A NINE goals to three opening half proved too much for South Australia to cut back as an impressive Allies outfit ran out 16-point winners in the opening match of the AFL Under 18 Championships at Thebarton Oval today. The Allies started strong – courtesy of two goals from Jed Walter and Ryley Sanders in the first term – and never looked back, thwarting a South Australian comeback in the 12.12 (84) to 11.2 (68) victory.
The Allies looked too strong all day, with inaccuracy keeping the South Australians int it, particularly in the first half where it looked like the visitors were going to storm away with the victory Even by half-time, the lead had increased out to 43 points and the damage was done.
To the Croweaters’ credit, they kept fighting and kicked eight of the last 11 goals to cut the deficit back to within three kicks, but it was never going to be enough. Thanks to a ridiculous performance from Sandringham Dragons’ onballer Sanders and Gold Coast Suns Academy key forward Walter, the Allies had too much run early and set the game up.
It was Walter who got his side off to a strong start with a big mark opposed to Will McCabe, before South Adelaide X-factor Jack Delean got involved with a long-range set shot that got the home crowd up and about. That would be a rare highlight for the Croweaters, as the Allies slammed home five consecutive goals – including two to Sanders and a second to Walter – to race out to a 31-point lead.
Top South Australian AFL Draft prospect, Ashton Moir soccered through his side’s second in the goalsquare after a fumble from the Allies’ defence, making the differential 26 points at the first break.
The break did nothing to stop the Allies’ run however, as Phoenix Gothard converted a set shot three minutes into the second. The South Australian midfield was undersiege despite Sid Draper working his way into the game, with Sanders and Jake Rogers bursting down the ground and working in tandem. By the main break, the lead stood at 9.7 (61) to 3.0 (18) with Swans Academy’s Indhi Kirk soccering through a goal in the final minute.
South Australia began to mount a comeback after Charlie McCormack kicked his second goal to stretch the lead to 49 points, kicking the last four goals of the term and the first of the fourth quarter. By that stage, the home team had trimmed the deficit to just 20 point, and it almost looked likely to pull off one of the great upsets. Delean was trying to take mark and goal of the year in the game game, with the latter coming off thanks to a great curler in the pocket late in the third term.
South Australia continued its charge into the final term with Liam Fawcett kicking a couple of goals, but the Allies steading through Walter’s third and one to Max Rider. Walter was among the best, with Sanders’ dominating from start to finish in the midfield alongside his impressive midfield partners of Rogers and Colby McKercher. Draper and Delean were the standouts for South Australia, though 206cm Taylor Goad showed off some impressive athleticism in the game.
Though brave in not allowing the deficit to really blow out, South Australia will focus on having a better start next week when it faces Vic Metro, while the Allies take on Western Australia, both back at Thebarton Oval next Sunday as part of a double-header.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.0 | 3.0 | 7.1 | 11.2 (68)
ALLIES 6.2 | 9.7 | 10.9 | 12.12 (84)
South Australia: J. Delean 4, L. Fawcett 2, D. Gladigau, K. Herbert, A. Holt, A. McShane, A. Moir
Allies: C. McCormack 3, J. Walter 3, M. Rider 2, R. Sanders 2, P. Gothard, I. Kirk
South Australia: S. Draper, J. Delean, T. Goad, A. Holt, K. McAuliffe
Allies: R. Sanders, J. Walter, C. McKercher, J. Rogers, C. McCormack