WESTERN Australia (WA) got its AFL Under 18 Championships off to the perfect start with a 17-point victory over Vic Metro at Lathlain Park.
WA 2.6 | 4.9 | 9.12 | 12.14 (86)
VIC METRO 2.2 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 10.9 (69)
WA: Henry 3, Johnson 2, Taylor 2, Thorne 2, Bennell, Rivers.
VM: Worrell 4, Jones 2, Rowell, Bianco, Honey, Dean.
WA: Robertson, L. Jackson, Garcia, Rivers, Ruscoe, Pasini, Henry, Sharp, Taylor, Warner
VM: Rowell, Worrell, Mott, Butler, Sturgess, McAsey, Bianco
WA got off to a blistering start when Elijah Taylor took a strong contested mark inside 50 on the end of a Riley Garcia pass. Taylor went back and coolly slotted the first goal of the game, but Josh Worrell scored the reply for the visitors. WA then missed a host of chances, and Harrison Jones made them pay when he slotted Vic Metro’s second goal of the game. Late in the quarter, Jarvis Pina won himself a free kick, played on immediately and speared a pass to Callum Jamieson. Jamieson in turn, then found Jai Jackson inside 50. Jackson duly converted his set shot to give the Sandgropers a four-point lead at quarter time.
At the start of the second quarter, Liam Henry out-marked his opponent before playing on and drilling through his first goal of the game. Under siege for a period, Vic Metro tried to rebound the ball out of their defensive 50 via a number of handballs, but came unstuck when Ryan Bennell stole the ball off them, weaved his way past a couple of defenders and nailed another goal for WA. Matt Rowell and Worrell both kicked late goals to keep Vic Metro within touching distance of the home team.
After the main break, the Sandgropers came out firing with Trent Rivers kicking a long-range bomb in the second minute of the third term. Defender Ben Johnson then nailed two goals from outside 50 after receiving handballs from players who had just taken marks. Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne both kicked goals soon after to give the home team a five goal lead at three quarter time.
Taylor produced a moment of magic early in the last quarter, when he gathered the ball, evaded an opponent, shrugged off another opponent and kicked brilliant snap from 50 metres. Worrell (twice) and Josh Honey kicked goals for the visitors, but Thorne and Henry both scored instant replies to push the margin back out to 23 points. In the dying stages of the game, Trent Bianco kicked a consolation goal for the visitors.
Captain Deven Robertson led the way for the Sandgropers with 31 possessions, seven clearances, five rebound 50s, five marks and four inside 50s. He was well supported by Garcia (21 possessions and seven clearances), Luke Jackson (12 possessions, 35 hit-outs and six clearances) and Rivers (22 possessions and a goal).
For Vic Metro, Rowell showed why he is considered a top three prospect, trying his heart out in the middle to will his team over the line. He finished with 24 possessions, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal. Other notable performers for the Big V included Worrell (18 possessions, six marks and four goals), Daniel Mott (24 possessions and eight clearances) and Louis Butler (23 possessions and seven rebounding 50s).
Next week WA host South Australia at Optus Stadium, while Vic Metro will use the bye to try and freshen up for their encounter with the Croweaters at Alberton Oval in Round 3 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships.