CLARENCE were defeated in Sunday’s Preliminary Final against minor premiers Launceston with the Blues proving they were just too strong for the Roos, coming away with a 52-point victory. Draft Central kept a close eye on three of Clarence’s young stars to see how they fared on the big stage.
#34 Noah Holmes
Holmes rotated the game between the forward 50 and ruck with teammate Sam Green, as they battled against Launceston big man Joe Groenewegen. Holmes had a solid outing in the preliminary final, fighting hard in the ruck duels and spreading across the ground to find the footy. Holmes loves to use his size and strength, and from the beginning of the game he was trying to outmuscle his opponents in the ruck, grab the ball and get it forward quickly.
While Groenewegen was prominent in the ruck duel, Holmes still had some nice moments with a few clever taps over his head finding teammates on the move out of the stoppage. Holmes showed he is a more than capable ruckman with his movement for a big man also a highlight. He often spread well across the ground to make himself a tall option down the line or deep forward, while he also got back to support his defenders.
He took a couple of contested marks showcasing his strength, while his attack on the footy and second efforts following the ruck contest, were a real strength of his game on Sunday.
#39 Darcy Gardner
Gardner started the game forward and while he had a couple of stints in the midfield, he spent much of the first half up the ground. Gardner was a bit quiet in the first term with Launceston doing most of the attacking, however he did however push up the ground and make himself an option when exiting defence. He took a strong mark in a one-on-one duel on half-back, before darting inboard with his pace and kicking to a teammate.
Gardner lifted in the second quarter, providing fans with one of the highlights of the match when he kicked his goal from 50 meters out. After taking a mark in the centre of the ground, he lacked options, so he took the game on, and with his blistering speed he left his opponent in his wake, taking two bounces on his way to kicking a terrific goal.
The 17-year-old begun the third quarter in the centre, and he would go on to spend a lot more time in the guts during the second half where he stepped up his game. He backed his speed and took the game on whenever he could, and he also used the ball well on most occasions and had good attack on the footy. A fine bit of play in the last quarter saw him sidestep and ‘sell the candy’ to one opponent, before he had the strength to fight off another tackler and get the handball away. Overall, it was another strong performance from this young gun.
#42 Baker Smith
After playing most of the last week’s game against the Tigers up forward, Smith was sent into defence where he had a solid performance up against some quality Blues forwards. The versatile big man brought the heat early in the first term laying some strong tackles deep in the defensive 50. He was rewarded with a free kick for a big tackle on centre half back after his opponent tried to take him on following a mark.
Smith linked up well with his teammates across half back as they tried to switch the footy across the ground whenever possible, and he didn’t make too many mistakes with ball in hand. Defensively, he did reasonably well, in addition to his tackle pressure, Smith made some nice spoils in the air and followed up well his second and third efforts to try stop the ball from getting into the hands of the dangerous Launceston attackers.
In the past few weeks alone, Smith has shown his ability to play several different roles across the ground, with his versatility and agility for a big man being a key feature of his game. These are a couple of handy traits that Smith possesses which could make him a very good player at a higher level in the near future.
Picture credit: Andrew Woodgate