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Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

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
Marvel Stadium

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.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

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

Western Australia:

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
Marvel Stadium

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.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

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

Allies:

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

Western Australia dashes Vic Metro’s title hopes with 17-point win

WESTERN Australia (WA) got its AFL Under 18 Championships off to the perfect start with a 17-point victory over Vic Metro at Lathlain Park.

WA 2.6 | 4.9 | 9.12 | 12.14 (86)
VIC METRO 2.2 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS
WA:
Henry 3, Johnson 2, Taylor 2, Thorne 2, Bennell, Rivers.
VM: Worrell 4, Jones 2, Rowell, Bianco, Honey, Dean.

BEST
WA:
Robertson, L. Jackson, Garcia, Rivers, Ruscoe, Pasini, Henry, Sharp, Taylor, Warner
VM: Rowell, Worrell, Mott, Butler, Sturgess, McAsey, Bianco

WA got off to a blistering start when Elijah Taylor took a strong contested mark inside 50 on the end of a Riley Garcia pass. Taylor went back and coolly slotted the first goal of the game, but Josh Worrell scored the reply for the visitors. WA then missed a host of chances, and Harrison Jones made them pay when he slotted Vic Metro’s second goal of the game. Late in the quarter, Jarvis Pina won himself a free kick, played on immediately and speared a pass to Callum Jamieson. Jamieson in turn, then found Jai Jackson inside 50. Jackson duly converted his set shot to give the Sandgropers a four-point lead at quarter time.

At the start of the second quarter, Liam Henry out-marked his opponent before playing on and drilling through his first goal of the game. Under siege for a period, Vic Metro tried to rebound the ball out of their defensive 50 via a number of handballs, but came unstuck when Ryan Bennell stole the ball off them, weaved his way past a couple of defenders and nailed another goal for WA. Matt Rowell and Worrell both kicked late goals to keep Vic Metro within touching distance of the home team.

After the main break, the Sandgropers came out firing with Trent Rivers kicking a long-range bomb in the second minute of the third term. Defender Ben Johnson then nailed two goals from outside 50 after receiving handballs from players who had just taken marks. Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne both kicked goals soon after to give the home team a five goal lead at three quarter time.

Taylor produced a moment of magic early in the last quarter, when he gathered the ball, evaded an opponent, shrugged off another opponent and kicked brilliant snap from 50 metres. Worrell (twice) and Josh Honey kicked goals for the visitors, but Thorne and Henry both scored instant replies to push the margin back out to 23 points. In the dying stages of the game, Trent Bianco kicked a consolation goal for the visitors.

Captain Deven Robertson led the way for the Sandgropers with 31 possessions, seven clearances, five rebound 50s, five marks and four inside 50s. He was well supported by Garcia (21 possessions and seven clearances), Luke Jackson (12 possessions, 35 hit-outs and six clearances) and Rivers (22 possessions and a goal).

For Vic Metro, Rowell showed why he is considered a top three prospect, trying his heart out in the middle to will his team over the line. He finished with 24 possessions, eight clearances, six inside 50s and a goal. Other notable performers for the Big V included Worrell (18 possessions, six marks and four goals), Daniel Mott (24 possessions and eight clearances) and Louis Butler (23 possessions and seven rebounding 50s).

Next week WA host South Australia at Optus Stadium, while Vic Metro will use the bye to try and freshen up for their encounter with the Croweaters at Alberton Oval in Round 3 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships.

Scouting notes: AFL U18s – Western Australia vs. Vic Metro

WESTERN Australia started its AFL U18 Championships campaign with a stirring 17-point victory over the highly-fancied Vic Metro at Lathlain Park. It is the first time since 2015 that the Sandgropers have secured victory over their Victorian counterparts.

Below were the best players from either side.

Western Australia:

#4 Riley Garcia

The WA Leadership group member produced a performance that highlighted his credentials as one of the best prospects from WA this year. Against the Big V, Garcia collected 21 possessions, won an equal team-high seven clearances, laid four tackles, recorded four inside 50s and took three marks to be one of the best players on the ground. His kicking skills in the wet conditions were elite for someone his age.

#10 Deven Robertson

The WA Captain was inspirational for the Sandgropers, crashing his way through stoppages to win the ball for his team. He finished with a game-high 31 possessions, an equal team-high seven clearances, a team-high five rebound 50s, five marks, four inside 50s, and three tackles to be best afield. A highlight of his game was when he went back with the flight of the ball and took a courageous mark, before crashing into an opponent and team-mate.

#15 Liam Henry

The Fremantle Dockers NGA member was electrifying in the forward half for the Sandgropers, using his noted speed, dazzling agility and precise skills to provide an x-factor inside 50. He finished with 14 possessions, six tackles, four marks, four inside 50s and three goals in a dominant display. A highlight of his performance came in the second quarter, when he out-marked an opponent before playing on and drilling a goal from outside 50.

#17 Jeremy Sharp

The 2018 AFL U18s All-Australian was dynamic on the wing for the Sandgropers, often using his pace and skill to carve up the defence of Vic Metro. He collected 20 possessions, took three marks and recorded two inside 50s to be one of the best players on the ground.

#19 Elijah Taylor

The electrifying forward showed why he is being labelled as a possible draft bolter, showing flashes of brilliance in the forward half. He finished with 13 possessions, three inside 50s, two marks, two tackles and two goals. The highlight of his game came in the fourth quarter, when he cleanly picked up the ball, darted around an opponent, shrugged off another opponent and snapped through a goal from about 50m out.

#21 Jake Pasini

The key defender was exceptional in defence for the Sandgropers, winning many one-on-one contests, intercepting Vic Metro’s attacking forays and rebounding with class. The Swan Districts product finished with 10 possessions and six marks, while restricting Charlie Dean to just four possessions and a goal.

#26 Trey Ruscoe

Stationed at centre half-back, Ruscoe proved why WA officials rate him highly, with a stunning performance playing primarily on Harrison Jones. Ruscoe finished with 18 possessions, seven marks, three tackles and three rebounding 50s in a pivotal performance for the Sandgropers.

#32 Luke Jackson

The highly-touted ruckman produced a performance that indicated why he is considered to be a potential first-round pick. Up against Nick Bryan, Jackson gathered 12 possessions, won 35 hit-outs, won six clearances, laid three tackles, took two marks and recorded two inside 50s to stamp his authority on the game. His follow-up work around the ground has dramatically improved, making him an even more dangerous player.

#34 Ryan Bennell

A late addition to the WA U18s team, Bennell produced a performance that indicated he could be another bolter. The South Bunbury product finished with 11 possessions, five tackles, five inside 50s and a magnificent goal. Late in the second quarter, Vic Metro looked to rebound the ball out of defensive 50 via a number of handballs, but Bennell was able to steal it from them, weave his way past a couple of defenders and then drill through the goal from just inside 50.

#35 Trent Rivers

The East Fremantle product was outstanding off the half-back line and through the midfield for the Sandgropers. Rivers gathered 22 possessions, took four marks, laid three tackles, recorded three rebound 50s and two inside 50s, and kicked a telling goal in the third quarter. His composure and skill-level when under duress is outstanding for someone his age.

 

Vic Metro:

#5 Trent Bianco

The Oakleigh Chargers product showed why he is considered to be one of the best small rebounding defenders in this year’s draft pool. He finished with 17 possessions, six rebound 50s, four marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and a goal to be one of Vic Metro’s best. His run and carry, combined with his precise skills, make him a damaging player from the back half.

#11 Matthew Rowell

The much-fancied Rowell showed everyone why he is so highly touted. He gathered 24 possessions, won an equal game-high eight clearances, recorded six inside 50s, took four marks, laid four tackles and kicked a goal to be Victoria Metro’s best. His contested work around the stoppages was elite.

#13 Daniel Mott

The Maribynong Park junior was outstanding in the midfield for the Big V, often putting his head over the ball to get it going forward. He accumulated an equal team-high 24 possessions, won an equal game-high eight clearances, took seven marks, recorded three inside 50s and three rebound 50s, and laid two tackles in a powerful performance.

#15 Louis Butler

Stationed on the half-back line, Butler was prominent for the visitors with 23 possessions, seven rebound 50s, and four marks in a classy and polished performance. In a tough outing for the Victorian defenders, Butler showed excellent composure under duress, intercepted a host of WA’s attacking forays and displayed his penetrating kicking skills.

#24 Noah Anderson

The Victorian Captain tried to will his team through the middle with 16 possessions and seven clearances. His spread from the contest, work-rate, vision, decision-making and skill execution were all on display.

#26 Ryan Sturgess

The Northern Knights player tried his heart out for Victoria with a solid performance in defence. He finished the game with 17 possessions, seven marks, five rebound 50s and two tackles. His defensive marking and spoiling were a feature of his game, as was his reading of the play.

#29 Fischer McAsey

Stationed a centre half-back, McAsey was rock solid in defence for the Vics, intercepting a host of WA’s attacking forays. He finished with 11 possessions, six tackles, four marks, and two rebound 50s to arguably be Victoria’s best defender.

#31 Joshua Worrell

The Haileybury College student was Vic Metro’s most potent forward with 18 possessions, six marks, three inside 50s and four goals. Usually a defender for the Sandringham Dragons, Worrell showed excellent signs further afield with his leading patterns, set shot routine, and overhead marking all strong.