From the bridesmaids at the 2008 SA Country Football Championships, five elite BLG footballers were among six Central Zone players to collect “Team of the Championship” accolades last weekend at the Renmark Rovers Football Club.
A trio of players from the reigning premier Barossa District, team captain Todd Miles, key forward Darren Shillabeer and consistent defender Brae McConnell along with the Nuriootpa pair of siblings Aseri “Bobby” and Aiesa “Magic” Raikiwasa were all honoured.
A sixth player, Steve Rusca, formerly from the Angaston Football Club, was it the other member of the Central Zone team to secure selection.
The Central Zone won its two games on Saturday.
They defeated 2016 and ’17 championship winner Murray South East in their opening an encounter after coming from behind by three points.
Michael Howson kicked the Zone’s two goals in this contest including the match winner late in the second half.
In the second game Central Zone comfortably accounted for Eastern, setting up a grand final contest on Sunday with the Eyre Peninsula (formally called Western Zone).
A modest third quarter in the Grand Final would prove to be the difference between 2018 title winning glory and being consigned the second place.
The Central Zone had the early lead the title decider, but conceded the advantage with a late Eyre Peninsula (EP) goal just before half-time.
Three unanswered majors in the third quarter would set up at Eyre Peninsula (Western Zone) victory, going on to win 10.12 (72) to 5.12 (42), by 30 points.
“The EP boys got right on top of the clearances and stoppages; and won a lot of the 50/50 ball in that third quarter of the Grand Final,” Central Zone Coach Steve Lubcke explained.
“On reflection natural it’s disappointing to lose the final but we had two strong games on the Saturday, especially coming from behind in game one and this should be a solid springboard into 2019.
“The conditions were very tough on Saturday but on Sunday then proved a little better for the talls and they had an opportunity to get into the game.
“Todd Miles was superb across the entire tournament and fittingly won the Central Zones best player award.
“Along with his ruck work and his ability in general play was outstanding.
“Our defence was great all weekend, with three of them, Magic and Bobby along with Brae all being outstanding.
“Nathan Casboult can consider himself very unlucky not to make the team, as being Todd I felt he was our best player.
“Nuriootpa lad Brad Hoepner collected the best under 21 award for us, while Brodhi Carracher was serviceable in the wing rotations.”
The BLG quintet selected in the “Team of the championships” are also in the initial squad for the annual South Australian Country game.
This will be played against Western Australia at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, July 28.