Hawk named best in league
Barooga ruckman Brodie A’Vard capped off a remarkably consistent year of football by taking home the O’Dwyer Medal for the Murray Football League’s best and fairest on Sunday night at Club Mulwala. A’Vard polled an equal record 37 votes, with nine best-on-ground performances showcasing his dominance in a Barooga side that flagged itself as a genuine premiership contender this year.
The night belonged to one man — Brodie A’Vard.
The Barooga ruckman went in the raging favourite and in the end it was easy to see why.
A’Vard capped a monumental season with an equal record vote poll in the Murray Football League’s O’Dwyer Medal at Club Mulwala on Sunday night.
With 37 votes from his 18 matches, A’Vard equalled the record of fellow Hawk John Brunner, who polled the same number of votes in 1997.
A’Vard dominated the count from start to finish, polling three votes on nine occasions during a remarkable season.
The big man was a colossus in the centre square all year for the Hawks and his influence not only in the ruck, but also around the ground helped pave the way for a dominant season in which they have so far lost just two games.
Barooga co-coach James Hazelman said A’Vard managed to elevate his game to another level after a stellar 2017.
‘‘He was runner-up last year but has certainly had a much better year this season,’’ Hazelman said.
‘‘I’d say there’s hardly been a game that he hasn’t been in our best players, so it’s well deserved.’’
Hazelman pinpointed A’Vard’s preparation and professionalism as two of the biggest factors in his allconquering year, saying he consistently goes ‘‘above and beyond’’.
‘‘Playing in the ruck isn’t an easy to job to back up week after week and he doesn’t rotate for us at all, which is a super effort,’’ Hazelman said.
A’Vard’s prodigious leap, endurance, and strength all blend together to make him the perfect prototype ruckman in today’s game.
Cobram ace Tessa Bruni was thrilled to accept the Murray Netball League A-grade best-and-fairest award on Sunday night after polling 29 votes in her return to the competition.
Bruni, 19, spent time in the Goulburn Valley League at Shepparton United, where she fast-tracked her development and was a member of the Goulburn region’s under-17 squad in 2016.
Cobram assistant coach Rachael Baxa said the club was rapt with Bruni’s season after pushing hard to bring her back to Cobram this year.
‘‘She is an all-rounder, her defensive work is just as strong as her attacking skills, she’s just a great team player, she’s very humble and she seems to do everything with ease. She’s one of those players you can only admire,’’ Baxa said.
The dynamic midcourter said she enjoyed returning to the junior club where she won an under-13 premiership six years ago.
‘‘I have played for Cobram before. I went to Shepp United for a couple of years and this is my first one back. I’ve really liked it,’’ Bruni said.
‘‘It made a big difference playing at Shepp United. I’ve been coached very well, so I’ve improved as a player and with my mindset towards netball.
‘‘It’s been really good (this year), every game we’ve put in our hardest effort as a team and we’ve made finals this year. We haven’t done that in a while.’’
The Tigers take on Barooga in an elimination final after finishing sixth on the table and Bruni is hoping to progress.
‘‘They (Barooga) would be our biggest rivals. They beat us last time, but hopefully we’d like to come home with the win this time,’’ she said.
Bruni is back playing with her mother Helen after previously claiming Cobram’s A-grade best-andfairest award in 2015 when Helen was runner-up.
‘‘I have played with Mum this year. She’s been awesome, she’s a little legend,’’ Bruni said.
Cobram’s Luca Allen capped a stunning weekend of football with a runner-up finish in the league’s under17 best-and-fairest count after polling 21 votes.
Allen played a memorable part in Cobram’s thrilling senior win over Rumbalara the day before, kicking the match-winning goal from the boundary with just seconds remaining.
He has played the majority of the year in the under17s, but has also been sub numerous times for the senior side, where his silky skills, ball-winning ability and composure have impressed senior coach Josh Noonan.
Allen’s under-17 coach Jason Kerr said it was a great reward for a consistent season.
‘‘He’s one of our prime movers and is always in the thick of the action. His skills are very good and he always puts his head over the footy and wins a lot of contested possessions,’’ Kerr said.
‘‘He can always seem to buy himself a bit of space and the fact he can go on to his opposite side makes him a little bit more polished as well.’’
Allen will look to cement a place in the Murray Bushrangers’ set-up next season.
Allen’s brother Matteo reigned supreme to win the under-14 count in a landslide.
The tall midfielder with a huge tank swept aside all challengers, polling an incredible 47 votes.
‘‘We knew he would go okay, but we certainly didn’t think he would poll that many votes,’’ Matteo’s coach Rob Allen said.
‘‘He is an elite runner but he can certainly improve on his ball skills if he wants to take the next step.’’
Fellow Tiger Will Slatterie finished runner-up with 28 votes after winning the league goal-kicking with 65 majors in an outstanding individual achievement.
‘‘Will kicks a lot of goals and his improvement has been outstanding in terms of sharing the footy around. He’s been outstanding. He’s so quick, clean and has an uncanny goal sense,’’ the coach said.
He said both players had contributed enormously to Cobram’s unblemished season to this point in which it had not dropped a game.
Dominant: Barooga ruckman Brodie A’Vard capped a landmark season with 37 votes in the O’Dwyer Medal.
A-class: Cobram’s Tessa Bruni is the Murray Netball League’s best-and-fairest.
Double delight: Brothers Luca and Matteo Allen show off their awards.