Vic Metro claimed their first win over cross state rivals Vic Country for the first time since 2013, with a thrilling come from behind victory at Simonds Stadium on Monday.
Trailing by 20-points at three-quarter time, Metro kicked the first four goals to hit the front, before a late fightback from Country gave them the lead with two minutes to play.
Western Jets midfielder Daniel Venables stepped up marking inside 50, converting the chance to steal the dramatic victory in front of a strong crowd at Geelong that saw Metro finish winners 14.10 (94) to 14.8 (92).
The match ebbed and flowed throughout the day with 22 out of the 28 goals kicked towards the southern end of Simonds Stadium, despite no apparent breeze.
Bushrangers midfielder Will Brodie (29 disposals, seven clearances) stood out, despite visibly being hampered by a knee issue which he suffered last weekend against Western Australia. Brodie didn’t cover the ground as well as he has in the past, but the soreness didn’t stop him from throwing his body around at the contest and was Country’s best.
Rebel Hugh McCluggage kicked two opening quarter goals, finishing the match with 25 disposals and three goals backing up Brodie’s work in the middle.
— Barrels (@Uncle_Barrels) June 13, 2016
Trailing at half time by three-points, Country small forward Ben Ainsworth returned from suspension kicking four goals in the third term but it was Metro co-captain Andrew McGrath who shut him down, keeping him to a single handball for the remainder of the contest.
Not only did Sandringham Dragons flanker McGrath keep Ainsworth quiet, his rebound and run & carry off half back was excellent setting up two pivotal Metro goals in the last quarter.
One passage saw McGrath run the ball from deep in defence, 100m forward with the ball ending with Dylan Clarke kicking Metro’s third for the final term.
Superb passage from Andy McGrath showing his run & carry ability from defense, setting up Dylan Clarke goal. pic.twitter.com/fH38a6PRBF
— Matt Balmer (@MattBalmer7) June 13, 2016
McGrath finished with 23 disposals, whilst Collingwood Father/Son prospect Callum Brown (27 disposals, eight clearances and one goal) was also solid in the midfield for Metro.
Dylan Clarke (26 disposals, six clearances and two goals) was one of Metro’s best for the contest, with a consistent effort across all four quarters. Clarke is the brother of North Melbourne’s Ryan, and is averaging 28 disposals so far in the TAC Cup this season.
Half forward Tim Taranto was also another Dragon who performed well, kicking three goals from his 18 disposals.
Earlier, Chargers forward Nick Larkey kicked the opening goal for the contest, much to the enjoyment of his Trinity Grammar mates who had ventured down to Geelong to support. Many of the strong crowd was full of voice as the sides traded goals late in the last term.
Metro midfielder Oliver Florent begun the game at a fast pace with a strong half, before a shin issue left him on crutches for the remainder of the contest and he will be in doubt for their game on Sunday against South Australia. Country themselves were one down on the bench, with Tom Jok suffering a collarbone injury.
Despite the loss, Country bottom agers James Worpel and Lochie O’Brien each had 16 disposals neither looking out of place running through the midfield.
The result leaves Country with a winless start to the championship, which will make it tough for them to claim back-to-back Under 18 titles.
They will have a week to collect their thoughts, before they meet the currently undefeated South Australian outfit while Metro have their only interstate game with a travel to South Australia on Sunday at AAMI Stadium.
VIC COUNTRY 5.2 6.3 12.4 14.8 (92)
VIC METRO 1.4 6.6 8.8 14.10 (94)
Vic Country: Ainsworth 4, McCluggage 3, Drew 2, Poholke 2, Worpel, Battle, Blake
Vic Metro: Taranto 3, Clarke 2, Larkey 2, Brown, Bunker, Gallucci, Duman, Venables, Lynch, Brown
Matt Balmer’s BEST:
Vic Country: Brodie, McCluggage, Worpel, Ainsworth, Poholke
Vic Metro: McGrath, Clarke, Brown, Taranto, Gallucci
Votes from us…
— AFL Draft Central (@afldraftcentral) June 13, 2016
Watch the last three minutes of Vic Metro’s stunning comeback victory over Vic Country. https://t.co/qp3KWkjfXF
— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) June 13, 2016