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SA opens its account

South Australia has won its first game of the 2003 National AFL under 18 championships – and in the process joined other division one teams Vic Country, Vic Metro and Western Australia with one win each – after securing a hard-fought 10-point victory over the Sandgropers.

The Croweaters 12.5 (77) defeated Western Australia 9.13 (67) in the second game of the division-one double-header at Optus Oval to complete the second round of the championships on Wednesday afternoon.

With the game in the balance at three quarter-time, South Australia broke away in the last quarter to post an impressive, yet close win.

South Australia’s awesome foursome – Adam Cooney (26 disposals and two goals), David Kellett (32 possessions), Brad Symes (29 touches) and Josh Willoughby (25 disposals) – were again dominant players and crucial to the result. But it was Cooney and Kellett who once again showed why they were named All-Australians as bottom-age players last year with their outstanding matches.

Michael Sumner and Ryan Griffen – who is too young to be drafted this year but is one to watch out for in 2004 – showed plenty to like about their game, while Harry Miller finished with three goals.

For Western Australia, vice-captain and 2002 All-Australian Matthew Moody finished with four goals, while Matthew Priddis was his state’s highest possession winner with 26 touches, while big man Kepler Bradley was again outstanding and the skillful Farren Ray was impressive.

The match started with both sides posting three goals each for the quarter, but Western Australia added one extra behind to lead by one point at the first change.

However, South Australia booted four goals – including two from Dylan Pfitzner – to one in the second term to gain a 14-point lead at half-time, while Western Australia’s only major for the term came via Jacob Surjan after he flew high and took a courageous mark.

The Sandgropers fought back early in the third term to trail by one point, after goals came from Moody and Adam Edwards. But South Australia answered with two in succession, before Western Australia again hit back via Edwards and Moody, who kicked truly just moments before the three quarter-time siren.

South Australia opened the final term in a dominant fashion, booting three goals in 12 minutes to lead by 17 points, but when Moody recorded his fourth for Western Australia at the 20-minute mark, the margin was just too far out of reach.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: 3.2 7.3 9.5 12.5 (77)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 3.3 4.7 8.11 9.13 (67)

GOALS: South Australia: Miller 3, Challen 2, Cooney 2, Griffen 2, Pfitzner 2, Willoughby
Western Australia: Moody 4, Edwards 2, Priddis, Spencer, Surjan
BEST: South Australia: Kellett, Cooney, Symes, Willoughby, Sumner, Grundy, Miller, Waters
Western Australia: Bradley, Moody, Priddis, Spencer, Curley, Ray
At Optus Oval