Captain’s Report: U23 AAFC Carnival with Simon Caven

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In the wake of last week’s U23 AAFC Carnival in Tasmania, VAFA skipper Simon Caven gives his thoughts on the Big V’s performance in each of their four matches:

Game One vs Tasmania: VAFA defeated Tasmania by 25 points.

“The boys were definitely confident going into the first against Tassie, having had the opportunity to watch them earlier that day. The first quarter was very hot, but the back six stood strong against the home team. However, our skills with both hand and foot were unfortunately letting us down, which meant we had real difficulty moving the ball well. In the end the boys were happy to start with a win, but we knew we would have to step it up against our other opponents if we had any chance of coming home with the chocolates.”

Game Two vs Western Australia: VAFA lost to Western Australia by nine points.

“It was clear from the beginning that WA were a bigger and somewhat more physical team than us. Combined with the slippery North Hobart Oval, this meant it was going to be a tough ask. The backline stood up well in the first half again, but in these short games (two 20-minute halves), everyone would soon to learn the value of a single goal. Seven points down at half time doesn’t seem like a lot, but a quick goal from WA after the main break really put some pressure on us. We played with a lot of endeavour but minor skill errors and an inability to convert meant we endured our first loss of the carnival. Although we were disappointed with the loss, the boys knew just how important our next game would be so we quickly put it behind us and focused on our match-up against South Australia.”

Game Three vs South Australia: VAFA lost to South Australia by eight points.

“Considering we’d lost our ruckman, the boys had a pretty good first half. However, both teams found it hard to score goals. It was an in-close and really physical game where both teams were laying big tackles. In the back of our minds we knew this was our last chance and subsequently played some of our best football in the second half, listening to coach Hayesy and using the ball better through the middle. To SA’s credit they were able to repel our attacks and slow the game down to a scrap, which suited their bigger bodied team. It was an extremely disappointing result, knowing that had a couple of things gone differently it could have been a very different outcome. The Vic boys and the coaching staff were all devastated.”

Game Four (Minor Final) vs Tasmania: VAFA defeated Tasmania by 101 points.

“The final games were both held at Blundstone Arena. The disappointment of not making it into the main final was replaced with a determination to finish the carnival well with a big win over Tasmania. Right from the beginning there was a different feel being on the wide-open spaces of Blundstone Arena. I couldn’t help thinking had we played all our games here it could have been a different result. We moved the ball better than we had done the entire carnival, using the middle of the ground well and finding plenty of options up forward. The Tasmanian boys never stood a chance.

It was disappointing we weren’t more successful, but it was still a great experience for all the boys who were given the honour of wearing the Big V jumper. The trip to Hobart to represent Victoria will always be remembered as a really positive experience because it wasn’t just about the games; it was about the people we met and the experience the VAFA coaches and support staff gave us.”