FINALS football at Ikon Park saw two 100-point beltings, but plenty of impressive individual performances. We noted down the top players from Saturday’s elimination finals, with Sunday’s games notes to come tomorrow.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe
#9 Zac Foot
Foot showed plenty of glimpses of brilliance often getting to dangerous positions at the 50 arc but could not convert his chances to nail goals with plenty of kicks drifting wide or just falling short. He showcased his impressive marking for his size with a good contested mark in the third quarter on the forward 50 arc then he quickly chipped a nice short pass inside 50, he also took a nice lead up mark in that same quarter. Foot ran hard all day but he just could not capitalise on his opportunities. He finished with only the two behinds to go with his 16 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s.
#13 Riley Bowman
Bowman had his moments throughout the game showing small samples of his talent throughout the day. Bowman had multiple chances to hit the scoreboard but struggled to make the most of his opportunities. In the first quarter he kicked into the man on the mark but he later kicked his only goal for the game with a nice set shot finish. He had another set shot opportunity in the second quarter but he was able to set up a nice goal for his fellow teammate Stephen Cumming taking a nice mark at half-forward and hitting a nice pass lace out for his teammate in the pocket. Bowman finished the game with 13 disposals, six marks and one goal.
#15 Toby Bedford
Bedford lit up Ikon Park with his agility and excitement around the ball. Bedford was near impossible to tackle throughout the game, he was always on the move ducking and weaving around the opposition. One such play saw him tackled in the second quarter and he somehow managed to slip out and fire off a nice handball. With some lovely movement he kicked a nice goal in the quarter, where he weaved out of trouble and then straightened up for a classy goal. He missed a sitter set shot in the last quarter but he had done enough in the first three quarters to be considered Dandenong’s best player throughout the day. Bedford finished with 18 disposals, eight tackles and one goal.
#27 Lachlan McDonnell
McDonnell certainly caught the eye playing on the wing and proving to be a handful with his ability to cover the ground and get to dangerous spots. McDonnell was all class with ball in hand with a nice pass inside 50 in the last quarter where he lowered his eyes. Despite playing on the wing he managed to hit the scoreboard with a nice running goal in the first quarter, a set shot goal in the third and a nice snap goal in the last. McDonnell did not just work hard forward but he also worked tirelessly to be an outlet for the switch in defence. McDonnell finished with 15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s and three goals.
#29 Bailey Williams
Williams threatened to make an impact early in the game flying over packs and brining the ball down to his small forwards. He kicked a nice set shot goal in the second quarter which would be his only goal. He was later moved into the ruck in the last quarter to once again showcase his incredible leap. It was a quieter game from Williams who would be keen to lift his production for the next final. Williams finished with 13 disposals, six marks and one major.
#58 Will Hamill
Hamill played his best game of the year with his run and skill in defence a real standout early in the game before moving forward late and proving a handful. A great bit of play from Hamill came in the first quarter where he attacked the ball deep in defence surrounded by a crowd of players and managed to break free. He was clean by hand which would eventually set up a goal for Dandenong down the other end. Hamill was dangerous by foot hitting Williams up with a nice pass inside 50 in the second quarter. Hamill had a chance to hit the scoreboard playing forward late in the game taking a nice lead up mark but just missing the set shot at goal. Hamill finished the game with 16 disposals, five marks, six tackles and four inside.
#59 Sam Sturt
Draft bolter Sam Sturt was the name most scouts came to see and he proved why, with an exciting first quarter taking plenty of marks and using his long left boot which he showed in a great bit of play with a nice mark at half-forward before quickly swinging around on his left and kicking long to Bowman. Sturt would repeat these types of entries into the second quarter but his day would be cut short with a nagging injury keeping him from playing in the second half. Sturt had shown enough to scouts with his clean hands overhead and at ground level along with his long left boot catching the eye. Sturt finished with eight disposals, three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s from a half of football.
By: Scott Dougan
#6 Charlie Wilson
Wilson started in the centre square for the first bounce and was immediately involved, winning the first clearance. He was clean at ground level and his marking overhead was strong. He spent the majority of the match up forward but was unable to have a massive impact due to the limited amount of play in the Rebels forward half. Wilson kicked his first and only major of the day in the final term. He had 12 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s to go with 1.2 on the scoreboard.
#7 Mitch Martin
Martin worked hard all day and did his best work defensively. His third quarter was his most influential, showcasing his tackling ability after being awarded a couple of free kicks after two very strong tackles. He finished with three tackles from 14 disposals and while he was quiet in patches like most of the side, he has his moments.
#14 Jed Hill
Hill played predominately on the outside of the contest but applied as much pressure as he could when in tight. He did his best to create space around the ground and he found it, his ball use was reasonably good. He finished the game with 13 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s, being a link in transition early in the game.
Gippsland Power vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Scott Dougan
#2 Caleb Serong
The highly-rated bottom age prospect did his best to have an impact up forward and through the middle of the ground. He showed off his class and composure in the first term with a few effective kicks moving forward. He demonstrated clean hands in tight and also showed off his aerial prowess with an attempted “speckie” in the third term. Serong set the tone early for the Power in the fourth quarter with a goal in the first minute.
#4 Sam Flanders
Flanders is another promising bottom-age prospect who spent plenty of time around the ball and inside the forward 50. He did not have a huge impact on the contest but his defensive pressure was noticeable, laying six tackles.
#5 Xavier Duursma
The possible first round selection was instrumental throughout the four quarters, showing off his aerial ability, ball-winning potential and clean hands at ground level. Duursma was able to drift forward on multiple occasions, finding plenty of space inside the forward 50. What was most impressive was when he attempted to chase down Sam Walsh in the middle of the ground, even though he was going to struggle to make up the required distance to impact the kick. Duursma finished with 25 disposals, 11 marks, six tackles and one goal.
#9 Irving Mosquito
Irving started the match like a house on fire, with the electric forward booting an impressive goal right on the line. His second quarter was quiet but he responded in the second half by finding more of the ball and applying plenty of defensive pressure. His tackling efforts were first-class and he was rewarded two free-kicks for his efforts. Mosquito had the chance to kick his second goal of the day in the final term but missed. He finished with nine disposals, six tackles and one goal.
#18 Matthew McGannon
McGannon was one of Gippsland’s best players on the day. He accumulated plenty of the ball across the half-back line and used it superbly, rarely turning the ball over. McGannon won most of his possessions on the outside of the contest, with the smooth-moving defender finding plenty of unoccupied space. He demonstrated composure and poise with ball in hand, which is what he does consistently well.
#22 Rylan Henkel
The 200cm big man was beaten in the hit-out department to opposition ruckman Sam Conway, but he made up for it with his terrific work around the ground. He continuously applied defensive pressure around the contest and he was able to win some important clearances for his team. Henkel moved forward on a few occasions and was able to hit the scoreboard, booting two important and very impressive goals. His aggressive approach around the ball also caught the eye. He finished with 11 disposals, 11 hit-outs and two goals, in fine all-around performance.
#23 Noah Gown
Gown was involved from the get-go, with the forward taking several strong contested marks. He should have kicked his first goal of the day in the first term but he was unselfish and passed it off to teammate Leo Connolly, who converted successfully. Gown continued to display his aerial ability, taking more marks as the game went on, finishing with a total of eight. He was well held by Cooper Cartledge on the scoresheet, but he was extremely dominant around the half-forward flank where he won the majority of his possessions. His hard work was rewarded in the final term when he booted his first goal of the day, contributing to Gippsland’s dominant last quarter.
#25 Kyle Reid
Reid was able to rebound effectively out of the back half, with the classy defender finding plenty of space. He had his hands full early, matching up on Geelong Falcon Connor Idun, who booted two goals in the first half. Reid’s ball use and composure with ball in hand are two of his biggest strengths and he always made the right decisions when rebounding out of the defensive 50. He moved up forward in the second half but didn’t have the same impact on the match as he did down back. Deep into the final quarter, Reid was struggling to run at full pace, signifying that he was sore or injured.
By: Ed Pascoe
#8 Ed McHenry
McHenry had a shaky game by his standards especially early dropping an easy mark and a few kicks did not quite hit their mark. However, McHenry was still at his best against Gippsland with his pressure and tackling which he did in a four quarter effort, fishing with nine tackles for the game which was an equal-high for the game across both teams. He worked himself into the game with some nice runs and a good bit of play where he showcased his run and carry ability before a short pass to teammate Ham inside 50. McHenry finished with 18 disposals and four inside 50s.
#22 Sam Walsh
Walsh again was everywhere for Geelong, mostly lining up on the wing. He got plenty of the ball in transition and when it was his turn to win the contested ball he did not hesitate. He had numerous good passages of play, one in the second quarter where he marked the ball at half back and not long after marking the ball again at half forward showing his work rate and smarts. In the third quarter he kicked a lovely snap goal winning a ground ball under pressure and then turning and snapping an important major. He had a standout bit of play for a different reason taking a run down the wing with Duursma giving a brave chase. Walsh got to run a fair way before just getting a kick away. He finished with 28 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal.
#30 Oscar Brownless
Brownless was a workhorse in the midfield for Geelong with a great four quarter effort. He did plenty at the coalface winning a heap of contested ball while also working hard to get involved on the outside. Brownless really stood out in the first quarter with a nice kick inside 50 but a shot at goal going out on the full was uncharacteristic with Brownless usually crafty around goal. He finished the game with 29 disposals, eight marks, nine tackles and four inside 50s which showed off his work rate. Brownless worked tirelessly throughout the match, trying to get his team over the line.
#36 Charlie Sprague
Sprague was dangerous for Geelong despite his low numbers. He had plenty of chances to hit the scoreboard with a nice mark on the lead in the second quarter which was just beyond his range thus kicking out on the full. He also had a snap at goal that resulted in a behind in the last quarter. He would later finally kick a goal in the second quarter, reward for his hard work and pressure in the forward 50 with a nice snap. Sprague provided a good target around the ground with his clean hands overhead and ability to keep his feet at contests always making sure he was involved if the mark was not taken. Sprague had a great tackle in the third quarter showing he could really crunch them despite his lighter frame. Sprague’s clean hands and composure were the clear standout features in his performance. He finished the game with 10 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal.
#39 Connor Idun
Idun looked dangerous early playing forward showcasing his clean hands and quick handballs setting up teammates running into goal. He took a nice contested mark in the first quarter converting a nice set shot goal which he would repeat in the second quarter. What really impressed with Idun was that he kept presenting and making a contest but also recovering from contests to fire off quick and clean handballs. Idun was later moved to defence where he was not as influential but still played his role well. Idun finished with 10 disposals and two goals.