Interstate teams defeated four Victorian metro clubs in NAB League Boys Round 4, but the Eastern Ranges made a successful raid into Queensland and the Western Jets accounted for the Northern Territory at home.
All six Victorian country clubs had a bye in Round 4 as the 2019 Vic Country and Vic Metro hubs of the NAB AFL Academy concluded their April camp with two trial games at Ikon Park on Saturday. As a result, a host of highly-rated players from the metro clubs were absent from their NAB League Boys teams on the weekend.
See the team lists for two trial games between under-18 Vic Country and Vic Metro Academy teams at Ikon Park on Saturday April 13.
— #NABLeagueBoys / #NABLeagueGirls (@NABLeague) April 12, 2019
That didn’t stop the Jets (2-2 record) peppering the scoreboard in an 18.24 (132) to 9.7 (61) defeat of the Northern Territory (0-3) at Downer Oval though. Western trailed by a point at quarter time but finished with 15 goals to five after that point.
Talent Manager Luke Williams said the win was evidence the Jets were starting to jell better than they had in one narrow win and then two losses to start the season.
“We were beaten in big patches in the Eastern and Calder games (63-point and 12-point losses respectively), so we probably hadn’t produced anywhere near a four-quarter performance before this game,” Williams said.
“I think it’s taken a couple of weeks, but there was a fair bit of run and support and outnumbering of the opposition around the footy on the weekend, and as a result we started to use the ball in a way we’d been training for during the pre-season.”
Williams was particularly pleased with Western’s performance against the NT given the absence of Vic Metro Academy members Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Emerson Jeka and Eddie Ford.
“Daly Andrews (game-highs of 25 disposals and six clearances) was pretty important for us in the middle and Aaron Clarke (four goals from 18 disposals and 10 marks) is another of our 19-year-old players who performed well,” Williams said. “Aaron is a late developer as a tall player and his marking is a real strength of his game, as it was on the weekend. With Emerson out of the side, he got a few more opportunities inside 50.
“Josh Kellett has been quite consistent across half back this year, and he definitely had to step up on the weekend without Darcy in defence. Josh is a smart player, he’s a good communicator and he really controlled that back half (16 disposals and five rebound-50s).
“You get a lot of confidence out of a win like that, and we’ll now have some selection issues with those four Vic Metro players coming back into the side as well as one of our co-captains in Spencer Johnson, who missed the game through injury.”
* CLICK HERE to see full match results, goalkickers and best players from NAB League Boys Round 4.
Much further north in Southport on the Gold Coast, the Ranges (3-1) outlasted the Brisbane Lions Academy (1-2) in a tight contest. There was never more than 12 points between the sides throughout the match and Eastern recovered from that deficit at three-quarter time to prevail 13.8 (86) to 12.3 (75).
Bottom-ager Salele Feagaimalii starred in the victory with 28 disposals, a game-high seven clearances and two goals – both in the crucial final term. Fellow 17-year-old Joshua Clarke (21 disposals, five inside-50s and one goal) was also influential for the Ranges, while Will Martyn racked up game-highs of 37 disposals and 12 marks for Brisbane.
The two New South Wales-based teams came to Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval and conquered their Victorian opponents in a double-header of games on Saturday, with the GWS Giants Academy (1-2) posting a maiden win for 2019 first up against the Northern Knights (0-4), 10.17 (77) to 7.9 (51).
Liam Delahunty was the game’s leading goalkicker with three majors for GWS, as fellow Giants Academy members Thomas Green (game-highs of 38 disposals, 27 contested possessions and 13 clearances) and Jeromy Lucas (28 disposals and two goals) knocked up finding the ball.
In the second leg of the double-header, the Sydney Swans Academy (3-0) inflicted the first defeat of the season for the Sandringham Dragons (3-1) in a 16.9 (105) to 12.11 (83) result.
Errol Gulden (27 disposals and a game-high 10 inside-50s) and Samuel Thorne (22 and two goals) were Sydney’s primary ball-winners, with bottom-age Swans Academy prospect Braeden Campbell the game’s top goalscorer with four majors from 13 disposals.
While Sandringham (14) and Eastern (10) lost the highest numbers of talent to the Vic Country vs Vic Metro trial games, the Oakleigh Chargers (2-2) lost some of the country’s most highly-rated individual players for their clash with the Gold Coast Suns Academy (3-0) in Southport.
The Chargers subsequently suffered a 14.11 (95) to 3.6 (24) loss, Connor Budarick standing out in Gold Coast’s win with a game-high 28 disposals as well as eight marks, eight tackles and a goal.
FT U18s: The boys go 3-0 😎
The Academy boys grit their teeth against a tough opposition and come out 71 point victors against the Oakleigh Chargers.
— Gold Coast Suns (@GoldCoastSUNS) April 14, 2019
Finally in Round 4, the Tasmania Devils (2-1) notched a first victory over Victorian opposition as a full-time NAB League Boys club in defeating the Calder Cannons (1-3) in Penguin, 10.3 (63) to 7.9 (51). Exciting bottom-ager Jackson Callow again starred for the Devils, booting four goals from 16 disposals a week after scoring five majors in Tasmania’s win against the Northern Territory.