Tag: vic metro

Wide-eyed Newton guns for draft

IT has been a mammoth year for Gabby Newton. Captain of the premiership winning Northern Knights team, a key player in Vic Metro’s undefeated national carnival run, and now a welcome addition to Carlton’s VFLW squad – all while juggling school commitments and national basketball representation.

Even still, the potential high draft selection remains humble about her prospects of getting to the next level.

“I’m going in eyes wide open, just hoping somebody will pick me up,” Newton said. Just anybody, please,” she added with a laugh.

The Northern star’s footballing journey started out in a familiar way to many, through Auskick. Growing up in a “big football family” helped.

“My older brother played and my dad was really into footy so I’d always watch them and think ‘I really want to play as well’,” Newton said. “I started playing Auskick and played footy with the boys and just really grew passionate about it from there.”

Female talent pathways weren’t as plentiful or fruitful back then as they are today, but that wasn’t going to stop Newton from getting stuck in. Moving into the team game at Yarrambat, Newton played in the boy’s sides until the age of 13 before taking a break and re-joining the game via school football.

“I started at Yarrambat and played until Under 13s with the boy’s team, then had a couple of years off and played in the school sport nationals,” she said. “Then I came back and played with the girls at (Montmorency).”

So great is Newton’s love for the game that it has grabbed her “100 per cent focus” despite promise on the basketball side, with the dual-sport athlete confident her skills translate across both codes.

“Definitely footy this year (has taken priority),” she said. “I love basketball, they both go hand in hand but footy’s definitely my passion and my focus at the moment. “At the moment I wouldn’t (play both basketball and football). I’m not sure, who knows. “Maybe if I do get drafted and after a couple of years I might consider it but as I said, footy is the focus.”

That kind of focus has seen the utility excel in her top-age year, averaging 19.3 disposals, 2.8 marks, 4.7 tackles and 2.1 inside 50s in her 10 NAB League games, while going on to average 15.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 clearances and almost a goal a game in a more forward-oriented role for Vic Metro at the Queensland championships.

A crowning moment in anyone’s junior career, Newton says the successful week in the Sunshine State was “so fun”.

“Obviously versing all the girls throughout the NAB League season you just think ‘it’s so annoying how (Georgia) Patrikios is so fast’, but then you get to play with them at Metro and it’s so good,” she said. “Going up to Queensland that was just such a fun week, the team bonded so well and playing against the best in Australia was just a blast and really good competition.

Having done it all among under-age competition, Newton has gone on to feature twice for Carlton’s VFLW side at the back end of the season alongside Knights teammate, Britney Gutknecht. With the AFLW the only step left to take, Newton is full of nerves despite her plaudits.

‘I’m really looking forward to the combine even though it’s pretty nerve-wracking, but it should be a good experience and then hopefully draft day won’t be too nerve-wracking – I think it’ll be a bit stressful but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Grant following in father’s footsteps

FOR 17-year-old Isabella Grant, the path to football has been a little bit different with a big interest in basketball shaping a lot of her junior sporting journey, while her father Chris Grant played 341 games for Western Bulldogs over a 17-year period.

“I initially played basketball for the majority of my primary school and into secondary school years, and then AFL Women’s came about and I was like ‘oh my god this is awesome, I’ve got to jump on this’ so I went down to Spotswood,” Grant said. “I went down to about two trainings and as soon as I started the culture just completely drew me towards it. I quit all my basketball commitments and went straight into footy I loved it that much.”

While having a football legend for a father could have seen Grant begin her footy journey a lot earlier, she was never pushed into the sport and was able to make her own decision about pursuing any sport she wanted.

“His passion has definitely driven me, absolutely,” Grant said. “But he’s just very supportive of whatever I want to do whether it was footy, basketball, whether I didn’t want to play a sport or not, he’s just really, really great so either way I definitely love footy.”

While she has now played football for a number of years, Grant said her development at the Western Jets has proved the importance and professionalism of the pathway even though it’s still in the early stages. Grant has also been given the opportunity to progress through the AFL Women’s Under 18 ranks, playing for Vic Metro in both 2018 and 2019.

“Everything about it, the professionalism, the development programs, just all the support they provide whether that be on or off the field, I’ve definitely developed as a person,” Grant said. “That (Metro in 2018) was really scary. “But I think coming together with other girls who are really skillful, it helped me learn off them it was so amazing, but definitely another development opportunity, they were all inclusive and great. “It’s a bit intimidating, it’s a bit scary but I think the support that Jets provide and family and friends, it makes it all a lot less scary.”

With a good kick and eye for the big sticks, Grant’s skill in front of goal makes her a massive threat able to adapt to anywhere on the field and have an impact. Grant said she prefers playing the midfield and wing, credit to her run and carry, but will play wherever she is needed showcasing her team-first attitude.

“I definitely need to improve on my left foot kicking, that’s something I’ve been working on towards the last couple of years,” she said. “Strengths maybe my fitness and run and carry, that’s something I’ve been better at, but again there’s so many things I could improve on there’s such a big list.”

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 Metro vs. Allies

VIC Metro’s Under 18 carnival came to an end on Friday with a tight loss at the hands of a much-improved Allies side. We were on hand in Geelong to take note of how the outstanding players from both sides fared, with opinion-based notes that of the individual writer.

Vic Metro

By: Peter Williams

#1 Jack Mahony

A standout player for Metro across the game, setting up a number of goals for his teammates, then finishing off with three of his own – two of which came in the final term to help his side charge back into it. He almost had a fourth but it dropped short and his final kick of the day almost found its way into the hands of Emerson Jeka to win the game but was spoiled away. He had a fairly complete game with great defensive pressure and rarely missing a target forward of centre with neat kicks across his body, well placed to the advantage of his teammates. Mahony was also clean above his head and hard to stop.

#5 Trent Bianco

Composed with ball-in-hand, Bianco looked very classy coming off half-back and along the wing, and was able to use it well by hand or foot. He was the player often benefiting from extras heading into stoppages, with teammates getting it out to him and he was able to move the ball well in transition. He did so under pressure in the back half, and showed a great second effort when losing a marking contest, he got up and smothered a ball to win it back and kick forward. Had a chance for a goal by playing on and putting it through in the third term, but was forced to take the set shot and it fell short.

#11 Matt Rowell

Was again one of Metro’s best even if he was contained (by his standards) after quarter time. His first quarter was outstanding, which included eight disposals, three clearances and a goal, but the Allies midfield made sure to put more work into him after the first term. He used the ball well and was able to get it out to teammates running out the outside. Rowell is great one-on-one and the goal he did kick he managed to do so while being run down from behind. The confidence he exhibited was terrific as he glanced behind him, saw an opponent and backed himself to take him on. He has such clean hands and always keeps battling on across four quarters.

#13 Daniel Mott

Had a big first half and was working hard not only offensively, but defensively as well. He managed to tackle Tom Green and lock the ball away by holding an arm with great technique. He showed clean hands in close and worked hard to get to the right positions. Had a quiet third term, but picked up again in the last quarter.

#22 Miles Bergman

Took a good mark on the lead early in the game and put it to the danger zone for Harrison Jones to mark in a pack and goal to level the scores in the first term. He had a long range shot early in the second and it was perfect off the boot to sail through the middle. Bergman covered the ground well, winning the ball in all thirds of the ground to took a strong intercept mark inside 50, and also had the crowd up on their feet when he flew high on the interchange side of the ground but could not quite bring it down.

#23 Dylan Williams

Booted the one goal and could have had a couple more. He set up the first shot of the game to Emerson Jeka in the opening term, then in the second quarter took a good mark on the lead straight in front and launched it from 50m to go through. He had a chance on the wrong side for a left footer and it pushed to the right for a behind, having a second shot after the three quarter time siren but also missed that. Looked dangerous on the lead throughout.

#24 Noah Anderson

Almost the opposite to his partner-in-crime Rowell, having a very quiet first term – just two touches – before really starting to work his way into the contest. He was strong at ground level and laid multiple tackles with great second and third efforts.On one occasion he read the tap perfectly and booted the ball straight out of the middle with a long clearance kick inside 50. He even showed a bit of audacity in the final term, selling some candy, realising he had no leads on offer, bought some time with more candy then put it to Ryan Sturgess in teh pocket who kicked the goal to put Metro in front late. Another consistent performer who can be pleased with a terrific carnival.

#25 Finn Maginness

One of Metro’s best working hard on the inside and then getting it done on the outside with some dangerous kicks inside 50. Had a long range shot in the second term but missed to the right, and his best highlight came from a dance around an opponent in the middle in that last quarter, sidestepped another and kicked perfectly to Emerson Jeka inside 50.

#29 Fischer McAsey

Has enjoyed a ripping carnival and Friday’s game was no different with another impactful performance in defence. Time and time again he intercepted the ball and rebounded out of the back half, dropping into the hole perfectly. He saved a certain Tom Green goal early with a good mark in the goalsquare, and held his line well in the defence, winning the ball and

#36 Emerson Jeka

Presented well throughout the match inside 50, and could have had three goals to his named but just finished with the one. He missed one narrowly and the other shanked a bit, but never gave up with his work rate. His goal came from a set shot 30m out in the third term, and he was often spotted pushing up to the wing at times.

#39 Jack Bell

Got involved throughout and while he sold a teammate into trouble with a poor handball early, he showed some nice skills by foot, setting up Emerson Jeka for a third term goal by having the nous to move the ball quickly and get it to his teammates’ advantage. Later in the game he dropped behind the ball and was able to use his height to win the ball and move it forward.


Allies:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Errol Gulden

Swans fans will be pretty pleased with what their 2020 Academy prospect has shown to date, and this was another great performance on the big stage. Playing off the half-forward flank and up onto a wing, Gulden was a constant threat moving forward when wheeling around onto his trusty left boot. He always looked to create and showed crafty vision with his passes inside 50 to find teammates on multiple occasions. Gulden was as clean as anyone at ground level and it proved a telling trait as he delivered so effectively in space around the arc. Gulden’s willingness to opt for high-risk/high-reward kicks and ability to make them work more often than not made him a game-changer, topping off his contribution with two goals in the third term. His first was a real highlight, turning his opponent with great agility and finishing clinically on the left from just inside 50. One of the best for next year’s crop.

#2 Hewago Paul Oea

The Suns Academy product did some nice things throughout the game, underlining why he is better known as ‘Ace’. He started brightly to get on the scoreboard early with a goal out the back – assisted by the other dangerous forward he would often link up with, Malcolm Rosas Jnr. Tended to flow in and out of the game, but would pop up with good bits of pressure and crafty touches in close to break congestion open and move forward. One of his better plays was finding fellow Sun Josh Gore inside 50 to notch a goal assist, and he looked like breaking towards an open forward line on a few occasions to no avail.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Is as silky as they come in the forward half and could do nothing wrong in the latter part of the opening term. The Darwin product roamed the half forward line when the ball was up field, and did well to make himself dangerous when it entered the Allies attacking 50. Rosas’ first goal off hands showed that, but his second was even better as he slammed home a classy left foot finish on the move from just inside the arc. Was a little quieter as the game went on, but applied good pressure throughout and looked likely when the ball edged over the back. Starting to build more consistency.

#16 Ben Jungfer

Was one who at the start of the championships looked to be a depth selection in a talented midfield bunch, but proved to be much more than that as a constant at the stoppages. Jungfer complimented Tom Green beautifully at the centre bounces, doubling the Allies’ contested ball-winning threat and getting stuck in well to prize six clearances. Did a lot of the dirtywork throughout the day to flick the ball out to his runners, and looked strong over it when tackled. Not many frills about his game, but is a reliable accumulator in the middle.

#21 Luke Parks

Looks to be adapting well to being freed from having to play above his height, and proved a solid defensive contributor in this game. Found a good amount of ball and used it well in repelling out of defensive 50, with his rebounding starting to shine through. His best moment came with a terrific gather on the half-volley at pace through the corridor, followed by a kick forward which led to a goal for Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden in the third term.

#22 Tom Green

Was far and away the Allies’ best, with a game-high 33 disposals 13 more than his next best teammate. Green put in a mountain of work at the stoppages as we’ve come to expect, and proved difficult to tackle as he broke through hoards of opponents at times. Is a real leader in his actions, but also proved vocal with an audible call under a high ball in the first term. Had a couple of shots on goal early with one snap missing and another which he launched from 40 meters falling short, but eventually hit the scoreboard with a clutch set shot conversion in the third term. That side of his game was great to see, and he seemed to be kicking more while showing he can cover the ground really well for an inside midfielder. Also showed terrific spatial awareness with his use by hands with a couple of nice passes over his shoulder, and has great IQ in tight. Absolutely did his top 10 chances no harm with a more well-rounded display.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

The bottom-aged NT utility is capable of playing up either end, but looks really useful down back as a good reader of the ball in flight. Jeffrey leapt really well under high balls towards his own defensive 50 and stood strong as packs formed in his area, showing he wasn’t afraid of the inevitable contact. Looked better as the game went on and proved solid in the second half as Metro looked to charge with some one-on-one wins.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another who can play at both ends, but looked much more at home in his outing down back in this game. By no means finds massive amounts of ball, but did what was required of him – often times deep inside defensive 50. Showed his overhead prowess as he leapt to clunk a high ball with opponents nearby, and was composed again later on as he saw the ball into touch. With more time in defence, Delahunty could be an effective intercept type, but looks just as good one-on-one with his closing speed and ability to spoil from behind.

#31 Hamish Ellem

Was super impressive early on – proving too big, strong, and smart for his opponents one-out deep inside attacking 50. Booted the first goal of the game with a snap, but caught the eye more with a couple of solid one-on-one grabs and some mobile follow-up work. Made space to be found on the lead as the game wore on, but looks to have some room for improvement in his set shot goalkicking as he could have finished with three or four goals. Had no such issues in general play though, slotting another snap with an unlikely effort from the boundary in the third term. Is somewhat of an in-between size, and has traits to play both as a second tall or as a smaller type given his work at ground level.

#37 Josh Gore

Just always seems to find the goals and this game was no different as Gore slotted three from his seven disposals. Managed to convert in each term after quarter-time, including the Allies’ sole goal in the second after following up a bellied snap to win a holding the ball free kick. Suns teammate Hewago Paul Oea handed him a second goal after finding him in the pocket, with Gore again finding space deep inside 50 to mark in the last and convert a third set shot to put the Allies back in front. Ended up being a game-winner with his clinical finishing, but can add more to his overall game.

#46 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland was ultra impressive in a final term effort which went a long way to helping the Allies hold on to victory. The Lions Academy member’s intensity and strength around the contest was outstanding, truly setting the tone for his teammates with efforts that coaches would love. Playing mostly forward, Cumberland’s impact early was mainly seen in small bursts with big fend offs and aggressive runs forward – although he bit off a little more than he bargained for when he took on Metro speedster, Lachie Potter. Cumberland provided real drive going forward, but also won the ball well with clever body positioning in-close to protect the drop zone and set a solid base. His overhead mark and pass to Tom Green in the fourth quarter was excellent, but his game-winning tackle to lock the ball up even later on was even better to see. Can add some polish, but is a real raw competitor.

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.

Metro and Allies continue search for opening championships win

A BUMPER double-header sees the Under-18 national carnival hit South Australia, with the Allies and Vic Metro looking to get on the board against Western Australia and South Australia respectively. Check out all the teams and a preview for both games below.

ALLIES vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Saturday June 22, 10:30am
Alberton Oval, South Australia

Western Australia will look to regain a positive record in the 2019 AFL National Under 18 Championships when they face the winless Allies on neutral territory to kick off a South Australian double-header.

The Sandgropers started magnificently in their Round 1 win against Vic Metro, but fell short on home turf against the fast-finishing South Australia last time out. They are set to maintain a relatively consistent starting lineup coming into this clash, with the all-important core of the team again remaining in tact. While Luke Jackson has consolidated his status as the nation’s best Under 18 ruck, the likes of skipper Deven Robertson and Riley Garcia have benefitted from his silver service at the stoppages to dominate that area. Runners like Jeremy Sharp and Trent Rivers have also shown flashes of brilliance off half-back, and bottom-ager Logan McDonald looks to have stamped his claim as the side’s number one forward after impressing in game two.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the game will be the x-factor in each side’s forward half, with Elijah Taylor and Liam Henry finding plenty of goals so far for WA, while the Allies have included Gold Coast Academy pair Hewago Paul Oea and Josh Gore in hopes of creating some spark inside 50. After conceding 18.8 against Vic Country, the Allies have also bolstered their back six with a couple of overagers – namely Dirk Koenen and James Peatling, while shifting Braeden Campbell to his more natural half-forward spot. Connor Budarick is another who faces a move from half-back, set to spend more time running through the middle among a formidable Allies engine room set-up which should be able to match up well against WA’s. Big-bodied Suns product Ashton Crossley will add to their contested ball-winning capabilities, and over-age GWS/Oakleigh mover Jeromy Lucas could find a spot on the wing or flanks at either end. The top-end class looks to be on WA’s side in this clash, but you cannot count the talented Allies out, with match-winners in the midfield and forward of centre who will look to lift the team after a disappointing first outing.

TEAMS

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 36. Sam Thorne, 44. Nicholas Brewer, 42. James Peatling
C: 9. Mitch O’Neill, 15. Will Martyn, 1. Errol Gulden
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell, 31. Hamish Ellem, 4. Malcolm Rosas jnr
F: 37. Joshua Gore, 26. Liam Delahunty, 47. Jeromy Lucas
R: 51. Samuel Gaden, 22. Tom Green, 3. Connor Budarick
Int: 24. Joel Jeffrey, 20. Matt McGrory, 2. Hewago Paul Oea, 46. Noah Cumberland, 12. Ashton Crossley

In: D. Koenen, N. Brewer, J. Peatling, J. Gore, J. Lucas, H. Oea, S. Gaden, J. Jeffrey, A. Crossley
Out: N. Murray, J. Barling, M. Conroy, S. Collins, J. Rayner, O. Davis, B. Reville, W. Chandler, S. Ryan

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson, 21. Jake Pasini, 36. Denver Grainger-Barras
HB: 17. Jeremy Sharp, 26. Trey Ruscoe, 35. Trent Rivers
C: 12. Regan Clarke, 10. Deven Robertson, 9. Tristan Hobley
HF: 18. Jai Jackson, 30. Reuben McGuire, 19. Elijah Taylor
F: 5. Liam Henry, 25. Logan McDonald, 39. Callum Jamieson
R: 32. Luke Jackson, 14. Chad Warner, 4. Riley Garcia
Int: 6. Cameron Anderson, 20. Jaxon Prior, 3. Tyrone Thorne, 24. Ronin O’Connor, 22. Max Murphy

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. VIC METRO
Saturday June 22, 12:50pm
Alberton Oval, South Australia

In the fixture that shaped early in the year as the game of the national carnival, South Australia and Vic Metro are set to lock horns in Saturday’s second game, with the sides showing quite differing form.

The hosts kicked off their title defence in style last week after a Round 1 bye, running over the top of WA away from home to pick up an impressive win. They will be without the only multiple goal kicker from that match though in Cameron Taheny, with the exciting forward picking up a groin injury. That means the likes of Kysaiah Pickett and Josh Morris will need to provide that spark inside 50 against a dynamic Metro defence, with Brady Searle also a handy front six inclusion. The balanced SA midfield looks quite set, with Jackson Mead consolidating his spot on the centre line, while Dylan Stephens and Jed McEntee add even more class and Will Day should be an important runner on the outside. Bottom-age talent Luke Edwards remains in the side after a promising display, joined by fellow ’02 birth Zac Dumensy as the only other bottom-ager in the team.

There is notable talent on each line for SA, putting them in good stead to compete across the board – but the midfield battle looks primed for Metro to win. The Victorians have made six changes as they continue to search for a win having come into the carnival as arguable favourites. Much of that is down to the individual brilliance of the likes of Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell, who have stood up in both games despite suffering two losses. The midfield remains relatively untouched, with a shuffle in the forward line seeing Emerson Jeka, Jamieson Rossiter, and Dylan Williams all coming into the team, while surprise leading goal kicker Josh Worrell stays on the forward flank. Northern’s Adam Carafa gets another chance alongside Andrew Courtney, while Carafa’s Knights teammate Nikolas Cox is one to watch as an athletic, tall wingman. The likes of Trent Bianco, Louis Butler, and Darcy Cassar – who all like to dash from defence – will all be kept accountable by the SA forwards, so may be tested once again for form. Up the other end, they will hope for a much bigger goal haul given their inclusions and the greater team balance they look to have. Expect a tense start, but plenty of highlights given the talent on paper from either side.

TEAMS

South Australia:

B: 30. Oliver Grivell, 35. Karl Finlay, 4. Jordan O’Brien
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 19. Luke Edwards
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Schute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 43. Jamie Coff, 15. Harry Schoenberg
F: 1. Kysaiah Pickett, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 8. Jed McEntee, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 22. Harrison Magor, 16. Zac Dumensy, 5. Darnell Tucker, 31. Jordan Moore, 12. Will Day, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 34. Jack Carpenter

In: J. Moore, B. Searle, Z. Dumensy, J. Coff, J. Carpenter, O. Shaw
Out: C. Taheny (injured), C. Durdin, D. Freitag

Victoria Metro:

B: 16. Darcy Cassar, 33. Corey Watts, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 15. Louis Butler, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson, 11. Matthew Rowell, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 1. Jack Mahony
F: 23. Dylan Williams, 36. Emerson Jeka, 2. Mitch Mellis
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 25. Finn Maginness, 8. Adam Carafa
Int: 37. Andrew Courtney, 18. Lachlan Potter, 13. Daniel Mott, 21. Hugo Ralphsmith, 35. Nikolas Cox
Emg: 30. Harrison Jones, 9. Will Phillips

In: E. Jeka, A. Courtney, D. Williams, J. Rossiter, A. Carafa, N. Cox
Out: O. Lewis, J. Bell, H. Jones, J. Honey, C. Dean, J. Ross (all rotated)

BYE: Victoria Country

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.

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.