Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

A DEVELOPMENT weekend saw the regular football viewing for Under 18s divided, with the Victorian Under 18 trials, AFLW Academy practice matches, and the Northern Academy Series taking place.

Victorian Under 18 Trials

Spectators who dared to venture to Ikon Park on Sunday in wet and blustery conditions were able to catch an early glimpse of the Victorian Under 18 sides in action ahead of the National Under 18 Championships in June. Vic Country and Vic Metro clashed in two shortened practice matches, with plenty to take out of the contest despite the conditions. Both squads left out their Level Two Academy members from the matches, as the depth in each side was put to the test. Country won both games, although it matters little with the sides cutting down their lists between now and their opening round clashes.

AFLW Academy practice matches

Under lights in an AFL-standard venue, the brightest AFLW prospects got to take on Geelong’s VFLW side in front of plenty of family and friends. They easily accounted for the Cats by eight goals, with the likes of Madison Prespakis and Tyla Hanks leading the way through the midfield. They AFLW Academy had other warm ups including against Darebin Falcons, where the Level One Academy players got to taste the action against senior bodies. With the weekend off TAC Cup Girls, they no doubt learnt a lot and will be excited to bring that back to their clubs when the action returns next weekend.

Hi-five for Stephenson

Eastern Ranges had a massive draft haul last season and one of the most talked about players was Jaidyn Stephenson. He excited crowds and had natural football ability, with some people believing he was the brightest talent in the 2017 AFL National Draft. Stephenson slipped to number six on the draft board where the Pies snaffled him up and have not regretted it since. After a couple of solid showings in the opening few rounds, Stephenson had a breakout performance in just his fourth game, booting five goals and proving an excitement machine up forward. Having sliced the Crows defence up, he was a key reason the Pies won at Adelaide Oval for the first time.

Northern Academies clash in Blacktown

Prior to the National Under 18 Championships, the Division 2 series takes place with the four Northern Academies – GWS GIANTS, Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns – and Northern Territory and Tasmania clashing in a series to help selectors decide on an Allies squad to take to the Division 1 championships. In the opening round it was the NSW/ACT sides that got the job done, with the GIANTS and Swans getting home, as did Tasmania.

Port Melbourne coach wins in milestone game

Gary Ayres has been a mainstay in Australian Rules football for as long as many fans can remember. His most recent accolade was the 2017 Victorian Football League (VFL) premiership, when the Boroughs knocked off Richmond in the grand final. This week marked his 700th game as player or coach, in a career spanning four decades. Remarkably he does not look like slowing down anytime soon, winning in his milestone game as the Borough bounced back from a round one loss to knock off Collingwood in a tight thriller in trying conditions at Olympic Park.

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