Preview | Under 18 National Championships hit the Cattery
KARDINIA Park is set to host the latest leg of this year’s Under 18 National Championships, with both Victorian sides hoping to remain undefeated on home turf. Metro welcomes the 1-1 South Australians in game one, before Country takes on the winless Western Australia to round out an intriguing double-header on Sunday.
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The West Australians are the only side to have turned out last week, with a bunch of top Victorians and Croweaters able to either rest or ply their trade back at club level. Now, the Swans will look to break Country’s duck having lost to Metro and the Allies thus far.
Doing so will be made all the more tougher by a handful of Covid-related team changes. The travelling side will be without gun midfielder Darcy Jones, AFL Academy member Jed Hagan, Kane Bevan, Luke Michael, and bottom-ager Riley Hardeman. That’s on top of Jedd Busslinger‘s absence due to requiring season-ending shoulder surgery.
It gives plenty of fresh faces a chance to shine on the big stage though, and six inclusions will hope to do exactly that. Among them is Connor McDonald, the brother of Sydney’s Logan, and Fremantle Next-Generation Academy members Chase Bourne and Jasper Scaife.
A pair of West Coast NGA prospects also enter the fold, in Coen Livingstone and Tyrell Dewar, who turned out in game one against Vic Metro. Peel Thunder winger Clay Hall is also set to don the Black Duck, meaning the WA team is set to look quite young, but boasts plenty of exuberance.
Looking relatively settled in their second of two games, Country will hope to rectify some of their disposal efficiency going forward. The likes of Jhye Clark, Mitch Szybkowski, and Henry Hustwaite have been strong in the midfield rotation, and have a spearhead in Aaron Cadman to kick to.
In a similar vein, Metro will fancy their chances having flexed a bit of scoring muscle in two wins thus far. Even with a bunch of stars out, top talents like Will Ashcroft and Cameron Mackenzie have dominated in midfield, with forward centrepiece Matthew Jefferson comes in off a seven-goal haul. Add the class of Harry Sheezel, and they will likely give South Australia major headaches.
The Croweaters felled the Allies in the opening championship game but fell short at home to Country, meaning this game presents a chance to exact revenge on the Big V. Some of their stars have been played into form, including tall forward Harry Lemmey, who booted six goals for West Adelaide last week.
Fellow Bloods Kobe Ryan and Harry Barnett come in with a bit of senior experience under their belt, while Jakob Ryan looms as another who should be high on confidence given his recent work in Glenelg’s reserves setup.
Sunday’s results are set to play a huge part in deciding the final ladder order and 2022 champion. Should both Victorian sides win, it sets up a massive clash between the two sides in September to decide who will be crowned title winners. South Australia is still in with a chance, but will hope WA can lift and get on the board after a 0-2 start.
Vic Metro vs. South Australia | Sunday July 17, 10:15am @ GMHBA Stadium (Geelong)
Vic Country vs. Western Australia | Sunday July 17, 12:45pm @ GMHBA Stadium (Geelong)