Author: Brandon Hutchinson

Draftee Watch: AFLW – Round 7

THE final round of the AFL Women’s home and away season for 2019 saw the end of the road for six teams as finals loom next week. A number of young players stood out in Round 7, with a few familiar faces gracing the Draft Central Draftee Watch list once again.

Adelaide: Jess Foley
Foley has been undoubtedly one of the biggest pick-ups of 2018 as she bullied her way to another top performance for Adelaide. Foley led the game in AFL Fantasy Points with 98, led in hitouts (16), kicked two goals and finished with 15 disposals, two marks and six tackles. Of all the rucks in the league, Foley has been the most successful when combining her impact in and out of the ruck contest. This weekend she comes up against Geelong in her first AFLW Preliminary Final and is likely to have another huge impact for the Crows.

Brisbane: Jacqui Yorston
Yorston reached a new level in her final game this season as she finished among Brisbane’s best against a tough Collingwood outfit. She notched up 21 disposals, two marks and nine tackles with 90 AFL Fantasy Points. Despite the loss, Brisbane fans should be happy to see the talent emerging in one of their newest recruits.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis
With the most appearances on Draftee Watch< this year, Prespakis is a definite frontrunner for the NAB AFLW Rising Star Award and will one day contend for the Best & Fairest Trophy if she continues her impressive form. In a must-win game she remained prolific, notching up 19 disposals and four tackles with 66 AFL Fantasy Points. Carlton face Fremantle at Ikon Park this Saturday for the first Preliminary Final where we hope to see Prespakis reach another level and assist her team to a Premiership. Collingwood: Sarah Rowe
After coming up short in all the rounds prior, Rowe finally saw a win in a Collingwood jumper. The 23-year-old continued her strong form from last week, notching up 16 disposals, 13 kicks, four marks and one tackle with 61 AFL Fantasy Points. She has shown some good signs in the last fortnight so it will be exciting to see her progress in 2020.

Fremantle: Matilda Sergeant
Sergeant chose the right game to step it up, with Fremantle contesting for a Preliminary Finals spot against one of the league’s best. Previously only playing two games where she tallied 30 and 35 AFL Fantasy Points respectively, Sergeant emerged set to have impact. For the game, she earned 12 disposals, three marks and four tackles on her way to 58 AFL Fantasy Points. Rookie teammates, Parris Laurie (12 disposals, three marks and three tackles) and Sabreena Duffy (two goals, seven disposals and five tackles), were also pivotal in Fremantle’s win.

Geelong: Renee Garing
The former St. Mary’s netball star showed no problem transitioning into a contact sport, finishing as one of the league’s top tacklers this season. Against GWS she reached a new personal best, landing 14 tackles in a team-best performance, along with 15 disposals, two marks and 96 AFL Fantasy Points. Rookie teammates, Madaleine McMahon (14 disposals, five marks and six tackles) and Olivia Purcell (19 disposals and four tackles), accompanied Garing, rounding out Geelong’s three best performers. This Sunday Geelong face Adelaide for the second Preliminary Final and a chance at a Grand Final appearance.

GWS GIANTS: Alyce Parker
Parker gave it her all in her final hit-out for the season, finishing among the GIANTS’ best in their win over Geelong. She finished with 19 disposals, one mark and five tackles on her way to 73 AFL Fantasy Points. Parker has consistently been a great contributor for her side and continued to show it until the very end. With a season under her belt, the Thurgoona product should step it up another level in the 2020 season.

Melbourne: Chantel Emonson
The former cricketer gave it a decent crack this year, finishing among Melbourne’s best last Saturday against a dominant Adelaide outfit. Emonson put out a career-best performance with 14 disposals, 13 kicks and five tackles earning herself 71 AFL Fantasy Points. She also kicked her first career goal in the final quarter, and Melbourne’s only goal for the game. She has showed good signs for next season, and with her final game in the red and blue for the year, she should be itching to play come 2020.

North Melbourne: Alison Drennan
While not her greatest performance, Drennan stood up well in the loss against Fremantle. She was not afraid to contest the ball and go in hard. The first-year player finished her game with nine disposals and three tackles with 33 AFL Fantasy Points.

Western Bulldogs: Aisling McCarthy
Among many others, McCarthy had a career best performance in her final game. The Irish native notched up 16 disposals, three marks and five tackles with 77 AFL Fantasy Points. She also kicked a goal in the final quarter, assisting in her team’s resurgence, but the game was done and won for Carlton. McCarthy has kicked five goals in her first season across six games, and is a player to watch in 2020.

Draftee Watch: AFLW – Round 6

SOME different names feature in this week’s AFL Women’s Draftee Watch for Round 6, including a number of crosscoders who impressed in the penultimate round.

Adelaide: Jessica Foley
Foley again proved why she’s been so highly regarded this year with another impressive performance for Adelaide. Despite coming up against the most successful ruck this year in Erin McKinnon, who averages a league-high 26 hitouts, Foley had the edge and beat her 18 to 17 with much more impact around the ground. Against the GIANTS she notched up 15 disposals, three marks and two tackles with 75 AFL Fantasy Points. With her year, Foley should receive an All-Australian honours and a chance at a Grand Final.

Brisbane: Jacqui Yorston
In her third game for the season, Yorston impressed in front of her fellow debutantes with a season-high 12 disposals, seven kicks, one mark and eight tackles. Consistently bringing pressure around the ball in her last two games, recording six and nine tackles respectively, Yorton is showing no signs of slowing as she betters with each game.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis
In her first year, Prespakis has once again led her team on the pitch and the stat sheet with a game-high 27 disposals, 15 kicks, six clearances, two rebounds, three inside 50s and two tackles with 69 AFL Fantasy Points. In her first year, Prespakis is already one of Carlton’s best and an absolute star in the making. Sitting atop Conference B her team looks to take on finals, where we are likely to see her reach another level.

Collingwood: Sarah Rowe
After reaching new heights last week, the 23-year-old continues to exceed expectations with a new set of season-highs in the loss to North Melbourne. Having kicked her first goal in the game prior, Rowe wasted no time in putting through her second to help keep Collingwood’s hope alive before the main break. She notched up 17 disposals, five marks and three tackles on her way to 74 AFL Fantasy Points for the day.

Fremantle: Parris Laurie
The Claremont product remained impressive over the weekend in Fremantle’s big win against Geelong. With more confidence to explore different areas of her game, Laurie notched up 11 disposals, nine hit-outs, three marks and two tackles on her way to 52 AFL Fantasy Points – boosting her season average for marks in one game. Teammate, Sabreena Duffy (seven disposals, two marks and three tackles), also impressed in the win.

Geelong: Olivia Purcell
The Geelong Falcons best and fairest winner remained prolific in her side’s loss to Fremantle, punctuating a perfect performance last week with another strong showing. Purcell notched up 15 disposals and seven tackles on her way to 66 AFL Fantasy Points in possibly her second-best performance of the year. Purcell is likely to carry this form into the final round, hoping to keep her team in contention as they enter the finals.

GWS GIANTS: Alyce Parker
The Thurgoona product stood up in the loss against the league’s best, amassing 16 disposals, 11 kicks, three marks and four tackles on her way to 66 AFL Fantasy Points. The 18-year-old was rated highly alongside Cora Staunton and Ellie Brush as she remains veteran-like throughout the ground. The GIANTS rookie may be a real chance for the Rising Star Award.

Melbourne: Chantel Emonson
Emonson got treated to one of the tightest games of the season as her team prevailed over the reigning premiers. After finding some solid form last week, the 25-year-old followed up well with some impressive numbers for the Dees. She notched up 12 disposals, one mark and two tackles with 41 AFL Fantasy Points and a 73 per cent disposal efficiency.

North Melbourne: Alison Drennan
Drennan was among North Melbourne’s best in their win over a competitive Collingwood outfit. She looked more confident by foot and, despite missing, had two shots at goal in her best game yet. For the day, she notched up 14 disposals and six tackles on her way to 67 AFL Fantasy Points and managed to double her season total in kicks with eight to her name. As North look to set to go deep into the finals, Drennan has a unique opportunity to mould herself against some of the league’s best.

Western Bulldogs: Aisling McCarthy
Despite coming across from her native game of Gaelic Football, McCarthy remains poised and impactful for the Bulldogs. Kicking a goal in all but one of her games, her goal sense is just one of the things that has translated well across codes, this week kicking a goal to give her side a six-point lead come the main break. She also notched up 11 disposals and two tackles with 45 AFL Fantasy Points.

Draftee Watch: AFLW Round 5

IN Round 5 of the AFLW, Carlton’s Madison Prespakis continued to show her dynamic form on field, while a few new names made it onto this week’s list of budding stars.

Adelaide: Jessica Foley
The SANFLW star was sensational in Adelaide’s win over North Melbourne. Despite not winning most of the ruck duels, Foley found ways to impact elsewhere, notching up 16 disposals, four marks, and three tackles on her way to 84 AFL Fantasy Points. She currently sits as the league’s most impressive ruckman – leading in hitouts, marks and tackles, and second only to Erin McKinnon (14) with an average of 13.6 disposals.

Brisbane: McKenzie Dowrick
Dowrick remains a clear standout among Brisbane’s debutants. Her numbers have endured despite the occasional issues with team cohesion and challenging opponents, offering valued consistency. Against the Cats, she earned 11 disposals, four marks and two tackles on her way to 51 AFL Fantasy Points. The future looks bright for Dowrick if she remains consistent and reliable.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis
Once again, Prespakis has exceeded the expectations of any first-year player as she notches up another leading performance for Carlton. Averaging 19 disposals, the Carlton rookie finished Round 5 with a game-high 21 disposals, four marks and a goal on her way to 70 AFL Fantasy Points. Prespakis looks on her way to receiving All-Australian selection if she keeps with her strong showings. Teammates, Jayde Van Dyke (12 disposals, four marks and three tackles) and Jess Edwards (10 disposals and two tackles) were other debutants who enjoyed the narrow win.

Collingwood: Sarah Rowe
Collingwood’s young stars are beginning to hit their strides as Sarah Dargan proved last week with a Rising Star nomination, and Rowe followed this week with her own strong performance against Carlton. The 23-year-old emerged strong with her best performance yet. With it being her first time cracking over 10 disposals, Rowe impressed with 13 possessions, five marks, one tackle and her first career goal on her way to 57 AFL Fantasy Points.

Fremantle: Sabreena Duffy
Fremantle’s resident goal sneak continued to impress in front of goals in the win over the Western Bulldogs. Duffy surpassed her average (nine) with 10 disposals and kicked two final quarter goals to shut the door on the Bulldogs’ comeback. She also earned two inside 50s, one goal assist and seven contested possessions.

Geelong: Olivia Purcell
Geelong’s newest hardball winner has again shown that she has other levels to reach before hitting her ceiling. Throughout the midfield, Purcell is a tackling and contested ball winning machine. Following a 14-disposal game in Round 4, Purcell impressed with a season-high 20 disposals, one mark, 10 tackles and a goal – kicked towards the end of the third. The rookie also had a game-high 102 AFL Fantasy Points ahead of teammate, Kate Darby (94), who kicked three goals. Purcell enjoyed her first win away with the Cats as she looks to be ramping up her season.

GWS GIANTS: Alyce Parker
Parker remained productive and present in the loss to Melbourne, hitting a new season-high. The Thurgoona product earned a game and season-high 20 disposals, tied with teammate, Alicia Eva. She also snagged three marks, two tackles and 63 AFL Fantasy Points, edging her average up to 16 disposals with a 63 per cent disposal efficiency.

Melbourne: Chantel Emonson
The former cricketer and Casey Demons player has shown decent form recently and held up well in the win over GWS. Emonson is showing great potential as a high-pressure player with her tackling ability and awareness in congestion. In the win she picked up 11 disposals and six tackles with 58 AFL Fantasy Points.

North Melbourne: Jessica Trend
Trend was among a few players who lifted their efforts in hope to keep North Melbourne’s winning streak alive. In her first year of AFLW, the 27-year-old had a season-high 13 disposals, five marks and three tackles with 59 AFL Fantasy Points. Teammate Sophie Abbatangelo (13 disposals and six marks) also held up in the loss but struggled to hit the board with two behinds.

Western Bulldogs: Aisling McCarthy
The Irish native remained impressive in the Western Bulldogs’ loss to Fremantle. She found the goals for the third time this season, nearly averaging a goal a game, and earned eight disposals, two marks and one tackle on her way to 38 AFL Fantasy Points.

Draftee Watch: AFLW – Round 4

IN Round 4 of the AFL Women’s, Adelaide’s Danielle Ponter and Collingwood’s Sarah Dargan joined the list of growing Rising Stars in the competition after impressive performances on the weekend.

Adelaide: Danielle Ponter
Ponter was well deserving of her Round 4 Rising Star nomination in Adelaide’s victory over Fremantle. As Adelaide’s first nomination this season, Ponter took centre stage with two majors and a 90 per cent disposal efficiency on her home turf in Darwin. She also secured eight disposals and a mark in her first stint up forward. Teammate, Jess Foley (24 hit-outs, 13 disposals, five marks, two clearances and five inside 50s), also continued her elite form as she finishes second in the league for hit-outs.

Brisbane: McKenzie Dowrick
The Grand Final rematch went well in Brisbane’s favour as they kept the Bulldogs goalless in the first half. Along with teammate, Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw (12 disposals and six marks), Dowrick was both dominant in the air and in the contest. For the day she had 12 disposals, four marks and three tackles on her way to 58 AFL Fantasy Points. If Brisbane’s recruits continue to combine well, they could be the difference for a successful 2019 finals campaign.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis
Prespakis continues to be one of Carlton’s most dominant utilities, impressing in the loss. With both teams underwhelming on the scoreboard, the No. 3 pick showed she’s nothing if not consistent as she picked up a game-high 19 disposals, one mark and three tackles along the way to 67 AFL Fantasy Points. At the rate she’s progressing, it might be possible for her to snag the Rising Star Award and the AFLW Best and Fairest trophy in consecutive years. She is easily the frontrunner for the latter, but also shouldn’t be ruled out for either as the continues to put up great numbers.

Collingwood: Sarah Dargan
The hardnut midfielder is getting better by the week, and in Round 4, she was handed a Rising Star nomination. Against the GWS GIANTS, Dargan racked up 16 disposals, two marks, six tackles and booted an important Collingwood goal. She was the second highest disposal winner from the Pies and has been a shining light in a disappointing season thus far.

Fremantle: Sabreena Duffy
With a final quarter blitz shaking Fremantle to their core, Duffy and Parris Laurie were treated to their first loss as Fremantle players. Of the two, Duffy had the most impact. Despite recording her lowest numbers of the season, Duffy endeavoured with seven disposals, three marks and two tackles. She tried her luck at a goal in the fourth but failed to find the middle. Laurie (eight disposals, two marks and one tackle) remained efficient in the loss.

Geelong: Olivia Purcell
Geelong’s hard ball winner continues to impress in Nina Morrison’s absence, propping up numbers all over the stat sheet. In the Round 4 victory she secured 14 possessions (nine contested), three clearances, three tackles and four inside 50s. Her work on the inside continues to impress, but her disposal efficiency (42 per cent) could improve.

GWS GIANTS: Yvonne Bonner
Not only has Bonner proven to be the GIANTS’ most dominant new prospect, at times she warrants comparisons with some of the league’s best. She is yet to be goalless this season, kicking her fourth career goal with elite goal sense. As a forward, she possesses a lot of the footy as she combines well in chains and hits up teammates in space. For the game she snagged nine disposals, one mark and one tackle. While not her most impressive game, she still deserves her place on this list.

Melbourne: Tyla Hanks
Hanks might have been one goal short of a Rising Star Nomination this week as she turned it on for Melbourne in a tight loss. The former Gippsland co-captain decisively made her case for Rising Star consideration with 12 disposals, one goal, two marks and three tackles on her way to 51 AFL Fantasy Points. This marks Hanks’ second goal and third consecutive game with over 10 disposals.

North Melbourne: Georgia Nanscawen
There was not a lot of first-year influence in North Melbourne’s fourth consecutive win, with most players recording under four disposals with low disposal efficiency. Nanscawen was the best of the crop with four disposals, one mark and one tackle. In her first year, the 26-year-old is still yet to breakout, though with a solid team around her, it could still happen this season.

Western Bulldogs: Aisling McCarthy
The Irish-born Bulldog was one of the few pillars who remained in their heavy loss. McCarthy had 12 disposals, two marks, two tackles and kicked her second career goal on her way to 53 AFL Fantasy Points. The change in codes has not seem to have dwindled her impact as she continues to get more comfortable in front of the sticks.

Draftee Watch – AFLW: Round 3

IN Round 3, forward Courteney Munn booted four goals on debut and highlighted a number of impressive draftee performances across the round.

Adelaide: Chloe Scheer
The South Australian champion exceeded her Round 1 performance in a big win over Geelong. She kicked two goals, with her last comfortably shutting the Cats out of the race in the final quarter. Her work overhead remains consistent as she leads well into space. She also displays an uncanny goal sense that makes her dangerous around the sticks. For the day, she tallied up 13 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s, as well as finishing as Adelaide’s second leading goal kicker behind Erin Phillips (three goals).

Brisbane: Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw
After missing her first shot on goal against Fremantle, Tawhiao-Wardlaw found her first in her side’s loss to Melbourne, coming at the end of a first quarter which seemed to be keeping Brisbane in contention. Unfortunately, those hopes were quickly quashed as Melbourne returned five consecutive goals in the second. For the day, Tawhiao-Wardlaw had eight disposals, three marks and two tackles.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis
A contender for the MVP, Prespakis has somehow smashed expectations with possibly a league-best performance against GWS GIANTS. After earning a Rising Star nomination in Round 2, the Carlton recruit took things up a notch with a game-high 21 disposals and three goals. She boasted an excellent goal sense and found her forwards well, combining well with Tayla Harris (three goals) on several occasions to hit the board. Her individual performance saw Carlton to their first win and possibly a revitalised season with a new brand of attacking football.

Collingwood: Jordyn Allen
Allen continues to improve despite Collingwood’s struggles. The former Dandenong Stingrays captain received her first shot on goal and a career-high 10 disposals alongside one mark and two tackles on her way to 33 AFL Fantasy Points.

Fremantle: Parris Laurie
After a shaky second round performance, Laurie doubled her efforts with a 17 disposal game, smashing her previous highest. The 24 year-old made waves throughout Fremantle’s midfield, assisting attacking chains and dishing the ball off effectively. She finished as the second highest accumulator behind teammate, Kara Donnellan, and currently sits at a 77 per cent disposal efficiency, looking set to take the game on more in the coming rounds.

Geelong: Olivia Purcell
Despite some issues with her disposal efficiency (37 per cent), Purcell currently sits as Geelong’s best young asset after Nina Morrison suffered her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. In her junior career she was selected for both TAC Cup Team of the Year and the All-Australian team and received the Geelong Falcons best and fairest during her under 18’s year. She brings Geelong a new level of intensity on the inside, dishing the ball out from congestion and bringing players to the ground. Against Adelaide she had nine disposals, one goal, one mark and two tackles. This was Purcell’s first score for the season and hopefully leads in many more.

GWS Giants: Yvonne Bonner
In only her fourth game of AFL, Bonner is playing like a veteran. In their loss against Carlton she remained a pillar in the forward line, marking everything that came her way and setting up multiple goals for her teammates. She also earned herself an early nod at the goal of the year with a gather and round the body snap from the boundary line. She assisted Christina Bernardi twice in front of goal and kept up the intensity despite Carlton’s dominance. For the day she tallied up 13 disposals and eight marks.

Melbourne: Tyla Hanks
The Gippsland Power and Carlton VFL gun was pivotal in Melbourne’s interstate win over Brisbane, with a career-high 12 disposals, four marks and three tackles. She dropped the ball in well to her forwards (three inside 50s), helping to assist Melbourne’s relentless goal pressure. She currently averages 10 disposals and 57 per cent disposal efficiency, but those numbers have only climbed since her debut.

North Melbourne: Courteney Munn
The debutant just showed another string to North Melbourne’s impressive forward bow, booting four goals in North Melbourne’s big win over the reigning premiers. Munn had 11 touches, four marks and two tackles in the victory, but it was her four goals, some of which were very impressive and showed maturity beyond her years. Her elite 91 per cent disposal efficiency was also a highlight and Munn certainly cemented her spot for Round 4.

Western Bulldogs: Celine Moody
Moody continues to prove herself a dominant ruckman as she beat out her Roos opponent, Emma King, in the weekend’s loss. With 15 hit-outs to 11, Moody has shown she knows how to scrap with the best, notching her average up to 11 after a weaker performance in Round 1. In the loss, she picked up four disposals, one inside 50 and two clearances. Moody is well on her way to a big career if she keeps improving like this.

Keeping Tabs: Standout players from Preliminary Finals

WITH each passing week we lose more teams, and with them, more 2018 debutants. Though the ones who made it this far have continued to prove why they deserve their spots. This weekend, we will have at least one debutant given a Premiership Medal and experience very few players have.

Liam Ryan

The high-flying West Coast sensation has secured himself a spot in this week’s Grand Final against the Magpies. He, with the Eagles, made quick work of the travelling Demons, racking up 18 possessions (10 contested) at a 72 per cent disposal efficiency. He had 14 kicks, nine score involvements, one goal assist and four marks (one contested and two inside 50). Ryan also hit the board himself in West Coast’s domination, kicking one goal and a behind. This year he has added much needed depth and class to his team’s forward line and it continues to show on the stat sheet. His on-ball skins were utilised, picking up three clearances, three rebounds and two inside 50s, as well as gaining 448 metres with the ball. Ryan also laid two tackles and gained four free kicks, marking the end of excellent performance in one of the League’s most important games.

Jack Higgins

Though obviously not the result he wanted, Higgins put up some solid work against a formidable Collingwood unit. The 2017 Morrish Medal kicked two goals, and finished the second highest goalkicker for the Tigers. He tallied 14 possessions (nine contested) at a 79 percent disposal efficiency, which was impressive enough given the circumstances. The last time Higgins faced the Magpies, he kicked the goal that would go on to earn him Goal of the Year honours. This time he was just as pivotal on the goal front, having six score involvements and two marks (one inside 50). He would be right to use this as a learning experience, now being part of a small group of 2017 crop to play finals. Despite a heavy loss, he has a leg up on his peers now. With Richmond’s recent dominance, it should serve him well in 2019. An excellent season nonetheless.

Jaidyn Stephenson

In the last 30 years, no Collingwood player has kicked 34 goals in their debut season. The last such effort came from Graham Wright (38) in 1988. There is no doubt that Stephenson is well on his way to stardom, getting to play in his first ever AFL Grand Final this weekend. To get there, the young man put up a solid effort against Richmond – collecting 14 possessions (four contested) at a 93 per cent disposal efficiency. The youngster was dominant over head, taking five marks (one contested) and kicked a goal with three score involvements. Last week, Stephenson was playing much unlike himself. This week, as with Collingwood, he was determined to make a statement. The 2018 Rising Star winner laid two tackles (one inside 50) and had three inside 50s. The young Magpie is on his way to having one of the best debut seasons in a long while, and could add a premiership to it on Saturday.

Charlie Spargo

The finals dream is over for Melbourne and Charlie Spargo at the hands of the Eagles. For the day, he took 10 possessions (two contested) at a rather poor disposal efficiency (40 per cent efficiency). This sparks no surprise given the weight of the Eagles onslaught, plus the very few Demons who had good performances. He kicked a behind and had four turnovers, but also took four marks (one inside 50). It was one of his quieter performances but it’s still an important lesson.

Player Focus: Bailey Williams

The Dandenong Stingrays took out the resilient Sandringham Dragons by 42 points to earn their rightful place in next week’s Grand Final against the Oakleigh Chargers.

Despite playing against potential top five pick Ben King, Bailey Williams was easily the most dominant key forward on the day.

Williams first caught eyes in 2017 after some impressive showings for Dandenong Stingrays, earning a position in the Vic Country side as a bottom-ager. He mostly played in the ruck, which he has continued to improve on in 2018. His supreme running leap coupled with great strength was often too much for his opponents in the ruck, but despite this Williams has proved more valuable as a forward than a ruckman. Picked in the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Team of the Year as forward pocket, and TAC Cup Team of the Year as ruckman, for both his size and position, Williams offers great versatility.

Williams has had a rough trot in front of goal since the Under 18 National Championships, struggling to convert off his set shot. Though this is likely more of a confidence issue than anything to do with his ability, finding himself in a bit of a funk. Before the Championships, his set shot was not brought into question. In Round Four, he kicked seven against the Western Jets. This was also around the time he was pegged within the top 10 of the AFL Draft Central Power Rankings. Though since of some his smaller issues, he sits twelfth. On the run, with players hanging off him, around the body – Williams will convert. He is a multi-dimensional player who marks well, plays low, applies intense pressure and can continue to have an impact up the ground, and that is exactly the kind of forward modern AFL sides look for.

Bailey Williams
198cm | 95kg
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country

Quarter by quarter:

Though originally named in the ruck, Williams found his way down forward for the first quarter. He got around a lot of the early kicks inside 50 but none really sat to his advantage. He got his first hands on the footy off a boundary throw-in, winning the hit-out but was unlucky not to have his work converted. Later in the game, Williams dropped a chest mark after leading up into the midfield. He followed up by working back onto the ball and managing to gain possession and free it from under a tackle. Assigned to the ruck contests up forward, Williams won a hit-out in the square, followed it up with a tackle to dispossess but the ball spilled to the Dragons’ advantage. Though after a hit-out in a similar spot soon after, Williams won a ruck contest over the back of his opponent which quickly converted into a goal. Off a quick chip kick, Williams took a brave mark overhead running into Dragons defence, which he followed up with a good set-shot goal, landing his first for the day. He later found himself on the other end of the ground, knocking the ball over the line for a behind and soon followed up by applying intense pressure to the Dragons’ forwards, gaining a possession and diving onto the footy to help disrupt a run on goal, forcing a behind. Williams continued to stand up in the ruck, contributing greatly to the one-sided affair. After winning two hit-outs in the centre which quickly resulted in stoppages, Williams flew high to thump the ball far from the pack of players into the hands of Zac Foot who sent it inside 50. Towards the end of the quarter Williams saw more time in the ruck. He rarely failed to get first hands to it, using his strength and incredible leap to shadow his opponent, but his hitouts became very contentious for the players below him, seldom hitting a man on the full.

Williams started in the ruck after an impressive showing in the first. In his first contest he got bodied off the ball by James Rendell, with either of them barely getting a hand to it. The pair continued to display a strong contest under the footy, with Rendell using his positioning and Williams his athleticism to win the hitouts. Rendell later pinned Williams in a tackle and earned a free for holding the ball. After that, Williams found his way forward where he quickly began to flourish again. After being taken on as the Dragons attempted to rebound, Williams kept his man and switched quickly as they dished off the footy. He forced the defenders to rush their disposal which resulted in a turnover, a return inside 50 and subsequent goal. Tagged heavily in the marking contest, Williams took a big knee in the back under the football but was the first to regain his feet in the pack. His work in the ruck early on, involved a bit more wrestling than tap downs. For both ruckman there were very few hitouts to advantage, so despite being on the ball more, Williams’ impact was much lesser than the first.

For the third, Williams started on the bench but surged back on come the three-minute mark. Again, sticking to his forward role, the ball came his way twice, but unfortunately not to his advantage. The day’s windy conditions impacted a lot of inside 50s, so the kicks forward for both teams suffered. The second kick inside 50 found its way to the boundary line where Williams got to show his skill in the ruck contest. He won the hit-out, collected his own football off the deck and followed up with a snap at goal but missed. Williams continued to have trouble hitting his man from the ruck contest but getting first hand to the football was easy enough for him. Similarly to his first ruck contest for the quarter, he outmuscled his opponent to win the tap down, collect his own footy and again snap at goal. Like the first, he missed but continued to make these opportunities for himself. Williams later went up for a mark inside 50, knocked it in front of him, followed up and handballed to Toby Bedford who kicked a brilliant goal. The big man very rarely lost a one-on-one contest, using his second efforts to pin his opponent if they tried to break away. Williams’ highlight for the quarter came after the two defenders tagging him collided, allowing the forward to scoop and handball over his shoulder to the goal square, resulting in a run on goal. Great vision and clever football. He later followed up by marking the footy among three Dragons defenders, but missed his set shot on goal against the wind. This made for three behinds for the quarter but allowing himself these opportunities at goal with a couple of defenders following him around was impressive.

Williams sought to correct his mistakes from the third quarter early on. He proved too strong in the marking contest, earning a set shot at goal 20 metres in front. The big man kicked his second for the day and dwindled Sandringham’s hopes of a comeback. If that was not enough, Williams followed up by kicking Dandenong’s next goal after losing his man running toward goal. As the game continued, the Dragon defenders relieved a lot of their pressure, allowing the Stingrays to take a lot of uncontested marks in the forward 50. Williams could have seen himself under a lot but would have had to collected his own teammates to do it. His final highlight for the day was not bowling over teammate, Finlay Bayne, on the boundary line as the pair ran toward the high ball.

 

Stats

6 kicks

5 handballs

11 disposals

3 marks (2 contested)

4 tackles

14 hitouts

3 goals

3 behinds

Williams is likely a first round pick, being the most dominant tall in Victoria after Ben King and Max King. The big man could be taken somewhere between 15-25 but could go earlier if he fits a team’s criteria. He still has a game left to lift his stocks, so anything is on the cards until the cup gets lifted.

Player Focus: Xavier Duursma

GIPPSLAND Power launched their finals campaign by knocking off a resilient Geelong Falcons by 35 points on Saturday at Ikon Park.

Xavier Duursma had some important eyes on him for his first 2018 finals appearance. Coming up against arguably the league’s best in Sam Walsh, the Gippsland Power captain may have served himself in holding his ground against the possible number one pick.

Duursma was one of four Gippsland players to earn a National Combine invitation. Thought to be a future first rounder, Duursma’s season and form have been hard to fault. His performance in August continued to be impactful, racking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three games. He finished high in the Morrish Medal tally and showed consistently throughout the season that he can play both on the inside and the outside, as well as impact the scoreboard.

He led his team well in their victory over the Geelong Falcons as he has all season, featuring among their best for the day and continuing to put his hand up for a possible top 15 pick. Duursma also earned his selection in the TAC Cup Team of The Year, placed on the half-back flank for his ability to gain metres with the ball in hand and being able fly with the best of them despite his much lighter frame. Weighing only 71 kilograms, nothing has stopped the versatile commodity from getting more involved on the inside for the Power in the second half of the season and doing it well above all else.

Quarter by quarter:

Duursma laid the first tackle for the game on Cooper Stevens following the initial centre bounce and caused an immediate stoppage. After the second bounce he almost snatched it off the deck but copped a hit and lost his feet. He went on to intercept a kick from Walsh heading inside Gippsland’s defensive 50 but began to show unprecedented form, following up with a kick out on the full. Though in everything for the first five minutes, Duursma disappeared midway through and only appeared again late in the quarter. He helped create a chain heading inside 50 early in the game and remained present around stoppages, but it was his dropped hanger late in the quarter where he gathered most of the attention.

Similar to the first, Duursma had an immediate impact from the first centre bounce of the second term, resulting in a stoppage. He applied some good pressure around the ground, laying a tackle to dispossess a player in the Gippsland attacking half. The pressure continued as he maintained a close distance to his opponent and worked hard on the chase. He took a couple marks from defensive kick-ins and delivered well by foot. Again, he was unlucky not to have the ball fly his way, but when it did he made effective use of it. He demonstrated this well when he popped up to take a mark in front of goal from a kick out of congestion. Duursma struck it well and landed his first and only goal for the day.

His first dig at it in the third quarter came from a hurried clanger out of congestion. He struggled with his efficiency at certain points, putting another out on the full and uncharacteristically missing his targets. Despite struggling with his disposals, Duursma marked strongly overhead in front of goal midway through, but missed his set shot from 40 metres out. He intercepted a kick down the passage, reading it better than the rest and later lost a good marking contest against Oscar Brownless. While losing that battle, Duursma continued to pluck the ball from the air, taking two more intercept marks to reset momentum for Power, and earning a free for positioning himself better under the ball. Late in the quarter, he took the ball cleanly in his defensive 50 and created some run out of half back.

Continuing his efforts down back, Duursma began the final quarter with a strong clearance out of the backline. Soon after, he followed up by chasing down Walsh through the midfield bringing him to ground off a diving tackle but failed to hold or dispossess him. The effectiveness of his kicks lifted plenty this quarter, doing well to clear congestion. A big kick from the defensive half resulted in a run on goal, and another launched deep inside 50 to help setup his forwards. He managed to lose his opponents on Gippsland’s defensive 50, taking a crucial mark from a kick-in, and later followed up with a mark inside 50 which he used to set up Bailey Beck. By the second half, Duursma had figured out how he was going to best impact this game, maintaining his superb aerial ability and outstanding kicking.

 

Final Stats:

25 disposals (12 contested)

21 kicks

11 marks

4 clearances

3 inside 50s

3 rebounds

1 goal

 

Xavier Duursma is currently pegged as the fourteenth best prospect in Australia in our AFL Draft Central Power Rankings, so we are confident he will get taken early in the draft. Gippsland have made it deep into finals, so Gippsland’s captain could still have a couple games left before a final opinion is cemented. As the contest lifts, Duursma will respond and deliver. I have no doubt that his finals campaign has a lot more to show us.

Weekend Previews: TAC Cup – Elimination finals

THE weekend is set for four huge games, with no turning back for the eight sides running out on Ikon Park in the elimination finals this weekend. Here is a quick look at how the four games shape up.

Dandenong Stingrays vs Greater Western Victoria Rebels

Saturday, September 8, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels face their most daunting challenge yet as they come up against the Dandenong Stingrays in the first round of finals at Ikon Park. GWV faced the Northern Knights the week prior and won comprehensively, but unfortunately the Stingrays are a much different beast. With 15 wins and a single loss, Dandenong sit three wins ahead of second place (Gippsland Power) and boasts 17 Combine invites compared to the Rebels’ four. Dandenong bolter Sam Sturt has been the talk of the town lately, with every club interested in the forward, while Zac Foot, Bailey Williams and Will Hamill are among some of the names who loom as big players in the finals series. The last time the pair faced in Round 10, the Rebels copped a 59-point loss at the hands of the significantly undermanned Stingrays as they had many players competing in the National Championships. While at neutral territory this time, the Rebels face a complete Stingrays side. If they win, it will be arguably the upset of the season, so it is important for GWV’s talent to embrace the challenge.

Jed Hill had a strong showing against the Knights last week, kicking two goals and again proving useful by foot. Riley Ranieri rebounded well and earned the contested ball, with Matt Schnerring getting plenty of the pill and Matty Lloyd caressing the ball well along the wing. Lloyd, along with Scott Carlin and Harrison Butler, all put two each on the board, while Patrick Glanford and Darcy McEldrew both did well in the ruck. Dandenong’s boys are well and truly rested as Riley Bowman returns to the side for Bailey Schmidt. The Stingrays look to add a perfect finals run to an amazing year of footy and take home their first premiership ever.

 

Gippsland Power vs Geelong Falcons

Saturday, September 8, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

The last time they faced, the Falcons were severely let down by their accuracy in front of goal, kicking three goals from 16 shots. Comparatively, the Power kicked 10 goals from their 15 shots, having seven goalkickers compared to two. It was not the Falcon’s finest game, but Saturday is a new day, and this time they have Connor Idun, Charlie Sprague, Oscar Brownless, Ned McHenry and possible number on pick, Sam Walsh. In the Wildcard Roound, the Falcons only just snared a victory from the Calder Cannons, coming back from an 11-point deficit at three quarter time to win by a point. While this game could go either way, the Power finished second on the table for a reason. If Cooper Stephens and Walsh can maintain their form from last week, the Power are bound to have some trouble.

The Power will be looking for Xavier Duursma to have a significant impact, racking up 29, 26 and 21 disposals in his three August games, and placing high in the Morrish Medal vote count. The Gippsland Power captain is one of many players looking to cement a future in the AFL and can do so by helping eliminate the Falcons from the finals race. McHenry and Brownless impressed with their two goals against the Cannons last week but could have some trouble going shot for shot with Noah Gown, who kicked four in his last game and placed fourth for the home and away season in goals. Sam Flanders also poses a threat up forward coming in at eleventh in the overall goal kicking tally.The Power will have their work cut out against this full-strength Falcons side, with no telling how it will go down. It is a game to watch.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs Western Jets

Sunday, September 9, 12pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Not much separates the Oakleigh Chargers and the Western Jets, sitting a single win apart at the end of the home and away season. In terms of form, the Chargers emerged as a genuine premiership contender in the final couple of rounds, while the Jets will need to be at their best here to challenge them. In the Wildcard round last week, the Jets had some issues dealing with the Eastern Ranges’ first half onslaught. While managing to lift in the second half to secure a 38-point win, the Jets will not be able to get away with those standards against the Chargers.

Pivotal in their success were Xavier O’Halloran and Connor Thar who combined well in the midfielder, with Thar earning best on ground honours. Emerson Jeka kicked three while Stefan Radovanovic remained a pillar in the backline. While the Jets took the win (19 points) the last time they faced the Chargers, the team they faced were not a complete Oakleigh side, playing without the likes of Will Golds, Will Kelly and James Rowbottom. The difference is evident since Round 15.  In Round 16, the Chargers defeated GWV Rebels by 90 points, giving them their largest winning margin all season. Oakleigh will be looking for a huge performance from Riley Collier-Dawkins if he aims to increase his stock come draft night. Similarly, O’Halloran will need to bring his best if the Jets are to get up. Potential first-rounder, Isaac Quaynor is also pegged to have a big game for the Chargers with a strong month leading into finals. Chargers are tipped to win, but the Jets are still a chance to surprise a few people.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs Murray Bushrangers

Sunday, September 9, 2.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Unlucky not to land a top four spot, the Murray Bushrangers made short work of the Bendigo Pioneers over the weekend to move on to the Elimination Finals and face the Sandringham Dragons. Both teams have not been in their best form these last few rounds, with the Bushrangers losing their last three during the home and away season, and the Dragons losing their final two. Unlike the Dragons though, the Bushrangers are coming into this game with a win, simply outclassing their opposition at Ikon Park.

Ely Smith’s clearance and contest work was at his usual standard, mopping up the footy off the hit outs and breaking lines with booming kicks. Mathew Walker’s pressure was well over standard as well, laying nine tackles. The test they face is whether they can minimise Liam Stocker’s impact for the Dragons. The Dragons’ Morrish Medal winner stands to make a big statement, playing to earn a finals appearance and a possible top 10 pick in the National Draft. His work on the inside has been his biggest highlight for the month, stepping up in Bailey Smith’s absence. Ben King, returning in Round 15, is also set to make waves and prove himself as a potential number one pick. The last time they faced, the Bushrangers claimed a 65-point win, with Hudson Garoni kicking eight. The Bushrangers forward was kept goalless last week so could be ready to prove himself come the weekend. The Dragons are still favourites to take the win and eliminate the Bushrangers from the race, but it will be a hotly contested match.

Player Focus: Ely Smith

MURRAY Bushrangers have secured their spot in the finals race after outclassing the Bendigo Pioneers at Ikon Park over the weekend, defeating them by 27 points.

Ely Smith continues to make a case for a possible late second round pick with another strong showing in the Wild Card round against the Bendigo Pioneers. While originally missing selection in Vic Country’s original side, Smith later received a call up after Country lost their inside midfielders in Jye Caldwell and Mitch Riordan, and Smith’s continued showing of good form.

In the TAC Cup, Smith leads in clearances, sits third in disposals, third in contested possessions, third in handballs, tenth in inside 50s and twelfth in tackles. This strong bodied midfielder knows how to take a tackle and use his size and strength to gain prominent position. While his inside game is easily his most impressive quality, he by no means lacks an ability on the outside.

With stakes increasing heading deeper into finals, we could see a big lift from the Bushrangers’ contested possession winner and a big add to his stocks heading into the 2018 National Draft.

Quarter by quarter:

Ely Smith’s usual impact was nowhere to be seen in the first, tallying only the two possessions for the quarter, and being quickly dealt with on his first touch.

After some time to reflect at the break, and probably some choice words from his coach, Smith entered the second term with a huge lift in form. Off the tap down he read the drop best and manoeuvred well in tight space to burst into the Bushrangers’ attacking half. He shot off a lot of clean passes from the middle, aiding the Bushrangers’ aggressive run forward and picked his man well despite having Pioneers hanging off his back. He continued to boast a perfect read on the ball, spoiling a mark along the wing and collecting it off a bounce. He copped a tackle soon after but got a short pass away, quickly regained possession and chipped it up to the square and affected a Bushranger goal.

He kept lifting in the third, earning a clearance from the first stoppage and locking down a getaway in the second. In the next centre bounce, Smith earned himself a clearance and an inside 50, bursting away with the pill and setting up a shot on goal. He trapped the ball carrier out of the next centre bounce, causing a stoppage, and laid a second tackle to dispossess and hand Dylan Clarke a clearance. Some strong kicking and a burst away from congestion frequently broke Pioneer lines. Breaking one tackle and withstanding a second, Smith kicked clean down the passage which resulted in another Bushrangers goal. He repeated the same action soon after, booting the ball over the centre square out of their defensive half, shattering Pioneer lines. If he was not first to the footy, he was usually a close second, wrapping up his man before they could take a step.

The hitouts stopped going his way at the beginning of the final term, with one thumped long and another hit high. Though unlike the first, Smith turned it around and gained his first disposal with a chip kick inside 50 from a lead through the passage. He went onto to clean up his team’s messy clearance work from the stoppage, extracting it from the congestion and again creating movement. He broke lines with excellent work out of the back, including a strong kick in the defensive 50 which created some easy movement. Not long after, he received the ball at the end of the chain that he started inside 50 but missed to the left with his set shot. He got a second chance at it off the kick in, causing a turnover, but was unsuccessful in converting. Smith is an easy pick for best on ground, for his massive second and third quarter impact, dominating both the inside and outside game for the day.

 

Final Stats:

29 disposals (16 contested)

12 kicks

17 handballs

12 handball receives

6 tackles

6 clearances

6 inside 50s

2 rebounds

 

It cannot be said definitively but it is likely Smith will be taken somewhere in the middle of the Draft. Producing a strong showing in the finals has the potential to catch recruiters’ eyes, so if he is able to keep his form up and goes deeper into finals, that’s more time to affect a positive opinion.