Colby McKercher during the U18 National Championships double header on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

TASMANIAN midfield gun Colby McKercher stamped his name as one of this year's best draft prospects, producing an awesome display to drag the Allies to their first ever National Championships title with a thrilling win on Sunday.

With the Allies' contest against Vic Country well and truly in the balance at RSEA Park, McKercher kicked two classy goals – one from deep inside the pocket and another after an electric sidestep into space – to kickstart his side's third-quarter charge.


McKercher also had 32 disposals, eight clearances and six inside-50s in a barnstorming performance as the Allies claimed an essentially winner-takes-all battle against Vic Country 12.9 (81) to 10.10 (70).

A growing number of clubs have McKercher just behind Harley Reid as the best available player in this year's draft class, with Sunday's performance only set to bolster the 181cm midfielder's standing even further.

McKercher's fellow Tasmanian midfielder Ryley Sanders (35 disposals, five clearances) was also among the game's best, while Sydney's Academy prospect Caiden Cleary (36 disposals, nine inside-50s, seven tackles) was prolific through the engine room.

Ryley Sanders during the U18 National Championships double header on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Gold Coast's Academy gun Jed Walter kicked two goals from 11 disposals and six marks in another indication of his outstanding talent, doing no harm to his well-earned standing as a likely top-three pick.

He was one of a host of Suns Academy players to impress, with ruckman Ethan Read (24 disposals, 13 hitouts, seven clearances) and zippy midfielder Jake Rogers (22 disposals, five clearances, eight inside-50s) also producing noteworthy displays.


Key defender Connor O'Sullivan (17 disposals, six marks) was another to catch the eye, as the 198cm backman spent portions of the match marking the draft's likely No.1 selection in Vic Country's Reid.

Reid had 14 disposals, six clearances and seven inside-50s having split his time evenly between the midfield and the forward line, but couldn't carry Vic Country over the line in what was a must-win contest.

Harley Reid during the U18 National Championships double header on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

George Stevens (22 disposals, one goal) and Darcy Wilson (15 disposals, two goals) were among Vic Country's best players, while forward Michael Rudd (13 disposals, six marks, two goals) provided a handy target in attack.

Earlier, gun small forward Nick Watson had produced a sizzling performance that featured five goals in the first half alone to inspire Vic Metro to a huge victory over Western Australia.

Watson, crowned 'The Wizard' for his mercurial work inside-50, finished with 5.3 to go with 13 disposals and three marks as he continued a stellar campaign that has him heading towards being a top-five pick at season's end.


The 170cm forward kicked his goals in a variety of ways, demonstrating his aerial prowess while also bending home a series of snaps on either foot as Vic Metro eased to a comfortable 19.13 (127) to 6.10 (46) win.

Watson thrived at the feet of strong-marking Vic Metro forward Logan Morris, with the 191cm target switching ends to emerge as a potential first-round pick after kicking 4.1 from 16 disposals and 11 grabs.

Logan Morris celebrates a goal during the U18 National Championships double header on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fellow first-round prospect Nate Caddy was also promising in the Vic Metro forward line, battling away and showing his competitiveness on a morning that finished with three goals from 11 disposals and seven tackles.

Melbourne father-son prospect Kynan Brown, the son of former Demon Nathan, was impressive with 26 disposals, six clearances and one goal in the midfield for Vic Metro, while Harvey Johnston (29 disposals, six clearances, one goal) and Caleb Windsor (22 disposals, nine inside-50s, one goal) were also solid.

Kynan Brown during the U18 National Championships double header on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Vic Metro's imposing 200cm key defender Ollie Murphy (14 disposals, six marks, six rebound-50s) was another to emerge among the game's best players, as he continued what has been an impressive junior season.

Likely top-10 pick Daniel Curtin was among the few standouts for Western Australia, playing through the midfield once again and winning 27 disposals, eight clearances and seven tackles.

Clay Hall (25 disposals) continued his nice Championships campaign, while Koltyn Tholstrup (20 disposals, eight inside-50s) and Koen Sanchez (13 disposals, three goals) were both influential in attack.