The U19s overcame a few brave opponents in the finals to claim the Premiership.
They finished the season in 4th with 11 wins and 5 losses, however they weren’t far off the pace at all; only one win behind 3rd and two wins behind 1st.
Mt Evelyn, Monbulk, Narre Warren and Upwey Tecoma are the four teams that stood between Emerald and the flag.
They did enough to get the job done against Mt Evelyn and Monbulk, winning the first two finals by 17 points and 12 points respectively, before just getting over the line in a tight contest against Narre Warren, winning 50-41.
They then faced Upwey Tecoma in the Grand Final.
Emerald had mixed form against Upwey Tecoma during the H&A season going down by 1 point in Round 9 and being thoroughly beaten in Round 18.
Ultimately it was a convincing win as they lead at quarter time by 15 points and at half time by 31, holding Upwey Tecoma goalless until this point. They broke even in the second half which was fine by them, as they had done the damage and were on their way to Premiership.
Ben Cramer and Oscar Miles struck the scoreboard hard with three and two goals respectively whilst Luka Pukitis had a ripping game.
Ben Lewis booted 37 goals for the season and Jack McGough kicked 32, with Luka Pukitis operating at about 1 goal per game.
Throughout the season a few more of their notable players were Wil Gazzard and Brodie Walker who were both amongst the best 11 times.
The Premiership capped off a great season for the Emerald U19s. Winning a flag is always impressive and to do so from 4th position is even more impressive.
Emerald managed to finish fourth after a flying start to the year which saw them win 6 of their first 7 games. They went on to lose the Semi-Final to Berwick Springs by 22.
Their impressive first third of the season included a narrow win (87-85) to eventual Premiers Gembrook Cockatoo and a drubbing over 3rd placed Berwick Springs (84-42).
In Round 6 they managed to belt 5th placed Healesville (99-43). Emerald was on fire and looking to be a big chance to finish top 2, especially after losing just one game in the first nine rounds of the season (inc two byes).
Round 10 saw them come up against Gembrook Cockatoo again. Once again it was a very tight match, however unfortunately for Emerald, they were on the receiving end this time, falling short by seven points.
They then went down to Berwick Springs, which was a big contrast to doubling them earlier in the season.
Their losing streak extended to three, getting comfortably outplayed by Seville.
Round 13 saw Emerald once again smash Healesville, this time to the tune of 85 points. This was a much-needed confidence booster as Emerald were on the slide.
They only managed to win three of their last seven games, including being belted by Gembrook Cockatoo, losing to Berwick Springs again and even losing to Healesville in Round 20, leaving the finals door ajar for Healesville.
They belted Belgrave by 122 points in the final round however, and kept 4th spot, a game clear ahead of Healesville who finished 5th.
During the H&A season, Emerald scored on average 85 points per game and only conceded 65 points per game.
Finishing fourth isn’t a poor result overall, however, given their start, including beating two of the top three teams early on and racing to 6-1, they probably should have finished at least one spot higher on the ladder. Their second half of the season slide hurt but the fact that they still made finals, is a testament to how strong they were early on.
If they can repeat their early season form next year and breakeven in the second half of the season, then they are genuine Premiership contenders.
Patrick Chin led the way infront of the sticks with 45 goals, followed by Callum White and Lachlan Hoye with 18 apiece from 13 games each. Stephen Paull and Noah Van Haren also kicked 15 and 14 goals respectively.
Jake Pedder was outstanding in defence, whilst Brendan Wilson, Mitchell Thomas and Noah Van Haren all enjoyed strong years.
Patrick Chin (FP) and Jake Pedder (Int) were both rewarded for their excellent seasons, in Team of the Year.
Emerald was the third best team for most of the season, winning 11, drawing one game and losing six. Finishing third was fitting as they were a bit off the pace of the Seville and Berwick.
However, they managed to get the better of all the teams below them. That was true until finals. They had beaten Yarra Glen three times during the H&A season (although two of the encounters were tight). Unfortunately, that didn’t count for much when Yarra Glen beat them in the Semi-Final reasonably comfortably (42-31)
Emerald was quite strong offensively and not far behind defensively. They scored a tick of 46 points per game and conceded a tick over 42 points per game.
Kaylah Loulanting shot a massive 440 goals for the season, just behind Berwick’s Clarke and Pupuke who played a few extra games than Kaylah. Suria Loulanting shot 287 from 15 games.
Both Kaylah and Suria were acknowledged in Team of the Year, as Goal Shooter and interchange respectively.
As well as the Loulantings, excellent seasons were had by Jammy Scott (particularly later in the season), Matilda Preston and Jazmyn Wray. Soleil Lehmann-Rhodes and Kara Ellis also had solid seasons.
Emerald will be looking to improve on their 2022 season, hopefully making it another step or further. This is something they know they can achieve, especially given they defeated the team that knocked them out, three times.
Their B grade team finished 6th, whilst their C grade team lost in the Semi-Final after finishing fourth.
In D grade, they finished just outside the finals, with an 8-10 record.
Written by Jordan Peeler