VIC Country continued its ominous start to the AFL Under 18 National Championships, comprehensively beating the Allies by 97 points in Launceston on Sunday to stake its claim as the new team to beat.
Cody Weightman ensured Country got off on the right foot, reading a long-range Caleb Serong set shot best to win the spoils and snap an opportunistic first goal from deep in the pocket. After Will Chandler missed the chance to hit back with a free kick from 25 metres out, Tom Green and Hamish Ellem snapped wide with the Allies’ only other opportunities for the term. Serong made them pay shortly after two quick goals to go with a Jay Rantall major, seeing Country break to a 23-point quarter time lead.
It was more of the same after the first break, with Country dominating the course of general play to pile on another five majors. Weightman was again in the action, winning a free kick in his customary pocket and duly converting, with Thomson Dow slotting home from the goalsquare, while Mitch Martin and Lachlan Williams hit set shots from further out sweetly and Ned Cahill made it nine first half goals. While the Allies double their score in the term, they remained goalless heading into the main break.
Warning bells were ringing as an Elijah Hollands shot on the fly sailed on target to start the third term, but Tom Griffiths cut it off with a mark on the goal line. Vic Country had 54 points on the board before Jackson Barling marked strongly and made good on his set shot to give the Allies their first goal, but it would be their only big moment for the term as the Vics again kicked away. Another free kick inside 50 saw Josh Smith provide an immediate reply, while also playing a part in Cam Wild‘s goal shortly after. Ryan Sparkes put through another to make the lead 64 heading into the final straight, with the result well beyond doubt.
A Martin dribbler goal after some early deadlock meant it was party time for Country, as he celebrated his work with the ever exuberant Cahill. A double to Weightman, second from Rantall and third from Serong and Martin, ensured the visitors put their foot to the throat of the Allies, with the penultimate goal from Noah Cumberland the only resistance in a six goals to one closing term.
Lachlan Ash was again superb for Country, leading the ball-winning stakes with 30 and providing plenty of run, with his mates on the half-back line Brodie Kemp (20 disposals, 10 marks) and Hayden Young (18 disposals, seven marks) intercepting everything. Ash’s co-captain Serong was arguably best afield with 23 disposals and three goals with fantastic attack on the ball, joined with three goals by Martin but beaten out by Weightman’s four.
For the Allies, Mitch O’Neill was named best for his 26-disposal showing, while Green did a wealth of work on the inside to finish with 18 disposals (16 contested) and nine clearances in a more unheralded role. Tom Griffiths (21 disposals, three rebound 50s) collected plenty of it down back, with Will Martyn and Sam Thorne constants in the midfield with 16 disposals each, as Martyn also had five clearances on a tough day for his side.
ALLIES 0.2 | 0.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 (19)
VIC COUNTRY 4.1 | 9.2 | 12.4 | 18.8 (116)
Allies: J. Barling, N. Cumberland.
Vic Country: C. Weightman 4, C. Serong 3, M. Martin 3, J. Rantall 2, L. Williams, R. Sparkes, C. Wild, J. Smith, N. Cahill, T. Dow.
Allies: M. O’Neill, N. Murray, T. Green, T. Griffiths, C. Budarick
Vic Country: C. Serong, B. Kemp, L. Ash, R. Baldi, H. Young, C. Weightman, J. Clark