TWO players in contention for the number one pick in the next two years’ National Drafts put Western Australia to the sword up forward, as Vic Metro recorded an 18-point win in its first game of the National Under 18s Championships. Sandringham Dragons key position swingman Ben King, one of a number of players vying to be called out first on draft night this year, booted five goals from 15 disposals and five marks. Potential 2019 number one pick Noah Anderson was equally as damaging, booting four goals from 20 disposals and five inside 50s, with the Oakleigh Chargers utility causing all sorts of headaches for the Black Swans defence.
Vic Metro led at every break, booting three goals to two in the opening term, then piled on four goals to three in the second quarter, to open up a 15-point advantage at the main break. Once again the visitors managed to keep the ascendancy bagging three goals and keeping the Black Swans to two majors in the third quarter. The Oakleigh and Sandringham contingent was impressive through all the thirds on the ground. Along with the two key goal scorers, Metro vice-captain Bailey Smith (28 disposals, five clearances and 10 tackles) was vital in the midfield, working alongside Calder Cannons’ inside midfielder Rhylee West (25 disposals, nine clearances, six marks and nine tackles). Chargers’ pair James Rowbottom (22 disposals, seven tackles and two clearances) and Isaac Quaynor (20 disposals, seven rebounds) were also impressive, with the pair named in the best.
For Western Australia, it was a vastly improved performance from the 89-point away drubbing at the hands of South Australia, but it does mean their title hopes are all but over, with just two games to come against the Allies and Vic Country. Key Position forward Dillon O’Reilly booted three goals for the Black Swans, while top draft prospect Ian Hill (11 disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s) found form in the second game, nailing two goals and was named among the best. Peel Thunder’s Brad Oldfield was also impressive, slotting two goals and was one of the best afield. Luke Foley‘s (17 disposals, six clearances and five tackles) first game of the National Under 18s Championships saw the overager light up the stage and was named second best behind Jeremy Sharp (26 dispoals, four marks, two clearances and three inside 50s).
The Black Swans showed great defensive pressure, laying 80 tackles to Vic Metro’s 64, while only having 21 less disposals. The eight less inside 50s hurt the home side in the end, but they matched them in most areas, including through the midfield, winning the hitouts thanks to Luke Jackson (25 hitouts) and had just three less clearances. Foley, Sydney Stack (four) and Luke English (three) were the main extractors in the middle, while Jack Buller had a team-high five rebounds.
For the winners, Noah Answerth assisted Quaynor in defence with four rebounds, while Metro captain Xavier O’Halloran had seven inside 50s and four clearances from his 18 disposals. Sandringham Dragons pair Angus Hanrahan and Jack Mahony combined for 34 disposals, four marks, seven inside 50s and two goals in a strong showing.
Western Australia has a 19-day break ahead of its next match with the bye in Round 2, and the Black Swans having already played their Round 3 match against South Australia prior to Round 1. They face Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium on June 29, before a clash at Etihad Stadium with the Allies on July 4. For Vic Metro, they head north to Southport to face the Allies, before travelling to the MCG for an all-Victorian clash with Vic Country as a curtain raiser to the Carlton-Collingwood game on June 24.
Western Australia 2.1 5.2 7.3 12.4 (76)
Vic Metro 3.2 7.5 10.7 14.10 (94)
Western Australia: O’Reilly 3, Hill 2, Oldfield 2, Foley, English, Cameron, Sharp, Hansen
Vic Metro: King 5, Anderson 4, Mahony 2, West, O’Halloran, McKenzie
Western Australia: Sharp, Foley, Oldfield, Stack, Hill, O’Reilly
Vic Metro: King, Anderson, West, Smith, Rowbottom, Quaynor