By ZAC MILBANK
A strong second quarter into the wind helped the Torrens University SA U18 team earn a 37-point win against the Allies in Game 1 of the NAB AFL National Championships at Thebarton Oval.
After starting the game brightly with a 19-point lead at the first change, the Croweaters’ ability to score three goals to the northern end against a sweeping breeze set up the victory.
While the hosts – missing key players Kobe Ryan, Nick Sadler, Harry Barnett and Will Paton due to Covid protocols – were outscored in the second term, they had laid a vital foundation to pile on the scoreboard pressure after the main break.
And this was exactly what coach Tony Bamford’s charges managed, booting 5.3 with the wind at their backs as the visitors could muster just two behinds.
With key forwards Isaac Keeler (three goals), Phoenix Foster (one goal) and Harry Lemmey (one goal) controlling the air for South Australia, it took control of the contest by posting a match-winning lead of 39 points at three-quarter time.
Athletic SA utility Mattaes Phillipou was a strong contributor with an equal game-high 24 disposals, five clearances, six marks and two goals as he displayed his ability to have an impact in the centre square and inside 50m.
Croweaters captain Adam D’Aloia (16 disposals, seven tackles), Billy Dowling (24 disposals) and Archie Lovelock (14 disposals, five inside 50s, two goals) were influential in the midfield while Foster had 18 hit outs after spending most of his time in the ruck.
The drive off half-back was also a key plank in SA’s success as Jakob Ryan (20 disposals, four rebound 50s), Alex Holt (16 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Max Michalanney (15 disposals, five rebound 50s) all regularly turned defence into attack.
Game 1 was the first of four matches for the Croweaters, who will also line-up against Victoria Country next Sunday at Thebarton, before tackling Victoria Metro (Geelong on July 17) and Western Australia (Perth on July 24).
SA 4.3 7.5 12.8 14.9 (93)
Allies 1.2 6.3 6.5 8.8 (56)
BEST – SA: Michalanney, Dowling, Foster, Lovelock, Rypstra, Phillipou
GOALS – SA: Keeler 3, Lemmey, Lovelock, Phillipou, Magor 2, Rypstra, Foster, Delean
At Thebarton Oval