Kununurra’s Eric Benning named in State under-19 team to play in AFL grand final curtain raiser

Stephanie Sinclair & Jordan McArdleThe Kimberley Echo
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Eric Benning of Western Australia in action during the NAB AFL U19 Championships game between Western Australia and South Australia at Mineral Resources Park on August 28, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Camera IconPERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Eric Benning of Western Australia in action during the NAB AFL U19 Championships game between Western Australia and South Australia at Mineral Resources Park on August 28, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images

Kununurra draft hopeful Eric Benning will play in football’s biggest event this weekend, as WA’s under-19s team face off against South Australia in the AFL grand final curtain-raiser at Optus Stadium.

Benning will start in the forward line for WA as the side battles SA from 1pm tomorrow, just over four hours before the main event between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

The Kununurra teen was selected in the 33-man State squad in June, and has impressed in his West Australian Football League colts performances for Claremont this year.

It comes as the 18-year-old prepares for the WAFL colts grand final, after the Tigers enjoyed a come-from-behind victory against minor premiers, Swan Districts, in Sunday’s semifinal.

Claremont trailed by as much as 21 points early in the second half before coming home with a wet sail, kicking the last three goals of the match to prevail by nine — 11.14 (80) to 11.5 (71).

Benning did his job in the ruck on return from a calf injury to finish with 15 possessions, 15 hit-outs and seven inside 50s.

Claremont colts coach Matt Angus credited Benning and fellow draft hopefuls Jacob van Rooyen and Angus Sheldrick with powering the Tigers into their third consecutive WAFL colts decider.

The Tigers will face the winner of this weekend’s preliminary final between Swan Districts and East Fremantle in the grand final at Optus Stadium on Saturday, October 2.

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