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Vic Metro wins it all

Vic Metro has won one of the greatest ever matches in the Under 18 National Championships over Vic Country to win the division one title at the MCG on Saturday.

Vic Metro 8.10 (58) defeated Vic Country 8.6 (54) in a thrilling four-point victory that went right down to the wire in, cold and rainy conditions.

Vic Metro entered the match without the likes of key players Steven Salopek, Tim Walsh, Jobe Watson, Cameron Croad and Ryan Brown to produce back-to-back titles, after the navy blue and white won last year’s championships.

Vic Metro completed its carnival with three straight wins after accounting for South Australian and Western Australia, while it was the Country’s first loss against the Metro.

Metro captain Stephen Gilham accepted the winning trophy, before his team completed a lap of honour on the hallowed turf.

The Metro had several stand out players earlier in the tournament, but if ever a team-like effort was needed, it was today.

Ruckman Paul Johnson was again a stand-out performer, while vice-captain Blake Grima, Abe Williams, Ricky Dyson, Stephen Dinnell and Brayden Shaw were other fine contributors.

But the Country had several fine players with James Allan, Adam Fisher, Tom Longergan, Jason Winderlich, Ryley Dunn and Josh Rudd among their side’s best.

The match began with Vic Country holding Vic Metro goalless in the opening term, as the Metro could post just two behinds. But the Country booted just two majors to lead by 11 points at the first change.

In another low-scoring – yet goal-for-goal – quarter, Dyson registered Vic Metro’s first major in the early minutes of the second term, before the Country’s Winderlich answered with his second for the game.

Kade Simpson continued his fine carnival form with a classy goal, before the Country again hit-back with a beauty from highly-rated big-man Hamish McIntosh.

The Country held an eight-point lead at half-time, although the Metro had their chances to break clear, as they booted five behinds for the term.

With injuries already marring the Vic Metro side to some of its best players, the Country also suffered a major blow in the opening minute of the second quarter when likely top ten draftee Brendon Goddard went down with a shoulder injury.

Vic Country kicked two of opening three goals to commence the second-half, before the Metro added three in a row to take a four-point lead at three quarter-time, which included a ripper from Nick Malceski.

Malceski tucked one back from the pocket to give the Metro its first lead of the match just before the last hit-out.

An arm wrestle began the final term, before Dunn ran into an open goal mid-way through the quarter to give the Country a three-point lead.

But big Johnson regained the lead for Vic Metro when he kicked truly soon afterwards and when Dyson threaded through a brilliant goal from the pocket, the Metro had the upper-hand nine points.

Just when the game looked out of reach for the Country, Mark Fitzgerald notched up his first, with the margin in the Metro’s favour by just three points.

But with the seconds ticking down, the Metro managed to hold on to victory even without Sipthorp’s kick after the siren producing a point.

VICTORIA METRO 0.2 2.7 6.9 8.10 (58)
VICTORIA COUNTRY 2.1 4.3 6.5 8.6 (54)
GOALS: Vic Metro: Dyson 2, Dinnell, Lyons, Malceski, Simpson, Sipthorp
Vic Country: Winderlich 2, Allan, Dunn, Fitzgerald, Lonergan, McIntosh, Miller
BEST: Vic Metro: Johnson, Grima, Williams, Dyson, Dinnell, Shaw
Vic Country Allan, Fisher, Lonergan, Winderlich, Dunn, Rudd