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Sandgropers break their drought

Western Australia has bounced back from a winless 2002 campaign to record a victory in its opening match of the National AFL under-18 championships, with a 19-point win against Vic Country.

The Sandgropers 12.8 (80) defeated Vic Country 8.13 (61) in the second match of a double-header at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.

After an even first half, Western Australia broke away after half-time with eight goals to four to claim the victory, while poor kicking for goal cost Vic Country, as it finished the match with one more scoring shot.

Western Australia’s Kepler Bradley had a stunning match, finishing with 24 disposals (14 kicks and 10 handballs), while he took 10 marks, which included a classical hanger just moments before the final siren. The 198cm tall showed great mobility and pace for a player of his size.

Other players to stand out for the black and gold included Farren Ray with 23 disposals and Matthew Priddis with 22 possessions, while Jacob Surjan booted two goals and finished with 20 touches. Vice-captain Matthew Moody also reconfirmed his status as a player to watch come draft time.

For Vic Country, Colin Sylvia was a shining light up forward with three goals, showing plenty to like about his game with marking and strength a feature of his game, while Kane Tenace showed why he is a highly-rated prospect with 22 disposals. Andrew Walker also impressed with 19 touches.

The opening term was a low-scoring affair with only three goals scored, yet Vic Country had its chances as it posted 1.5 for the quarter. But Western Australia took a narrow three-point lead into the first change.

It was goal-for-goal in the second quarter when Vic Country added a further three goals to two, but again the Country was poor in front of goal, adding another five behinds for the term to finish with 4.10 at half-time. But Vic Country did pinch the lead at the main break when it led by just five points.

However, Western Australia lifted in the third term booting four goals to one – including two from Surjan – to lead by 13 points at three-quarter time.

The Sandgropers continued their solid form in the final quarter, when they added a further four goals to three, which was enough to hold on for victory in the overall result.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 2.2 4.5 8.7 12.8 (80)
VIC COUNTRY: 1.5 4.10 5.12 8.13 (61)

GOALS: Western Australia: Chidlow 2, Spaanderman 2, Surjan 2, Bradley, Campbell, Hall, Johnson, Moody, Walton
Vic Country: Sylvia 3, Tenace 2, Dunn, Foley, Hall
BEST: Western Australia: Bradley, Priddis, Ray, Jovanovic, Moody, Surjan, Wilson, Richardson
Vic Country: Sylvia, Walker, Tenace, Blake, Chaplin, Adcock, Hall
At the MCG