CHFL team continues interleague success

CENTRAL Highlands Football League has continued its march up the AFL Victoria Country Championships rankings.

The Highlanders collected a third-straight victory since joining the titles in 2012 with a comprehensive 52-point triumph over Loddon Valley at Bungaree on Saturday.

Senior coach Greg Middleton doesn’t believe the league’s run of success will stop there.

Middleton said the Central Highlands had showed it was stronger than some of the competitions around it in the statewide rankings following big wins over Ovens and King and Loddon Valley in the past two years.

“The (league) has brought it in for a reason. They want to climb the rankings and get as high as we possibly can,” Middleton said.

“We started something three years ago and we want to really build that momentum within the competition and make it what it was many years ago when it was a really big thing to play interleague footy.

“I think we are slowly getting there.”

Central Highlands is now 22nd and will prepare for a meeting with Horsham District Football League next season.

Meanwhile, Ballarat Football League coach Shane Skontra says the league can return to the top level of interleague football, but it will take some time.

Saturday’s heavy defeat at the hands of Goulburn Valley has demoted Ballarat to the third tier of the competition, set to play against Bendigo next year for the second time in three years.

With the GVFL promoted to the championship match next year against Geelong Football League, Skontra said Ballarat would now have to reassess its outlook in the hope of getting back on the winners’ list and toward the top of the rankings.

Having been purely outclassed by Goulburn Valley, Skontra said the 65-point loss would help serve as a learning curve for the young side.

“We’ve just got to reassess, we’re obviously going to have different opponents next year (Bendigo) and we’ll have to approach them in a manner that gives us a chance of winning,” he said.

“It’s not in our scope about what we can do against Goulburn Valley now though, it’s about what we can do against next year’s opponents.”

Notably lacking a lot of genuine experience on Saturday, Skontra said he could not have asked for greater commitment from his playing group throughout the entire interleague campaign.

However, Skontra was left to rue the overall absence of top quality players, intensified by the late withdrawals of Sebastopol’s Michael Powell (North Ballarat Roosters) and Melton’s Brad Murphy (knee injury).

“On reflection, it probably would have made some difference but we’ve always focused on the guys that are available,” Skontra said.

“It was a great experience for the guys to come up and play against such a quality league with so many good footballers, so hopefully they can learn from it as well.

“I think with what we had, we performed at a pretty good standard.”

Bendigo beat the Gippsland Football League by 34 points on Saturday, teeing up yet another meeting between the two arch rivals.

It has not yet been determined where the match will be played.

Skontra has signalled his intent to remain at the interleague helm next year, but is yet to put pen to paper.

The victorious Central Highlands Football League team celebrates its third-consecutive title in the AFL Victoria Country Championships.

The victorious Central Highlands Football League team celebrates its third-consecutive title in the AFL Victoria Country Championships.

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