IN a first amid our return to the Player Focus series, we take a look at a West Australian Football League (WAFL) talent who has really stood out on the League stage. In Round 2 of the competition, our eyes were on Perth key forward Logan McDonald, who kicked four goals in the Demons’ 21-point win over East Perth on Saturday.
WAFL LEAGUE ROUND 2 STATISTICS:
2 inside 50s
McDonald has been the talk out of the town, with the young key forward making his impressive debut last week. Having kicked three goals on that occasion, he backed it up again with an even better performance as he makes a seamless transition to WAFL League level. Not many expect young key forwards to make an impact against senior bodies, especially a player of McDonald’s build, but he certainly looked good enough in the contest to suggest he could really be a force up forward once his body matures in the years to come.
The Perth prospect impressed in the pre-season, even giving fellow high-end prospect Denver Grainger-Barras a run for his money in a scratch match against Swan Districts, slotting two goals. He then kicked three goals last week in his proper League debut, and this week he would kick the opening goal of the game in impressive fashion; holding out his opponent and taking a nice contested chest mark deep in the pocket, where he would then calmly slot a left foot snap. He also showed his impressive mobility at ground level soon after, showing great composure with the ball tight on the boundary, summing up his options well before handballing nicely to a teammate out the back.
It was overall a quiet first quarter despite the hot start, but McDonald started to get more involved in the second quarter and that started with a nice gather and sweeping handball. He then worked back inside 50 and was about to receive, but spent the ball before he earned it which ruined a certain scoring opportunity. Nonetheless, the whole bit of play showed good game sense and he would later make up for that mistake by leading at the ball in the pocket and showing his impressive leap to take a strong pack mark with sticky hands. He however unselfishly kicked inboard to a teammate who would miss the set shot, when he probably should have kicked it himself especially as he wouldn’t kick a behind all game.
His third quarter was also good and his first contest of the period foreshadowed how he would attempt a later mark with success, using his body on the wing to protect the drop of the ball. Although the first attempt was spoiled, it wouldn’t be spoiled the next time as McDonald used good bodywork to protect the space inside 50, before taking an impressive mark and then coolly slotting the set shot for his second goal of the game.
He would finish the quarter in impressive fashion, showing what he can do at ground level with a lovely, clean pickup at ground level to crumb a marking contest and then punt a quick kick on his left to gain meterage. He then followed up the kick to get front and square where he gathered nicely and handballed out wide to set up a scoring opportunity. It was a very slick bit of play that showed he is just as clean at ground level as he is overhead, adding to his overall package as a key forward.
It was the last quarter where McDonald really lifted and got his team over the line as East Perth started to make a surge. He couldn’t have started the quarter any better, clunking a strong contested mark where he used good bodywork to keep front position and take a lovely one-handed mark overhead. He would then snap the goal deep in pocket on his right foot this time for his third major. It was an incredible mark to take at League level, especially for a young key forward.
In the middle parts of the quarter, McDonald started to get up the ground on the wing, competing on the lead and working hard to contest the ball when it hit ground level. In one such situation, he would gather nicely and handball to a teammate, then run out to receive and brace for contact as he knew contact was coming. It was a very smart bit of play that you would expect a seasoned veteran to pull off.
A few minutes later he did well to break even at ground level after a marking contest on the wing. He attempted to hold the ball in to force a stoppage, and while the ball did spill out, he didn’t stop there as he went to gather the loose ball. From there, he showed clean hands at ground level to release a player in the corridor, which lead to a goal and perhaps the sealer which all came from his hard work and dedication to the contest at ground level.
If that goal was not the sealer, he made sure of the result by taking a great contested mark on the 50-metre arc and straight away put his hand up to let everyone know he was slowing the play down to take the set shot, which showed incredible game sense, confidence, and smarts – especially from a younger player. He didn’t even need to kick the goal for it to be an impressive bit of play but as easy as you like, he would then kick the set shot from 55-metres for his fourth goal which was also a game-high tally. It was a stellar way to end his game where his endurance and smarts really came to the fore in a last quarter tussle with plenty of heat in it.
That’s two games in a row now that McDonald has kicked a bag and also shown an ability to get up the ground, averaging 15 disposals in a shortened game to boot. He leads the WAFL for goals already and is quickly making a name for himself as a top-end prospect for the 2020 draft, with his ability to hit the scoreboard, take contested marks, and follow up at ground level. Perth have the bye this coming week but expect the opposition to start putting more time into this kid when they resume, as he has shown to be a damaging prospect, not just hitting the scoreboard but also setting up goals with his ground level play.
Picture: Perth Football Club