Alex Federico (above) and good mate Ethan Penrith put together important shifts for the Northern Blues on Sunday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Martin Keep)
Alex Federico and Ethan Penrith were just two young Northern Blues who rose to the occasion in Round 12.
The former Northern Knights pairing both enjoyed their best performances of their short VFL careers to date, contributing well in their side’s four-point win.
Both players recorded 15 disposals for the match, while Federico recorded six tackles in midfield. Penrith also produced an eye-catching display with his ability to break the lines around the ground.
Earlier in the season, a man who knows the pair all too well said both players could make an impact in Northern colours in 2018.
That was Rhy Gieschen, who oversaw the progression of Federico and Penrith as the Northern Knights Talent Manager.
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) June 26, 2018
“Federico won our best-and-fairest playing only 10 games last year: he’s a great size and shape for a midfielder,” Gieschen said.
“He’ll develop into a quality inside midfielder at VFL level, and was talked of as a potential draftee last year. He can impact in the air and around the ground.
“I have absolutely no doubt that Ethan has AFL attributes, he has a lot of tools already to play the modern game: he is the best tackler I’ve seen in the TAC Cup.
“When he plays with freedom and takes the game on, he is a pleasure to watch.”
Senior coach Josh Fraser raised both Federico and Penrith’s names post-match on Sunday, saying he “really liked both of their games”.
"That sort of win helps build the club to where we want to go."
An in-depth @jfraser17 on yesterday's result, the final moments, the individuals who shone and much more…
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) June 25, 2018
Predominantly, Fraser was thrilled with the manner the youngsters responded to their return to the senior line-up after omissions in previous weeks.
“As young players, they came back in the side after going out and applied the learnings they’ve had in previous weeks,” Fraser said.
“They were both really competitive and were just a few players who we liked on the day, across the board we were really pleased.”
It was just another instalment in players from the Northern Knights making an impact for the Blues this year, none more so than Mason Blakey. The former Knights skipper is now vice-captain at the Northern Blues, and has played every game this year.
Another 2017 graduate, Matthew Harman featured as 23rd man earlier this season, while current Knight Joel Naylor impressed at VFL senior level against Richmond.
Max Dreher and Christian Farchione are also waiting in the wings for the Blues after having their 2018 seasons interrupted due to injury.
In the meantime, Federico and Penrith will be out to back their performances up as Josh Fraser put the challenge to his side to go again this weekend. Northern takes on Footscray on Saturday at 10am in a return to Ikon Park.