Sheldrick seals West Australian sweep in suspenseful scrap
WESTERN Australia has completed a clean sweep of its AFL Under 19 Championships series against South Australia, defeating the Croweaters by 10 points in game three at Thebarton Oval. The Sandgropers led at every break but were forced to fight from behind in red time during the second half, making for a hard-earned victory.
It was all Western Australia across the opening 15 minutes, as the visiting side poured on the first eight scoring shots of the game but managed just two majors among them. Peel Thunder tall Luke Polson had a hand in both, slamming one home and assisting Eric Benning for the other.
Well against the run of play, South Australia finally notched an inside 50 foray and Lukas Cooke converted into an open goalsquare, before Jase Burgoyne added another. With WA’s six behinds separating either side, there was a bit of tension at quarter time as the scoreboard proved closer than the contest itself.
For all their dominance, the Black Swans’ failure to convert continued to keep South Australia in the game. The visitors were running in waves and applied punishing pressure around the ball, but could only watch as goals to Harry Lemmey and Cooke saw SA level the scores.
With the momentum, or at least the scoreboard ascendancy somehow wrestled back, Western Australia finally made good on a fast break as Jack Williams lumbered inside 50 and kicked a goal on the run. For all the territory and possession, the Sandgropers’ lead was again just six points at the main break.
In almost a reversal of roles, South Australia dominated play against the breeze in term three but conceded crucial late goals to remain behind. The hosts worked hard to get level with effective transitional play, and eventually hit the front after 21 minutes through Hugh Stagg‘s stoppage snap. The lead was short-lived though, with WA striking in the final couple of minutes via Kade Dittmar and Arthur Jones to astonishingly lead by 10 points at the final break.
In a finish which saw the scoreboard achieve a satisfying sense of alignment, the final margin sat at 10 points when Angus Sheldrick sealed the game in the final minute. South Australia drew back early through Cooke’s fourth goal and hit the front as Luca Whitelum popped up to convert from the pocket, but WA again found a second wind late.
Having missed an earlier chance in term four, Lochlan Paton sunk home a snap to give his side the ascendancy, before Sheldrick’s sealer confirmed the final score. In what was a brilliant away trip for all West Australians involved, they confirmed their dominance of this year’s improvised championships.
Earlier in the day, Western Australia’s Under 17s also secured victory over their Southern counterparts. The Sandgropers won the first three terms and while South Australia fought to make it a contest during term four, could not quite bridge the gap as WA won out 9.15 (69) to 8.8 (56).
2023-eligible South Adelaide talent Jack Delean booted a game-high four goals for the hosts, but WA’s Elijah Hewett was the star of the show with two goals and domination from midfield. Swan Districts teammate Darcy Jones was also prominent, while Kobe and Jakob Ryan did some nice things for SA, and talls Harry Barnett and Alex Condon showed dynamism for their respective sides.
SA U19 2.0 | 4.1 | 7.1 | 9.4 (58)
WA U19 2.6 | 4.7 | 7.11 | 9.14 (68)
South Australia: L. Cooke 4, J. Burgoyne, H. Lemmey, M. Ferres, H. Stagg, L. Whitelum
Western Australia: J. Williams 2, L. Paton 2, E. Benning, L. Polson, K. Dittmar, A. Jones, A. Sheldrick
SA 17s 1.0 | 3.1 | 4.4 | 8.8 (56)
WA 17s 1.5 | 3.7 | 6.11 | 9.15 (69)
South Australia: J. Delean 4, B. Tuck 2, J. Magor, K. Ryan
Western Australia: K. Sanchez 2, E. Hewett 2, K. Tholstrup, C. Williams, R. Hardeman, N. Farrow, D. Jones
Image Credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos