NORTH Ballarat Rebel Tanner Smith played a strong role at centre half-back in challenging conditions for Vic Country in AFL national under-18 championships yesterday.
Smith (Kalkee) was not beaten in his role against arch-rival Vic Metro, despite Metro claiming a 15-point win at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.
Vic Country and Rebels regional manager Phil Partington said Smith spoiled well and created plenty of run.
Strong winds troubled both teams’ accuracy in front of goal, particularly in tunnel-like conditions where the Doug Wade stand has been demolished for a stadium redevelopment.
Rebel Matt Crouch (Beaufort) continues to play a handy role for Vic Country and was solid yesterday with 18 touches, a goal and seven tackles.
Fellow Rebel Tyler Blake, from Horsham, (six disposals) was solid in defence but has been encouraged to inject more run into his game.
In a close bout, scores were square 6.14 (50) at three-quarter-time before Metro’s Jonathon O’Rourke broke the deadlock early in the final term.
Partington said Country was soundly beaten at clearances but was in the game until 17 minutes into the final term.
Costly turnovers and missed chances in front of goal badly hurt Country.
Vic Country will regroup and reassess for its next and final assignment against South Australia at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Partington said it was a final chance for Country players to impress recruiters on the national stage.
Meanwhile, Rebels Jake Neade and Dom Barry represent the Northern Territory in a division two clash against Queensland at Visy Park today.
Northern Territory will back up this weekend’s match with a match against Tasmania in Geelong next Thursday.
VIC METRO 1.7 4.11 6.14 8.18 (66)
VIC COUNTRY 2.5 3.8 6.14 6.15 (51)
GOALS - Vic Metro: Boyd 3, Hrovat, Hunter, Jaksch, Kelly, O’Rourke. Vic Country: Calvert 2, Crouch, Membrey, Wines, Wood.
BEST - Vic Metro: Temay, O’Rourke, Boyd, Kelly, Vlastuin, Viney, Gilmore.Vic Country: Wood, Smith, Sherman, Garner, Wines, Hams.