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WA wins U18 championships

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WESTERN Australia has won the 2007 NAB AFL division one Under-18 Championship title after thrashing South Australia by 77 points at Casey Fields in Melbourne's south-east on Wednesday.

The Sandgropers 20.11 (131) defeated South Australia 8.6 (54) to make it a hat-trick of stunning results, which included a 47-point victory over Vic Metro at Subiaco Oval and a 43-point win against Vic Country at MC Labour Park.

WA not only was the dominant team of the tournament, it also provided the most All-Australians – eight in total – while Cale Morton, the younger brother of West Coast's Mitch and Hawthorn's Jarryd, won the Larke Medal for division one's best player.

AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan said Western Australia's third division-one championship – the Sandgropers also won in 1985 and 1999 (and claimed a division -two title in 1995) – matched any previous win in this competition.

"It was a very special win. There is no doubt that history is going to prove that this was a terrific team made up of some outstanding individuals as well," Sheehan told afl.com.au.

"It will, like their previous two division-one wins, will be an important stepping stone in the career paths of many AFL stars – it was a brilliant performance.

"In '85, it was [John] Worsfold, [Peter] Sumich, [Chris] Lewis, [Guy] McKenna, [Paul] Peos and [Scott] Watters – the backbone of the West Coast Eagles – and in '99 it was Paul Hasleby, Leon Davis, Joel Corey, Darren Glass, Chance Bateman and Adam Hunter, which was another terrific group which has gone on, and this group will do it again.

"There were eight Western Australians in the All-Australian side and there could've been more, such was the depth of their side, but it wasn't the individualism of the side, it was the selfless way in which they played their footy – it was a great brand.

"It was a credit to Gerard McNeill, their coach, and their support group, because they played a very exciting brand of footy by moving it quickly and creating great opportunities for their forwards.”

Sheehan spoke highly of Morton, Rhys Palmer and Chris Masten – three players to watch out for come the NAB AFL Draft in November.

"They had winners all over the ground and they were able to switch players around, whether it was Morton in the midfield or up forward, who could play either role, while Palmer and Masten provided a great engine," he said.

The performance of Nicholas Naitanui, who is of Fijian origin but was born in Sydney, will have tantalised recruiters even more with a superb performance against South Australia.

He is too young for this year's draft, but he will be a massive prospect in 2008 and Sheehan couldn't hide his excitement about the talented ruckman.

"And what an exciting player is Nicholas Naitanui?" Sheehan said.

"His game today was just exceptional and you could see in his performance a young man growing in front of your eyes.

"He dominated the hit outs in the first couple of games and looked promising as a midfielder around the ground to one that actually dominated around the ground.

"He took two or three fantastic marks and then his dash near the finish, where he picked the ball up and took them up and set the ball up inside 50, capped off a wonderful tournament for him and WA."

And after the controversy of playing the final division two matches at Victoria Park on Tuesday, Sheehan was delighted with Casey Fields, a newly established stadium that provided a great atmosphere.

"It really was a great climax at this great facility at Casey Fields – a magnificent venue and a brand new venue and it was the beginning of a new era for our championships, as they were played in four states," he said.

"The way that's been received has resulted in a very exciting win to WA, and they proved they could win in two states and take their first championship since '99."

Most valuable player awards for the four division-one teams were presented to Matthew Kreuzer (Vic Metro), Nick Suban (Vic Country), Levy Greenwood (South Australia), and Rhys Palmer (Western Australia), who beat Morton for the WA honour.

The All-Australian team is:

WA: Chris Masten, Rhys Palmer, Daniel Rich, Patrick McGinnity, David Myers, Alex Rance, Cale Morton, Nicholas Naitanui

Vic Metro: Matthew Kreuzer, Addam Maric, Michael Hurley, Jack Grimes

Vic Country: Nick Suban, Scott Selwood, Ben McEvoy

SA: Brad Ebert

NSW-ACT: Craig Bird, Taylor Walker

Tasmania: Aaron Joseph, Tom Collier, Aaron Cornelius

Northern Territory: Cyril Rioli

The coach is Gerard McNeill, and his assistant is Danny Stevens.

Results from Wednesday's matches: 

Vic Metro 17.8 (110) defeated Vic Country 9.8 (62)

Goals: Vic Metro: Maric 4, Grimes 3, Grant 3, Simpson, Polkinghorne, Kreuzer, Potts, Arrowsmith, Daniher, Cattapan. Vic Country: Gaylor 3, Kay 2, Selwood, Ford, Normington, Hall.

Best: Vic Metro: Hurley, Simpson, Cattapan, Farmer, Grimes, Kreuzer, Maric. Vic Country: McEvoy, Suban, Austin, Curnow, Kangars, Normington, Selwood.

Western Australia 20.11 (131) defeated South Australia 8.6 (54)

Goals: WA: Palmer 3, Notte 3, Gourdis 3, McGinnity 2, Sampey 2, Morton 2, DeBoer, Yarrin, Browne, Ellard, Jacky. SA: Staple 3, Hartlett, Wright, Carr, Jesson, Day.

Best: WA: Naitanui, Browne, Morton, Palmer, Pears, Rance, Rich. SA: Goodwood, Petrenko, Blesing, Day, Thompson, Stable.