Nambucca Valley players shine in AFL’s Northern Heat program

Nambucca Valley Lions player Ruby Flanders on the run during the Northern Heat’s victory over Coolangatta. Photo: AFL North Coast.

THE Northern Heat Development Program for the 2023/24 summer wrapped up with the boys and girls playing a match in Coolangatta against the Blues.

Made up primarily of AFL North Coast players turning sixteen or seventeen years of age this year, the Northern Heat squads featured Nambucca Valley players Wilson Baade, Ned Lucas, Ruby Flanders, Poppi Flanders and Halo Campbell.

This summer was the first time the Heat program had a girls group and the hard work the players put in over the summer came to fruition in an exciting last quarter at Len Peak Oval on Saturday.

The girls started nervously, conceding the first four goals of the match, but once they got into their stride began to wrestle momentum their way.

At the last break the Heat girls trailed by fifteen points.

However, armed with a fitness program they’d been completing since December, the Heat girls ran over the top of their opposition, kicking four goals to grab a seven point lead.

The Blues produced one final effort to kick a goal and drag the margin back to one with less than a minute to play but the Heat girls marked their inaugural match with a win.

The boys match started in the only rain of the day and despite dominating territory with strong clearance work and a high press, the Heat were inaccurate in front of goal and despite leading by seventeen points at the first break didn’t get full value for their strong play.

The second term, played in drier conditions, saw Coolanagatta’s boys turn the contest into a strong battle and the Blues kept neck and neck with the Heat leading into the main interval.

After half time though the Heat showed a fitness edge and kicked nine goals to one in the second half, including five goals to nil in the last term while kicking into the wind.

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