SOUTH Australia finished the National AFL Under-18 Championships with a comfortable victory against a tough Allies side, with Dylan Stephens critical to securing South Australia’s victory.
From the early exchanges South Australia’s ball movement across the ground was a class above their opponents. Kysaiah Pickett and Harry Schoenberg combined early, with Schoenberg hitting Josh Morris on a lead with forward converting from the set shot for the first of the game. The Allies responded quickly from the talented 16-year-old Sydney Swans Academy player Errol Gulden crumbing a great goal off the pack for his team’s first. South Australia’s Cameron Taheny started in the middle and saw plenty of it early but was front and centre to punish a poor Allies kick out and dribble through to add another goal to this tally for the season. Malcolm Rosas Jnr had the opportunity to respond after he was taken high in the tackle by Josh Shute straight in front of goal, but was unable to convert. The Croweaters punished the Allies once more with Dyson Hilder pinch-hitting in ruck to tap down to the roving underager Corey Durdin, who easily ran into goal from the forward line stoppage and gave SA a well-deserved lead at the opening break.
The second quarter continued to see SA assert their early dominance over the Allies with brilliant forward-line pressure contributing to Schoenberg pouncing on a Tom Griffiths mistake and kicking his first. The South Australia midfield was superb so far lead by Schoenberg continuing his fine breakout carnival, Jackson Mead was effective by kick and Stephens continued to be at his accumulative best. Pickett was next Croweater to get on the scoresheet as his forward pressure forced another goal from an Allies turnover. The Allies had the chance to break their drought but saw Rosas Jnr miss another gilt-edged chance resulting in South Australia storming up the other end with Lachlan Burrows running into an open goal. Finally, the Allies were able to score their second of the game with Papua New Guinea born Hewago Paul-Oea finding Brisbane Lions Academy player Noah Cumberland to kick truly. South Australia headed into the main break with a commanding 27 point lead with the game slipping away from the Allies.
The third quarter saw a welcomed Allies response which was headlined by a momentum changing tackle from Griffiths on South Australia captain Will Gould resulting in Connor Budarick’s goal to open the second half. Rosas Jnr overcame his early goal troubles to kick his first of the game and Cumberland kicked his second for the game with a beautiful left footed set-shot that saw him become the first multiple goal-kicker of the game. Suddenly the Allies were right back in the contest, but their momentum was stopped by a fantastic team goal from South Australia. Lachlan McNeil was able to link up with the dashing Pickett who found the space in the forward line to set up Mead running into an easy goal. South Australia had two more opportunities through Daniel Sladojevic and Morris to extend their lead into the final stanza with both forwards missing their set-shots.
The final quarter saw South Australia cruise to victory with no real threat of the game seeing a finish that proceeded them in the thrilling Vic Country and Western Australia contest. Ruckman resting forward Lachlan Burrows was able to score his second goal for the game, while swingman Dyson Hilder was also to join the South Australia goal kickers. Darwin product Rosas Jnr was able to get his second for the match, with GWS academy product Matt McGrory also kicking a consolation goal for the Allies.
South Australia’s Stephens was best-on-ground with 33 disposals, nine clearances and six tackles and was joined by Schoenberg (27 disposals, five clearances, one goal) and Mead (21 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s).Gould was industrious with 25 disposals and six marks, Pickett was also influential with 22 disposals, three marks and a goal.
For the Allies, GIANTS Academy gun Tom Green was prolific on the inside once more winning 23 disposals, six clearances and seven tackles. Budarick was at his dynamic best with 21 disposals and eight tackles and a goal, while Cumberland showed his worth in multiple areas having 18 disposals, equal team high four inside 50s and two goals.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3.3 | 6.5 | 7.10 | 9.12 (66)
ALLIES 1.1 | 2.2 | 5.5 | 7.7 (49)
South Australia: Burrows 2, Pickett, Mead, Hilder, Schoenberg, Morris, Durdin, Taheny.
Allies: Rosas Jnr 2, Cumberland 2, Gulden, McGorry, Budarick.
South Australia: Stephens, Schoenberg, K Pickett, Gould, Mead, Finlay
Allies: Green, Budarick, Cumberland, Paul-Oea, Rosas Jnr, Crossley