Scouting Notes | 2021 U19 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VIC Metro came up trumps in the 2021 Under 19 National Championships opener against Vic Country, winning bragging rights at Windy Hill via a comprehensive 15.15 (105) to 7.7 (49) scoreline. From pick one contenders, to first round hopefuls and fast-rising talents, the current Victorian draft crop shone in its showcase game for the year. We highlight some of the top performances in our latest edition of Scouting Notes. Note, they are the opinion of the individual author.

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VIC COUNTRY:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
16/09/2003 | 183cm/80kg | Inside Midfielder

Doing what he has always done well, Hobbs was a consistent first possession winner in and under packs and stoppages, pushing opponents out of the way to win the ball and fire it out via hand with deadly precision. Those quick hands were especially dangerous in the early stages of the game when the scores were close, where Hobbs could get hand to ball quickly to release runners. Whilst his kicking wasn’t at its best, when he had time to steady himself up he placed his kicks well and made good decisions. He demonstrated his usual high work rate, with a gut run from the defensive 50 mark to the forward 50 resulting in him getting a mark and converting in the third quarter. His marking was strong for the game as well, spreading wide to be a switch or inboard kick option.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
11/04/2003 | 180cm/78kg | Forward/Midfielder

It was a game of two halves for the mercurial forward, struggling to consistently impact the contest in the first half, admittedly with limited forward 50 entries, but moving up into the midfield in the second half and providing a spark for Country around stoppages. He still provided an option when in the forwardline, getting good separation on his leads even if he wasn’t always used by teammates. When he moved into the midfield, he immediately impacted as he started roaming down into the defensive 50 and making smart leads to help Country get further up the ground, following up with his own classy use by foot. He became the best option to receive a handball from first possession winners at stoppages quite often, bursting away and kicking long forward in the latter stages of the contest, and getting himself on the scoreboard.

#6 Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
13/01/2003 | 184cm/77kg | Midfielder

Forming quite the partnership through the midfield with Hobbs, Macdonald brought some of the same strengths through the midfield. His positioning around stoppages meant he was at the fall of the ball at times where his teammates weren’t, winning first possession and following up with a quick handball or kick out of the pack. Macdonald’s game sense also allowed him to be the receiver from the first possession winner pretty consistently, balancing his game around stoppages quite well and allowing his teammates to play to their strengths. He presented well as a shorter option around the ground, being used a few times as a short inboard kick option, then following up with a bomb down forward. His kicking was shaky early on but ended up improving by the end of the game, getting better distance and placement. He brought his usual high workrate around the stoppages as well, flicking out handballs midair and laying tackles in close.

#17 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
23/01/2003 | 186cm/83kg | Defender/Wing

Whilst not necessarily winning a massive amount of ball, Molan was one of the harder workers for Country around the defensive half of the ground. Molan’s most notable play came as he ran from the back pocket to receive a switch kick on the wing, handballing to a teammate and continuing his run to then receive a kick over the top from the same teammate, before slotting Country’s second goal. It was a play which perfectly demonstrated the hard work he’s become renowned for. He worked hard to pressure opponents in the defensive half as well, laying some good tackles – one where his opponent tried to fend him off was particularly eye catching. Molan pushed up the ground more and more as the game wore on, using his skills by hand to set up some scoring opportunities around the top of the forward 50.

#18 Tom Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
30/07/2003 | 186cm/71kg | Defender

Brown was particularly impressive in the second half of the contest, winning more possession and showcasing his impressive leap to beat taller opponents in the air. That leap didn’t always get him a mark, but often got him high enough to get a fist in to stop taller Metro opponents like Sam Darcy from taking marks inside 50. When he was the extra number in a contest, he flew high and took intercept marks in front oncoming packs. He took kick-ins for most of the game, balancing it up between short options and running it out before kicking long, where he looked faster than the Metro forwards were able to match. His kicking was measured and generally placed to the advantage of teammates.

#21 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels)
04/04/2003 | 195cm/84kg | Tall Defender

Gibcus was a typically assured aerial presence in the Country defence, taking impressive intercept marks in contested and uncontested fashion. His confidence to push off his opponent and impact the ball higher up the ground meant he intercepted in areas where Country was a bigger chance to score in transition, rather than from deep in defence. His leap meant he could afford to concede some ground on his opponents, as he would jump and spoil the ball against any opponent afield without issue. His handballing in tight was especially impressive for a tall player, appearing to prefer to handball it off rather than kick and looking comfortable delivering it even through traffic. A lot of onlookers came wanting to see Gibcus play on Metro’s Sam Darcy, as two of Victoria’s highest ratted key position prospects, and they were treated to the match up in the final quarter where the pair competed in a few one-on-one contests. Gibcus arguably came out on top of the battle, spoiling a lot of the balls that came in and keeping Darcy quiet.

#28 Mitchell Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
8/01/2003 | 193cm | Midfielder

Whilst not winning a massive amount of the ball, Knevitt looked one of the most well rounded players on ground with his skillset, showcasing well weighted kicks, high contested marks, quick hands in tight, burst around stoppages, and spread around the ground. It was around stoppages and in the thick of congestion where he did his best work, winning first possession well and then feeding out a handball to release runners into space. His kicking was good when he had time to compose himself, placing them well in front of leading forwards or distributing out wide for his teammates, but he was prone to the odd hack kick forward out of the stoppages. 

#36 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays)
12/04/2003 | 200cm/70kg | Tall Forward/Ruck

Pushing himself up draft boards after another big game performance, Andrew showed a lot of eye catching traits throughout the contest. Starting up forward, early on Andrew wasn’t holding a lot of his marks due to the pressure, but would treat aerial contests almost as ruck situations in open play, tapping the ball straight down in front of teammates and putting them in dangerous spots inside 50. He kicked the opening goal of the contest after getting separation and taking a mark on his chest, slotting it from about 50 out. Andrew used the ball well through the game, handballing into the right spots and taking safer shorter kicks more often than long bombs, keeping Country in possession. He looked to be the best ruck on ground when rolling through there as well, placing taps well for his midfielders and having moments where he followed up his own taps and won the ball at ground level. The highlight from Andrew’s game was his aerial work around the ground however, demonstrating his positional awareness and athleticism with some high leap contested marks, plus the ability to quickly get separation when up forward. He took one of his most impressive marks when stationed up forward, where at full pace on the lead he was nudged from the side, but managed to hold his balance and juggle the ball with one hand to take the mark. So strong was his aerial work, that Metro started to double team him down the line in an effort to body his leap and nullify his impact.

VIC METRO:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)
25/02/2003 | 174cm/76kg | Small Utility

The Collingwood NGA prospect played his role well as a creative small forward. Having played in the backline and midfield at times for Oakleigh, Dib is also a dangerous forward which he showed early in the game, providing a lot of spark and looking dangerous whenever he was around the ball. His agility stood out along with his clean hands at ground level, but he showed he could win the hard ball as well, as in the second quarter when he won a free kick in the process of attacking the contested ball at pace. Although Dib didn’t hit the scoreboard, he still caused headaches for the Country defenders with his ability to impact and stay involved, playing a mostly high half-forward role.

#4 Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
31/01/2003 | 180cm/74kg | Midfielder

The elusive Calder Cannons midfielder has been in fine form in recent weeks and that continued again against Country, as he offered plenty of skill and composure through the engine room. Taylor’s agility and vision were key features of his game, able to turn on a dime to evade tackles and find a teammate by foot on his left, or preferred right side. Although he leans more to the outside as a midfielder, it suits his style with his composure and skill by hand and foot. He could have added scoreboard impact to his game with a tough attempt on the run in the last quarter, but it was nonetheless a solid hitout for Taylor, finishing with 21 disposals.

#6 Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
15/08/2003 | 181cm/79kg | Midfielder

Its been an incredible month for the Northern Knights midfielder, with his recent form putting him amongst the better performed ball winners in this year’s draft class, and his game against Country only further enhanced his stocks as he returned another stellar performance. It was no surprise to see Ward named as captain of Vic Metro, with his consistency and reliability undoubtedly loved by both his coaches and teammates, and Ward showed his ability to run both ways while leading from the front. Clean with ball in hand around the ground and barely missing a target by hand or foot, Ward would go on to impact the scoreboard in the second half with two classy goals; one in the third quarter after spinning nicely and kicking from long range, and then in the last quarter from a standard shot on the run. With 29 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, this was one of Ward’s most complete games to date.

#9 Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg | Defender

Wilmot has made a reputation for himself as a courageous and team orientated player, and that was of course a staple of his game on Saturday. The Northern Knights defender started the game well, taking a nice courageous intercept mark in front of incoming players. That same marking ability was also apparent in a contest in the second quarter, winning a mark against highly fancied prospect Josh Rachele, who he kept well under wraps in the first half before moving off him. Second and third efforts were a feature of his second half, constantly going for marks and tackles and his willingness to go and go again often had him winning possession eventually. On the bench and on-field Wilmot was a supportive teammate, giving encouragement and showing he wasn’t just out there to prove his own wares, but try and lift the whole team’s performance which will certainly be noticed by recruiters.

#12 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
3/01/2003 | 183cm/72kg | Midfielder

Writing about Daicos this year has felt like déjà vu, you could almost copy and paste any write up from his performances this year and it would describe his game to a tee. It was a clinical display from the highly rated Collingwood father-son prospect, with the silky ball magnet a presence around the ground for all four quarters. His obvious class was highlighted early with handball over his shoulder, easy as you like, and it’s a typical play from Daicos as he seems to make football seem like a breeze whenever he gets possession. His ability to win the ball around the ground stems from his workrate to get to spots that any seasoned midfielder would get to, which stems from a pure ability to read the game. Daicos, as usual, hit the scoreboard with his first coming from a steady set shot goal in the second quarter, and in the last quarter with a classy crumb and snap on his non-preferred. Daicos finished the game with 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals in what was a clinical display, made all to easy for the highly rated prospect.

#16 Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons)
7/01/2003 | 186cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder

Still on the comeback trail from injury, the Sandringham prospect wasn’t quite able to showcase his top line speed against Country, but it was another positive step with a more prolific game compared to previous weeks – before injury struck again with an ankle knock sustained in a marking contest during the last quarter. Sinn offered plenty of drive with his kicking from half-back and despite a poor kick to start, he was able to work on it and even kicked nicely on his non-preferred. Sinn was involved heavily in five minute spurts in the first and third quarters, using his ability to follow up his disposals and get meterage with his long left foot. It’s a shame for Sinn to get injured again and hopefully he gets a more sustained run at it soon.

#24 Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2/06/2003 | 190cm/79kg | Midfielder

The Calder Cannons prospect has had a rich vein of form and that continued again with the athletic midfielder improving his draft stocks once more with a strong game. Goater showed plenty of traits you want to see in a midfielder with his ability to escape congestion via a burst of speed or spin out of tackles. He showed great composure in those situations, which was highlighted in the second quarter as he rode a Ben Hobbs tackle, who is one of the toughest and strongest tacklers in this year’s draft crop. Standing at 190cm his ability to show off his athletic traits along with his obvious talent with ball in hand will make him a very sought after prospect come November in this year’s draft. Goater’s kicking was the one area that let him down at times but his run and carry on the outside and his composure and skill by hand from stoppages was impactful. It couldn’t be doubted that he was amongst the very best players on the day, finishing with 23 disposals.

#36 Sam Darcy (Oakleigh Chargers)
19/08/2003 | 204cm/75kg | Tall Utility/Ruck

Although it wasn’t the same goal fest like his last outing, the Western Bulldogs father-son prospect still showed why he is considered one of the leading prospects in this year’s draft pool, as the tall key forward provided a great target for Vic Metro inside 50. It took until he second quarter for Darcy to hit the scoreboard, kicking a lovely snap goal on his left after taking a strong mark in the pocket. His second and final goal came in the following quarter after taking a strong contested mark just inside 50, converting the long range set shot. Although it wasn’t his most prolific game on the season, Darcy was a real threat in the air and his skill really stands out for a player standing at 204cm.

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