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Crouch fires Vic Country to win

Matt Crouch in action for North Ballarat during the TAC Cup

A STANDOUT performance from Vic Country's Matt Crouch has spurred his side to a nine-point win over NSW/ACT in the second game of the NAB Under-18 AFL Championships at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday.
 
Country withstood a defiant NSW/ACT side to win 8.12 (60) to 7.9 (51).
 
Crouch thrived in the wet conditions up in Sydney, collecting 29 disposals (22 contested) and 10 clearances and kicking two goals in a best-on-ground display.
 
The 17-year-old left-footer, hailing from Beaufort near Ballarat, is the brother of Adelaide's Brad who was snapped up by the Crows in last year's GWS mini-draft.
 
Country's Nick Graham and Billy Hartung were other players to catch the eye.
 
It is the first time a division one side has emerged victorious this year, after the Northern Territory and Queensland got the better of Vic Metro and Western Australia in the earlier games.
 
But Country did not have everything go their own way, with the Rams - led by the star-studded coaching panel of Jason Saddington (Sydney Swans), Brad Ottens (Geelong) and Tadhg Kennelly (Swans) - forcing them to work for it all the way.
 
For the Rams, the exciting Lonnie Hampton booted two goals to go with his 24 possessions.
 
Daniel Robinson (27 touches) and Zac Williams (24) fought particularly hard in a losing cause.
 
Rams coach Saddington said after the game he was pleased with the endeavour his side showed, as the Rams closed the margin to six points in the last term.
 
A couple of behinds from Country cemented the result in the end, but the Rams showed plenty of spirit in a tight and tough contest.
 
In the earlier game, Queensland shocked Western Australia to record a two-point win.
 
NSW/ACT           4.2    4.3    4.7    7.9 (51)
VIC COUNTRY  2.2    4.6    7.7    8.12 (60)
 
GOALS
Vic Country:
Crouch 2, Scott 2, Tsitas, Martyn, Garner, Lockyer
NSW/ACT: Flaherty 2, Vearing 2, Hampton 2, Burgess
 
BEST
NSW/ACT:
Williams, Robinson, Weir, Hampton, Keogh, Baker
Vic Country: Crouch, Graham, Hartung, Kearns, Close, Garner