WITH Vic Country enjoying a bye round, there was plenty of top-end talent back to replenish their respective NAB League sides. The usual suspects also pitched in, and with scouts looking at each game, here are our Round 11 scout notes. Each note is the individual opinion of the writer, with the focus on Allies, Vic Country, and Vic Metro squad members, and a few stand-outs.
Tasmania Devils vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro
#3 Oliver Davis
Responded well to being left out of the Allies 23, bouncing back to his usual ball-winning ways as a constant at the stoppages. Provides a good mix of competitiveness going both ways, finding the ball constantly but also tackling hard without it. While he is prolific at winning ground balls, Davis is also often caught, or flicks out handballs to teammates under just as much pressure – keeping the ball locked in at the stoppage. He did show some burst and a willingness to kick forward on occasion – like with his centre clearance in the final term – so has the potential to be more effective. Was the skipper for the day as a bottom-ager, so has some pretty impressive traits already and is quite obviously talented.
#13 Sam Collins
Slotted back into the Tassie side seamlessly alongside Davis, assuming his usual role across half back. Was really impressive with his ability to intercept in the air, possessing a great leap and the courage to position himself in the hole. Collins got to a number of high-balls, spoiling down when he couldn’t get both hands to the ball and hunting at ground level. Was a touch fumbly early on under pressure, and looks most damaging when rebounding in space with long kicks down the line. Positioned well on the corridor side of stoppages in the back half but didn’t win a whole lot of ball there, instead accumulating mostly through kickouts and inside defensive 50. Works really well on the last line to save goals, and is one of the better intercept markers of his draft crop.
#25 Jackson Callow
The strong key forward just keeps on pushing for Allies selection, putting in another fantastic display without totally ripping the game apart. Dominated in the air when the ball came his way, breaking double digits for marks but only managing the one goal – with some polish lacking in front of the big sticks. His best traits are obvious through, and he worked better than anyone up the ground to mark from defensive kick-ins and a target closer to goal. Callow is constantly on the move and always looked to wheel around and move the ball on quickly when in possession – as most forwards prefer. He also made a beautiful pass across the attacking 50 to find a teammate in front of goal early on, hallmarking his all-round class.
#4 Jackson Davies
The skipper continues to put in solid shifts for the Knights, again proving to be his side’s best defender. Davies was terrific in the air, sitting in the hole and reading the game better than anyone to pick of much of Tasmania’s forward 50 entires. He had a purple patch early on with three or four intercept possessions, and moved the ball out of defence quickly down the line. His game is relatively simple, but Davies’ ability to leap and clunk intercept marks always proves a valuable asset. He worked well at ground level too, making repeat efforts to lock it up and chasing down an opponent who looked to be charging out the back in the third term. Solid player.
#5 Josh D’Intinosante
The lively midfielder/forward won a fair amount of ball, but couldn’t quite put it all together despite looking likely. Starting in the midfield, D’Intinosante accumulated the contested ball well early, pushing the Knights forward into attacking 50. He found space well to provide a surprising target for kick-ins in the corridor, and showed solid hands overhead. ‘JD’ also put the clamps on his opponents, tackling well but sometimes proving overzealous – as was the case with an in-the-back free kick in the second term. He is constantly a productive and hard worker, but couldn’t quite produce an end product to some nice work at the forward stoppages – missing a few quick-fire shots on goal to register 0.3. If he had a touch more speed, his stoppage work would be fantastic – as shown with a few tap reads and clearances, but he does well with what he has.
#27 Ewan Macpherson
The potential 2020 Bulldogs father-son is enjoying a consistent season, finding a place in the back six. Is often effective as a good user of the ball by foot when exiting the 50, but produced a couple of uncharacteristic clanger kicks early on. Still continued to work and provide an outlet for teammates, spreading into good positions. Like his brother, Darcy, Macpherson also looked strong in the tackle, and laid some hard ones of his own throughout. Made a couple of nice intercepts in the second term off the centre bounces, but looked to have drifted out of the game a touch afterwards.
GWV Rebels vs. Western Jets
By: Joe Lee
#4 Lucas Rocci
The Jets defensive playmaker was it his offensive best once again, showcasing this via his 24 disposals and 9 rebound 50s. combined with Kellett for 18 rebounds, Rocci was precise with his kicking and dangerous behind the ball, often setting up as a loose man one kick behind the player. His penetrating left boot enables him to generate good purchase on his kick outs and when he combines this with his intercept marking, he’s a complete package. Had one instance in the first quarter where he picked off 3 Rebels forward 50 entries, marking uncontested and moving the ball quickly into the corridor. Did however get easily beaten one on one in the 1st, being out-bodied and out-manoeuvred which is something he can work on
#7 Daly Andrews
The over-age midfielder was one of the Jets’ best, finishing with 27 disposals for the day. Worked hard and spreads well from the contest – Daly racks up big handball numbers, putting his teammates in better positions to make decisions up the ground. Underscored his outstanding breakaway speed from the stoppage late in the third, breaking free and driving the ball in long on his non-preferred. Was very serviceable for the Jets in their winning midfield.
#8 Josh Kellett
The rebounding defender had his best game of the season, capping off his display with 25 disposals and nine rebound 50s. Worked in tandem with Rocci to prevent the Rebels’ forward forays ever eventuating into scores and was a key pillar in the Jets’ back six. Uses the ball well on both feet, often hitting targets down the ground lace out on the lead. Set up a shot on goal with an outstanding contested mark for his size in the fourth, breaking a run of Rebels scores.
#47 Will Kennedy
The over-age ruckman was a dominant force on the ground, racking up 21 disposals, seven marks, 29 hit-outs. Uses his body well and his agility stands out, where in the first quarter he danced around two Rebels opponents and had a shot on goal only for it to fade to the left. Gets back and helps the defenders out, often intercepting bombs into the Rebels 50. Took a fantastic contested mark in the second, only to not carry the distance 40m out. Sprayed another shot on goal from 45m out on the full, highlighting that set shot goalkicking is an area that needs to improve in his game.
#7 Mitch Martin
The Vic Country representative responded to his omission with a classy 20 disposals and a goal. Also finished with eight tackles and five inside 50s, highlighting his defensive pressure and offensive nous. Brings a real physical factor to his game, often hitting Jets players hard and making them earn their possessions. Almost set up a Rebels goal in the third with an exquisite handball over his head, showcasing his natural footy smarts.
#14 Liam Herbert
The tough inside midfielder put in a dominant display, showcasing his all-round midfield class with 28 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles and a goal. Was as tough inside the contest as he was out, Herbert’s tackling pressure was omnipotent in tough and scrappy conditions. Won a free kick for holding the ball early in the second but didn’t back himself to kick 50m, giving it off which resulted in minor score. Nailed a set shot 40m out in the 3rd term to breath life into the Rebels. Was a real leader all day and was close to best on ground.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Brandon Hutchinson
#20 Sam De Koning
His vertical leap impressed, getting over top in the ruck and marking contests. Proved pivotal through the centre, providing passage with an excellent overhead ability. For the day, he amassed 11 disposals, five marks and eight hit-outs. He only kicked the one behind in his return but is continuing to show great promise as a forward marking option.
#32 Blake Kuipers
Utilised down back, Kuipers displayed strong decision-making and urgency in moving the football. Along with many, the game was one of his weaker for the season. He managed six disposals, two marks, two tackles and three hit-outs, but regardless of his numbers, Kuipers displayed great versatility in the loss.
#50 Lachlan Williams
Damaging overhead. Williams brings a great vertical and read to every marking contest, delivered well on the inside and used well by foot under pressure. Both poised and well-positioned, Williams intercepted defensive exits and countered effectively for a lot of the game. He also nearly took mark of the year over a pack in the third quarter but could not hold it.
#5 Cameron Wild
Made his return from Vic Country for the bye and absolutely dominated. Wild recorded a game-high 29 disposals, six marks, six tackles, four inside 50s and four rebounds in his return home. A contested beast, Wild brought solid hands off the deck, absorbed contact, kept his feet and broke through opponents to release by hand. A reliable user by foot, Wild hit his targets well on the run, picks his passes well, and moved down back for the last quarter to aid exiting the ball. A bull on the football, Wild’s return was immense in their victory.
#6 Will Chandler
A classy user and mover, Chandler saw a lot of the footy and affected well by foot. His use going forward was feature, amassing eight inside 50s, making his work look easy under pressure. He positioned well, getting first hands to it and moving well between contests. He showed great contested ability, keeping his feet with strong hands off the deck. He was unlucky in front, kicking three behinds, but impacted the scoreboard well with his entries.
#14 Jye Chalcraft
A hard runner, Chalcraft worked hard between contests and never gave up on the contest. Had an excellent pick-up in the second quarter, taking the ball the second it hit the deck before surging it forward. Reads the play better in close, intercepting, out-positioning and losing his opponents tackles with great acceleration. He finished second to Wild in disposals on 27, alongside three marks, seven tackles and six inside 50s. His pressure work around the centre was first-rate, as was his delivering going forward.
Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Craig Byrnes
#7 Sam Berry
The in and under bottom ager was one of many relevant players returning to the Gippsland fold and he continued on from where he left off earlier in the season. He is a competitor who does the heavy work on the inside with determination, often getting first hands on the footy cleanly and extracts to advantage. Berry has a physical presence defensively and ensures his opponent doesn’t get an easy touch. I loved his overhead work on Saturday too, taking a great contested mark in the corridor under pressure and backing that up with a leaping effort at half back in the last. One of the better players on the ground finishing with 26 disposals and 5 tackles.
#10 Leo Connolly
Connolly has been building into some good form over the last couple of weeks and Saturday was his best performance at the level. Starting at the first centre bounce, he got his hands on the ball early and his confidence appeared to grow with every quality disposal. He possesses genuine class, highlighted by a superbly executed kick around the corner in the first term that set up a shot on goal. There are times when you can accuse him of trying to take on too much with his brilliant skills, but his decision making was elite and instinctive on Saturday. He finished with 32 touches and it’s great to see him making loud noises again.
#12 Brock Smith
Back on the field after nasty bruising from the first Vic Country fixture saw him miss the Allies clash in Tasmania, Smith returned to his usual defensive post and was at his influential best. While admittedly starting a little rusty by uncharacteristically losing an early one on one and kicking a floater, he quickly took control behind the ball and rarely got passed. A big tackle in the second term earned a free kick which began a chain resulting in a goal, while his composure whether kicking out, intercepting or rebounding from the defensive arc gave his teammates up the ground trust that the ball was coming back to their advantage. Smith finished with 26 disposals, 10 marks and I suspect he’ll be back in the white Vic Country jumper on Friday.
#13 Tom Fitzpatrick
The exciting bottom-age prospect has played numerous positions this season, but started forward on Saturday and produced his best NAB League performance to date. He is explosive, powerful and possesses extreme speed having recorded a 2.86 second 20 metre time earlier in the year. Fitzpatrick looked particular dangerous on the lead early, presenting to the ball and creating separation from his opponent with ease on the flanks. His two goals came behind the contest, the second showcasing that elite pace as he ran into an open goal with no Charger having a chance to catch him. He is really hard to tackle too and has a brutal “don’t argue” fend in his armoury. He is one to keep an eye on.
#15 Ryan Sparkes
This fellow just knows where to find the footy in any position. Starting on the wing, he was composed and had time whenever the ball got in his hands, which was a lot. A little play that took the eye showcased his smarts, winning the ball in a mud patch that had developed in the middle of Morwell Rec Reserve, he calmly side stepped onto solid ground to ensure he had balance and hit a target lace out at half forward. Many would just tumble that forward, but Sparkes considered the situation and executed like it was a training run. He is underrated overhead too, taking a flying intercept mark in the final term, before hitting a laser pass inside 50 that was almost perfect to a difficult target. Another 26 disposals for the Vic Country representative.
#17 Charlie Comben
After a best on ground performance against Vic Metro on the MCG a couple of weeks ago, it is little wonder to see Comben beaming with confidence at the moment. He is looking more capable in the air with every game, whether taking the ball out of the ruck and releasing or attacking the ball in a pack. He took a great contested mark inside 50 in the first term with extreme heat on his back, while his second efforts offensively and defensively are outstanding. He ended the game on the bench with a few other Vic Country players and would be satisfied with another solid outing.
#19 Fraser Phillips
Wow, what a performance by the Warragul junior. He had already provided influential moments up to half time, kicking a set shot goal and producing one of the highlights of the first quarter in weaving through traffic stylishly on the wing and following up to lay a tackle inside 50. But he exploded in the third quarter, being involved in almost every score and kicking three himself. A sharply read intercept and opportunistic left foot snap got things going, before creating space from an I50 stoppage and handballing to a running Harrision Pepper on the outside for a goal assist. Then came the highlight of the game, a superbly executed dribble kick from the boundary that will have recruiters checking the tapes. Another great finish on the run produced his third goal for the quarter and it should have been more had he converted two very gettable late behinds. He earned a down the ground free kick in the final term for a well deserved fifth goal. Huge impact from his 20 disposals, I am looking forward to seeing what he provides for the televised Championships games.
#37 Harrison Pepper
Pepper was another Vic Country player who provided quality output on return. The Hawthorn NGA prospect started behind the footy, winning 20 disposals and beginning many dangerous forward chargers. He often found himself on his non-preferred left side, but rarely wasted a disposal when in that position. Pepper released pressure from the defensive arc with long hits up the ground and stuck some strong tackles when Oakleigh threatened. He won an excellent ground one on one contest in the second term with impressive body use, before getting a smart one metre kick to the advantage of a teammate. He kicked a great goal on the run in the third term, again on his left foot.
#27 Josh May
The 195cm midfielder had some nice moments around the stoppages on Saturday, combining sharp hands and a stylish left foot to help keep Oakleigh competitive in the first half. He executed a smart underground handball in the first term and hit an excellent target inside 50 shortly after. He read the hit outs well and uses his height to release, getting his arms high on one occasion in the final term to impressively free up a teammate. On a day where Oakleigh had limited winners, May was solid in his 18 disposal outing.
#30 Sam Tucker
The tall bottom ager doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball in defence, but when he does, something good generally comes of it. He won a brilliantly clean ground ball in congestion during the third term, released and it resulted in a set shot on goal. Tucker also provided a composed kick from deep in the defence arc when Power were hot during that third term, providing a rare moment of relief. Had a tough job matched up on the electrifying Fitzpatrick at times, but held his own.
#73 Cooper Sharman
An overage player making his NAB League debut after producing some excellent performances under Rodney Eade at Balwyn, including a recent three goal best on ground effort against Noble Park. He is a rangy athletic type, standing 190cm and looks to have some flexibility. Sharman started forward and got in dangerous positions at times, before having stints on the ball. He read the stoppages well, often receiving the ball on the outside of the contest to finish with 20 disposals. He looks an interesting type.
Bendigo Pioneers vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Scott Dougan
#1 Sam Conforti
Conforti laid a terrific smother early on in the first term which ended up resulting in a Geelong turnover and goal for his team. He was efficient by foot and constantly hit targets on both sides of the body. His brilliant opposite foot kick inside 50 to the leading Josh Treacy was one of his top moments on the day. Conforti played throughout the Pioneers’ forward line and midfield, finishing with 13 disposals and five tackles.
#19 Ben Worme
Worme was noticeable from the get first bounce, taking two defensive intercept marks in the space of 30 seconds. He was very reliable by foot and he consistently made the right decisions. Worme was able to hit targets with ease from 40mtrs away and it wasn’t hard to see why the Pioneers wanted the ball in his hand when rebounding out of the back half. Worme was hugely influential, racking up an imposing 26 disposals and seven marks.
#20 James Schischka
Schischka played across half-back and read the play exceptionally well. He was extremely busy in the first term, gathering plenty of disposals along with taking some intercept marks. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he was able to take a contested mark deep inside defensive 50. He was rock-solid down back and ended being one of the best players on the ground, finishing with 20 disposals and seven marks.
#38 Brady Rowles
Rowles played on the outside of the contest where he would win plenty of uncontested possessions. In the first term, he a took a one-on-one contested mark on the wing and then would use his speed to break away from his opponent before steadying and distributing the ball effectively to a teammate. His composure with ball in hand and ability to take his time before making a final decision impressed. Rowles had a damaging game by foot and had plenty of passages of play that resulted in score involvements for Bendigo. He finished with 15 disposals and seven marks.
#37 Oliver Henry
Henry was terrific in the first term and presented strongly up forward. He took an impressive mark on the lead against Bendigo defender Ben Worme that caught the eye. He would then deliver the ball to a teammate in the forward park who would convert a set-shot attempt. Henry stayed dangerous through the first term but was unable to hit the scoreboard himself. His next three quarters were quiet, but the athletic forward definitely had many positive moments throughout the match.
#46 Henry Walsh
Even though Walsh didn’t win a huge amount of the ball around the ground (finishing with just five disposals), he was able to compete strongly in the ruck. Walsh may still be very light, but his athleticism was definitely on show. He won many convincing hit-outs to the advantage of his teammates and showcased some impressive athletic traits, like a good leap. Walsh finished with 43 hit-outs.
Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Josh Ward
#7 Lachlan Stapleton
Again such a handy player to replace Mitch Mellis. Another strong performance in midfield, gathering a few clearances to go with his 22 touches. Also had 10 tackles and six inside 50s. Yet another strong performance from a man who has performed pretty well this year.
#18 Billy McCormack
In the end, only just won a big battle between him and Jack Bell. Played a massive role up forward, with his marking and disposal use proving crucial as well. Had 23 hitouts to go with two goals in the first half, 19 touches, along with four inside 50’s, four marks and five tackles as well. Looks set for a big second half to the year
#23 Zak Pretty
Another absolutely brilliant performance from him. Continuing on his hot form from the last few weeks, although this game was remarkably the least disposals he collected since Round 2. Only the 24, but still had eight tackles, couple of clearances as well, with 19 of those touches handballs. Continues to increase his stocks.
#2 Darcy Chirgwin
Was really one of the only shining lights for the Dragons. In his first game back from injury, was absolutely a star in midfield. Collected 32 touches, with 20 handballs as well, five clearances, and 16 tackles, so not a bad return. Look out for him in the second half of the year.
#7 Jackson Voss
Had a pretty decent game out on the wing, helping create a few nice chances during the game as well with his efficiency. In the end though, only got the three inside 50s and two rebounds, but did have six tackles, three marks to go with his 21 touches. Continues a pretty solid season.
#32 Jack Bell
Only just lost what was a pretty big matchup between him and Billy McCormack, but still was pretty good. He did collect 13 touches to go with his 21 hitouts, but only had 1.1, three tackles, two inside 50’s and sometimes was a touch sloppy with his ball use. Will look to bounce back next week, so look out Oakleigh.