The Allies opened the 2018 Under 18 Championships with a win over Vic Country at a wet Blacktown International Sports Park on Saturday. A four-goal to none final quarter powered them to a 23-point win over a strong Country squad and showed that the Allies are not to be taken lightly in 2018.
Here are a few players who stood out during the match.
CHAYCE JONES / TASMANIA /MIDFIELD /180cm/74kg
Coming off a strong Academy Series for Tasmania, Jones was excellent and was my Best on Ground. 27 disposals, two goals and a game-high 576 metres gained, over 150 metres more than any other player on the ground, shows how important he was for the Allies. The Luke Parker-clone’s attack on the ball at stoppages was ferocious, but he combined that with a game-high eight contested post-clearance possessions to be a wrecking ball around the ground. He also shared the lead among his teammates for tackles (7), clearances (5), inside 50’s (5), and pressure acts (19).
KIEREN BRIGGS /NSW/ACT /RUCK-FORWARD /200cm/98kg
Over-ager Briggs proved a match-winner for the Allies as all of his seven final-term disposals contributed to seven of the Allies 10 scoring chains in the final quarter, including kicking three of the Allies four fourth-quarter goals to push the Allies over the line. He started the game in the ruck but was pushed forward as Lions Academy member Jack Tomkinson started to get the upper-hand in the hitouts. He clunked a game-high three contested marks, and six marks in total, to present a strong target up forward.
THOMAS GREEN / NSW /ACT / MIDFIELD /188cm/85kg
Whilst he is not draft-eligible this year, GWS will be licking their lips at having first access to this midfield bull in 2019. Green used his huge frame to full effect to absolutely dominate around the stoppages and give the Allies first use. He recorded 25 disposals, including a game-high 20 contested possessions, 16 of which were recorded pre-clearance. He also recorded 15 stoppage first possessions (15!), and was on the receiving end of seven hitouts-to-advantage, which was equal to the entire Vic Country team in this metric. His kicking needs some work, as he recorded just one effective kick from 10 attempts in the match, but he made it count by kicking a goal.
BAILEY SCOTT / QUEENSLAND / MIDFIELD /186cm/74kg
The Allies captain and Gold Coast Academy member led from the front and was a part of a very strong midfield rotation. He notched up 24 disposals and was one of four Allies to record five clearances. His nine handball-receives and two goals shows he was able to find some space and get forward to impact the scoreboard which are high on the shopping-lists of most clubs in modern midfielders. Whilst he is a Suns Academy member, he is also a father-son prospect for both North Melbourne and Geelong and may follow in the footsteps of his father Robert. Unlike teammate Nick Blakey, Scott is yet to declare which path he will take and will not be making a call until the end of the season.
MITCHELL O’NEILL / TASMANIA / MIDFIELD /181cm/69kg
Another Tasmanian who stood out in the Academy Series, O’Neill provided a lot of run on the outside to help the Allies move the ball forward. He equalled his compatriot Jones with 27 disposals and five inside 50’s. He also recorded a team-high 10 handball-receives and was in the top 3 players on the Allies squad for metres gained (383) and Intercept Possessions (5).
SAM WALSH / ST.JOSEPH’S / MIDFIELD /183cm/74kg
After a strong start to the TAC Cup season, Sam Walsh relished the wet conditions to easily be Vic Country’s best player. He recorded a game-high 32 disposals, 12 more than any of his teammates, as well as team-high’s in metres gained (404) and contested possessions (17). His 62% efficiency by foot was far superior to that of the other major ball-winners on the ground and sets him apart as a contender for the number 1 draft slot come November. Plays in a style very similar to that of GWS gun Stephen Coniglio.
JYE CALDWELL /GEELONG GRAMMAR / MIDFIELD /184cm/78kg
Caldwell started the game on fire, kicking the opening goal of the match and recording seven disposals in a strong first quarter performance. He used his big frame well to power through stoppages and generate 104 metres gained, second on the Vic Country squad for the quarter in this metric. However he only lasted three minutes into the second term before suffering a hamstring injury to his left leg which ruled him out for the rest of the match. Unfortunately the injury is likely to see him miss the remaining rounds of the Vic Country campaign, which is a cruel blow individually and for the title hopes of his side.
BAILEY WILLIAMS / PINES / RUCKMAN /198cm/95kg
It’s hard to miss Williams on the footy field, not because of his red hair, but because of his huge vertical leap. Every ruck contest he contested he seemed to hang in the air for an eternity. But the most impressive aspect of his game was his mobility around the ground. He recorded 14 disposals, including seven kicks at 100% efficiency and a team-high five inside 50’s. His eight handball-receives, ranked fourth on his team in this metric, also shows his ability to find space and provide an outlet for his teammates.
SAM FLETCHER / RED HILL /MIDFIELD /187cm/79kg
The huge work rate of midfielder Fletcher around the stoppages was on display against the Allies. 19 disposals from 15 contested possessions (including 12 pre-clearance contested possessions from eight first possessions, both team-high’s) as well as a game-high 28 pressure acts including 13 tackles, as well as eight clearances were really critical in the midfield battle for the Country boys.
LAITHAM VANDERMEER / MOOROOPNA /HALFBACK /180cm/76kg
The over-ager Vandermeer had a terrific first half, recording 12 disposals, 173 metres gained and six contested possessions to trail only Sam Walsh in these categories among his Country teammates. He was quiet in the third term with just the two disposals, but his run off the halfback flank, as evidenced by his equal team-high 11 handball-receives for the match, underlines his value to the Vic Country lineup.