Both the Northern and Central Zones finished at the bottom of the pack in the 2017 SA Country Football Championships held at the Imperials Football Club, Johnstone Park, last Saturday and Sunday, July 8 and 9.
The Northern zone coach by long term Southern Flinders mentor Scott brand included a huge number of Northern Areas Football Association players in its 25-man squad.
There were participant from reigning premiers Broughton Mundoora including their skipper Tom Button, consistent defender Mitchell Bowley, midfielder Maddy Hayes, along with swing men Dylan Hewitt and Tom Wheelen.
From Southern Flinders the participants included defender Tai Martin-Page, Shane Ballantyne and big man Lachlan Pole.
Ben Arbon, Luke Kapitola, along with 2016 Mail Medallist Campbell Combe from Crystal Brook we're also in the squad, as was BMW Lions Under 21 forward Edward Trump and Orroroo’s Luke Bowman.
In game one of the titles Northern Lights to the Eastern Zone by 25 points.
The final score was Eastern 7.8 52 defeating Northern 4.1 (25).
Ed Trump kicked all four of the Northern goals, while Arbon, Button and Bowman were also strong contributors.
In the second game the Southern Districts side defeated Northern, with Brand side going down by 19 points – 7.6 (48) to 4.5 (29).
Their better players in this game included Kapitola, Button, Combe, defender Benny Arbon and Maddie Hayes.
On Sunday, in the fifth verses sixth clash which started at 9.30 am Northern were a couple of points ahead at quarter time but we're inaccurate in the second term although having more scoring shots. They would finally go down by 44 points and finish at the bottom of the table.
Rooster Campbell Combe continued his outstanding campaign, as did Tom button.
Other good players in the Sunday game included Wheelen, Kapitola and Dylan Hewitt playing in the defence.
Combe was also a judged the Northern Zones best player and won the Barrie Robran medal, ahead of fellow midfielder Tom Button.
Both Tom and Campbell would win selection in the team of the championships they are now in the SA Country squad for the annual clash against WA Country in Perth on July.
“White it was the disappointing result overall I was happy with the commitment and intent of our midfield and the backs six, “ Scott Brand, the Northern Zone coach at this year’s South Australian Country Championships, said.
“The problem we had was with the final delivery and the last kick into the forward line.
“We were competitive in the middle and back thirds of the ground, but we really struggled up forward.
“Campbell is an outstanding footballer.
“His work rate, skill-level, ability to win the ball and finishing is at elite.
“Tom Button also was excellent, especially Saturday.
“He was a little quieter on Sunday but still had a great carnival.
“Ben Arbon and Tai Martin-Page with sterling in defence and we had a number of contributors across the week.
“Dylan Hewitt was excellent when we send him into defence in the Sunday game, Luke Kapitola was also a strong performer over the entirety of the tournament.”
NEFL players for the Central Zone included Jayden White from North Clare, fellow Roosters team mate Lachlan Jaeschke, Zone Championships stalwart Brodie Murphy and Min-Man indigenous midfielder Steve Rusca.
The Central Zones only win was against Northern in the playoff for bottom place.
They won this handsomely after a low scoring first half – 11.4 (70) to 3.8 (26).
Zone coach Steve Lubcke said that he was naturally disappointed with the end result but felt that Murray South East was comfortably the best side at the titles.
“In all fairness we should have played in the third verses fourth fixture, as we threw away the first game with our inaccuracy in front of goal,” Lubke explained.
“Losing the opening match gives the team a different mindset and Murray South East proved to be a worthy winner of the tournament.
“They (MSE) beat us convincingly.
“We played our best football in the Sunday match.
“The longer version of the game seemed to suit the team we selected more.
“We moved Steve to a half back flank on Sunday and he did some real damage.
“We might have found the right position for him there he is an outside player and really gave some decent run and created a couple of intercept turnovers.
“Brodie has been a great servant of the Central Zone for a number of years and he had an impact on Sunday.
“Both Jayden and Lachlan will be better for the experience, with White kicking three goals in our victory on Sunday.
White and Jaeschke are among a strong group of Under 21 players in the Central Zone squad group. Over the next couple of years this suggested they should be lot more competitive at this level of the game.