IKON Park played host to two Good Friday clashes between Vic Country and Vic Metro as they tried to whittle their 65 player squads down for the U18 National Championships. It was honours even and the end of a great afternoon of footy, with Metro winning the first encounter 9.10 (64) to 5.9 (39), and Country taking out the second 10.6 (66) to 6.10 (46). There were some big names missing for both teams, but there was still plenty of talent on offer. Here the players that caught the eye.
ADAM CERRA | VIC Metro
Mid | 186cm | 85kg
Arguably the unluckiest absentee from the AIS Academy, Cerra’s poise is of AFL standard. On Friday he was undoubtedly in the best handful of players. Cerra won the ball on the inside and didn’t waste it when he got it. Showed his decision making can match it with the best of this year’s draft as he oozed class. Looks like someone who plays well no matter the level. Lock him into Metro’s midfield rotation.
CASSIDY PARISH | VIC Country
Mid | 190cm | 84kg
Parish was almost a little bit frustrating to watch on Friday; he was clearly the best on the ground for both games, if not for his poor disposal by hand and especially by foot. It’s rare that a player can be the best inside ball winner and the best outside runner, but Parish was clearly the best inside and arguably the best on the outside too with his link up and running power. Yet his ball use was poor to say the least – his kicking just looked lazy at times. With better ball use, his performance was potentially that of a first round selection.
RILEY D’ARCY | VIC Country
Fwd | 189cm | 90kg
Every other key forward for both games paled in comparison to D’Arcy. He was a beast at centre half forward, clunking contested marks for fun and kicking impressive goals to go with them. I’d hate nothing more than to be in a one on one wrestle with him, and he’s sharp on the lead too. Wasn’t quite as good when the ball was going out of his territory with his pressure as what he was when it was coming in. Nevertheless, the most dominant forward across both games.
ANDREW BRAYSHAW | Vic Metro
Mid | 183cm | 80kg
Andrew Brayshaw doesn’t care what jumper he’s wearing or who’s standing in his way – he’s winning the footy. Another honest performance from the inside mid, buttering up contest after contest, tackle after tackle. Won contested ball at will and never stopped putting his body on the line on Friday.
NICK COFFIELD | Vic Metro
Def/Mid | 190cm | 83kg
Coffield is the type of half back that you just need to put time into because he hurts you so much. So damaging again on Friday from the defensive 50. Not sure if I’ve yet witnessed him make a poor decision; his assessment of pressure and the options he has around him is elite. Was consistent across all four quarters as usual. He’s going to make a lot of people sound like broken records this year, just does his job and does it extremely well every time he plays.
LLOYD MEEK | Vic Country
Ruck | 202cm | 104kg
Probably took the chocolates for the ruck division for the day. He competed hard all day in the ruck and even went forward and made an impact there too. Took a serious contested mark in the third quarter.
ETHAN PENRITH | Vic Metro
Def | 179cm | 76kg
If I’m trying to get a kick as forward, Penrith would be the last player I’d hope to see walk up to me. His closing speed is incredible, so when his man leads up at the footy he could kiss their neck, he’s that close. Did the simple things well, hit the right kicks and didn’t make errors. He plays a simple game, Penrith – beat your man then have an impact going the other way.
ANGUS STYLES | Vic Metro
Mid | 185cm | 76kg
Styles got better and better as the game wore on. He’s got so much class and he makes such a big impact when he has the ball. Whether he’s carrying it, finding space in a stoppage or hitting a dangerous kick. He did all of the above on Friday. Even when he made a mistake or ran into oncoming traffic, he was good enough to find an option and hit it. Eats pressure for breakfast.
Marcus Lentini | Vic Metro
Mid | 183cm | 74kg
Plain and simple, Lentini is a ball magnet. For three quarters of the game he worked well on the outside and across half-forward picking up possessions and spreading the play, although not really impacting the game as well as he often can. His last quarter showed a whole new dimension to his game, however, when he moved into the backline. Lentini was a rock at the back, picking up 11 touches and two intercept marks in a final term that will have no doubt had recruiters salivating. ~ Matt Palf
Other notable performances: Callan Wellings (VC), Tristan Xerri (VM), Jack Petrucelle (VM), Ethan Floyd (VC), Callum Searle (VM), Kyle Reid (VC), Daniel Hanna (VM).