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NSW/ACT wins NAB AFL U18 title

NSW/ACT has won its fourth NAB AFL Under 18 championship title after defeating Queensland on the final day of the Division Two matches.

The combine scored 20.13 (133) to defeat Tasmania 13.14 (92) on Tuesday at Victoria Park in Melbourne, making it a clean-sweep in this year's carnival, winning three from three matches. The Rams booted 10 goals to two in the second term to set up the victory.

NSW/ACT also won second division titles in 1998, 2000 and 2003.

Captain Craig Bird, a Sydney scholarship holder, was outstanding throughout the carnival and was awarded the Hunter Harrison Medal for the best Division Two player.

AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan lauded Bird's outstanding effort.

"Bird's work at the stoppages was outstanding and his ability to win the clearances in the centre of the ground, while being so clean with his hands was a feature of his play," he said.

"He was simply a dominant player and leader for his team."

Ranga Ediriwickrama, a scholarship holder with Geelong, was another to shine in the midfield, while goalsneak Loccy McGregor was also prominent throughout the carnival.

"Ediriwickrama's pace and delivery provided many opportunities up forward, where little Loccy McGregor was a livewire again at ground level with three goals," Sheehan said.

Sheehan praised NSW/ACT's effort to win the title, given many players came from far and wide across the state and territory to form the side.

"Their win was a fantastic team performance and they played for each other – there was no doubt about that – and they confirmed their Challenge Cup form in the lead-in to the championships. There were many good players," he said.

"It's also a terrific performance from Danny Stevens, the brother of Nick, who coached NSW/ACT to a win in his first season as coach."

Scholarship holders Scott Reed (Collingwood) and Ryan Davis (West Coast) also played key roles for the Rams, further endorsing the new program.

"It was a reasonable endorsement for the scholarship scheme, which is in its infancy," Sheehan said.

"It's not even a year old and these boys all performed for NSW/ACT. The scholarship scheme is designed to kick-start talent, the discovery of talent and the development of talent of New South Wales and this is an indication that it's on the right track."

In the earlier match, the Northern Territory made it two wins from three starts after producing a hard-fought contested win over Queensland.

Cyril Rioli, the nephew of Maurice Rioli and Michael Long, was dynamic with seven goals against the Scorpions.

"He was outstanding against Queensland, even though he was restricted to a half-forward/medium-forward role, due to a niggling ankle injury," Sheehan said.

"He showed great class, but managed to out-body or out-position his opponents, while his absolute cleverness and sharp-shooting ability – even from long-range – was outstanding. He's a super talent."

Rioli was also well supported by left-footer Peter Rolfe and the diminutive Kingsley Whitehurst, who each booted four goals.

Queensland goalkicking onballer Dayne Zorko, defender Ben Gibson and key marking forward Darin Stewart also continued their consistent form throughout the championships.

Tasmania's Aaron Joseph also had three outstanding matches and was arguably the standout for the Apple Isle.