VIC COUNTRY has claimed an 11-point win over South Australia to seal its first division one NAB AFL Under-18 Championships title in five years, as key forward Josh Schache kicked another bag of goals.
The talented Country squad, which was favoured to take out the national carnival, stretched its unbeaten run to five games on Friday with the 11.6 (72) to 9.7 (61) win at Simonds Stadium.
Again it was a number of likely early draft selections who dominated for Vic Country, with key forward and possible No.1 pick Schache booting six goals in another dominant display.
The haul takes Schache's tally of goals to 23 for the championships, and makes him the favourite to take out the Larke Medal as the standout player in division one when the championships close next week.
Several of the 199cm prospect's goals came while he lined up against South Australian Aaron Francis, whose excellent carnival has rocketed him into contention as a top-three pick.
Key defender Jacob Weitering was also terrific for Vic Country, taking eight marks and offering a calm approach in the backline, while fellow Dandenong Stingray Gach Nyuon won the battle in the ruck with 15 disposals and 23 hit-outs.
Rhys Mathieson was central to the midfield contest for Country, winning 18 disposals and six clearances, while father-son prospect Bailey Rice had his best game of the carnival collecting 18 possessions through half-back.
Rice is a strong-bodied, hard-working and versatile player who is eligible to join St Kilda and Carlton under the father-son rule, given his father Dean played more than 100 games at both clubs.
South Australia's captain Will Snelling continued his consistent championships with 21 disposals (and 12 tackles), while Jonty Scharenberg, the younger brother of Collingwood's Matt, showed some exciting signs with 16 touches and nine tackles.
Scharenberg is not eligible to be drafted until next year.
Matthew Allan's forward play also impressed for South Australia, booting three goals to highlight his accurate set-shot kicking.
Luke Partington (16 disposals) was solid, and Wayne Milera showed some promising signs near goal with five inside-50s. But despite South Australia's effort, Vic Country had too much depth.
It got off to a quick start, opening an 18-point lead at the first change in the shortened 20-minute terms. South Australia fought back in the second quarter, and kicked four goals to one to cut the deficit to one point at the major change.
But two goals to Schache early in the third term, and two more to bottom-ager Ben Ainsworth, quickly extended Country's lead and by the final change they led by 30 points and had set up the win.
VIC COUNTRY 4.2 5.3 10.5 11.6 (72)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.0 5.2 5.5 9.7 (61)
Vic Country: Schache 6, Ainsworth 3, McKay, Simpkin
South Australia: Allan 3, Redman 2, McKenzie, Snelling, Dew, Markov
Vic Country: Schache, Weitering, Nyuon, Mathieson, Rice, McKay
South Australia: Snelling, Scharenberg, Combe, Partington, Milera, Allen