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Croad boots Vic Metro home

Victoria Metropolitan has held off a defiant South Australia by 25 points to open the division one section of the Under 18 National Championships.

The Metro 13.8 (86) defeated the Croweaters 9.7 (61), in a highly skilled showing at Skilled Stadium on Sunday.

The city-slickers set up the victory with a stunning display in the first-half, which saw the navy blue and white post 10 goals to five in that period.

However, the Metro managed to hold off a gallant South Australian outfit, which got within reach of pulling off an outstanding come-from-behind-win, before last year’s division one champions finished in a flurry with three late goals.

Steven Salopek was outstanding across half-back, showing plenty of dash and courage as he racked up 25 disposals and eight marks. While his effort to win the hard ball and send the ball in the attack was a major factor in Vic Metro’s early surge.

Cameron Croad (brother of Fremantle star Trent) was a shining light up forward and finished with five goals – all at crucial periods – while midfielder Brayden Shaw (son of Tony) continually sent the ball into attack as he notched up 21 touches.

Ruckman Paul Johnson showed great skills and determination for a player of his size, while Kade Simpson, Michael Stinear, Jay Cheep and Ryan Brown also stood out.

For the Croweaters, Byron Schammer was an outstanding player over the course of the game, registering 22 disposals and kicking two goals and showed why he is a highly rated prospect.

David Kellett was also one of his side’s best, claiming 27 possessions – the most of any player in the match, while Adam Cooney, Michael Bratton, Mark George and Ryan Butler were other fine contributors for the red, gold and blue.

The match commenced with South Australia registering the first goal, before Vic Metro piled on four in a row to lead by 18 points mid-way through the opening term.

A Schammer goal kept the Croweaters within reach, but another three in succession from Vic Metro saw them grab a 30-point lead at quarter-time.

Key Vic Metro forwards Brown and Croad booted two each, while Salopek was instrumental early, mopping up across half-back.

The home side looked set to continue its impressive first-quarter form, when Tim Walsh kicked truly to open proceedings in the second term – giving the Metro a 37-point lead.

However, South Australia lifted during this period to match Vic Metro in a goal-for-goal affair – although the Croweaters still trailed by 30 points at half-time.

But after the half-time break, the visitors clawed back into contention, when they held Vic Metro goalless during the third term, while in the process, booting three goals to peg the margin back to just 13 points.

Two goals from South Australian forward Joel Patful gave the Croweaters plenty of hope, as the small, yet vocal crowd, built up the atmosphere.

The final quarter produced an arm-wrestle contest, with both sides unable to break clear on the scoreboard. Inaccurate kicking marred both sides early on, before Croweater Matthew Gates kicked the first for the quarter at the 17-minute mark.

Gates’ six-pointer gave the South Australians a genuine chance of pinching the match, when the margin was just seven points in favour of Vic Metro.

However, Abe Williams answered with his side’s first major since the second term, to give Vic Metro some much-needed breathing space late in the quarter.

But when Croad rose to the fore with two in quick succession, Vic Metro all but ended any hope of a South Australian victory.

VIC METRO 7.1 10.2 10.5 13.8 (86)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.1 5.2 8.4 9.7 (61)
GOALS: Vic Metro: Croad 5, Brown 2, Dinnell, Grima, Simpson, Sipthorp, Walsh, Williams
SA: Patful 2, Schammer 2, Cooney, Champion, Gates, McEntree, Mitchell
BEST: Vic MetroSalopek, Shaw, Croad, Johnson, Simpson, Stinear, Cheep, Brown
SA:Schammer, Kellett, Cooney, Bratton, George, Butler