Western Australia caused the upset of the U18 National Carnival so far, defeating Vic Country 12.10.82 to 7.11.53 on Friday afternoon at Etihad Stadium.
WA’s small forwards in Jarrad Fazioli, Ian Hill and Joseph Hinder supported Oscar Allen effectively to kick a winning score for the visitors.
The first half was a scrappy affair, far removed from the high-quality encounter between Country and Vic Metro at Punt Road Oval just a week ago. WA’s speed and ball movement through the middle of the ground, chiefly thanks to Hill, Brayden Ainsworth and Callan England, proved too much for Country to handle early on, as they opened up an early lead.
Country were able to capitalise more on their superiority at the stoppages thanks to Lachlan Davies-Uniacke and Paddy Dow to gain ascendancy in the third term, but some costly misses in the final quarter allowed WA to consolidate their win.
Here are some of the game’s most impressive performers.
JARRAD FAZIOLI | WA/Peel Thunder
FWD | 14/05/2000 | 173CM | 72KG
The 17-year-old was brought in to the WA side for his first match of the National Carnival and did not disappoint, finishing with four goals. His energy and pressure were a constant menace to Country’s defence, who struggled to move the ball effectively from their back 50. Fazioli was part of WA’s dynamic and versatile forward line that Country struggled to deal with.
IAN HILL | WA/Perth Demons
FWD | 9/2/2000 | 174CM | 63KG
Hill is another bottom-ager who starred for WA. He is touted as a high draft pick for 2018, and after his performance on Friday it is easy to see why. He is a human highlight heel with electrifying pace and leaping ability. Hill also possesses exceptional balance even at full speed. His kicking was a highlight in a sometimes scrappy first-half as he rarely turned the ball over, despite being aggressive and direct with his ball use.
TOM JOYCE | WA/East Fremantle
MID | 7/3/2000 | 179CM | 67KG
At first glance, it looked as though Joyce would be over-matched by the Country midfield as he strode to centre bounces opposed to the like of Davies-Uniacke, Dow and James Worpel, to all of whom he cedes 15-20kg. These concerns proved to be ill-founded, as Joyce finished the game with 10 contested possessions and five clearances. The left-footer has an under-stated style but gets the job done. He was a significant part of WA’s impressive ball movement through the centre, recording five inside-50s. The 17-year-old will move himself up draft boards for 2018 if he can add more strings to his bow, perhaps as goal-kicking small forward.
JAKE PATMORE | WA/Claremont
DEF | 29/01/1999 | 181CM | 78KG
Patmore played an excellent game across half-back for WA. He was the architect of many of their forward thrusts especially in the first half, as his precise ball use released his midfielders into dangerous positions. Patmore had a game-high 32 disposals, while also contributing six rebound-50s and six tackles.
CALLAN ENGLAND | WA/Claremont
MID | 15/10/99 | 182CM | 73KG
England was especially prolific early when WA had the ascendancy in the match. His knack for finding the ball in dangerous areas was evident against Country, as eight of his 22 disposals took WA inside their 50m arc.
BRAYDEN AINSWORTH | WA/Subiaco
MID | 27/11/1998 | 183CM | 75KG
Ainsworth’s move from his home town of Esperance to Perth to play Nationals as a 19-year-old is paying dividends. He is a late bloomer after having limited exposure to elite competition, but is blooming all the same. There can be no queries on his ability to match it with the best now, as he led both his own team mates and the star-studded Country midfield with 16 contested possessions and nine clearances. He finished with 27 disposals in total, seven tackles and a goal in a complete performance.
JORDAN BOULLINEAU | WA/Peel Thunder
DEF | 4/5/1999 | 186CM | 73KG
Boullineau was a key part of the WA defence, with Aaron Naughton and Durak Tucker, which dominated Country’s tall forwards the whole match. His versatility as a defender is a key asset for AFL clubs who are embracing zonal defences. His 186cm frame is able to match up on all shapes and sizes, while he also showed promise as a ball-winner. His defensive efforts were supported by 22 disposals and eight marks.
BRANDON STARCEVICH | WA/East Perth
MID | 24/07/1999 | 187CM | 88KG
Starcevich has the size that AFL scouts look for in their inside mids at 187cm and 88kg. He was an important physical presence in a small, pacey side that WA used. Starcevich finished with eight tackles, with 14 of his 22 possessions being contested.
OSCAR ALLEN | WA/West Perth
FWD | 19/03/1999 | 191CM | 83KG
Though Fazioli finished with four goals, Allen was the most consistently dangerous forward on the ground, finishing just behind with three majors. Country couldn’t find a match-up for the athletic Allen, who beat taller defenders on the lead and was smart enough to out-manoeuvre smaller players with his body. He played as a key forward on Friday, a position he won’t have the requisite size to fill at AFL level. However, his running capacity and agility at ground level means that he should be able to adapt to the third or fourth-forward role he projects to fill at senior level.
AARON NAUGHTON | WA/Peel Thunder
DEF | 30/11/1999 | 194CM| 84KG
Naughton excels when the ball is in the air, from both his own side’s kicks as well as the opposition’s. He cut off plenty of raids forward from Country, as well as being an outlet for his team mates exiting defence. He finished with 10 marks in total and 17 disposals, but most importantly helped keep both Country key forwards in Tom De Koning and Tom McCartin goalless.
LOCHIE O’BRIEN | VIC C/Bendigo
MID-FWD | 18/08/99 | 184CM | 75KG
O’Brien is a one of the classiest ball users in the 2017 draft. His kicking was precise all day, even when tasked with making the most difficult passes going inside 50. His deadly left-boot was on display in the third term when his side needed a lift. He marked the ball outside 50, immediately played on, wheeled onto his favoured left and comfortably cleared the goal line for a booming 55m goal. O’Brien finished with 14 kicks and four handballs to go along with his goal.
Luke DAVIES-UNIACKE | VIC C/Dandenong
MID | 8/6/99 | 187CM | 85KG
‘LDU’ has been touted as a potential number 1 pick. On Friday he showed the traits that may see him selected first overall pick in November, and also some that may see him fall. His contested work was, as usual, elite. He finished with 11 contested possessions and was consistently able to navigate through traffic either with agility and guile or brute force. He also managed to grab two contested marks, one of which resulted in a goal at the three-quarter-time to give his side hope of reeling in the visitors. Davies-Uniacke’s game was let down by his tendency to get tunnel-vision and kick long to out-numbered targets after bursting clear of congestion. He had three clangers for the game, and just 57% of his 23 disposals were effective. However, these are correctable flaws, and scouts will likely have left Etihad remembering his work in congestion.
BRENT DANIELS | VIC C/Bendigo
MID-FWD | 9/3/99 | 172CM | 70KG
Daniels was one of Country’s better players across the day, first as a forward before moving to the midfield more in the second half. He was dangerous as a small forward from limited opportunities. Daniels was his sides only multiple goal-kicker with two, and also laid six tackles. He spent some more time in the midfield in the third quarter, which coincided with Country’s best period of the game. He had two clearances and showed the ability to move away from stoppages with his leg speed.
ETHAN FLOYD | VIC C/Geelong
MID | 15/07/99 | 179CM | 70KG
Floyd played a prototypical winger’s game for Country. He was slightly conservative with his ball use but very effective, with 18 of his 19 disposals finding a team mate. He rounded his game off with defensive efforts, totalling five rebound-50s and five tackles.
PADDY DOW | VIC C/Bendigo
MID | 16/10/99 | 184CM | 78KG
Dow was able to do a little bit of everything for Country without being dominant for the home side. He led his team with 15 contested possessions and six clearances, while also chipping in with a goal. Dow, along with Davies-Uniacke, showed composure and determination in congestion where he was very effective. His work on the outside wasn’t quite as good, as only five of his 11 kicks hit their intended target.
OSCAR CLAVARINO | VIC C/Dandenong
DEF | 22/5/99 | 195CM | 86KG
Clavarino is regarded as one of the best key defensive prospects in this year’s class and did this reputation no harm on Friday. He was excellent in one-on-one contests, being able to mark the ball instead of just spoil, which would have pleased AFL recruiters. Though he isn’t the best kick you’ll see, he certainly isn’t a liability in this area either. He showed enough poise at times to avoid pressure and hit targets coming out of defence.
JAMES WORPEL | VIC C/Geelong
MID | 24/1/99 | 185CM | 84KG
The Country skipper was busy early as he looked to set the tone. He was active around the stoppages, especially defensively as he applied six tackles. He was able to have an impact in general play too, with seven marks in total. Worpel and his Geelong partner-in-crime Cassidy Parish were both caught out at times by WA’s leg speed through the centre of the ground and couldn’t curtail their run and carry. Worpel spent some more time in defence in the second half, where he didn’t win much of the ball but did an effective job neutralising the WA small forwards who ran rampant before the break.
CHANGKUOTH JIATH | VIC C/Gippsland
FWD | 13/6/99 | 185CM |74KG
Jiath is part of Hawthorn’s Next Generation Academy, meaning the Hawks will have the opportunity to match any bid that comes for him in November’s draft. He is certainly an exceptional athlete. Jiath played nominally as a half-forward, but worked his way all over the ground for Country, providing an athletic marking target. He is a raw talent, who’s kicking needs to be developed and who still has a tendency to mark the ball on his chest rather than extending his arms, giving defenders a chance to spoil. But the unteachable athletic tools to become a weapon at AFL level exist, as long as he can refine these other areas of his game.
Western Australia have completed their 2017 campaign with a 3-1 record. They remain a small chance of taking out the carnival if Vic Metro suffer a shock loss to Allies on Wednesday at Simonds Stadium. Country will follow Metro’s match in Geelong against South Australia, hoping to break even and get to 2-2.