A quartet of Goulburn Murray talents will attempt to help Victoria Country extend its under-19 winning streak over the Victorian Amateur Football Association to four matches.
Goulburn Valley League rising stars Luke Smith (Shepparton) and Zac Norris (Kyabram) will join the Murray Football League’s Ned Nihill (Nathalia) on Frankston Oval on Saturday for the Challenge Cup, while Echuca’s Angus Byrne has been named as an emergency for the clash.
Country has taken the past three games between the two sides convincingly, with last year’s fixture resulting in a 44-point win to the boys from the bush.
There should be no reason why that trend cannot continue, with this region’s selections in top form.
Smith has exploded up forward for the Bears in recent weeks, slotting 11 goals in his past two matches and averaging four majors per game during the past month.
The young star has been in Shepparton’s best five times in 10 matches, and has hit the scoreboard in every game he has played to amass 26 goals for the season.
The Bear also represented the GVL at senior interleague level this year after playing at the under-18 level last season.
Norris has broken into Kyabram’s senior line-up this year to play all 11 games after only managing six last season.
The Bomber was one of the more influential players in last week’s 142-point drubbing of Echuca, and has snuck forward to snare two majors in this campaign, despite not being a noted goal-kicker.
Nihill’s prowess comes from his tenacity at the ball carrier and, along with playing seniors at Nathalia since 2014, also represented his competition during the open interleague clash this year.
If Byrne manages to find himself on the field on Saturday he will certainly carry himself well, with the young talent proving to be a consistent performer for his Murray Bombers this season across nine matches.
While there is a league bye this weekend for Nihill’s Purples, the GVL representatives will need to be replaced for their respective outfits.
Liam Duguid (Shepparton), Brad Whitford (Kyabram), Mitch Eade (Moama) and Bowen Smith (Nathalia) were all selected in the initial 53-man Country squad, but missed out on the final team.
The under-19 rivalry begins at 11.15am on Saturday and will act as a curtain-raiser for the senior contest that follows.