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U18s: Leading Country draft prospects star in win over SA

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Rhys Mathieson of Vic Country runs with the ball during the U18 Championship match between Vic Metro and Vic Country at Simonds Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Rhys Mathieson starred in Vic Country's win over SA

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JOSH Schache kicked five goals and midfield pair Darcy Parish and Rhys Mathieson starred as Vic Country all but sewed up this year's division one title with a 28-point win over South Australia.

The Country trio led their side to the 13.13 (91) to 9.9 (63) victory at AAMI Stadium on Sunday, which pushed them two games clear of South Australia after four rounds of the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

There is only two rounds remaining in the carnival, but Country has a healthy percentage and in round six faces the struggling Western Australia, who has lost its past three games at an average margin of 84 points.

Schache, a key forward likely to be an early selection at this year's NAB AFL Draft, was off target early in proceedings but found his rhythm as the game wore on and finished with 5.2 from 14 disposals and nine marks.

In his second game of the championships after missing the first two rounds with a broken thumb, Parish again underlined his class through the midfield by collecting 24 disposals.

Dynamic and with some dash, Parish is always looking to take the game forward, evidenced by his seven inside-50 entries.

His Geelong Falcons teammate, Mathieson, offers a more combative approach around the contest, and collected 23 disposals, four clearances and a goal as he pieces together a consistent carnival for Country.

Darcy Tucker (19 disposals) gave some drive off half-back and fellow North Ballarat Rebels prospect Jarrod Berry had 19 touches as he builds his credentials for next year's draft as a bottom-ager.

Country had a number of strong contributors across the ground, with Harry McKay also showing some exciting signs in attack. The 200cm Gippsland Power forward had 12 touches and kicked two goals, but gave recruiters more glimpses of his raw talent.

South Australia led at the first and second changes, before Vic Country booted six goals in the third quarter to set up the win.

SA captain Will Snelling was terrific with 32 disposals in a hard-fought display, and he also laid 10 tackles. Luke Partington was also effective with 30 touches, five marks and six tackles as he tried to keep his side in the game.

Riley Bonner's run off half-back (he had nine rebound 50s), Stephen Tahana's disciplined defending and Aaron Francis' class were among the other South Australians to take the eye.

Round five of the division one tournament starts on Friday, June 26, with the division two championships kicking off next Saturday on the Gold Coast. 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA    2.1       5.5     6.6       9.9 (63)
VIC COUNTRY            1.6       3.10    9.12    13.13 (91) 

South Australia: Hoare 2, Allen, Bonner, Combe, Francis, Dew, Milera, Parella
Vic Country: Schache 5, McKay 2, Simpkin 2, Mathieson, Johnston, Cox, Ainsworth 

South Australia: Snelling, Partington, Bonner, Nunn, Tahana, Dew
Vic Country: Parish, Schache, Mathieson, Berry, McKay, Tucker