South Australia set up title decider date with Vic Metro after strong win

SOUTH Australia will face fellow unbeaten side Vic Metro for the National AFL Under 18 Championships at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, after the Croweaters secured a 24-point victory against a gallant Allies side. Izak Rankine continued his dominant ways with his best performance for the carnival so far. He gave his top five draft chances no harm with a match-winning performance for South Australia. Rankine booted three goals which included a great kick from outside the 50m arc in the third quarter which gave the Croweaters the ascendency in the premiership quarter.

South Australia started the match better getting out of the blocks early, as Connor Rozee had no trouble kicking the first goal of the game. Star key forward Jack Lukosius was deployed on the wing in the first quarter and was racking up possessions and displaying his incredible field kicking across the ground. The Allies struggled to get on the board early, as underage defender Will Gould barricaded the Allies goal but Jesse Quint kicked their first from a sharp rebound out of defence. Oscar Chapman replied for his side with a beautiful set shot from a tight angle as Hugo Munn kicked a long bomb from outside 50m to give South Australia a promising lead. The Croweaters great quarter got better, with a U18 carnival first that saw Munn awarded a free kick in front of goal due to an Allies zone infringement. Munn’s kick hit the post as both teams then engaged in a scuffle heading into the quarter time break.

It was a completely different Allies side after the quarter-time break as they were fired up after not being able to match it to the Croweaters in the first stanza. Nick Blakey was back for his side and got his first goal of the day after Kieren Briggs marked on a tight angle and handed the ball to Blakey who snapped truly. The South Australian defenders were sleeping at that moment, as Blakey standing right next to Briggs, screamed for the ball and was given all the space in the world to snap a great goal and gave the Allies the fire starter they needed. That goal would be a sign of things to come for South Australia as Blakey kicked his second goal in a manner of minutes. Rankine kicked a superb goal to answer the Allies dominance, but that was SA’s only significant action for the quarter as the Allies dominated every area in the game. Gold Coast Suns Academy player Bailey Scott took the reins of the match as he kicked two crucial goals that saw his side lead by 13 points at the main break. Blakey, Scott and Brisbane Lions Academy player Connor McFayden were proving difficult to contain. South Australia knew they were lucky to only be down by two goals at half-time as the Allies had 10 more inside 50 entries than their opponents.

The Croweaters responded very well in the third quarter after a probable stern message from coach Tony Bamford. Boyd Woodcock playing his first game of the carnival, got SA’s comeback on track with a long bomb which bounced through from outside 50m. Rankine kicked his second and then followed with a third from a tight angle, as Martin Frederick completed a great running goal from the outer flank as he teased Allies players with his run and dash. Hayden Sampson was front and centre to kick an opportunist snap goal from a stoppage as the ball fell towards the forward. With South Australia kicking six goals straight for the quarter, Mitchell O’Neill’s goal received from a great Blakey mark was the only play of note for the Allies that saw themselves down by 20 points at the final break.

The game was far from over as South Australia were kicking towards the non-scoring end of the ground in the final quarter, as that end had strangely only seen two goals kicked for the day so far. SA proved that was not to be a worry with a superb team goal starting from Lukosius switching out of defence to a running Frederick who fed Tom Sparrow and hit up Ben Jarvis inside 50m as he kicked the goal. Underage Suns academy player Connor Budarick not only ensured that he would be the third Connor to kick a goal in the game, but also ensure he kept his side in with a sniff. That was wiped away with a brilliant set shot by Lukosius, his first of the game and a second Jarvis goal. South Australia kept up its admirable tackling pressure that saw them strangle the Allies out of the game, SA finished with 24 more tackles for the game.

Blakey continued to offer his side an avenue to goal, as Tasmanian Rhyan Mansell kicked a late consolation for his side. Best for South Australia was their on-ball brigade, as their consistent performances throughout the carnival have been a joy to behold. Luke Valente did no harm to his draft chances no problems with a game-high 28 disposals and six clearances, he was joined by on-ball partner Jackson Hately who had 21 disposals and eight tackles. Lukosius started and played the majority of the match on the wing as he moved across the ground accumulating 18 disposals and seven marks. Rankine produced his best game in the championships so far with 20 disposals, four clearances, five marks, and three goals. Jacob Kennerely (17 disposals and seven marks) and Finn Bettermann (16 disposals and 10 tackles) provided great assistance to Valente and Hately in the middle. Underage Glenelg defender Gould was huge for side across defence taking seven marks for the day, as Frederick was superb with his run and carry.

Sydney Swans Academy prospect Blakey was at his courageous best for the Allies in his return game in the championships. He was difficult to contain for the South Australian defence across the whole game, shown by quick back-to-back goals early in the second quarter to give the Allies the run. His remarkable courage in contests throughout the match was also admirable as was his ability to bring his teammates into play. Gold Coast Academy player Scott showed his promise with a team-high 22 disposals, as Geelong and North Melbourne will also be keeping a close eye on the father-son prospect as the draft approaches. Chayce Jones and McFayden were also heavily involved with 21 disposals each for the Allies, while O’Neill and Briggs also continued to impress in the championships. South Australia will now prepare itself to face the undefeated Vic Metro at Etihad Stadium to decide who will be crowned the 2018 National Under 18 Championship winners. The Allies finish their campaign against Western Australia in the curtain raiser to the decider on Wednesday, July 4.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.1 4.6 10.10 13.12 (90)
ALLIES 3.6 6.7 7.8 9.12 (66)

GOAL:
South Australia: Rankine 3, Jarvis 2, Rozee, Chapman, Munn, Woodcock, Betterman, Frederick, Sampson, Lukosius.
Allies: Blakey 2, Scott 2, Quint, McFayden, O’Neill, Budarick, Mansell.

BEST:
South Australia: Valente, Hately, Betterman, Rankine, Gould.
Allies: Blakey, McFayden, Scott, Jones, O’Neill, Briggs.

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