A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.
VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.
Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.
Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.
Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.
Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.
B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild
IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams
B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe
IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire
SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.
The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.
The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.
Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.
South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.
B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw
IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle
B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr
IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling