The Yass Roos Juniors got the opportunity of a lifetime on Saturday night to take to the field of Manuka Oval at half-time of the GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs clash for an Auskick game.

It was a cold and wet night in the nation’s capital, but the kids would’ve taken lots out of the experience, organised by Club Secretary Jenene Forlonge.

Junior Roo Charlie Collins even got interviewed before the game to add to his night.

“We’ve been trying now for the past few years to continue to grow and develop junior members of the Club. To get an activity and event like that to go out there on Manuka Oval was just incredible for the kids,” Yass Roos President Jarrad Forlonge praised their efforts.

“I know that the kids and their parents were really glowing about the fact that they got to be able to do it.

“Even a few parents said that they missed out on the opportunity to do it when they were kids so for their kids to be able to do it now was just a really cool experience all round and something that we were very happy to be a part of.

“Hopefully we can produce a few more juniors to come through off the back of this.”

Back up the Barton Highway, despite no premiership glory at the end of this win, the Yass Roos have reversed the result of last season’s grand final against the Murrumbateman Eagles, defeating them in the Battle of the Barton 9.7.61 to 8.8.56 at Murrumbateman Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Round 4 Community Men’s Division Three clash between the two heavyweight sides of the competition lived up to expectations, with the final result between the two ladder leaders going right down to the wire.

The two Yass Valley sides always produce great, tight contests and the first instalment of the Battle of the Barton in 2023 was no exception.

The Roos set their win up in the first quarter, kicking 2.2 to just one point to lead by 13 points at quarter time.

The Eagles kicked their first two goals in the second quarter, however, Yass replied with three goals of their own.

The Roos took an 18-point lead into the premiership quarter with both sides kicking 2.2 and the same margin remained at the final change.

But it was the last quarter that had spectators on the edge of their seats, the Eagles started reeling in the Roos and reduced the lead to just five points with under two minutes remaining.

Murrumbateman tried to rush troops forward to get the winning goal however, fell just short, giving Yass a thrilling five-point win.

Ben O’Connor, Ryan Ulrich and Kyle McKenzie all kicked two goals each for the Roos, while Darcy Paine, Jake Collins and captain Sam Williams all chipped in for one each.

For Murrumbateman, Ash Johnston kicked two goals, while Sam Ryan-Baker, Blake Hourn, Pat Ryan, Matt Bell and Julian Mandahl all kicked one each.

Steve O’Brien, Toby Serafin, Taylor Doyle, Ryan Ulrich, Peter Collins and Jake Collins were all among the best players on the park for Yass on the day.

While Mitchell Lamb, Kaiden Armstrong, Ash Johnston, Kevin Mangan, Mitchell Evans and Samuel Ryan-Baker were the standout players for Murrumbateman.

Yass Roos playing President Jarrad Forlonge was pleased with his sides’ win on Saturday, elevating them to top spot on the ladder.

“It was pretty tight the whole game. In the end, it was good that we had the quicker start, but it never really felt like either side was on top,” Forlonge said.

“We were in front by 18 at three-quarter-time but it just it never really felt like we were in control of the game, so that’s credit to Murrumbateman. It was just one of those games where anyone could’ve won.

“The game was a lot more physical than some other games we’ve played, and it just felt like we were under a lot more pressure compared to earlier games this year so far.

“It was a very pressure-intense game, which is realistically what we expected. We knew that Murrumbateman are going to be probably one of the better teams in the comp this year and we have a rough idea of how they play, and we knew that they would come out hot.

“I was a bit nervous there in the last quarter. They kicked a couple of quick goals and got right back into it. They spent a lot of time attacking our end of the field, so it was just good that we could withhold their attack.

“We managed to get a couple of goals at the other end, which created the little bit of difference in the end.

“We were always in front, Murrumbateman reduced the lead back to six points and then we managed to kick a goal to get it back up to 12 points. They then kicked a goal with just under two minutes to go which made it pretty close, but we managed to hold on, which was good.

Yass Roos elated after the game

“Steve O’Brien, our fullback, was elite on the weekend. He got our Player’s Player award. Realistically, our whole back six have been unbelievable all year and the way they played on the weekend really did win us the game. Credit goes to the whole backline.”

Murrumbateman Eagles Coach Mark Welsh said the game was predominantly won and lost in the first quarter, after being kept goalless and Yass kicking two.

“We gave Yass too much of an opportunity in the first quarter and a quality side like that is going to take advantage of it,” Welsh said.

“We were chasing Yass pretty much for the rest of the game. But to give my boys credit, they dug deep, and they stuck in and clawed back that lead.

“It was a hard-fought and passionate game between the two teams, like it always is. For the last couple of years, we’ve just been really even. They’re always a good challenge.

“We keep on throwing out some pretty good games, that relationship between Yass and Murrumbateman, which is great for the district, to see those two really quality, passionate sides represent the Yass Valley.

“We definitely had the run in the legs and the fire to see the game out, but we just fell short in the last quarter.

“I think the one thing that let us down from taking the win was just discipline, which is something that I have been working on with them as a group.

“We gave some 50s away when we didn’t need to and some free kicks. That discipline kind of rolls over to structural stuff, like not finding those front and centre positions where we needed to and Yass did.

“Yass are well drilled and they know the positions they need to be in. When we haven’t got the discipline to make those spots as well, that can be the difference between winning the game and losing.

“I think unfortunately, that might have let us down on Saturday. We’ll build on that pushing through the rest of the season and see if we can tidy that aspect of our game up.

“I liked both Kevin Mangan and Dave Guttler’s games. They both played their first games back from injuries and the way that they both went about their business, they were tough and led by example.

“For those guys that have been around the club for many years, it was really pleasing to see both of those kind of guys come into the team for their first game and pick up like they hadn’t missed an extended period of time.”

All AFL Canberra competitions will have a break this weekend over a full bye round for the organisation, with Round 5 set to resume on Saturday 20 May, as Yass will head to Kambah to take on Tuggeranong and Murrumbateman play away at Holt against Belconnen.

“We’re definitely looking forward to having a break and then we’ll go into a team that we haven’t been exposed to for years,” Welsh continued.

“Belconnen are a bit of an unknown. I think they’ll be a young squad. I do know the coach of the Belconnen team, he is actually a mate of mine, and I know he’s trying to build some young players there.

“We’ll prepare for the game like we always do, but they’ll be a younger squad which means they’ll be fit and keen and we’ll have to be ready after the bye for that.”

Forlonge said that his side is looking forward to a well-earned week off after a physically tough start to the season.

“I think the bye has come at a good time for us. There’re a few little niggles getting around and a couple after the weekend as well just because of how physical it was,” he said.

“It’ll be good to get the weekend off and reset and we’ll still continue to train as normal to keep working on everything.

“We’ve got a few more away games coming up after the break, which should be good. We don’t really know what Tuggeranong are going to be like either, so we’re just excited to keep turning up and trying to win each week.”


  • Yass – 16 points – 328%
  • Murrumbateman – 12 points – 307%
  • Southern Cats – 12 points – 167%
  • Cootamundra – 8 points – 142%
  • Goulburn – 4 points – 23%
  • Eastlake – 4 points – 55%
  • Belconnen – 4 points – 36%
  • Tuggeranong – 0 points – 31%

Tim Warren