Vic Country's Zac Merrett is the younger brother of Essendon's Jackson Merrett (pictured)
SKILLFUL Vic Country forward Clayton McCartney has starred in the opening game of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, booting six goals in his side's 111-point win over Northern Territory.
In the same fixture last year Northern Territory stunned division-one side Vic Metro to record a shock victory but there were no surprises on Saturday night at TIO Stadium, with Vic Country winning 22.13 (145) to 5.4 (34).
McCartney was integral to that, with the Dandenong Stingrays forward putting in a strong performance around goal. It wasn't a solo effort, however, with the 17-year-old one of five multiple goalkickers for Country.
Jarman Impey and Zac Merrett each kicked three goals, while Alex Saunders and Jack Leslie kicked two.
Merrett is the younger brother of Essendon's Jackson, and carries a couple of the same tendencies as the exciting Bombers half-forward, with his pace and touch of class adding a layer of finesse to Country's hard work in the midfield.
Murray Bushrangers' Nick Holman was Vic Country's standout midfielder in the game, while North Ballarat Rebels' utility Louis Herbert also played well in a number of roles.
Having missed out on being drafted last year, Herbert was one of two 19-year-olds eligible to represent Vic Country and looks set for more exposure through the national championships after improving his game.
Northern Territory was well served by St Marys star Jack Long, while midfielders Daniel Cox and Kevin Renehan also contributed for the home side.
Captain Errin Wasley-Black was named among the NT's best players.
A number of the more highly ranked draft hopefuls usually sit out the first round of the championships, where division one sides crossover to face division two sides.
Vic Country took this approach, with the likes of AIS-AFL Academy players Lewis Taylor, Billy Hartung, Darcy Gardinery, Nick Bourke and James Tsitas all not playing. Matt Crouch also missed with a broken finger.
NORTHERN TERRITORY 2.2 2.3 5.3 5.4 (34)
VIC COUNTRY 5.1 11.7 17.7 22.13 (145)
Northern Territory: Fuller 2, Renehan, Scanlon, Vea Vea
Vic Country: McCartney 6, Impey 3, Merrett 3, Leslie 2, Saunders 2, Herbert, Harmes, Holman, Lang, Maher, Webb
Northern Territory: Long, Cox, Renehan, Wasley-Black, McAuliffe, Pilbrow
Vic Country: Holman, McCartney, Nelson, Cunico, Pickless, Lang
Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.