WHILE a bunch of draft eligible prospects earned representative honours on the weekend, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age talents have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also get some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.
A pair of Northern Knights prospects unlucky to miss out on Vic Metro honours made good of the weekend with promising VFL stints, proving they can adjust to the senior level. Knights co-captain Joel Trudgeon managed 13 disposals, 10 tackles, and two clearances on debut for Carlton, while fellow top-ager Ewan Macpherson returned to the Footscray side and booted two goals from his 11 touches and five marks. The latter is quite used to donning the red, white and blue by now, as another Bulldogs father-son hopeful.
Sandringham Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell also slotted back into the state league system with the Zebras, after spending his bye week back in the NAB League. The midfielder finished with 12 disposals, two tackles, four clearances, and two inside 50s in his side’s terrific upset win over Richmond.
Most of the NAB League and Academy prospects to get a VFL gig were sighted in Sunday’s Sydney derby, with Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and the Sydney Swans fielding a whopping 16 top-up players between them. The Giants had five, all of whom had their moments in the 38-point win.
Geelong Falcons product Lachlan Kidd notched 16 disposals and three inside 50s, while Murray Bushrangers trio Kade Chalcraft (14 disposals, three clearances, five inside 50s), Thomas Panuccio (13 disposals, three marks), and Cameron McLeod (seven disposals) all productive. Academy talent and Allies squad member Harrison Grintell also got a run, kicking a goal from his nine touches.
Sydney blooded 11 top-up players from four different NAB League regions, with nine of them making their debuts. Cooper Smith (10 disposals, four marks, three tackles) and Logan Young (six disposals, four tackles) had previously turned out for North Melbourne, but swapped their colours for this clash. Smith was reunited with Bendigo Pioneers teammates Finn Ellis-Castle (seven disposals, three marks, 0.2), Ryan O’Keefe (six disposals) and Cobi Maxted (one goal), who all lined up against former Pio, Will Shaw.
There were four Geelong Falcons afield, in Kyle Skene (10 disposals, five tackles), Gennaro Bove (nine disposals, three marks), Sam Witherden (eight disposals, three tackles) and Will Kilpatrick (four disposals, two tackles). Bove is a leader among the Falcons group, while Witherden is the brother of West Coast’s Alex and Kilpatrick is a Geelong Cats father-son hopeful (son of Glenn).
Rounding out the selection was a pair of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) talents, with top-ager Fraser Marris crossing from the Geelong VFL program to snare a goal from eight touches, while 17-year-old Isaac Lovison had it nine times and laid three tackles in his first taste of state league football.
Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos