Tag: vic country

Chapman’s unassuming rise to success

“STAND there and don’t touch the ball.”

They were the first words uttered to Geelong Falcons’ Abbey Chapman when she stepped onto a football ground for the first time. It might have been a bit abrupt and imposing had the words not come from a familiar face.

“My sister told me to stand there and don’t touch the ball so I just stood on the field and watch the ball roll past me,” Chapman said. “It’s probably not my favourite (moment), but my most memorable thing.”

Since standing there and not touching the ball on the field in her first game for Bell Park, Chapman has shot up the ranks, making it into the Geelong Falcons side and Vic Country. But it is the close bond between teammates that has kept her in the sport she loves.

“Just playing with all the girls, especially here at Falcons,” she said. “Everyone’s really nice and welcoming. “I just love playing with different girls and it’s just a great sport.”

The reliable defender admitted she was much more adept in defence, given it is where she has always played, and enjoyed.

“Mainly full-back because I guess that’s just where I mainly play, but obviously just the backline,” Chapman said. “(I’m) not good at kicking goals or anything so I stick to my backline.”

She has been working on being the best defensive player she can be, while also providing good rebound out of the back half. Chapman said her strengths vary, depending on the day.

“It kind of depends,” she said. “Because sometimes it can be my kick, I feel like I have a high and strong kick. “Sometimes marking, other days probably not, but yeah just a few things, not anything in particular. “(My improvements are) more sticking with my player. “I’m good at dropping back and going back to the square so I’m just going to try and work on sticking with my player and punching if my player is going to mark it, so just trying to stop my player from getting as much of the ball as I can.”

Chapman enjoys playing at any level and has been a reliable player inside the defensive 50, showing she has what it takes to match it with the best players from across the country.

“It’s always fun playing with a high quality of football so yeah looking forward to meeting heaps of new girls from other clubs and everything like that,” Chapman said.”

Her ultimate goal is to run out for an AFL Women’s side next year.

“Yeah if I can get there,” she said. “I’ll push myself as hard as I can and hopefully I can get to that level.”

Brown leads from defence for young Bushies

AFTER Millie Brown told us her story last season as a bottom-ager, the Murray Bushrangers captain returned to the NAB League Girls competition with a new role and standing up for her side week-in, week-out. Speaking at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day, Brown said her contested game was a real focus for her coming into season 2019 having spent most of her bottom-age year using her run up either end.

“Probably (developing) my contested ball (is my main focus),” Brown said. “As well as just ensuring that I’m a good leader for my team because we need some leadership. “It was a difficult game on the weekend, so really keen to help the girls out.”

That difficult game for the Bushrangers was the Round 1 76-point smashing at the hands of reigning grand finalists and would-be premiers, Northern Knights. On that day, Brown was unavailable and had to watch from the sidelines as a side brimming with bottom-age and 16-year-old talent was overpowered by a tenacious and determined Knights outfit. With Brown back in the side the following week, Murray bounced back with a four-goal win over the Western Jets before posting a 27-point victory over Gippsland Power. They might have gone on to lose five of their last six games – a remarkable road win against Sandringham Dragons the exception – but did not lose by a margin greater than the Round 1 defeat. Speaking at the time, Brown said it was about bringing the effort each and every week regardless of talent or experience out on the park.

“Probably just a bit of intensity (is what we need), just helping the girls get up and about,” Brown said. “We had a lot of debutants and fresh faces into our first game so it will be really good to bring my experience to the team and just get their attitudes right for the game.”

For Brown’s focus on building her contested ball, she said it was about making her game was rounded as it could be.

“I think in the past I’ve got good skills, but haven’t been aggressive at the ball, so I want to really use that to up my game,” she said. “I think just improving my skills as a whole at that. “Making sure that I’m being a leader for the girls, not just for myself.”

As for her goal, it was no surprise to see the potential Geelong father-daughter selection set her sights on being drafted into the AFL Women’s competition for 2020. Being one of the shining lights for Vic Country in defence, earning All-Australian honours and a National Draft Combine invitation, expect a big future from the talented utility.

Future Saint already making waves at VFLW level

SINCE earlier this year, Dandenong Stingrays’ Isabella Shannon has known her fate for the 2020 AFL Women’s season. Unlike many of her peers, Shannon was pre-listed by the St Kilda side set to come into the top-level competition at the beginning of next season. Joined by Stingrays’ teammate and captain Molly McDonald, Shannon has followed the same pathway this year, graduating from the Stingrays, to Vic Country, to the Southern Saints’ VFL Women’s side to acquaint herself with the coaching staff and many teammates who will run out in the red, black and white next year.

Shannon initially got into football after having a kick with her father and brother, and once her local club in Mount Eliza started a girls program, the tall utility jumped at the prospect. While her talent is undeniable – pre-listed prior to her top-age year to an expansion AFLW club speaks to that – it is the close bond she has through the sport that keeps her driven to reach her goals.

“Definitely like the friendships that you make, that’s what so good about footy,” Shannon said. “There’s like 25 girls in a team so you get to make so many friends and through the rep stuff, you just know people from all over the country which is awesome.”

An area Shannon has worked on this year is her repeat sprints to try and push hard across four quarters and continually develop her game. As a player who has played in attack, midfield and defence, she has seemed to settle into the back half since taking up her role at the Southern Saints in the back-end of the season. She said the professionalism of being a member of an AFLW club and experiencing that side of sport was “awesome” and she looked forward to building her confidence throughout the season.

Shannon’s coach at the Saints, Peta Searle said the improvement shown by the 18-year-old to not only come in and play a role, but cement her spot in the side was remarkable.

“I’ve really loved watching the growth in her this year,” Searle said. “She’s come into our side and she’s now been picked as part of our best seven defenders and all the girls are now getting picked on, not what we’ve got to achieve in 2020, but what we can achieve in this finals series and definitely Isabella and Molly (McDonald) have earned their spots in our side.”

In season 2019, Shannon averaged 15.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.4 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s per game for the Stingrays, predominantly playing through the midfield. She then pushed further back for Vic Country, where she averaged 11.3 disposals and 2.7 tackles per game on the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. While her numbers are lower at VFLW level – just the 4.5 disposals and 1.3 tackles, she has answered the call each week and played her role for the side.

With the Saints still in contention for a VFLW flag, Shannon could experience success with her new teammates before making the step up to the elite level next year.

2019 Victoria Podcast | Vic Country and Vic Metro reviews

IN a new Final Siren podcast series reviewing the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships side-by-side, we take a look at some of the top prospects who performed strongly across all three lines, as well interviews with key players within each individual state.

The fourth edition is the Victoria, and Final Siren podcast host Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central‘s Peter Williams discuss the players who caught the eye across the championships from both Vic Metro and Vic Country, looking ahead to the 2019 AFLW Draft as well as the 2020 AFLW Draft.

Below is full Victorian podcast.

You can also find the Final Siren podcast and listen to past or future episodes on the following platforms:

Anchor

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Spotify

Breaker

Overcast

Pocket Casts

PodBean

RadioPublic

For all the AFLW U18s Championships news, head to our AFLW U18s Championships page and keep an eye out for our features which have started!

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Country vs. South Australia

VIC Country kept its perfect 2019 National Championships record in tact with a heart-stopping one-point win over South Australia at on Sunday. We were on hand at GMHBA Stadium to note the standouts from either side – and there were plenty – with the opinion-based notes that of each individual writer.

Vic Country:
By: Michael Alvaro

#2 Caleb Serong

Again led from the front for Country, posting fantastic numbers as a constant in the midfield. Serong showcased his inside qualities, making up for a lack of height with his clear strength and intensity around the ball to prize out 10 clearances in all areas of the ground. Given over half of his possessions were contested, Serong’s kicking was compensated at times with some clearing balls skidding along the turf and others ending in turnovers or throw-ins. Still has obvious class though and looks neat with more high percentage kicks, but had a bit of a down day in that area. That still doesn’t take away from his outstanding performance, and he could have ended up with a couple of goals to cap off the display had quick snaps had he put away some his quick chances. Just works so hard and looks tireless, making him a reliable commodity with good versatility.

#3 Cody Weightman

The livewire Stingrays small forward was electric once again for Country, posting his second four-goal haul of the carnival. He is just so dynamic inside 50, hunting the ball and his opponents at ground level, while also flying hight to compound the threats he presented. Weightman’s desperation showed, as he was simply more hungry for the ball in an aerial duel against three opponents in the first term, bringing it to ground. His first goal came with a straightforward mark on the lead and set shot conversion, backing it up with a more typical finish over the back just before the quarter time siren to have two early on. While he looked most likely inside 50, Weightman did well to also find the ball up the ground as the game progressed, but ran forward hard to get free once again. He snared a third goal in the second term with a clever steal in the goalsquare, and added a fourth after half time with a left-footed snap, while also almost producing another highlight as he smothered and hit the post with the ball he won in the final term. Really rising among the small forward stocks.

#4 Sam Flanders

Was brilliant again through the midfield alongside partner-in-crime, Caleb Serong. Has real athleticism and burst at the stoppages to go with his clean hands, allowing him to provide real drive going forward – as shown in his 10 inside 50 entries. Spent some time forward where he looked just as comfortable, using his sizeable leap to mark well overhead and get to a number of contests. A finished product was the only thing lacking for Flanders in those stints, but he did find the goals in the final term with a neat checkside conversion from his holding the ball free kick. Has really adapted well to his midfield minutes and it looks a primary role for him now, with so many weapons to turn to athletically and skill-wise.

#6 Riley Baldi

Was not as prolific in terms of ball-winning as he has been lately, but still made a steady contribution when running through the engine room. Is a hard worker at the stoppages with his willingness to run both ways – tackling well when he isn’t scooting away with ball in hand and onto his left foot. Initially caught the eye with a tackling effort on the wing to earn a free kick, and then started the second half brightly with the first clearance as he moved into the centre bounce. Continued to accumulate from there, and popped up again in the final quarter with a precise kick inside 50 to find Lachie Williams – which is something he seems to have added to his arsenal.

#9 Isaac Wareham

The Rebels defender proved to be a shrewd inclusion for Country, adding to the class across their back six despite not being a huge ball winner. Wareham’s point of difference to his aerially-apt teammates is his ground-level game, mopping the ball up well with clean hands and flicking it on quickly to alleviate any previous danger. Had some nice moments in the final term as he came into the game with some dashing bursts forward, proving an effective mover of the ball out of the defensive half and one-touch below his knees.

#12 Lachlan Ash

It was a typical day out for the Country co-captain, gaining serious meterage with his line-breaking speed and elite kicking skills. Ash’s impact early on came in the air with superior reading of the ball in flight to intercept, recovering well on one occasion as he spilt the mark to move forward. He had a hand in Cody Weightman’s late goal in the first term with a run from half back, which proved a sign of things to come. Ash would go on to accumulate well across half back – positioning smartly, swooping on ground balls, and zipping through traffic at speed to release long balls into Country’s attacking half. His previous work culminated in a couple of unreal plays in the final term, with the first a three-bounce run which he couldn’t quite finish off from 50m. The second proved a game-winner, as Ash backed himself to take on an opponent on defensive wing, burn him off through the corridor and deliver a pin-point pass to Brodie Kemp inside 50 with two opponents closing fast. Ash’s ability to take on such responsibility and create the chance was incredibly impressive, and makes him a real leader.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was one who popped up in patches throughout the game despite consistently featuring at stoppages, catching the eye most as he broke from congestion. Is really starting to come into his own in the midfield, with a strong athletic base boding well for his breakaway traits and bursts forward. The kick on the end of such plays was the only slight issue with Rantall’s game, spearing a couple of stray passes going inside 50 despite looking stylish while delivering at full stride. One of those kicks across the 50 arc ended up coming off as Cody Weightman found the goals, and Rantall almost booted his own major in the third term on the run. Has so much upside and a wealth of nice traits, making him a prospect who is easy on the eye but still developing.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Was the hero of the day, slotting an ice-cool set shot with the last kick of the game to give Country a miraculous win. While Kemp’s strong overhead mark and clinical conversion was the talking point at the final siren, he had already proved his worth earlier in the day. The big-bodied Bendigo product finally enjoyed an extended run through the midfield and was even used forward on the back of his strong overhead capabilities, amassing 27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, and four inside 50s. Kemp’s cleanliness in snapping up the ball and using it by foot made him so effective early on as he accumulated strongly, working well at stoppages and linking into the forward arc in general play. He just seemed to get into the right spots and made the most of each touch, exemplified best with his game-winning play. Will be moving up draft boards on the back of his versatility and one-touch ability, and will look to finish off the carnival strongly on Wednesday.

#17 Hayden Young

Was one of Young’s quieter games given the lofty standard he has already set, but he still managed to get his rebound game going and won a good amount of ball. The Stingrays product positioned well inside defensive 50 to get on the last line, and worked hard to find space after delivering kick-ins. His kicking game is usually arguably the best of anyone in this year’s draft pool, but Young tended to more often play the percentages with his long-range kicks down the line or into space – showing good decision making but not necessarily always hitting a direct target. You always sensed that Young was hanging around when a Country player marked at half forward, wanting the hand-off to launch a bomb towards goal. He managed to get a couple, but they didn’t quite come off with one shot being smothered straight off the boot. A solid outing, and hardly made a mistake as per usual.

#24 Brock Smith

Smith was ultra-impressive deep inside defensive 50, intercepting well in the air with good judgement while also mopping up the ground balls. He hardly loses a one-on-one, backing up much of the niggle he engages in with his direct opponents as a typical defender. Smith was also composed in possession, using the ball efficiently by foot from defensive 50 and just seems to be a really calm outlet for whichever side he plays in. An important part of a very talented Country back six, providing physical presence and good defensive traits on top of his skill.

#36 Sam De Koning

De Koning was fantastic in the air as a permanent key defender, leaping to intercept almost everything that came his way – whether it was through strong marking or an assured fist. The dynamic tall was as competitive as I’ve seen throughout his top-age year, closing quickly on opponents and leaping well to get to contests he had no right to. Looks to have finally found his position having been tried up forward and through the ruck, with his reading of the play and athleticism making him one of the more exciting key defenders this year.

#40 Charlie Comben

Took on his usual duties in the ruck, winning a game-high 22 hitouts. Comben has been somewhat of a surprise packet during the carnival, and continued his form with some solid contested marks and competitive follow-up work. Showed his marking traits off early with a nice overhead clunk on the lead up to his forward 50, followed by another up the other end from a kick-in. With his aerial prowess in mind, Comben also positoned a kick behind the play on his forward 50 arc for the rushed rebound kick, despite it not coming off on numerous occasions. Capped off a decent day with a terrific chase on Corey Durdin to halt an exciting run and effect the bottom-ager’s shot on goal.

South Australia:
By: Craig Byrnes

#7 Dylan Stephens

A solid outing by the highly rated wingman, who did most of his good work on the outside of the contest. He has some class with the footy and can move through congestion with ease. He was able to run and carry forward of centre, particularly early, highlighted by a brilliant goal in the first term which he calmly slotted after running and bouncing at speed. He has some genuine composure, but perhaps tries to take on to much by foot on occasions and was one of many victims of the skinny GMHBA Stadium boundaries throughout the day by kicking it out on the full in the third term. Stephens finished the day with 20 disposals.

#10 Josh Shute

Another South Australian wingman with some impressive outside tricks who is a lovely modern size at 187cm. Shute caught the eye early with an outstanding smother in the first term which he followed up to collect and kick inside 50 to a dangerous position. He is a one touch player and clean under pressure, but the attribute that’s really exciting is his willingness to take on his opponent. He had multiple moments throughout the day where he’d use a simple side step or candy sell to make the opposition over commit and he was off in no time. He worked hard to create an option in space too, taking 10 marks. While he still has some work defensively, Shute’s 19 disposals had impact.

#12 Will Day

Despite a light 70kg frame, Day is a real goer who will throw his body toward the ball in any situation. He started really well, attacking the in dispute footy and rebounding with penetration. He is equally capable in the air as he is on the ground, creating the flexibility to play on different sized players in the back half. His seven rebound 50s were an equal match high, but he also managed to link further up the ground and find the ball forward of centre. A rangy type who is really starting to win some admirers, he ended the day with 24 disposals.

#15 Harry Schoenberg

This guy is having an outstanding individual tournament and is flying under the radar to an extent. He set the tone for South Australia in the first term, winning 12 disposals and while 10 were handballs, his touches were relevant. He is really clean inside and has sharp hands, perfectly shown in the first term when he executed a fast link up escape in the defensive 50. He is quicker than he looks and possesses some explosive attributes to evade tackles, giving a “don’t argue” fend and hip flick in the term third to get away from an opponent. He finished the day with a team high 32 disposals and six clearances to again be one of South Australia’s better performers.

#18 Jackson Mead

The Port Adelaide father/son prospect produced a real eye catching match, getting involved during defining moments and lifting when the game was on the line. He was clean on the inside and influential on the spread, showcasing both elements in the first half when he won a clearance, carried the ball and superbly hit a target inside 50. He ran both ways, helping the defensive unit when he could and getting in dangerous positions in the front half. He went up a gear in the final term kicking two goals, the first a superb bending snapped finish that got the South Australians up and about. 22 disposals, four clearances and scoreboard impact meant that Mead was arguably one of the most influential players on the day.

#19 Luke Edwards

The son of former Adelaide champion Tyson, Luke is a potential father/son option for next year, but speculation continues to grow that he may opt to nominate for the open draft. With plenty to play out until then, the talented bottom ager is currently playing some outstanding footy and looking like being one of the better 2020 prospects. He again found himself behind the ball on Friday, intercepting, rebounding and often starting dangerous scoring chains. He took an excellent intercept mark in the third term which set up a goal for his team at a vital time. Edward’s ended the game with 23 disposals and is looking more comfortable with every game.

#20 Lachlan McNeil

An inside midfielder who does a lot of heavy work at ground contests, both offensively and defensively. He puts his head over the ball and fights, ensuring that he has a physical impact with or without the ball. While he isn’t the prettiest player in the South Australian side, you know what you are going to get and I suspect Tony Bamford would lock him in to complete his role successfully every game. He is solid overhead too, taking an excellent mark under pressure in the defensive 50 during the tense third term. A solid return again, finishing the game with 23 disposals, six tackles and three clearances.

#24 Will Gould

The intercept defender with the thick set and booming right foot is well on track to become a dual All Australian, after producing a near best on ground performance against Vic Country. It is the first time I’ve seen him live and boy does he provide a physical, almost scary presence when the ball is in his area. He controlled the back half with his ability to read the play and make smart decisions to pick the ball off at will to win 26 disposals. In the second term he competed for a difficult aerial contest and despite being out of position, won the ground ball to highlight his determination. Gould had some huge moments in defence during that manic fourth term, but with the game on the line he managed to win the ball forward of centre and give South Australia the lead with a brilliant running goal from just inside the arc in the final minutes. Vic Country ultimately got that goal back to win, but Gould gave recruiters the best evidence possible that he is a big moment star.

#33 Dyson Hilder

Another South Australian defender who had a large say, the 196cm key position player continues to gain fans with his consistent performances. While he dropped a mark he would usually take in the first term, he barely made another error for the rest of the day. He reads the drop of the ball so quickly, often coming off his man or using excellent body work to protect the position he wants to be. He out bodied the much heavier Josh Smith on multiple occasions and was so calm in difficult situations late in the game. He took some great intercept marks when his side really needed it and made great decisions by foot too. You get the feeling he is one of the best KPDs available in 2019.

#35 Karl Finlay

The South Australian defensive unit is really well credentialed and Finlay was another to impress at GMHBA Stadium on Friday afternoon. Finlay is a little shorter than your modern key position type at 192cm, but he has the flexibility to play on smaller players and is loves to have a say aerially. He really lifted in the second half, taking multiple contested intercept marks and complimented, Gould, Hilder, Edwards, Day and the like perfectly. He flies under the radar a tad like a few South Australians, but he just continues to tick so many boxes.

Country looks to remain undefeated in Geelong double-header

GMHBA Stadium hosts Round 4 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, as Vic Metro faces the winless Allies and the undefeated Vic Country hosts South Australia, while Western Australia will enjoy a bye. Find the full teams and a preview for both games below.

VIC METRO vs. ALLIES
Friday June 28, 10:30am
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Metro comes to Geelong looking to roll on with the same form that saw them pick up their first win for the carnival last time out, while the Allies’ search for the same feat continues. Much was made of Metro’s chances coming into the championships given their talent on paper, and while they have not quite lived up to the billing of favourites, the Oakleigh/Sandringham quartet of Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Josh Worrell, and Fischer McAsey has been terrific across each outing. Having previously been a case of too much from too few, Metro seemed to brake that mould against South Australia last week as Louis Butler and Lachie Potter held their dangerous forward opponents well, Trent Bianco and Jack Mahony won their fair share of the ball, and the inclusion of Emerson Jeka up forward proved more than handy as a key position target. Metro’s highly-touted ball winning capabilities will only be further strengthened in this game against a formidable Allies engine room, with Ryan Byrnes coming in after returning well from injury, Lachie Stapleton finally knocking down the selection door, and bottom-ager Will Phillips also getting his chance. The forward line balance looks much more settled too, with Dylan Williams coming back in and Jamieson Rossiter forming a solid tall partnership with Jeka.

The Allies will fancy their match-ups up forward, albeit with small stocks, as Suns Academy guns Josh Gore and Hewago Paul Oea proved their worth last week, while Braeden Campbell and Malcolm Rosas Jnr are also set to cause headaches in front of goal. Their midfield strength will also get a work-out, with Tom Green likely to duke it out with Anderson and Finn Maginness, while Mitch O’Neill could take on Rowell, and Ben Jungfer comes in for some depth. They will not be getting service from Sam Gaden like last week though, with over-age Murray ruck Ben Kelly coming in to fill the void alongside the undersized Jake Steele. The likes of Steele will certainly compete, which is something that the Allies had worked on given a much-improved effort against the fast finishing West Australian side. Greater efficiency in front of goal will be the test, and this classy Metro side will surely make them pay for any missed opportunities.

Look for the midfield battle to really take centre stage in this one, with Metro’s overall depth putting them in good stead coming into the clash.

TEAMS

Vic Metro:

B: 15. Louis Butler, 38. Brodie Newman, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 18. Lachlan Potter, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson (C), 25. Finn Maginness, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 7. Lachlan Stapleton
F: 1. Jack Mahony, 36. Emerson Jeka, 23. Dylan Williams
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 11. Matthew Rowell, 12. Ryan Byrnes
Int: (from) 30. Harrison Jones, 13. Daniel Mott, 9. Will Phillips, 39. Jack Bell, 27. Oscar Lewis, 16. Darcy Cassar, 35. Nikolas Cox

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 20. Matt McGrory, 26. Liam Delahunty, 24. Joel Jeffrey
C: 42. James Peatling, 3. Connor Budarick, 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 46. Noah Cumberland, 37. Joshua Gore, 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 32. Jake Steele, 31. Hamish Ellem, 36. Sam Thorne
R: 54. Ben Kelly, 22. Tom Green, 16. Ben Jungfer
Int: (from) 44. Nicholas Brewer, 5. Braeden Campbell, 12. Ashton Crossley, 1. Errol Gulden, 47. Jeromy Lucas, 15. Will Martyn, 4. Malcolm Rosas Jnr

VIC COUNTRY vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Friday June 28, 1:00pm
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Country will look to keep its perfect record in tact in what is set to be a cracking match-up against South Australia to close out the day’s play. Country have been the surprise packet of the tournament thus far, with their obvious class and top-end talent being matched by the manic pressure and application of their depth players. Coming off a bye round, they will be hungry to claim a third-straight win and effectively clinch the championship title against the last year’s winners. A comprehensive win against the Allies last time out puts them in good stead, with a wealth of contributors putting their hands up on each line. Hayden Young and Lachie Ash have been terrific both in the air and by foot thus far down back, with Brodie Kemp another to contribute while mixing time in the midfield. Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders have also been solid in the engine room. Goals from the likes of small forwards Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman will again be important, but one of the better aspects of Country’s performances has been the rise of some more unheralded names – with the likes of Brady Rowles, Riley Baldi, Jay Rantall, and Thomson Dow all poised to continue their solid form in this game.

Country’s free-scoring ways from Round 2 will not come as easily against a sturdy South Australian defence though, with Oliver Shaw returning from injury to add to a back six comprised of key performers in Will Gould, Will Day, Luke Edwards, and Karl Finlay. Their forward line looks a touch more dangerous despite having Kysaiah Pickett missing due to suspension, with the dynamic Cameron Taheny good to go after a corked thigh kept him out of last week’s squad, and Declan Carmody another who should add some class alongside bottom-age midfielder Corey Durdin – who slots into the forward pocket on his return. While the start to their title defence was ideal, a losing effort against the previously winless Vic Metro was not their best, and the likes of Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg will have to step up once again in the midfield, with Dylan Stephens one who can bounce back from a slightly down day. Simply competing will be key on the road against a Country side that will test them in the contest, so the Croweaters will need to be on their game if they are to keep their title defence alive.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 18. Brady Rowles, 36. Sam De Koning, 26. Jesse Clark
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash (C), 24. Brock Smith, 17. Hayden Young
C: 29. Lachlan Williams, 16. Brodie Kemp, 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill, 20. Elijah Hollands, 3. Cody Weightman
F: 19. Fraser Phillips, 39. Joshua Smith, 6. Riley Baldi
R: 40. Charlie Comben, 4. Sam Flanders, 2. Caleb Serong (C)
Int: (from) 8. Thomson Dow, 14. Liam Herbert, 37. Blake Kuipers, 10. Harrison Pepper, 13. Jay Rantall, 9. Isaac Wareham, 5. Cameron Wild

South Australia:

B: 19. Luke Edwards, 35. Karl Finlay, 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 12. Will Day
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Shute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 9. Cameron Taheny, 14. Declan Carmody
F: 3. Corey Durdin, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 15. Harry Schoenberg, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 4. Jordan O’Brien, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 42. Damon Freitag, 8. Jed McEntee, 31. Jordan Moore

BYE: Western Australia

Scouting notes: AFLW U16 Championships – Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

THE Under 16 Girls national carnival wrapped up over the weekend, and Vic Country managed to get one-up on their Metro counterparts in a hard-fought 14-point win. We were on hand to take note on players who caught the eye. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.

Vic Country

By: Taylah Melki

#3 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons)

Good long booming kick to push the ball forward and was good in close to try and win the ball for Vic Country. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and get involved in the contest going in hard at every opportunity. Showcased great footy smarts with a clever tip out the contest to try and flick the ball out to a teammate. Schaap won a free kick but was unable to capitalise in front of goal just missing but ran hard all game to open up the forward line and laid some big tackles throughout the match.

#5 Gabbi Featherson (Geelong Falcons)

Featherson worked tirelessly in defence and used her strength and speed to break away from the pack and push the ball forward. She showed good courage to stand under the ball and take a good contested grab. She was composed with ball in hand, displayed a strong set of hands throughout the match and highlighted her ability to read of the flight of the ball to position well and take it cleanly. Her kicks out of the goal square showed good footy smarts to kick to a player on the lead and make sure they were perfectly weighted to her teammates advantage.

#14 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)

Slender worked her way into the game taking a good pack mark that showed her impressive elevation to get over the back of her opponent and propel the ball back forward for Vic Country. She had strong hands under pressure and showed great intent to continuously push the ball forward and provide scoring opportunities for her team. Slender did not back down from the contest applying good strong physical pressure laying tackle after tackle highlighting her intent to win the ball.

#18 Analea McKee (Geelong Falcons)

McKee led the way in Vic Country’s forward 50 kicking their first goal of the second quarter and presenting well up at the footy. She had clean hands and good leading patterns to create space in the forward 50 on multiple occasions. Good read of the play snatching the ball out of her opponents hand and kicking the ball long down the line. She was barely beaten in a one on one using her body well and strength to outmuscle her opponent and win the ball for Vic Country.

#19 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)

She was electric and at times seemed to have the ball on a string gaining plenty of touches and always near the footy. Friend contested hard and used her quick hands to dish the ball out of traffic and onto a teammate. She worked tirelessly to win the ball in close and offered up at the footy to take a good mark. Friend displayed her clever decision making, to move the ball into a better position in the forward 50 with a carefully weighted kick inboard and took a very strong mark in the final quarter to lift her side. She pushed up hard to trap the ball in Vic Country’s attacking 50 and showed good composure to stand under the ball and control the mark.

#20 Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons)

She was a lynchpin down in defence and stood up under the pressure throughout the match. She worked tirelessly in defence and used her quick hands to move the ball out of dangerous positions on multiple occasions throughout the game. Dowling displayed her general footy smarts and ability to make good decisions when under pressure not get flustered or blazing away. She tried to repel the attacking forays of Vic Metro dropping back into gaps and taking a few big marks to stop their forward momentum.

#22 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels)

Had a bit of a slow start but worked her way into the game in the second quarter with her clean hands and clever body positioning to out position her opponent. At times she was unable to capitalise doing all the ground work but missing the finishing touches with a couple of dropped marks but her intent and skill were certainly there. Dojiok showed her talent below her knees with a good pick up off the deck. She had a good passage of play showcasing her speed to break away from the pack in the defensive 50 and drill the ball forward. Almost claimed goal of the game in the final quarter surging forward but was unable to capitalise with the ball sliding through the point post.

#24 Keeley Skepper (Murray Bushrangers)

Skepper played a huge role down in defence for Vic Country winning plenty of the ball proving to be a dominant force down back. She repelled plenty of ball that came her way sending it back down the line and bodied up well on her opponent to make sure they did not get an easy shot at goal. She held her own in one on one contests and showcased her good vision to kick to a teammate in space while also highlighting her intent to apply attacking pressure to move the ball out of defence.

Vic Metro:

By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Ebony Angelopoulos (Sandringham Dragons)

Started brightly with her work inside 50, and booted Metro’s first goal of the game after out-bodying her opponent to mark and converting into the open goal. Looked lively and kept busy in the forward half, keeping relevant without the ball as she caught an opponent holding the ball on her offensive arc. Faded out of the game somewhat as Country got on top, but has some good spark.

#4 Emilia Yassir (Calder Cannons)

Looked very Madison Prespakis-like in her Metro #4, and plays a bit like her as a nuggety Cannons midfielder who does just about everything through the engine room. While her contested ball winning ability is obvious and damaging, Yassir really made an impact with her pressure around the ball – laying some crunching tackles and crashing her opponents in aerial contests. Just kept on hunting the ball at stoppages and proved hard to tackle, pumping her legs to break away from congestion and get a kick off. Also looked strong overhead for her size and isn’t afraid to compete in the air, which can be put down to her aggression and clean hands. Contributed a couple of neat touches with an accurate kick to find Charli Murphy inside 50, as almost got on the board by ultimately sprayed her shots on goal. One of Metro’s clear best.

#6 Emma Stuber (Sandringham Dragons)

Another who made a good start, Stuber looked a handy intercept and rebound half-back flanker. The Dragons product got to a wealth of ground-ball contests coming off the defensive 50 arc after centre bounces, mopping up and disposing of the ball quickly. She played a key role in keeping Country relatively quiet in the first half, but was not as prevalent after the main break.

#9 Matilda Hardy (Eastern Ranges)

Was named Metro’s best and rightly so, as she built into the game nicely and seemed to be everywhere at times. Made a bit of a slow start in the first half, but really came to life off the wing after the main break with some key touches moving forward. Worked really well on the outside to receive handballs from the likes of Yassir, and gained some good meterage on the back of it. Showed her class in traffic early in the last quarter with a stop and prop as opponents ran past, while also competing well twice in one-on-one marking contests. Look for her to be a very handy link between the arcs in the future.

#11 Maykaylah Appleby (Northern Knights)

The premiership Knight assumed her typical role on the opposite wing to Hardy, working hard forward to make an impact. Is most prominent on the run, most often finishing with long kicks down the line, but also looks dangerous inside 50 – as she showed with a spin at pace and checkside shot on goal in the final term. While that shot fell short, Appleby had already hit the scoreboard in the first quarter from a free kick. She loves a celebration, and always seems to be a vocal member of the team on-field.

#17 Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons)

Lennox was solid as a rock in defence and while Country eventually broke through after half time, the Calder gun more than played her part in the resistance. Reads the play well and moved off her direct opponent to intercept multiple times, forming a wall for Metro. Always looked for distance with her kick-outs but lacked an option at times, and had a couple of unfortunate turnovers as Country poured the pressure on. Still looked astute deep inside the 50 and was hardly beaten, doing the defensive things well. Is obviously good in the air but also competed at ground level, running straight through the ball to mop up cleanly.

#22 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)

The sister of Sydney draftee, James, Rowbottom is a handy player in her own right. Made a particular impact in the air down back, winning one-on-one duels and proving strong on the last line to kill the ball. Was also quick to rebound once she had won possession, working actively to clear her lines. Was a little patchy as the game wore on, but made her presence known as she popped up in the final term with a solid pack mark in defensive 50.

Scouting notes: U16 National Championships – Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro outlasted their Country counterparts to open their Under 16 Division 1 campaign with a three-goal win. Michael Alvaro was on hand at GMHBA Stadium to take note of the outstanding players from either side in another edition of scouting notes.

Vic Country:

#1 Judson Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)

Was one of Country’s main threats in front of goal, proving both opportunistic and clinical. Booted the first goal of the game with a straightforward set shot, but his second goal in the same term caught the eye – snatching the ball off hands at pace deep inside the forward 50 and streaming into an open goal. Added a third with another set shot in the final term to give Country one last shot, and had a good overall day forward of centre.

#2 Campbell Chesser (Sandringham Dragons)

The co-captain was one of his side’s best, making the wing opposite the Kardinia Park coaches box his own. Chesser ran well both ways, but looked particularly damaging when going forward with time and space. Looks a pretty complete player, clean below his knees and even more solid overhead – reaching for a couple of strong clunks early on to also show some good spring. Chesser further showed his ability to read the ball in flight with a defensive 50 intercept in the second term, and was soon seen impacting up the other end with a kick inside forward 50 to Hugh Hamilton, and another to Judson Clarke. Had his own chance to hit the scoreboard with a set shot, but fell short. A good outing, and definitely one to watch.

#3 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)

Hobbs was again the clear best for Country, stepping up with his relentless attack at the stoppages and phenomenal ball winning ability. Won the first clearance of the game from the opening centre bounce, and continued on in the same vein throughout the game with a ton of contested ball wins. Is just a bull in congestion, but also showed his ability to find other ways to prize the ball with a strong one on one mark in the second term. Added class to his obvious grunt with a precise set shot goal from 40 meters out on the boundary to spark his side, and followed up to win the clearance from the resultant centre bounce. Hobbs also speared a nice pass inside 50 to give Oskar Faulkhead his first goal in the third term. Has obvious leadership capacities in his actions, and tried all day to both niggle his opponents and drag Country over the line.

#4 Oskar Faulkhead (Bendigo Pioneers)

The zippy forward came to life in the third quarter, converting two set shots to help Country to its one-point lead at the final break. The first opportunity came from a neat Ben Hobbs pass into the pocket, but Faulkhead had to work a bit more for his second shot as he managed to control a shanked ball forward from Connor Macdonald. Would win the ball high up from half forward as the game went on and looked well skilled, playing a key role in keeping Country within striking distance.

#8 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

Did not have a massive game in terms of disposal output, but well and truly caught the eye with two cracking attacks on the ball. The first came in the opening term with an opponent coming the other way, but his effort on defensive wing to win the ball at pace with three Metro players looming was simply outstanding. Showed good strength and breakaway pace in congestion, and looks a player you want on your side when it matters.

#9 Hugh Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers)

Was a solid performer throughout the day, starting forward but making more of an impact through midfield. Hamilton dug in at the stoppages, often locking the ball or his opponent up. Had the chance to hit the scoreboard in the second term after Campbell Chesser hit him up, but missed with the shot. Was more of a constant at the centre bounces in the second half, with his strong build putting him in good stead for contested situations.

#10 Benjamin Green (Gippsland Power)

Has a trim that greats of the 1980s would be proud of, but Green lets his football do the talking for the most part. Aesthetic frills aside, the Power product has a more no-nonsense approach with his contested style, using his strength to stand up in tackles and flick the ball out. Seems to attract the ball, albeit if he looked to be slightly down on his usual disposal output, and won it more around the ground. Showed good courage in the final term to compete against Metro big-man Alex Lukic in the air, and clearly thrives in the contest.

#11 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)

Macdonald showed glimpses of his best traits throughout the day, and was most involved during the third term on the outside. Provided some exciting run forward, weaving his way through traffic and finishing with a kick, but was perhaps more effective when smartly handing off laterally around the forward 50. Had a neat passage of play with Charlie Molan to set up Oskar Faulkhead’s second goal, and is a handy link in the chain.

#13 Joshua Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)

The Country leader was his usual self in the midfield and forward line, always looking like he could produce something special. Had some quick snaps on goal fall short or go wide throughout the game, and things could have gone his way on another day. While Rachele wins the contested ball well, he looks even more damaging when receiving by hand and bursting forward – as seen in the second term with a one-two play down the wing. Took an outstanding pack mark in the fourth quarter to showcase his strong hands and leap, and was one of Country’s better contributors without being totally dominant.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)

Molan built into the game well to make his impact felt, mixing his time between half forward and the midfield. Missed an early set shot chance after finding space inside forward 50 and has a slightly awkward kicking action, but did well to win a centre bounce clearance later. Proved his ability to work both ways, running forward with a handy handball passage in the third term to create a goal, and later running back to chase down Metro skipper Josh Sinn in a fantastic effort in the corridor. Is quite a tall midfielder for this level at 187cm, and looks to be learning quickly.

#25 Justin Davies (Dandenong Stingrays)

The dynamic big man is a great reader of the ball in flight, and attacked it hard despite not always being able to reign in the mark. Spent time through the ruck after starting forward, and competed well there but his best move came with a goal from nothing in the first quarter as Country broke away. Not a big performance, but one to watch.

#27 Josh Rentsch (GWV Rebels)

Played the same rotation as Davies, and is another tall who moves extremely well for his size. Looked particularly lively early with a couple of solid overhead marks forward of centre, and would go on to make an impact through the ruck. Popped up again in the second term with an impressive weave through opponents before letting fly with a shot that was only just touched. Just does things that a player of his size shouldn’t, making him a dangerous prospect at this level.


Vic Metro:

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)

The diminutive Metro vice-captain would have to be one of the pound-for-pound strongest players across both sides, injecting a good amount of physicality into the game despite standing at 171cm. Plays like a bigger-bodied prospect in the midfield and forward half, leaping for overhead marks, bursting out of congestion, and tackling hard. Showcased his marking prowess early with a gutsy effort in the second term taken on his chest, and went on to lay two massive tackles on Country stars Campbell Chesser and Ben Hobbs in a couple of terrific second efforts. Despite his unexpected exploits, also has the typical traits of a smaller player with cleanliness at ground level and good speed. Was moved into the centre bounces in the final term after spending most of the day on the outside, and made a difference.

#5 Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)

Started in the midfield but despite winning a couple of clearances, looked much better on the wing later on. Runs smartly over the back to set his side up going inside 50, and did so most effectively in the second and third terms. Set up Jack Rossimel for his second goal with a long kick inside the arc, and could be an important forward mover for Metro if he continues to play on the outside.

#7 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)

Was originally named as an emergency in the Metro squad, but took the starting opportunity well. Part of the wing/forward rotation, Wilmot got involved early by using his strong hands and build in the contest – marking overhead and winning contested ground balls. Broke forward to good effect but missed a chance to goal on the run in the second term, and would eventually fade out of the game somewhat. Popped back up with another strong overhead marking attempt, and isn’t afraid of the contest.

#10 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers)

Accumulated at a good rate across the day off half back, seeming to always be in space and providing an outlet to break forward. Did so with his usual kicking game, but proved a touch inconsistent by foot with a few turnovers – although they didn’t prove to be too costly. Also marks well above his head and is clean, but was able to do so at will given the space he afforded himself. A damaging outside player, Rankin continues to see plenty of the ball.

#11 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)

One of Metro’s best as a constant through the midfield, catching the eye with repeated bursts around the back of stoppages to kick his side forward. Showed good composure with ball in hand, breaking away with a quick first five steps and making good decisions in the extra space he had afforded himself. While he began to become more involved forward of centre in the second term with a shot on the run, Sonsie went on to accumulate up the other end early in the following term to show he can win the ball wherever it may go. Got involved forward again with a clinical snapped finish to start the final term, and has fantastic agility and awareness.

#13 Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

A zippy mover off half-back, Benton provided a good point of difference in a very aerial-dominant Metro back six. Was not afraid to take on opponents and take the game on, but still played within his limits and got the ball off in time. Got involved well moving forward along the wing, and caught the eye with a well taken chest marking with the ball coming over his shoulder – as well as with his bright red boots.

#15 Joshua Goater (Calder Cannons)

Another player who showed patches of good play, Goater did enough to catch the eye. Played mostly on the wing and up forward, and was presented a set shot chance by Cannons teammate Jack Newitt in the second term which he could not convert. Took a nice overhead grab on the wing in the final term, but had his best moment in the same term with phenomenal vision to break open the play and find Tyler Sonsie with a handball, who snapped a goal.

#16 Jack Newitt (Calder Cannons)

Was not Newitt’s best game, but played his role well and looked a threat inside the forward 50. Kicked Metro’s first goal of the game with a set shot conversion, and had another early scoring chance on the run which he missed to the near side. Newitt would go on to make a greater impact later on with assist-driven plays – finding Calder teammate Joshua Goater in the third term to hand him a set shot opportunity, and looking to create from the flank and pocket he called home for most of the day.

#17 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)

Looked in ominous form early as he intercepted a couple of high balls with clean overhead marks in his usual half back position, which he would follow up with a hard chase-down effort. Oozes obvious class and has a damaging left boot, but showed his hard edge with a contested win where he rode a head-on bump well to hold onto the ground ball and move forward. Was entrusted with kick-in duties, and worked hard to follow up short passes to provide the next option, which was great to see. Is a real 100-metre player when he combines his penetrating kick with run and carry, doing so particularly well through the corridor with one ending in a short shot on goal. Was caught unawares by Charlie Molan in the final term on one of those runs, but it didn’t affect him too much as he made an impact with a move into the middle. Has some real eye-catching traits and looked a class above at times.

#18 Braden Andrews (Oakleigh Chargers)

Made use of on each line, Andrews was a relevant player throughout. Spent some time forward early on, and almost hit the scoreboard after rounding an opponent but missing the shot. Looked good with a more permanent move into the middle after half time, but perhaps played his best team role as he was shifted into defence to close out the game. Andrews would show off his clean hands and cool head to provide an extra bit of solidity in the back six, while also moving forward well as he did with a take-on of Joshua Rachele. Finds the ball well, and could be an important figure for Metro given the versatility he showed.

#19 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons)

Howes came in and out of the game with some nice flashes of form, looking most likely when used out on the wing. Is quite slight at 68kg so suits the outside in that sense, but also has the agility and take-on capabilities to make him a dangerous forward mover. Booted a couple of decent balls inside 50 during the third term, where he was most effective.

#22 Jack Rossimel (Northern Knights)

The dangerous forward was again utilised deep inside attacking 50, providing a target for long kicks into his area. Looked primed for a decent game after clunking a fantastic contested mark in the goalsquare and converting the resultant shot, but only managed to find the goals once more with another set shot conversion in the third term. Just seems to always find a way to the big sticks, and almost managed to soccer home a major in an opportunistic effort, but did not have too much else to do for the game.

#23 Jed Rule (Oakleigh Chargers)

Was set to form a formidable defensive partnership with skipper Josh Sinn given both players’ aerial prowess, and showed signs of his outstanding reading of the play. Took a nice intercept mark on defensive wing to cut off a decent Country attack in the second term, and that sort of play formed the crux of his usual play. Was solid defensively too, but did not have a massive amount to do.

#28 Alex Lukic (Oakleigh Chargers)

Ended up being the most effective player inside 50, booting a game-high four goals. Was sighted at both ends, but really made his mark forward of centre with clever positioning and astute finishing. His first goal came from close range – which would become a theme – in the opening term, going on to kick a similar goal over the back for Metro’s only second-quarter major, and later the seal the game with two crucial six-pointers in the final term. Took a nice overhead mark deep inside 50 for his third goal, and got out the back again for his fourth. Loves a loud ‘c’mon’ after finding the big sticks, and moves well for a taller player.

Metro Under 16s make ideal start to Division 1 campaign

VICTORIA Metro got its Under-16 Division 1 campaign off to the perfect start with a hard-fought 10.7 (67) to 7.7 (49) win over Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium.

Oakleigh’s Alex Lukic played a key hand with four goals, including two in the final term to seal the result, with skipper Josh Sinn and Tyler Sonsie instrumental further afield.

Earlier, Dandenong product Judson Clarke ensured Country got off to an ideal start, converting the first clear chance of the game with a straightforward set shot and adding another on the run later in the term. Fellow Stingray Justin Davies popped up for a goal from nothing in-between Clarke’s majors, but Metro replied with goals from Jack Newitt, Lukic, and Jack Rossimel – the latter of which came from an outstanding contested mark in the goalsquare. Country entered the first break ahead by the slimmest of margins, with an armwrestle beginning to ensue.

The second term produced much of the same as the sides struggled to gain any form of ascendancy. Most of the play came in Country’s attacking half, but the home side could not quite capitalise on the territorial advantage. A clinical Ben Hobbs set shot finish from 40 metres out on the boundary gave Country their only goal, but it was matched once again by Metro’s Lukic, who added a second goal from close range.

Metro looked primed to break away in the third term as Rossimel slotted another major in the early stages, but Country hit back well to stay in the game as Oskar Faulkhead got on the end of a couple of neat kicks inside 50 to claim two important goals. The deadlock remained unbroken, setting up a grandstand finish with the home side ahead by just one point at the break – exactly as was the case after the first term. The grand finale did not quite eventuate, as goals from Sonsie, Blake Howes, and Lukic put the result all but beyond doubt about half way through the final term. Clarke’s third goal for Country gave them a sniff with five minutes on the clock, but Lukic’s fourth major sealed the deal and saw Metro run away 18-point winners.

The Metro half-back pairing of Sinn and Lachlan Rankin proved damaging, with both using their smarts by foot to rebound time after time. Braden Andrews swapped roles with Sinn to move from the midfield to a back flank, providing a bit of solidity and cleanliness by hand in the closing stages after winning a good amount of ball earlier. Speaking of, Sonsie won his fair share through midfield on top of hitting the scoreboard in the fourth term, with Ranges teammate Jake Soligo also pitching in well. Youseph Dib and Darcy Wilmot proved constant threats rotating off the wing and half forward, while Howes was another who built into the game strongly. Up forward, Lukic was the standout, with Rossimel the only other Metro representative to slot multiple goals (two).

For Country, Hobbs continues to put his name in lights with his midfield form – digging in hard to win a heap of disposals and be his side’s clear best. Charlie Molan often joined him in midfield when coming off the forward rotation, and stood up in the last quarter with his tackling pressure and smart use by hand. Co-captain Campbell Chesser made the wing his own throughout with damaging forward carry, while fellow skipper Joshua Rachele provided his usual spark with brilliant agility at stoppages and nous forward of centre. Clarke and Faulkhead were the multiple goal kickers with three and two respectively, while ruck/forward Davies also hit the scoreboard and renewed his key position partnership with Josh Rentsch.

Both sides will take their championship campaign to Queensland for Rounds 2 and 3, with Metro facing South Australia first and Country set to meet Western Australia.

Scouting notes: AFL U18s – Allies vs. Vic Country

VIC Country continued its ominous start to the AFL Under 18 National Championships, backing up its Victorian derby win with a 18.8 (116) to 2.7 (19) trouncing of the Allies. Below were the standout players from either side.

Allies:

By: Ed Pascoe

#3 Connor Budarick

Budarick started the game in defence, providing good run and loved to attack using his dash. He had a great bit of play in the second quarter intercepting at speed and kicking well on his opposite foot. Budarick was later moved into the midfield where he looked to have more impact, winning more of the ball and providing speed and toughness at stoppages. He showed his usual defensive capabilities with a great chase on Country speedster Brady Rowles, as well as his attacking game with a good burst away and dash on the wing. Budarick finished the game with 15 disposals and five tackles.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill was the standout player for the Allies with his run and creativity on the wing a real feature. O’Neill started the game quietly but really got going in the second half, starting the third quarter in great fashion – involved in a chain from half-back, winning three possessions with the final one a nice long kick inside 50. O’Neill also showed his courage in the last quarter sitting in the hole in defence and getting crunched from behind where he would win the free kick. The Tasmanian was fantastic on the wing with his composure, run and ball use, finishing the game with a team-high 26 disposals and eight marks.

#15 Will Martyn

Martyn was a busy player through the midfield winning the hard ball but also working hard on transition to either take marks or be a part of a chain of handballs through the middle. He showed good composure with ball in hand and had a good bit of play in the first quarter, showing his nice movement under pressure. He had a chance to hit the scoreboard but wouldn’t quite make the distance with a set shot at goal. Martyn finished the game with 16 disposals and five clearances.

#22 Tom Green

Green was a real force at the stoppages, winning the ball at will. He attacked the ball at stoppages and was very clean getting his arms up quickly to ride the tackle and get a handball out, he had a great chain in the second quarter, winning a clearance and then getting the ball back in the handball chain and released a good long handball and this really showed his work rate in being able to continue attacking after winning a clearance. Green didn’t get a lot of the ball but played a lone hand as the Allies’ only big bodied inside midfielder. Green finished the game with 18 disposals and nine clearances, showing his dominance at stoppages.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Delahunty had a rough time as the Allies’ number one target up forward especially with the poor supply, but he worked into the game and still did some nice things – including a nice contested mark in the second quarter that would only lead to a behind. Delahunty looked at his best in the last quarter going for a nice run and showing his power, but would miss an opposite foot snap at goal on the run – although he would later set up a goal for his team with a nice handpass to teammate Noah Cumberland. Delahunty was moved to defence late in the game where he might find himself more often for the rest of the championships.

Vic Country:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

The Country co-skipper started on fire for the second week running, beginning at the centre bounces before moving forward. He was involved early around the contest and had a long set shot on goal that resulted in a goal to Weightman. When set inside 50, he took a brilliant one on one contested mark, before turning and kicking an excellent long range goal. He was involved again shortly after, taking an intercept mark inside 50 and making the Allies pay. He was clean around the ground and defensively relevant without the ball, highlighted by a holding the ball free kick in the defensive 50 which was uncharacteristically turned over on exit. Took a heavy head knock in a marking contest against Nick Murray in the last, which earned a 50 metre penalty and he converted a third goal. It was another productive outing, finishing with 22 disposals on top of the three goals.

#3 Cody Weightman

After producing moments of brilliance against Metro at the MCG last week, his effort against the Allies was far more complete, ending the day as one of the most influential on the field. The performance started with a quality snapped finish in the first term and he continued winning the footy by presenting high on the lead, which included a spectacular diving effort. He earned a free kick in the second quarter which he converted, before finishing the day with two in the fourth quarter for a nice haul of four goals. Despite lacking some stature, his hands and exciting leap make him such a dangerous prospect aerially.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder has always been a ball magnet for Gippsland Power and he took his prolific ways to Tasmania on Sunday to be one of Vic Country’s best. He didn’t start at the opening centre bounces, but pushed up to the contest to lay a heavy tackle on Tom Green early. Once at the stoppages his hands were sharp and effective, but it was on the outside where he was consistently able to find space and provide an option on transition with an incredible 13 marks. What he lacks in acceleration, he makes up for with smarts and often buys himself time with evasive tricks. Baldi was the equal leading ball winner on the day, gathering 29 disposals.

#7 Mitch Martin

Spent a majority of his time forward like last week and while he didn’t win huge numbers, Martin was good enough to take advantage of Vic Country’s dominance and hit the scoreboard. He has a real touch of class and doesn’t need the big disposal tallies, starting with a lovely set shot in the second term. His best moment came when he gathered a ball inside 50, spun in a tackle and dribble kicked a skilful goal. Another converted set shot saw him kick a third goal, a solid outing in anyone’s language.

#12 Lachie Ash

With his co-captain Serong, Ash set the tone for a big day in the first term by collecting 12 disposals up to the first break. He basically did as he pleased behind the ball, intercepting, rebounding and the scoreboard soon offered flexibility for him to take on risky but demanding kicks to advantage. He had some smart defensive moments too, spoiling a one on one contest while out of position, before winning the ground ball and earning a free kick. He just took the game on whenever the opportunity presented and while he got a little cute on occasions, the good well and truly outweighed any turnovers. He finished with 29 class disposals to be in the best on ground discussions.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Many expected to see Kemp play as a big bodied midfielder during this competition, but with Vic Country lacking tall defensive options, the Geelong Grammar scholar has played defensive 50 in a position that is very familiar. He complemented Ash and Young perfectly, holding his position when required, but coming off his man and impacting the aerial contest when the opportunity presented. While he occasionally used a fist, by the end of the day he was reading the play so well that he was in position to take nearly every mark in his area. His hands and skills were good and he’d also take the game on when space opened up ahead.

#17 Hayden Young

Young wasn’t as prominent as against Metro the week before, but the intercepting half back was still very, very good. He got going in the second term with multiple intercept moments, highlighted by a one on one contest against the much bigger Conroy where he used his body to perfection to win the ball and begin an end to end chain that resulted in a goal. He flies for his marks and takes on his kicks, making him arguably the best offensive weapon in this year’s draft despite playing behind the footy.

#18 Brady Rowles

I feel the Bendigo wingman is flying under the radar from a draft perspective. While he doesn’t win mountains of the ball, he is a metres gained footballer who has an electric turn of speed. He is a nice size at 188cm and capable of quickly getting the ball in dangerous positions. He had multiple carrying efforts against the Allies, the best coming in the second term when bouncing out of D50 at top speed to hit a target lace out up the ground. He is good overhead too, taking a strong one on one contested mark in the first term. He could tidy up his decision making on occasions, but I feel the attributes are there to create genuine interest.

#29 Lachlan Williams

The Rays’ utility did not get an opportunity to play on the MCG last week, but made the most of his chance in Tasmania with a strong performance on the wing. He looked calm and composed whenever the footy got in his hands, as shown when he converted a lovely set shot in the second term. Most of his footy was won on the outside, but he is certainly capable at the contest, especially aerially. He is one you always have to check twice on the team sheet, as he looks and plays taller than his 182cm, 76kg frame suggests. Williams finished the game as one of the highest ball winners with 20 possessions and looks to have cemented a spot in the side.