TO complete Round 12 we were at Shepley Oval and Morwell Recreation Reserve to see two of the three games and reviewed some of the extended Victorian squad members as well as some talented bottom agers, whilst also casting an eye over some of the top performers in Shepparton. As we close towards the end of the season, the games we do not attend, we will have brief notes on their stats for some of the top top-age and bottom-age prospects.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Peter Williams
#1 Sam Fletcher
Sensational throughout, Fletcher had the ball on a string for the first half, winning 21 touches as he buzzed from half-back to half-forward and everything in between. He spread well and switched play when required, won a lot of contested ball, and then dug deep to win clearances and pump the ball forward. In terms of consistency, he was the most dominant on the ground for the four quarters, and caused all sorts of headaches for the opposition early on. Showed some nice speed in the middle when kicking forward. Had a couple of chances on goal but just missed, including a tight angle set shot early in the match. Fletcher also showed good smarts in the final term, tapping clear to a teammate deep in defence when he knew he could not take it cleanly.
#3 Jamie Plumridge
Had a big opening quarter racking up the ball and was winning some important touches. He quietened down later in the game as he won a lot of his football forward of centre. He kicked a great goal on the run in the third term and then missed a couple of chances in the final term. A solid game which was set up by a big first quarter.
#9 Zac Foot
Another promising performance from the speedster who found space, won the football around the ground, and capped off the performance with three goals. He gave one off to Jake Frawley early in the piece, then ran hard into an open goal to have his first in the opening quarter. He was strong in the air, and almost had another goal assist with quick hands to Jai Taylor in the third term, but his shot missed. Then he found space in the final quarter to take a good mark off a Will Hamill kick and deliver truly for his third goal, after nailing one in the third term as well. A second shot moments later from outside 50 just missed.
#13 Riley Bowman
One of a number of talls who were too big and strong for their opposing rucks. Just showed his smarts, strength and ability by fairly manhandling the opposition ruck and winning many hitouts around the ground. Had a quick snap in the second term at the top of the goal square but just missed. In the fourth term he grabbed the ball out of the ruck and threw it on the boot to effectively hit-up Corey Ellison at half-forward.
#16 Jake Frawley
The inside midfielder turned full-forward had a day out in the first half, putting Bendigo to the sword with four majors and being dominant in the air. While Bailey Williams flew, he just stood tall and clunked everything in his vicinity. He started the day off on the right foot with a big pack mark 30m out and nailed the set shot goal and did not sop after that. Played further up the ground later in the game and won more of the football after impacting the scoreboard in the first half.
#23 Campbell Hustwaite
The captain had what I thought was his best game of the season. He laid tackles, won clearances, and thumped the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions. Simply, he did not do a lot wrong. He did get caught a couple of times by faster opponents, but he showed good vision in traffic and lead to space to win the football on the outside as well as the inside. Had a shot on goal 35m out by his set shot – which was the right idea to go to the left goal post – was just a bit too far left and missed. But the one he did kick was a fantastic goal on the run from the boundary line, sneaking it in late in the game.
#29 Bailey Williams
A magician in the air, he was a complete handful for the defence and was just set shot kicking away from a complete game. Finished the match with one goal, four behinds, which included a poster, and a snapped major off the deck. But in terms of his aerial ability, it is unmatched when he gets a chance to go. Finished with a massive 11 marks, four of which were contested and practically had a laugh at times. One example was opposed to two defenders he just leaped over both of them, not quite holding it, but showing he could get to anything. Just too big, too strong and too athletic. Williams just needs to finish off a little better with his set shots.
#58 Will Hamill
Hamill has that touch of class and works hard around the ground. His most noticeable trait is his quick hands and his ability to dispose of the ball under pressure. He has some nice speed and produced a lovely lace-out pass inside 50 to Zac Foot who finished off with a goal.
#16 Jacob Atley
The running midfielder played off half-back and tried to create some run and carry for his side. He took a number of good intercept marks and mopped up bravely from the back half to send the ball forward. He showed quick hands on the deck and good vision to find teammates on the outside. Still predominantly outside, but he used the ball well enough under pressure on the weekend.
#41 Braydon Vaz
A bottom-age prospect who looked really impressive at half-back. He took a massive amount of marks, both contested and uncontested and used the ball fairly well, with the exception of a clanger when attempting to switch sides and it was chopped off by Bailey Williams. Created some much needed run and looked the most composed player out there for the Pioneers in defence and just clunked marks with ease.
Gippsland Power vs. Western Jets:
By: Craig Byrnes
#4 Sam Flanders
The exciting bottom ager started in the midfield and won some heavy clearances early in the uncharacteristically muddy Morwell centre square. He struggled to have his normal influence offensively on the game, but still fought hard without the ball to finish with eight tackles which included a physical holding the ball free kick on Xavier O’Halloran in the final term.
#5 Xavier Duursma
Coming off an impressive campaign for Vic Country, Duursma’s first game back for Gippsland saw him continue on that outstanding form. Starting at the stoppages he proved his all round ability, winning the ball in tight, spreading to space and putting his body on the line when required. He ran both directions, on occasions sitting in the hole to help his defenders while also drifting forward to hit the scoreboard with two goals. His 26 disposals were the most on the ground in an very well rounded outing.
#9 Irving Mosquito
After some injury interruptions, the dangerous small forward is starting to build some consistent and very relevant form. He only kicked the one goal, but his direct impact on Gippsland’s scoreboard was massive. He started off with a brilliant crumb and goal in the first term, and followed that shortly after with run and carry through the middle of the ground to hit Marcus Toussaint inside 50 for an eye catching goal assist. A smart little left foot snap to Duursma in the second quarter set up another goal, before he was pushed into the midfield where he excelled at the stoppages. In the third term he won a superbly clean stoppage, exploded into space with two bounces and drew an up the ground free due to pure opposition panic. It was one of his best four quarter efforts and with Hawthorn having first rights due to the Next Generation Academy, Mozzie could be a direct replacement for Cyril.
#12 Brock Smith
Not Smith’s best day offensively from the back half with a couple of poor turnovers going the other direction with speed. He was solid defensively and made life difficult on numerous opponents, despite Hamish Murphy taking a strong one on one mark against him late in the goal square. He has already proven to be a promising prospect for next year and is sure to provide further evidence to end 2018.
#16 Josh Smith
It was another admirable performance by Smith in the ruck against a larger and older opponent in Darren Walters. Giving up six centimetres, eight kilogramss and nearly 30 months in age, the bottom-ager fought and competed all day to help give his midfielders an even contest. He took some strong grabs around the ground and hit the packs with physicality. Moved forward later in the game, presented and stuck some nice marks in his more familiar position.
#18 Matthew McGannon
Returning from a subluxed shoulder injury suffered while representing Vic Country, McGannon was back behind the ball, a position he has made his own in the last 12 months. As we have come to expect, he used the ball superbly on either side of his body, whether rebounding from defence or penetrating the forward arc, as he did on seven occasions. He won 23 disposals and looks set to finish the season in style.
#23 Noah Gown
The Warragul local has to be one of the most improved players in the competition as he went on to kick five goals in a best on ground performance. He had a huge presence inside 50, visually demanded the ball and was rarely, if ever, beaten aerially. Two early goals saw Buku Khamis go to the talented basketballer and it was a fascinating contest for the rest of the day. Despite the quality opponent, Gown kept presenting and getting his hands to the ball in scoring positions. When the ball hit the ground, he had the agility to follow up cleanly and either score himself or handball to teammates in better positions. He finished with 18 disposals, seven marks, three goal assists and could have easily ended with seven goals with some non-scoring set shots. Growing with confidence!
#25 Kyle Reid
Coming off a brilliant Championships for Vic Country where he earned All Australian honours, the inform key defender was solid as usual. Manning up mostly on the talent Emerson Jeka, Reid kept his opponent relatively under wraps despite the bottom aged forward taking some nice marks. Reid looks confident and is starting to get more involved by creating an option when the ball is moving offensively. He is rarely beaten one on one and took a smart contested intercept mark in that situation during the third term.
#28 Harold Hood
Playing only his second game, the indigenous 2019-eligible Hood has immediately looked right at home at this level and turned some heads in doing so. Starting mostly at the stoppages, the inside midfielder has genuine smarts and offensive tricks in traffic, but also goes hard at the contest. He brilliantly released a handball over his head from a clearance with class in the first term and side stepped around an opponent easily during a second quarter scoring chain. While resting forward in the second half, he spun out of trouble and calmly handballed to Bailey Beck who rewarded the good work with a goal. He finished with 21 disposals, four clearances, eight tackles and six inside 50s and at 185cm, is a prospect to keep an eye on.
#29 Boadie Motton
It was just another clean, efficient and consistent performance on the wing from Motton, who continues to have an unheralded impact on games. His one touch gathers were particularly important in the first half as he released his teammates into space, resulting in many scoring involvements. His decisions were elite at times and he used the ball superbly, operating at 87 per cent throughout the day by hand and foot from his 22 disposals.
#17 Daly Andrews
Andrews had his moments throughout the day, but like many of his teammates, he couldn’t put together a four quarter performance. He provided some exciting offensive dashes at times, highlighted by a brilliant run through the middle of the ground in the first term that set up a goal for Steven Kyriazis. I have liked what I’ve seen throughout 2018, but he drifted out of the game in the second half to finish with 14 disposals.
#31 Emerson Jeka
Opposed to All Australian defender Kyle Reid, the bottom-aged Emerson Jeka never looked fazed as he provided a presence inside 50 throughout the afternoon. He took a strong mark on the lead in the first term and kicked truly, but would not look as confident in front of goal again. A strong contested mark against Reid in the third term provided a golden chance directly in front, but he missed the very kickable shot by some distance. He made up for it in the final term by leading high and brilliantly centring to Johnson lace out as he ran on to kick a goal. Looking forward to seeing how he develops next year.
#33 Xavier O’Halloran
Clearly the Jets best on the day, the Vic Metro captain fought and busted through bodies to win the ball at any cost. He led by example, fighting early to win a ground intercept after multiple efforts and when the situation presented, he would run and carry into space with power. His kicking was a bit hit and miss, connecting some lace out passes to teammates in the first half, but ultimately operated at 41 per cent by foot. In saying that, he was influential and often got his side forward of centre or beyond with nine inside 50s. Despite the disappointing result, his 25 disposals, six tackles and six clearances was a good individual outing.
#38 Buku Khamis
It was an up and down game for the talented Bulldogs NGA prospect, but he again proved just how dangerous he can be behind the ball. While he didn’t have his usual aerial influence offensively with just two marks, but he still intercepted at ground level on numerous occasions and won plenty of the ball (23 disposals). He was assigned the difficult task on Gown after his fast start and got many fists to in coming entries. He was beaten on occasions, but made his opponent accountable by running offensively and using the ball well on the rebound. The strength of Gown drew Khamis into some avoidable free kicks late in the game, but you couldn’t fault his effort for the contest.
#39 Stefan Radovanovic
Playing in his usual half back role, Radovanovic was solid, if not spectacular. He got better as the game went on, using his electrifying pace to breakaway to space. He kicked blindly on occasions and preferred to handball when the opportunity presented, but defended solidly when out of position. He went to some stoppages later in the game to finish with 16 disposals and six tackles.
#37 Hamish Murphy
He played up forward in this game and provided some eye-catching moments from his eight disposals. He took a sticky mark on the lead early in the game and just missed a sharp snap from a fast ground gather later in the quarter. He is a left footer who loves to immediately swing onto his preferred side, as highlighted when he hit Jeka lace out in the second quarter. He took a strong one on one contested mark against Smith late in the game to earn a deserved goal.
#45 Aaron Clarke
A bit of a quiet day for the key position forward who lacked supply inside 50. He took a strong chest mark inside 50 early in the second term and converted accordingly, but did not have too many more opportunities offensively. Went to the ruck for short stints and took a strong mark on the wing, but struggled to get his hands on the ball at the stoppages as Walters’ back up.
Some player watch notes from the remaining game:
Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
#5 Ely Smith – Had another impressive game, finishing with 24 disposals, five clearances and eight inside 50s while reliably laying seven tackles. Continues to stake his claim with the last couple of months being a solid block of form.
#7 Zane Barzen – Had a day out up forward but just missed out on having a huge day in front of goal, finishing with 3.5 from eight scoring shots. With 17 disposals and eight marks, he was a strong presence in the team.
#8 Jacob Koschitzke – Took a game-high nine marks from 16 disposals in his trusty centre half-back position. Koschitzke also had three inside 50s and three rebounds pushing up the ground when required.
#12 Lachlan Ash – Named the Bushrangers’ best, racking up 22 disposals at an elite 91 per cent efficiency. While he won the majority of his possessions in space, he did not waste a touch, and covered ground well with seven marks, four inside 50s and four rebounds.
#18 Hudson Garoni – Finished with the two majors from 13 disposals and four marks to build on his lead in the TAC Cup goal kicking competition.
#23 Mark Marriott – Shared the ruck duties with Floyd Bollinghaus, notching up 18 hitouts from 11 disposals and three marks, and covered the ground well with three inside 50s and four rebounds as well.
#7 Lachlan Stapleton – The bottom-ager was named Eastern’s best in the loss, racking up 25 disposals, three tackles, four marks, five clearances and three inside 50s.
#11 Mitch Mellis – Ably assisted Stapleton in the midfield, finishing with 22 touches, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and booted Eastern’s first goal of the game.
#24 Kye Quirk – Found plenty of the ball once again, notching up 26 disposals, three marks, two tackles, eight clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds to continue his solid form this year.
#31 James Blanck – Returning to the team after a good National Under 18 Championships, Blanck was named in the best and steady in defence with 12 disposals, three marks, five tackles and three rebounds.