An undermanned Western Australia were once again left to rue a slow start their 43-point AFL National Under-18s Championship loss to Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium.
WA turned things around after half-time to make a game of it, with highly-rated 2023 prospect Koltyn Tholstrup’s move to the engine-room important and Peel big man Corey Tregenza-Cashell clunking a couple of big contested marks on his way to two goals.
Missing six of their best players due to COVID and injury, the Black Swans trailed by as much as 38 points late in the first half before booting four goals either side of the main break to get as close as 17 before falling away in the 12.11 (83) to 6.4 (40) loss.
East Perth midfielder and Wesley College skipper Reuben Ginbey continued his standout carnival with another big performance, amassing a team-high 22 disposals, four tackles, three clearances to go with a brilliant final-quarter goal to strengthen his first-round draft credentials.
Swan Districts’ Elijah Hewett (18 disposals, eight tackles and five clearances) bounced back from a quiet game against the Allies, South Fremantle’s Steely Green (15) was another solid contributor in the engine room and 205cm Peel giant Mitch Edwards showed he’s one to watch in next year’s draft with 16 and 21 hit-outs.
Utility Jack Cleaver had some good moments in defence and used it well by foot on the rebound, while his East Fremantle teammate and bottom-ager Koen Sanchez creative and classy across half-forward in his first appearance of the championship after recovering from a groin injury.
West Perth small defender Daniel Gathercole, Claremont key backs Hugh Davies and Rohan MacNeill and East Perth/West Coast Next Generation Academy speedster Jordyn Baker were also among the better-performed West Aussies.
Eagles NGA talent Tyrell Dewar kicked a stunning goal around his body before half-time to give WA a spark during a tough second quarter which Vic Country dominated.
On-baller Oliver Hollands, the younger brother of Gold Coast’s Elijah, was best-afield for Vic Country with 33 possessions and seven marks, while Noah Long, Coby Burgiel and marking forward Aaron Cadman booted three goals apiece.
WA’s final game of the carnival is against South Australia at Optus Stadium next Sunday in a curtain-raiser to West Coast’s AFL clash with St Kilda.
In the earlier game of the Geelong double-header, pick-one fancy Will Ashcroft racked up a staggering 38 possessions and 10 clearances in Vic Metro’s massive win over South Australia as he firms for the Larke Medal.
VIC COUNTRY 3.2, 7.4, 8.10, 12.11 (83)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 1.2, 2.2, 5.4, 6.4 (40)
Goals – VIC COUNTRY: A Cadman 3 N Long 3 C Burgiel 3 T Clohesy 2 O Northam. WESTERN AUSTRALIA: C Tregenza-Cashell 2 K Sanchez J Scaife T Dewar R Ginbey.
Best – VIC COUNTRY: O Hollands J Clark A Cadman N Long M Szybkowski J Binns. WESTERN AUSTRALIA: R Ginbey M Edwards S Green E Hewett K Tholstrup J Cleaver K Sanchez.