A Hampden league footballer showed his game-breaking ability as Vic Country fell agonisingly short of an AFL under 18 national championships title on Wednesday.
Terang Mortlake teenager Isaac Wareham stood up in the final quarter as Vic Country turned a 31-point second-term deficit against Western Australia at Marvel Stadium into a one-point lead with two minutes to play.
Wareham kicked a long bomb into the goal square which set up a Ned Cahill soccer goal.
But Western Australia, which was battling Vic Country for the title, rallied with Regan Clarke kicking the match-winner with seconds remaining.
Wareham was one of three Hampden players to feature for Vic Country alongside South Warrnambool duo Jay Rantall and Liam Herbert.
Vic Country assistant coach Marc Greig, who works with the trio at NAB League club Greater Western Victoria Rebels, said Wareham played with flair.
"Isaac played the first half as a defender and Western Australia has good run on the outside and that's his strong point so we moved him onto a wing in the second half," he said.
"He had an impact on the game. He helped break the lines with his run and carry and long kicking and he won some one-on-ones too."
Greig said Rantall, who gathered 18 disposals, was thrown into a different role.
"With changing to the team, he started forward because he's a good runner and we encouraged him up and down the ground," he said.
"Then we put him back as an inside mid, as he'd done in the previous three games, and he slowly started to find his feet and helped us in regards to pressure and link up with his clever hands."
Greig said Herbert played the role asked of him on a wing and across half-forward.
He said Vic Country, which defeated Vic Metro, the Allies and South Australia in its other matches, was disappointed with its sloppy start against Western Australia.
But he credited the players whose "effort in the second half was unbelievable" to fight back and take the lead in the dying stages.
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