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Victorian Country falls short at AFL Under-18 Championships

Despite solid performances from Murray Bushrangers Dan Howe and Caleb Marchbank, Victorian Country has lost its last AFL Under-18 Championships match against Western Australia.

DAMEN FRANCIS July 3, 2014 3:23am

Murray Bushrangers Dan Howe and Caleb Marchbank were on the losing side as Western Australia ended Victoria Country’s AFL Under-18 Championships title hopes at Docklands Stadium last night.

Country led from early in the first quarter until the final three minutes of the game, when a quick snap from WA forward Clem Smith put the visitors in front.

Country tried to respond and while Marchbank regained possession and sent Country forward with less than one minute remaining, Country turned the ball over and WA held on to win 9.13 (67) to 10.5 (65).

It was a deserved first victory of the championships for WA, who comfortably won the inside-50 count and the clearances after half-time.

Country led by 27 points at the main breaks and the question was whether they could win by a big enough margin to move to the top of the championships ladder on percentage.

However, the home side managed just one more goal — to outstanding Gippsland Power player Lukas Webb, who finished with four goals and 16 possessions — to be overrun by two points.

Benalla’s Marchbank had 12 disposals at three-quarter time, playing mainly across half-back, and was sure in possession and strong overhead.

Howe played numerous roles, including a key post in defence in the final term.

The Rennie utility had two clear highlights: a terrific gather, step and handball to release Jack Lonie for a second-quarter goal and a brave spoil running back with the flight to deny his WA opponent a set shot as Country tried in vain to protect its lead in the final term.

The winner of tomorrow’s clash between Victoria Metro and South Australia will win the championships.

Murray Bushrangers fared better in division two, where several players from the other side of the border helped NSW-ACT defeat Queensland by 13 points to win the title.

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