IT has been a busy month in Tasmanian football, with the very best Under 18 boys and girls competing against talent from across the Country. Locally, both Lauderdale and Glenorchy have made undefeated starts to their Tasmanian State League (TSL) seasons, while the TSL Women’s kicked off on ANZAC Day with a big win for the reigning premiers. All that, and more in this month’s Tasmania football wrap.
DEVILS BEGIN NAB LEAGUE LIFE
The Tasmania Devils Under 18 representative team has been introduced to the NAB League Boys and Girls competitions over the past month as part of the league’s nation-wide expansion, with the boys already picking up a win on home turf and the girls completing their two-game cameo. Below is a wrap of how both sides fared in each game.
NAB League Boys:
Sydney Swans Academy 7.14 (56) defeated Tasmania Devils 6.6 (42)
Goals: W. Harper 2, J. Menzie 2, J. Callow, N. Baker
Best: J. Chaplin, O. Davis, S. Collins, L. Gadomski, J. Steele, M. McGuinness
The Devils endured a tough introduction to their NAB League campaign, but fought to the end in a 14-point loss to the Swans Academy. The home side led all day in Blacktown, gradually pushing out the lead despite inaccuracy in front of goal to build a 26-point buffer heading into the final break. The Devils rallied late to push a potential comeback, but their three final-term goals were not enough to bridge the gap in what was a low-scoring affair. Will Harper and Jye Menzie each put two goals on the board, with hulking key forward Jackson Callow adding one to ensure bottom-agers contributed five of Tasmania’s six majors. Nicholas Baker was the other Devil to find the goals, while overlooked North Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Matthew McGuiness led the ball-winning stakes with 27 disposals. Ruckman Joseph Chaplin beat him out to best-afield honours with his 20-disposal and 25 hitout effort, while bottom-aged stars Sam Collins (22 disposals, nine rebound 50s) and Oliver Davis (19 disposals, six tackles) impressed at either end of the ground alongside midfield ace Mitch O’Neill (21 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s).
Northern Territory 6.8 (44) defeated by Tasmania Devils 13.14 (92)
Goals: J. Callow 5, W. Peppin 2, M. McGuiness 2, J. Menzie, J. Hennessy, R. Mansell, J. Chaplin
Best: M. O’Neill, J. Callow, L. Viney, R. Mansell, J. Steele, O. Burrows-Cheng
Tasmania Devils claimed its first win as a full-time NAB League side at the second time of asking with a thumping 48-point win over the Northern Territory Thunder Academy. With the game played on neutral ground at the Holden Centre in Melbourne, the Devils were made to travel for a second-consecutive week, but the four points ensured this one was much more fruitful. It was all-Tasmania after the Devils conceded a quarter time defecit, booting four goals in each of the remaining three terms to romp to victory. Jackson Callow put his name in lights with a starring five-goal performance from 19 disposals and eight marks, adjudged to only be bettered by Mitch O’Neill‘s 35-disposal effort. Jake Steele was again amongst the best, with over-ager Rhyan Mansell (23 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) and hard-working midfielder Oliver Burrows-Cheng (17 disposals, seven tackles) also thereabouts. National Academy memeber Will Peppin and Tyler McGinniss joined Callow as multiple goal kickers with two apiece, while Matthew McGuiness (18 disposals, five rebound 50s) and Oliver Davis (22 disposals, six inside 50s) again found plenty of the ball at either end.
Tasmania Devils 10.3 (63) defeated Calder Cannons 7.9 (51)
Goals: J. Callow 4, J. Hennessy 2, J. Menzie, R. Mansell, P. Walker, W. Peppin
Best: J. Callow, O. Shaw, J. Chaplin, R. Ashlin, L. Gadomski, J. Steele
The firsts continued in Round 4 for the Devils as they overcame a persistent Calder Cannons outfit by 12 points to register their first win on home turf. After a stalemate first term saw the sides only manage a behind each, Tasmania burst to life with five goals to one setting up a 21-point half time lead. Despite their best efforts, the depleted Cannons could not overcome the Devils as they hung on for a second-consecutive win in front of adoring home support in Penguin. Jackson Callow continued his hot form, with his 16 disposals, eight marks and four goals this time enough to claim best-on honours from defender Oscar Shaw (17 disposals, 12 marks). Jake Steele (24 hitouts) was named in the best for a third-straight week for his role as an undersized ruck alongside Joseph Chaplin (17 disposals, 23 hitouts), with the injury-hampered Lachlan Gadomski (20 disposals, six marks) returning his best game to date. Bottom-ager Patrick Walker and over-ager Nicholas Baker led all-comers for disposals with 24 each, as the former also managed to find the goals in a solid outing.
Tasmania Devils 3.8 (26) defeated by Western Jets 10.13 (73)
Goals: T. Penwright, I. Chugg, L. Gadomski
Best: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuiness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Tasmania’s winning streak was snapped by the Western Jets after a week off from NAB League duties, with the Devils going down by 47 points in Launceston. The home ground advantage did not prove as telling for Tasmania this time out, though signs were promising early on. The Devils booted the first goal of the game through debutant Isaac Chugg and dominated general play in the first 10 minutes, but a lack of scoreboard pressure allowed Western to find their way to a quarter time lead. The Jets did not let up after that, scoring consistently in each quarter to eventually overpower the hosts and claim take the four points back to Melbourne. Oliver Burrows-Cheng was named best for the Devils on the back of his 22 disposals, six tackles and six inside 50s in a combative display, while Patrick Walker was this time recognised for leading the disposal count (25) with a slot in the best six players. Matt McGuiness (16 disposals) and Oscar Shaw (11) stood up alongside Walker in defence to also be named in the best, while Bailey Gordon matched his disposal count of 25 as another to play well. Lachlan Gadomski and Tyler Penwright joined Chugg as the Devils’ only goal scorers on a dirty day, with the absence of bottom-age Academy members and star man Mitch O’Neill proving telling in the defeat.
NAB League Girls:
Western Jets 5.8 (38) defeated Tasmania Devils 0.1 (1)
Best: E. Brickhill, E. Dixon, A. Prokopiec, H. Smith, M. King, A. Clark
Much like the boys, the Tasmania Devils girls encountered a tough introduction to the NAB League, going down to the tenth-paced Western Jets in a goalless Friday night outing. The home side goalled in every quarter to build the eventual 38-point winning margin, with best-afield Devil Ellen Brickhill (14 disposals) finally getting Tasmania on the board in the final term with a behind. 2018 Allies representative Mia King was Tasmania’s leading ball-winner with 16 disposals, named in the best alongside Brickhill, Amy Prokopiec (14, eight rebound 50s) and Angelica Clark (10 disposals). Skipper Hailee Baldwin also had a steady start, collecting nine disposals and laying two tackles.
Eastern Ranges 3.3 (21) defeated Tasmania Devils 2.4 (16)
Goals: H. Breward, B. Oates
Best: H. Smith, B. Oates, M. King, C. Lovell, P. King
The Devils followed up a disappointing opening game with a much-improved effort against the finals-bound Eastern Ranges, narrowly going down by five points. After leading the tight tussle at quarter, and three-quarter time, Tasmania looked on course for an unlikely upset victory – only for it to come unstuck via a late Serena Gibbs goal for Eastern. 19-year old Hayley Breward scored the Devils’ first ever NAB League goal, joined later on by Brianna Oates, who was named in the best for her 12 disposals. Mia King again led the disposal count as the only Devil to crack the 20-mark, with Killarney Morey the next best on 13. Hannah Smith was adjudged Tasmania’s best for her 12-disposal and four-mark effort, while Perri King had another 10 disposals in the midfield. Again not the result the travelling side was after, but plenty of development and the experience gained would have the Devils label the weekend an overall success.
DEVILS SHINE ON NATIONAL STAGE
With state representative honours now a weekly theme for those in the Tasmania Devils squad, four Apple Isle products got the chance to go a step further and represent their nation this month.
After suiting up for Tasmania in three NAB League outings, midfield ace Mitch O’Neill had the honour taking part in the AFL Under-18 Academy showcase game against VFL side, Casey Demons at the MCG. The annual match, which this year feautured the best talent from across the country, allows the next crop of hopefuls to shine on the big stage against AFL and VFL-listed players. O’Neill contributed 11 disposals, six tackles, four clearances and a goal in a positive display, playing a key hand in the second half as the Academy side rolled over the top of Casey. The North Hobart product played in with typical Tasmanian spirit, putting his head over the ball on numerous occassions against bigger opponents and working hard throughout the game.
In the other annual national showcase, O’Neill’s bottom-age Devils teammates Jackson Callow (North Launceston), Sam Collins (North Hobart), and Oliver Davis (Clarence) took on New Zealand’s open-age side at Marvel Stadium on ANZAC Day weekend. The Under 17 Australians proved too strong for their cross-Tasman rivals in the Adelaide v. St Kilda curtain raiser, picking up a thumping 77-point win. All three played important roles in the win, and along with O’Neill will soon return to NAB League duties with Tasmania ahead of Allies squad selection. Callow had 10 disposals and four marks, as well as three tackles while running at 70 per cent efficiency. Collins stood up in defence with 10 touches at an elite 90 per cent efficiency as well as five marks and two tackles. Davis was a prominent player in the midfield, racking up 21 disposals at 71 per cent efficiency with less than three quarters on the filed, while taking six marks, three clearances and seven tackles in the win.
LAUDERDALE TOPS TSL
Lauderdale and Glenorchy boast perfect records after five rounds of TSL action, with the former topping the table having played an extra game. Reigning premiers North Launceston sit third with three wins after going down in a Round 4 grand final rematch, with Launceston a game behind them at 2-3, and Tigers (1-3) rounding out the top five as Clarence and North Hobart languish at the base of the ladder with no wins thus far. The Southern Bombers’ early-season form is merely a continuation of their late-season run in 2018 which cultimated in a grand final appearance from fifth, and they look the team to beat going into their first bye. North Launceston can spoil their nearest rivals’, Glenorchy’s, winning run when they clash at UTAS Stadium this weekend, while one of North Hobart or Clarence will claim its first win (barring a draw) as they meet to open Round 6. Glenorchy’s Aiden Grace tops the goal kicking and Player of the Year charts with 15 in four games, including a bag of five against North Hobart, with Blues player-coach Mitch Thorp the next best goal kicker with 13 on the back of his six-goal haul against the Demons. Northern Bomber Brad Cox-Goodyer is another who continues to find the goals, starting the season in good form, with ex-Hawk Kieran Lovell performing for Tigers. Lauderdale’s Sam Siggins joins Grace with six votes in the Player of the Year race, while Lovell, Jobi Harper (Launceston), Josh McGuinness and Haydn Smith (both Lauderdale) are all tied on five votes after excellent starts to the season.
NEW-LOOK TSLW KICKS OFF
An expanded TSL Women’s competition kicked off on ANZAC Day, with reigning premiers Glenorchy picking up where it left off with a 10.13 (73) to 1.0 (6) win over Tigers in Round 1’s only fixture. Magpie Nietta Lynch was instrumental in the vcictory with half of her side’s 10 goals, while Paige Flakemore booted Tigers’ only goal for the game. The season continues this week as all six sides are set to participate in a Gala Day at UTAS Stadium, with competition newcomers Lauderdale and North Launceston commencing proceedings at 11:00am in what should be a cracking showcase of Tasmanian female football.
In AFL-related news, Tasmanian products Chayce Jones (Adelaide) and Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne) each made their debuts at the highest level, with both impressing in respective roles forward of centre. Closer to home, Launceston was treated to a cracking match of AFL football between Carlton and Hawthorn, with the Hawks staging a remarkable second-half comeback to topple the Blues by just five points.