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Combine tosses Tasmania

New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory has completed its Under 18 National Championships campaign with a closely fought victory over Tasmania by 18 points.

The blue and gold 16.10 (106) defeated Tassie 14.4 (88) in the opening game of the division two double-header at Optus Oval on Friday.

NSW/ACT finished the carnival with two wins from its three games – after being thrashed by 69 points against the Northern Territory in its opening match of the championships.

Despite playing their best game of the championships against NSW/ACT, Tasmania ended a disappointing last in division two after failing to also win a match against either Queensland or the Northern Territory.

However, the Tasmanians were vastly improved against NSW/ACT and managed to boot 14 goals, when a total of 10 had been kicked in the previous two games.

In a see-sawing contest, Tasmania led at both the opening and three-quarter time breaks –however NSW/ACT stepped up a gear in the final term, snaring six goals to three.

NSW/ACT’s Corey Brown was best-on-ground with 38 possessions (including 25 kicks and 13 handballs), in his best game of the championships.

Brown showed plenty of class in the midfield, as he bombed the ball inside 50 on 10 occasions and created much of the play, as well as winning the hard-ball.

Brent Fraser (22 disposals and three goals) was another fine player for the blue and gold, while ruckman John Meiklejohn was again impressive.

Bo Nixon shone up forward with three goals, while Brenton McAllister, Shaun Daly, Troy Bartlett, Ryan Crawford and Paul Bevan were other fine contributors for the NSW/ACT side.

Tasmanian ruckman/forward Jason Laycock played his best game of the championships with an outstanding five goal effort.

He confirmed his status as one of the Apple Isle’s most promising youngsters after entering the championships with plenty of focus. Laycock also finished with 19 possessions.

Forward Michael Thompson was in-form with three goals, while skipper Luke Shackleton again stood out for his state, as did Allan O’Sign and Brett Robinson.

Tasmania kick-started the match with five majors, equaling their entire goal tally registered against both Queensland and the Northern Territory in its opening two games.

It was also the first time in the championships that the green and gold led at the end of a quarter.

Laycock began in red-hot form, bagging three goals and using his 195cm frame to full advantage, while McAllister booted two of the three goals posted by the NSW/ACT side in the opening quarter.

But after trailing by 11 points at the first change, the blue and gold fought back with four majors to pinch a three-point lead at half-time.

Nixon posted two up forward to complete an impressive first half, which yielded six marks, while Brown had 19 touches by the main break.

Laycock added another to finish with fourth in the opening half, while he claimed 10 touches during that period.

Daly kicked truly to open the third term and give NSW/ACT a nine-point lead, but two in succession from Tasmania brought the margin back to just four points.

NSW/ACT answered via Brett Dodswell and Nick Potter to give their side an 11-point lead, before Tassie hit back with another two in a row to gain a one-point lead at three quarter time.

The final quarter was a tight affair early-on, as NSW/ACT posted three goals to two and by the 14-minute mark, giving the blue and gold a six-point lead.

But when Matt Murray kicked his second for the term, Lachlan Longmire bagged his first and Nixon notched up his third for the match, the NSW/ACT side had three in three minutes to all but end Tassie’s hopes of claiming its first victory of the tournament.

NSW/ACT 3.2 7.5 10.8 16.10 (106)
TASMANIA 5.1 7.2 11.3 14.4 (88)

GOALS: NSW/ACT: Fraser 3, Nixon 3, McAllister 2, Murray 2, Bartlett, Daly, Dodswell, Longmire, Potter, Whatman
Tasmania: Laycock 5, Thompson 3, McCrossen 2, Bennetts, Robinson, Savage, Wescombe

BEST: NSW/ACT: Brown, Fraser, Mieklejohn, McAllister, Nixon, Daly, Bartlett, Crawford, Bevan
Tasmania: Laycock, Shackleton, Thompson, O’Sign, Robinson, Harvey