SOUTH Australia has started its National Under 18 Championships title defence with a hard-fought win over Western Australia by 11 points at Optus Stadium. In what was not the most skilful game given the challenging conditions, the Croweaters made the most of their opportunities, having four less scoring shots but booting seven goals to the Sandgropers’ four in the 7.4 (46) to 4.11 (35) victory.
South Australia got off to a great start when Jackson Mead took a strong contested juggling mark inside 50. He then duly converted for the first goal of the game. Jeremy Sharp scored the instant reply for Western Australia when he was able to dance his way around an opponent before drilling a goal from 50 metres out.
At the start of the second quarter, Kysaiah Pickett weaved his way around opponents before finding Callum Park inside 50. Park went back and slotted the opening goal of the quarter to give the Croweaters a five-point lead. WA then had a host of attacking chances, but South Australia’s defence stood up tall. However, in the fourteenth minute, Elijah Taylor produced a moment of magic, when he got the ball out of a pack and snapped through his first goal of the game.
After the main break, Darnell Tucker got the visitors off to a good start when he snapped through a goal. Pickett produced a moment of magic when he snapped through a miraculous goal from right on the boundary line. Cameron Taheny followed up for the visitors with two goals to push the margin out to 21 points. Tyrone Thorne roved a pack expertly and dribbled through a goal to keep WA within touching distance of South Australia.
The final quarter proved to be a stalemate early, until Riley Garcia snuck through a goal in the tenth minute to reduce the margin to just nine points. However, in the 22nd minute, Corey Durdin dribbled through the goal to seal victory for the visitors.
South Australia’s Dylan Stephens was best afield after finishing with 23 possessions (nine contested possessions), six tackles, five inside 50s and two clearances in a powerful display. He was well-supported by bottom-ager Luke Edwards (20 possessions, five marks and four tackles), 2018 All-Australian Will Gould (21 possessions, nine rebounds, four marks and three tackles) and Harry Schoenberg (20 possessions – 13 contested – five tackles and four clearances).
Luke Jackson tried hard for Western Australia with 14 possessions, 35 hit-outs, five clearances, three tackles, and two marks, while midfielders Deven Robertson (32 possessions – 13 contested – eight tackles, five inside 50s, four rebounds, five marks and three clearances), and Riley Garcia (28 possessions – 15 contested – eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) tried to make use of Jackson’s dominance with their excellent midfield craft.
Next week, both teams will be playing at Alberton Oval, with WA taking on the Allies and South Australia hosting Vic Metro.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 1.2 | 2.4 | 3.6 | 4.11 (35)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.1 | 2.2 | 6.3 | 7.4 (46)
Western Australia: Garcia, Sharp, Taylor, Thorne.
South Australia: Taheny 2, Durdin, Mead, Park, Pickett, Tucker.
Western Australia: L. Jackson, D. Robertson, R. Garcia, T. Ruscoe, Johnson, McDonald
South Australia: D. Stephens, L. Edwards, W. Gould, K. Finlay, D. Hilder, J. Mead