Western Australia have defeated South Australia in a close contest in the final U19s representative game of the season. The young Croweaters had their chance to win the match in the final quarter, but it was the Sandgropers who made the most of their chances.
WA started the opening minutes of the first quarter with a forward blitz, but could only register 2.6 from their peppering of the goals, which allowed SA to settle into the contest and begin to peg back a pair of goals to quarter time.
The second quarter saw SA gain the ascendency briefly, before Western Australia settled and went to halftime retaining their slender lead.
In the third quarter, Western Australia dominated possession and field position, yet could not do better than a pair of goals, while SA had scant opportunities but made it count as both sides went to the final break with the same margin.
In the final quarter, SA came back hard into the contest and both sides traded the lead as the ball swung from end to end, only this time it was Western Australia that had the bounce of the ball and sealed the victory with the final two goals.
Throughout the game, Western Australia had more disposals, yet they preferred to handpass at a marginally higher ratio to their kicking, perhaps because of blustery conditions and due to their running game.
This led to SA having 81 to 44 marks, which gave them superior field position from fewer possessions and led to scoring from long range forward entries.
SA won the hitouts 36 to 25, although Western Australia ruckman Josh Phillips looked the most likely, with the younger brother of Carlton’s Patrick bearing the load of stoppage work after a season of playing ruck/forward.
WA’s Luke Paton was the matchwinner, with the umpire awarding him a Weightmanesque free kick in the pocket after being taken high by the two shortest boys on the field in Isaiah Dudley and Blayne O’Loughlin, then goalling from the boundary to take the late lead.
WA had superiority in the midfield, with match winner Gus Sheldrick winning a tonne of ball and putting the game out of doubt in the final seconds, while Kade Dittmar launched forward entries time after time in a best afield performance.
Jack Williams didn’t have much involvement, but when he did it was classy, with a hard running back up mark running into forward 50 and goalling on the run, with diminutive Arthur Jones also running hard to keep Western Australia moving forward.
Jesse Motlop showed class and poise all match, with deft touch and delivery to leading forwards, while ballwinner Taj Woewodin showed his class as well.
SA’s Lukas Cooke booted four goals, in a goalsquare full forward performance that showed much promise, with the versatile big man marking long bombs and crumbing the pack, although he had a rueful moment late in the match where he played on after marking 15m from goal and was dispossessed.
Zac Becker and Shay Linke were strong in a stingy defence that repelled opposition attacks all day to keep the game even, Oscar Adams intercept marking and spoiling Western Australia talls.
Jase Burgoyne played a dashing game from the back, with a brilliant supporting goal after the ball spilled from a marking contest, while Blayne O’Loughlin also showed a cool head and gave extra rebound off half back.
Mani Liddy fought gamely in the midfield, showing breakaway speed to set up the forwards, with Matt Roberts’ inside grunt and attack on the ball making up for the superior opposition midfield dominance.
Despite several notable players missing from the game that will feature in next month’s draft, performances by the above mentioned players in this contest will go a long way towards their own chances of having their names called out.