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AFLW U18: Who won, who starred on the Gold Coast

AFLW: Future stars on show on the Gold Coast Relive the best of the NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships on the Gold Coast

VIC COUNTRY and Vic Metro proved to be the strongest sides in the NAB AFL Women's Under-18 Championships, losing just one match each across the two-series tournament that finished on the Gold Coast on Friday.

Series two host Queensland did itself proud, finishing with two wins, while Western Australia and the Eastern Allies won one match each.

The Central Allies were winless but steadily improved in each match after a shaky start to the week.

What happened?

Vic Metro had too much firepower for the Central Allies, winning comfortably by 45 points.

The Central Allies never gave up, winning the final quarter when they were able to create repeat entries to their forward 50, with small forwards Rachelle Martin and Danielle Ponter proving dangerous.

Queensland finished its tournament on a high, knocking off the Eastern Allies by 17 points.

The home side excelled at driving the ball through the middle of the ground and was cleaner in front of goal.

Despite being wasteful with its goalkicking attempts, Vic Country ended the championships as the strongest team, defeating a tired Western Australia by 37 points.

The Black Swans kept in touch until halfway through the third term, but Country’s run and spread proved too much. 

Who starred?

Vic Metro: The highly touted Maddy Prespakis, who's expected to be picked very early in October's NAB AFLW Draft, relished a looser tag than she's had all week. She finished with 24 touches, seven tackles, five inside-50s and a goal. The nuggety midfielder impressed with her hardness around packs and aggressive defending.

Central Allies: South Australia's Rachelle Martin is only 153cm, but she's deadly around goals and elusive through the middle of the ground. The 19-year-old was given another chance to play in an under-18 carnival, having won the Adelaide Footy League's best and fairest and rising star awards last year.

Queensland: Still another year from being draft-eligible, Brisbane local Bella Dawes had a very strong carnival. Running through the midfield, Dawes is creative with ball in hand and is not afraid of taking the game on. She recorded 16 disposals, three tackles and two inside-50s in Queensland's second win of the week. 

Eastern Allies: Tall forward Alexia Hamilton was a strong target in the loss to Queensland. She took several strong contested marks which resulted in two goals, and also showed her versatility when she moved up the ground and recorded three clearances. Hamilton is from NSW and is eligible to be drafted this year. 

Vic Country: Geelong Falcon Olivia Purcell has now had a few strong years at under-18 level and is old enough to be drafted. The speedy midfielder was at her consistent best against Western Australia, finishing with 28 disposals, five clearances and four inside-50s in a 60-minute match. 

Western Australia: The versatile Sabreena Duffy played all over the ground in the final match, taking her turn at centre bounces and spending time at both ends. The 2017 WAWFL rising star is now eligible to be drafted and would have done her chances no harm with a 16-touch game.

2020 vision

The four clubs joining the AFLW competition in 2020 – Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – were in attendance throughout the week, watching some of the young talent on show.

Richmond’s football operations manager Kate Sheahan said it was an information-gathering project for the Tigers.

"We have to keep an eye on the future, the game-styles and density. We had our head of strength and conditioning, head coach and our welfare manager here," Sheahan said.

"It was a really good opportunity for the staff to do some networking, learn from the other clubs, who are great at sharing information, building relationships and assessing where our VFLW team is and what the future looks like.

"This year the standard is so much higher and each year we're seeing improvements. They look like footballers, they run faster for longer. We're not looking at one player, because we don't know what the future is going to look like." 

The best of the best

Each team named a most valuable player at the conclusion of the competition. Teams that took part only in the first series (South Australia, Northern Territory, NSW/ACT and Tasmania) selected their best players at the conclusion of the first-phase games.

All players were born in 2000 and draft-eligible this year unless stated.

NSW/ACT: Alyce Parker
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Tabitha May
QUEENSLAND: Nat Grider
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Montana McKinnon (2001)
TASMANIA: Mia King (2001)
VIC COUNTRY: Nina Morrison
VIC METRO: Maddy Prespakis
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Sabreena Duffy
CENTRAL ALLIES (NT and SA): Janet Baird
EASTERN ALLIES (NSW/ACT and Tas): Alyce Parker

Morrison and Prespakis were joint winners of the championships' MVP award.

A 48-player All Australian squad was also selected at the conclusion of the carnival. 

The players will be split into two sides and will play each other in a curtain-raiser to the EJ Whitten Legends match, at Adelaide Oval on Friday August 31. 

A 22-player All Australian team will be named after that match.

What’s next?

That's it for the under-18 competition for this year. Players will now return to their local leagues, with many of the top-age girls lining up at senior level of their respective state competitions.

Up to 35 players will take part in testing and interviews with AFLW clubs at the NAB AFLW Draft Combine in early October at Etihad Stadium.

The NAB AFL Women's Draft is slated to be held in mid-October, with a starting date for the 2019 AFLW season yet to be finalised.

RESULTS FROM NAB AFLW UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS – FRIDAY, JULY 13

VIC METRO  3.1   5.2   9.5   10.6 (66)
CENTRAL ALLIES   1.0   1.1   1.2   3.3 (21)

GOALS
Vic Metro: Bateman 2, Newton 2, Gutknecht 2, Bate, Saxon-Jones, Patrikios, Prespakis
Central Allies: Martin, Ponter, Rosenzweig

BEST
Vic Metro: Prespakis, Lynch, Grant, Brown, Kendall, Patrikios
Central Allies: Boles, Martin, Gore, Ponter, McKinnon

QUEENSLAND   1.2   3.4   4.5   5.5 (35)
EASTERN ALLIES   2.1   2.2   2.6   2.6 (18)

GOALS
Queensland: Wardlaw 2, Eller, Smith, Hammans
Eastern Allies: Hamilton 2

BEST
Queensland: Postlethwaite, Watson, Hampson, Ellenger, Wardlaw, Bella
Eastern Allies: Parker, King, Garlo, Hamilton, Odwogo, Mitchell 

VIC COUNTRY   2.1   2.7   4.9   7.12 (54)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA   0.3   1.3   2.4   2.5 (17)

GOALS
Vic Country: Van De Huevel 3, Webber, Morrison, Jones, McEvoy
Western Australia: Ahearn, M. Hyde

BEST
Vic Country: Van De Huevel, Webster, Morrison, Heath, Clarke
Western Australia: Duffy, O'Driscoll, Pescud, Sergeant, M. Dowrick, Hill