SA Upsets Vic Country
A BEST-ON-GROUND performance from skipper Chad Wingard has inspired South Australia to an upset 46-point win over Victoria Country at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Vic Country dominated the play in the first half and deserved to be more than 22 points in front at the main change, but left the door open for SA with some errant goalkicking.
Led by Wingard, tough onballer Mitch Grigg, left-footer Brad McKenzie and influential ruckman Brodie Grundy, the home team started winning the ball out of the centre in the third quarter and piled on 14 goals to four in the second half to record a convincing 19.9 (123) to 11.11 (77) win.
Wingard, who has been touted as a potential top-five pick in this year's draft, accumulated 27 possessions (12 contested), five clearances and two goals, including a brilliant left-foot snap from the boundary line to put SA within a point of Vic Country in the third quarter.
Grigg gathered 21 touches, three goals and a game-high nine clearances, while McKenzie finished with 20 disposals playing across half-back and through the midfield.
Grundy (36 hit-outs) was the dominant ruckman on the ground and defenders Rory Laird and Alex Forster, and big man Aseri Raikiwasa continued their
Glenelg star Ben Kennedy worked his way into the game, picking up 11 handball receives in a midfield/forward role. He also finished the day with four goals, including two in SA's last-quarter blitz.
Kennedy is ineligible to be drafted this year, but can be pre-listed by Greater Western Sydney as one of four 17-year-olds, who can then be on-traded to an interested club.
Woodville-West Torrens forward Matt McDonough, who can also be pre-listed as a 17-year-old by GWS, backed up his impressive five-goal haul against NSW/ACT last weekend, with another four goals on Saturday.
Defender Josh Tynan starred in defence for Vic Country, picking up 17 possessions (12 contested) and displaying a clean pair of hands to take eight marks.
Midfielders Clay Smith (19 possessions and a goal) and Brad Crouch (20 possessions) worked hard, and 16-year-old sensation Lachie Whitfield (20 disposals and two goals) once again showed his class.
The win means South Australia remains undefeated at the championships, and move to the top of the division one ladder.
The other two unbeaten teams at the tournament, West Australia and Vic Metro, will meet at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.
South Australia 2.1 4.5 14.14 19.9 (123)
Victoria Country 3.5 7.9 8.10 11.11 (77)
South Australia: McDonough, Kennedy 4, Grigg 3, Hender, Mayes, Wingard 2, Grundy, Toumpas
Victoria Country: S.Gordon, Pongracic, Whitfield 2, Elton, N.O'Brien, C.Smith, D.Smith, Wright
South Australia: Raikiwasa, Grundy, McKenzie, Wingard, Laird, Kennedy, Forster
Victoria Country: Tynan, N.O'Brien, C.Smith, Whitfield, Wright
South Australia: Hender (ankle)
Victoria Country: Buntine (corked quad)
By Katrina Gill, courtesy of afl.com.au