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U18: Allies draw first blood at Championships

Brisbane Lions Academy player Jack Tomkinson was among the best for the Allies - AFL,Draft
Brisbane Lions Academy player Jack Tomkinson was among the best for the Allies

A MATCH-WINNING last quarter from ruck/forward Kieren Briggs has lifted the Allies to a 23-point win over Vic Country in their opening NAB AFL Under-18 Championships clash at Blacktown on Saturday.

In a low-scoring, heavily-contested clash in slippery conditions, the Allies trailed by two points at the last change before Briggs exploded with 3.2 of his team’s 4.6 in the final term, while Vic Country was held goalless.

The highly-rated tall prospect – Greater Western Sydney’s MVP in the recent Academy series – put the Allies in front after hauling in a big mark in the opening minute of the final term and added two more goals to put the result beyond doubt.

Briggs finished with 16 possessions, six marks, five tackles and 19 hit-outs.

Another key to the Allies’ victory was Tasmanian midfielder Chayce Jones, who relished the heavy going in a best-afield performance that featured 28 possessions (including 22 kicks), five clearances, six tackles and two terrific goals.

Fellow Tasmanian Matt McGuinness had just 10 touches but the swingman was valuable in various roles.

The Allies were also well served by bottom-age stars Tom Green and Mitch O’Neill.

Green, a hard-working inside midfielder from Canberra and a grandson of Richmond premiership player Michael Green, gathered 24 possessions, a team-high six clearances and a goal, while dashing wingman O’Neill, from Tasmania, had 26 touches.

Other Allies players to shine included Briggs’ ruck partner, Brisbane Lions Academy player Jack Tomkinson (32 hit-outs), and Tasmanian Nic Baker.

Tassie’s top draft hope Tarryn Thomas was quiet in the first half but finished strongly with 17 quality touches and six tackles.

No.1 draft candidate Sam Walsh was easily Vic Country’s best player, accumulating a game-high 31 possessions, six clearances and five tackles.

Defenders Kyle Reid and Connor Idun stood firm under pressure for the losers, while powerful small forward Serong (21 touches) was solid.

Geelong’s father-son prospect Oscar Brownless – the son of Geelong great Bill Brownless – was good on-ball with 18 touches and seven tackles, while fellow midfielder Sam Fletcher battled hard to claim 19 possessions and game-high tallies of tackles (14) and clearances (seven).

Vic Country’s hopes were severely hampered by the loss of two players to early injuries, with co-captain Jye Caldwell starting well with six touches and a goal before hurting a hamstring, and Mitch Riordan also injured early.

Sydney Swans prospect Nick Blakey missed the clash because of a viral infection.

For the first time in the Allies’ three years in the competition, they have started their campaign with a win.

Allies                           1.1       4.4       6.5       10.11 (71)
Victoria Country        3.4       4.6       6.7       6.12 (48) 

Allies:  Briggs 3, Jones 2, Scott 2, Green, Peatling, Turner
Vic Country: Flanders 2, Garoni 2, Caldwell, Williams

Jones, Briggs, McGuinness, Green, Tomkinson, Baker
Vic Country: Walsh, Reid, Brownless, Serong, Idun, Fletcher