LW: What an enjoyable afternoon at the QEO on Saturday, Bourkey.
Perfect weather, a great game of inter-league football and, of course, the right result, with Bendigo defeating Gippsland by 34 points.
It seems a lifetime ago now that there was so much doom and gloom surrounding the BFL and concerns over how the inter-league team may shape up after the spate of departures after last season.
But 15 players pulled on the Blue and Gold jumper for the first time and, along with the other eight players, did the league proud in the now customary bi-annual clash with Gippsland.
AB: I’m already counting down the days until we meet Ballarat next year.
With the way the inter-league rookies acquitted themselves on Saturday the BFNL is in good shape.
Gippsland was a very good side. The game was no gimme.
Yes, the influence of former AFL stars Stephen Milne and Corey Jones was critical to the win, but the performances of rookies Matt Smith, Nick Stagg, Jon Coe and Tim Walsh were super important.
That game just reaffirmed why inter-league footy is so great. Loved every minute of it.
LW: Great team effort by all the lads in what was a game where Bendigo was always out in front, but Gippsland showed tremendous resilience until late in the game to fight its way back into the contest each time the warning bells started ringing on the scoreboard.
But the difference in the end was Milney, who produced one of Bendigo's great inter-league performances with nine goals from no more than probably 14 kicks.
Milney lit it up on the inter-league stage from the opening minute of the game and it makes you start looking ahead to finals and ponder what he's going to produce on the QEO come September.
Nice touch after the game in the rooms when Milney passed on a signed footy he was presented with by the playing group to the bearded dragon, Nick Stagg, in recognition of his efforts.
You mentioned Matt Smith earlier. No surprise to see the A grade player he has become. I can still remember him running around in his helmet during the glory days of Calivil United playing key roles in senior flags when he was just out of nappies.
AB: Matt Smith has probably flown under the radar a touch since joining the Storm.
You could mount a good argument to say he's the Storm's most influential midfielder.
Fast forward to a big September final and we'll potentially see Matt Smith and Nick Stagg go head-to-head. That will be a cracking contest.
Great result on Saturday for the HDFL as well. Gutsy effort to travel across to Horsham and get the biscuits in a close one.
LW: Sounds like a belter of a contest over at Horsham that virtually came down to the last kick of the game and thankfully, Brad Perry nailed his set-shot from about 40m to get Heathcote over the line by five points.
Great to see big Kahl Oliver kick a bag of goals and have a major influence on the game on the back of what has been a frustrating couple of years injury-wise for him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a great day for the other three leagues in the area - Loddon Valley, North Central and Maryborough-Castlemaine - which were all beaten by 50 points-plus.
Better luck next year.