Under 18 National Championships: Round five wrap


Photo courtesy of AFL Victoria.

Vic Country           4.2    5.3    10.5   11.6   72
South Australia     1.0    5.2    5.5     9.7     61

VC Goals: Schache 6, Ainsworth 3, Simpkin, McKay
VC Best: Schache, Weitering, Nyuon, Mathieson, Ainsworth, McKay

SA Goals: Allen 3, Redman 2, McKenzie, Markov, Snelling, Dew
SA Best: Snelling, Agostino, Francis, Milera, Combe, Scharenberg

The first game at Skilled Stadium today saw Vic Country get over the line against South Australia. While the scores indicate a close game, Country were the better team, only lapsing to a second quarter South Australian resurgence led by captain Will Snelling, who impressed with his work rate, inside work and consistent defensive efforts. Other South Australians to impress included Jack Agostino, whose defensive discipline, considered ball use and hard edge helped contain a potent Country forward line.

Wayne Milera hardly put a foot wrong all day, consistently providing an option forward of centre and using the ball with creativity and class while 2016 draft prospect Jonty Scharenberg, whose intensity and pressure was a highlight all day. Perhaps the most talked about South Australian prospect in Aaron Francis had an up and down day, being thrown back in a desperate move to curtail Josh Schache and being worked over as a result. Despite some attitude issues, Francis still displayed his class with several quality intercepts down back.

For Country, the day belonged to Josh Schache, who now must be considered the front runner for pick one. He kicked six goals from eight marks in a dominant display, toweling up Harrison Westhoff before continuing his dominance on the undersized Aaron Francis. His read of the ball in flight and ability to position himself in the contest was a highlight, as was his clinical set shot.

Not far behind was Jacob Weitering, who has only lost the nominal number one mantle through the dominance of Schache. Weitering was a wall in defense all day with six contested marks, intercepting and repelling South Australian attacks and setting up the counter attack.

The highlight was a one-handed mark at full stretch inside the defensive 50 followed by a penetrating rebound that nailed his target. In the middle, Rhys Mathieson fought strongly and dominated the inside with his fearless attack on the ball helped by the excellent tap work of Gach Nyuon who not only provided excellent service to his midfielders, but acted like one around the ground with 15 disposals and some excellent skill by foot.

Not to be forgotten due to the dominance of Weitering and Schache, Harry McKay continued his strong form from the last game with 12 touches and a goal, but also surprised with some strong contested marks that highlighted his improvement every week.

Western Australia       2.2    3.3    6.4    11.6    72
Vic Metro                     0.5    3.6    7.9    7.12    54

WA Goals: Stradica 3, Ah Chee 2, Parish 2, Stewart, Waterman, Schoenfeld, Smith
WA Best: Ah Chee, Petrevski-Seton, Hackett, Stewart, Goddard, Strnadica

VM Goals: Gresham 2, Kerbatieh, Moore, Silvagni, Crocker, Cuningham
VM Best: Gresham, O’Kearney, Morgan, Moore, Clarke, Leonardis

In the surprise of the championships, Western Australia turned around a 74 point loss two weeks ago to defeat Vic Metro by 18 points in the second game of the day. A tight tussle all day, both teams looked like a chance of winning it at times but Western Australia’s superior execution saw them get over the line.

Callum Ah Chee was the standout of the day with his work rate, marking and skill helping WA over the line. Despite being only 182cm, Ah Chee took four contested marks and created many opportunities with his penetrating and creative kick.

2016 prospect Sam Petrevski-Seton was called up after a rest and showed his class all day, winning the hard ball and executing with class outside the contest. His defensive pressure was also a highlight, laying some crunching tackles and bumps rarely seen in junior football.

Another 2016 prospect in Jeremy Goddard had his best game of the championships, with his superior ruck work allowing WA’s midfielders first use, such as inside midfielder Kade Stewart who continued his strong recovery from injury with another excellent game. Stewart was able to win the hard ball and transition that to an effective kick well, setting up several entries inside 50 with his clean work inside. In the forward line, another 2016 prospect in Luke Strnadica showed some very positive signs, kicking three early goals and allowing WA to get the jump on Metro.

For Metro, the well rounded Jade Gresham had a standout game. Regularly winning the hard ball and clearances, Gresham also showed some polish outside and hit the scoreboard with two goals. He was supported by Nick O’Kearney, whose outside accumulation and link up game culminated in 28 disposals. Working hard all day, O’Kearney slid under the radar but does many team things which a coach loves.

The over-aged Alex Morgan continued his stellar championships with 15 disposals in a well rounded game complimented by running defender Tyrone Leonardis, whose dash, line-breaking and linkup work was a highlight all day off the back flank. They were complimented by Ryan Clarke who, in a more inside role today, showed his skill in close.

Over-aged project player Callum Moore also had his best game for the championships, with his forward work rate and sticky hands a highlight. Moore had ten touches, seven marks, four inside 50s and 1.3 in a game that highlighted both how raw a player he is, with his kicking motion needing a lot of work but the upside in him, with his athleticism and marking ability exceptional.

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