IN Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition there were plenty of individual standouts as Vic Metro players made their way back into their respective squads. Our writers took a look at a number of Victorian and Allies-based squad members, as well as some impressive bottom-agers. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writers.
Western Jets vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Ed Pascoe
#4 Finn Maginness
Maginness was a class act through the midfield moving well through congestion and showing great composure with ball in hand. Maginness was a consistent player throughout the day and even managed to hit the scoreboard with a goal in the second quarter from a set shot and almost kicked a second in the last quarter from another set shot. Maginness hardly put a foot wrong all day finishing the game with 24 disposals and eight tackles.
#5 Ryan Byrnes
The Sandringham captain lead from the front with a strong performance through the midfield winning plenty of clearances and showing his breakaway speed from stoppages. Byrnes had a stronger first half than second but was still a consistently good player in and around the contest going in hard to extract the ball time and time again. He managed to hit the scoreboard in the last quarter with a nice goal on the run to complete his game finishing with 28 disposals and five tackles.
#11 Hugo Ralphsmith
Ralphsmith showed his usual craftiness when forward kicking two goals. He put out another solid game but was unable to have an impact for a full four quarters. Ralphsmith impressed with his defensive side of the game with some good chases. His two goals both came from set shots with the best one coming after a nice intercept mark in the forward 50. Ralphsmith was a big part of the late attempted comeback providing a lot of run with a great dash on the wing and kick inside 50 that really caught the eye and he took a courageous intercept mark as well. He was quick to play on to give his side the best chance of making a comeback finishing the game with 16 disposals and six inside 50s.
#12 Charlie Dean
Dean was the focal point up forward but his impact up forward still has not reached the heights of his early season form and that trend continued against the Jets but his last quarter showed that it may soon click for him again. Dean kicked both of his goals in the last quarter one from a strong contested mark and the other a set shot after a 50m penalty. He had another shot at goal with a snap that bounced over the boundary. He was lined up on talented Jets player Emerson Jeka which was a great one on one battle in the last quarter. Dean finished the game with 10 disposals half resulting in scores finishing with 2.3.
#13 Louis Butler
Butler showcased his usual dash from defence but was moved onto a wing in the third quarter where he looked more dangerous and natural. Butler was his usual self rebounding from defence in the first half and was the leading disposal winner in the first quarter with nine. He only had the three in the third quarter playing on the wing but he looked dangerous just missing a snap on goal and also spinning out of trouble nicely in a contest showing his nous under pressure. He was moved back to defence in the last quarter and saved a certain goal with a good chase down tackle, Butler finished the game with 23 disposals and five rebounds.
#3 Eddie Ford
Ford was again his usual self in the forward line showing his dynamic and smart play style. Ford was busiest in the first half with two consistent quarters getting involved and using the ball well, he showed his defensive work with a good punch to the boundary. Ford finished the game with 12 disposals.
#18 Emerson Jeka
Jeka was tried in a new role in defence for the Jets and despite a few errors it looks like a move worth persisting with both for Jeka and the Jets. Jeka looked composed early on using the ball well in defence. He took a nice contested mark and a good intercept mark although what would follow the intercept was a stray kick that went out on the full. He had a quiet third quarter but finished the game nicely with a strong contested mark against Charlie Dean, Jeka finished with 12 disposals and six marks.
#24 Josh Honey
Honey had a quiet start to the game but worked into the game and played an important part in the Jets getting the jump on Sandringham in the second and third quarters. Honey also looked dangerous again in the last quarter especially up forward showing his explosiveness and evasiveness to take the tacklers on and proved hard to stop when up and running. Honey finished the game with 18 disposals and five marks to be one of the Jets better and more dangerous players.
Gippsland Power vs. Northern Knights
By: Craig Byrnes
#7 Sam Berry
A typically tough, in and under day for the bottom age midfielder. Starting at the centre bounces, Berry got involved inside 50 during the first term with a nice goal assist to Tom Fitzpatrick by hand. He got busier through the midfield in the second quarter, somehow stealing a clearance seemingly straight out of the hands of an opponent before sending the ball forward. His possessions were heavy, which occasionally lead to him rushing the ball forward and producing some messy disposals. He fought hard though and was one of Gippsland better players, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles.
#10 Leo Connolly
Connolly played a more outside orientated game this week, generally starting on the wing and getting involved in multiple link up plays to have some high metre gained moments. He still attacked the hard ball when it was his turn though, winning a clean clearance in the first term with fast hands. Connolly often found himself in a position to feed the ball inside 50 and he hit some brilliant targets. One play in particular stood out during the third term, producing a pin point pass on his left foot inside 50 before he continued on running to provide a target about 30 metres out. He got the ball back, but just tried to do too much by playing on and rushing the shot. He had a solid day, finishing with 18 disposals.
#19 Fraser Phillips
It was a bit of an “almost moments” day for Phillips, who returned to Power this week after missing selection for Vic Country’s final game at Marvel Stadium. There were times when he looked on the brink of putting his mark on the game, but the ball didn’t quite fall his way. He still had some nice moments, including an unselfish goal assist in the first term and some class hits inside 50. In one play he side stepped and turned to create enough room, before producing a lovely weighted ball to the advantage of Baldi inside 50 for a goal assist. Only the second time he has been held goalless at NAB League level this season, but he’ll bounce back.
#1 Lachie Potter
In his first game back from Vic Metro duties, the electrifying wingman had a huge impact on the outcome of the game. He was especially prolific early, winning nine possessions in the first term where he had multiple fast moments with ball in hand. Potter just goes at 100% at every opportunity, which at times can produce a turnover, but he had far more good than bad moments on Saturday. A brilliant bouncing run through the middle of the ground in the third term got the ball inside 50 so quickly that the Gippsland defence was almost caught stagnant as he hit a teammate in space. He appeared from nowhere at the top of the goal square after accelerating while the ball was in the air to kick an easy goal. Apart from giving away an off the ball free kick at one stage, it was an exciting performance by the speedster to finish with 23 disposals.
#4 Jackson Davies
Davies was the most influential player on the ground for mine. The Knights skipper was completely in control behind the play, making composed decisions, using the ball brilliantly and intercepting seemingly everything. He read the play better than anyone else on the ground, highlighted by a superb flying one handed intercept “specky” in the defensive 50 earlier in the game. Even ground balls he mopped up with ease and his offensive running packed a punch. He also took the kick outs and looked to create a scoring chain on most occasions. First time I’ve seen him live and I must admit he exceeded my expectations with 23 eye catching touches.
#5 Josh D’Intinosante
D’Intinosante was another one of the Knight’s stars to have a large impact on this game, kicking four really smart goals in a near flawless display up forward. I loved his first goal, giving a look-away handball to Potter, before running hard inside 50 space to receive the ball for a set shot goal. He then exploded back into the game during the second quarter, kicking two goals in a minute from brilliantly read crumbs off the pack and finished both with excellent snaps. He kicked a fourth goal in the third while under a fair bit of heat, finding just enough space to connect a nicely executed drop punt through the sticks. He didn’t win mountains of the footy and was pretty well held after his fourth goal, but ensured every touch counted.
#8 Adam Carafa
Does not play too many bad games this fellow, and Saturday was no exception for the Vic Metro midfielder. He started the game hot, getting his hands on the footy first at the stoppages and winning 11 first term possessions. If the ball was in dispute, he just came out of the contest with it in his hands, highlighted by a pressure gather and release deep in defensive 50 early in the game. Carafa then found himself at the offensive end of the ground, striking a lovely goal from approximately the 50 metre line. He was consistently involved throughout the day, creating space or on the odd occasion he couldn’t, holding strong in a tackle and releasing calmly to a nearby teammate. It was a good outing, finishing with 28 no fuss touches.
#11 Ryan Sturgess
Another Vic Metro representative to return to the Knights fold, but in a position that is a little less familiar to the behind the play roles we’ve seen in recent times. Sturgess basically played as a lead up full forward type and did so successfully too. While he didn’t win heaps of the footy, particularly in the first three quarters, he had a genuine presence when leading up to the ball. He took seven marks, the best coming deep inside 50 during the second term where he extended the arms to take a strong contested overhead effort. He got more involved in the final term, executing lovely passes to Cox and Brazier. More importantly, he consistently hit the scoreboard throughout the afternoon to kick a respectable three goals, two behinds.
#23 Nikolas Cox
This kid has some exciting attributes. It was no surprise to see the 197cm bottom ager play for Vic Metro at the Championships, the talent is there for all to see. He is almost freakishly clean for his size at ground and possesses a left foot that any 180cm footballer would be proud of. He fights at ground level, winning a holding the ball free kick in the second quarter before hitting Brazier lace out inside 50. Then there is the aerial stuff, where he took a fantastic flying mark on the wing in the fourth term. Then there was evidence of work rate, running hard inside 50 to get the ball back on the lead only moments later. From a tight angle he hit the post, but it was a fluent and really well struck kick that was unlucky to miss. He moves with a bit style and is a player that everyone should be keeping tabs on over the next 18 months.
Murray Bushrangers vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Peter Williams
#1 Will Christie
The big man impressed throughout the ruck, but it was his work around the ground that was arguably the best of the year for him. His second efforts, tackling and presenting as an option in all thirds of the ground was a highlight. He spent time in defence early taking a number of grabs floating across the pack, and then had a nice piece of play in the second term, scooping the ball up at ground level, turning and firing off a quick handball to the appropriate teammate free on the outside. He showed good intent throughout the four quarters, even if he did give away a couple of free kicks. He had superb run-down tackle on Lachlan Stapleton in the third term at half-back when he blindsided him, and got the ball moving for a scoring opportunity. Christie had a number of inside 50s in the final term but could not quite find a target, but overall had an impressive game.
#6 Will Chandler
Played at both ends during the game, taking a good mark in the first term flying in from the side, then converting the set shot from 40m out. He was sent back to defence where he did not win as much of the ball, but he produced a nice spoil in the third term to punch it out of bounds. His hard running in the final quarter saw him receive the handball and run inside 50 but his kick was spoiled on the line by defenders. Chandler finished the game with a terrific tackle at half-forward to lock the ball in deep in the final term.
#14 Jye Chalcraft
Had another big game backing up last week and most of the season, winning a heap of it in the opening few minutes. He consistently used quick hands to try and clear it from congestion, with it working most of the time, but it did force some turnovers. He managed to get higher than his opponents and fire out handballs over the top of the stoppage to the area of where his teammates would run to try and open up play. Chalcraft had a couple of burst moments to break up the game, and won a couple of free kicks for going in hard, whilst also giving the odd one away. In the third term he found Hudson Kaak after dancing one way and then another to an opponent inside 50. In the final term he won an important contest at half-forward, wrestling the ball out, winning a free but his teammates chose to play on, kick quickly and Eastern won the football back.
#19 Jimmy Boyer
Again played up forward in a different role to his running half-back/wing that he might be accustomed to, and it only took 25 seconds to look like a move of genius. Boyer read the ball off the marking contest from the first clearance, pounced and kicked a goal for the first of the game. In the second term he marked right on the line, nearly played on and slipped over but was given benefit of the doubt and he went back, snapped around his body and kicked truly. His third game early in the third term when he pounced on a ball which spilled out of a stoppage via a Jye Chalcraft handball and kicked a goal. In the final term he came close to being the difference by presenting, but a number of inside 50s went just out of his reach. He had a nice turning circle at one stage to kick to a dangerous area, and a late set shot just went across the face.
#7 Lachlan Stapleton
Played a really underrated role in the midfield and was often the one picking up the loose ball and firing out a handball to his fellow midfielders. Stapleton worked really well in tandem with Mitch Mellis and Zak Pretty in midfield, and laid some fierce tackles as we have become accustomed to him doing. Showed great hands under pressure at half-forward to give off to a teammate in the third term enabling him to kick inside 50, and then timed a handball perfectly to Mellis in the last quarter to deliver an important ball inside 50. His tackling was the standout area for the game.
#11 Mitch Mellis
The most prominent Ranges player on the ground, Mellis had a typical ball-winning performance and kept running for four quarters. He started the game with a strong mark under duress at half-back and booted a superb running goal in the opening term when he ran hard, did not receive it at first and kept running, got the quick handball off Jamieson Rossiter and ran inside 50 not breaking stride for a goal. At one stage in the second term he got knocked over on the wing, bounced straight back up and got into a bit of argy bargy with Jye Chalcraft and won a free for the exchange. Mellis kicked his second goal late in the second quarter with a dribbler inside 50 that got a kind bounce and went through capping off a massive first half of about 15 touches and two goals. He kept buzzing around in the second half and produced a nice delivery to a teammate inside 50 at full speed in the final term and then broke the lines through a one-two handball and then kick following a mark from a kick out.
#13 Jamieson Rossiter
Worked hard up the ground in the win and kept presenting all day. He showed great hands and smarts to give a lightning quick handball to Mitch Mellis to set up his first goal, then won a huge contested ball, ripping it from an opponent and hand balling to a teammate, then winning it back and kicking to a dangerous position to set up another major. He marked well under pressure as well as pushing up to the wing on long leads. He positioned himself appropriately in marking contests, and was unlucky not to mark at the top of the square when it was not paid in the second term.
#23 Zak Pretty
Won most of his possessions at the coal face and was often diving into the pack to knock the ball clear or handball out to a teammate in space. He has very quick hands and is not afraid to tackle bigger bodied players, which he did on a number of occasions. Pretty applies pressure on the ball carrier which worked well in the third term to force a dropped mark at half-forward, and also took a nice intercept mark around the same area. Did not rack up the big numbers he has at times this season, but was prominent in other ways throughout the game.
Calder Cannons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro
#3 Jackson Cardillo
The bottom-ager was persistent when running through midfield, while also proving lively when resting forward. Had an indifferent start with a turnover by hand, but warmed to the contest by standing up in tackles and busting his way through congestion. Cardillo’s ability to constantly find the ball at stoppages was promising, and he was hardly caught as he shovelled it out quickly (17 handballs/27 disposals) or broke the first tackle. His reading of the taps almost ended in a goal from a forward stoppage, but he unfortunately sprayed it out on the full. Cardillo eventually found that finish product with a goal in the second term, and a neat pass to find Jeremy O’Sullivan inside 50 later on.
#5 Curtis Brown
It was a typical game from Brown, who used his piercing left boot to penetrate off half back. He combined his easy-out via foot with some good moments in the air – drifting in inside defensive 50 and backing back to impact high balls. Brown took the risky option on many occasions in looking to switch the play and when it came off, it showed he can truly be a weapon in his position. His metres-gained kind of play often starts from the kick-ins too, with Brown pushing hard to find space and become the next option.
#8 Sam Ramsay
Ramsay is really growing into the midfield craft, attending the majority of centre bounces and collecting a game-high 32 disposals. Coming off an outside base, Ramsay is accustomed to staying on the move and he did so well to wheel around when he found the ball at stoppages. When he wasn’t slamming the ball forward by foot, Ramsay flicked out quick handballs to mixed effect, showing he still has areas to sharpen up. His best traits are easily seen in time and space, with pace to burn and the dare to move past opponents – as he did in the third and final terms. May move back onto the outside when Daniel Mott slots back in, but has shown his ability in both areas.
#26 Mason Fletcher
It seems as if Fletcher is starting to put the pieces together, and he looked ominous up forward in this game with four goals. Donning the long sleeves, Fletcher timed his leads really smartly from deep inside the 50 but didn’t always get reward for his efforts. He proved his ability to read the ball in flight down back, and did the same up forward here to mark over the back of an opponent who had committed in the third term. Fletcher also took a big pack mark in the following quarter and converted his third goal from the resultant kick, adding a fourth soon after. Hopefully he can get some consistency going.
#29 Campbell Edwardes
The bottom-ager is by no means a high accumulator, but just seemed to ooze class with every touch. He is that in-between kind of size and tends to play above his height across half back, but is so good at ground level as well. He started with a clean gather and kick on his left to clear the danger on defensive wing, and continued to sweep it up at speed throughout the game in impressive fashion. His ground work also translated into a pressure game, preventing two Ashton Williamson shots on goal with strength in the first and third terms. Edwardes also went on to show his prowess in the air, positioning well one-on-one and clunking a big mark in defensive 50 late on. One to watch.
#60 Samuel Paea
Paea was a surprise packet, quiet early but popping up in spurts. He had a good one on one win in the air against Clayton Gay, then backed it up with another in the second term, and continued to clunk them around the ground with clean hands. Is so strong in that area, but looked a little more iffy at ground level. Managed to hit the scoreboard with two goals in the final term with a neat snap and set shot conversion during Calder’s onslaught.
#10 Clayton Gay
Not a massive game from Gay, who was employed at both ends of the ground. Starting down back, the bottom-ager looked to move the ball on quickly when in possession and even took on a couple of kick-ins. Gay almost made an immediate impact when thrust forward after half time, smashing a shot into the post from close range. He had another indifferent moment when shepherding a Lachlan Williams shot on the line, but bounced back with a mark up into the corridor and one down low inside 50. The resultant shot led to a Will Howe goal, and Gay constantly looked to move the ball on up forward.
#50 Lachlan Williams
The Country representative was one of Dandenong’s better players on the day, starting brightly down back with some dash. He did not have a heap of the ball early but showed glimpses with darting runs and clean delivery by foot. Once he was moved up the ground and into the midfield, Williams had a chance on goal that was touched in the goalsquare. While he couldn’t always get his usual running game going, the top-ager would be a scary proposition bursting from the centre bounce stoppages. Williams’ pressure without the ball was also handy, but he looked most effective when kicking inboard or through the corridor. Williams’ overhead marking was another solid part of his game, snapping up a couple of strong grabs in the third term to show off some versatility.
#51 Ashton Williamson
The bottom-age forward booted three of his side’s five majors, proving efficient inside 50. He made himself busy inside 50, zipping around and finding space to become an option. His first goal was also the Stingray’s opener, and he followed it up with a second in the next quarter as his set shot just scraped through. Williamson’s third goal was much of the same, and his simple game was highly effective.
Tasmania Devils vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Scott Dougan
#3 Ollie Davis
Davis was always applying pressure around the contest, especially in tight where he would lay some strong tackles in the opening quarter. He was prolific on the inside when he was on his hands and knees doing his best to collect the contested ground ball. Davis was able to fill the hole a number of times down back where he took some intercept marks. His positive performance was nearly topped off with a running shot on goal from 50 metres that fell just short in the third quarter. Davis had 19 disposals, six inside 50s and five tackles.
#4 Will Peppin
Peppin was involved in the first scoring play of the day for the Devils, delivering a ball deep inside 50 that resulted in a mark and goal to teammate Jordan Lane. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when tucked the ball under his arm and sprinted away from his opponent, running at least a further 20-25 metres before finding a target in the middle of the ground by foot. Peppin nearly kicked a ripper of goal from the forward pocket after using his speed to break away from his opponent in the fourth quarter but his shot was pushed wide.
#7 Matt McGuinness
McGuinness had the ball on a string all day. He found plenty of space, was composed with ball in hand and made sure he took his time before making a decision by foot. He took some really nice intercept possessions that caught the eye. McGuinness has fantastic reach and was able to take plenty of marks at the highest point. He was able to provide his team with plenty of drive out of the back half and even showcased his defensive spoiling at times. A very good performance, which was capped off with 34 disposals and eight marks.
#13 Sam Collins
Collins would take plenty of intercept marks in the defence on the day, positioning himself perfectly in front of his opponents. He worked hard into space to make himself an option for his teammates when trying to provide some run out of the defensive 50. At times, he was the last man in defence and didn’t crack under pressure, applying some defensive spoils that resulted in only minor or no score for the Pioneers. A rock down back with eight rebound 50s.
#25 Jackson Callow
Callow competed fiercely in the air in the first quarter but was unable to get his hands on the ball. He came to life late in the second term when he took a mark on the goal line and easily booted it through the big sticks for his first major. Callow got more involved as the game went on and in the third term, he took a couple of contested marks, along with some marks on the lead in the forward 50. He kicked his second goal in the final minute of the third term after clunking a tough grab on the lead. Callow ended up having a pretty imposing game after finding it difficult to get involved early on. He finished with two goals and 18 disposals.
#1 Sam Conforti
Conforti was clean at ground level, gathering the loose ball and disposing of it by hand to a teammate on the outside. He laid a very impressive tackle in the third quarter and was given a free-kick. The passage of play didn’t result in a score for his team, but it was great to see his defensive efforts were rewarded. His fourth quarter was probably his best for the day, catching the eye when he drove the ball deep inside 50 to teammate Jack Ginnivan who goaled, putting the Pioneers up by five goals. He finished with 24 disposals and three tackles.
#19 Ben Worme
Worme found a bit of the ball across half-back and the wing. He was effective by hand and did the little things well, such as shepherding. He rarely fumbled and that was evident in the third term when he collected a front and centre crumb after the ball fell to ground from a marking contest down back. Occasionally, Worme was able to use his speed to weave through traffic before disposing of the ball successfully.
#20 James Schischka
Schischka was pretty dependable with ball in hand. He always found plenty of space, which gave him time to make the correct decisions. He spent the majority of the game playing across half-back, putting his raking right foot to good use. Schischka had a mammoth third term, gathering plenty of uncontested disposals around the ground and was one of the reasons for the Pioneers’ dominance. He accumulated 24 disposals (15 kicks) and six marks.
Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Joe Lee
#23 Dylan Williams
The medium forward played a starring role, slotting five majors from nine disposals. His first goal came within the first minute of the game, snagging a classy goal on his trusty left boot from a tight angle. Was a consistent threat and is tough to match up on given his awkward size. Is very mobile and smart around goals, Williams positions himself very well. Slotted two goals in the first and two in the last and was a consistent presence up forward.
#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
The Oakleigh big man continued his recent form with a bag of four goals in another impressive athletic display. Finished with 10 touches to go with his haul of four, Ugle-Hagan was outstanding for the Chargers. Also had six marks and is piecing together a couple of fine weeks in attack for Oakleigh. Did miss a very gettable set shot early that would’ve given him five for the day but slotted a goal a minute later from the exact same spot to make up for it. Played a starring last quarter, bagging two goals and threatening to bring the margin out to triple figures.
#39 Reef McInnes
McInnes was dominant for the Chargers, highlighted by his two goals, 29 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s. The impressive display was a testimony to McInnes improved recent form and he was the best midfielder on the ground. With his draft stocks rising after outings such as the weekend, McInnes is one to keep an eye on for next year.
#73 Cooper Sharman
The tall forward slotted two goals from eight touches that included five marks. Took a nice contested grab early in the second, going back and converting the simple set shot with his sound shot for goal technique. Is a tantalising prospect given his size and athletic traits and did his draft chances so harm with his performance. Could win more of the ball around the ground but has only played two NAB League games this year. Nailed a crucial set shot from 45 metres out when Geelong was lifting, highlighting his class, poise and polish.
#36 Charlie Sprague
The Geelong over-ager played a lone hand up forward in trying conditions, slotting three goals from 12 possessions. Played as a key forward and used his strong frame to great effect. Was a reasonably quiet in the first half but came to life in the second, bagging most of his goals and providing a few headaches for Oakleigh defenders. Took a strong one on one contested mark in the second quarter and slotted the shot on goal.
#37 Oscar Henry
The athletic forward worked hard but was largely ineffectual in a tough day for Geelong forwards. Had to work up the ground for his kicks, finishing with a goal, nine touches and six marks. Did take some nice marks on the lead but was often on the wing or half-back line rather than his usual dangerous self inside 50. Had a really strong first quarter but drifted out of the game. Could’ve had two goals but was run down in the goal square after taking a courageous mark back with the flight.
#46 Henry Walsh
The Geelong ruckman was serviceable for his side, winning 26 hit outs and 11 disposals, showcasing his improved ability and impact around the ground. Walsh won a number of taps to advantage and was able to out-body and outmuscle Tom Graham due to his taller figure. Had a moment to forget in the second, handballing it to a teammate in trouble after a free kick which did show he has to work on his decision making and footy smarts.