So, gf broke up with me last weekend, so I thought that catching some u18s might be a reasonable way to while away a bit of the time between now and my inevitable lonely death and the discovery of my manky and rat-nibbled corpse 3 weeks later by a door to door salesman. Anyway, bear in mind that this was the first u18 game I've been too this year, so reports won't be too precise until I've been to enough that I can start recognising blokes.
The u18 champs practise matches were on at princes park today, I caught most of the first one before having to run off to attend other chores. The games were VC vs Allies, followed by Vic Metro vs Other Allies - I get the strong impression that these games were being used as a final selection hit-out by all concerned. Top liners from all sides did not play - no Hayes, Garner, Stephenson, Worpel, Clark, Spargo, Ballenden, De Koning, etc. It was all about the blokes lower in the pecking order.
So I think it was enlightening that Cassidy Parish played, I reckon it says a bit about where he's viewed in the draft pecking order. He played his usual sort of game. Got a stack of it, won a bunch of clearances. One thing he did which i haven't seen from him prior is to find space across half-froward and present as a switching option around the 50m arc. Of course, maybe the reason he was in space is cos the allies didn't worry too much about manning him up cos they aren't worried about being hurt by his footskills. Kicking a big, big issue with Cassidy. Off-hand handball not great shakes either, tbh. Shaping as a late pick type I think - his kicking was a weakness last year and it doesn't seem to have improved much..
Other country boys who showed a bit were Wellings (who was quick, energetic and beautifully clean across hb) and Schumaker, who seems to be a sort of slightly awkward-looking utility quasi-mid who really started imposing himself late in the 2nd and into the 3rd with smart intercepts, hard running, and quality disposal. Worth watching. Benson and Handley also prominent in the midfield - Benson quicker and so got involved more, Handley with arguable better quality possessions. Masterton and Henness a bit marginal in size for kpp backs at AFL level (192/193) but did well against taller opponents, despite being under a lot of early pressure.
I paid less attention to the Allies, cos they had two sides playing on the one day so there was bound to be less quality in each, and because 90% of their players are reserved special playthings of the AFLs spoiled pretty princesses up north anyway.
I liked Dawson's run off half-back, he and Bailey combined well, overlapped well, and had a real system and understanding going with the rest of the Allies mids which VC didn't come close to matching until things clicked later on in the game. But the Allies just fell down up forward again and again, and VC were able to draw away. Bowie always looked dangerous and put some really good pressure on, but he was more of a case of LOOKING dangerous rather than progressing to actually BEING dangerous. Last year's Allies' (and AA?) ruckman (and Dawks scholarship kid) Olango spent a lot of time as a sole marking target, and just didn't make a dent. Sambono and Lane did a few good things but needed to have more sustained impact. but I suspect this is one of the first time the Allies kids have all played together, so they'll probably improve as their understanding improves.
Not a high-quality game on the whole, a lot of skill errors, probably more on the VC side. But in the end they just had more contributors and avenues to goal.
Champs start 10 June, as far as I know...