Country comeback falls short against Queensland
IN the final match of the triple-header of AFLW Under-18 Championship games at Avalon Airport Oval on Friday, Queensland proved just too strong for Vic Country in a thrilling encounter. Keeping in tradition with the previous two games of the day, the match went right down to the wire, with Country overcoming a slow start to take the lead late in the fourth term. However, Queensland conjured an answer and were able to emerge 11-point winners.
Queensland registered the first score of the game, using its fast-paced style of play to rush the ball forward, but it resulted in just a behind. The intent of Queensland was evident early, and the ball lived in one half of the ground in the opening minutes. However, the Country defence held up well, despite an immense amount of pressure from their opponents. Queensland slotted the first major of the game through the 2006-born Nyalli Milne, who converted her set shot after a strong overhead mark. Caitlin Miller looked to extend the margin after a fantastic mark inside-50, but her set shot was wayward. Things turned sour for Queensland when Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap appeared to injure her knee in a contest. Country were able to register their first inside-50 of the match at the 15-minute mark, but it was quickly rebounded by the Queensland defence, and it resulted in another major for the Northern side, as they took a 14-point advantage into the first break.
Queensland started the second term as it finished the first, pumping the ball inside-50 and not allowing it to leave. Despite constantly being on the back foot, Country actually registered the first goal of the period, with Amber Clarke‘s snap floating through and suddenly, it was game on. The ball bounced back and forth between the arcs, with both sides only able to secure minor scores. As was the case for the previous two games in the day, the game’s physicality went up a notch, with some big hits dished out from both sides. Country continued to pepper the goals, but a lack of accuracy from some rushed shots resulted in the margin remaining at eight points at the main break, after Ella Smith‘s shot after the siren faded right.
Things were just as contested to start the third term, although it was clear that Queensland had a slight advantage around the play. Metro managed to get an inside-50 against momentum thanks to a nice passage of play by foot. The Queensland defence were determined not to concede a goal, as they flooded the backline to outnumber the opposition. Clarke continued to look dangerous inside-50, and a couple of behinds to Country saw the margin reduced to just one goal. Christine Watson almost kicked the goal of the day for Queensland, zigging and zagging through traffic and kicking from a tight angle, but the shot did not find the big sticks. When the siren sounded for three-quarter time, Queensland’s lead stood at just five points heading into a tense final period.
The fourth term kept the tense fashion of the game going in the first few minutes, as Country’s backline looked to rebound after Queensland got the first clearance. Vic Country took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes as Indiana Makai conjured a major at the top of the goal square. They carried momentum for the next few minutes, but Queensland quickly began to generate scoring opportunities. The lead was regained for Queensland thanks to a magnificent set shot against the boundary from Miller. Country had a few chances to take the lead late in the game, but they were squandered, and Queensland were able to emerge 11-point winners after Ella Calleja‘s late sealer.
In the votes
For the victors, Ella Smith was fantastic with a game-high 22 touches in the win. She worked tirelessly all day and was rewarded for her efforts with a win. As expected, AFLW Academy member Alana Gee was well amongst the action with 18 touches and five tackles of her own, while Jasmyn Smith was also prolific with 15 disposals and eight tackles. For Country, Yasmin Duursma was fantastic in defence with 21 touches and seven rebound-50’s constantly thwarting Queensland attacks and generating plenty of run. Keeley Skepper was named Vic Country MVP, after winning the U16 award at the very same ground.
Vic Country 0.1 | 1.3 | 1.7 | 2.8 (20)
Queensland 2.3 | 2.5 | 2.6 | 4.7 (31)
Country: Clarke, Makai
Queensland: Miller, Milne, Calleja, Cockatoo-Motlap
Country: Duursma, Skepper, Dowling, Simpson, Di Donato
Queensland: E. Smith, Gee, I. Smith, Evans, Mullins