Round 2 Preview

Interleague weekend gave us a glimpse of the future in the Ovens and Murray.

Yes, defeats for the senior footballers and open netballers were a tough pill to swallow in the present but take a step back and the future of our competition is unquestionably bright.

Etching their names into the history books as the league’s first ever 15-and-under representative netball side, the dozen girls drawn from seven clubs and led by Shaylah House kicked off Saturday in Shepparton in style.

After a nervy start, when you wondered if they might be caught like deers in the headlights, the OMFNL led at every break and deservedly came away 49-36 winners.

Lainey Draper wore a smile as wide as the town’s Victoria Park Lake after being presented with the medal as best on court.

“Everyone in our team was very nervous at the start,” the Wangaratta Rover said.

“Being on the court was really intense but once we got in front, that changed the game completely and our nerves disappeared.”

Draper also hailed the performances of Wodonga Raiders duo Lucy Tinkler and Chloe Richardson; no strangers, of course, to their interleague coach.

“You know it’s going to be a tough battle against the GV but the exciting thing was we managed to get all 12 girls out there in roles they filled perfectly,” House said.

“They were all so strong and it was nice to see.”

Also seizing his opportunity on the big stage was Wangaratta footballer Max Bihun, whose display in the under-18 victory over the GVL saw him named best on ground.

Speaking after the 11.8 (74) to 7.4 (46) win at Deakin Reserve, Bihun was pumped.

“It’s a real good feeling,” he smiled. “I’m really enjoying it this year, it’s been a pleasure playing with my thirds and having a gig with the seniors as well, training with them.”

OMFNL coach Ben Talarico was delighted by Bihun’s contribution – if not surprised.

“Maxy was fantastic,” Talarico said. “I rate him as one of the best forwards in the comp and that showed today, whether it was out the back or leading up at the football.

“His IQ’s incredible so I think he’s got a lot of senior football and hopefully higher level football as well. I see a lot of likeness to Phoenix Gothard, who played in this game two years ago and now he’s on the Giants list!”

But the weekend arguably belonged to Lily McKimmie, the unassuming 16-year-old from Corryong who answered the call to step up at senior level when injury forced Mia Lavis to withdraw.

Having already captained the 17/U side to victory, she looked completely unfazed by the intensity and physicality of the situation and more than vindicated coach Noel Halton’s faith in her.

“Honestly, I didn’t believe it,” McKimmie admitted of her call-up. “I was so shocked.

“But I thought ‘this is my opportunity to show them what I’m made of and everything about me.’

“Playing with the girls who I absolutely look up to and adore, it was honestly unbelievable.”