The 2018 NAB AFL U18 Championship title will be decided Wednesday as Vic Metro meets SA in the final game of the series, as Mark Koelmeyer reports.
The two remaining undefeated teams in the Championships will go head-to-head at Etihad Stadium, with SA standing between Metro and a three-peat of U18 titles.
Vic Metro are well rested heading in, having had their bye last week whilst SA are coming in off a four-goal victory over the Allies on Friday.
Both teams boast some of the top prospects in the upcoming NAB AFL November draft, with the likes of Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius suiting up for SA whilst Ben King, Rhylee West and Bailey Smith will play for Metro.
Izak Rankine starred in last week’s game for SA, booting three goals while collecting 20 disposals and six inside 50s.
Others among the best for SA were potential number one pick Jack Lukosius who had 18 disposals and a goal, Luke Valente with 28 disposals and six clearances ad Jackson Hately who had 21 disposals and eight tackles.
Metro will certainly have their work cut out for them against such a talented side, but Metro coach Martin Allison is aware of the strength of their opponents.
“They’ve got some really good players and to see that on display last Friday, it was clearly evident that those players are going to be featuring in the draft later in the year,” said Allison.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us to try and negate some of their strengths and hopefully have the game played on our terms.”
The prospect of facing some of the best talent in the country is a tough task for any coach but Allison’s message to his defense won’t differ.
“We’ll have some players that will oppose them (Lukosius and Rankine) but their instructions will be to win their own footy and play their own game.
“Just when the other side has the ball they have to be accountable for their opponent.”
Much talk has been about the star duo in Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine but Allison is well aware of the other talent in the SA outfit.
“It’s not just Rankine and Lukosius, there’s Hately, there’s Valente and Connor Rozee as well.
“I’m leaving out a few others as well but they’ve got some good players right across their team.”
After winning all three games thus far, the prospect of winning the Championship is starting to become a reality for Metro, and considering the development they have made, Allison and his group want a win.
“The players are really competitive, they want to win.
“Everyone loves to win, although it is about development, winning sometimes is part of development.
“Two years ago, this group in the under 16s couldn’t win a game, so to see that improvement over the last two years, to get to a point where they’ve won three from three, and they’re playing off for the national championship, in the space of two years, is quite remarkable for the group and they’re keen to see it through to the end.”
Metro have improved with every game thus far in the Championships, but to put themselves in a position to win tomorrow, Allison knows his team need everyone at their best.
“We need all of our 23 players to be really even and contribute. We can’t afford to have any passengers.
“If we have those 23 contributors, we will put ourselves in a good position to be in front when the bell goes at the end.”
Metro has made a number of changes for this clash, with Isaac Quaynor, Noah Anderson, Jack Mahony, Ben Silvagni, Thomas Hallebone and Matthew Rowell all back into the side, while Joe Griffiths (inj), Xavier Fry, Alastair Richards and Ryan Gardner are all omissions.
Vic Metro v SA, Wednesday July 4, 4.40pm
Live on Fox Footy or follow update on @TACCup on twitter.
|Backs||16 Noah Answerth||29 James Blanck||Isaac Quaynor|
|Oakleigh Chargers||Eastern Ranges||Oakleigh Chargers|
|H Backs||23 Buku Khamis||27 Will Kelly||12 Tom McKenzie|
|Western Jets||Oakleigh Chargers||Northern Knights|
|Centres||3 Zak Butters||15 Bailey Smith||24 Noah Anderson|
|Western Jets||Sandringham Dragons||Oakleigh Chargers|
|H Fwds||7 Angus Hanrahan||36 Ben King||6 Curtis Taylor|
|Sandringham Dragons||Sandringham Dragons||Calder Cannons|
|Fwds||18 Xavier O’Halloran||Ben Silvagni||1 Jack Mahony|
|Western Jets||Oakleigh Chargers||Sandringham Dragons|
|Followers||35 Thomas Hallebone||26 Riley Collier-Dawkins||8 James Rowbottom|
|Northern Knights||Oakleigh Chargers||Oakleigh Chargers|
|Interchange||19 Jack Bytel||34 James Rendell||4 Rhylee West|
|Calder Cannons||Sandringham Dragons||Calder Cannons|
|5 Matthew Rowell||25 Stefan Radovanovic||2 Joe Ayton-Delaney|
|Oakleigh Chargers||Western Jets||Oakleigh Chargers|
|13 Lachlan Sholl|
|Backs||27 Jez McLennan||33 Tyler Martin||10 Martin Frederick|
|H Backs||31 Mihail Lochowiak||37 Riley Grundy||43 Will Gould|
|Centres||22 Jacob Kennerley||32 Luke Valente||35 Jacob Collins|
|H Fwds||34 Jackson Hately||47 Hugo Munn||2 Hayden Sampson|
|Fwds||13 Connor Rozee||42 Jack Lukosius||28 Oscar Chapman|
|Followers||44 James Siviour||14 Izak Rankine||16 Tom Lewis|
|Interchange||11 Finn Betterman||30 Ben Jarvis||25 Tom Sparrow|
|23 Aaron Nietschke||4 Kade Chandler|
|29 Kai Pudney (EMG)||3 Boyd Woodcock (EMG)|