Photo courtesy of TAC Cup.
Division one under 18 championships review:
The NAB AFL Under 18 Championships were completed on Thursday. Here is a review from the carnival, that saw Vic Country take out the title for the first time since 2010.
Finished: First, six wins 24 points 166.5%
MVP: Josh Schache
Leading goal kicker: Josh Schache 24 goals
Rd 1: Defeated Vic Metro by five points
Rd 2: Defeated Western Australia by 105 points
Rd 3: Defeated Vic Metro by 35 points
Rd 4: Defeated South Australia by 28 points
Rd 5: Defeated South Australia by 11 points
Rd 6: Defeated Western Australia by 32 points
Vic Country was the dominant side in division one, going through the carnival undefeated. Vic Country were led by dominate key position players at both ends of the ground which allowed for them to claim their first under 18 championship since 2010.
Vic Country were led up forward by Josh Schache who kicked 24 goals (a championship record) for the carnival, as well as claiming the Larke Medal for being adjudged the best player in division one. Schache kicked 8.4 against Western Australia in round two, indicating his dominance on the division one competition. Schache also kicked bags of five and six goals against South Australia and provided a key figure up forward for Vic Country, deservingly winning their MVP for the carnival.
At the other end of the ground, Vic Country was blessed with Dandenong Stingrays key position duo Jacob Weitering and Kieran Collins. Both Weitering and Collins played a pivotal role on opposition forwards and weren’t afraid to leave their man, collecting intercept marks setting up Vic Country from their defensive 50.
Rhys Mathieson was Vic Country’s standout midfield for the carnival, averaging 20 disposals. Mathieson stood out winning the contested ball with his strong body and determination to put his head over the ball time and time again. Mathieson’s best game was in round two against Western Australia where he had 27 disposals and seven clearances dominating the midfield for Vic Country, helping them to a 105-point win.
Finished: Second, two wins eight points 112.6%
MVP: Will Snelling
Leading goal kicker: Matthew Allen nine goals
Rd 1: Lost to Western Australia by one point
Rd 2: Defeated Vic Metro by 25 points
Rd 3: Defeated Western Australia by 73 points
Rd 4: Lost to Vic Country by 28 points
Rd 5: Lost to Vic Country by 11 points
Rd 6: Lost to Vic Metro by five points
Coming into the under 18 championships, South Australia was seen as the main challenger to Vic Country, however a loss in round four to Vic Country all but ended their chances of a three-peat. Disappointingly, they went down to a young Western Australian side by a point in the first game, but bounced back to win their next two games. The next three matches were all losses for the South Australians, games they may have better able to win if they had a settled line up.
191 centimetre utility Aaron Francis began the carnival well early, including a best on ground performance in round two against Vic Metro. Francis played as a defender, where he was able to take 12 marks (11 of which were intercepts), finishing the match with 17 disposals. However, Francis struggled for form in the later stages of the carnival, being moved from his natural position down back to playing as an inside midfielder and a forward. His move forward brought about four goals against an undersized Western Australian defence, but Francis looks more to be a natural defender due to his great abilities to read the play and intercept marks as well as his great foot skills.
The South Australian midfield was led by Luke Partington, who had an impressive under 18 championship. Partington played as an outside midfielder in South Australia’s win last year, this year he moved inside and had a good carnival. He began the carnival with 28 disposals in their loss to Western Australia including six clearances showing how he has transitioned to an inside role. Partington impressed with 24, 26, 30, 16 and 20 possessions in the five games after the first round, indicating his ability to win the footy is good.
South Australian skipper Will Snelling was able to take home their MVP for the carnival. Snelling is a tenacious footballer, tackling hard playing his role as an inside midfielder. In the round five clash against Vic Country, Snelling had 12 tackles – a number nobody else reached in the carnival – indicating his grit and strength in South Australia’s midfield brigade.
Finished: Third, two wins 8 points 99.1%
MVP: Jade Gresham
Leading goal kickers: Jack Silvagni & Hisham Kerbatieh nine goals
Rd 1: Lost to Vic Country by five points
Rd 2: Lost to South Australia by 25 points
Rd 3: Lost to Vic Country by 35 points
Rd 4: Defeated Western Australia by 74 points
Rd 5: Lost to Western Australia by 18 points
Rd 6: Defeated South Australia by five points
A weakened Vic Metro side finished middle of the road in the under 18 championships. 2015 is the weakest Vic Metro side in a while, which will likely see lesser players drafted from their region than usual. Coming into the champs Vic Metro lost key position forward Sam Weideman to an ankle injury. This resulted in a lack of key position targets for Vic Metro inside 50. However small forwards Hisham Kerbatieh, Blake Hardwick and Ben Crocker were able to kick 21 goals between them for the championships.
Jack Silvagni was able to impress in round four, where he kicked six goals to ensure Vic Metro would get their first win for the champs over in Western Australia. Silvagni kicked his six goals from a range of spots inside 50, leading up the ground to gather 18 disposals. Silvagni is the son of Carlton great Stephen and has the chance of being a Carlton player next year through the father-son bidding process. Silvagni ended the carnival with nine goals, to be equal with Hisham Kerbatieh as the leading goal kickers for Vic Metro.
Ryan Clarke had a good carnival for Vic Metro, averaging 19 disposals while playing in the midfield. Like Silvagni, his standout game came against Western Australia where he collected 27 disposals while going at 70 per cent efficiency. Clarke can run and carry the football forward and isn’t afraid to pump the ball inside 50 with his long kick. Clarke also showed he has the ability to play forward, kicking three goals for Vic Metro against Western Australia.
Standing at 177 centimetres, Jade Gresham may have some knocks on him, however he hardly put a foot wrong for Vic Metro during the under 18 championships. Impressively Gresham didn’t drop below 20 disposals for the whole championships with 22, 27, 26, 20 and 22 touches in his five games. Although Gresham wins a lot of uncontested ball, he has great agility and good decision-making, which allows for him to run through the middle of the ground hurting his opponent. Gresham’s consistent performances in his five games led for him being voted Vic Metro’s MVP.
Finished: Fourth, two wins 8 points 54%
MVP: Jesse Glass-McCasker
Leading goal kicker: Jake Waterman six goals
Rd 1: Defeated South Australia by one point
Rd 2: Lost to Vic Country by 105 points
Rd 3: Lost to South Australia by 73 points
Rd 4: Lost to Vic Metro by 74 points
Rd 5: Defeated Vic Metro by 18 points
Rd 6: Lost to Vic Country by 32 points
Western Australia began the championships with an upset against South Australia winning by a point. On paper it was a disappointing carnival from Western Australia, however they found many positives with a number of bottom age players standing out. An undersized defence saw them concede 21, 18 and 19 goals in a three week block, however they bounced back when travelling to Victoria to beat Vic Metro at Simonds Stadium by 18 points.
A great find for Western Australia was Jesse Glass-McCasker. Playing as a key defender, it hasn’t been easy against other bigger and stronger opponents, however Glass-McCasker has put his name on recruiters boards with his impressive work in defence. For Glass-McCasker’s efforts in defence, he was recognised as the Western Australian MVP for the under 18 championships.
Callum Ah Chee is an exciting prospect from Western Australia having good speed and a great kick. With Western Australia suffering early defeats he couldn’t impact the games as much as he would have liked. However, he was able to kick two final quarter goals against Vic Metro in round five to get them over the line for a 18-point win in one of his better games of the carnival.
Two names to look out for in 2016 are Sam Petrevski-Seton and Sam Powell-Pepper. Both of them were Western Australia’s best players throughout the tournament playing in the midfield. Although we have to wait until next year to see them drafted, both players gave recruiters a taste of what they can deliver with 20 disposals in the final game against Vic Country.