VIC COUNTRY have continued its unbeaten run at the NAB Under-18 Championships with a thrilling one-point win over reigning champions South Australia.
Caleb Serong (Vic Country) and Harry Schoenberg (South Australia) starred in a hard-fought contest at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Friday.
After a low-scoring first quarter Country looked to be getting on top in the second, taking a nine-point lead into half-time off the back of a strong performance from versatile midfielder Brodie Kemp (27 disposals, seven marks, one goal).
That was the game we'd been hoping to see from Brodie Kemp. A midfield masterclass with 27 disposals, 7 marks and 5 clearances and then the match-winning goal for Vic Country under extreme pressure with the last kick. A top-10 talent.— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) June 28, 2019
A burst from South Australia early in the third term had them in the lead for most of the quarter, until a Josh Smith goal in the dying minutes of the term had Country back within a point at the final break.
Standout Country midfielder and co-captain Serong led on the stats sheet with a game-high 33 disposals, nine tackles and 10 clearances.
Serong was ably supported by fellow Gippsland Power prospect Sam Flanders (28 touches, seven marks, 10 inside 50s).
South Australian midfielder Jackson Mead slotted two goals in seven minutes to begin the final term, gathering 22 disposals and four clearances across the match.
Will Gould's late goal for SA went unrewarded in some ways but it was a dominant showing from the strong half-back. 26 disposals in his best game of the carnival. Bound for back-to-back All Australian honours. Port father-son Jackson Mead very handy with 22 and 2 gls, too.— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) June 28, 2019
Having booted three first-half goals for Country, Cody Weightman's timely fourth came in early in the final quarter to level the score.
Defender Will Day (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) provided South Australia with much-needed dash off half-back, alongside North Adelaide line-breaker Dyson Hilder (seven marks, seven rebound 50s).
Country vice-captain and likely top-five pick Hayden Young was tireless across half-back, gathering 18 touches and seven rebound 50s.
Vic Country faces Western Australia in its final match of the carnival next week, while South Australia will be looking to bounce back when it takes on the Allies at Marvel Stadium in the final round.
VIC COUNTRY 2.2 5.3 6.6 9.9 (63)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.3 3.6 6.7 9.8 (62)
Vic Country: Weightman 4, Cahill, Flanders, Hollands, Kemp, J. Smith
South Australia: Durdin 2, Mead 2, Gould, Morris, O’Brien, Sladojevic, Stephens
Vic Country: Flanders, Serong, DeKoning, Weightman, Ash, Kemp
South Australia: Gould, Day, Hilder , Mead, Finlay, McEntee