop him into an attacking ruck man. There was also Ryver Robinson, he was a midfielder and came from a rugby league background,” he said.
“They both found it difficult to grasp the rules for the first couple of games. But their skills developed throughout the season and their attack on the football got better and better. They both learned team play and how to bring other players into the game which I thought was fantastic.”
Shephard spoke highly of the team’s confidence, acknowledging that it was something they worked on along with skill development.
“The main focus at training was skills. But it’s also teaching the kids where to stand, and where to run. It’s giving them the confidence get the ball, but then knowing what to do with it,” he said.
“What we find in junior AFL football is a lot of the kids are not confident to get the ball because they are worried that if they get tackled or make a mistake their teammates will be down on them.”
“It’s giving them the confidence to go get the ball. But then either knock it forward or get it to one of their teammates and teaching them to listen for a call from their teammates.”