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U18s: Ballenden stars but Giants claim the win

Nathan Richards impressed for the Giants as they claimed a close U18s win in Broadbeach - ${keywords}
Nathan Richards impressed for the Giants as they claimed a close U18s win in Broadbeach

HIGHLY rated Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Connor Ballenden was an imposing aerial presence but it wasn't enough as the GWS Academy hung on for a courageous four-point win at Broadbeach in Queensland on Saturday. 

The Giants lost Max Beaumont and Riley Corbett to injury in the opening quarter but held off a Lions side that peppered the goals late but couldn't convert. 

Ballenden performed well as a ruckman against the Sydney Academy last week for the Lions and backed it up against the Giants. Playing up forward and in the ruck, his work rate would have impressed recruiters. 

For GWS, Brendan Myers excelled as an inside midfielder. He was superb in the first half and despite a quieter third term, the stoppage specialist came good again in the last quarter. He was always at the contest and used the ball well, while his overhead marking adds another facet to his game. 

Ruckman Nathan Richards was competitive in the ruck and also up forward, bringing the ball to ground when he was in attack.

His work in the air allowed 176cm forward Rhys Pollock to excel. Pollock was the most dangerous forward in the game, and was able to mark and crumb equally well. His skills meant he took his opportunities in front of goal to finish with four majors. 

Nicholas Shipley was awarded the NAB Under-18 Academy Series MVP for the Giants. The utility has serious running power and is a nice kick.

For the Lions, left-footer Darcy Marsh was best on ground. He worked hard and was clean and composed across half-forward, with his ball use going inside 50 particularly damaging. 

Ben Sloan showcased his athleticism and good hands. The 189cm forward presented well and has the versatility to play all over the ground. 

Tall defender Jack Payne won the MVP for the Lions. He again played well, with his speed and strength allowing him to play on a variety of opponents.

An Allies team, made up of the best players from the NAB AFL Under-18 Academy Series, will compete in the national carnival that starts in June for the division one teams. 

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY           7.11 (53)
GWS ACADEMY                                8.9 (57) 

Brisbane Lions Academy: Franks, Lambert, Sloan, Aston, Ballenden, Tomkinson, Walker
GWS Academy: Pollock 4, Corbett 2, Walker, Peatling

Brisbane Lions Academy: Marsh, Sloan, Matthews, Ballenden, Fleming, Franks
GWS Academy: Myers, Richards, Driscoll, Highmore, Pollock, Shipley