Junior AFL returned to the Camden Haven on Sunday, June 30 with two matches between the Manning Valley Mustangs and Port Macquarie Swoopers.
The Camden Haven Bombers were unable to field teams in the junior competition in 2019, and partnered with the Mustangs to ensure locally based players had an opportunity to play.
Players proudly donned Bombers jumpers before the under 11's took to the field to take on the first placed Swoopers.
A slightly damp Laurieton Oval didn't prevent an exciting first quarter which saw seven goals scored.
Tanner Lewis-Bain was in the thick of the action, supporting Isaac Luke with two goals. The Mustangs ended a frenetic first quarter with a surprise 10 point lead, 30-20.
But points were hard to come by in the second quarter as the Swoopers played with much better structure. The Swoopers took the lead late in the second quarter, with a late behind to Ruby Luke being the only points for the Mustangs.
Port began to dominate in the third quarter as fatigue set in with the warm conditions, extending their lead to 61-33 at the three quarter break.
The Mustangs rallied in the fourth quarter to outscore the Swoopers, with Zac Thompson kicking two enterprising goals. Brenton Mance and Carter Doessel worked hard throughout the match but in the end the Swoopers prevailed 73-46.
It was an admirable effort by the Mustangs against a strong opponent, and one which will help the Bombers re-establish for the 2020 season.
An Auskick demonstration was held between the two main matches, with around 15 children participating. The Auskickers will combine with those players currently participating with the Mustangs to form a strong squad for the Bombers 2020 return.
A large crowd had assembled with the thirteens taking to the field after the Auskickers. It was a tense and physical start with just the one goal scored in the first quarter.
The match freed up in the second quarter with both sides creating good opportunities. Ruben Avelin saw plenty of the ball and found a number of behinds late in the second quarter. The Swoopers though took a solid 21 point lead into the main break.
Zak Houston continued his excellent form in the middle, with Quinn Carmichael also putting in a strong effort as Ruckman.
The Mustangs continued to create opportunities but inaccurate kicking was costly with some fourteen behinds in total. The Swoopers took full advantage and ran away with four goals late in the match recording a 59 point victory 11.12.78 to 1.14.19.
Nonetheless it was a committed effort from the Mustangs with notable contributions from Jackson Griffin in the middle and Angus Roohan at the back. The Camden Haven based players continue to improve and will help ensure a bright and competitive return for the Bombers in 2020.