NORTHERN TERRITORY vs. VIC COUNTRY
Victoria Country was hungry to make a statement in the first round of the AFL Under 18 Championships as they faced the Northern Territory Thunder in Darwin. It didn’t take Vic Country long to get into the match as they kicked a goal in the first minute. The Northern Territory Thunder hit back with the next two to take a surprising lead, but after that it was one way traffic for Country as they raced to a 5.1 to 2.2 quarter time lead off the back of a strong performance from midfielder Nick Holman.
The Vic Country small forwards in Clayton McCartney, Nathan Saunders, Jarman Impey and Zac Merrett were all prominent in the second quarter, hitting the scoreboard frequently as Country pulled away to 58 point half time lead. The margin continued to increase as the match wore on, with the superior fitness and foot skills of the Country midfielders shining through.
Hugh Goddard was dominant at both ends of the ground, providing a contest and taking a number of strong marks on his smaller opponent. The small Thunder team faced a tough task dealing with the height of the Country forward line which had Goddard, Jack Leslie and Jake Thomas rotating through the forward line creating a contest with the small forwards eating up the crumbs. Dandenong forward Clayton McCartney booted six goals while Saunders, Merrett and Impey all kicked multiple goals for Vic Country.
Jarrod Stokes and Daniel Cox were solid contributors for the Thunder but they didn’t get any easy ball against the strong Country midfield. Aiden Plummer and Callan Wilson provided a solid contest in the ruck, making sure Leslie and Thomas didn’t have it all their own way and the Thunder managed to win a number of clearances in the second half which was a promising sign for the team. Ultimately the gap in class between the understrength Country team; which was missing a number of stars including Billy Hartung, James Tsitas, Matt Crouch and Lewis Taylor; shone through as the Victorians won the match 22.14 146 to 5.4 34 by a massive 112 points.
VIC COUNTRY 22.13 (145)
NORTHERN TERRITORY 5.4 (34)
VIC COUNTRY: McCartney (6), Impey (3) , Merrett (3), Saunders (2), Herbert, Harmes, Holman, Lang, Maher, Webb.
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Fuller (2), Renehan, Vea Vea, Scanlon.
VIC COUNTRY: Holman, Goddard, Impey, Saunders, Lang, McCartney.
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Cox, Long, Stokes, Cockatoo, Renehan, Plummer.
QUEENSLAND vs. VIC METRO
The second Under 18s Championship game between Queensland and Vic Metro occured on the Sunday with the Scorpions hosting the highly fancied Metro team. Vic Metro rested a number of its stars including Thomas Boyd, Nathan Freeman and Jack Billings, but it proved to matter little as they brushed past Queensland, albeit inaccurately, to win by 40 points.
Eastern Ranges captain Ben Cavarra was the star, booting two goals and amassing 35 disposals and seven inside 50s. While he continues to fly under the radar compared to his more highly rated teammates, Cavarra is a sensational worker with fantastic endurance, something he has worked on since missing out at the Under 16 Championships. Despite his height, Cavarra is considered a bright prospect for the draft later in the year. Other key players for the Metro side were Oakleigh’s Jay Kennedy-Harris and Western Jets midfielders Jake Greiser and James Sicily. Both played important roles in the victory and will be looking to cement their spots in a highly competitive midfield.
Queensland Scorpions weren’t without their key players who impressed. Luke Rogerson was one to watch with 30 disposals while Aden Rutledge continues to put his hand up as a possible draftee in November with the lack of key position backs around. Jonothan Freeman and Cain Tickner were the most effective targets up forward while Isaac Conway was subdued, but still able to use the footy well. While Queensland weren’t really rated to put in a serious challenge, the Scorpions’ pressure was brilliant and ensured that Vic Metro had to earn its goals. The Scorpions are generally rated second for Division 2 sides behind Tasmania, but ahead of NSW/ACT and Northern Territory. Vic Metro will be favourites to win back-to-back Championships, especially with the inclusion of its missing stars from this match.
QUEENSLAND 9.6 (60)
VIC METRO 12.28 (100)
QUEENSLAND: Freeman 3, Hammelmann 2, Tickner 2, Ives, Trask.
VIC METRO: Cavarra 2, Cooke 2, Kennedy-Harris, Miller, Honeychurch, Tardio, Greiser, Petracca, Sicily, Apeness
QUEENSLAND: Rogerson, Freeman, Rutledge, Cameron-Reeves, Weller, Dawson
VIC METRO: Cavarra, Honeychurch, Sicily, Miller, Petracca, Milham, Spencer