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U18s: Powell-Pepper's power on show for WA

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 1: Sam Powell-Pepper in action during the AFL Academy v Werribee match at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia on April 1, 2016. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)
Sam Powell-Pepper in action for the AFL Academy

• NAB AFL Under-18s: 2016 fixture, news and video

DRAFT prospect Sam Powell-Pepper's power and tenacity shone as Western Australia claimed a 61-point win over Vic Country at Domain Stadium on Sunday.

Powell-Pepper got a taste of things as a defender during last year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships but showed his development in the opening round of this season's carnival with three goals and 15 disposals from the midfield.

The 18-year-old, who is a member of the NAB AFL Academy, threw himself at the ball with courage, attacked each contest with physicality and also showed his forward sense with some dynamic movement around goal.

WA had a number of strong performers in the 19.11 (125) to 10.4 (64) win, which was built on an even group of contributors through the midfield. 

Zac Fisher was important with 17 disposals, eight clearances and a goal, while midfielders Matt Guelfi (19 touches, six clearances and a goal) and Stan Wright (two goals from 18 disposals) were prominent.  

Tall forward Luke Strnadica booted four goals, and West Coast father-son prospect Jake Waterman worked hard in attack but was inaccurate around goal, kicking 1.5. 

Possible early draft pick Hugh McCluggage was Vic Country's most consistent player across the game, gathering 27 disposals through the midfield and again exhibiting his class and poise in traffic. 

Joe Atley, the younger brother of North Melbourne half-back Shaun, was solid with 22 disposals and eight tackles, while Tom Jok (20 disposals) and Will Brodie (16) also tried hard in the midfield.

Country key forward Josh Battle threatened to take the game away from Western Australia with a first-half purple patch, with the Dandenong Stingrays prospect kicking three goals in the last three minutes of the first term and a fourth one minute into the second quarter.

That haul included a freakish kick-off-the-ground goal from the pocket, with the hard-working and clever 192cm forward offering a difficult match-up for Western Australia.  

But Western Australia was able to steady in the second term to take a nine-point lead into the main change, after Shai Bolton showed his class near goal by converting a running shot. 

The small forward adds some genuine excitement to this year's draft pool with his pace and creativity, and finished the game with 11 disposals and two goals. 

Myles Poholke's second goal of the third term saw Vic Country get within four points at the 20-minute mark of the quarter, before Western Australia booted three goals in the final two minutes of the term to break clear.

A goal in the opening 30 seconds of the final term to Powell-Pepper (his third of the contest) all but put the game out of reach for Vic Country, who went through last year's carnival undefeated.   

They steamrolled them thereafter, booting eight goals for the term to Vic Country's one to run away with the comprehensive win. Western Australia will meet fellow round one winners South Australia next Sunday at AAMI Stadium, with Vic Country to take on Vic Metro on Monday, June 13. 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA        4.1    8.4    12.8 19.11 (125)
VIC COUNTRY                     4.0    7.1    9.4    10.4  (64)

GOALS
Western Australia: Strnadica 4, Powell-Pepper 3, Wright 2, Baker 2, Bolton 2, Zurhaar 2, Guelfi, Waterman, Fisher, Clarke
Vic Country: Battle 4, Poholke 2, Jok, Brodie, Fowler, Blair 

BEST
Western Australia: Powell-Pepper, Guelfi, Wright, Fisher, Waterman, Baker
Vic Country: McCluggage, Atley, Jok, Brodie, Battle, Poholke

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• NAB AFL Under-18s: 2016 fixture, news and video