SOUTH Australia has continued its great start to the 2018 AFL Under-18 Championships with a solid victory over Victoria Country in round two’s match-up. Once more Jack Lukosius was at his brilliant match winning best, as the potential number one draft pick kicked three goals and dominated his opponent across the ground in the 27 point win for the Croweaters.
Vic Country started brighter throughout the contest in the earlier exchanges, but it was Croweater Job Colwell who kicked the first goal, converting from straight in front. Caleb Serong replied quickly for the visitors with a great crumbing goal as both teams hit the scoreboard early. The first term saw three 50-metre penalties awarded as the umpires were pedantic on the players encroaching over the mark, Izak Rankine was the victim of two 50-metre penalties and he also gave away a game high four free kicks. Rankine proved his quality at the other end though, taking a great mark in front of two Vic Country defenders and then jetting off past them without a care to kick the goal from the goal square.
South Australia looked to be in a commanding position at the first break, but Vic Country stormed out of the blocks off the back of some superb clearance work by Bailey Williams and Sam Walsh. The ruck duo of Riley Bowman and Williams easily dominated South Australia’s ruckman James Braidwood and pinch hitting ruckman Nathan Jarvis. Braidwood went off in the second half with a bad knock to the sternum, which required Hugo Munn to help in the centre. The South Australians were immensely challenged as the visitors kicked the first three goals of the second quarter to open up a 16-point lead. Hudson Garoni booted two goals as Sam Flanders also kicked a running goal as the South Australian defence struggled with the quick forward entries.
Vic Country should have profited more from the inside 50 dominance, but key defender Will Gould held strong taking some crucial intercept marks. With Vic Country’s lead growing, South Australia responded and was particularly by led by Lukosius who kicked two great dribble goals, while Rankine’s difficult set shot from the boundary line sailed through as their team headed to the into the main break back in front by three points. The third quarter is where South Australia took the ascendency, off the back of star Lukosius and Munn. Lukosius took a wonderful intercept mark as Vic Country tried to clear their defensive 50 and he kicked truly. Throughout the third term South Australia’s forward pressure was key factor to taking control of the game.
For Vic Country, Williams took an outstanding mark just outside his attacking 50 and was awarded a 50-metre penalty, unfortunately for his side he could not convert from less than 10 metres out. Rankine was brilliant as he took another great mark inside 50 and jetted off to towards goal, smartly handballing over the top of Kyle Reid to Munn waiting in the goalsquare kicked his third for the quarter. With Vic Country trailing by 25 points at three quarter time, South Australia looked to be set to have a comfortable final quarter.
Opportunist goals by Zane Barzen and Serong narrowed the margin to 14 points, but South Australia rallied and arrested the momentum off Vic Country. Lukosius’ superb ground work was on show as he gained a loose ball get and handballed to Rankine running straight into goal. Jacob Kennerley kicked the sealing goal with a long bomb from outside 50, and two terrific marks by Jez McLennan in defence stopped Vic Country’s last efforts for the game. For South Australia it was hard to look past Lukosius for best on ground honours for the second match running.
South Australia’s forward line was the major difference between the two sides as stars Lukosius, Rankine and Munn all kicked three goals. Rankine was more productive in this match, as he caused Vic Country havoc across the forward line with any given opportunity. Defenders Gould and McLennan were outstanding with their work in defence, Gould used his large presence to South Australia’s advantage and McLennan showcased his marking and rebounding skills out of defensive 50 with 17 possessions and five marks. South Australia captain Luke Valente followed up his top performance in the first game with another serviceable outing. Valente finished with 16 disposals and a game-high 14 tackles. Eagles wingman and Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy player Kai Pudney was great as SA’s highest disposal getter with 21 as his kicking was dangerously penetrative inside forward 50.
For Vic Country, co-captain Sam Walsh followed up his top game against the Allies. Walsh was at this accumulative best with 25 possessions, 10 tackles and three clearances. Serong was very impressive with his forward line pressure and impacted on the scoreboard with two goals from 15 possessions. In the defensive end, Xavier Duursma showed his quality with four rebounds and 16 disposals for the game. Despite Williams and Riley Bowman’s dominance in the ruck, Vic Country could not capitalise at ground level despite winning the clearances by four. South Australia move to a 2-0 win-loss record and now travel to Victoria to play the Allies in Geelong and Victoria Metro at Etihad Stadium. For the winless Vic Country, they will play Metro in a curtain raiser to Collingwood vs. Carlton at the MCG on June 24.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.1 5.2 9.4 11.7 (73)
VIC COUNTRY 1.3 4.5 4.9 6.10 (46)
South Australia: Lukosius, Rankine, Munn 3, Kennerley, Colwell
Vic Country: Serong, Garoni 2, Barzen, Flanders
South Australia: Gould, McLennan, Valente, Lukosius, Jarvis, Kennerley
Vic Country: Duursma, Walsh, Stephens, Reid, Serong, Berry