VICTORIA Country kicked off the AFL national under-18 championship by beating Victoria Metro in Sunday's match at Sandringham.
Faced with a 15-point deficit early in the final term, Victoria Country slammed on 6.1 to win the match 14.5 (89) to 11.8 (74).
Marking his third successive campaign as Victoria Country's coach, Bendigo's Mark Ellis was rapt to start the six-round series with a victory.
"It was an exceptional performance," Ellis said.
"The workrate and run was fantastic. The key was to play on as quickly as we could and get the ball to our forwards in as many one-on-one duels as possible."
Geelong's Patrick McCartin finished with four goals. Murray Bushrangers onballer Nathan Drummond and key defender Caleb Marchbank were best.
Bendigo Pioneers onballer Billy Evans earned praise for his play at centre ball-ups and stoppages.
Country's squad includes Pioneers clubmates Liam Barrett, Tom Cole, Aidyn Johnson, Jake Maher and Jaden McGrath.