by Jason Harris Follow @jayharry80
A Matthew Young behind in golden point extra time saw Western Australia claim a thrilling one point win over a gallant South Australia at Subiaco Oval.
The first quarter saw a frenetic start full of end to end action with players from each side throwing their bodies on the line and relishing the contest.
When the tempo of the match slowed, it was South Australia who settled quicker with the highly rated Darcy Fogarty playing a key role with two goals.
Oscar Allen who had played an important role in WA’s first goal by Ian Hill, then produced a strong mark and superb kick from the boundary just before quarter time to give WA the lead by two points.
The Black Swans started the second quarter in fine form with Sydney Stack displayed his poise in kicking his team’s third for the day and that was followed in quick succession by goals to Young and Allen.
Western Australia’s midfield unit led by Brayden Ainsworth, Jake Patmore and ruckman Jonathan Frampton were starting to gain control of the game while in the defence, Sam Taylor, Aaron Naughton and Zareth Roe were resolute in repelling whatever South Australia had to offer.
Desperately needing a goal to stem the tide, Jordan Houlahan duly delivered and it was quickly followed by Jack Lukosius and South Australia was back in the game.
A quick snap from the pack by bottom ager Connor Rozee on the half time siren sent the South Aussies into the changerooms only 10 points behind and with a renewed sense of self-belief.
Conversely, Western Australia would have been extremely flat having dominated a large part of that quarter only to lose focus in the last few minutes.
Allen gave WA the perfect start to the third quarter with a strong pack mark and goal and that was quickly followed by Brandon Starcevich kicking his first for the game.
Houlahan replied with his second after some good work up the ground by Rozee.
The next few minutes belonged to West Australian pair Gordon Narrier and Taryce Stewart.
The silky skills by the top-ager Narrier stood out throughout the first half and they came to the fore again as he set up Stewart for his first goal of the game.
Narrier and Stack then combined to set up Stewart once again as the home team had their biggest lead of the game.
With a quarter to play it looked like West Australia were going to start the carnival with an impressive victory as they led by five goals.
However, the drama was only just beginning.
South Australia starred the last term on the front foot but wasted some early chances.
Similar to what occurred in the second and third quarters with WA, South Australia’s midfield unit led by Izak Rankine and Mitch Crowden, were getting first use of the ball and repeatedly sending it inside 50.
They finally got their reward courtesy of James Rowe, which was their fifth forward entry in as many minutes.
Even though the Croweaters were dominating the general play, their inaccuracy was looming as a factor as they had kicked 1.5.
Stefan Giro then kicked their second for the quarter and that was quickly followed by a Rankine major set up by the influential Rowe.
Narrier scored WA’s first point of the quarter and that was followed down the other end by a Crowden miss.
Rankine then kicked his second for the quarter and incredibly the scores were level.
The pressure was palpable all over the ground and it was understandably getting to the players.
Rowe who was the catalyst of the fightback had a golden chance to settle the game as the clock moved towards the 25th and final minute of the game but he miscued horribly and kicked it out on the full.
Extra time was now needed in this encounter which had turned into a gripping contest.
The ball was stationed in the South Australian forward line for seemingly an eternity, but somehow WA managed to get it out and get some forward momentum.
The ball reached Matthew Young who had a set shot from 50 metres out directly in front with any score giving WA the win.
With the pressure on the 18 year-old’s shoulders, Young’s kick delivered the point that was required to give WA the victory.
Young was mobbed by teammates in celebrations akin to a grand final win.
While it is every kid’s dream to kick the winning goal for your team, Young now sits in the ‘golden point’ club where no less than Tony Lockett and Jimmy Bartel are members.
It was a game with a number of ebbs and flows and will give both coaches, Peter Sumich and Brenton Phillips, plenty of food for thought.
Each side had periods of dominance where their best football was on show, but there was also costly lapses where they let their opponent into the game.
However, that is to be expected in the first game of the carnival and both teams will certainly improve from here.
One thing is certain, it will be fantastic to see all the exciting talent on show for the next few weeks.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2.4 | 6.7 | 10.12 | 10.14 (74)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.2 | 5.3 | 6.6 | 10.13 (73)
GOALS: Western Australia: Allen 3, Stewart 2, Hill, Stack, Young, Ainsworth, Starcevich,
South Australia: Fogarty 2, Houlahan 2, Rankine 2, Lukosius, Rozee, Rowe, Giro
Best Players: Western Australia: Ainsworth, Allen, Taylor, Naughton, Narrier, Frampton
South Australia: Rankine, Rozee, Crowden, Rowe, Coleman-Jones, Giro