Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 9

METRO regions returned to the NAB League in Round 9 as full-time competition resuming, with seven games played on a bumper weekend of action. It meant plenty of Victorian, Tasmanian, and Giants Academy prospects were able to show their wares ahead of the Under 17 and 19 National Championships, with a good amount of budding representatives strutting their stuff in style. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 9 snapshot

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 7.10 (52) def. by NORTHERN KNIGHTS 14.10 (94)

By: Declan Reeve

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Nick Daicos

Once again topping the disposal count for the game, Daicos took some time to work into the contest, looking uncharacteristically rushed with his disposal early as Northern burst out of the blocks. When he found his feet later on in the first quarter he returned to his usual classy self, with his ball use, particularly by foot, damaging offensively as he looked to put it into space for his forwards to run onto. He would also handball to teammates already on the fly, keeping Oakleigh moving quickly forward. He continued on with his top level positioning around the midfield, especially at stoppages, to be a constant danger once he had figured out how to play on his opponent – regularly Northern’s Josh Ward.

#14 Sam Darcy

The rapidly rising Western Bulldogs father-son prospect further solidified his claims to the best key position prospect in the pool, with a strong display where he was put into a few different spots. Starting the day in the defensive 50, Darcy looked clean throughout, showing off some clean pick-ups below his knees early on where he followed up with good use by foot, usually into central spots to keep the ground open for Oakleigh up ahead. In the second quarter he seemingly couldn’t drop anything, holding onto the ball overhead even when there was heavy contact, or in pack situations. It was impressive to see his confidence to take the game on following his marks, happy to play on and get past or around opponents to get extra distance and penetration on his kicks. He played a little more in the ruck in the third term where his height was too much to deal with for Northern, directing the ball well from the taps clear from his opposition ruck. In the forwardline, he presented well even with a heavy lockdown focus from the opposition, getting himself a goal in the fourth term.

#33 Patrick Voss

Having less time away than most on ground due to his games for the Giants Academy, Voss looked one of the most up to the task on field, switching from his usual forward role into the defensive half, which paid off wonderfully. He was a threat aerially and generally used the ball well coming out of defence, but what was most impressive was his physicality and confidence with his tackling and carry of the ball. He performed two really good fend-offs in the second quarter, where he had the ball and put his opponents to ground, with the second one being followed by a good run forward and a torpedo kick to a pack. He moved into the midfield later on where that physicality was again on show as he ran through opponents when hunting for the ball.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

Arguably the best on ground across both sides, Ward was a step above with his ball winning and clean disposal throughout the game, despite the wet conditions. While it took others a while to work into it, he was ready from the get go. Ward set the tone early, winning the first clearance and kicking well long for a teammate to mark and convert the first goal of the game, and it only continued on from there. Able to get the ball out quickly to teammates, he became a dangerous option for Northern around the ground, made even more obvious by their efforts to get it in his hands. A point of interest from Ward’s game was the fact he often put himself on Oakleigh’s Nick Daicos around stoppages, able to negate his usual impact well in the early stages of the game whilst not letting his own numbers slip.

#7 Ewan Macpherson

The ever reliable inside bull flourished in the conditions early on and then maintained his impact in the latter stages of the game when it became more and more contested. His follow up efforts around the contest and the ground were impressive, applying pressure and laying tackles to everyone that got within arm’s reach, while also able to pick the ball up even when under heavy pressure and fire out hands to outside runners.

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Wilmot was consistently seen streaming out of defence with ball in hand, trying to be creative with his disposal in order to make Northern more dangerous on the rebound. Whilst he occasionally struggled to execute his skills when running at full speed, overall he hit it his targets more often than not. His workrate was exceptional; proving just as willing to work hard offensively by pushing up and getting handball receives, as he was to run back and impact contests or lay tackles. He came into his own in the second half in particular, as Northern started to run over the top of Oakleigh, as he provided a dangerous option behind the ball.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Felt like he brought his own footy at stages in the game given how much he had it. Was just a constant sight on the inside of contests, battling hard to keep Northern in possession then disposing of it to teammates who were in space. As usual he worked hard defensively as well, seemingly landing every tackle and impressing with his follow up on the ball when it spilled, able to beat all comers to it and hand it out. Whilst he didn’t have many ‘flashy’ moments through the game, Trudgeon was just consistent and showed good football instinct with his positioning, timing and use by hand.

#27 Jason McCormick

The bottom-aged small forward had a game to be proud of, registering a game-high four goals. His read of the ball off hands led to him crumbing well off of packs, able to see if the ball was going to go over the top or in front of the contest and hit the area at speed to pick the ball up, usually with one grab, consistently. Despite being smaller in height than most on field, he wasn’t afraid to compete for the ball in air, leaping for a few high balls and reaching impressive heights, whilst showing strong leading patterns and impressive speed to get separation from opponents. 

GWV REBELS 11.8 (74) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.5 (41)

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

An outstanding game from the inside midfielder who racked up a massive amount of the ball and never took a backwards step. In conditions that suited him to a t, Hobbs was a work horse on the inside and just crashed and bashed his way around the ground. Despite injury ruling him out of the first part of the year, Hobbs showed no signs of being held back by it, using the ball by hand regularly and racking up the possessions with ease from the opening bounce. Always under pressure, Hobbs has to rush his kicks, but it was his hands in close which stood out, as well as his fierce tackling. Hobbs won a free kick for being taken high in the second term and earned a 50m penalty where he slotted it from the goalsquare. He had another flying shot on goal running hard from the initial centre square stoppage to receive the ball and launch on goal, only to just miss to the left. Hobbs kicked his second goal from a forward stoppage in the final term, with a clever snap around his body sailing home. His natural footy IQ combined with his desire to never lose a contest made him a difficult player to contain.

#3 Charlie Molan

Started the game with a clever intercept in the middle, reading the handball from an opposition to steal it back and give it off. Composed with ball in hand, Molan spreads well to the outside and often looked to draw the opponent in before firing off the handball to a teammate. Late in the second quarter, Molan pushed back deep into defence and produced a long, accurate kick to the wing, and then early in the third term was back mopping up in defence again. He tried to spin out of trouble in the middle at one stage in the third but was pinged for holding the ball, though he is able to use both feet which helps him get out of trouble when being corralled.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Herbert donned the long sleeves and found plenty of it in the wet, showing clean hands at ground level and being able to shovel out passes to teammates on the outside. He had some more time in the first half where he was able to spread and win a few uncontested marks, and whilst his kicking under pressure was a bit rushed, he used it well with time on his side. Herbert had a nice passage of play in the third term where he dribbled a kick out of the defensive stoppage and then ran hard to win the next possession via hand, before distributing to a teammate. His clean flick out of a stoppage to an open runner early in the fourth, and his hard ball get to aide in Hobbs’ goal meant he had an influence on the game.

#13 Sam Breuer

Set the tone with Hobbs early, going in for a fierce tackle and then getting the ball away to a teammate, and went on to have an impressive game. Winning a match-high 35 disposals, Breuer covered the ground well and kicked a remarkable thumping goal from the wing. By the wing, that’s centre wing, where an open goalsquare saw it bounce home and in early in the first term. Throughout the match Breuer worked hard for his touches, showing good hands in the wet, spreading well and applying immense defensive pressure. He had a poor turnover in the second term trying to cross from the middle to half-forward, but otherwise was able to impact going forward.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Rotating through the midfield, Ballantyne had a few nice moments throughout the match, which included a release handball to Breuer for that long goal, and then showing some nice toe of his own to burst away from an opponent at half-forward. The right footer showed he can kick off his left as well, and predominantly looked to open up the play by hand or with a short kick, finishing off with a good goal from an uncontested mark 20m out in the final term. He then produced a well-weighted kick to Josh Gibcus up forward, but the usual defender missed to the left.

Murray Bushrangers:

#8 Zavier Maher

Maher provided some experience and stoppage nous around the contest, able to win the ball in close and use his elite sidestep to get himself out of trouble. A few times he was a little fumbly, such as dropping a mark on the wing then unable to gather quickly, though he redeemed himself with some great second efforts. He read the taps at the stoppages well, and took a strong contested juggling mark late in the game at half-back. Maher had a flying snap on goal in the second term, but it did not swing enough and missed to the left.

#9 Kade Chalcraft

Started strongly with a gather from the stoppage, and got back in defence to help out not long after to clear the ball to half-back and move it on quickly. Playing on-ball, Chalcraft used his stronger frame to frame in and protect the ball when required, lay a big tackle or shovel it out to the outside. Chalcraft had a flying shot from 50m out under pressure just drifted it to the left early in the second term. At one stage in the second quarter, he was tackled by multiple opponents then still shovelled it out showing great strength.

#52 Tom Bracher

Playing on the last line, Bracher provided some good run and carry out of defence to be one of the best Murray players on the day. He read the ball in flight consistently and then was able to run off and receive the handball when he was not marking it. He timed his marking attempts well, and when he had to spoil, using the ball well by foot coming out of defence. He had a big opening term and took a couple of intercept marks in the opening half, tasked with the kickout duties for the Bushrangers on the day. He took some risky passes at times but was able to open the game up through the middle or via a switch, nailing the short harp attempts to his teammates in the back half more often than not.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 12.11 (83) def. EASTERN RANGES 5.5 (35)

By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes

In perhaps Howes’ best game this year, he made the wing position his own after playing the bulk of his time as a high half-forward earlier in the year. Howes, standing at 190cm, moves incredibly well for a player of his stature, with his agility over the ground and clean hands – not just overhead but also at ground level – a real feature in his game against Eastern Ranges. One of the best showcases of his talent came in the second quarter, taking a nice mark at half-back before quickly playing on, showing his great speed and willingness to take the game on. He would get better as the game went on as well, showing great skill at the back of stoppages and with a 50m penalty, he converted a goal which was reward for his efforts up to that point. Howes finished the game with 18 disposals in what is two very strong back to back games for Sandringham Dragons.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan has likely left the wing position behind him playing for Sandringham, as he has not only excelled in his move to the stoppages, but is starting to look like one of the prime midfielders in this year’s draft crop. His game against Eastern was his most complete game to date. It felt like Callaghan was everywhere, not just having an influence at stoppages in winning multiple clearances, but also getting the ball in open play using his trademark agility to escape congestion, leaving opponents in his wake. It’s hard to showcase as a wingman, but as he is now playing on the inside more he has started to show good attack on the loose ball, showing great balance to his outside class which was already well noted. That harder edge is what will push him towards the very top end of the draft and with a game high 31 disposals to go with four tackles and seven inside 50s, Callaghan’s stocks continue to improve.

#32 Dante Visentini

In his best outing to date, the Under 16 Vic Metro representative showed why he won those accolades back in 2019 with a strong display playing forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck. Visentini was a real threat in the air, taking some strong marks highlighted with one contested grab inside 50 in the third quarter. He would miss the resultant set shot there, but his marking on the wing was also impressive, showing he could get on his bike and present as a leading option all over the ground. Visentini finished the game with 13 disposals, seven marks, 13 hit outs and a goal in a timely reminder to recruiters of his talent ahead of the National Championships.

#52 Luke Nankervis

The smooth moving forward hasn’t been the type of forward to kick bags of goals, but he is certainly one of the more creative ones in this year’s crop with his clean hands and agility with ball in hand real features of his game. That was again evident against Eastern Ranges, where Nankervis showed a great ability to take the ball cleanly below his knees and get his arms up to release by hand. Although he hasn’t been able to use those hands in marking contests, he does have that in his arsenal. Defensively, Nankervis was also very sound with six tackles for the game, with one in the first quarter rewarded for holding the ball. If Nankervis can start to really weave around opponents more often with his agility and start to be a threat in the air, he will cause major headaches for any defender. Nankervis finished the game with 18 disposals and five inside 50s.

#61 Max Heath

The newest acquisition to the St Kilda Football Club, Heath was an imposing force around the ground with his trademark bash and crash style on show – not just in the ruck, but also up forward where he would lay multiple bone crunching tackles. Heath relishes on the tackling side of football, which showed with his five tackles and every one of them certainly left his opponent worse for ware. Heath’s ruck work was also good, forming a great partnership with his on-ballers – especially Finn Callaghan who was fed some quality taps from Heath. The AFL-listed bigman finished the game with seven disposals, five tackles and 21 hit-outs in a typical Heath display.

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

It wasn’t Sonsie’s day, with the classy first round prospect struggling to really get going in the midfield and despite looking good when he got the ball at stoppages, those moments were few and far between by his lofty standards. Usually a dangerous forward threat, Sonsie had numerous opportunities to kick some majors but just couldn’t get the finish, missing some snaps at goal he would usually nail. Things wouldn’t get any better for Sonsie late on, going down with a suspected lower leg injury while being tackled early in the last quarter. Sonsie finished the game with 15 disposals and four tackles and we can only hope the leg injury isn’t too serious.

#5 Jake Soligo

In what was Soligo’s most prolific game to date, the hard nosed Eastern Ranges midfielder proved why he was considered one of Victoria’s most promising midfielders after his strong performances in the 2019 Under 16 National Championships. Soligo was a workhorse through the midfield, winning plenty of the ball at the coalface while also getting back into defence to help his defenders. That defensive nous was on show in the second quarter with a strong intercept mark sitting in the hole, as well as a crunching tackle on fellow hardnut Charlie McKay. Soligo looked elusive and composed whenever he got possession and although it has taken a few games for Soligo to find his feet, he looks to have hit his straps at the right time with Vic Metro soon to take on Allies in the Under 19 National Championships, Soligo finished with a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 tackles.

#8 Nick Watson

A player not eligible for the draft until 2023, the nippy and creative forward only stands at 168cm but his impact and smarts make him an incredible prospect to look out for, and he couldn’t have impressed more in his NAB League debut. Watson was active early, having no issue finding the ball and offering plenty of pressure inside 50. His first goal came on the half time siren where he would kick an impressive major from long range. His second was even better in the last quarter, kicking an incredible snap hard on the boundary from a set shot, showing his obvious class and skill. He was rewarded for his first half with some midfield time in the second half and he again showed plenty of dash and skill through the middle. Watson finished with 13 disposals, five tackles and kicked 2.1 and looks a player to watch for Vic Metro in the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

After starting the year in the midfield and up forward, Leiu has had a stunning turn of form playing down back in recent times for Eastern Ranges. His intercept marking was a key feature of his game, taking strong marks in the contest and reading the play really well. The Eastern Ranges defence was adept at taking intercept marks, non more-so than Leiu, but it was also his intercepts in general where he would body line a loose contest and either take the ball himself or cause a 50/50, using his stronger frame to his advantage. Leiu finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and nine rebound 50s in a performance which could have solidified his spot in Vic Metro’s backline in the upcoming Under 19 National Championships.

#49 Sahaf Ali

Another exciting debutant for the Eastern Ranges, Ali showed plenty of eye catching traits up forward with his leap and marking ability on show multiple times. The East Ringwood prospect had impressed in his senior EFL debut and has taken that form into the NAB League, where he looks to be a mainstay for the rest of the year. The athletic forward wouldn’t kick a goal until the last quarter, which came from a free kick, but he was certainly one of the more dangerous marking options and he even got a run in the midfield later in the game, showing some versatility. Ali finished the game with 11 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and kicked 1.1.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 8.16 (64) def. TASMANIA DEVILS 8.10 (58)

By: Eli Duxson

Giants Academy:

#1 Harrison Grintell

Grintell was crafty, hovering around the half-forward flank all game while also showing a strong intent to hit the contest hard and do his bit defensively. It was his attacking play that stood out on the day though, as he notched seven inside 50’s with impressive sprinting efforts with and without the ball. His ability in space matched his silkiness in tight as his agility allowed him to get out of packs and deliver to a teammate on several occasions. This play led to a goal after a pair of disposals on centre wing saw him deliver to hit a teammate inside forward 50. His field kicking was sound, but he could not quite convert the way he would have liked, kicking 1.2. Grintell also finished with 18 disposals.

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Probably GWS’ best on the day, showing a willingness to hit legs and cover ground to make his way to stoppages and contests all over the ground, but staying mostly between the arcs as a link player. His work rate to contests was on par with his aggression once he got there, often trying to get first hands on it at stoppages with his bustling style. He did also play a role for his side being the sweeper many times to which he received some balls to slingshot forward or move laterally. Hamblin put in some big efforts in the tense final quarter which was eventually rewarded with an off-the-ball free kick, which saw him slot through a set shot from 30 metres out to give the Giants a two-goal buffer. He managed 29 disposals, seven marks, and five inside 50s.

#24 Sam Frost

The GWS captain led all comers with 30 disposals and a whopping 10 rebound 50s. That probably typifies his game as well as possible, as the defender looked solid in one-on-ones, while also looking to attack once the ball hit the deck managing six inside 50s. He played a bit like Brandon Starcevich showing good confidence aerially to mark, while also being a steady user by foot. There were several blunders on his behalf however, including a lazy kick, two free kicks, and a 50-metre penalty which could have resulted in Tasmania goals but luckily did not. Beyond those though, he led valiantly for the Giants.

#31 Josh Green

It seemed no position was impossible for Green as he tried his hand everywhere bar the defence on Sunday. Starting as a lead up forward, he kicked GWS’ first goal of the game with a tidy finish across his body, looking dangerous for in one-on-one situations. His mobility once the ball hit the ground posed more problems for Tasmania as he could bust through packs due to his size. He moved into the middle in the second half and made good decisions with his hands in tight, while also showing a willingness to work back and help defensively at stoppages. Green rucked in the forwardline when he was there, but also rotated as the main ruck at times, especially in the final quarter as he became another midfielder after the ruck contest. He finished with 20 disposals and four marks to go with his goal.

Tasmania Devils:

#12 Jye Menzie

Tasmania’s best on the day playing predominantly half-forward, he managed three goals from 15 disposals, with his goals all coming in the first half. His first two were bursts into space to snap through well, with his third being a set shot after the half-time siren to put Tasmania back in front. He scrapped and hustled in contests and showed a cleanliness in tight not many others on the ground possessed. His defensive abilities were adequate for his role, but his forward movement showed he has a good sense for the forward craft.

#22 Baker Smith

The key defender was generally very good with his positioning and body in aerial contests, being rarely beaten. Repeat entries challenged him, like it would most defenders, but his ability to read the flight of the ball was impressive knowing when to spoil and when to mark. Even more impressive was his temperament. He did not look flustered within his defensive role despite the +22 inside 50s for the Giants, but he also did not give any free kicks away which can be easy to do playing on key forwards.

CALDER CANNONS 10.12 (72) def. WESTERN JETS 8.9 (57)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Shifting between the wing and forwardline, Clohesy warmed to the contest and showcased some of his best traits as it wore on. While Calder often opted to play a controlled kick-mark style, Clohesy looked to break the play open with his penetrative disposal by foot, seeing him gain good meterage along the line. His strong overhead marking also came to the fore, with Clohesy clunking some nice grabs in important areas to either intercept, or help keep Calder in possession. Overall a solid outing, with the top-ager ending on 23 disposals and 12 marks.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor was a consistent ball winner for Calder and a productive member of the midfield-forward rotation. A crafty type on the ball, he always took his time in possession and looked to create with his kicks. While some of those kicks were delivered a touch short in the early stages, Taylor continued to back his skills and went on to hit leading targets inside 50. He finished with a game-high 32 disposals and nine inside 50s, while also contributing defensively with a couple of notable chase-down tackles.

#25 Josh Goater

The big body in Calder’s midfield, Goater played the distributor role perfectly at stoppages with his clean hands and strength in tight spots. He often got first hands to the ball and proved difficult to tackle, allowing for fluent ball movement to the outer where runners awaited. Goater is a terrific athlete and showed as much aerially with a spekky during the second term, but could perhaps better showcase his explosiveness at stoppages by pumping his legs instead of always dishing to the first option. Finishing with 28 touches, Goater was typically efficient with his ball use.

#30 Sam Paea

That standout key forward afield, Paea produced arguably his best outing to date. The high-marking Cannon proved near-unstoppable when allowed a full run at the ball, rising to clunk some outstanding overhead marks with his combination of reach and vertical leap. His athleticism also allowed for handy separation on the lead, as Paea worked hard up the ground to provide a link into attack for Calder. He seems a real confidence player, so is still a touch inconsistent with his goalkicking but still managed to convert four set shot goals with fluency. Eight marks and four majors from 13 disposals makes for good reading.

#41 Liam Podhajski

Making his NAB League return after gaining senior experience in the VFL, Podhajski took some of the learnings he inevitably made back into the elite junior competition. The developing ruckman showcased his vertical ability with sizeable leaps at each centre bounce, before following up nicely at ground level. He did not have as profound an impact around the ground in terms of marking, but still had his moments and dropped behind the ball nicely when Western was attacking. His directional work was also handy in the ruck, including some deft taps over his shoulder.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

White ended as Western’s leading ball winner on the day with 23 disposals, which included seven inside 50s and three rebound 50s. He was a positive member of the midfield mix, constantly looking to generate some forward spark with his run and foot skills coming away from the contest. The top-ager backed his speed in those instances but was also quite no-fuss around the ball with quick and clean touches at the contest. He missed a chance to hit the scoreboard via a set shot during term three, but had a solid day overall.

#32 Paul Curtis

Curtis was again Western’s most productive forward, leaning on his smarts and goal sense to snare three goals from five scoring shots. Mostly stationed deep inside 50, he presented well for a player of his size to mark on the lead, while also holding his own in one-on-one situations. He snared two majors via those methods with set shots, with his third an opportunistic volley from the goalsquare. Curtis also tackled well, laying five overall, including a strong effort in the pocket to earn another shot on goal.

#33 Billy Cootee

Western’s skipper lead from the front on Sunday, working hard in midfield and showing positive attacking intent with ball in hand. He would often mark uncontested and look to wheel around quickly to release long by foot, allowing Western’s forwards to get to work on swift inside 50 entries. He also impacted at the contest, with his clearance work at the centre bounces helping the Jets stay in touch during the third term. His urgency remained heading into the closing stages with more of that typical meterage, and Cootee also made his mark with a well-hit snap goal late in the opening quarter.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.10 (46) def. by DANDENONG STINGRAYS 22.11 (143)

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#15 Jack Stewart

One of the more lively Pioneers on the day, Stewart showed off some neat evasion skills and clean hands in close. More often than not, the midfielder was able to identify the target he needed to hit, and threaded the needle through traffic. His kicking at times was rushed when in play, often trying to open up angles and go long, but when resting forward, Stewart kicked a couple of goals, one from a good mark on the lead and set shot in the second term, and another running into an open goal in the final few minutes of the match.

#29 Cooper Smith

Provided great run out of defence and down the ground, often acting as the interceptor in the back half of the ground. He was often under pressure and forced to rush his kicks, but he kept accumulating the ball and just looking to take grass at every opportunity. One of the Pioneers more prominent ball-winners, he was under siege more often than not, but kept working hard throughout the game.

#56 Harley Reid

A real eye-catcher on the day, Reid was strong in the contest and able to stand up in tackles to get free by brute force, At one stage late in the first term he produced a low bullet to a teammate going inside 50 after leading out to take a great grab. He did not win a heap of the ball, but seemed to look dangerous every time he went near it, clunking a good mark in the final term and converting the set shot.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

Possessing high level footy smarts, incredibly clean hands and a great goal sense, Kyle feasted on the Stingrays’ dominance going forward to slot 3.1 from limited touches roaming deep inside 50. He was a worry for the opposition, and still provided that defensive pressure required of him, providing a contest in the air or at ground level. His first goal came with a great run and mark heading with the flight towards goal. He missed his second set shot from straight in front in the second term, then snuck out the back of a contest, to use one mitt to win the ball at speed and kick with the outside of the boot for a goal. More impressively, his second term run-down tackle forced a turnover and goal for the Stingrays. He nailed his third goal in the third term from a mark and set shot.

#3 Miller Bergman

Bergman covered the ground well and was involved from early on, putting pressure on the opposition.He pushed to the outside and an early touch 12 minutes into the game lead to a Stingrays’ goal. He slotted a nice goal on the run himself in the second term from a one-two in one of the plays of the day. Bergman provided some good run throughout the game, worked hard and generally made the right decisions with ball-in-hand, setting up a goal to Judson Clarke in the final term. Bergman then capped off his day with a tidy snap from the pocket as casual as you like to slot home his second.

#14 Will Bravo

Played the role you would come to expect of the talent who was close to earning a spot on an AFL list. He looked too strong for his opponents and showed off his athletic traits in close, often winning the ball and getting and going forward, accumulating the ball at will. Bravo was clean at ground level and able to move through the stoppages well, finding the space to exit. He gave away a number of free kicks going hard at the contest, but his spread and work rate was really impressive, and you can never doubt his intent at the coal face where he really did his best work.

#17 Bryce Milford

Started his day in defence to smack a wayward set shot into the behind post, but funnily enough found himself slotting four majors up the other end. The left footer found plenty of space on the outside, though he was fumbly at ground level, needing to take the ball a little cleaner at times. When in possession and playing his game, Milford was dangerous, missing a chance early in the third term, then went to work slotting four goals in the final 39 minutes of the match. His first was from a mark and lead nine minutes into the third quarter, then he took a good contested grab at half-forward, played on and slotted it from 50m, before kicking back-to-back goals in the fourth, the first from an uncontested mark and the second from getting behind his opponent to get boot to ball on the run.

#23 Jai Neal

A strong presence in the air, Neal’s marking was noticeable throughout the game, positioning himself well in the back 50 from the opening few minutes and taking back-to-back intercept marks in the hole. Neal had a really big first term with plenty of involvements both in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to impact the contest. As the game went well and truly on the Stingrays’ terms, Neal had less work to do, but still positioning himself well.

#40 Colby Nayna

Had a really eye-catching game up forward pushing further afield at times to slot three goals from 13 touches and always look dangerous. His first involvement was an incredibly high leap to grab midway through the first term, with his set shot sailing through the middle. He slotted his second just five minutes later from another mark on the lead, showing his burst to create separation from opponents. He is quick off the first few steps and then set up a goal to Sam Frangalas with a well-weighted kick. His used the ball well by hand or foot and kicked his third in the third quarter on the run cleverly reading the drop of the ball off hands inside 50.

#42 James Cahill

Cahill worked hard around the ground to provide plenty of drive going forward. Not only did he pump the ball inside 50 time and time again, but applied defensive pressure – through tackling or implied pressure – to opponents. Midway through the first term, he got free inside 50, gathered the ball well under pressure and snapped around his body for his first goal. He then played a part in the next forward thrust with a mark, then a rushed handball that proved effective and lead to a goal off the next disposal. He had a chance for goal early in the second term running in but drifted to the left. at times Cahill was a little fumbly under pressure, but he still had an overall solid game, kicking his second goal from a mark and set shot in the third term.

#48 Declan Cole

The leading ball winner on the ground, Cole just accumulated the pill with ease in the big win. He cracked in hard alongside Bravo and Henry Berenger and won a lot of his touches in close be it himself or as the first handball receiver spreading from the contest. Late in the first term he had a set shot but missed to the right in his only score for the day, but his best work was done up the field. He was strong overhead and looked to open up the play when possible and get it to dangerous areas. He made a mistake in the second term missing a crucial handball in defensive 50 which lead to a shot on goal, but generally attacked the ball carrier well and worked hard up and down the ground.

GIPPSLAND POWER 6.9 (45) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.13 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti offered real class on the ball with his movement coming away from traffic, as he sped into space before looking to deliver by foot. The draft eligible midfielder did well to shift to the outside and managed to get Gippsland going with a couple of running bounce passages, even if the end product was not always effective. He added a stylish centre bounce break to his game in the final quarter, and finished with 20 disposals.

#9 Will Papley

Rotating forward from the midfield, Papley proved a slippery customer with ball in hand. He was hard on the inside with his speed and tackling pressure, but also presented nicely for a small forward when stationed inside 50. He often led to the ball at half-forward, before wheeling around and pumping a long kick to the hot spot. The top-ager finished strongly with more time in midfield, getting busy at the contest and continuing to provide important defensive acts. Papley was lively overall, finishing with 21 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

D’Angelo was quite crafty and clean with his work on the inside, winning the contested ball and getting it out to receivers on the outer by hand. In more open play, the Gippsland leader looked quite polished in possession with his short kicking, able to find the ball in dangerous areas and deliver forward by foot. He contributed to a couple of scores with that kind of work; the first was an intercept mark from a kick-in which he handed off, and the second was a clever knock on which allowed Chance Doultree to waltz inside 50 and convert a major score.

Geelong Falcons:

#12 Noah Gribble

Gribble continues to be one of the more consistent accumulators in the NAB League, racking up another game-high tally of 32 disposals on the back of sheer work rate and smarts. Having transitioned to the inside, he was able to contribute neat touches around the contest with clean and quick hands, having no trouble finding the ball. As the play broke either way, the top-ager worked hard to impact in either arc and provide an outlet coming out of defence. He seemed a lot more assured in possession, not rushing his disposals as much and not trying to do too much with each touch.

#32 Noah Gadsby

One of the more handy inclusions to this Geelong side of late, Gadsby was able to showcase some of his high-level athletic traits on Sunday. The top-ager was stationed forward for most of the day but worked hard up the ground and was also given a late run in the midfield, attending centre bounces during term four. His athleticism was mostly observed in overhead marking contests, where Gadsby rose well to contest with courage. He also leant on his running capacity to work over his opponent en route to collecting 28 disposals, while also becoming a threat inside 50 with four scoring shots. Only one of them was a goal, converted craftily from a quick snap in the pocket.

#56 Oscar Morrison

The intercept marking defender continues to make strong strides in 2021, putting in a strong shift across the backline and cutting off a number of Gippsland attacks. Morrison was superb aerially, reading the play and flight of the ball beautifully to rise third-up and cleanly take some quality grabs in the back half. He was hardly beaten in the air, but also distributed the ball with good poise and skill to keep the Falcons out of trouble, proving a no-fuss kind of operator.

#60 Toby Conway

Conway returned another strong showing in the ruck, proving too big and strong with his 204cm frame. He showed good confidence to grab out of the ruck and dispose of the ball, while also continuing to show handy ruck craft with his directional taps. He protected his space well and was quite strong on the ball, looking a touch more comfortable in possession than in other weeks. Conway also positioned nicely down the line and behind the ball, with his impact around the ground an area of growth.

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