Weekend previews: National U18 Championships – Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

SOME of Victoria’s top talent will run out onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a curtain raiser to the Carlton-Collingwood game on Sunday, when Vic Country takes on Vic Metro on the hallowed turf. Both sides have made quite a few changes, with Vic Country bringing in five debutants, while Vic Metro has two.

Dandenong Stingrays’ inside midfielder Mitch Riordan will play off half-back and returns after missing the second game due to the injury he sustained in game one. He missed facing off at Adelaide Oval, but returns for the All-Victorian clash, along with plenty of fresh faces. GWV Rebels’ slick ball user Scott Carlin, Stingrays’ pair Will Hamill and Hayden Young, Bendigo Pioneers’ Zane Keighran and tall forward/ruck Blake Schlensog, from the Geelong Falcons, have been named in the team. A trio of Murray Bushrangers are out in Hudson Garoni, Zane Barzen and Lachlan Ash, while Matty Lloyd, Jai Taylor and Matt McGannon (injured) are also out from the Vic Country side.

For Vic Metro, injury has forced the selectors hand with Calder Cannons’ Jack Evans, Western Jets’ Daly Andrews, and Oakleigh Chargers pair Ben Silvagni and Isaac Quaynor all out of the side. It will be particularly disappointing for Silvagni and Quaynor with the potential Carlton father-son and Collingwood Next Generation Academy member, missing out on playing before their sides do battle at the G’. Bottom agers Dylan Williams and Matt Rowell are out, as is Northern Knights’ Thomas Hallebone. James Blanck and bottom-ager Ryan Gardner make their Metro debuts, while Riley Collier-Dawkins, Joe Ayton-Delaney, James Rendell, Angus Hanrahan and Alastair Richards all return to the side after missing game two.

Vic Metro will head in as favourites for the clash after winning its first two matches, while Vic Country is yet to get on the board at the 2018 National Championships. Regardless of the result, Metro’s grand final will effectively come in the final round against South Australia, given the use of the head-to-head system rather than percentage. Should Metro lose this game and defeat South Australia – Metro take the title. If they win and lose to South Australia, they cannot win the title regardless of how much they win this by. For Country, they will be hoping to score a win against their closest rival, and will look to use its extra speed across the ground to cause headaches. Metro have the ace in the pack with Ben King up forward, and the midfield has been functioning strongly. Sam Walsh, Xavier Duursma and Sam Fletcher will need to be at their best to match it with the highly contested brand of football Metro will bring. Both teams have plenty of capable rebounders and goal scorers which make it an entertaining contest.


B: 20. Cooper Stephens – 39. Connor Idun – 13. Thomas Berry
HB: 18. Mitch Riordan – 25. Kyle Reid – 17. Hayden Young
C: 10. Zac Foot – 19. Sam Fletcher – 6. Laitham Vandermeer
HF: 30. Oscar Brownless – 38. Blake Schlensog – 8. Ned McHenry
F: 14. Sam Flanders – 36. Riley Bowman – 3. Toby Bedford
R: 29. Bailey Williams – 5. Xavier Duursma – 2. Sam Walsh
INT: 34. Scott Carlin – 12. Caleb Serong – 11. Zane Keighran – 1. Will Hamill – 16. Jake Frawley
EMG: 27. Zane Barzen – 24. Matty Lloyd

In: M. Riordan, B. Schlensog, S. Carlin, Z. Keighran, W. Hamill, H. Young
Out: M. Lloyd, J. Taylor, M. McGannon, Z. Barzen, H. Garoni, L. Ash


B: 25. Stefan Radovanovic – 29. James Blanck – 2. Joe Ayton-Delaney
HB: 23. Buku Khamis – 27. Will Kelly – 12. Tom McKenzie
C: 13. Lachlan Sholl – 15. Bailey Smith – 10. Xavier Fry
HF: 3. Zak Butters – 34. James Rendell – 6. Curtis Taylor
F: 18. Xavier O’Halloran – 36. Ben King – 4. Rhylee West
R: 37. Joe Griffiths – 26. Riley Collier-Dawkins – 8. James Rowbottom
INT: 19. Jack Bytel – 16. Noah Answerth – 11. Ryan Gardner – 7. Angus Hanrahan – 20. Alastair Richards
EMG: 1. Jack Mahony – 35. Thomas Hallebone – 5. Matthew Rowell

In: J. Ayton-Delaney, J. Blanck, J. Rendell, R. Collier-Dawkins, R. Gardner, A. Hanrahan, A. Richards
Out: J. Evans (Inj), D. Andrews (Inj), B. Silvagni (Inj), I. Quaynor (Inj), D. Williams, M. Rowell, T. Hallebone

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