Category: Calder Cannons

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off Pioneers in slow-scoring affair

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Bendigo Pioneers and Calder Cannons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides met in early in the season for a low-scoring slog.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Saturday May 4, 2:15pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 6.5 | 7.6 | 7.10 (52)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 2, B. Rigoni, N. Gentile, J. O’Sullivan, D. Mott, M. Allison.
Bendigo:
E. Roberts, R. Ironside, J. Ginnivan, Z. Murley, C. Fisher.

BEST:

Calder: J. Martin, D. Mott, J. Hotchkin, T. Browning, N. Gentile, B. Newman
Bendigo:
J. Treacy, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Schischka, B. Vaz, W. Wallace

Draftees in action:

Calder: Sam Ramsay
Bendigo:
Brady Rowles

There have not exactly been many ‘classic’ contests between these two sides over the past decade, but they got within 16 points of each other in Round 6 of last year’s NAB League season in a decent showing. The Cannons were beginning to shake off a slow start to their campaign, improving to 2-3 with a win over Geelong in Round 5. Conversely, Bendigo was beginning to slide after a rampant 2-0 start, sitting at 2-2 with a bye in tow.

The Cannons may have been missing a couple of their eventual, surprise draftees, but would go into the clash boasting most of its top-end talent at the time. Of them, Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay took the field, while Bendigo’s sole draftee on the team sheet was Sydney speedster, Brady Rowles. The absences of key players and first round picks Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow would prove costly for Bendigo over the stretch, as it looked to reclaim some of its early season form.

True to form, Calder made the hot start with a four goals to one opening term. While Bendigo was accurate with its sole scoring shot for the quarter, the Cannons could only put away four of their seven attempts. It seemed the Cannons were en route to a big win having kept their opponents to just one goal in the second term too, adding another couple themselves to set up a 28-point lead at half-time.

But that was when the Pioneers began to shake off the potential wares of their big road trip, doubling their goal tally in the third term to shave the margin to 21 points heading into the final period of play. Still, they would need to double their tally again to sneak over the line while keeping Calder goalless. Bendigo managed the second feat, but lacked the firepower in tough conditions, falling just under three goals short to the better fancied Cannons.

Former Essendon father-son prospect Mason Fletcher booted two majors in a day which was scare of goals, while midfield ace Daniel Mott also found the goals with one of his game-high 36 disposals. Brodie Newman managed 21 along with 12 marks, while James Schischka (20 disposals) was Bendigo’s leading ball winner. Rowles had one of his more influential outings with a season-high 17 touches, with Ramsay kept to 16 on the opposing side.

The Cannons would go on to finish two games outside of the top three, notching a 9-6 record to sit fifth. After a win in week one of finals, their season would end at the hands of Sandringham in the semi finals. Bendigo failed to make its own post-season splash, bundled out in Wildcard Round after amassing a 5-10 come the end of the regular season.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 14 – Chargers, Power cut gap to Ranges

A SATURDAY double-header at Box Hill City Oval held massive finals ramifications in last year’s NAB League competition, kicking off Round 14 in style. Gippsland Power had Oakleigh to thank as the Chargers knocked off ladder leader, Eastern, seeing the two sides close within a game of top spot. Elsewhere, Sandringham kept pace with the leading pack after a thrilling win over Dandenong, while Northern and Calder got the better of their Country opponents, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) knocked off Geelong. Western Jets enjoyed the bye.

Gippsland and the Tasmania Devils were first to take the field for the weekend, doing battle on neutral territory on Saturday morning. Having fallen just behind at the first break and jolted two goals ahead heading into the last, the second-placed Power found a spark when it mattered to leave Tasmania in their wake. A six-goal final term saw the Victorians coast to a 51-point victory, not indicative of the overall contest, but a sign of their irresistible form in full flight.

Twin talls Josh Smith and Charlie Comben contributed three goals each to the win, with skipper Brock Smith also booting a rare couple of majors from defence to go with 26 touches. Sam Flanders was the leading disposal getter on the day with 28, while fellow draftee Leo Connolly managed 23. Rhyan Mansell and Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania en route to 18 disposals apiece, as the likes of Matt McGuinness (16 disposals, one goal) and Sam Collins (15, one) also fared well.

In the day’s later game, Oakleigh pegged back Eastern’s first quarter jump to get over the line by eight points in what would prove a Grand Final preview. The Chargers took toll in the two terms they held a wind advantage, booting 10 of their 12 goals in the second and fourth quarters to secure a massive result. While they regained the lead with under 20 minutes to play, the Ranges simply could not stop Oakleigh’s onslaught.

A forward from either side put four goals on the board, with Oakleigh 19-year-old Cooper Sharman, and Eastern’s Jordan Jaworski playing their parts. Port draftee Dylan Williams again proved a hero up forward with two important goals from eight touches in his final game for the year, with his co-captain Trent Bianco (34 disposals) the leading ball winner. Cricketing ace Wil Parker was Eastern’s best with 26 touches, while Oakleigh bottom-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Will Phillips also found plenty of the ball with 22 disposals each.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, and Sandringham was made to work for a seven-point win over Dandenong on home turf. After setting up an early lead and holding the ascendancy for the entire match, it seemed the Dragons would coast home to victory at 29 points to the good come the final break. But the Stingrays would not take the loss lying down, piling on five goals in the final 10 minutes to give the scoreless Sandringham an almighty scare.

Future Adelaide top 10 pick Fischer McAsey proved his swingman value in returning a three-goal effort, also dominating the airways with 10 marks. Ashton Williamson booted three majors for Dandenong, as Hayden Young managed two from his team-high 25 disposals. Angus Hanrahan led all comers with 35 disposals and a goal, while the likes of Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals) and Sam De Koning (16) stood strong against good opposition on either side.

Calder’s Bendigo road trip proved a fruitful one, as the Cannons raided the Pioneers’ territory to snatch all four premiership points. Bendigo held a slight advantage early, but could not quite do enough to match Calder’s constant scoreboard pressure. A four-goal to one second term in favour of Calder proved the defining period of play, with Bendigo matching their opponent otherwise in the 20-point defeat.

Diminutive Calder forward Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals, while teammate and leading ball winner Harrison Minton-Connell notched two from his 34 touches in a day out, and Essendon draftee Harrison Jones also found the goals twice. Bottom-ager Jack Ginnivan repeated the feat for Bendigo alongside Will Wallace, while Ben Worme and Noah Walsh also hit the scoreboard from their team-high 20 disposals each. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (28 disposals, one goal) continued his hot form, and Sydney recruit Brady Rowles was kept to 12 touches.

Another Metro team to make the most of its road trip was Northern, who travelled to Shepparton to take on Murray. All of the damage was done in a 10-goal to three opening half from the Knights, as the home side struggled to claw its way back into the contest. The final margin sat at 27 points having gotten out to 44 in the third term, as Northern picked up its seventh victory.

A massive outing from small forward Josh D’Intinosante saw him bag six majors from 18 disposals in a sharp display inside forward 50, with leading target Liam McMahon booting three of his own. Skipper Justin Davies saw the most ball for Northern with 26 disposals alongside Sunny Brazier, with Carlton draftee Sam Philp managing 25. Murray’s co-captains stood up too, with Dylan Clarke (28 disposals) leading all comers, while number four pick Lachlan Ash kicked two goals from his 24. 16-year-old Josh Rachele also showcased his talent with two majors.

The GWV Rebels ensured they would continue the trend of away sides picking up wins, as they comfortably accounted for Geelong to the tune of 35 points. Like many of the Round 14 winners, GWV got off to an ideal start at Kardinia Park on the back of four goals to nil in the opening term. An inaccurate Falcons outfit spurned chances to get back into the match with 2.7 in the third term, as GWV kicked away with another four majors in the last to cruise to victory.

Collingwood slider Jay Rantall was among a quartet of Rebels to claim multiple goals, booting two alongside Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin, while Nick Caris managed a game-high four. 19-year-old Charlie Sprague added another three majors to his season tally for Geelong, while bottom-ager Noah Gribble had 28 disposals to lead all comers, and skipper Jesse Clark managed 25 in the losing effort.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Outside Midfielders

DASHING, daring outside midfielders are becoming increasingly important amid the current trend of contested, scrum-like styles of play, able to break the lines and change the course of games in a flash. Among this year’s crop lies a versatile bunch of outside types who can double in different positions, and while not all of them currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best outside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier outside midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Jake Bowey
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro
174cm | 66kg

Starting small, Bowey kicks off this list as one of the prospects who may sneak into top 20 calculations on draft boards, with plenty of desirable attributes to outweigh his 174cm/66kg frame. The Sandringham Dragons product is hard at it, able to take the ball cleanly and burst through congestion with his high-level speed and agility. He featured in 16 NAB League games last year stationed on his customary wing position, but is quite apt forward of centre and could even utilise his sharp foot skills off half-back.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Jack Carroll
East Fremantle/Western Australia
188cm | 79kg

Another in the line of East Fremantle Under 18 prospects is Carroll, who comes in at a good size to compete across a range of positions. The West Australian’s precision kicking makes him damaging on the outside, while courage in the air and intercept marking prowess make him a half-back option. The 188cm prospect can also roll through midfield, but has quality traits on the outer and will more likely find a spot there should state representative duties come calling.

Saxon Crozier
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
189cm | 80kg

Crozier has been one of Queensland’s most highly touted 2020 prospects for a while now, and has cut his teeth as an out-and-out outside midfielder thus far. The tall, rangy Brisbane Academy product has filled out of late and has eyes on securing an inside role, but has arguably shown his best form to date on the wing. Crozier’s running capacity and ability to hurt the opposition when given time and space suit the outside role, and he has also adapted his skills to run off flanks at either end of the ground. He will be a leader among the talented Brisbane crop, and should prove a handy addition to the Allies squad.

>> Q&A

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro
185cm | 83kg

The Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) candidate may have eyes on more minutes on the inside, and boasts the ideal size for it, but is so good running on the outer that we simply had to include him in this list. Downie is set to skipper the Eastern Ranges side which lost in last year’s NAB League decider, with the experience of 14 games and a Vic Metro Under 18 outing under his belt. While he is not overwhelmingly quick, Downie loves to get the ball moving and finishes his line-breaking runs with penetrating left-foot bombs. His skills can be adapted to a half-back role, and he is no stranger to finding the big sticks, either.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Errol Gulden
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
172cm | 68kg

Search the definition for pocket rocket and a picture of Gulden is what you are likely to find. The nippy Swans Academy hopeful does not let his size get in the way of making a big impact; as his smarts, agility, and ability to chain possessions allow him to carve up the opposition on the outside. While he could also be considered a small or half-forward, Gulden is just as capable of wreaking havoc from the wing and enjoys getting into space. He won the Under 16 Division 2 MVP in 2018, appeared four times for the Allies as a bottom-ager, and has already played senior footy. Look out.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Brodie Lake
Peel Thunder/NT Thunder Academy/Allies
186cm | 70kg

One of the Northern Territory’s brightest draft prospects this year is Lake, a tall midfielder who boasts great versatility and running power. He has twice featured in the Thunder’s Under 16 squad, taking out last year’s MVP award for his service through midfield and in defence. Lake has also plied his trade for Peel Thunder and at senior level for Southern Districts in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL), lauded for his coachability, skills, and work rate. He will be one to keep an eye out for come the national carnival, and will be eligible to be taken by Gold Coast given its alignment to the Darwin academy zone.

Carter Michael
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
188cm | 74kg

A second Queenslander on this list, Michael may well find himself lined up on the opposite wing to fellow Brisbane Academy product, Crozier when it comes time to run out for the Allies. The 188cm prospect is a silky mover through traffic who boasts a penetrating left foot kick, and he may well be one to juggle time between inside and outside roles throughout the year, depending on which team he represents. He already has experience on the inside for the Lions at Under 18 level and is a leader among that group, but may be pushed out to the wing for the Allies where he can make an impact with his sharp decision making.

>> Q&A

Tom Powell
Sturt/South Australia
180cm | 73kg

Powell made an immediate impact upon his return to SANFL Under 18s action last week, collecting 34 disposals in Sturt’s Round 1 win over Central District. The speedy midfielder actually has quite a nice balance of traits given his mix of athleticism and ball winning ability, but may find his way into the South Australian lineup on the outside where his explosive burst will come in handy. It is pleasing to see Powell back on the park after an unlucky run with injuries in 2019, and he should quickly rise in stocks should his form persist.

>> Q&A

Taj Schofield
WWT Eagles/South Australia
178cm | 72kg

The son of Port Adelaide premiership player, Jarrad, Schofield is another South Australian prospect to have battled injury as a bottom-ager, but he is primed to make an impact in 2020. Power fans will be keeping a close eye on the 2020 father-son candidate, who is incredibly classy on the outside with eye-catching agility and short-range kicking. Schofield has been working on his inside craft, too, and featured among the Eagles’ Under 18 centre bounce quartet in Round 1 after starting up forward. The small prospect was named in the 2018 Under 16 All Australian side, where he represented Western Australia before making the move to SA.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of other prospects who could fit into the outside midfielder category, but are more effective in other roles from out perspective. Among them, the elite trio of Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Braeden Campbell are all players we deem to be of the balanced midfielder variety, along with the likes of Finlay Macrae and Bailey Chamberlain. Corey Durdin is one who would be considered more of an inside type, and we see him as a small forward in the long run in any case.

Speaking of, Sam Conforti will make the same transition for Bendigo, while West Australian pair Ira Jetta and Joel Western can roll through multiple positions, including on the outside, but look more suited to flank or pocket roles. Glenelg small Cooper Horsnell also has eyes on a role further afield, but remains in the small forward category.

There are a raft of defenders who move up the ground well and may, in future, be considered outside midfielders. NAB Leaguers Charlie Byrne and Nick Stevens have the ability to roll further afield, but seem to prefer their half-back posts, while Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Patrick Walker are in a similar boat. Queenslander Tahj Abberley is one who can play just about anywhere but has been billed as a small defender, and we like Ty Sears as a running half-back, too.

In the utility category comes the likes of Zac Dumesny and Campbell Edwardes. Dumesny made his SANFL League debut in 2020 and can operate on the wing or up forward, but looks like developing into a third tall in defence. Edwardes is as versatile as they come and is yet to lock down a specific role despite looking comfortable on the outside.

Of course, anyone else we may have missed could also appear in our previous analysis on inside midfielders.

Positional Analysis: Inside MidfieldersKey Position Forwards

>> CATCH UP ON OUR OTHER SERIES

Squad Predictions:
Allies
South Australia
Vic Country
Vic Metro
Western Australia

Features
AFL Draft Watch

Preseason Testing Analysis:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 13 – Chargers, Cannons win big

SIX different venues played host to the NAB League’s Round 13 fixtures in 2019, with a couple of big upsets kicking off the action, while Oakleigh and Calder came out big winners in their clashes against Country opponents. Some big names returned to the competition as the National Championships came to an end, and school football completed its bye rounds.

Western pulled off the weekend’s first upset victory, holding off a surge from Sandringham and its returning catalogue of big names to claim a nine-point win come the final siren. After Sandringham snuck ahead at half time, the Jets broke the game open with eight goals to one in a defining third term at Downer Oval. The Dragons would keep Western goalless in the last, but failed to make up the difference in time.

The small/tall pairing of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke split a combined 6.4 evenly for Western, while Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of three Dragons to boot two majors each. Fellow draftees Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, one), and Louis Butler (23) were other high-end Dragons to perform, while Carlton rookie Josh Honey was among Western’s best with 18 touches.

Northern ensured the unlikely victories would roll on early in Round 13, trumping Gippsland by 43 points on the road. Akin to Western’s effort, the Knights battled hard in the first half but only led by two points at the main break, only to boot eight goals to one in a dominant second half display to take the four points back home to Preston.

The versatile Knights forward trio of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess, and Sunny Brazier (both three) dealt most of the damage as the contest skewed to one side, while Carlton’s Sam Philp (24 disposals, one) goal finished behind only Adam Carafa (28 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. Bottom-ager Sam Berry was Gippsland’s best in that department with 21 touches, while Saints draftee Leo Connolly had 18, and Philp’s Blues teammate Fraser Phillips, 13.

Murray could not quite keep the train going as it hosted the table-topping Eastern Ranges at Norm Minns Oval, falling four points short of its highly-fancied opposition. The Ranges managed to get out to a hot start, leading by 17 points despite wasting half of their 10 first term scoring shots. The lead was extended to 27 at half-time, but only worked to shift the Bushrangers into gear as they stormed home with a 6.6 second half to Eastern’s 3.0, as only wastefulness cost them in the end.

Ben Hickleton‘s season-best effort of four goals helped Eastern over the line, while Jimmy Boyer was one of two Bushrangers to notch three majors. Mitch Mellis put in a shift with two goals from 22 disposals, as he an Zak Pretty were beaten out only by Jye Chalcraft (29 disposals) in the ball winning stakes. In a rare instance, no 2019 draftees took the field in this fixture.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back to metropolitan territory, as Calder ran out comfortable 68-point winners against Dandenong at home. The Cannons shot out of the blocks with nine goals to two in the first half and despite being held well in the third term, prettied up the scoreboard with seven goals to nil in the final quarter to put an exclamation mark on the victory.

College punter Mason Fletcher booted four majors in this outing before his departure to the United States, joined by five Calder teammates as multiple goalkickers. Bottom-ager Ashton Williamson‘s three goals were a slight form of resistance for Dandenong, with Jack Toner another to stand up with 28 disposals. But it was Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay who led all comers on 32 touches, followed by bottom-age jet Jackson Cardillo (27, one goal).

Fast forward to Sunday, and Bendigo made its trip down to Tasmania worthwhile, downing the Devils by 29 points at Kingston Twins Oval. In a relatively low-scoring affair, the Pioneers were made to fight back from behind, booting six goals to Tasmania’s one in a one-sided second half effort. The win would also serve as redemption for Bendigo after going down to the Devils by two points in Round 7.

Exciting bottom-age Bendigo products Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell booted three goals each, while Jackson Callow was one of two multiple goalkickers for the home side. North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness had 10 more disposals than the next-best player afield, racking up 34 while Pioneers Sam Conforti and James Schischka had 24 each. Tasmanian academy pair Sam Collins and Oliver Davis also fared well with 19 touches apiece.

Oakleigh saw the round out with the biggest win of the lot, proving ruthlessly brilliant in front of goal to down and already lowly Geelong outfit by 87 points at Avalon Airport Oval. The Chargers led by over seven goals at the main break and never looked back, piling on a further 10 to Geelong’s three in the second half to finish with an incredible 20 goals and nine behinds en route to victory.

The forward partnership of Dylan Williams (five goals) and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four) proved unstoppable, with the likes of Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) and Trent Bianco (24, two) also finding the big sticks and plenty of the ball. In a stacked Oakleigh side, Will Phillips and Lochlan Jenkins were also prominent with 21 touches each. Bottom-ager Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals) was among Geelong’s best alongside 2020 co-captain Cam Fleeton (19), while over-ager Charlie Sprague booted three majors.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders

STRONG, big-bodied, and tall inside midfielders have been in vogue for quite a while, but this year’s crop of engine room operators comes in varied shapes and sizes. Though they may not currently have the opportunity to show their worth on the field, exposed form and long preseasons for most allow for a window into how the current stocks stack up.

In ramping up our 2020 AFL Draft analysis, Draft Central continues its line-by-line positional breakdowns, moving on to the best inside midfielders. The following list features pocket profiles of top-age (2002-born) prospects who are part of their respective AFL Academy hubs, while also touching on some names who missed out last year, or may feature on another list.

Without further ado, get to know some of the premier midfielders who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

Note: The list is ordered alphabetically, not by any form of ranking.

Sam Berry
Gippsland Power/Vic Country
180cm/81kg

Berry is one of the smaller inside midfielders in terms of height, but one who works incredibly hard and is not afraid to put his head over the ball. The 180cm Gippsland product slotted right into a talented Power engine room pre and post his school football commitments with Melbourne Grammar, proving a match winner on his day with terrific extraction, endurance, and powerful burst from the contest. Berry averaged 17.7 disposals and 4.4 clearances across his 10 NAB League outings, going at a rate of 52 per cent contested possessions while showcasing his two-way work ethic with the all-important addition of 6.5 tackles per game.

>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Alex Davies
Gold Coast SUNS Academy/Allies
191cm/84kg

The leading Gold Coast SUNS Academy prospect for 2020 is Davies, a prototypical big-bodied inside midfielder who will fit right in at the elite level given his physical attributes. Davies ran out four times for the SUNS during their NAB League stint, averaging an even 18 disposals and almost four clearances and tackles per game. He was not quite able to break into the 2019 Allies side, but represented Queensland at Under 17 level and was a prime mover in the Under 17 All Stars showcase fixture. If not for his ties to an AFL club already, Davies would perhaps sit even further up draft boards and is set to cost the SUNS a pretty penny in terms of points come draft time.

>> Get to know
>> Marquee Matchup

Oliver Davis
Tasmania Devils/Allies
182cm/75kg

Tasmania’s most promising midfield candidate is Davis, a consistent performer who would have always been among the first Devils on the team sheet during their inaugural full-time NAB League season. He is another who is not tall in comparison to other inside types, but his desire at the contest and ability to get first hands on the ball more than make up for the fact. Davis averaged 22 disposals (53 per cent contested) as Tasmania’s prime mover in 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, accompanied by a whopping 7.8 tackles and 5.4 clearances per outing. With those kind of numbers, he earned a call-up to the Allies side for a single game and will be a key cog in the same side for 2020.

>> Draft Watch

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia
187cm/80kg

One of the more prominent names among the overall 2020 draft crop is Edwards, whose allegiance to the Adelaide Crows as a potential father-son selection remains up in the air. The Glenelg product has already cracked the SANFL Reserve grade, and was a key part of South Australia’s defence throughout the entire 2019 Under 18 National Championships. At 187cm and 80kg, Edwards has remarkably not added a single centimetre to his height since his Under 16 year but remains a readymade body once called upon at senior level. Having been utilised as a general defender who uses the ball efficiently, Edwards is primed to move back into the middle where he can use his big frame and contested prowess to dominate at stoppages.

>> Get to know
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Finn Gorringe
East Fremantle/Western Australia
183cm/77kg

Gorringe is somewhat of a bolter among the top-level ranks, but looks set to slot straight into the West Australian state side in 2020 as a ball winning midfielder. The East Fremantle product impressed across his six WAFL Colts outings for the Sharks in 2019, averaging 15.5 disposals and a tick over four tackles to again fit into the category of those who remain relevant going both ways. A very handy string to Gorringe’s bow is his ability to find the goals as an inside type, managing a goal per game last year in a tick to his versatility.

Nicholas Kraemer
South Adelaide/South Australia
184cm/81kg

There is a good amount of South Australian representation on this list, and Kraemer is yet another solidly-built ball winner who is set to shine in 2020. At 184cm and 81kg, the South Adelaide junior has the perfect makeup for his position, but is more than just an inside battler in the sense that he can also play as a defender, and may swing up the other end at SANFL senior level. He may not have cracked last year’s Under 18 state side, but has been a mainstay in the Academy system and was part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad in 2018. Kraemer played every game in the Panthers’ run to last year’s SANFL Under 18 grand final, finishing the season strongly to average 20.2 disposals and five tackles.

>> Get to know

Mani Liddy
Sturt/South Australia
181cm/79kg

One of the more versatile inside midfielders to hit this list is Liddy, who has previously been forced out to the flanks at representative level, but thrived with his ground level presence and ability to get to contests nonetheless. Employed in his more comfortable midfield role at SANFL Under 18 level with Sturt, Liddy averaged just over 25 disposals, 4.2 marks, and 5.5 clearances, but surprisingly went at a higher rate of uncontested possessions. Still, the 181cm prospect is hard at the contest and seldom shies away from it, making him a good option for his state come the national carnival.

Zavier Maher
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country

184cm/82kg

Maher is a rare inside type who also possesses terrific athleticism, seeing him feature a touch higher up draft boards when compared to others of a similar build. He is solid at 82kg and has the typical power you come to expect of an inside type, but what sets Maher apart is his combination explosive speed and agility at the stoppages. A true metres-gained kind of midfielder, Maher averaged around three inside 50s and clearances in his six NAB League appearances for Murray in 2019, while also representing Vic Country at Under 17 level. Expect him to break into the heart of this year’s Under 18 side.

>> Q&A
>> Marquee Matchup

Reef McInnes
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro
192cm/84kg

McInnes is another whose name will already be well known to keep draft watchers, as the next in line among a talented group of Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was pushed forward in 2019 due to the Chargers’ incredible depth through the engine room, but he still managed to have an impact across 12 games en route to becoming a NAB League premiership player. At 192cm, he has the size to transition seamlessly into the elite level, and possesses surprisingly good athleticism in congestion to keep him out of trouble. When utilised as a midfielder for Vic Metro’s Under 17s, McInnes truly showed his worth with a great first half display, but can work on staying in the game more consistently.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch
>> Marquee Matchup

Jamison Murphy
North Adelaide/South Australia
180cm/85kg

Murphy’s story is one of the more interesting ones across the entire 2020 cohort, as he turned down a promising cricketing career which had already seen him captain Australia as a junior to pursue Australian rules football. He is undoubtedly one of the most solidly built smaller types in this lot, weighing in at 85kg to ensure he can endure the rigours of playing such a position, and enforce his way into the contest. The 180cm North Adelaide product played nine SANFL Under 18 games in 2019, averaging 23.6 disposals and 5.2 tackles, putting in the hard yards as per usual.

>> Get to know

Zane Trew
Swan Districts/Western Australia
186cm/78kg

An outstanding inside midfielder for 2020 is Trew, potentially the best user of the ball both by hand and foot of this entire group. He comes in at a decent height (186cm) but is not at all bogged down, able to weave through traffic with class and deliver the ball expertly with terrific vision and poise. Trew was a standout for the Black Ducks at Under 16 level, earning All Australian honours, and looks set for a similar projection in this year’s Under 18 crop as one of his state’s prime midfield movers.

>> Draft Diary

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

There are plenty of prospects who you may be itching to point out as deserving for this list, but we think we have them all covered both above and below. Among the most outstanding overall midfield candidates this year are Will Phillips, Tanner Bruhn, and Finlay Macrae, all of whom we categorise as balanced midfielders, rather than pure inside types.

Among those who may transition to inside roles but currently thrive elsewhere are Nathan O’Driscoll (wing/half-back), Connor Downie (wing/utility), Archie Perkins (half-forward), Jackson Cardillo (balanced midfielder/forward), Eddie Ford (general forward), Corey Durdin (small forward), and Braeden Campbell (outside midfielder/forward). Elijah Hollands could also be considered, but is again, more of a forward, while the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Lazzaro may continue outside of the midfield realm in future.

Outside of the AFL Academy intake are Bayleigh Welsh and Darby Hipwell, both very viable options, while 19-year-old candidates include Jared Dakin, Darcy Chirgwin, and Jai Newcombe.

Positional Analysis: Key Position Forwards

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Jumps
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NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 12 – Chargers gain on top three

ONLY one side managed to score more than eight goals in Round 12 of the 2019 NAB League season, with Oakleigh Chargers among the big winners having knocked off Sandringham en route to equal third. Ladder leader, Eastern remained a game clear with a win in its split fixture against Tasmania two weeks earlier, while Northern enjoyed the bye.

The round’s first game promised to be a corker, as Sandringham hosted a climbing Oakleigh side at Trevor Barker Oval. While neither side was at full strength, there were some notable top-agers in action and a raft of bottom-agers ready to prove their worth in the highly-anticipated contest. Oakleigh would overcome a half time deficit in the end to run out 18-point winners on the road, as the Dragons posted 1.8 in the final term.

Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was one of three Chargers to boot multiple goals, notching a game-high three from 10 disposals. Richmond draftee Hugo Ralphsmith was joined by Oakleigh bottom-ager Reef McInnes as the leading ball winners, racking up 23 touches each with added time around the contest.

Heading into Saturday afternoon, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV)  got back on the winners list after a tight loss the round before, more than doubling Dandenong’s score to finish 28-point winners on the road. The Rebels were only behind at the first break, but fought back well at the scoring end to pile on five goals in the next term and set up a game-defining lead. A mere collective three goals were added in a lacklustre second half.

Mitch Martin and Harry Sharp led the scoring stakes with two goals each for the winners, as Martin played a particularly influential role. A pair of Stingrays, Jack Toner and Clayton Gay had the most ball though with 25 and 24 disposals respectively, while Mitchell Burgess was the sole Rebel to tick over 20 touches on the day.

Only 15 minutes later that same afternoon in Echuca, Murray got the better of Bendigo in another low-scoring slog. The Bushrangers were remarkably held goalless for the entire first half, and booted over two goals worth of behinds before finally finding the big sticks in term three. Their final effort of 3.22 was enough to carry them to a 10-point victory, despite Bendigo managing one more major.

Five Bushrangers kicked multiple behinds, with leading ball winners Jye Chalcraft (33 disposals, 0.3) and Jimmy Boyer (27 disposals, 1.4) among the main culprits, while Charlie Byrne provided a refreshing sense of accuracy to boot two-straight goals from his 18 touches. James Schischka saw most of the ball for Bendigo with 28 touches from defence, with Noah Walsh the next best on 23.

Gippsland survived a scare over as part of the Shepley Oval double-header, made to work for its four-point win over the languishing Geelong Falcons via an incredible final term comeback. The Falcons started strongly and led at all of the first three breaks to boast a 27-point buffer heading into the final term. But the Power would enact a 31-point turnaround in the final 25 minutes, piling on six goals after managing just two beforehand to sneak over the line. Zach Reid was the hero as he swung forward for the winning goal.

A bottom-aged Sam Berry was also a key player in the comeback, finishing with three goals from 20 disposals via the engine room as Gippsland’s leading ball winner alongside Leo Connolly. Chas Karpala managed the same feat for Geelong with a game-high 22 touches, followed closely by Charlie Lazzaro. 2020 Falcons co-captain Gennaro Bove also stood up with two goals.

The sole Sunday fixture saw two top eight Metro sides battle it out at Highgate Reserve, with Calder coming out a 22-point victor over Western – again, doubling its opponent’s total. The scoreboard at the first break looked like that of a soccer game as Calder led 4-3, with Sam Paea‘s second term goal the only one come half time. Eddie Ford booted Western’s first after the break, but the Cannons were too strong and kicked away comfortably.

Mason Fletcher booted a third of the winners’ six goals as the lone multiple goalkicker, with six others finding the big sticks overall. Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay led all comers with 31 disposals as teammates Curtis Brown and Harrison Minton-Connell had 29 and 27 respectively. Daly Andrews managed 25 touches for Western, with Ford’s goal coming from a serviceable 21 disposals.

In a standalone fixture two weeks earlier, Eastern travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in an entertaining clash. The home side, not in a great vein of form, started strongly and matched it with Eastern for all of three quarters, but the eventual minor premier would skip away at the end, breaking to a 22-point victory on enemy territory.

Devils bigman Jackson Callow had a dominant first half, finishing with 4.3 from 14 disposals as the clear-best forward afield. Jamieson Rossiter (two goals) was a threat up the other end, while the trio of Mitch Mellis (33 disposals), Zak Pretty (23) and Lachlan Stapleton went to work in the engine room. Oliver Davis found the most ball for Tasmania with 23 touches as the bottom-agers once again led the way.

Marquee Matchups: Jackson Cardillo vs. Archie Perkins

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The pair next under the microscope – Calder’s Jackson Cardillo and Sandringham’s Archie Perkins – ironically already played alongside one another at representative level in 2019, and are set to do so again this year as part of Vic Metro’s Under 18 side. But it is at NAB League level where we may see these two line up on opposing sides, with Cardillo already a mainstay in the Cannons’ side, while Perkins is again set to don the Dragon in between school football commitments with Brighton Grammar.

Both are tremendous athletes who ply their trade in a mix of midfield and forward time, able to use their explosiveness in different facets of the game to catch the eye. Having spent the majority of their time inside forward 50 throughout 2019, the two movers of virtually identical size will now look to develop in more prominent midfield roles across all levels. With that being the case, Cardillo and Perkins would well oppose each other at centre bounces during the NAB League, or join each other on the opposite side of the centre and half-forward lines during the national carnival.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Jackson Cardillo
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro

DOB: July 3, 2002

Height: 185cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

Archie Perkins
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: March 26, 2002

Height: 186cm
Weight: 77kg

Position: Midfielder/forward

ATHLETIC PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Cardillo – 66cm
Perkins
– 70cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Cardillo – 76cm/82cm
Perkins
– 92cm/84cm

SPEED (20m)

Cardillo – 2.88 seconds
Perkins
– 2.94 seconds

AGILITY

Cardillo – 8.15 seconds
Perkins
– 8.24 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Cardillo – 20.2
Perkins
– 20.8

These are some of the more outstanding numbers from the Victorian preseason testing day, with both prospects so well matched across each area. Perkins clearly thrives in the jumps, producing massive efforts standing and off either side – something which also shines through on-field. Cardillo certainly does not lag in those areas, but his ground-level prowess is highlighted in very slightly quicker scores in the speed and agility tests. Perkins, a terrific mover across the ground and on the spread boasts a better endurance score, but that is not entirely reflective of Cardillo’s tireless work at the contest.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATISTICS

Cardillo:

18 games
13.2 disposals
2.1 marks
3.8 tackles
2.6 clearances
2.6 inside 50s
0.6 goals (11)

Perkins:

6 games
14.2 disposals
4.2 marks
1.8 tackles
1.3 clearances
3.2 inside 50s
1.7 goals (10)

There is obviously a much smaller sample size to work with on Perkins’ size in terms of NAB League output, but the similarities between the pair are still evident in their 2019 numbers. Both players achieved similar disposal outputs, but it is Cardillo’s ground ball nous (3.8 tackles, 2.6 clearances) and Perkins’ aerial superiority (4.2 marks) which set them apart from one another.

The ability for Perkins to be a weapon going forward is also clear in his greater inside 50 (3.2) and goal (1.7) averages, with his impact hardly waning when used forward of the ball. On the other hand, Cardillo’s tackling pressure and hardness at the ball helps him thrive up forward, with his accumulative impact evident while running through midfield.

Overall, the pair returned very solid numbers as bottom-agers, particularly given they were both moved around the ground and had talented top-aged teammates to content with.

BEST GAME

Cardillo:

2019 NAB League Round 13 vs. Dandenong

27 disposals
5 marks
9 tackles
8 clearances
3 inside 50s
1 goal

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. Geelong

20 disposals (16 kicks)
5 marks
4 tackles
1 clearance
5 inside 50s
5 behinds

Cardillo’s season-high effort of 27 disposals stands well clear as his best game from a midfield standpoint, thriving on the inside and remaining relevant going both ways. It was the only game in which Cardillo managed to tick over 20 touches, on top of achieving a season-high in tackles with nine to prove his defensive worth. His ability to hunt the ball was also evident as he slammed forward eight clearances and three inside 50s, providing that all-important metres-gained element.

Speaking of, Perkins is one of the most damaging metres-gained midfielder/forwards in the entire 2020 draft crop, and proved as much in his 20-disposal performance against Geelong. Unlike in Cardillo’s best game, Perkins and his Dragons teammates went perilously close to losing in this encounter, scraping over the line by two points as the player in question booted five behinds. Had he been more accurate in the Ballarat conditions, Perkins’ game would have gone to another level given his outstanding marking efforts and penetration (16 kicks, five inside 50s) from half-forward.

Cardillo’s dual two-goal efforts could well have earned a shout here, but he only managed a combined 27 disposals in those outings, while his 19 disposals and one goal against Eastern in Round 17 made for another outstanding candidate. Perkins, too was well-versed against good opposition, booting three goals against premier, Oakleigh in Round 17, with his 16 disposals and two goals against the Sydney Swans Academy another performance near the mark.

PREVIOUS OUTING

2019 Under 17 Futures, Vic Metro vs. Queensland

Cardillo:

18 disposals
1 mark
2 clearances
1 rebound 50
1 goal

Perkins:

21 disposals
2 marks
2 tackles
5 clearances
5 inside 50s
1 rebound 50

As mentioned, Cardillo and Perkins are already familiar with each other, but as teammates rather than foes. The two ran out for the Vic Metro Under 17s in 2019, both returning decent numbers as part of the midfield-forward rotation. Perkins was arguably the better on the day, bossing the half-forward line early while later pumping the ball towards goal amid greater midfield time. Cardillo was utilised a touch more on the outside when running further afield, while also assuming his usual secondary role inside forward 50. With efforts around the 20-disposal mark, both players were among Metro’s most influential and versatile.

STRENGTHS

Cardillo:

Explosive speed
Kick penetration
Stoppage presence
Versatility

Perkins:

Explosiveness
Vertical leap
Athleticism
Impact/damage

There are a few slight differences in either player’s listed strengths, despite their very similar makeups. The distinction of Cardillo’s ‘explosive speed’ to Perkins’ ‘explosiveness’ is deliberate, intended to hint that the latter is a more powerful overall package, while the former thrives slightly more in the specific area of speed. Perkins’ other strengths – vertical leap and athleticism – add to that case, though Cardillo is certainly no slouch across the board either.

While Perkins is as damaging as they come with his combination of forward penetration from high up the ground and scoreboard impact, Cardillo provides meterage in his long kicks, mostly from stoppage situations as he bursts away with that five-step speed and delivers the ball forward. The added trait of stoppage presence attributed to Cardillo is largely credit to his two-way work rate, with his attitude towards ball winning matched by a strong tenacity for tackling.

Cardillo’s nod for versatility applies to both players, but may be slightly more applicable to Cardillo at the next level, with his ground-ball presence and tackling pressure incredibly transferable to medium-small forward roles. On the other hand, Perkins is more of a dynamic, aerial threat who can have a greater say around the ground, providing a target while creating forward movement from almost nothing.

IMPROVEMENTS

Cardillo:

Disposal consistency

Perkins:

Accumulation

Picking out improvements for players with high ceilings is usually a relatively simple task, with such players typically quite raw and mistake-prone. But both of these prospects are pretty well polished, with only a couple of areas left to sharpen and help them become better overall footballers. Cardillo’s disposal consistency is something that can be fine-tuned, with his penetration no issue, but shorter options on the move and under pressure sometimes overlooked or missed. Though Perkins is so well suited to the outside, the suggested upping of midfield time means he can increase his ball winning rate, while not losing any of that damage or scoreboard impact he is already known for.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Cardillo:

Round 14 vs. Bendigo Pioneers

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks.

His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on.

Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and ability to break tackles.

Perkins:

2019 NAB League Round 17 vs. Oakleigh

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going.

Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals.

His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

FINAL WORD

The thing which makes this matchup so intriguing is how closely the pair is matched across their physical attributes. A single centimetre separates them, and they are two of the most remarkable Under 18 prospects across the country in terms of athletic ability across each department. Explosive midfield types are always a joy to watch, with those bursts from congestion often the most replayed moments on highlight reels. Both players may well be capable of producing as much at the elite level, and have the added asset of being able to impact the game up forward. Perkins may feature slightly ahead on draft boards, but both players are sure to provide eye-catching moments once back on the park as two of Vic Metro’s most promising hopefuls.

Classic Contests: Cannons hold off wasteful Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 11 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to…

2016 TAC Cup, Round 13
Saturday July 9, 11:00am
Highgate Reserve

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 2.7 | 4.12 | 8.14 (62)
CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 7.2 | 8.4 | 10.7 (67)

Goals:

Northern: C. McKay 2, J. Shea 2, L. Murphy, M. Perry, A. Federico, M. Signorello
Calder:
L. Middleton 2, T. Burnside 2, M. Saad 2, L. Bramble, N. Balta, M. Lewis, B. Ronke

Best:

Northern: M. Lentini, M. Signorello, L. Murphy, E. Penrith, L. Bunker, C. Roberts
Calder:
B. Ronke, J. Velissaris, H. Blythe, M. Saad, B. Caluzzi, J. Owen

Draftees in action:

Northern: Nick Coffield*, Patrick Naish*, Matthew Signorello, Lachlan Murphy
Calder: Noah Balta*, Mitchell Lewis, Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie

* – denotes bottom-aged

Calder and Northern ensured their only meeting for the 2016 TAC Cup season would be a close one, with the more accurate Cannons made to work for a five-point victory on home turf. While either side boasted four eventual draftees each, the gap in their respective form was evidenced by Calder’s four straight wins to sit sixth at 6-6, while Northern had won two of its last four games to improve to 3-9 in 11th place.

The Knights’ crop of high-end talent was propped up a touch more by bottom-agers, including the likes of Patrick Naish and Nick Coffield, with top-ager Patrick Lipinski absent for the clash. On the other hand, all three of Calder’s 2016 draftees took the field, with Ben Ronke among them and adjudged his side’s best on the day. As the action showed, that slight experience advantage paid dividends for Calder in typically tough Highgate conditions.

True to form, the Cannons broke out to an early lead at 4.2 to 2.2 come the first break, while Northern spurned the chance to hit back in the second, registering behinds with each of its five scoring shots as Calder put away its three chances to create a 25-point buffer heading into half time.

The trend continued into the third term as Northern desperately tried to claw its way back into the contest, with an added 2.5 setting up what would be a tense finish at just 16 points adrift. Having finally broken the kicking curse with 4.2 to Calder’s 2.3, it proved too little and too late with the Cannons holding on to a five-point lead as the final siren sounded.

Ronke’s 23 disposals, 10 tackles, and one goal for the winners helped him earn best-on honours, with the VFL-listed Jean-Luc Velissaris and Muhammad Saad also thereabouts. Fellow Coburg pair Marcus Lentini (30 disposals) and Luke Bunker (23) were among Northern’s best, with Adelaide draftees Matthew Signorello and Lachlan Murphy managed 27 disposals and a goal each.

In terms of the other future AFL-listed players afield, Noah Balta and Mitchell Lewis were both kept to under 10 disposals and a goal each, while Zach Guthrie had 11 touches. For Northern, Naish had 18 disposals and Coffield, 15 as bottom-agers. The Knights would have two players drafted in 2016 and four in 2017, while Calder laid claim to three and one over the next two years respectively.

Both sides dropped slightly come the end of the regular season in 2016, as Calder held on to a finals spot in seventh with its 8-9 record, only to be bundled out of the post-season upon the first hurdle. Northern finished last of the Victorian sides in 12th, adding just one more win after Round 13 to sit at 4-14.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 11 – Gippsland the big winners on super Saturday

FIVE of the six fixtures scheduled for Round 11 of the 2019 NAB League were played out on a super Saturday, with Gippsland among the big winners. In an interesting quirk, the eventual top four sides all squared off against each other, with the Power facing Oakleigh, while Eastern and Sandringham went head-to-head in Sunday’s lone fixture. Mars Stadium in Ballarat hosted the lone double-header of the weekend, while Tasmania was again raided by a Victorian side and Calder enjoyed the bye.

That side was Northern, who came out narrow nine-point winners against the Devils at Kingston Twins Ovals. The Knights looked to be coasting to victory having led at every break, laying claim to a 19-point buffer at three-quarter time, and extending the margin out to 34 points less that 10 minutes into the final term. A late charge by the home side would fall short as Northern took its foot off the gas, but still travelled back to Victoria with the four points.

Tasmania’s Jordan Lane booted a game-high with three majors as his side’s only multiple goalkicker, while Carlton draftee Sam Philp shared top honours in the ball winning stakes alongside Josh D’Intinosante with 30 disposals apiece. Oliver Davis fared best for Tasmania in that department with 28 touches, while fellow bottom-agers Patrick Walker (25 disposals, one goal) and Jackson Callow (16 disposals, 1.2) also impressed.

Heading back to Victoria, and Western made its trip to Ballarat a fruitful one by trumping the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels by seven points. In a similar vein to Northern, the Jets led at every break in the low-scoring affair, but were made to work for their victory as GWV pulled to within a single point midway through the final term. The fightback would again prove too little, too late though, as Western held on to secure its seventh win.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton was the only player to boot multiple majors (two), with individual goalkickers spread across the two sides. Liam Herbert (28 disposals) and Mitch Martin were among the Rebels to find a good amount of ball and the big sticks, with Carlton rookie Josh Honey (16 disposals) Western’s highest disposal winner to also bag a goal. Daly Andrews impressed with 27 touches, as did the pairing of Josh Kellett and Lucas Rocci in defence.

They say when it rains, it pours, and that proved the case for Dandenong after having its undefeated streak snapped in Round 10, following it up with another loss – this time to the Murray Bushrangers to the tune of 34 points. Murray’s inaccuracy was the only factor keeping the Stingrays in the game for the best part of three quarters, with its 25 scoring shots to 11 only yielding a 19-point lead at the main break. The Bushrangers finally managed to reverse the trend in the fourth term to run out comfortable winners.

Ryley Bouker and Dominic Bedendo were a couple of bottom-age Bushrangers to impress in front of goal, evenly sharing six of their side’s goals in the win. Another bottom-age pair, Max Gregory and Jai Neal also booted multiple goals, combining for four of Dandenong’s 10 majors. Murray’s hold on the game shone through in its ball winners, with Cam Wild (29 disposals) and Jye Chalcraft (27) well ahead of Dandenong’s best in Bayleigh Welsh, who managed 19 touches and a goal.

In the second game of Saturday’s Ballarat double-header, two country sides went at it for the second time in season 2019. Bendigo would again come up trumps over Geelong, setting up the 29-point win with a six-goal to one second term and holding on to secure victory despite being kept scoreless in the final quarter. The Falcons’ superior finish provided a slight positive despite the loss, as the young side had become known for late fade-outs.

Big-bodied bottom-ager Josh Treacy had a good day at the office with four goals, while the over-age Harry Stubbings also booted multiple goals (two) from his 19 disposals. Sharing the spoils as top ball winners were Geelong’s Keidan Rayner and Bendigo’s Ben Worme with 26 touches apiece, while 2020 Falcons co-captain Cam Fleeton continued his mid-season rise with 21 disposals from defence, and Swans draftee Brady Rowles found the ball 15 times.

Morwell was the next country venue to host NAB League action, as Gippsland took on Oakleigh in what would end up being a qualifying final preview. But the strong Power unit took home the points on this occasion against the undermanned Chargers, keeping them scoreless in the third term while booting five majors of their own to make up most of the eventual 46-point winning margin.

The day arguably belonged to rookie draftee Fraser Phillips, who booted 5.3 from 20 disposals in a huge outing, with Tom Fitzpatrick the sole other multiple goalkicker. St Kilda recruit Leo Connolly led all comers with 32 disposals and a goal, while bottom-ager Sam Berry and former skipper Brock Smith were among three players to notch 26 touches. Vincent Zagari (22 disposals) was Oakleigh’s leading ball winner, followed by bolting 19-year-old forward Cooper Sharman (20 disposals, one goal) on a down day for the eventual premiers.

Sunday’s sole fixture again proved to be a finals preview, as Eastern and Sandringham did battle in a top of the table clash at Box Hill City Oval. Both teams were slightly undermanned, especially the Dragons, and it somewhat showed as the low-scoring affair was played on the terms of the structured and disciplined Ranges side. They would prove a tough nut to crack, holding out for the 18-point victory and keeping Sandringham goalless in the final term.

Big forwards Ben Hickleton and Billy McCormack combined for five of Eastern’s eight goals, with no Dragon able to find the big sticks on multiple occasions. Darcy Chirgwin led the ball winning stakes though with 32 touches, while eventual draftee Ryan Byrnes managed 21 of his own. Jarrod Gilbee (26 disposals) was Eastern’s leading possession getter, followed closely by usual suspects Zak Pretty (24) and Lachlan Stapleton (22).