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Vic Country too good for Metro counterparts

Daniel Capiron of Vic Country in action during the 2014 NAB AFL Under 18 Championship match between Vic Metro and Vic Country at Simonds Stadium, Geelong on June 8, 2014. (Photo: Theo Karanikos/AFL Media)
Vic Country's Daniel Capiron in action against Vic Metro
AT THE halfway point of the division one NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, a few things have become clear.

The top end of the draft is still difficult to rank, there is plenty of depth after that, and clubs will head to November's draft knowing they can find players. And, from a team perspective, Vic Country is much improved.

After failing to win a division one game last year, Country has already notched two in the opening three rounds of this national carnival.

Both have been against rivals Vic Metro, the latest coming on Sunday with a 44-point drubbing at Simonds Stadium, 12.9 (81) to 4.13 (37).

The new home and away format of this year's championships will see most players sit out at least one game, and that was the case for several highly-rated prospects for both sides this weekend.

Angus Brayshaw, Peter Wright and Corey Ellis were among those for Metro, while Country was without Patrick McCartin (quad) and Tom Lamb (groin) as they overcame small niggles.

It meant there were opportunities for others to step up and for the winners there were plenty who did, starting in the midfield.

Joe Maishman, the cousin of Western Bulldogs' midfielder Mitch Wallis, led the way. With 29 disposals, six marks and seven inside-50 entries, Maishman tucked the ball under his arm and ran with it on the wing.

Nick Dixon also gathered 29 disposals and was strong at the clearances, while Sydney Swans' father-son prospect Josh Dunkley continued his consistent championships despite not being eligible for the draft until 2015.

When a virus hit defender Jacob Weitering early in the game and plans to use Daniel Capiron as a forward went belly-up, Capiron responded and gathered 25 disposals and eight marks in an important role.

"We'd set him all weekend to go forward and literally at the last minute had to go back," said Country coach Mark Ellis. "He played his best game."

Zaine Cordy, who can join the Western Bulldogs as a father-son prospect as the son of 124-gamer Brian, organised that defensive group and played well on Darcy Moore, Dear and whichever tall Metro forward was there to stop.

Aaron Wilson kicked four goals for Country and the tenacious Daniel Butler booted two, while 174cm Jack Lonie collected 25 disposals, took eight marks and kicked two goals in an exciting and energetic showing.

"If [Lonie] keeps up the performances that he's had and the effort that he's brought to the table, he can't be discounted," Ellis said.

"We've got a few more players who we'll bring in next week and we're mindful of rotating the boys through and giving them an opportunity because today showed if you get that, who knows what you can do?"

Caleb Marchbank worked hard at the ball in attack, while Dan Howe, who was overlooked at last year's NAB AFL Draft, showed his versatility across half-back with 23 disposals.

Metro, held goalless in the second half, was led by its captain for the day, Christian Petracca.

Following his excellent 27-disposal effort last week against Western Australia, Petracca started in the centre square and was busy in the midfield with 31 possessions, seven marks and four clearances.

Powerful and strong, he makes an impact when around the ball and continues to firm as one of the better players in this year's draft pool.

Ed Vickers-Willis had 25 disposals, while Jayden Laverde, a nice-moving half-back who knows where and when to run, had 23 touches and nine marks.

Jordan De Goey showed some class in the second half and the physical Brayden Maynard worked hard. Another father-son prospect, Dear, kicked a goal and showed some impressive signs in the tall forward's first game of the championships.

Dear, son of Hawthorn Norm Smith medallist Paul, suffered a bad head clash in the TAC Cup the week before the carnival which delayed his Metro debut.

Vic Metro            2.3    4.4 3.6 4.13 (37)
Vic Country 0.2    5.5    9.7     12.9 (81)

Vic Metro:
Allan, Cavka, Dear, Maynard
Vic Country: Wilson 4, Lonie 2, Butler 2, Nelson, Harnett, Schache, Richards

Vic Metro:
Petracca, Laverde, Vickers-Willis, Maynard, Duggan, De Goey, Switkowski
Vic Country: Maishman, Howe, Lonie, Cordy, Nelson, Harnett, Capiron

Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey