Category: Calder Cannons

High stakes training: Vic prospects take the field ahead of draft day

VICTORIAN AFL Draft prospects hit the track one last time before draft day, strutting their stuff at Highgate Reserve in a one-off training session on Wednesday. The meet served as a final chance for recruiters to survey the talent available in this year’s pool, just a week out from draft day on December 9.

Players who earned Draft Combine invites in September were split into two major groups, initially separating those from country and metropolitan regions, before being divided even further into small drill groups of five to seven participants. Among those on display were potential number one picks Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Elijah Hollands, the latter of which participated in a running program amid his recovery from a preseason ACL tear.

Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe was on hand in Craigieburn to recap all the action and give an insight into how things panned out.

>> Download our FREE AFL Draft Guide

RECAP:

By: Ed Pascoe

A sense of irony came over me walking into Highgate Reserve, the same ground I last got to watch a lot of these young players back on March 15, right before Covid derailed the Victorian football season. It was a Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers trial game on that day and the ground was bustling with keen onlookers, many the same faces I would see today and it was great to see the development of some of these players. One of the big matchups in March was Nikolas Cox vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan which looked to be a clash we would see if the National Championships went ahead. Fast forward a few months and both players have bulked up, looking as sharp as ever in the lead up to the most important time of their lives.

To start the day it was the Vic Metro based players who were split into four training groups with the following participants:

Group A

Ewan Macpherson
Reef McInnes
Bailey Laurie
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips
Conor Stone

Group B

Cody Brand
Nikolas Cox
Josh Eyre
Liam Kolar
Ollie Lord

Group C

Jake Bowey
Josh Clarke
Connor Downie
Max Holmes
Finlay Macrae
Corey Preston

Group D

Matthew Allison
Lachlan Carrigan
Luke Cleary
Eddie Ford
Liam McMahon
Fraser Rosman

Injured Group

Max Heath
Campbell Edwardes

Vic Country players would later take the field and were split into three main groups:

Group A

Cameron Fleeton
Zach Reid
Josh Treacy
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Henry Walsh

Group B

Ryan Angwin
Will Bravo
Jack Ginnivan
Charlie Lazzaro
Zavier Maher
Blake Reid
Harry Sharp

Group C

Dominic Bedendo
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Clayton Gay
Oliver Henry
Seamus Mitchell
Nick Stevens

Injured Group (Laps)

Elijah Hollands
Charlie Ham
Noah Gribble

There were four main drills conducted after a warm-up; with ground balls, marking, kicking, and handballing the respective focus areas. The ground ball drill involved taking half volleys, running towards the loose ball coming from behind them, taking on the bump bag and finally working in pairs to pick the ball up cleanly under pressure from a teammate.

The marking drill was changed slightly as the day went on but the main focuses were receiving a high ball before getting called to a certain colour cone to run to, turn, and then meet at the drop zone of the ball. Contested marking was the final focus, with two players coming from either the back or front to contest a mark. This drill was certainly the most competitive and one of the drills players had the most fun in, with plenty wanting just ‘one more go’.

The kicking and handballing drills were fairly standard with a three-man weave, and a short to long stationary handball among the handball drills. The kicking drills consisted of kicking to a stationary target often 45 degrees to another player, and finally a drill which involved kicking to a leading player which really separated the better kickers on the day – especially in the notoriously windy conditions at Highgate Reserve.

Overall, it was a great day for the players to get a run while bonding with some former teammates and potentially future teammates. It was also a nice little refresher for scouts and recruiters as well, who got to see how some of these players have progressed both in their football and in their body. It is hard to gauge who would be considered the ‘standouts’ from this training session but most players put in the effort required and it was also good to see some really get involved with coaches and looking for advice in certain drills, showing their commitment to getting the best out of themselves.

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: Vic Metro

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under -17 showcase games last year. Outsider talent from the Vic Metro regions is next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty of prospects around the mark despite missing a full year of football.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft Guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

CALDER CANNONS:

Jackson Cardillo | Midfielder/Forward
03/07/2002 | 186cm/78kg

One of the more unlucky players to miss out on a draft combine invite this year, Cardillo has plenty of traits which should appeal to recruiters. With explosive speed, great agility and a penetrating kick, the Calder midfielder showed a good amount of promise across 18 NAB League outings as a bottom-ager.

EASTERN RANGES:

Jack Diedrich | Ruck/Forward
17/09/2002 | 199cm/88kg

A developing ruck/key forward, Diedrich was included in this year’s Vic Metro academy hub on the back of just three NAB League appearances in 2019. The raw 199cm tall has some strength to build and production to lift, but has nice upside as he fares well both in the air and at ground level.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS:

Liam Delahunty | Tall Utility
13/02/2001 | 190cm/90kg

One of the 19-year-olds in contention, Delahunty was set to make the move to Victoria this year to suit up for Northern in the NAB League and North Melbourne in the VFL. He instead turned out again for GWS in the Academy Series, showcasing his athleticism and versatility as a tall defender who can also swing forward.

Lachlan Gawel | Forward/Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 187cm/79kg

Another who missed out last year and was set to switch to Northern, Gawel has the kind of upside recruiters like despite only having a small sample size to show. He has exciting athletic attributes and can make things happen on the ball both up forward and potentially from midfield in future.

Josh Watson | Midfielder
21/10/2002 | 182cm/82kg

A likely type who showed his wares in the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, Watson could have been one to really come on in 2020. He has shown his capacity to find a good amount of ball and get it moving forward with his booming left boot. Having played on the outer, he can also move to the inside of midfield.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

Fraser Elliot | Inside Midfielder
05/07/2002 | 188cm/88kg

While he was squeezed out at the pointy end of the season, Elliot proved an important part of Oakleigh’s premiership midfield with his ability to extract and compete at the coalface. He is a big-bodied type who was forced to adapt in other roles at times, but would have been looking forward to permanent midfield minutes in 2020.

Lochlan Jenkins | Midfielder
23/02/2002 | 178cm/79kg

Another key midfield cog in Oakleigh’s stacked 2019 premiership side, Jenkins is a smaller type who finds plenty of the ball and goes about his business with intent. Along with Elliot, he shone in the absence of Oakleigh’s stars during the mid-part of the season and ended up registering 18 impressive games.

Sam Tucker | Key Defender/Forward
07/01/2002 | 197cm/87kg

A swingman of sorts, Tucker is one who was poised to make a big impact in 2020 with a full NAB League season. He is a solid marker of the ball who can impact at either end of the ground, but looked to be settling nicely into a key defensive role. He is already a nice size for it, too.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS:

Felix Flockart | Ruck/Tall Utility
05/11/2001 | 200cm/79kg

Another 19-year-old prospect, but one who has not gained a massive amount of elite-level exposure. After impressing for Brighton Grammar in last year’s APS season, Flockhart was set to join Sandringham’s NAB League and VFL programs, hoping to continue his steep rate of development as a lean and versatile tall with great upside.

Darby Hipwell | Inside Midfielder
15/08/2002 | 181cm/80kg

Having very narrowly missed the cut for this year’s AFL Academy intake, Hipwell took it in his stride and looked to prove his doubters wrong in 2020. Drawing inspiration from past teammates, the inside midfielder has worked hard on improving his outside game to better complement his contested ball winning ability.

Oscar Lewis | Outside Midfielder
13/08/2001 | 192cm/75kg

A bolter from last year’s crop who was set to go around once again, Lewis is a raw type with good potential. At 192cm, he is a prototypical athlete with strong running ability on the outside, whether that be carving off half-back or the wing. He would have looked to improve his production and contested work.

Charlie McKay | Midfielder/Defender
09/08/2002 | 186cm/80kg

McKay loomed as one to watch for Carlton fans in 2020 given his ties to the club as the son of 244-game Blues champion, Andrew. He remains father-son eligible and has some nice traits, including hardness at the ball and his ability to play both through midfield or in defence. Could come into greater contention with a full year in 2021.

WESTERN JETS:

Lucas Failli | Midfielder/Small Forward
14/09/2002 | 170cm/73kg

Failli may be small, but packs a punch as a zippy ball winner who can also impact up forward. His size, smarts and agility bode for more time in attack should he get to the next level, with his defensive work-rate also suitable for that small forward role.

Cody Raak | Tall Defender
08/11/2002 | 191cm/77kg

Another Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect tied to the Western Bulldogs this year, Raak is a developing defender who reads the play well and shows sound composure on the ball. He may be building up to key position size and would prove a handy developmental type for the Bulldogs’ Category B rookie list.

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: East Fremantle vs. Calder Cannons

OUR next All-Star Team battle is the first of the Round of 16, which features a West Australian club and a Victorian club in East Fremantle Sharks and Calder Cannons. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Ben Cousins (East Fremantle) and Dane Swan (Calder Cannons).

TEAMS:

East Fremantle are the top seeds and tournament favourites that enter the All-Star Team matchup after a first round bye to take on the 16th seeds, Calder.

STRENGTHS:

Where do you begin with East Fremantle? The most consistent team across the board with experience galore. The least experienced player is Carlton gun, Patrick Cripps and they have 200-game Brownlow Medalists and best and fairest winners on the bench. The onball brigade of Aaron Sandilands, Simon Black and Cousins – with Cripps – is just madness and then throw together a consistent defence, and a couple of key talls, and you would have to be really picky to find a weakness.

Calder’s strength is its depth across the field, led by Swan in the midfield, who along with Jude Bolton and Dion Prestia, make it competitive against most sides, though even they would be overpowered by the Sharks onball group. Their small forwards could cause serious issues for the Sharks defenders, with the likes of Ryan O’Keefe, Paul Chapman and Eddie Betts all capable of giving grief to defender.

WEAKNESSES:

As we said above, it is hard to really pick out a weakness, and to do so is getting rather picky, but you could argue the medium-small forwards with the mids predominantly playing forward, and Darren Bennett and Jamie Cripps the only real pure forwards from that perspective.

Calder probably lacks a consistent key position forward, with Joe Daniher and Jake Carlisle capable of anything, but not as consistent as those on the opposition side. They also have some strong defensively-minded backmen, but not as potent offensively off the defensive line though Brandon Ellis coming off the bench would certainly help with this fact.

SUMMARY

East Fremantle could win the entire All-Star Team of the AFL Draft era, with the Shakrs raging favourites against most sides, and whilst Calder is good, East Fremantle is elite.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
East Fremantle
Calder Cannons

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets

OUR first ever All-Star Team battle is one between two Vic Metro clubs, in the Calder Cannons and Western Jets. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Dane Swan (Calder) and Matthew Lloyd (Western).

>> SCROLL BELOW TO SEE THE TEAMS AND VOTE <<

TEAMS:

Both these teams are considered evenly matched, with Western having a couple of genuine all-time legends of the game, while Calder has more depth across the field. These teams are seeded 16th and 17th respectively, but it is about splitting hairs when it comes to quality amongst the 30 sides, with plenty of even teams running around.

STRENGTHS:

Calder’s strength is its depth across the field, led by Swan in the midfield, who along with Jude Bolton and Dion Prestia, would take control in there. Callan Ward is a star, but the Western midfield is a little weaker, though still competitive with Michael Rischitelli and Heath Scotland in there. Their small forwards are as good of a quartet as they come, which would be exciting to watch.

Western’s strength lies in its bookends with Matthew Lloyd one of the greatest full-forwards of all-time, and Dustin Fletcher one of the greatest full-backs of all-time. Their half-backs of Bachar Houli and James Sicily would provide absolute elite penetrating kicks forward, while their small forwards are as exciting as they come.

WEAKNESSES:

Calder probably lacks a consistent key position forward, with Joe Daniher and Jake Carlisle capable of anything, but not a ‘Lloyd’ like the Jets have. They also have some strong defensively-minded backmen, but not as potent offensively off the defensive line though Brandon Ellis coming off the bench would certainly help with this fact.

Western’s weakness is its defensive depth. Fletcher, Houli and Sicily are quality, while Daniel Ward, Adam Kennedy and Kyle Hartigan would provide the defensive pressure, but are no world beaters in fairness to them.

SUMMARY

Both these teams have exciting forward lines that would cause headaches for most opposition sides. Depending on which midfield got on top would really go a long way to winning, with Calder’s depth most likely getting them across the line.

Which All-Star team would win?
Calder Cannons
Western Jets
Created with Quiz Maker

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.

Classic Contests: Saad’s seven fires Cannons to victory over Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 4, 11:30am
Highgate Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.9 | 7.14 | 9.16 (70)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.3 | 8.6 | 8.6 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Saad 7, K. Brown, B. Ronke
Oakleigh:
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker

BEST:

Calder: M. Saad, B. Ronke, Z. Guthrie, H. Blythe, B. Caluzzi, B. Bernacki
Oakleigh:
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker

Draftees in action:

Calder: Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie
Oakleigh: Jordan Ridley, Taylin Duman

Conditions at Highgate Reserve often blanket the ability of even the most potent match winners, but all the rain and wind in the world could do little to stop Muhammad Saad in early June, 2016. The brother of Essendon speedster, Adam put on a seven-goal show to inspire his Calder Cannons to a comeback victory over the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 9 of the TAC Cup season,

The Cannons needed something special to turn their season around, sitting 10th with two wins from eight games – including losses in their first four outings, and two in the last fortnight. Oakleigh was faring a touch better in seventh at 4-4, but had lost three of its last four games in what was the start of a mid-season skid. The Chargers would also go in without a considerable amount of top-end, top-age talent, including the likes of Josh Daicos, Nick Larkey, and Ed Phillips.

But through the weather and absentees, Oakleigh showed its class with a five goals to one opening term, making much better of its eight scoring shots (5.3) compared to the hosts’ six (1.5). The buffer would remain relatively the same heading into the main break, as the Chargers got out to a six-goal lead, but had the margin reigned back to 21 points at half-time.

Saad had already clicked into gear, booting a couple of majors to keep his side within reach, before flicking the switch midway through the third term to help the Cannons hit the front. The game was on the line with Calder ahead by two points at three quarter time, and the ascendancy would change hands multiple times in the final term. Saad proved the difference again, putting the Cannons back in front for good as they ran out eight-point victors.

With seven of Calder’s total nine goals, the number 43 was inevitably named best afield for his remarkable exploits inside forward 50. Ben Ronke was one of two other Cannons to hit the scoreboard, with fellow draftee Zach Guthrie played his part up the other end of the field. Adam Moate booted three majors for Oakleigh, while Xavier Jordan was named the most valuable Charger.

The result proved somewhat of a turning point for the Cannons, as they shot back into finals contention and eventually finished the regular season in seventh (8-9). The Chargers landed in sixth with an identical record, but exacted revenge with a 106-point elimination final belting, before eventually going down in the preliminary finals to Murray.

Featured Image: Greg Kowalczewski/News Corp

Classic Contests: Stingrays barb Calder with six-goal final term in prelim

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Calder Cannons and Dandenong Stingrays. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when Dandenong mounted a late fightback to secure victory in a dramatic TAC Cup preliminary final.

2013 TAC Cup, Round 3
Saturday September 14, 11:15am
Ikon Park

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 4.3 | 5.5 | 9.6 | 15.12 (108)
CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 7.6 | 11.9 | 14.12 (96)

GOALS:

Dandenong: B. Egan 3, B. Mullane 3, J. Lonie 3, M. Rennie 2, J. Pickess, C. McCartney, A. Scott, D. Gawley, T. Lamb.
Calder:
J. Cooke 3, J. Cauchi 3, R. O’Brien 2, J. Foster, J. Clothier, P. Ahern, T. Davies, A. Prestia, A. Christensen.

BEST:

Dandenong: Z. Jones, J. Lonie, B. Hartung, J. Bastinac, D. Capiron, N. Foote
Calder:
J. Owen, V. Carboni, J. Clothier, M. Kovacevic, P. Ahern, M. Merlo

Draftees in action:

Dandenong: Billy Hartung, Zak Jones, James Harmes, Jack Lonie, Tom Lamb
Calder: Jayden Foster, Reilly O’Brien, Jake Lever, Paul Ahern, Peter Wright

NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) finals have seldom failed to deliver on drama over the years, and that is exactly what Dandenong and Calder produced as they squared off for a spot in the 2013 decider. While both sides seemed to be a rung off the top two contenders during the season, at least one of them would earn the opportunity to play off for the flag.

In a neat quirk, the form of either region was identical. Both sides came in off a run of six wins in their last seven outings; with Dandenong moving straight through to the prelims via a qualifying final win over Eastern, while Calder took the scenic route after losing to Geelong, but beating Western in the second chance saloon. Dandenong finished the regular season in third at 10-7, only percentage clear of Calder in fourth. The only thing separating these combatants was Calder’s 42-point Round 8 win over the Stingrays at home.

With everything to play for, fans were treated to a shootout which was kickstarted by an eight-goal opening term. Despite the free flow of scoring, a deadlock remained at the first break as both sides managed 4.7 (27) apiece. The scoring slowed a touch as all initial nervous energy was expended, and it was the Cannons who edged ahead by 11 points at the main break.

That buffer was extended ever so slightly to 15 points at three quarter time, and Calder looked like cruising home to a solid victory. But that was where the Stingrays’ fresh legs from a week off kicked in, as they piled on six unanswered goals to completely shift the tide and most importantly, hit the front. Calder mounted a late fightback of its own to draw back within a goal, but Dandenong held firm to book its spot in the Grand Final.

It was no surprise, especially in hindsight to see Zak Jones (28 disposals, 10 tackles), Jack Lonie (22 disposals, three goals), and Billy Hartung (26 disposals, eight marks) named as the best three Stingrays afield, as their run and toughness through midfield allowed their side to open the game up late on. James Harmes was also amongst it with 30 disposals for the winners.

Calder had a quartet of ball winners find plenty of the ball too, led by Matthew Merlo and Jedd Clothier (both 30 disposals), and followed by Jake Owen (23) and Victor Carboni. Paul Ahern joined the aforementioned players among the Cannons’ best, after booting a goal from his 18 disposals.

While Calder’s finals run ended there and then, Dandenong went on to feature in its fifth TAC Cup Grand Final. Unfortunately, the Stingrays met a rampant Eastern Ranges once again on that day, and continued their premiership curse in a 112-point loss.

Classic Contests: Riccardi ensures Cannons share points in Morwell

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Calder Cannons and Gippsland Power. In this edition, we wind the clock back to 2018 when the two sides played out a thrilling draw decided right at the death.

2018 TAC Cup, Round 9
Sunday June 17 1:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

GIPPSLAND POWER 1.1 | 7.3 | 7.4 | 11.6 (72)
CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.5 | 7.9 | 10.12 (72)

GOALS:

Gippsland: J. Smith 3, H. Pepper 2, A. Hodge 2, B. Smith 2, B. Motton, N. Gown.
Calder:
J. Riccardi 5, J. Roumeliotis 2, S. Ramsay, M. Abou-Eid, H. Minton-Connell.

BEST:

Gippsland: J. van der Pligt, A. Hodge, B. Smith, B. Beck, N. Gown, R. Baldi
Calder:
W. Jury, J. Riccardi, M. Abou-Eid, H. Jones, I. Moussa , S. Graham

Draftees in action:

Gippsland: Noah Gown, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, Leo Connolly, Harry Pepper
Calder: Jake Riccardi, Harrison Jones, Sam Ramsay, Lachlan Johnson (via Oakleigh Chargers)

There may have been a host of top-age draft prospects out of TAC Cup action in Round 9 of the 2018 season, leaving it up to Calder and Gippsland’s bottom, and over-agers to produce a thriller in Morwell. The Power were the more fancied side, sitting pretty in second spot with a 6-1-1 record on the back of four-straight wins. Calder’s 3-5 start to the season had it poised in eighth spot, having lost two on the trot and failed to string together consecutive wins to that point.

With those factors in mind and despite both sides coming in heavily depleted, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Calder get the early jump with a two-goal head start. That two-goal buffer was the best Calder would muster, and only lasted until six minutes into the second term, when back-to-back Brock Smith goals send Gippsland in front. With Josh Smith and Harrison Pepper also boasting two majors each, the Power broke out to a 16-point lead at half time.

Cue the next momentum shift, as the Cannons hit back with a three-goal to nil third term to inflict a 21-point turnaround. Touches of inaccuracy threatened to hurt the away side, but they were well and truly in the hunt heading into the final change. It seemed for all money that Boadie Motton‘s 23rd-minute major would see Gippsland snatch the four points, but Jake Riccardi‘s reply with under a minute left on the clock saw the two sides share spoils come the final siren.

In a remarkable game-defining patch, Riccardi booted Calder’s last five goals for the game to prove his credentials as a potential draft bolter. While he would be made to wait at least another year for his chance at the elite level, his AFL qualities shone through. John Roumeliotis had a similar, steadying impact for the Cannons early on, but it was Will Jury who was adjudged his side’s best. Harrison Jones showed some promise, taking the field alongside fellow draftees Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Johnson.

Josh Smith led the Power’s goalkicking charge with three snags, followed by three players who managed two, including Brock Smith, Pepper, and Austin Hodge. Jake Van Der Plight beat them all to best afield honours, even trumping the likes of Noah Gown on the day.

The drawn clash would be the only meeting between the two sides in 2018, and was Gippsland’s second tie for the year. The Power went on to finish second at 12-2-2, before having their season ended in emphatic fashion by way of a 93-point thumping at the hands of Oakleigh. Calder improved slightly to finish seventh at 7-8-1, but bowed out in Wildcard Round to a replenished Geelong Falcons outfit.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 17 – Chargers, Ranges win thrillers amid dual triple-headers

ROUND 17 of the 2019 NAB League was split into two triple-headers, with the six Metropolitan sides going head-to-head at Avalon Airport Oval on the Saturday, while Queen Elizabeth Oval hosted the six Country regions on Sunday, and Tasmania enjoyed a bye. Top three challengers Oakleigh and Eastern won out in thrillers, with a certain number two pick dragging the Chargers home, while a gun Next-Generation Academy prospect snatched four points for the Ranges with a kick after the siren.

But the weekend’s action started with a clash between Western and Northern, a game which saw the Knights handle the conditions better to run our 32-point winners. The Jets could not take full toll of their promising start, booting 1.4 to Northern’s 2.2 in the first quarter, before the latter pulled away with six goals to nil in term two to set up a game-defining margin. There would be little scoring after that, with the sides combining for just five goals after half-time.

The competition’s two leading goalkickers went head-to-head, with Josh D’Intinosante booting four goals to Archi Manton‘s three, but the Jets forward taking out top honours for his season tally. Promising bottom-ager Nikolas Cox added two for Northern, while Adam Carafa (23 disposals) and Darcy Cassar (22) led the ball winning stakes for their respective sides. Josh Watson enjoyed a breakout game with 21 touches and a goal, and in a cool quirk, Carlton draftees Sam Philp and Josh Honey competed on opposite sides shortly before becoming teammates.

Things really ramped up in the following fixture, as Connor Downie‘s post-siren set shot helped Eastern nab a four-point win over Calder from nowhere. The Cannons looked to have poked their noses in front at the ideal time as the lead changed hands on multiple occasions throughout the match, but a two-goal margin in the final term was quickly reigned back. In a last roll of the dice play, Downie would win a free kick inside 50 and sink the resultant shot to break Calder hearts and seal the minor premiership.

Eastern’s Lachlan Stapleton was massive in the clutch moments, and finished with 23 disposals and two goals in a terrific display of heart. Calder’s Jake Sutton beat him out in the goalkicking department with three majors, while Carlton draftee Sam Ramsay (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis (26) led all comers in terms of disposals amid their back-and-forth midfield battle. Essendon’s Harrison Jones also looked lively up forward, booting a goal from 17 disposals and four marks.

If spectators thought that game would be the peak of entertainment for the afternoon, they were in for a treat when Oakleigh and Sandringham took the field. 11 eventual draftees were in action, including the top two selections, in what was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent history. After Finn Maginness booted the Dragons out to a 29-point lead early in the final term, Noah Anderson stepped up with back-to-back majors to help put the Chargers in front, before Cooper Sharman sealed the remarkable comeback to see Oakleigh home by seven points.

The cream truly rose to the top, with Anderson’s match-winning efforts seeing him finish with 24 disposals and three goals. Potential 2020 number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was spectacular in the air in his four-goal display, while Matt Rowell wowed again with a mammoth 34 touches. Darcy Chirgwin led the way in that department for Sandringham with 30 disposals, but it was Maginness who stole the show with three goals from his 17 touches. Bottom-ager Archie Perkins also snagged a hat-trick of majors, as the wealth of talent on show made for scintillating viewing.

Fast forward to Sunday and switching over to the Country regions, Gippsland opened the show with a 10-point win over hosts, Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval. In another heartbreaker, the Pioneers led at every break, albeit by slim margins, but faltered at the last as the Power surged home with 4.5 to the home side’s 3.0. The quality was evident in this clash too, with eight future draftees running out for their respective sides.

Among them, Fraser Phillips was one of six players on either team to boot two goals, also adding three behinds from his 19 disposals. Riley Baldi put in a terrific shift with a game-high 27 disposals and two majors, while Thomson Dow was among Bendigo’s best ball winners with 24 touches and a goal. Charlie Comben showed promising signs in his ruck/forward role, collecting 12 disposals, three marks, 13 hitouts, and 1.3, while a pair of Pioneers bottom-agers also fared well – with Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell both earning multiple goals.

Geelong notched just its third win of the season, accounting for reigning premier Dandenong to the tune of 31 points in a convincing effort. The Falcons shot to a five-goal buffer at half time and never looked back, extending the margin to an even 50 points heading into the final break, and coasting home despite the Stingray’s best efforts to claw back the deficit. Remarkably, the Falcons only registered one more scoring shot than their opponents, with their accurate 15.9 proving the difference when compared to Dandenong’s 9.14.

Charlie Sprague capped off his over-age season with a bang, booting six goals as the Falcons’ spearhead. Bottom-age jets Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn also contributed two majors each, while Dandenong’s Lachlan Williams (three goals) was his side’s most potent mover. Another 19-year-old, Will Lewis led all comers with 24 disposals, followed by Geelong captain Jesse Clark on 23. The likes of Hayden Young and Cody Weightman ran out for Dandenong, but could do little to thwart the Falcons’ emerging talents from taking hold.

The final game of the 2019 regular season saw the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels down Murray by 15 points in a relatively low-scoring affair, with neither side able to take full advantage of their opportunities. It mattered little in the end for the Rebels, who produced a greater wealth of chances throughout the day, while the Bushrangers could only manage a goal per the first three terms.

Glenelg recruit Mitch Martin snagged a game-high three goals from 17 disposals as the only multiple goalkicker afield, showcasing all of his individual quality. Fellow Rebel Cooper Craig-Peters led all comers with 24 disposals, while Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals) and Cam Wild (21) fared best for the Bushies. Draftees Jay Rantall and Lachlan Ash were kept to 20 and 19 touches respectively, while a bunch of Under 16 talent shone through for both sides.

2020 AFL Draft Positional Analysis: Small and Medium Utilities

UTILITIES; the jacks of all trades, the players who can thrive up either end of the ground, or adapt to whichever role the team requires. One thing that remains consistent among this lot is versatility, 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 small and medium utilities. 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 utilities who are eligible to be drafted in 2020.

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

Tahj Abberley
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies
180cm | 70kg

One of the leading Lions Academy prospects, Abberley provides a perfect starting point for this list. While the diminutive Queenslander will most likely look to use his sharp foot skills and decision making off half-back this year, he has previously thrived on both sides of midfield and through the forward rotation. While most small midfielders with good pace and agility tend to find their way into that goalsneak or pressure forward role, Abberley’s points of difference on the ball allow him to be utilised just about anywhere. Having been a constant in the Queensland junior representative setup and played all five NAB League games for the Lions last year, Abberley was set for a big top-age campaign prior to the interruptions.

>> Q&A
>> Draft Watch

Clayton Gay
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
183cm | 77kg

Gay was a mainstay in Dandenong’s side as a bottom-ager in 2019, running out for 17 games and showing glimpses of his talent. He is another who may find a home down back in 2020, but has shown his nous up the other end already with his 13 NAB League goals last year. His reading of the play is sound, and Gay is able to break open games in small spurts. Though he can still work on his consistency and athletic base, Gay remains one of his region’s most exciting prospects who already has good runs on the board. His natural talent is enough to suggest he has plenty to offer.

>> Feature

Zac Dumesny
South Adelaide/South Australia
187cm | 79kg

One of the many South Australian Under 18s to be plying their trade at SANFL League level already is Dumesny, and he has transitioned rather seamlessly to senior football. The South Adelaide product is a good size at 187cm, able to provide that intercept quality with his vertical leap across the backline, while also utilising his clean hands and skills up on a wing. Dumesny has been working on being a touch more physical at the contest, but is all-class on the ball and will be pushing into top 25 considerations if his form persists.

>> Q&A

Oliver Henry
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country
187cm | 77kg 

The younger brother of Geelong Cats defender, Jack, Henry is an eye-catching prospect who brings terrific aerial prowess to either end of the field. Despite standing at just under the 190cm range, Henry has been utilised in a second or third tall role at times for the Falcons, with his athleticism and sticky hands allowing him to reel in fantastic marks. He averaged over a goal per his 15 NAB League games last year to prove his forward threat, but also fared well down back with his clean rebounding skills and intercepting ability. Having also been used up on a wing in his Australian Under 17 outing, Henry is a true all-rounder.

>> Feature
>> Marquee Matchup

Joel Jeffrey
NT Thunder/Allies
189cm | 74kg

Arguably the Northern Territory’s best draft prospect for 2020 is Jeffrey, who looks destined to end up at the Gold Coast SUNS given their new concessions. The son of NT great, Russell, Jeffrey was poised to make the move over to Queensland this season before the global pandemic intervened. The high-flying prospect already has senior experience having turned out for Wanderers in the NTFL, booting 29 goals in 13 games. His ability to find the goals from ground level balls or on the end of big marks makes him a player fans will come to watch, but he is just as effective in defence.

Will Schreiber
Glenelg/South Australia
190cm | 82kg

Schreiber has made a solid start to the SANFL season at Under 18 level, running out for Glenelg across the first four rounds. While he has been continually trialled as a big-bodied midfielder and can get his hands on the ball at centre bounces, Schreiber arguably looks most comfortable down back where he can utilise his marking ability and calm distribution by foot. Like many talented hopefuls scattered across the Tigers’ Under 18 side, Schreiber has proven versatile and has been a key part of their 4-0 start to the 2020 campaign.

Marc Sheather
Sydney Swans Academy/Allies
185cm | 84kg

Like just about every player on this list, Sheather has been utilised in a range of roles, swinging up either end of the ground and doing so to good effect. He first caught the eye at Under 16 level with his strong marking power deep forward for NSW/ACT, but has since looked terrific as a medium defender for the Rams and Swans Academy. He is a prospect who plays above his height, credit to a readymade frame and terrific athleticism, but also does the job at ground level with his useful disposal by foot both in general play and from the kick-ins. Sheather may be flying under the radar given the Swans’ notable Academy talent, but is a promising player in his own right.

Joel Western
Claremont/Western Australia
172cm | 68kg

Western kicked off his WAFL Colts campaign in style, returning a best afield performance with 29 disposals and a goal. Having already experienced premiership success at the level and been a part of the State Under 18 setup, Western is a well-known prospect with stacks of potential. Fremantle will get first dibs on Western through its NGA, and Dockers fans can look forward to seeing his great evasiveness, freakish skills, and speed in a variety of roles going forward. While he has found a home through midfield at Colts level, Western can also play off half-back and push forward well. Players of his size will always have a lingering knock on them, but Western has the elite athleticism and skill to go far.

>> Draft Watch

Positional Analysis: Inside Midfielders | Outside Midfielders | Key Position Defenders | Key Position Forwards

July 2020 Power Rankings

>> 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