Author: Seb Bartholomeusz

How the Southern Power continue to grow women’s footy in Sydney

THE Southern Power boast a strong women’s football program that they have been building every year since their inaugural season in 2010.

The Power are from the Sutherland Shire and they play in AFL Sydney’s competition. They have focused on their youth program in recent years, which now has three teams, while they also have three senior sides, with one team competing in the Premier Division.

Senior player and assistant coach Kathryn Hull has been at the club since the beginning, and she shed some light on how the Power have progressed from having one team to over 70 registered senior players.

“Female football wasn’t what it is today in Sydney … at that stage (2010) we were like the seventh or eighth team in the one competition, and it was still like ‘bring a mate down to game day’ sort of thing from a numbers perspective,” she said.

After a few years of development, the club took a big step in starting their youth girls program, entering their first team in the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls competition in 2014.

“Soccer and netball were very large in the shire for female sport… so we had to make our own way where female football was the first priority, and that’s why we started with the youth girls program… since then we’ve built our teams with youth girls,” Hull said.

Prior to Covid-19 affecting the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the Southern Power had four youth girls teams competing in the under 12’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s, before they reduced it to three teams when Covid interrupted at the start of last year.

Hull has been heavily involved in the development of many young girls at the Power through her various coaching roles, and she says the program has been a big success with many players continuing their football journey.

“We are seeing the fruits of the last seven years of that youth girls program, those players are coming through, and it’s quite scary or nostalgic that these girls that I’ve coached for years are now my teammates.”

Hull says the Power are continuing to build a strong culture around the club, with little things like senior players assisting with youth training sessions helping ensure girls can continue to play and enjoy their footy as they get older.

“If we look at youth retention… by the time the girls get to 14, 15, 16, the drop off rate is huge, so we just want to make sure they’re enjoying their footy, and we really help promote that environment with our coaches and with our culture.”

“We all get together at the beginning of each training session, just have a bit of a chat, like ‘how was the weekend? What was good, what was bad about our game? Okay, let’s go into a normal warm up’, and we do those sorts of things together, and it just really creates a welcoming and inclusive culture,” she said.

Being a non-AFL state, the challenge of making AFL stand out to young girls wanting to play sport is always there, but after the inaugural AFL Women’s (AFLW) season in 2017, Hull said the league is playing a “massive role”, giving the sport a lot more exposure to females in Sydney.

She said “completing the pathway” was another key factor in getting more women to play footy as opposed to netball, soccer, and other sports.

“You can’t be what you can’t see, so just having that exposure, and then that opportunity from finishing Auskick… and actually knowing that ‘oh, we’re not just playing a very local based competition’, and it’s just more progressing as girls (in the sport).”

When Kristy De Pellegrini was drafted to the Giants ahead of the first AFLW season it was a great example for girls around Sutherland, showing that it is possible to play footy and take it to the top level, and Hull described it as “absolutely monumental and huge to our movement”.

With this year’s pick 55 Brodee Mowbray also coming from the Southern Power, Hull said it’s another “huge movement” for the club, showing that exposure and the opportunity that players have.

The Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS Under 19’s academies are also playing a big role in the progression of women’s footy in Sydney, and with Power players Kiara Beesley, Ruby Sargent-Wilson, Sarah Hepinstall, Kyla Tracey, Jessica Whelan, Kiana Davis-White, and Mowbray all having been involved in these teams, it shows the strength of the Power’s program, and the work ethic of Hull and the other coaches at the club.

“It was exciting seeing teammates playing against each other in the different academies, and just what the girls got out of it, and then seeing them week in and week out taking that back to club level… is really promising, not just having the girls potentially as draft prospects, but also how that’s affecting the league and will affect the league in Sydney.”

“It’s just been huge to see these girls have so many more touches of the footy years before I even started playing, so the quality of footy is just going to be amazing in a few years,” Hull said.

The Power were heading towards a successful 2021 with all three senior teams in premiership contention, but after the season was cut short by Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak, Hull says the team is focused on coming back next season and maintaining the same level.

“We want to maintain that our prem’s team (Premier Division) is able to compete and we’re staying up there with those other clubs… that means everything from the players all the way up to the coaches.”

“Then looking at bringing those girls through, not just from the Power’s youth girls program, but from other junior clubs in the shire… and just making sure these girls are staying to continue that brand of footy in Sydney South,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hull and her teammates are eager to get back into training as soon as restrictions are eased.

“Hopefully, mid-October is looking like we might get some of the restrictions eased, so we’ll start an early pre-season for 2022.”

 

 

Picture credit: Southern Power Women’s AFL

2021 WAFL Week 1 Finals preview: Hunt for premiership glory begins

WITH 18 home-and-away matches done and dusted the best five teams remain in the hunt for Western Australian Football League (WAFL) premiership glory. Minor premiers Subiaco will have a bye in the first week as second-placed South Fremantle and third-placed Claremont face-off, while West Perth hosts Swan Districts in an elimination final.

SOUTH FREMANTLE VS CLAREMONT

The two grand finalists from 2020 are back in the finals mix again with both teams securing the double chance. South Fremantle are chasing back-to-back premierships, while Claremont are looking to go one better than last season’s effort. Both sides enter the finals in form, with South Fremantle having won their last two matches of the season, and Claremont winning their last three games on the trot. If history is anything to go by this game should be a cracker, three of the last five meetings between these teams have been decided by under 10 points. Their most recent battle in Round 14 was a nail-biter, as the Bulldogs came away with a one-point victory.

There should be plenty of great matchups across the ground, starting in the middle where Jye Bolton has had a fantastic year for the Tigers amassing the third most touches in the league (averaging 30.3 per game), with teammate Bailey Rogers also prolific, averaging 27.8 disposals himself. For the Bulldogs, star player Jake Florenca has made a successful return from his ruptured Achilles tendon, which saw him miss last season’s premiership, averaging 30.3 disposals across the final three rounds. In his absence, Haiden Schloithe has also had a great year, averaging 25.6 disposals, and kicking 21 goals for the season.

South Fremantle will be boosted by the temporary release of Matthew Parker from Richmond, with the AFL club and WAFL allowing him to participate in South Fremantle’s finals run. Parker had averaged 20.4 disposals, 4.1 marks, and 1.0 goals per game, before he was selected with pick 10 in the mid-season rookie draft.

There will be plenty happening up forward with Bulldogs duo Mason Shaw (48.19) and Cody Ninyette (41.12) kicking plenty of goals this season, as well as Tigers stars Alexander Manuel (39.19), Jack Buller (30.17) and Isaac Barton (27.8). Shaw bagged five goals and Ninyette kicked four when the two sides met in Round 2, as Manuel kicked three goals to help set up the 16-point victory. In the Round 14 matchup, it was Barton who kicked three goals in the Tigers loss.

The Bulldogs will host the Tigers at the Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday at 2:40pm, with the winner to face Subiaco for a chance at the 2021 WAFL Grand Final, while the loser will have to face the winner of West Perth and Swan Districts.

WEST PERTH VS SWAN DISTRICTS

The Falcons come into this contest as the form team, winning eight of their last 10 matches to finish in fourth position, meaning they will host fifth-placed Swan Districts in an elimination final at Provident Financial Oval on Sunday at 2:40pm. The Swans will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak, after losses to fellow top-five teams Claremont and South Fremantle. They will also need to turn around their recent form against the Falcons, having lost the previous four encounters.

Rudy Riddoch kicked three goals against the Swans in the nine-point Round 6 win, and another three in the 46-point Round 11 win, while Shane Nelson also dominated both contests for the Falcons with 35 and 32 disposals respectively.

West Perth’s form is largely thanks to the midfield dominance Nelson and Aaron Black, and the prolific goal kicking form of big man Tyler Keitel. 2020 Best and Fairest winner Nelson has had another great season averaging 32.1 disposals per game in 2021, with Black right alongside him, averaging 31.2 disposals. These two have been setting it up for Keitel, who has kicked 64.33, winning the 2021 Bernie Naylor Medal. Keegan Knott (38.21) and Riddoch (25.9) were also beneficiaries of the midfielders’ work, kicking plenty of goals.

For the Swans, Frank Anderson, Jesse Turner, and Samuel Fisher have all averaged just over 25 disposals per game and will be pivotal in trying to limit the damage of Nelson and Black in the centre. Up forward, Jesse Palmer has been the main threat, kicking 31.27 for the season, while Brayden Noble has also been a target, booting 23.12 for the season. Big man Corey Gault might also prove to be an important factor in this contest, if he is cleared from concussion issues, having won the ruck battle on both occasions during the season. Gault recorded 26 disposals and 36 hit outs in Round 6, and 23 disposals and 37 hit outs in Round 11. The Swans will also look to dual AFL Premiership player Lewis Jetta to bring his big game experiences to help his teammates.

This game could go either way, with the West Perth attacking 50 shaping up to be a decisive factor in this match. The Falcons have had the third best attack this season, led by Keitel, while the Swans’ defence was the third best in the league, led by the experience of 263 game club champion Tony Notte. Whoever can win this battle may just win themselves a spot in next week’s final against the loser of South Fremantle and Claremont.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

Scouting notes: TSL – Three Clarence young guns on show in Prelim Final

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

State leagues wrap: Two left in Tassie as finals matchups are decided across the country

IT was a massive round of footy action with Launceston booking their place in the TSL Grand Final, Maroochydore setting up a meeting with Labrador in a QAFL preliminary final, and the home-and-away seasons wrapping up in South Australia and Western Australia. We recap all the action and big performances of the round in this week’s state leagues wrap.

 

South Australia (SANFL):

Glenelg has fallen short of a spectacular 18-0 season after Port Adelaide came out six-goal winners in its final game of the season. Magpies forward Dylan Williams kicked three goals for the match, while Cam Sutcliffe and Boyd Woodcock had 27 disposals each. For the Tigers, Matthew Snook led all comers with 32 touches.

Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens both had big wins, with the Double Blues defeating the Roosters by 70 points, and the Eagles winning by 104 points against Central District. Tyson Stengle (four goals), Jack Hayes (four goals) and Kobe Mutch (three goals) were potent up forward for the Eagles, with Kai Pudney (31 disposals) racking up the most touches on the ground. Meanwhile, Sturt duo Abaina Davis (five goals) and James Battersby (36 disposals) were in fine form against the Roosters.

Elsewhere, Bryce Gibbs continued his form with another 32 disposals in the Panthers’ 12.17 (89) to 7.4 (46) win over the Bloods. Teammates Hayden Sampson (31 disposals) and Liam Fitt (four goals, 20 touches) were also dominant, while the highly touted Jason Horne-Francis (24 disposals, seven tackles) was impressive.

At Cooper Stadium, Norwood ended Adelaide’s season with a 43-point deficit as the Redlegs moved into third place and secured a double chance in the finals. Tristan Binder and Cole Gerloff both booted three majors for the home side, while Lachlan Gollant (2.5) had plenty of looks at goal for the Crows.

 

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston will face North Launceston in the big dance for the second year in a row after they were too strong for Clarence defeating them 13.11 (89) to 5.7 (37) in Sunday’s preliminary final. Cody Thorp (three goals) and Jay Blackberry (two goals) were multiple goal kickers for the Blues, while Jacques Barwick kicked two of his own for the Roos. The Blues have set up a mouth-watering final game of the TSL season, as the Northern Bombers will be seeking revenge after they went down in last season’s decider.

 

Queensland (QAFL):

Broadbeach’s Jordan Moncrieff booted four goals as his side progressed straight into the QAFL Grand Final after a nail-biting contest with minor premiers Labrador. The two sides were separated by no more than 10 points at every break as the Tigers took a three-point advantage into three quarter time. It was the Cats who had the last laugh though, after Joshua Searl booted his first goal of the season in the final minutes to put Broadbeach ahead, before they held on to win by four points.

In the other match, Maroochydore’s dream finals run continues following their victory over Morningside. The game was evenly poised after the Roos shook off a four-point quarter time deficit to lead by seven points at half time. After kicking the final five goals of the match, the Roos stormed home to win 11.14 (80) to 6.10 (46) on the Panthers’ home turf. Roos forward Mitchell Scholard hit the scoreboard again with two goals, alongside teammate Lochie Laing who also kicked two. Benjamin Warren kicked two majors for the Panthers, but they were unable to stop the Roos who will now face Labrador for a chance to meet the Cats in the season decider.

 

Western Australia (WAFL):

The final round of the WAFL wrapped up with Subiaco claiming the minor premiership following their four-point win over Peel. The Thunder gave the league ladders a final term scare kicking four goals to one, but Subiaco managed to hold on. Leigh Kitchin, Gregory Clark, Ben Sokol, Brandon Matera, and Bailey Matera all kicked two goals for Subiaco, with Peel’s Jack Sears kicking three goals for the match.

Jye Bolton (32 disposals) and Bailey Rogers (30 disposals) found plenty of the footy for Claremont in their 22-point win over Swan Districts. Jack Buller and Alexander Manuel each booted three goals for the Tigers, while Christopher Jones kicked three majors for the Swans.

Elsewhere, Cody Ninyette kicked four goals for South Fremantle as West Coast’s season came to an end. The Bulldogs were too good for the Eagles coming out 45-point winners. Brayden Ainsworth finished his strong season with another 30 touches for the Eagles, while Nicholas Suban had 25 touches and 10 marks for the Bulldogs.

West Perth also looked strong heading into the finals series after they defeated Perth by 50 points. Trent Manzone (34 disposals) and Aaron Black (33 disposals) were ball magnets, while Sasha Kernutt led all comers with four goals. Perth’s Brady Grey had 26 disposals for the match with all of them coming off his boot.

 

Picture credit: WAFL Twitter

State leagues preview: VFL done, and final games loom for some

THE VFL has been officially cancelled but there is still plenty of footy happening in a big weekend across the country. The QAFL and TSL finals continue, while the WAFL and SANFL home-and-away seasons enter their final round. We’ll take you through all the key matches for this weekend.

South Australia (SANFL):

All five matches of the SANFL final round feature a top five team against a bottom five team, with the most at stake for South Adelaide and Sturt. The Panthers will just need to defeat bottom side West Adelaide to ensure they make the first week of finals. It might not be an easy task though judging from the last time they met when the Panthers narrowly defeated the Bloods by three points in Round 9.

Sturt meanwhile will be hoping the Panthers lose and they can defeat North Adelaide who themselves are looking for victory to cling onto a second chance come finals. The two teams played out a thriller in Round 8 when the Roosters won by three points.

A victory to Glenelg against Port Adelaide can make it 18 from 18 for the season. The Tigers welcome back Michael Virgin who had 27 disposals and 16 marks when the two sides met in Round 4, while Lachie Hosie and Liam McBean will both line-up down forward after they combined for eight goals in that contest.

Elsewhere, Norwood host Adelaide, who have strengthened their side with a host of AFL-listed players including James Rowe and Will Hamill, while Central Districts tackle second-placed Woodville-West Torrens at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval.

 

Tasmania (TSL):

It’s Preliminary Final week in Tassie with minor premier Launceston facing Clarence. The Roos came away with a two-point victory when the sides last met in round 20, and they will welcome back Josh Green, who booted three goals in that contest, after he missed last week through injury. Launceston has had the edge over the Roos this season however with two big wins in their first two meetings. With a Grand Final spot on the line, this could be an intriguing battle.

 

Queensland (QAFL):

With Redland-Victoria Point and Surfers Paradise eliminated last week, just four teams remain in the quest for QAFL premiership glory.

Top two teams Labrador and Broadbeach will face-off with the winner becoming the first team in the Grand Final. Both teams had a bye last weekend, so will be looking to find their home-and-away season form again quickly. The home team won on both occasions when they met during the season, so it’s up to the Cats to break that trend if they want to progress first to the big dance.

Meanwhile, with a chance to play the loser of the top two battle, Morningside meet Maroochydore with no second chances. The Panthers won by 22 and 20 points in their two home-and-away meetings, but with it all on the line anything can happen. Mitchell Scholard is in deadly touch for the Roos, kicking another seven goals in last week’s final, and will be hoping for more goals to get his team over the line.

 

Western Australia (WAFL):

With the final five all set, the top five teams will battle it out for finals positions in the last round of the WAFL this weekend. Peel host Subiaco who will assure themselves of the minor premiership with a win over the Thunder. Last time the two sides met, Subiaco won by 44 points, and they will be hoping for more of the same.

Meanwhile, Claremont are in that battle for top spot when they host Swan Districts. It was a high-scoring affair when they faced-off in round one with Alexander Manuel (Tigers) and Thomas Edwards (Swans) both kicking four goals. South Fremantle will also be hoping Subiaco go down as they remain four points off the top. The Bulldogs play the Eagles, a contest Jimmy Miller (five goals) and Haiden Schloithe (35 disposals) enjoyed earlier this year when the Bulldogs won by 11 goals.

In the other match, Perth welcome West Perth to Mineral Resources Park, with the Falcons looking to snag a top three position with a victory, and a loss to one of Claremont or South Fremantle. Perth, however, came out on top in their last contest, a low scoring affair in Round 8, where they won by 10 points.

 

New South Wales/Queensland/Victoria (VFL):

There has also been an update on the VFL with the season officially cancelled due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria preventing any games from occurring for the foreseeable future. A decision was made by the AFL to end the season with the 10-0 Bulldogs to be recognised as minor premier, but no premiership cup and no J.J. Liston Medal (VFL best and fairest award) will be awarded for the 2021 season.

Picture credit: Andrew Woodgate

2020 AFL Draft standouts: West Coast and St Kilda

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the fifth piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 9th and 10th placed teams in West Coast and St Kilda.

WEST COAST

#52 Luke Edwards
#57 Isiah Winder

R: Zane Trew

Luke Edwards played eight games in his first season at the Eagles and showed some promising signs. He collected 15 disposals on debut in Round 12 and followed up with 27 disposals in his second match against Richmond. The 19-year-old from Glenelg proved he is more than capable at AFL level playing both inside and outside midfield. Edwards has good composure for a young player making smart decisions with ball in hand. He went at 74 per cent disposal efficiency for the season (ranked above average) and he looks to be another quality asset to an already star-studded Eagles midfield.

West Coast’s pick 57 from the National Draft Isiah Winder played one AFL game in 2021, coming on as a medical sub against the Saints when Shannon Hurn got injured. Winder got five disposals for the game and joined the elusive first kick, first goal club with a nice little snap from the top of the goal square. Winder is a speedy and athletic forward with plenty of flair about him, it was unfortunate fans didn’t get to see more of him after he battled knee issues in the middle of year, before returning to play in the WAFL.

Rookie Zane Trew did not feature in the AFL this season but has played 10 games in the WAFL where he has averaged 17.9 disposals, 4.4 tackles and 1.8 marks. Trew is another young midfielder who will be looking to get his chance in the senior side next year.

 

ST KILDA

#26 Matthew Allison
#45 Tom Highmore

SPP: Paul Hunter

 

The standout selection for St Kilda was Tom Highmore, after being picked up from South Adelaide in the SANFL, he played 13 games for the year, locking himself into the side in the second half of the season. Highmore was an excellent intercepting defender with his marking ability, defensive pressure, and ball use some of his key attributes. He averaged 5.1 marks per game, including 0.9 contested marks (ranked elite) and 2.1 intercept marks (ranked elite). He also averaged 2.4 tackles (ranked above average), 1.9 spoils (ranked above average), and 5.9 intercept possessions (ranked above average), while he used the ball at 82.6 per cent (ranked above average).

There were some impressive performances from the 23-year-old mature-aged recruit, but none better than his Round 13 game against Adelaide. In that contest he had 22 disposals, nine contested possessions, 15 intercept possessions, 13 marks, three contested marks, eight intercept marks and four tackles. Highmore broke his hand in the Round 18 match against Port Adelaide which interrupted his end to the season, playing two of the last five games. With his form this season, he should get a good look at a full year in the senior team in 2022.

Another mature-aged recruit from South Adelaide was Paul Hunter. The 28-year-old was added to the squad as back-up for star ruck duo Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, and after both players had interrupted seasons, Hunter was given his chances, playing seven games at AFL level. He might not have been the most dominant ruckman, but Hunter always gave it his all which was seen with his pressure and one percent efforts. He averaged four tackles per game (ranked elite), 15.4 pressure acts (ranked elite), 3.0 spoils (ranked above average), and 4.3 one percenters (ranked above average). He also kicked a goal against Richmond in Round five and West Coast in Round 19.

St Kilda’s other draftee was Matthew Allison who was selected with pick number 26 in the National Draft. The 195-centimetre key forward didn’t feature in the AFL this season but is a prospect for the future. The 19-year-old averaged 10.4 disposals and 3.0 marks in his eight VFL matches.

 

Picture credit: St Kilda FC

2020 AFL Draft standouts: Richmond and Fremantle

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the fourth piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 11th and 12th placed teams in Fremantle and Richmond.

FREMANTLE:

#14 Heath Chapman
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll
#50 Brandon Walker
#54 Joel Western

R: Josh Treacy

Four out of five of Fremantle’s 2020 draftees made their debut this season, with Heath Chapman (six games), Brandon Walker (10 games), Joel Western (four games) and Josh Treacy (15 games) all featuring, while Nathan O’Driscoll played 13 games in the WAFL.

Treacy was the pick of the bunch, and the big man had an impressive first season bagging 13 goals in his 15 matches. The 193-centimetre forward nicknamed ‘The Big Cohuna’ has become a cult-figure across the league after being picked up from Cohuna, Victoria via Bendigo Pioneers in the rookie draft. Treacy showed this season that he wasn’t afraid to throw his weight around, crashing packs and attacking the ball on the ground, while he took some nice marks both contested and leading up at the footy. Treacy was a multiple goal kicker on three occasions with his best outing coming against the Bulldogs in Round 12 where he kicked three majors. He took a season-best four contested marks against Brisbane in Round 21. Treacy’s forward 50 pressure was very good averaging 1.2 tackles inside 50 (ranked above average) and 13.9 pressure acts (ranked elite). Overall, he averaged 7.7 disposals, 3.4 marks, 2.1 tackles and 0.7 goals in his first year.

Chapman played six games early in the season and looked to be gaining some momentum playing across the backline. At 193 centimetres, Chapman was a good intercept defender who also used the ball well off half-back. He had 18 disposals in Rounds 3 and 4, averaging 14.2 for the season. He also averaged 4.5 marks and 2.5 spoils before he suffered a season-ending shoulder dislocation which put his year to bed.

A similar player to Chapman was Walker who played 10 games, making his debut in Round 13. Walker loved to run off half back and he generally used the ball well. He often rebounded out of defence and followed up with his skills to find teammates inside forward 50. He averaged 1.8 inside 50s (above average) for the season, and his best form came towards the end of the year where he averaged 14 disposals across the last three rounds.

Speedy small forward Western played four games for the season and showed some good signs of what he could offer in the future. While he didn’t manage to kick a goal, Western showed his raw pace and athleticism during his time on the ground. Western also played 11 games for Peel in the WAFL averaging 17 disposals and 1.2 goals per game.

O’Driscoll did not feature for the Dockers this season but will be pushing for a debut in 2022 after a successful WAFL campaign where he averaged 14.8 disposals and four marks.

 

RICHMOND:

#40 Samson Ryan
#51 Maurice Rioli Jnr 

SSP: Rhyan Mansell

Rhyan Mansell played 13 games for the reigning premiers in his debut season after being picked up in the preseason draft from North Launceston. Playing across half back, Mansell showed that he was quite capable at AFL level, averaging 11.1 disposals, 2.7 marks and 2.2 tackles for the year. He stood out with his ball use going at 80.6 per cent disposal efficiency, and his defensive work was sound averaging 2.1 spoils per game (ranked above average). Mansell’s best form came towards the end of the season when he averaged 15 disposals across Rounds 17 through 21.

After playing nine games in the VFL averaging 11.3 disposals, 5.8 tackles and kicking 4.5 for the season, Maurice Rioli Jnr was given his chance in the big time, kicking a goal in each of his two matches. He is an exciting prospect for Tiger fans with his speed and pressure a big part of his game. Rioli had two tackles in both matches and 36 pressure acts (an average of 18, ranking him above average). Rioli has a great goal sense, and with his continual development he could turn into a very dangerous small forward quickly.

Big man Samson Ryan was Richmond’s first pick in the 2020 National Draft, coming from Sherwood in Queensland and a Brisbane Lions Academy graduate. He played one game this season in Round 15 against St Kilda, and while he did not have a disposal, there are some good things to look forward to with this young man. He may be 206 centimetres, but he is mobile and has shown good ruck craft in his VFL performances. He is also a capable forward having kicked 15.7 and averaged 4.5 marks for the Tigers reserves team.

 

Picture credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

Scouting notes: TSL – Clarence trio standout

CLARENCE will face minor premier Launceston in a Tasmanian State League (TSL) preliminary final battle after they defeated the Tigers 8.12 (60) to 5.9 (39) in the semi-final on Sunday. Draft Central kept a close eye on the three exciting young Clarence players, during the Roos’ 21-point victory.

 

#34 Noah Holmes

Holmes was the main ruckman for the Roos on Sunday, and he had a great battle with Tiger Marcus Gardner all day. The 195cm big man used his size and strength well when competing in both ruck and marking contests. A common theme during the game was Holmes’ ability to outmuscle opposition ruckman and take the ball straight out of the air where he would then be able to get the ball forward quickly by foot or handball to a teammate. His ruck craft is decent for a young player with a few nice hit-outs finding Roos players throughout the game.

The 18-year-old has a high work rate, often getting involved in open play and working hard to be in the right positions. He knows how to play to his strengths and one great example was in the later stages of the third term when a Tigers player kicked the ball long from a kick out, and Holmes was able use his strength to hold off Gardner with his right arm and juggle a mark in his left. He was a presence throughout the match, laying a couple of strong tackles and using his body in the contest. He is an exciting prospect to look forward to as he continues to develop his game.

 

#39 Darcy Gardner

Playing a mix of midfield and forward, Gardner had a solid game kicking one goal and finding a bit of the footy. He began the game in the middle and got busy quickly winning the first centre clearance and shortly after finding himself in some space where he marked then kicked long inside 50 where the Roos booted the first goal of the game. His trademark speed and evasiveness were on display right throughout the match often bursting away from a contest to dispose of the footy.

Gardner’s work rate continued in the second quarter, and he showed his capacity as a two-way runner. When he has the ball, he runs and uses his skills to get it forward and when he does not, he works hard to lay a tackle or pressure opponents into an error which often leads him to gaining possession.

He started the third term forward and had an impact straight away kicking the first goal of the second half. He positioned himself well and when the ball was spiked forward from a stoppage, he was able to gather it, burst away and kick the goal. It wasn’t his only chance either, with Gardner kicking another couple of behinds for the match. His pace and skillset were a worry for defenders, and his ability to get up the ground and drive the ball forward gave his teammates scoring chances too.

Overall, it was another good game from Gardner on Sunday, showing his ability to play as an inside or outside midfielder, but also a player that can go forward and be a cause of concern for the opposition team.

 

#42 Baker Smith

Smith might not have been the most impactful player on the ground, but he showed plenty of good signs for an 18-year-old tall looking to impress potential AFL suitors. He played most of this game up forward, with a couple of stints in the ruck and some forward 50 stoppage work. After starting on the bench, Smith came into the ruck and in his opening moments followed up a ruck contest with a strong tackle, setting the tone for his day.

While Smith was beaten on most occasions when going into the ruck, it was his second efforts and groundwork that stood out. As a forward, he competed well and did what big men are expect to do when they can’t mark it- make a contest and bring the ball to ground.

In the second half, Smith started to get busier, crumbing a pack and launching the ball inside 50 and laying a nice smother to ensure the ball remained in Clarence’s attacking half. While these actions are not typically associated with bigger men, the 194cm Smith is prepared to do the hard work, and while he did not kick a major, he was rewarded by getting on the end of a couple of nice marks, allowing him to get the ball inside 50 to create scoring chances. Smith is a promising young player and with a bit more development he could turn into a damaging forward/ruck at any level.

State leagues preview: Finals have arrived in Tassie and Queensland

IT’S a big weekend ahead with QAFL and TSL finals action happening and plenty up for grabs for teams in the SANFL and WAFL looking to cement places in their upcoming finals campaigns. We’ll take you through all the key matchups to look out for this weekend.

 

South Australia (SANFL):

Round 18 action continues after the first two matches of the split round were played last weekend, and there are some big finals ramifications on the line.

North Adelaide will have the chance of securing a double chance if they are to beat Norwood when they meet at Prospect Oval on Saturday. The Roosters are currently two points above the Redlegs, so a win in this matchup will not only see them finish in the top three, but it will also put the Redlegs in danger of missing finals all together. Rooster Lewis Hender kicked 6.2 in his side’s 92-point demolition of the Redlegs in round three, and an improved Norwood will still have to snap North Adelaide’s six-game winning streak if they are to keep the pressure on the third-placed side.

Sturt can jump above the Panthers (who have already played their 17th match) if they are to beat the second placed Eagles at home. Last time the two teams met it was the Menzel brothers who dominated the match kicking seven goals between them (Troy four, Daniel three) in a 46-point win to the Eagles.

In the other matchup, West Adelaide face the daunting task of hosting the undefeated Glenelg, and while they’ll be searching for their third win of the year, the Tigers will be looking to continue their form with finals fast approaching.

 

Tasmania (TSL):

The finals have arrived in Tassie with two mouth-watering clashes to look forward to. The top two sides Launceston and North Launceston will square off at Windsor Park with the winner progressing into the Grand Final, and the loser to play the winner of Clarence and the Tigers. The Blues have won two of the three meetings with the Northern Bombers this season, but with finals on the line a good contest is to be expected.

The Roos and Tigers will square off in a do or die contest, with both teams only having one chance of progressing to the next round. Clarence won the first meeting between these two teams, before the Tigers won the second and went on to win a great contest in round 19 by just five points, giving fans plenty to look forward to on Sunday. Josh Green has been kicking plenty of goals this season for the Roos and will be hoping to add to his tally here, while Luke Graham has been a focal point up forward for the Tigers.

 

Queensland (QAFL):

While the top two teams Labrador and Broadbeach will be enjoying a week off, Redland-Victoria Point (third) will face Maroochydore (sixth) in the first elimination final. Their last meeting in round seven ended with the Sharks winning by 16 points. Mitchell Scholard will be one that the Sharks will need to keep a close eye on with the Roos forward having booted 49 goals this season including five in their last battle. There should be a great contest in the ruck too with Jarrod Huddy (Sharks), who likes to drift forward and kick a goal, facing off against Jacob Simpson (Roos) whose ruck craft is as good as it gets.

In the second Elimination final, Surfers Paradise (fourth) come up against Morningside (fifth). The Demons won their last duel in round 11 by 15 points and will be looking for a repeat to progress to the semi-final. With 28 and 27 goals for the season, Demons forwards Brody Haberfield and Sam Hilton-Joyce will be looking to hit the scoreboard, while Ben Warren will be searching for a repeat of the round 11 contest where he bagged five goals.

 

Western Australia (WAFL):

Round 21 of the WAFL gets underway with the top five already decided, but plenty of spots up for grabs within the final five. South Fremantle and Swan Districts face off on Saturday in the only battle between two top five teams. The Swans will need to win to push up into double chance contention, while the Bulldogs are eying top spot if Subiaco are to slip up. Last time out, the Bulldogs won by 36 points, with Mason Shaw bagging five goals and Jacob Dragovich, Tom Blechynden and Haiden Schloithe all racking up 30+ touches.

Subiaco play East Perth at Leederville Oval as they look to bounce back after a loss to East Fremantle in their last outing. Ben Sokol, Michael Braut and Aaron Heal each had three goals when the two sides last met. Meanwhile, West Perth face East Fremantle with both teams looking to make it three wins on the trot. The Falcons can still claim the minor premiership with wins in their final two matches.

Claremont host the last placed Eagles, with the Tigers also in that mix for the minor premiership. This contest is one Eagles midfielder Jye Bolton fancies averaging 39.5 disposals in the two sides’ last four meetings, including 49 touches in the round nine matchup.

In the other match Peel welcome quite a few AFL-listed players into the team after Fremantle’s season ended last week. Blake Acres, Bailey Banfield, Mitch Crowden, Lloyd Meek, and Joel Western are all listed to play alongside the recently delisted Tobe Watson against Perth at the David Grays Arena on Saturday.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

2020 AFL Draft standouts: Gold Coast and Adelaide

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the second piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 15th and 16th placed teams in Gold Coast and Adelaide.

GOLD COAST:

#7 Elijah Hollands

PS: Alex Davies*
PS: Joel Jeffrey*
PS: Aiden Fyfe*
PS: Rhys Nicholls*

The Gold Coast did not blood any 2020 draftees until Joel Jeffrey made his debut in Round 20 on the back of a nine-goal effort in the VFL against Aspley the previous week. Jeffrey played the last four games of the season and kicked 2.4. He showed in the VFL that he can play at either end of the ground, and in his few AFL games, his athleticism and versatility were a highlight, something that could make him a handy asset for the Suns.

Alex Davies played in the final round of the season after averaging 15.5 disposals and 5.0 tackles in 11 games of VFL action. The inside midfielder attended 14 of 30 centre bounces and had 16 disposals, 14 contested possessions and six tackles (including two inside forward 50) in an impressive debut match. He is 191 centimetres tall with good agility, and he has already shown glimpses in his first match that he can win the footy on both the inside and outside and evade opponents, he also took a strong contested mark in the final quarter.

The Suns’ first pick in the 2020 National Draft, Elijah Hollands, did not make his AFL debut this season, instead he was eased back through the VFL after recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury suffered prior to being drafted. He played four games and recorded 19 disposals in his most recent outing against Aspley. He has a lot of potential as a classy midfielder/forward and will be one to watch in 2022.

Aiden Fyfe and Rhys Nicholls joined Hollands in the Suns’ VFL team this season, playing eight and five games each. Both players like to run off half-back or play on the wing and use their skills moving forward. Fyfe averaged 16.4 disposals and 5.1 marks, while Nicholls averaged 11.2 disposals and 3.0 marks per game.

 

ADELAIDE:

#2 Riley Thilthorpe
#11 Luke Pedlar
#25 Brayden Cook
#28 Sam Berry
#38 James Rowe

R: Tariek Newchurch
R: James Borlase

Adelaide climbed three spots on the ladder this year following last season’s wooden spoon, and with the team improvement came the development of some promising young talents including Riley Thilthorpe, Sam Berry and James Rowe.

Thilthorpe, the second pick in the 2020 National Draft, stunned everyone on his debut in round six, kicking five goals and showing his ability in the air against the Hawthorn defence. Thilthorpe, who kicked 18.10 from his 14 matches, was the hero in Round 13 against St. Kilda after a miraculous kick over his head completed a stunning comeback win in Cairns. He averaged 10.9 disposals and 3.1 marks and showed his agility as a big man averaging 3.7 ground ball gets per game, ranked elite across the competition.

Hard-nut Berry was another impressive youngster in 2021 playing 17 games for the year. He played across the midfield and down forward, where he kicked five goals for the season. Berry attacked every contest with intent, and he never shied away from bigger, more experienced opponents. After averaging 9.1 disposals for the season, it was his contested work that stood out, as he averaged 5.2 contested possessions (rated above average), 4.1 tackles (rated elite) and 20.2 pressure acts (rated elite).

Playing as a lively small forward Rowe booted 15 goals in his 19 matches. He was a multiple goal kicker on four occasions, including in his first match where he kicked two goals and had 16 disposals. Standing at 173 centimetres, Rowe is an energetic small, who averaged 12.7 touches per game, pushing up the ground often to help transition the ball from the defensive 50 to the forward 50. As a small forward pressure is always a key element and he was ranked above average for tackles inside 50 with 1.1 per game.

Fellow draftees Luke Pedlar and Brayden Cook played two and three games respectively. Pedlar debuted in round 16 and collected 13 disposals, while Cook played the last three games of the season where he averaged 14 disposals, with his best game coming in round 23, picking up 19 touches.

Tariek Newchurch and James Borlase did not feature at AFL level this season, but both have played all 17 games for the Crows’ SANFL team. Newchurch has averaged 10.2 disposals and 1.2 goals per game, while Borlase has averaged 13.7 disposals and 5.2 marks.

 

Picture credit: David Mariuz