Metro claims AFLW U16s spoils in Country clash

VIC METRO gained the bragging rights in its final match of the 2024 AFL Women’s Under 16s Championships by knocking off Vic Country in Shepparton today. The clash was bathed in perfect sunshine at Deakin Reserve, with both teams displaying a will to run-and-gun down the field. After Vic Country started strongly, Metro got the game back on their terms to secure a 4.7 (31) to 4.5 (29) victory.

It was a great start from the home side, with Country the only side to put one through the big sticks in the opening term. That goal came via last game’s match-winner Grace Dillow, who finished nicely. She was one of seven Vic Country players to have five or more disposals in the opening term with Sophia Green important around the stoppages and defensive pair Ruby Geurts and Ava Bilyk both keeping Metro to a measly two points in the opening term.

However, Metro started to hum in the second term, led by Chloe Shipton and Scout Semple who were combining well in midfield. Maddison Meagher was providing some great dash on the outside, while Lara Williams became an important link in the transition. The inside 50 differential eventually translated into scores, and while Metro did miss a few chances, got on the board via Bridie Neale and Piper Dixon, both of whom ran into an open goal.

The third term was a real armwrestle despite the breeze picking up towards Vic Country’s end. The home side had advantage early in the quarter and had numerous chances, eventually breaking through with a quick snap from Georgia Garlick, but that was cancelled out later in the term by Dixon who used great bodywork one-on-one in the goalsquare to stretch the three quarter time margin out to a game-high 11 points, and with her team having the breeze in the final quarter.

Shipton continued to win the ball and went up to 23 disposals with nine in that quarter, while Emily Rankin had a big 20 minutes for Metro and was up to 21 touches. Geurts continued to be rock solid in defence for Vic Country, with 20 disposals and seven rebound 50s to the final break. Despite Metro having the ascendancy, Country remained in the contest.

Early in the fourth quarter, Country went forward and missed a set shot on goal from Bilyk, only for Metro to run it down the other end and through some scrappy play but elite pressure, ripped it from a Country’s defender’s hands for Jessica Fragomeni to snap a goal. It put the margin out to 16 points in the first five minutes.

Just when the signs were grim, Alice Cunnington cut off a pass at centre half-forward and delivered a pinpoint kick inside 50. Unfortunately Country again missed out on the chance to capitalise, but they were having some forward half possession. Funnily enough, rather than methodical play, it was the chaos ball inside 50 that gave Country a sniff, as Sophie White eventually got goalside and soccered it off the deck to cut the deficit to nine points.

A cruel bounce with just over three minutes remaining stopped Vic Country from cutting it within a kick but they kept coming. Bilyk agin snuck forward and won a free but narrowly missed. A moment later she got redemption though, seeing an open goalsquare from 45m and launched it to bounce home. It was within two points, but the clock would beat them as Country would go down by that margin.

Anderson had a mammoth last quarter racking up nine disposals to be the top ball-winner on the field with 27. She was followed by Shipton (25) who was consistent all match, while Rankin, Tayla Olivieri and Semple were all among the best. For Country, Bilyk got it done all over the field and had an equal team-high 22 disposals alongside Geurts, while Green finished with 21.

Bilyk was awarded the Vic Country MVP post-game, while Anderson – who was best on ground in Metro’s loss to South Australia – earned her state’s MVP.

VIC COUNTRY 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 | 4.5 (29)
VIC METRO 0.2 | 2.5 | 3.7 | 4.7 (31)

A. Bilyk, G. Dillow, G. Garlick, S. White
Metro: P. Dixon 2, B. Neale, J. Fragomeni

Country: A. Bilyk, S. Green, G. Dillow, R. Geurts, A. Cunnington
Metro: C. Shipton, B. Anderson, E. Rankin, T. Olivieri, S. Semple

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