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WA Falls Short in Opening Game at NAB U18 National ChampionshipsMonday, July 4, 2022 - 12:12 PM - by Mark Readings

WA’s U18 squad will quickly turn its focus to Saturday’s showdown with the Allies after being defeated in the opening match of the NAB AFL U18 National Championships in Melbourne. 

The Black Swans led Vic Metro by 9 points at halftime before the home side booted eight goals to one in the third quarter to grab control of the match. 

Vic Metro forward Matthew Jefferson kicked 7 goals to guide his side to a 27-point victory. 

WA coach Ben Dyer was philosophical in defeat. 

“I thought there was plenty to like and some good lessons for the players as well. 

When you play against the best it’s a good measure. 

To generate more scoring shots and more inside 50s suggests we did many things right, but you must take your opportunities and put scoreboard pressure on,” Dyer said. 

WA lost its grip on the game after halftime with a poor third quarter. 

“It was terribly frustrating and started with centre bounce, getting stripped of the ball when we won first possession and then letting Vic Metro come out the front to put our defence under extreme pressure. 

Being able to halt momentum in the AFL when it’s against you is massive under the 6,6,6 rule so we’ll have to identify how we do it better next time,” Dyer said. 

Two of WA’s better players were Elijah Hewett and Darcy Jones, both of whom enhanced their draft prospects. 

“Hewett imposes himself physically on the contest and makes an impact when required. 

Elijah has a good blend of ball-winning ability and dynamic movement to get from inside to outside that the best midfielders have. 

Jones’ size is often spoken about, but his ability to cut through the opposition with his lateral movement is a real point of difference for him. 

Plus, he’s probably our best user of the ball,” said Dyer. 

The WA coach has outlined the week ahead as his side prepares to face the Allies. 

“On Monday, we’ll help the players understand what we can do better when scenarios like the third quarter present again.  

It’s also important that we reinforce what we did well, particularly the way we were able to play the game in our front half for almost the entire second quarter. 

We’ll train Tuesday and Thursday and head to Adelaide on Friday.” 

WA plays the Allies on Saturday in Adelaide.