23/04/2024

Angus Hastie in action for Vic Country. (Photo: AFL Photos)

A big weekend of representative footy has taken place, as Vic Country took centre stage for the first time, and the best female prospects in the country on display at Marvel Stadium.

Victoria Country was in action for the first time on Sunday at Ikon Park against South Australia.

Coached by Geelong mentor Paul Corrigan, Country got off to a quick start courtesy of three goals from Harley Reid before South Australia could blink.

But once the Croweaters got into the contest, they were more dominant, efficient inside 50, and cohesive, winning 11.9 75 to 15.4 94.

While much of the public attention was focused on probably number one pick Reid, the boys from Craft of the Draft had a look at the less familiar names from Vic Country who boosted their stocks.

Among those were Dandenong’s Kobe Shipp, Geelong’s Michael Rudd and Greater Western Victoria’s George Stevens.

At his best playing as an interceptor and rebounder, Shipp played primarily on the wing on Sunday and proved he could do that well, making sound decisions and racking up plenty of the football.

Rudd was his team’s best key position player, clunking several overhead marks and kicking two goals.

Stevens was a brutish frame in the midfield, regularly getting first hands on the football and advancing it forward.

Dandenong co-skipper Harry DeMattia and Murray’s Darcy Wilson had eye-catching moments they’ll look to use as a foundation for the rest of the National Championships.

Vic Country has a highly regarded half-back line, with Murray’s Coby James and Oscar Ryan, Stevens, and Shipp, Dandenong’s Billy Wilson, Geelong’s Angus Hastie, and GWV’s Luamon Lual all able to roll through there.

How those boys performed in the absence of quality key defenders was an intriguing discussion point to come out of the game, with Wilson the best of the players who played a majority of the game in defence.

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Meanwhile, there was an AFLW Academy v Under 23 All Stars game played as a curtain raiser to the North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs AFL match at Marvel Stadium.

Dandenong’s Brooke Smith was a standout with her explosiveness and speed, playing her best footy on the day off halfback, where she has made a name for herself prior to a positional switch in 2023.

Smith’s Stingrays teammates Mikayla Williamson, Meg Robertson, and Bianca Lyne each showed moments of their best in the showcase event.

Highly regarded Eastern prospect Jess Vukic played her first game back from injury and was competitive in the ruck with 11 hit-outs while also spending some time in defence.

Fellow Ranges players Ava Campbell, a defender with calmness and flair, and electric forward Alyssia Pissano, a top-10 probable were also among the standouts of the Talent League players.

Geelong skipper Chloe Adams also boosted her stocks, showing her tenacity, and gaining momentum from a positive start in the midfield.

Small forwards Lila Keck (Bendigo Pioneers) and Ava Jordan (Northern Knights) were on opposing teams, each offering similar energy and pizzazz inside 50.

The match was a tense arm-wrestle all day, with several lead changes but the under 23s got up 6.8 44 to 6.6 42.

There were also four Coates Talent League girls’ games.

Oakleigh’s top-of-the-table clash had the hallmarks of a thriller, though both sides were missing quality players to the representative game which saw Oakleigh run away with it.

Sarah Poustie backed up her strong Vic Metro trial game with another strong showing, while Sienna Tallariti showed her strengths in racking up 27 disposals.

Gippsland’s Jas Sowden, Tasmania double bottom-ager Harriett Bingley, playing in an unaccustomed defensive position. Sandringham’s Sophie McKay and Ruby Dale and Northern’s Winnie Buckley were others to perform across the weekend.

Listen to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts for a more in-depth analysis of the representative games and follow the Craft of the Draft on Instagram for more features.

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