IN the opening round of the NAB League Boys competition, we took a look at all six games with our writers giving their opinion on how some of the players raised by respective Talent Managers as ones to watch, performed in the first round. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels 11.14 (80) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 13.8 (86)
By Cameron Ross
#4 Jed Hill
Quiet first half for his standards. Really struggled to get into the game early but once he was moved into the midfield and got his hands on the footy, he had a great second half. This is important for Hill, as he proved last year he can play forward, but didn’t get many opportunities in the midfield. Although the conditions were not conducive to accurate goal kicking, Hill would be disappointed with his 0.3 return. Still, his 17 touches, most of which would have come in the second half, were enough to get him in the Rebels’ best.
#7 Mitch Martin
The Rebels seem to be trying new things with some players, and one of those looks to be Mitch Martin’s move to midfield. My scouting notes for Rebels games last year pumped up Martin’s natural forward ability, but like Hill, Martin needs to prove that he is not a “one trick pony”. He spent the majority of the game on ball, but was floating back to help the defence often, and starting possession chains from the back. Martin was somewhat sloppy with his possession throughout the game, but showed some glimpses of his versatility. He kicked an important goal in the third quarter when the Rebels started their surge, and was one of the Rebel’s best on the day.
#10 Matty Lloyd
Best player for the Rebels on the day. Lloyd has a tendency to float in and out of games, but when the Rebels needed him, he stood up. His second half was the best half of footy that I have seen from him. A turning point for him came after a questionable decision to banana a goal from five metres out that missed horribly. Instead of dropping his head, he got himself into a good position, and made up for it kicking a goal that breathed life into the Rebels comeback. He was the best player on the ground in the final quarter. Kicked two late back to back goals to bring the Rebels within a goal, but simply ran out of time. Put simply, he proved his worth.
#11 Ned Cahill
Smart player. Impressive piece of play in the first quarter led Nick Caris who was watching the man, under the ball, kick went over the top and he ran on to kick an easy goal. Cahill was dangerous all day, but his first half was sensational. Will kick a lot of goals this year as a permanent forward.
#24 Bigoa Nyuon
There are big wraps on Nyuon, and this round would have given his draft chances a massive boost. His stats don’t tell the full story. He was super impressive throughout the whole game. Kicked a terrific goal from the pocket at the Wendouree end, and another goal that was just as good out of the centre square. Nyoun won the tap, got the ball back and strolled out of the centre kicking it from 50 out and celebrating with his teammates. Nyoun also showed a willingness to put his head over the ball and win the contested possession. Might need a bit of work on his set shot, but he really looks to be a player in the making.
#42 Jai Nanscawen
In my opinion, Nanscawen was the best four-quarter player on the ground on Saturday. He is really classy, and seems to be natural as both a forward and a midfielder. He seems to have a good work rate also. There were a couple of times where he worked from the wing, got the ball, hit the target and worked to get the ball back in the forward line. His set shot really let him down though. He kicked 1.3 but some of these were really gettable chances. Three goals and 15 touches next to his name would have looked incredible, yet I’m sure he will make up for this and more.
Sandringham Dragons 19.13 (127) defeated Calder Cannons 1.12 (18)
By Ed Pascoe
#1 Jack Mahony
Mahony had a quiet game for his standards finishing with 12 disposals and a goal, although he was busy through the midfield early in the game. His crumbing work of packs was a standout with one really nice crumb in the second quarter although his kick would let him down going inside 50. Mahony’s goal came from a great bit of play using his body well to take a contested mark against a taller opponent and then nailing the set shot. Mahony was a hard worker off the ball with six tackles to his name.
#4 Finn Maginness
Maginness was one of Sandringham’s standouts through the midfield, he finished with 19 disposals and one goal which came from a classy left foot snap in the first quarter. Maginness played with intent through the middle he attacked the ball hard and tackled hard leading his side in tackles with six. Maginness was clean at stoppages often winning first possession and giving off a clean handball and he would often follow up his work to be involved again, the only slight concern was his kicking at times but overall aa very polished game through the midfield.
#5 Ryan Byrnes
The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a well balanced game through the midfield, his first quarter was strong attacking the ball hard at stoppages and using his clean hands in close to release the ball to his teammate. Byrnes was also able to hit the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter with a classy running goal showing a turn of foot to slot the goal, his speed was also on show that quarter at stoppages where he met the ball at pace to give himself time to dispose either by hand or foot, he had a complete game with 5 marks, four tackles and five inside 50s.
#11 Hugo Ralphsmith
Ralphsmith didn’t have a huge game by his standards but his class was on show whenever he was in possession rarely wasting a possession by hand and foot, he showed good vision kicking inside 50 with a kick to the fat side of the ground in the second quarter. He did not hit the scoreboard as hoped he had an unlucky miss with a running shot at goal in the third quarter and his best work came from setting up others with his clean ball use.
#12 Charlie Dean
Dean was the dominant big man on the ground kicking five goals, his first came from a nice mark and snap goal in the pocket, not many of his goals came from contested marks with his best contested mark unfortunately resulting in a missed opportunity. Dean’s 3rd goal was a good diving mark and equally a good lead and he would slot the set shot and he would get away from his opponent tin the last quarter kicking two simple goals from getting into space and slotting this set shots. Dean’s clean hands at ground level and over his head where his standout features.
#28 Riley Bowman
The first goal of the game came from Bowman laying a great tackle winning a free kick and slotting the goal. Later that quarter he would take a lead up mark but miss the set shot but he didn’t make the same mistake in the second quarter slotting his 2nd goal. His third goal came in the last quarter with a quality snap showing he could kick goals from many situations.
#29 Fischer McAsey
McAsey was everywhere in the first quarter intercepting at will, he showed good composure under pressure with a nice kick and even won a ground ball against a smaller and quicker opponent. McAsey was a standout in defence with his intercept work, disposal by hand and foot and ability to get in the right spot and set up his teams attack from defence.
#30 Andrew Courtney
Courtney had a solid game in the ruck, he managed to hit the scoreboard in the first quarter taking a fantastic contested intercept mark before earning a 50m penalty and slotting the set shot goal. He finished the game with 12 disposals which was impressive for a ruckman considering the low possession counts for the game. His tap work was really good especially in the third quarter where he gave to teammates Byrnes and Maginness on a platter.
#31 Josh Worrell
Worrell did not get much of the ball, with 11 disposals but his presences felt like he was more involved especially with his tackling where he tackled with real intent and would be equal leader for tackles for his side with six. Worrell played a new role on the wing showed some nice run and carry and his kicking was also solid.
#32 Jack Bell
Bell had a quiet game but still managed to kick two goals both coming in the second half, his best came in the last quarter where he would take a fantastic contested mark. He only had the four disposals but provided good ruck relief for Courtney finishing its 20 hitouts and also three tackles showing his work after rucking.
#1 Daniel Mott
Mott was one of Calder most efficient players in the first half, he was hardly flustered through the midfield often staying composed and hitting his targets by hand and foot, he had. A terrific pass inside 50 in the second quarter but his entires in the second half where poor going straight to the opposition who had set up well down back. Mott’s standout feature was his composure with the ball and agility to make the right decisions when his teammates would fumble and panic, his follow up work lead to him being one if his sides top ball winners with 18.
#8 Sam Ramsay
It took until the third quarter for Calder to kick their first goal and it came through Ramsay with a classy running goal in the pocket. He was solid down back and on the wing in the first half but he really started to shine in the second half given more of a role in the centre, he lead his side for disposals with 19 where he often hit the target with is sharp left boot, despite the big margin he never dropped his head and kept running till the very end.
#38 Brodie Newman
Newman was one of the key pillars for Calder and without their captain the margin could have been even worse, he took some great intercept marks and his ball use was also very good. He finished the game with 21 disposals and eight marks, he has five rebounds and it was his rebound work that really caught the eye often being in the right place at the right time and making a good decision coming out of defence.
Eastern Ranges 7.5 (47) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 12.16 (88)
By Ed Pascoe
#7 Lachlan Stapleton
Stapleton toiled hard all day through the midfield often on the bottom of packs looking to win the contested ball, he also tackled hard and played with intent finishing with 16 disposals and a game-high eight tackles. He would also hit the scoreboard, following up his own hard work to get the ball back tuck it under his arm and then straighten up to kick a lovely running goal. In a bad day for Eastern he was a player that could hold his head high purely on his effort throughout the day.
#13 Jamieson Rossiter
Rossiter had a quiet game up forward where he finished with only the one goal which came in the first quarter, taking a nice mark and slotting the set shot. Rossiter struggled to have much impact after that finishing with only six disposals, two marks and one tackle. The talented youngster will no doubt improve his output against the Western Jets.
#17 Cody Hirst
Hirst, despite his size and light frame, was the most fearless and courageous player – often going in hard at the contest and putting on pressure. Hirst lead his team for disposals with 20, and he worked hard to get the ball forward with three inside 50s. Hirst was one of his teams cleanest players not only in picking up the ball but also disposing by hand or foot, he did not kick any goals but his hard work set up many opportunities.
#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney
Ayton-Delaney is back again as a 19-year-old for Oakleigh and he finds himself playing through the midfield after playing mostly in defence last year. Ayton-Delaney was busy in the first half winning plenty of the ball and using it well by hand and foot, he was not afraid to lay a tackle and won a nice free kick in the second quarter with a tenacious effort. He continued to impress in the second half working well in transition, his last quarter was solid with a fantastic rove at a stoppage and was unlucky to miss a running shot at goal in that play. He finished the game as the top disposal winner with 32 while also showing his ground coverage with four inside 50s and five rebounds.
#4 Nick Bryan
Bryan worked well in the ruck and gave his teammates first use, he was not a liability around the ground either with some nice decisions made by hand. He finished the game with 10 disposals and 18 hitouts which were mostly effective, his work in general play I thought was most impressive where he showed clean hands and good decision making.
#5 Trent Bianco
Bianco was mopping everything up down back using his superior reading of the play and skill to cause havoc for Easter. Bianco’s skill was on show with some lovely opposite foot kicks and even a nice opposite hand handball which you don’t see often from young players. Bianco would finish the game with 22 disposals despite copping a nasty knock in a tackle which sent him off the ground to take no further part early in the last quarter, he had just moved into the midfield where he was impressive showing clean hands and trademark skills.
#8 Noah Anderson
Anderson was a force through the midfield in the first quarter and he kicked one of the better goals you will see at Under 18 level where he won a great clearance on the forward flank and would then follow up and win the ball on the opposite flank before taking a run, taking on a player and kicking a freakish running goal. He would later rest forward and kick a goal over the back in the 2nd quarter. Anderson spent more time forward in the 2nd half adding another two goals, one as a nice dribble goal and the other a long goal off one step. His midfield work would continue to be all class with his positioning, talk and creative kicking really standing out. He finished the game with an impressive 26 disposals, six inside 50s and four goals.
#11 Matthew Rowell
Rowell was the link up man for the first half using his turn of pace and quick decision making to move the ball up and follow his work, he had a few iffy kicks but a really nice pass in the second quarter lead to his team kicking a goal. Rowell went into the guts in the 3rd quarter and he had the ball on a string, his ability to stand up in a tackle and give the ball off at the right time was elite and his run and follow up work was agin on show. He had a well rounded game with 21 disposals, five tackles and a nice running goal which he kicked in the last quarter.
#23 Dylan Williams
Williams struggled to get into the game in the first half, his first disposal was a kick on the full in the first quarter although he would redeem himself with a much better kick inside 50 in the second quarter. Williams was put into the guts in the third quarter and instantly made an impact, getting multiple possessions and winning plenty of clearances to show off his speed and power. He would later have a nice run in the pocket before he did an unselfish pass to the hotspot which he would have usually had a shot himself, but later be rewarded taking a nice lead up mark and slotting a nice long set shot goal. He had another nice bit of play with a clearance in the last quarter where he faked his opponent before passing off to a teammate inside 50. He managed 17 disposals in the second half and finished the game with six inside 50s.
#27 Josh May
May was smooth on the wing often clean at ground level despite his 195cm frame, he made good decisions and positioned himself well around the ball. This would be a common theme for his game looking good and composed with the ball and his work below his knees again solid but he dropped an easy mark in the third quarter and had little impact in the last quarter, although he did have a bandage on his head. He finished with 10 disposals and a goal which came from a nice set shot.
Murray Bushrangers 9.12 (66) defeated by Gippsland Power 10.9 (69)
By Peter Williams
#12 Lachlan Ash
The classy co-captain was terrific throughout the game and one of Murray’s top performers across the four quarters. Ash was Murray’s top ball winner, and he also laid some fierce tackles. There were a number of impressive highlights for the game, including running forward at full speed and having the ability to kick laterally to a teammate in the second term. His composure in defence and coming off half-back was noticeable in a game that had plenty of pressure around the ball carrier. In the third term Ash gave away a 50m penalty for late contact and his frustration saw a second 50m awarded. For a small patch his opponents could sense the frustation and tried to rile him up, but he got back to business taking some important intercept marks and setting the game up.
#14 Jye Chalcraft
Started strongly and had a big second term rotating between half-forward and midfield. His ability to move around at stoppages is terrific and he has quick hands, combining with brother Kade at one stage moving down the middle, taking a bounce before quickly giving off the handball slightly before copping a bump. A quieter second half, but a solid return having his first game for points since injury ended his year late last year.
#19 Jimmy Boyer
Worked hard in the midfield throughout the game and had the first clearance of hte game by sidestepping an opponent and kicking long. He has good defensive running, winning the ball at half-back or on the wing and often kicking long. He had a chance in the first term on goal but just missed and eventually finished the game with three behinds. Much like a number of players, was quieter in the second half after a bigger first half, but was important in between the arcs. Boyer won a fair share of contested possessions and sent the ball long inside 50 and in windy conditions his ability to extract from a stoppage was important.
#20 Elijah Hollands
The bottom-age talent showed his class early inside 50, winning a number of posessions on the outside and using his long kicking ability and was one of the top ball winnersin the first half. He missed a few opportunities to capitalise from set shots, finishing the game with 1.3, but he timed his leads well, protecting the drop zone with his timing. He was quieter in the second half, but his first half showed the potential he has not only as a forward, but further up the ground as well.
#4 Sam Flanders
Last year Flanders was predominantly a forward who pinched in the midfield, and in Round 1 the roles were reversed with Flanders mostly getting his hands dirty at centre bounces. He rested at full-forward on some occasions, but constantly won the ball in the middle of the ground or on the wing and bombed long inside 50. He set up Gippsland’s first goal of the day with a nicely weighted kick to Josh Smith on the lead. One of the Power’s more influential players on the day, Flanders also laid a number of tackles and put defensive pressure on the ball carrier. A strong performance from the AFL Academy member.
#11 Kyle Dunkley
The overager from Oakleigh crossed to the Power this season with the Sale local having a big influence on proceedings. His first half was impressive as any, kicking three goals and rotating between midfield and forward. The potential Sydney father-son spent more time in the middle in the second half and finished the game with 21 touches and 3.1. What was impressive about a couple of his goals were they came from long range off a couple of steps and showed when given time and space he can be damaging. He has been able to add some more muscle to his frame this season which allowed him to play more inside, something he was not afforded at Oakleigh due to the strength at the club last year. Despite starting at most centre bounces, Dunkley was able to get to the outside and distribute long, something which helped get his team on top. Dunkley was deservedly named best for the Power in a promising performance.
#12 Brock Smith
After a quieter start in the match, the Power captained put in a huge last quarter to help haul his side over the line when Murray was attacking fiercely. Along with Ryan Sparkes, Smith was able to show composure in tricky weather conditions and showed good hands in defence under pressure. While he might not have been as prominent early, he got into good positions and applied pressure when required before really stepping up late in the game.
#16 Josh Smith
Rotated between full-forward and ruck, kicking the first goal of the game through a good lead, mark and easy set shot. He kicked his second in the next quarter before missing a chance at his third from a relatively straight forward shot on goal. His presenting and strength overhead was very impressive and proved to be a handful when he had a run at it. In the ruck, he gave a chop out and is more dominant as that full-forward leading out. Did his job with a couple of goals and probably should have been three, proving he will be a key target inside 50 this year for the Power.
Geelong Falcons 6.7 (43) defeated by Bendigo Pioneers 13.8 (86)
By Michael Alvaro
#1 Jay Dahlhaus
Dahlhaus put in a typical shift, using his pace to zip around the forward half and lay a bunch of tackles. With five inside 50s for the game, the diminutive forward found space around the arc and created scoring opportunities at a good rate. His creativity and damage going forward by foot made up for not hitting the scoreboard himself, but he should look to build on his haul of 12 disposals.
#8 Charlie Lazzaro
The bottom-ager was quiet early on, but built well into the game as the Falcons midfield began to break even after quarter time. Attending a wealth of centre bounces, the sub-180cm midfielder already has a sound clearance game and reads the taps well. Lazzaro also showed glimpses of decent vision to find targets long by foot, and had a good passage of play in the third term streaming through the corridor with a one-two play.
#36 Charlie Sprague
Marking his Falcons return with midfield minutes as promised, Sprague looked comfortable at the centre bounces and won a few nice clearances in the first half. But as was the case throughout last year, he did his best work while employed in the forward half – despite only finishing with the one major. Sprague used his body well to take some strong one-on-one marks and shrug his opponents when taking the game on. He could well have finished with multiple goals but could not quite find an end product to his work. A memorable highlight was his contested mark coming from behind a pack in the third quarter, which we should see more of this season.
#40 Jesse Clark
While the co-captain was his side’s leading ball winner with 24 disposals, a lot of his influence came on the back of the Falcons defence being under the pump for large chunks of the game. Clark rebounded typically well though and was effective by foot, providing a cool head in the back half. Plenty to build on for the Falcons leader.
#41 Cooper Stephens
The coaches looked to have provided onlookers with a mouth-watering match-up as Stephens lined up on Brodie Kemp in the first few centre bounces, but he received plenty of attention from other Bendigo mids during the contest. The co-captain picked up from where he left off last year, covering the ground well to impact the stoppages, balls inside 50, and defensive rebounds. With exactly half of his 22 disposals being handballs, Stephens’ typically brilliant use by hand stood out early on and became a feature. He showed good intent in-close, and while is not the quickest off the mark, tried his best to burst from the contest to add to his inside game.
#46 Henry Walsh
The bottom-aged ruckman took on Aaron Gundry and more than held his own over four quarters with a game-high 19 hitouts. A surprising part of Walsh’s game was his ground work, following up for five clearances among his 11 disposals. While he makes some typical ruckman-like mistakes, there is plenty of promise for the brother of Carlton gun, Sam.
#1 Sam Conforti
Conforti was good in bursts, and contributed well to Bendigo’s early onslaught. The bottom-ager took the game on and while he was caught holding the ball in the opening quarter, was not deterred. The 173cm Pioneer also took an impressive mark sitting under the ball in defensive 50, but showed the most when zipping through traffic with twists and turns.
#4 Thomson Dow
Dow was arguably Bendigo’s best, offering a huge amount of drive going forward and creating a number of scoring opportunities in an awesome first half. A well weighted looping handball in the first term yielded a goal, and Dow’s best work was done coming into the forward 50. With a game-high 28 disposals, Dow won the ball at will and was strong in the stoppages, adding goals to his game as well with two – the last of which came after a strong contested mark on the siren, and his teammates got around him.
#8 Brodie Kemp
In combination with Dow, Kemp was terrific at stoppages and broke the lines well to damage the Falcons going forward. Kemp’s steps through traffic and ability to dispose effectively with opponents near made him crucial to Bendigo’s form, with the second term his clear best. His contested marking was also handy, looking strong under duress and pulling in two for the day. There’s not much to say that won’t be said throughout the year, hopefully Kemp continues to show his silk on the ball.
#20 James Schischka
The smooth-moving rebounder was an asset across half-back for the Pio’s, moving past opponents and kicking well to set his side up. Schischka was trusty by foot and played the typical quarterback role, accumulating with ease through the course of the game and linking up through the corridor dangerously at times.
Northern Knights 11.7 (73) defeated by Western Jets 12.8 (80)
By Taylah Melki
#1 Lachlan Potter
Potter showcased his electric speed throughout the game and was a real key player down back, credit to his ability to read the play. He rebounded out of defence and used his speed to run through the middle of the ground to open up the field of play up and then buttered up with a good outlet kick to a leading player. He contested hard to win the ball and impressed with his follow up work across the ground. Potter was solid throughout the game and showcased his good sidestep and evasive skills to manoeuvre around his opponent. He applied a really strong tackle in the second quarter to win himself a holding the ball call and worked tirelessly to stop the attacking flow of his opponents.
#5 Josh D’Intinosante
He had a few good passages of play in the second quarter, pressing hard inside forward 50 to create scoring opportunities. D’Intinosante roved the packs well and contributed with a few handy tips and handballs off to passing teammates. He took a big contested mark in the third quarter just outside the goal square, quickly played on and dribbled a goal through to push the lead out for the Knights. He read the flight of the ball well and got into strong positioning to apply attacking pressure and used his long kick to move the ball forward and try and trap the footy inside.
#7 Ryan Gardner
Gardner was involved early in the contest, getting hands to ball and working well at the stoppages. He made his presence felt around the contest and was clean out of the centre bounce helping to propel the ball forward for the Knights. He showcased his footy smarts breaking free and going for a shot at goal but was unable to capitalise only registering a behind.
#8 Adam Carafa
Roved the packs well and got into a good position to steady and snap at goal to keep the Knights in the game in the second quarter. Carafa was constantly involved in the contest flicking out quick handballs at the stoppages and using his footy smarts to hit up leading targets. He contributed to the scoreboard as well, nailing a good goal in the second quarter.
#11 Ryan Sturgess
Sturgess impressed for the Knights throughout the game with his hard work at the contest, running ability and clever use of the footy. He was clean and effective with ball in hand and showcased his good vision and footy smarts to know when to go across the face of the field and open the ground up. His clever kicks into space allowed teammates to run onto it and create more options. He displayed his strong hands and took a heap of impressive contested marks throughout the game. He ran hard and attacked the footy at the stoppages, releasing teammates with good handballs. Sturgess kicked a goal from directly in front about 30 meters out credit to his good lead up at the footy and showcased his strong hands to take a nice contested mark in the forward 50. He slotted his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter striking the ball nicely.
#13 Sam Philp
Showed good composure and footy smarts to gather the ball, break away from the pack, steady and then kick for goal. Philp impressed with his quick hands around the contest and ability to find a target throughout the game. He worked tirelessly across the field and applied plenty of pressure on his opponents to try and win the ball back for his side.
#7 Daly Andrews
He is strong around the hips showcasing his ability to shrug off tackles and kept the arms free on multiple occasions to dish off a handball to a teammate. Andrews displayed his clean hands in and around the contest and showed good vision to look beyond the congestion and find a teammate. He laid plenty of strong tackles in the defensive end and was never from the contest working hard to win the footy. Had a really impressive passage of play in the fourth quarter, taking the ball out of the centre and then running to the 50 nailing a piercing kick to a teammate in front of goal. Bombed the ball forward from a stoppage on the wing and helped to propel the Jets forward in the last term.
#18 Emerson Jeka
Read the flight of the ball well and showed his ability to track the footy on the ground inside forward 50 to trap it in. Jeka nailed his only goal in the second quarter after shrugging off a tackle and recovering to slot a major from about five meters out. He worked hard to win the footy and stay in the contest whenever the ball came into the forward 50 for the Jets.
#20 Darcy Cassar
Laid a strong tackle in the first quarter to win a free kick for his side and pushed hard to create a lead and link up play across the field. He impressed with his clean hands and good vision to hit up teammates and applied plenty of both defensive and attacking pressure on the opposition. Cassar was constantly involved in the contest working hard around the stoppages to move the ball into space.
#24 Josh Honey
Showed real class in the fourth quarter to gather the ball, go for a run along the boundary line and then slot an impressive goal on a tricky angle. Honey impressed with his clean hands, ability to hit up teammates and vision to kick into space. He proved to be a real ball magnet and was an important link up player across the field.