Young defender Liam Puncher was the standout for the U19 QBE Sydney Swans Academy team in their narrow loss to the GWS Giants Academy last weekend.
The QBE Sydney Swans Academy had been scheduled to travel to Melbourne to play a NAB League match against the Dandenong Stingrays but the lockdown in Melbourne forced the cancellation of that game.
A match against the Giants at Blacktown was swiftly organised - the third time the two Academy teams have met so far this season.
It was a tight game for four quarters, but the Giants were ahead at the final siren, winning 10.9 (69) to 9.9 (63).
Swans Academy Head Coach Jared Crouch said the players were disappointed they were unable to travel to Victoria, but quickly switched their focus to taking on the Giants again.
"The boys were disappointed as they want to compete against the best Victorian boys on a regular basis, but we acknowledge how lucky we are to continue to play the game we love,'' Crouch said.
The Giants went into the match with a taller side than in the two previous encounters this year, and Crouch said the Swans players didn't adapt well enough.
"We went into the game with a plan that we didn't want to kick long to contests, we wanted to kick to space. When we did that, we scored, but when our players bombed it into the forward line, the Giants intercepted,'' Crouch said.
"It was another real learning for our players - to learn and think about your team-mates' capabilities, not just your own. To think about how we move the ball to put it to the advantage of our team-mate, and how we help each other by the way we execute.
"That's a big part of the development from junior to senior football.''
Crouch said Puncher, who is still only 17, had his best game for the Academy.
"Liam Puncher was great at centre half back. He took on one of the Giants best talls and held him goal-less, He took four intercept marks and set us up really well with his ball use from defence.''
Crouch also gave credit to tough midfielder Pierce Roseby. "Pierce continues to lead from the front as an inside midfielder. He gets a lot of clearances for us, and he's really developing his game.''
The Under 19 Academy team was scheduled to play the Oakleigh Chargers in Melbourne tomorrow in their final NAB League game for 2021, but that has also been cancelled.
But in good news, the Academy has just organised a replacement game for Saturday June 12, against the Tasmanian NAB League U19 team.
"We're really pleased we've able to schedule that match against Tassie so our boys will get another chance to test themselves against quality interstate opposition,'' Crouch said.
Tasmania will travel to Sydney and play the Academy at Blacktown International Sports Park.
This week Crouch was named head coach of the NSW-ACT Under 17 Rams team, which was chosen after the recent hotly contested U17 Academy Series between the Swans Academy and Giants Academy.
Both Academies have had 11 players selected in the State team, which will play in Under 17 AFL National Championships on the Gold Coast in the July school holidays.
The Swans Academy players named in the NSW-ACT U17 team are: Lachlan Cabor, Caiden Cleary, Tye Gander, Ned Hawkins, Billy King, Mitchell Kunigiskis, Joshua Nicholls, Bililign Robertson, William Sabolch, James Tidemann, Christian Webster.
U19 QBE Sydney Swans Academy v Giants Academy
Blacktown International Sports Park
Saturday May 29, 2021
Giants 10.9 (69) def Swans 9.9 (63)
Swans goalkickers: Jordan Endemann 2, Kale Gabila 2, Marco Rossmann, Angus Anderson, Hugh McLeod, Felix Rogers, Byron Middleton
Swans best: Liam Puncher, Felix Rogers, Jacob Bauer, Kale Gabila, Byron Middleton, Pierce Roseby, Angus Anderson
U19 QBE Sydney Swans Academy v Tasmania U19 NAB League team
Blacktown International Sports Park
Saturday June 12, 2021 at 10am