The Ovens and Murray Football League’s Victoria Country representatives played a key role in Sunday’s 25-point win over Vic Metro.
The game was played in miserable conditions in Ballarat with heavy rain and a fierce wind, which meant players were kicking 60m with it and struggled to make 30m into it.
The home team raced to a match-winning lead with the wind in the first quarter, cruising to a 12.17 (89) to 9.10 (64) win.
“It was a massive wind, guys were kicking it from the centre square,” Vic Country’s Nick Meredith said.
“Blokes were lucky to kick 30m the other way and it swung a mile.”
The Lavington player was one of five O and M representatives.
“He was very good, very versatile, can play either tall or small, he did a great job for us,” coach Danny Frawley said.
Meredith was joined in defence by Wangaratta’s Dylan Van Berlo.
“He was probably out of position a little bit, he played fullback, he normally plays centre half-back, but he was one of the better players on the ground,” Frawley said.
“He defended strongly all game and was terrific.”
Wodonga Raiders’ Jydon Neagle has played largely in the midfield this season, but he too was used in defence, as the team’s Mr Fix It.
“We used him as a loose man in the back half and he really did stem the flow when they were kicking with the wind, he was outstanding,” Frawley said.
The former St Kilda defender says he’s surprised the 23-year-old hasn’t been drafted at AFL level.
We used him as a loose man in the back half and he really did stem the flow when they were kicking with the wind, he was outstanding ... he’s got a lot of his dad’s genes.Danny Frawley
“He’s a very good player, it’s never too late and he’s only young, he’s got a lot of his dad’s (Essendon premiership player Merv Neagle) genes.”
Frawley said it was a tough day for forwards where Yarrawonga’s Brandon Symes played.
“Very good again, the conditions didn’t suit him, he took a couple of telling marks and brought the ball to ground,” he said.
Yarrawonga was the only club with two representatives, Harry Wheeler joining his big Pigeons’ team-mate.
“He was very tough over the ball, he did a great job,” Frawley said.
After the first term blitz, Vic Metro worked its way into the match.
“The first half we really got on top of them, but they came out in the second half (and played better),” Meredith said.
The O and M players will now look to carry their strong form into the final six weeks of the regular season.
Yarrawonga’s duo will immediately face Van Berlo in a round 13 blockbuster.
The Pigeons will be able to put enormous pressure on third-placed Wodonga Raiders if they can topple the premiers at their JC Lowe Oval.