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Huge game by likely No.1 draft star leads Oakleigh to Grand Final win

Matt Rowell shows off his best on ground and premiership medals on Saturday - AFL,Under-18s,Draft
Matt Rowell shows off his best on ground and premiership medals on Saturday

IF MATT Rowell needed to do any more to confirm himself as 2019’s No.1 National Draft pick, this was it.

The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder steered his side to a premiership win in Saturday's NAB League Grand Final over the Eastern Ranges, as the Chargers won by 53 points.

Rowell completed one of the most consistent and brilliant junior seasons with one more standout showing, winning the medal as best afield for the second straight year in the under-18 flag decider.

Trent Bianco (Chargers) gets under Billy McCormack (Ranges) on Saturday. Picture: AFL Photos

This time, unlike in last year's loss to the Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh prevailed. Rowell was everywhere, with the hard-at-it on-baller dominating the 12.17 (89) to 5.6 (36) win.  

Rowell finished with 44 disposals and kicked two crucial goals in the third term, as Oakleigh steamrolled the Ranges with a seven-goal-to-one quarter before claiming their third flag in six years.

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Gold Coast's recruiting team, who were at Ikon Park watching on, can lock him into their plans for round one next season. Rowell's ready, having not played a bad game at any stage of his campaign.

Back-to-back best-on-grounds in the Grand Final catapulted him into elite territory for an under-18 prospect, with Rowell living up to the hype in every big game he has played over the past two years.

He had plenty of help from a star-studded Oakleigh line-up, which was too strong across the ground for a hard-working but outclassed Eastern side.

Noah Anderson, who appears set to join Rowell at the Suns if the club is granted a priority pick at the top of the draft, collected 26 disposals to close a dominant season, while Trent Bianco also had 30 disposals to continue his strong form.

Jeromy Lucas, who was overlooked at last year's draft, kicked three goals in the third term, while Kaden Schreiber's impressive end to the season continued with 26 disposals.

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Bottom-agers Will Phillips (two goals and 16 disposals), Bailey Laurie (two goals) and Finlay Macrae (20 disposals) were also important in the Chargers' runaway win to further establish themselves as players to watch next year.

Finlay Macrae breaks away from a tackle. Picture: AFL Photos

Eastern's even level of talent did well to progress to the Grand Final but were outplayed on Grand Final day, with 2018 prospect Will Parker among their best with 27 disposals.

EASTERN RANGES           1.0    3.3    4.5     5.6 (36)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS     2.7   3.12  10.13  12.17 (89)                          

GOALS
Eastern Ranges: Clarke, Mellis, Duffy, Keeling, Hickleton
Oakleigh Chargers: Lucas 3, Rowell 2, Laurie 2, Phillips 2, Sharman, Graham, Stathopoulos 

BEST 
Eastern Ranges: Parker, Clarke, Stapleton, Pretty, Mellis
Oakleigh Chargers: Rowell, Bianco, Anderson, Schreiber, Lucas, Macrae