By ZAC MILBANK
The Torrens University SA Under-18 team has suffered a heartbreaking last-minute loss to Victoria Country in Geelong on Friday.
Needing a win to keep their Championship defence alive, the Croweaters looked set for victory when captain Will Gould burst through towards the 50m arc and let fly for an impressive goal to give his side a four-point lead with less than five minutes to play.
After a rushed behind in the 22nd minute put the advantage out to five points for the visitors, Victoria Country made one last-ditch bid to continue their unbeaten run at this year’s AFL U18 National Championships.
Gaining possession on the grandstand wing at the home of the Geelong Cats, the hosts switched the ball into the corridor before it ended up hitting Victoria Country forward Brodie Kemp on the lead, 40m out.
With just 25 seconds left on the clock, Kemp coolly went back and slotted his set shot to give his side the barest of margins. And with no time-on, there was no time left for another bounce in the middle before the final siren.
In a tight, see-sawing encounter which saw the majority of goals kicked into the wind, neither team led by more than 10 points throughout the afternoon.
And with leadership group member Jackson Mead booting his two goals in the final quarter, it appeared SA was set to make amends after faltering to Victoria Metro last Saturday.
But the boys from the bush refused to given in, resulting in them having the opportunity to seal the crown with a win against Western Australia at Marvel Stadium next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, SA will confront the Allies, also on Wednesday, in their last match of the tournament at the same Docklands venue from 4.10pm (SA time).
SA skipper Gould was simply outstanding for the Croweaters, repelling several Vic Country attacks with his intercept marks while also gathering 26 disposals and booting what was nearly the winning goal for his team.
Constructive SA midfielder Harry Schoenberg will look to continue his strong form after racking up a team-high 32 disposals, five marks and six clearances from the centre square.
Schoenberg had plenty of helpers chip in with Mead, Josh Shute, Lachie McNeil and Dylan Stephens (pictured above by Dylan Burns of AFL Photos) all chalking up 20 disposals or more.
Kevin Sheehan Medallist Corey Durdin, who is an underager eligible for the 2020 AFL Draft, impressed with his run, carry and goal sense to boot two goals.
And the Central District teenager nearly produced goal of the carnival when he had four bounces streaking through the middle of the ground before his bouncing shot on goal just fell to the left of the goal post for a behind.
SA key defenders Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder continued their rock solid campaigns to snare 13 marks between them as they were forced to defend 57 inside 50 entries compared with SA’s total of 39.
VICTORIA COUNTRY 2.2 5.3 6.6 9.9 (63)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.3 3.6 6.7 9.8 (62)
LEADING DISPOSALS – SA: Schoenberg 32, Gould 26, Day 24, Edwards, McNeil 23, Mead 22, Stephens 20, Shute 19, Magor 18.
GOALS – SA: Durdin, Mead 2, Gould, Sladojevic, O’Brien, Morris, Stephens.