WESTERN Australia has held on in the final round of the National Under 18 Championships to finish third on the overall tally with two wins from four games. The Black Swans looked like having an impressive victory following a huge first half, which saw them pile on eight goals to four and open up a 27-point lead at half-time. Most of the work was on the back of fantastic rebounding from Jordan Clark, as well as Sydney Stack on the inside and Luke English on the outside.
At the same time, the Allies prime movers in Nick Blakey and Tarryn Thomas were quieter, but that changed in the second half when Blakey moved into the midfield. He started to turn the game in the Allies favour, winning multiple clearances and using his big frame to dominate in the middle. He missed a set shot he should have nailed – but he was far from alone as time and time again the Allies missed gettable opportunities. They had managed to stop Western Australia, and were almost exclusively attacking the goals, but booted 10 behinds in the second half, having 16 scoring shots to six.
Up forward for Western Australia, Mitch Georgiades had a big first half and continued to lead strongly, while Tom Medhat was proving a handful, booting three goals and keeping the Black Swans ahead with some breathing space. Dillon O’Reilly likewise popped up for a couple of goals, one showing off his athleticism with a nice snap. While for the Allies, it was the running Fraser Turner who booted two great goals in the second half, both running into goal.
With Blakey controlling the midfield, the Allies forward 50 marks were shared around as Connor McFadyen took a great contested grab on the line and converted, while Bailey Scott and Thomas also got moving with great goals. Kieren Briggs in the centre was enormous through the ruck, continually getting to contests and laying some bone-crunching tackles and putting pressure on the opposition. Bottom-ager Mitch O’Neill continues to show why he will have plenty of eyes on him next year, able to play anywhere on the field, converting a great long-range goal courtesy of some quick hands from McFadyen.
For Western Australia, things got a little too close for comfort when the Allies closed to within seven points with a few minutes remaining, but the Black Swans defence held up in spite of plenty of inside 50s, with Regan Spooner defending well and Clark having a best on ground performance, racking up a whopping 11 rebounds to go with his 29 disposals and improve his draft stocks. Luke English‘s consistency throughout the carnival shone through and he was unlucky not to win the MVP, pipped by Clark in the end it would seem. Stack ended up among the best, as did overage midfielder Luke Foley who looked the goods, while Spooner and Medhat both played their roles up the respective ends.
The loss might have been disappointing for the Allies, but they threw everything at the West Australians, but could not capitalise on their forward 50 entries. Scott was the clear star with Blakey by the time the final siren sounded, stepping up in the second half to lead the team fantastically. Turner was busy all around the ground and his gut running was on show, while Briggs earned the Allies’ MVP award and was the standout ruck across the carnival. Jones and O’Neill were also deservedly named in the bests for their efforts. Mathew Walker‘s hands and work rate up the field were also admirable, particularly in the second half.
ALLIES 1.1 4.1 7.5 10.11 (71)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 3.3 8.4 10.4 12.6 (78)
Allies: Turner 2, Blakey, Reinhard, McFayden, Quint, Walker, Scott, O’Neill, Thomas
Western Australia: Medhat 3, Georgiades 2, Moore 2, O’Reilly 2, Oldfield 2, Stack
Allies: Scott, Blakey, Turner, Jones, Briggs, O’Neill.
Western Australia: Clark, English, Oldfield, Stack, Foley, Spooner, Medhat.