Huddersfield Rams came up short in their bid to become Aussie Rules Premiers for the first time since 2009.

They were beaten 107-69 by Manchester Mosquitoes, who were deservedly crowned champions at Sheffield.

It is far from all doom and gloom at the Huddersfield club, however,

Rams’ star performer on the day was Matt Whiteley, who also received the excellent news he was voted the league’s joint-winner of the “Best British Player” award for the season.

Coach Jason Battye reflected on the Rams achievement of making the Grand Final as being one of massive pride and progression for the club.

He has overseen the development of an all-English squad from fresh faced newcomers to hardened Grand Final runners-up, and he is confident of his squad having an impact in an England Dragonslayer’s international jersey in the near future.

The Rams will continue to train throughout the off-season and are inviting people to go and try out the sport (they can be contacted via the web).

In the Grand Final, the Mosquitoes, boasting the strongest squad of the competition, went into the match having fielded 14 Australian players through the course of the season – so the Rams knew they had a test on their hands.

Huddersfield Rams team v Manchester Mosquitoes
Huddersfield Rams team v Manchester Mosquitoes
 

Battye boasted seven current or previous internationals in his squad, including full-forwards Danny Armitage and Luke Booth, who had kicked eight and seven goals respectively in the previous week’s semi-final triumph over Nottingham Scorpions.

The squad also included four players from the club’s successful Greenhead Park introductory sessions in February, who have enjoyed a great season which had seen their skills develop from the rudimentary right through to being able to contribute to a Grand Final team.

A very strong start from the Rams gave them the advantage early on as Armitage and Booth scored when profiting from the intensity around the breakdown of midfielders Sam Gill, Alex Overton, Graham Bickerdike, and James Clayton.

Overton kept the points ticking over when he snapped a great goal that belied his 17 years, illustrating verve and nous on the ball to cut back inside and score.

Once again Rams full-back Brandon Fletcher was up against another strong opponent when he took on the league’s top scorer. He competed very effectively throughout the game both in the aerial contest as well as the breakdown, keeping the Mosquitoes player less influential on the scoreboard.

The teams traded goals as the Rams just edged the first quarter 22-20.

Things continued in a similar vein in the second period when captain Whiteley began finding loose ball at half-back and effectively sending probing passes.He supplied Karl Haigh, who used his experience to slot from close range.

Manchester kept in contention themselves, however, even though Robbie Wilson scored for Huddersfield and Young Rams ruckman Robert Yates was overjoyed to grab himself a Grand Final goal when he put one over from a set shot 30m.

He was joined on the scoresheet by another first-year player, half-forward Ethan Brady and the Rams had an unexpected 48-44 lead at half time.

With Manchester playing their fourth Grand Final in five years, Huddersfield hoped to keep in contention and then go all-out in the final quarter. Armitage did scorer, but inaccurate kicking and tiredness started to impact upon the game.

Overton, Whiteley, and Fletcher battled bravely, but the higher quality of the opposition and their experience from playing the sport in Australia always meant they held the advantage over Huddersfield. The Mosquitoes scored 28 points to the Rams’ nine in the third quarter and a similar pattern continued in the final quarter as missed kicks and fatigue meant that the Rams could never regain their footing.

Armitage scored his third goal right at the end to be the Rams top scorer.