It was a disappointing result for the U18 Male Academy after falling to the Eastern Ranges by 59 points at Sandringham on Saturday. 

In their first outing as an Academy in Melbourne, the SUNS were hard at the ball early, competing aggressively in contests and providing plenty of rebound run off halfback.

A scrappy first half kept the game tight, with only an eight-point lead favouring the Vics at the main break.

However, in the third quarter a refreshed Ranges outfit found synergy between their midfield and forward 50 to pile on seven unanswered goals.

The SUNS struggled to get on the score sheet throughout the game, with uncharacteristic fumbles and rushed kicks a trend.

The Ranges dominance at stoppages and composure at crucial moments of the game was enough to outclass the previously undefeated SUNS. However, there was some light at the end of the tunnel as a number of players showed promise ahead of Allies selection next month.  

Academy Skipper Connor Budarick, again pushed his case for Allies selection with 24 disposals and 12 tackles with a best on ground performance for the SUNS. 

Ryan Gilmore and Branden Deslandes were busy across halfback while Riley Buckland provided plenty of run and pressure.

While the loss wasn’t an ideal outcome, Academy Coach Andrew Raines said there was plenty to take out of the game and that it was a good learning experience for the young group.

“I thought our first half was really good, we brought effort and competed really well in the contest but in that second half we were blown out of the water by a better team on the day,” Raines said.

“It was really good opportunity for the boys to realise what it’s like to play in the conditions down here and to experience a Melbourne away trip and the build-up to it.”

Raines also said while the score line didn’t suggest so, there were still a number of positives to take from the game. 

“The main positive is that we got to play against a quality opposition,” he said.

“If the boys are aspiring to play AFL football, which all of them are, then we need to uphold that level of fundamentals and to be able to get up close and learn like we have been able to do week in, week out, that’s a positive for us and a huge learning experience.”

The U18 SUNS Male Academy will head to South Pine Sports Complex next Sunday to try and make it 4-1 as they host the Greater Western Victorian Rebels in the last game of their season.