Category: Sandringham Dragons

2022 AFLW Draft – Teams to Watch: Sandringham Dragons

IN a new series looking towards the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, we take a look at some teams that have outstanding prospects who showed plenty of promise in their bottom-age years to suggest the team might have plenty of potential for the next season. We continue with Sandringham Dragons, who have plenty of depth and a number of players already experiencing Vic Metro duties through both the Under 17s and Under 19s scenes.

KEY PLAYERS:

Sofia Hurley
Balanced Midfielder
30/01/2004 | 166cm

One of the more eye-catching talents in the 2022 AFL Women’s draft crop is the smooth-moving Dragons midfielder, Hurley. She had a huge season in 2021, averaging 18.1 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s in what was a real consistent effort across the board. A player who can do a lot of damage by hand or foot, Hurley is able to extract the ball from the stoppage both from first and second possession wins, and her evasion skills and quick burst, allow her to find the exit and create separation on her opponents. Not only can she win it in close, but she can win it around the ground, able to create run and carry down the ground time and time again. As the standout Dragons player in her bottom-age year – winning the best and fairest award – Hurley earned Vic Metro representation where after and Under 17s game – of 17 disposals, seven clearances and six inside 50s – she stepped up to the Under 19s team where she was solid with 11 touches, three tackles, three inside 50s and two clearances.

Bridie Hipwell
Inside Midfielder
15/06/2004 | 174cm

Starting the NAB League Girls season on fire in the opening round, unfortunately her standout game was cut short by an ankle injury that would see her ruled out for many weeks. She returned to the competition to play six games for the season, averaging 12.5 disposals, 3.2 tackles and 2.7 inside 50s. Continually developing her consistency, Hipwell’s size of 174cm on the inside is able to provide a bigger, stronger body in there, and she is able to get her hands free above her head to dish off the ball to teammates. She also tires to provide some good run and carry out of stoppages and going forward in transition, and can play in various positions as well. She is a player who leads by example, and whilst the ankle injury did impact the first half of the year, Hipwell also earned a spot in both the Under 17s and Under 19s Vic Metro squads. She had the 15 disposals, three marks, two clearances and four inside 50s and Under 17s level, before not being afraid against the older opponents, laying five tackles from six touches.

J’Noemi Anderson
Balanced Midfielder
17/12/2004 | 171cm

Hailing from the Northern Territory, Anderson represented the Allies at the Under 19s carnival and showed some promising signs further afield after progressing throughout the season for the Dragons in the NAB League Girls. Anderson averaged the 10 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two inside 50s at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and despite only playing four games at NAB League Girls level, dabbled in some of her eye-catching traits such as evasion which caught the eye. She also provided some good forward pressure with 3.8 tackles to accompany her 9.3 disposals, and was able to win the ball both on the lead and at ground level and look dangerous when inside 50. Anderson looms as one of the top NT prospects in 2022, and no doubt one to keep an eye on for the Dragons in the NAB League Girls competition.

OTHERS:

Two other players represented the Under 17s Vic Metro squad in Keely Coyne and Tayla Jones, both of whom have shown some promising signs in the midfield. Coyne had an outstanding opening game of the season, and then was a consistent force in what was effectively her debut season after not being able to play a game in 2020. Coyne averaged 14.1 disposals and 4.7 tackles in 2021, providing the movement in transition to go from the middle third inside 50. Jones had a few less touches, but is one who can do nice things with ball-in-hand, averaging the 9.1 disposals and 2.1 tackles for the Dragons last season. Stepping up to Vic Metro she had similar numbers, showing she can rise to the occasion regardless of the level. Some other 2004-born regulars in the Dragons side include Lucy Mitchell (eight), Sascha Pribil (seven games), Amelia Luca (six), Ella Sciberras (five), Jasmine Betts (five) and Georgia Foran (five). For the 2023 AFLW Draft eligible players, Cameron Millias (five) and Mia Zielinski (three) caught the eye in their multiple games, whilst Lucia Marin and twins Jemma and Carly Witts each made their debuts.

NAB League set for revamped finals structure

THE AFL announced on Thursday the NAB League is set for a shake-up to its finals structure, with 13 full-time regions split into country and metro conferences. A three-week finals series will commence next weekend (August 28/29) for five country-based programs – Bendigo Pioneers, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers – while Dandenong Stingrays and Tasmania Devils will join the metro allotment.

Essentially, two premierships will be awarded – one for the winner of either conference – as the AFL attempts to hold as many games as possible over the next six weeks after a heavily interrupted season. The eight-team metro conference will begin competition once community football is allowed to resume in Victoria. These fixtures will also serve as an additional selection process for a makeshift Victorian championships, where primary and secondary Vic Country and Vic Metro squads will compete against each other in late-September.

GWV currently tops the country improvised country pool and is set to lock horns with second-ranked Bendigo Pioneers on Saturday. The third-placed Geelong Falcons take on Murray Bushrangers on the same afternoon, while bottom side Gippsland Power has the bye. Below is the three week country finals schedule; there will also be consolation fixtures in weeks two and three between teams knocked out of contention.

2021 NAB League Finals Map
(Country Conference)

Week 1 (August 28/29)
First Semi Final – 2nd v 5th
Second Semi Final – 3rd v 4th

1st – Bye
Two winners and highest-ranked loser to progress to Week 2.

Week 2 (September 4/5)
First Preliminary Final – 1st v Lowest Ranked
Second Preliminary Final – 2nd Ranked v 3rd Ranked

Week 3 (September 11/12)
Grand Final – Winner PF1 v Winner PF2

Current NAB League Ladder:

1. Sandringham Dragons (M) | 8-1, 188.6%
2. GWV Rebels (C) | 7-3, 129.1%
3. Northern Knights (M) | 6-3, 138.5%
4. Bendigo Pioneers (C) | 6-5, 109.1%
5. Tasmania Devils (M) | 5-3, 114.3%
6. Geelong Falcons (C) | 5-6, 101.6%
7. Eastern Ranges (M) | 5-4, 98.0%
8. Calder Cannons (M) | 5-4, 84.8%
9. Dandenong Stingrays (M) | 3-6, 101.5%
10. Oakleigh Chargers (M) | 3-6, 90.3%
11. Western Jets (M) | 3-6, 85.4%
12. Murray Bushrangers (C) | 3-7, 84.0%
13. Gippsland Power (C) | 3-7, 60.3%

Legend:
C – denotes Country conference
M – denotes Metro conference

Country Conference Ladder:

1. GWV Rebels | 7-3, 129.1%
2. Bendigo Pioneers | 6-5, 109.1%
3. Geelong Falcons | 5-6, 101.6%
4. Murray Bushrangers | 3-7, 84.0%
5. Gippsland Power | 3-7, 60.3%

Metro Conference Ladder:

1. Sandringham Dragons | 8-1, 188.6%
2. Northern Knights | 6-3, 138.5%
3. Tasmania Devils | 5-3, 114.3%
4. Eastern Ranges | 5-4, 98.0%
5. Calder Cannons | 5-4, 84.8%
6. Dandenong Stingrays | 3-6, 101.5%
7. Oakleigh Chargers | 3-6, 90.3%
8. Western Jets | 3-6, 85.4%

League leading Dragons enjoy new sense of “continuity”

HEAVY rotation and the constant effort to keep connected with such large squad numbers are a couple of factors the Sandringham Dragons are used to facing each NAB League season. But despite the impact of unforeseen lockdowns, representation honours, and school football commitments, head coach Jackson Kornberg says his ladder leading side has enjoyed a sense of “continuity” in 2021.

“I think in any club the main challenge is keeping the group connected with so many different things going on throughout the year and all the lockdowns,” Kornberg said. “With our training the playing group gets a bit sporadic at times in terms of where everyone is, but I think the key thing with all clubs will be the challenge of trying to stay connected. Our group has done that really positively.

“Our leaders have been really good in the sense of keeping the group together and connected. We’ve got a leadership group of seven who are split across 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds, private school and non-private school, which helps to connect different areas of the list.

“Across the board it’s been good to be able to have a lot more continuity with our team. In the past we’ve had mass changes week-on-week depending on availability but this year has been more around form and picking guys on that because being an Under 19 competition, we just don’t have the same number of boys who become unavailable after Round 4.”

The Dragons have fielded players across four different birth years in their Under 19s program this season, but also rely on a strong core of players who have consistently turned out at NAB League level. The plaudits often go towards first round prospects Finn Callaghan, Josh Sinn, Campbell Chesser, and Blake Howes, but Kornberg is bullish on the talent of a few other draft eligible talents on the precipice of higher honours.

Sandringham captain Josh Sinn drives his side forward

“Certainly Lachie Benton is someone who sits outside the Metro squad who probably deserves an opportunity and I believe he should be in the Metro squad off his form,” he said. “He’s someone who played in the 16s championships games two years ago for Vic Metro and I thought he was really solid. Form talks and he’s been playing some really good footy.

Charlie McKay as well. He and Luke Cleary are up there arguably as the two standout 19-year-olds in the competition. Charlie has been one of our more consistent players through the midfield. The aim was to get him a couple of games with Carlton in the VFL… but certainly as one of our vice-captains he’s a player that is the first picked in the team, you trust in and I think his teammates trust him as well.

“He and Lachie are probably the two main ones sitting just outside (Vic Metro selection), and obviously Luke Nankervis who was part of the initial squad. He’s such a new prospect to the pathway and has really skyrocketed in his form at NAB League level.”

Charlie McKay in action for the Dragons

An interesting quirk of Sandringham’s squad this year has also been the presence of a couple of recently-listed AFL rucks in Max Heath and Jacob Edwards. Most sides would be in strife having lost their two premier talls at the mid-season draft. Not so the Dragons, who Kornberg says have a “strong philosophy of developing talls” and are again stacked in that department.

“As I said to (talent operations lead) Mark Wheeler after the mid-season draft, if there was ever going to be a year where we lost our two ruckman, this’d be the year,” he said. “We do have a large supply of talls in our team this year. Not necessarily just rucks, but across our key backs and key forwards as well.”

The most recent addition to said supply is 200cm local football coup Angus Grant. Having shown top form outside the Sandringham program, he and 17-year-old Charlie Clarke have been rewarded with entry into the elite talent pathway and promise to continue the squad’s healthy sense of internal competition.

“Charlie’s a 17-year-old who’s been playing some really good footy at Port Melbourne Colts in the seniors,” Kornberg said. “That’s a really strong team and competition, so for a 17-year-old to be performing really well in a senior team we thought it was appropriate to reward him and bring him into the program. He’s played a handful of games.

“Gus really hasn’t been involved in the pathway at all. He’s 200cm, plays at Old Mentonians in the seniors and for school footy, and has been kicking lots of goals throughout the year. Again, it’s good to see guys and for those outside of the program that we certainly take into consideration local form and we are rewarding good local form. We’ve got no qualms whatsoever about bringing them in and rewarding them.”

While the make-up of the final few NAB League rounds before finals is still yet to be confirmed, Metro regions are hoping to return to action soon after their Country counterparts do so on Sunday. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that Sandringham will be a clear flag contender having beaten strong challengers like Oakleigh, Northern, and Greater Western Victoria en route to its 8-1 record.

For Kornberg and his budding draft hopefuls, the allure of finals presents more than just ultimate team glory. As history has shown, it’s a great chance for players on the fringe to stamp their credentials on the big stage.

“The more games you play, the more opportunity players get to expose themselves to recruiters,” he said. “I look back to our 2016/2017 years which we had pretty successful draft years… I’d argue two or three more kids got themselves drafted off the back of those finals series and the team playing well.”

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 15

THE NAB League returned for Round 15 over the weekend, with a set of six fixtures kicked off under Friday night lights in Werribee. While school football competitions also resumed and injuries continue to hit, there was still plenty of top-end talent on show this time around. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> Round 15 snapshot | Round 15 POTW | Round 15 TOTW | August Power Rankings

WESTERN JETS 7.7 (49) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 11.13 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#28 Massimo D’Ambrosio

Having been utilised in a few different roles this year, D’Ambrosio dropped back to defence to good effect in this outing. The 18-year-old moves well and provided plenty of drive out of defence for the Jets as he took the game on with ball-in-hand. D’Ambrosio had plenty do to after half time as he carried the ball on the rebound and looked to be damaging by foot with either inboard options or penetrating balls down the line. He finished with a clear season-high 31 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 rebound 50s.

#32 Paul Curtis

While he started the game off in midfield, it wouldn’t take long for Curtis to switch to his usual forward post and get to work. The crafty small snared Western’s first goal of the night after marking deep on the behind line, and was a constant threat inside 50. While he used his smarts within the arc, Curtis also looked really polished when working further afield where he hardly fumbled and brought others into the play with sharp disposal. He missed a couple of set shots which would have cemented an even better game, but he was productive nonetheless with 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

#35 Liam Conway

A key figure in Western’s midfield, Conway again won a mountain of ball to end with a game-high 35 disposals, five marks and five inside 50s. He used his strength over the ball at each contest and was also a solid marking option around the ground, accumulating his touches at a good tick throughout the game. He also spent some in the forward half after the main break, but found the goals in term one with a monster 50m set shot.

Geelong Falcons:

#8 Jhye Clark

A standout at Under 17 level, Clark has transitioned well into the Falcons’ Under 19 program and had another solid outing here. The midfielder isn’t afraid to get stuck in and boasts a pretty well-rounded game; able to go up for overhead marks, win his own ball and tackle at the contest, while also coming away from it with class. Clark finished with 18 disposals and six tackles.

#18 Blake Reid

Having been thrown into midfield at a greater rate this season, Reid was again part of that rotation before being sent back to play a role on Western’s Paul Curtis. He started out with some good early intent at the contest and looked to kick Geelong forward with well-directed passes. Much of his influence after quarter time came in the back half, as he took on the kick-in duties to finish with 23 disposals, seven tackles, and six inside 50s.

#26 Olivier Northam

The bottom-aged ruckman brought plenty of heat to the contest with his intensity and willingness to provide a bit of physicality around the ball. As quite a mobile and competitive tall, he was able to prize his own clearances while also showing a handy leap around the ground to crash aerial balls. He also did the latter when resting forward and found the goals with a set shot in term three. Northam set the tone well for the Falcons as they ran away with the contest during the final quarter.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

Knevitt was the Falcons’ most prolific ball winner on the night with 28 disposals, providing his usual strength to the midfield battle in offensive and defensive settings. The 193cm prospect proved difficult to bring down, constantly able to stand up in tackles and wait to dish off the ideal release handball to his runners. He also made Western feel the hurt with his own tackling and used his burst of speed well to shut the Jets down with solid pressure. As per usual, he also spent some time resting forward but couldn’t snare a goal this time out.

#32 Noah Gadsby

It could have been a huge game for Gadsby if not for some goalkicking inaccuracy, with the athletic forward managing 2.4 from his 22 disposals and four marks. He showed a strong running capacity with his work up the ground, presenting all the way up past the wing to help link Geelong in transition. Gadsby was also lively inside 50 with his various shots on goal and always looked like making something happen, despite his lack of a finished product.

#56 Oscar Morrison

While not his most prolific game, Morrison showed some really promising glimpses in the first half as a dynamic rebounding influence down back. The 17-year-old looked composed for the ball and backed his speed at 193cm to burn opponents or break tackles. He was often in good position to intercept or mop up before taking metres and kicking Geelong into attack.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 9.10 (64) def. by EASTERN RANGES 13.13 (91)

By: Eli Duxson

Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Bayleigh Welsh

While it was far from his strongest game statistically (33 disposals vs. Gold Coast), Welsh brought a lot of grunt and hustle in his defensive post providing efforts that would not have showed up on the stat sheet. He hit his first contest hard and continued to scrap the disputed ball which set the tone for the way he would go about his day. Defensively he knows how to take the body well without giving away free kicks and can maintain balance over the ball to extract out of congestion (eight handballs). Welsh looked to attack off half back and provided good run and generally tidy skills but was a little overzealous at times in trying to create options moving forward.

#14 Will Bravo

Probably Dandenong’s best player on the day as he accumulated 28 disposals, five inside 50’s, and a goal in the final quarter to top off his day. Showed strong poise and composure over the ball in traffic rarely going to ground while also being active around stoppages to hunt the footy. He showed a high work rate running both ways and found the ball in every single third of the ground. His disposal was generally reliable with pinpoint short passes as he lowered his eyes on many occasions moving forward. One of the inside midfielder’s most well-rounded games for the season.

#22 Mac Andrew

Had a busy first half playing primarily in the ruck as he did for most of the day while resting forward, but his output slowed down as Eastern gained the ascendency. His athleticism was on full display from the get-go with his leap highlighted at the first centre bounce, and his mobility around the ground almost turning him into a fourth midfielder once the ball is in open play. His ground ball gathers were clean and his positioning behind the ball allowed him to mark overhead well. His ruckwork around the game showed his lack of strength will impact his ability to muscle bigger opponents as he opted for a wider starting position to run and jump at the ball unhindered but was often out positioned due to unfavourable throw ins. He finished with 17 disposals, 16 hit outs, and four marks.

Eastern Ranges:

#4 Josh Clarke

Eastern’s skipper had another high disposal effort in his third NAB League appearance for the season playing predominantly out of half back, maximising his penetrating kick moving forward. He managed a whopping 11 inside 50’s from his 21 kicks (seven handballs) as his left boot worked off half back to find multiple targets forward of centre with a couple of goal assists. He ran most of the wing on one occasion taking a few bounces and typified the role of an attacking half back, even accumulating possessions in a Daniel Rich type role taking 11 marks with few being intercept.

#35 Max Hall

Perhaps Eastern’s most impactful player through the midfield amassing a goal, 25 disposals, eight marks, and seven inside 50’s as he continues his string of good form at the back end of the season. Hall’s pace spreading from stoppages was impressive, as was his ability to get to good spots to find and receive the footy. His ball use was stable and was highlighted with a good step and well-weighted hit to a teammate streaming forward who did not have to break stride. His outside work was good, but it was balanced with some inside grunt work showing strength to handball out of tackles, as well as earning himself a free kick for the holding the ball.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.3 (39) def. by CALDER CANNONS 7.7 (49)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Capable of playing on either side of midfield, Byrne was employed on the inside this time around as a fixture at the centre bounces for Murray. The top-ager got busy around the ball and found plenty of it with 27 disposals, but arguably looked more dangerous when operating in space. On the end of handball receives, Byrne was able to generate some run in transition and make better use of his kicking skills, but was still solid in a slightly different role.

#5 Oliver Hollands

One of the competition’s standout bottom-agers and a familiar name to many, Hollands warmed to the contest well after a couple of shaky moments early on. He tended to do the basics well, showing clean hands and quick disposal in midfield while also working hard to cover plenty of ground up and back. That work-rate and constant pressure around the ball may have hindered his kicking somewhat, but Hollands was typically sharp by hand and always able to dish off in traffic.

#13 Tom Brown

A real riser since returning from injury, Brown wasn’t quite at his best on Sunday but still showed glimpses of his exciting traits. Once again stationed in defence, the Vic Country representative had a couple of rusty-looking moments early but soon sharpened up to look more assured in possession. Brown’s ability to read the play and intercept was evident, as he was never afraid to fly high for his marks despite not always reeling them in cleanly. Having made strong strides of late, there were some handy points to take from his 12-disposal showing.

#52 Tom Bracher

Bracher has taken on an important role for Murray since Paddy Parnell was picked up in the mid-season draft, proving a consistent and reliable small defender who shows great composure on the last line. He accumulated 28 disposals and 13 marks in the back half, rising well for a player of his 177cm stature while using his agility at ground level to get out of tight spots. In a pretty scrappy contest, he proved quite effective.

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

It was a slightly indifferent day for Clohesy, who looked strong in some areas of his game and less so in others. The top-ager showed great aerial ability with his overhead marking around the ground, rising to take the ball cleanly under pressure. He often beat opponents in one-on-one contests, but tended to hack the ball forward with a preference for meterage over precision. He couldn’t quite steer his quick snaps on target, but had an impact with 16 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s.

#5 Zac Taylor

Taylor has been in incredible form recently and after another short break, hardly missed a beat on Sunday. The crafty small midfielder was busy around the ball, finding less space at the contest but adjusting well to display sound handballing skills. His vision and awareness in traffic were terrific, as he looked to release others into space before pumping his legs a touch more in the second half. He accumulated less around the ground but was mega at the stoppages, accumulating 37 disposals, four marks, and four inside 50s.

#25 Josh Goater

It’s well known that Goater boasts incredible athletic traits, and he is really beginning to show them more consistently with a move to half-back. The top 25 candidate has wickedly clean hands and reads the ball so well, which makes intercept marking look easy when combined with his spring-heeled leap. Goater rose well to cut off numerous Murray attacks among his 11 marks, while also kicking Calder into gear on the rebound. He generally used the ball well and began to back his speed in the final term with a couple of daring one-two passages in transition. With 28 disposals and eight rebound 50s, he showed plenty of quality and should rise on the back of his form.

#30 Sam Paea

Paea worked really hard to provide some presence and spark for Calder inside 50, contributing both in the air and at ground level with limited service. He’s difficult to beat with a clean run at the ball and proved as much with his lone goal – converted after a pack mark from two or three players deep. The top-ager had a few bites of the cherry on most of his six marks, but proved strong in that department while being mobile enough to also impact the ground ball.

GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 9.5 (59)

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland Power:

#2 Cooper Alger

Whilst nine disposals and two marks might not look like a lot, Alger caught the eye a couple of times with his work rate across the ground. A couple of times in the first half, he won the ball at half-back and under pressure was able to spot a target and execute the pass cleanly. He was one of the most prominent Power players in the first half for his spread and defensive pressure – not always rewarded with tackles, but team efforts – and despite fading in a bit in the second half, had his moments.

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti was Gippsland’s most consistent across the four quarters and continually won the ball and tried to drive it forward to give his teammates scoring opportunities. He led by example with the most disposals (28), tackles (nine) and second most inside 50s (six), which indicated his influence on the game. Battling away even when the chips were down, Moschetti was able to keep accumulating the ball and putting pressure on the Chargers’ defence with his repeat entries inside 50 and defensive pressure around the ground.

#23 Jai Serong

The draft-eligible talent was thrown everywhere during the match, starting midfield, then going forward, then on the wing to start the second half, before playing forward again in the last term. After a quiet start to the match, Serong got more involved as the game went on, with the fourth term being his most lively. He started well at high half-forward reading the ball well in fight to take a good mark going back with the flight, then pulled down a terrific contested mark flying in from the side 30m from goal to nail the set shot and put Gippsland in front for the first term. He then set up a scoring chance for a teammate late in the piece and looked lively by hand and moving well, a lot more actively involved around the play.

#24 Jonti Schuback

Played out of defence and the bottom-age talent was reliable more often than not, showing quick hands off half-back and then tasked with the kickout duties at times. He provided some good run during the game, and mostly drew opponents before executing the handball, or shuffling out the ball quickly to open up transitional opportunities for his side

#37 Max Walton

A mixed bag of a day for Walton who certainly found his fair share of the football. He had some terrific offensive moments driving it out of the back 50, but also made a few mistakes along the way. His long kicking down the ground enabled his side to clear the ball from danger, and he was also strong in the air. He was constantly looking to run and carry, and that enabled his team to be always on the move and play an attacking brand of football. In the third term he had a moment to forget where he fumbled in the back pocket but under pressure managed to clean it up. Overall one of the better Power players on the day.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Had a huge start to the game where he racked up a ton of the ball and seemed to be involved in every play. His quick hands and size enabled him to win a fair amount of free kicks for over the shoulder, and he was able to set up a couple of scoring opportunities, including a first quarter goal to Luke Kelvie. Laying more tackles than anyone else on the field (10), Dib’s pressure remained consistent throughout the match, even when he faded in the second half. He still had plenty of inside 50s early in the piece, and was able to worry the opposition with his mix of offensive and defensive traits.

#4 Sam Tucker

The standout player on the ground, and certainly from the Chargers perspective, Tucker was unbeatable in the air with his strong hands around the ground. Playing deep forward then working hard up the ground, he showed off his work rate by often leading out and doubling back to goal. He pulled down a contested mark in the goalsquare in the opening minute of the game, and then kicked a second goal in the third term from a similar contested mark, clunking it one-grab in a pack. His short kicking was reliable looking good going forward, and on occasion tried to open up the forward line by winning the ball on the wing and thumping it inside 50 for his quicker teammates to run onto. He had a couple more chances on goal in the second and third terms but missed those chances out on the full, and falling short. Overall a strong performance from the top-age key forward.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The other top-age performer who put together a consistent, four quarter performance, Jenkins buzzed around the ground and was particularly influential in the first half when the game was on the line. He had a chance on goal early which missed to the right, but kept pushing hard to drive it forward. At times he would rush his disposal under pressure, but he found plenty of it, and was a key contributor in generating scoring opportunities for the Chargers. When the team was dropping off late in the game, Jenkins was still working hard to arrest the tide.

#27 Karl Worner

Started forward then played off a wing and pushing defensively to assist off half-back, Worner slotted into multiple roles on gameday. He started with a set shot which despite its power, went out on the full, then missed the chance at goal from 15m out when he rushed the kick on the outside of the boot. After the first quarter, Worner played further up the ground and won the ball, having a hit and miss game in terms of his disposal, but providing the Chargers with plenty of run in transition. He spread and always offered up being an option in space, looking to find the loose ball and take grass down the field.

#56 Yu Ashwin

After a quieter start to the game, Ashwin kicked three of his side’s last four goals to firstly keep his side on top, and then be the only one to put through a major late in the game. Ashwin’s first goal after getting forward on the end of a scoring chain occurred in the third term, then took a good mark inside 50 and slotted his second goal from a set shot. Gippsland had all the momentum in the last, but Ashwin found his way into an open goal later in the term and slotted his third to make it three goals from nine touches in an efficient performance.

GWV REBELS 6.10 (46) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 10.10 (70)

By: Tom Wyman

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

Sam Butler played a solid game up forward for the GWV Rebels. The brother of St.Kilda’s Dan, Butler showed flashes of similarities to the Tigers premiership star, such as his quickness off the mark and cleanness at ground level. He pounced on a loose ball to kick an easy goal in the second term after narrowly missing a flying attempt earlier on. Butler pushed up into the midfield on a couple of occasions but looked most dangerous closer to goal.

#2 Ben Hobbs

The hard-nosed inside midfielder produced another strong performance for the Rebels in their defeat to Sandringham. Renowned for his attack on the ball and tough tackling, Hobbs featured prominently around the stoppages, reading the ruck-taps well and positioning himself well. Hobbs’ vision and ball use by hand were also noteworthy strengths of his performance, however his distribution by foot was inconsistent, with some of his kicks missing their targets but others nicely weighted. The highlight of his game was a long-range set-shot from outside-50m which sailed through for arguably the Rebels best goal of the match.

#3 Charlie Molan

Although the Rebels would ultimately succumb to their metro-based counterparts, wingman Charlie Molan produced an excellent performance for the home side. The reliable teenager produced a dominant second term, where he seemed to be in everything going forward for Greater Western Victoria. Arguably the Rebels best on ground, Molan also did some of his best work along the half-back flank, where he used the ball well by foot and linked up well between the arcs.

#8 Josh Gibcus

The key position defender had a decent day down back, without starring. Touted as one of the best key position defenders in the draft pool, Gibcus’ athleticism was clearly evident despite not winning much of the ball. He fought well in one-on-one contests and looked cool and calm with ball in-hand when placed under pressure deep in defence.

#13 Sam Breuer

Midfielder Sam Breuer was prolific all-day long for the Rebels. Attacking each contest hard, Breuer combined well in the middle with the likes of Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan. He showed a nice turn of pace and looked assured with ball in-hand for the most part, which complemented the hard-nosed, highly-contested approach of Hobbs and the calm skills of Molan. Having spent some time down back this season, it was pleasing to see him find plenty of the ball through the middle against Sandringham.

#16 Kai Lohmann

Lohmann produced an eye-catching performance which is sure to have captured the attention of recruiting staff. Playing across half-forward, Lohmann’s aerial brilliance was stunning at-times, using his impressive leap to fly above packs and haul in a number of contested marks. But not only was Lohmann impressive in the air, once the ball hit the deck, he used his speed and dash to provide some important run and carry on the outside. He tackled well and booted the Rebels lone opening term goal. Lohmann is certainly one to watch in the back-half of the season as he looks to rise up draft boards across the country.

Sandringham Dragons:

#5 Lachlan Benton

Lachlan Benton spent the game going head-to-head with the likes of Hobbs, Breuer and Molan in the midfield, and got better as the game wore on. His work at the stoppages was particularly impressive in his sides win. Benton showed a high level of footy smarts in regards to his positioning and ability to read the taps, then complimented smarts with breakaway acceleration to evade traffic. Benton continued to rack up the touches into the fourth quarter as his side put the foot down, displaying a good work ethic throughout.

#6 Blake Howes

Blake Howes possesses the ability to play a variety of roles across the field, and it was his work on the outside of the contest which stood out on Sunday afternoon. The athletic prospect worked hard around the ground and showed some real class and skill by foot to nail a couple of handy goals. Howes was good above his head and classy on the outside but, crucially, wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty on the inside in a strong display from the Victoria Metro prospect.

#32 Dante Visentini

Visentini was arguably the most dominant key position player on the ground for Sandringham. He shared the ruck role with over-ager Felix Flockart but looked at his best when operating out of the forward-50. For a tall player, Visentini’s attack on the ball at ground level impressed and complimented his aerial ability. He booted back-to-back goals in the middle of the game – the first being a terrific snap after taking the ball out of the ruck and the second being a well-taken set-shot to extend the Dragons lead at Ballarat. Overall, it was an impressive showing from the big man, who worked hard around the ground.

#42 Luke Cleary

It was a typical-Luke Cleary performance from Sandringham’s half-back. He read the game beautifully, getting himself into position quickly and taking a couple of important intercept marks. Cleary was clean below his knees and generated some meaningful drive from defence, hitting almost all of his targets by foot. His efficient ball-use went a long way to the Dragons ability to transition from the backline into the forward-50.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Nankervis has filled a number of roles this season, including across a half-forward flank and on the wing, but spent more time in the midfield against the Rebels. His willingness to take the game on really benefitted the Dragons forwards, who thrived upon the quick ball movement. An athletic mover who looks to have plenty of upside and room for development left in him, Nankervis was impressive one-on-one and had some nice moments in congestion, where his quick hands initiated some meaningful drive from the stoppages.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Small forward Eren Soylemez was a real livewire up forward for the Dragons. His forward craft was immediately evident as he worked his way into some very damaging positions. He had a couple of early attempts on goal, which were gettable by his high standards. However he found his form as the game worn on. In the final term he booted a classy left-foot snap goal to remind everyone of his prowess from just about anywhere inside the forward-50. A real source of energy for the Dragons, Soylemez also pushed up the ground at-times and looked to inject some creativity into the game. Despite a couple of blemishes in-front of goal, Soylemez looked ominous whenever the ball was in his area.

#59 Mitch Owens

St.Kilda’s next generation prospect entered the clash against Greater Western Victoria in strong form, and continued where he left off. Owens spent the game on the wing but also had a couple of important touched in the back half, where he positioned himself well to take a couple of intercept marks, one of which displayed plenty of courage. Liked some of his work around the stoppages as well. A versatile prospect, Owens appears to have plenty of likeable traits which would appeal to recruiters.

#66 Charlie McKay

Carlton fans will have been pleased with the performance of their father/son prospect. His aggression and seemingly relentless attack on the football stood out, as McKay refused to be beaten time and time again at ground level. A real midfield fighter, his battle with Rebel star Ben Hobbs was an enjoyable one, with the duo cracking in hard and winning an abundance of contested ball for the duration of the match. He used the ball slightly better than Hobbs and took a very courageous mark in heavy traffic, which would have pleased onlookers.

#74 Felix Flockart

Felix Flockart showed some very promising signs for the Dragons in their top-of-the-table victory. Although he is a couple of years older than most of the competition, the developing tall looked strong through the ruck and up forward. When given a run on-ball, his tap-work often provided the Dragons on-ballers with first-use. His positioning in the ruck contest was solid and he also looked threatening when moved up forward. He worked well in-tandem with Dante Visentini, with the pair causing some headaches for the Rebels defence.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.8 (56) def. by BENDIGO PIONEERS 12.7 (79)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#9 Darcy Wilmot

There was plenty of voice coming from Northern’s number nine and while he has plenty of vocal presence, Wilmot also lets his football do the talking. He set up well behind the ball and was able to play slightly above his size when intercepting, not afraid to go up at contest for strong marks. Wilmot began to get more expansive with his run-and-carry after half time, working hard into more advanced areas and even getting a run in midfield, where his speed was again prominent on the attack.

#10 Ben De Bolfo

Bendigo was quite efficient in its forward half which made De Bolfo’s job all the more tough, but he proved a calm head behind the ball for Northern. The top-ager positioned well to intercept and looked to distribute cleanly by foot, making for a pretty well-rounded defensive game. He began to hold a slightly higher line in the second half, but the Knights couldn’t get their final kick forward to work on the back of his solid set-up.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

The Knights skipper was unsurprisingly prolific and near-unbeatable at the contest, racking up 34 disposals, seven marks, and seven tackles. Trudgeon’s mature frame and willingness to get in-and-under meant he earned most of those touches, but was often made to go to ground or lock the ball up as he scrapped to win it. He still managed to stand up in tackles and distribute cleanly by hand, with a few of slips-catch style marks also a feature of his game. Trudgeon rotated forward and kicked a team-lifting goal before quarter time, but missed a couple of later attempts.

#26 Dominic Akuei

For a player with such outstanding and raw athleticism, Akuei has also shown solid defensive fundamentals in recent weeks. The Carlton NGA prospect took on his usual role in the back half and also rotated through the ruck, where his monster vertical leap was on show. Akuei leant on that athleticism to time his spoils and intercepts well in the first half, before taking on more minutes in the ruck after the main break. He looks to still be working on his craft there, and could provide some exciting moments with better directed hits, as he usually taps with momentum and follows up from there.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was thrown around in a few different roles on Sunday, starting out in the midfield-forward rotation before eventually being swung back to his more comfortable defensive post. He put a couple of tough chances wide in the opening term and got amongst the contest, but arguably looked more lively in defence after half time. Fitzgerald read the ball well and rose for repeat intercept grabs, helping Northern break up the play.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

He’s had more prolific games, but Gallagher still managed to wreak some havoc with his 14 disposals and seven inside 50s. The speedy midfielder also booted two goals; the first coming out of nowhere as he burst away and launched home from 50m, while the second was a set shot won from a smart slip of the shoulders and high free kick. Gallagher was a productive driver of the ball and hit a couple of sharp passes going inside 50, making full use of his touches.

#4 Jack Hickman

Another Bendigo midfielder who didn’t win bucketloads of ball but looked stylish in possession, Hickman showcased his turn of speed coming away from the contest and looked busy around the ball – particularly early on. The top-ager back his pace and was able to bring the ball to the outer that way, but struggled a touch at times with his end product. He finished with 14 disposals and seven tackles, also rotating forward.

#7 Ryan O’Keefe

The raw key forward continues to show promising glimpses and did so again on Sunday, contributing 10 disposals, five marks, and two goals. He spent time in all parts of the ground but looked most likely up forward, where he used his leap to mark the ball at its highest point. O’Keefe’s first major came via that exact method, as he got up to mark in front and slotted home from 20m. He clunked another nice overhead grab in the fourth term and snapped home a sealing goal, bookending his day well with those two passages.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

Usually a smooth moving defender, Faulkhead has spent more time rotating through midfield of late and did so once again on Sunday. He caught the eye when released coming away from the contest, positioning well on the outer while using his speed and agility to break into clear space. He made some good decisions by foot too, looking inboard or hitting targets down the line to end up with 14 disposals, five tackles, and three inside 50s.

#56 Harley Reid

The youngest player afield and the only won born in 2005, Reid again showed just why he is one to keep a keen eye on for the future. Stationed up forward, the under-ager snared three goals for the day – two in the second term and one team-lifter in the last. He proved willing to use his explosive athleticism in the air, attacking the ball hard in marking attempts and almost coming down with some ripper grabs. Reid also nailed a couple of hard tackles and while he may pop up in patches at this stage, is so exciting given his age and upside.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 15

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 15 Team of the Week (TOTW) has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) and Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) take out leadership honours in the 24-man squad, headlining a very even spread of prospects from around the league.

After their fighting Friday night win over Western Jets, the Geelong Falcons boast a round-high four representatives in this side. They fill out most of the spine too, with Oscar Morrison (full back), Olivier Northam (ruck), and Mitch Knevitt (centre) listed in prime positions, while Noah Gadsby comes in at half-forward.

There were plenty of midfielders unlucky to miss out on starting positions too, with the co-captains locks in the follower slots, as Will Bravo, Max Hall, Mitchell Moschetti, and Joel Trudgeon had to settle for spots on the six-man interchange. They couldn’t sneak in on the wings either, with Ethan Warburton and Mitch Owens locking them down.

There’s plenty of rebound on offer in defence, with the starting six not overly tall but combining for 32 rebound 50s in Round 15. Their marking power was also observed, as was the case with Sam Tucker and Sam Paea as the key pillars up forward. In the pocket, 2005-born Bendigo Pioneers product Harley Reid is the lone under-ager to feature this time around, having snared three goals.

Check out the full team below, including three emergencies.

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 15

B: Tom Bracher (MB) – Oscar Morrison (GF) – Massimo D’Ambrosio (WJ)
HB: Josh Clarke (ER) – Luke Cleary (SD) – Josh Goater (CC)
C: Ethan Warburton (MB) – Mitch Knevitt (GF) – Mitch Owens (SD)
HF: Noah Gadsby (GF) – Sam Tucker (OC) – Lachlan Benton (SD)
F: Harley Reid (BP) – Sam Paea (CC) – Paul Curtis (WJ)
FOL: Olivier Northam (GF) – Zac Taylor (CC, c) – Marcus Herbert (GWV, vc)

INT: Miller Bergman (DS), Will Bravo (DS), Max Hall (ER), Aiden Hare (BP), Mitchell Moschetti (GP), Joel Trudgeon (NK)

EMG: Jake Arundell (ER), Ben Hobbs (GWV), Lochlan Jenkins (OC)

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 15

THE NAB League returned for Round 15 this past weekend and while there were no crowds, a bunch of Victoria’s brightest draft prospects put on a show after another season interruption. The action kicked off on Friday night, before five fixtures were played on a super Sunday of junior pathway football. We run you through all the results and big performances in the Round 15 snapshot, stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

WESTERN JETS 7.7 (49) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 11.13 (79)

IN A SENTENCE:

A four-goal to nil final term saw the Geelong Falcons break a tense deadlock with Western Jets under Friday night lights, coming away 30-point victors.

TEAM STATS:

  • Western Jets won the rebound 50s (49-18) and tackles (72-59)
  • Geelong Falcons won the inside 50s (60-27) and scoring shots (24-14)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Liam Conway (Western Jets) 35 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Massimo D’Ambrosio (Western Jets) 31 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 10 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Paul Curtis (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • Blake Reid (Geelong Falcons) 23 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons) 22 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2 goals, 4 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Massimo D’Ambrosio (Western Jets)
3 – Noah Gadsby (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Paul Curtis (Western Jets)
1 – Olivier Northam (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

Western Jets vs. Murray Bushrangers | Sunday August 8, 1:00pm @ Deakin Reserve
Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday August 8m 11:00am @ Shepley Oval

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 9.10 (64) def. by EASTERN RANGES 13.13 (91)

IN A SENTENCE:

After a slow start, Eastern Ranges powered past the Dandenong Stingrays with seven goals in term two and superior ball use proving the difference in a 27-point victory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Dandenong Stingrays won the handballs (159-109) and rebound 50s (38-29)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (190-150), marks (87-67), and inside 50s (53-38)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays) 23 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 4 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • James Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 3 behinds
  • Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges) 28 disposals, 11 marks, 2 tackles, 11 rebound 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 10 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Max Hall (Eastern Ranges) 25 disposals, 8 marks, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Clarke (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Will Bravo (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Miller Bergman (Dandenong Stingrays)
1 – Max Hall (Eastern Ranges)

NEXT UP:

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Geelong Falcons | Sunday August 8, 11:00am @ Shepley Oval
Eastern Ranges vs. GWV Rebels | Sunday August 8, 2:00pm @ Box Hill City Oval

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.3 (39) def. by CALDER CANNONS 7.7 (49)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Calder Cannons were made to earn a 10-point away win against a plucky Murray Bushrangers outfit, coming out on top in a low-scoring affair.

TEAM STATS:

  • Murray Bushrangers won the inside 50s (38-35) and hit-outs (40-18)
  • Calder Cannons won the marks (123-98) and tackles (63-41)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers) 34 disposals, 14 marks, 2 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers) 28 disposals, 13 marks, 4 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
  • Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 2 rebound 50s
  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 37 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Flynn Gentile (Calder Cannons) 31 disposals, 8 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 28 disposals, 11 marks, 8 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
4 – Ethan Warburton (Murray Bushrangers)
3 – Josh Goater (Calder Cannons)
2 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Sam Paea (Calder Cannons)

NEXT UP:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets | Sunday August 8, 1:00pm @ Deakin Reserve
Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils | Saturday August 7, 10:30am @ RAMS Arena

GIPPSLAND POWER 12.9 (81) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 9.5 (59)

IN A SENTENCE:

A string of seven final term goals saw Gippsland Power cause a massive boilover on home turf, coming from behind to defeat the Oakleigh Chargers by 22 points.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the disposals (353-271) and marks (77-57)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the rebound 50s (40-34) and tackles (67-64)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 28 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Chance Doultree (Gippsland Power) 22 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers) 20 disposals, 1 mark, 10 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers) 17 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers)
4 – Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power)
3 – Max Walton (Gippsland Power)
2 – Lochlan Jenkins (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Paddy Cross (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

Gippsland Power vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ RSEA Park
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Northern Knights | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval

GWV REBELS 6.10 (46) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 10.10 (70)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Sandringham Dragons took charge in a top-of-the-table clash against Greater Western Victoria, leading at every break before solidifying a 24-point win.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (324-303) and marks (59-57)
  • Sandringham Dragons won the kicks (179-168) and tackles (70-47)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) 35 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s
  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 34 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 rebound 50s
  • Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons) 26 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 20 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
3 – Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)
2 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
1 – Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

NEXT UP:

GWV Rebels vs. Eastern Ranges | Sunday August 8, 2:00pm @ Box Hill City Oval
Sandringham Dragons vs. Gippsland Power | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ RSEA Park

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.8 (56) def. by BENDIGO PIONEERS 12.7 (79)

IN A SENTENCE:

Bendigo Pioneers had all the answers against the Northern Knights, skipping ahead via five-straight goals in the opening term and leading throughout a 23-point victory.

TEAM STATS:

  • Northern Knights won the marks (55-47)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the tackles (82-61)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) 34 disposals, 7 marks, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Joel Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) 28 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 2 behinds
  • Josh Watson (Northern Knights) 23 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Aiden Hare (Bendigo Pioneers) 20 disposals, 6 marks, 5 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) 14 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 12 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Aiden Hare (Bendigo Pioneers)
4 – Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights)
3 – Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)
1 – Darcy Wilmot (Northern Knights)

NEXT UP:

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Saturday August 7, 2:00pm @ Preston City Oval
Bendigo Pioneers – Bye.

22 in 2022: AFLW Draft Ones to Watch

WHILE the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted for another year, clubs quickly turn their attention to 2022, having followed the potential draft prospects for many years. Whilst there will be at least 12 months until the players begin to hear their names called out, Draft Central will throw up 22 names to remember for 2022, in alphabetical order. This does not necessarily mean that the 22 named will be the top 22, but some of many who have already impressed across the board.

Charlotte Baskaran
Balanced Midfielder
09/12/2004 | 162cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

One of the best kicks going around, Baskaran is a potent inside/outside midfielder who is able to find space and do a lot of damage with ball-in-hand. A high impact player, Baskaran has remarkably already played three seasons at the Jets, making her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. Over the past two seasons, she has averaged more than 20 disposals and around six tackles per game, but it is her pinpoint passes inside 50 that make her a clear standout amongst the top Victorian talents.

Mia Busch
Medium Defender
18/05/2004 | 166cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

The skilful defender burst onto the scene this year with an impressive consistency, averaging 15.1 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles and 3.5 rebounds. She caught the eye with her ability to use the ball well by foot coming out of the defensive half, and has equal measures of defensive and offensive traits that can set up play down the field. Won Eastern Ranges’ best and fairest award this season, and will be expected to push into the midfield next year to showcase her versatility.

Amber Clarke
Medium Utility
22/12/2004 | 169cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

In a very talented Stingrays lineup, Clarke has likely pushed herself to the front of the cue thanks to her enormous upside. Arguably the fastest player in the Victorian pool, once she gets goalside, it is all over for any opponent hoping to catch her. Impossible not to see with her ability to just get and go, Clarke can play at either end, booting 10 goals in six games in 2021. That tally would have been more, had injury not struck in the Vic Country championships game against Vic Metro.

Octavia Di Donato
Tall Utility
23/02/2004 | 172cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

After showing glimpses in her first season (one that was albeit cut short), Di Donato stepped up in 2021 to showcase terrific versatility from defence, to attack and eventually through the midfield. That latter role is what is likely to be her goal in 2022, and she showed she can win the ball, averaging 15.4 disposals, 3.6 marks and 3.3 inside 50s. Possessing a booming kick, Di Donato is a high-impact player forward of centre, and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to what she could produce at the next level.

Mackenzie Eardley
Key Position Utility
13/01/2004 | 180cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

The second Dandenong player on the list, Eardley shapes as a top key position option, credit to her versatility at both ends. Still refining her marking itself, Eardley is quite an athletic player with good ground level work. She can be on the last line or in attack, and moves well for a player of her size. She has pinch-hit in the ruck too, and with another preseason behind her, expect her to be one of the prominent key position players in the draft, stepping up to play two games with the Vic Country Under 19s squad already.

Hannah Ewings
Inside Midfielder
17/03/2004 | 167cm
North Adelaide / South Australia

The only player on this list not to play AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships this year, Ewings was a late out due to an ankle injury in the SANFL Women’s. Her form in the 18 months leading up to that moment was nothing short of sensational, and the North Adelaide player won the Breakthrough Player Award in the SANFLW in 2020, becoming a premiership player at 16-years-old. Similar to Ellie McKenzie, Ewings has a booming kick, is strong in the air and at ground level, and is an unbelievable contested ball-winner.

Jasmine Fleming
Midfielder/Forward
05/11/2004 | 165cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Not making her debut until the final round of the NAB League Girls season, Fleming – the daughter of Australian cricket champion Damien – came in and dominated. Only turning 17 at the end of the year, Fleming averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and booted three goals to collect a premiership medal along the way. With eye-catching athleticism out of the stoppage and superb skill, Fleming is one of those players that will only get better with time, and is a natural sportsperson, sharing the load with – you guessed it – cricket.

Alana Gee
Balanced Midfielder
20/04/2004 | 170cm
Coolangatta Tweed / Queensland

If clean and composed with ball-in-hand is what you are after, then Gee is the type of player to catch the eye. A good size at 170cm, Gee covers the ground well and is able to use either foot. Her work rate to win the ball in all thirds is impressive, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, was the outside receiver to get-and-go forward, playing between a wing and in defence, but she is a natural inside midfielder who will take over from the recently drafted Teagan Levi and Bella Smith in the Queensland program.

Montana Ham
Inside Midfielder
29/03/2004 | 178cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

The other key Western Jets talent is dominant clearance player Ham, who has been catching the eye since her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. A very different prospect to Baskaran, Ham has a lot more height, and has been utilised in just about every role, but her best is inside where she wins the ball and thumps it on the boot with a penetrating kick. She played two of Metro’s games at Under 19s level and did not look out of place, averaging 15 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s. One of the taller options to keep an eye on next season.

Cynthia Hamilton
Inside Midfielder
02/04/2004 | 178cm
GIANTS Academy / NSW-ACT

Hamilton is the top NSW-ACT prospect for 2022 after taking out the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Racking up a whopping 21.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 10.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and booting two goals in her two games, Hamilton is a fierce player at the ball, and puts her body on the line time and time again. She is one who at her size can add more strings to her bow and refine a few areas of her game, but in terms of her natural footballing ability, it is there to see.

Bridie Hipwell
Inside Midfielder
15/06/2004 | 174cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

After a starring role early in her Round 1 game for the Dragons, Hipwell hurt her ankle and missed several weeks. She finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 12.5 disposals and around three inside 50s and three tackles, then played the one Metro game at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. A strong inside midfielder with good hands, Hipwell is someone who is capable of going forward and providing some height as well when required.

Sofia Hurley
Balanced Midfielder
30/01/2004 | 166cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

An eye-catching midfielder with great spacial awareness through traffic, Hurley reads the ball off hands so well and is able to burst away fro stoppages. Possessing a nice balance of athleticism and skill, Hurley is the type of player who can turn a game when on-song, using the ball so well from half-back to half-forward. A high running capacity saw her average 18.1 disposals, 4,7 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s, finding the ball in all thirds of the ground, and looms as one of the top Victorian midfielders.

Keeley Kustermann
Medium Utility
17/04/2004 | 166cm
West Adelaide / South Australia

Another South Australian prospect to keep an eye on is the smooth-moving Kustermann who is well-balanced and able to use the ball so well under pressure. Having impressed as a 15-year-old at SANFL Women’s level last season in defence, Kustermann played further up the ground in 2021, and even played inside at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. An injury early in the game against the Allies ended her championships early, but Kustermann eventually returned to state league level where she took to the field in a grand final.

Charlotte Mullins
Forward/Midfielder
28/10/2004 | 165cm
Aspley / Queensland

Impressing in both her Academy game against Coorparoo, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships against Vic Country, Mullins is a lively player who can find the ball and apply good defensive pressure to the opposition. She works herself into space, wins the ball and can create goal-scoring opportunities for both herself and her teammates. Likely to be more of a midfielder in 2022, Mullins has proven she can play as a high half-forward and then push up the ground to get involved when the game is not on her team’s terms.

Claire Ransom
Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2004 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

The standout prospect from the Apple Isle next year is Ransom, a player who can best be described as class personified. As clean as they come on the inside, Ransom picks the right option time and time again, and her ball use by hand or foot is exquisite. Standing at 169cm, Ransom is a good size to play inside or outside, but she is best utilised winning the ball and using her smarts to sidestep and opponent then hit a target under pressure. Does not need to win a lot of the ball to do a lot of damage.

Ella Roberts
Tall Forward
17/12/2004 | 175cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Yet to turn 17, Roberts already has an AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships MVP under her belt. Averaging a massive 24.3 disposals, 5.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and booting four goals in three games, Roberts showed what anyone familiar with the WAFLW already knew – she is a star in the marking. Winning a grand final off her own boot at 15, Roberts translated that form into 2021, and showed she has few flaws between her aerial and ground work, and athleticism to boot. Right now, Roberts is the top player in the 2022 AFL Women’s draft class.

Paige Scott
Medium Forward
25/06/2004 | 166cm
GWV Rebels / Vic Country

The X-factor in the draft crop, Scott is an unbelievably dynamic forward who can turn a game off her own boot. Slotting 15 goals in nine games for the GWV Rebels in the NAB League Girls, then seven goals in three games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – including turning the game around against South Australia – she is a natural footballer inside 50. The scary thing was despite being such a dominant goalkicker, inaccuracy plagued her at times and she could have kicked even more. A fierce contested player, Scott is strong overhead and great at ground level too.

Emily Shepherd
Inside Midfielder
05/04/2004 | 164cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Having three players inside the top 22 at this stage emphasises just how strong the Stingrays will be next year, and Shepherd is that inside midfielder who can win clearances with great body positioning and strength. She throws the ball on the boot going forward, but wins a lot of contested ball and can extract it from the stoppages. Able to go forward and kick goals as well, Shepherd was injured mid-season and missed a fair chunk of football before returning to play all three Vic Country games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, averaging 11.3 disposals.

Keeley Skepper
Inside Midfielder
15/03/2004 | 163cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

When it comes to penetrating, few put the boot to ball like it owes them something quite like Skepper. Possessing enough speed to run out of the clearance, Skepper has one mode of kicking and that is with ultimate power. She racks up clearances time and time again, also amassing a high volume of inside 50s, averaging 4.7 per game to go with 16.7 disposals, 2.3 marks and 4.9 tackles. Once she is able to pinpoint those penetrating kicks, look out because her ability to win the ball and create separation is terrific.

Tara Stribley
Outside Midfielder
22/03/2004 | 165cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

Western Australia’s top rated midfielder is Stribley out of Swan Districts, where she is clean and composed with ball-in-hand and creates run and carry on the outside. A lightly-built player, the 165cm wing is able to roam up and down the ground to find the ball. Definitely an outside receiver, it plays to Stribley’s strengths which are her ball use and decision making, as well as her vision, though she can also play off flanks and create opportunities for teammates down the ground or inside 50, which makes her a point of difference in the role she plays.

Lauren Wakfer
Ruck
23/04/2004 | 180cm
South Fremantle / Western Australia

The top ruck in the AFLW Draft pool at this stage is Wakfer out of the South Fremantle program, where she has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Averaging 12 hitouts and 10.3 disposals at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Wakfer is just as impressive at ground level, with great athleticism and turn of speed for a tall. She laid 5.3 tackles per game at the championships, and can also play as a key forward as she has at times in the WAFLW. Still adding more strength, Wakfer has high-level upside for the future.

Lily-Rose Williamson
Medium Defender/Midfielder
25/08/2004 | 166cm
Gippsland Power / Vic Country

A member of the Gippsland Power program for many years now coming through the V/Line Cup, Williamson is a high-potential project player who took her game to another level in 2021. Showing glimpses of her capabilities that come with unbelievable acceleration and power, Williamson would set the world record for most fend-offs in a season and probably only need a couple of games to do so. She can use the ball well when winning it, but it is her defensive pressure and metres gained that stands out, and once it all clicks consistently, watch out.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

The depth in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft is exciting and unbelievable. When making the list, there were many more names that could have squeezed in. Calder Cannons’ Abbey McDonald is a smooth-moving small midfielder with good defensive and offensive traits and one who was the next in line to be named. Looking across Victoria, GWV Rebels defender Molly Walton and Gippsland Power midfielder Yasmin Duursma are another couple to remember for 2022, with another Rebels talent in ruck, Kalani Scoullar likely to be among the best rucks in the draft crop. Geelong Falcons have a number of even prospects such as Charlotte Simpson and Ashleigh Van Loon who will lead the midfield brigade, while Mia Van Dyke has been a highly touted tall for a number of years. Northern Knights’ Brooke Plummer showed strong signs as a wing in 2021 and will be another that catches the eye in 2022, while J’Noemi Anderson is a Sandringham Dragons and Allies representative hailing from the Northern Territory. With names aplenty, a few more who impressed at Victorian Under 17s level were Alisha Molesworth, Felicity Crank and Grace Hay who are all in the mix. Calder Cannons pocket rocket Reese Sutton and Western Jets’ Krystal Russell proved some highlights at ground level and in the air respectively.

Moving north, Ella Smith in Queensland is a notable performer in her bottom-age year, as is Fleur Davies, the taller sister of recently drafted, Giselle. Amelie Borg is a tall option playing between defence and pinch-hitting in the ruck as a Croweater to keep an eye on. Norwood inside midfielder Lana Schwerdt is a ball-winner to remember for 2022, while tall forwards Astrid Gooley and Jorja Hooper are also promising key talents. In Western Australia, Emily Gunton has had a strong end to the WAFLW season and could be a bolter early in 2022, while Ash Reidy, Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wright are dangerous players in the forward half.

Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Nationwide: July 2021

AFTER releasing the Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool last month, we have gone one step further to include the entire nation. Not only will the Power Rankings feature the Victorians from last month, but the top stars from across the country to give an indication of where they might be rated if the AFL Women’s Draft was truly national. Note that the Power Rankings to do not take into account any draft selections, and are more an opinion-based ranking system on the draft prospects.

We have also not included any players who have previously been on an AFLW list, just undrafted or now draft-eligible players. Please note the rankings are the opinion of the author.

>> Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

 

Georgie Prespakis

#1 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
13/03/2003 | 168cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Ball-winning, tackling, quick hands, footy IQ

The most consistent prospect across the board and has been touted as a star from her debut as a 15-year-old two and a half years ago. There she dominated up forward with 13 goals in 10 games, averaging a massive 22.6 disposals and 5.6 tackles to win the league best and fairest at just 16 years of age. Her numbers have remained consistent going into the middle, and whilst she almost always gets close attention from the opposition, Prespakis is a renowned tackler with 8.8 per game in her top-age season. Her ball winning ability and strength to win the pill at the stoppage and extract it away, as well as have an impact forward of centre, are among her strengths. In terms of improvements, sometimes she can rush the kicks around her body, but she is able to get to enough repeat stoppages, to have more influence than most others.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

There was always the weigh up for Geelong between Prespakis and Rowbottom with the pair the two clear standout Victorian talents. Now that Rowbottom has opted to go to Queensland, the Cats are expected to pounce on Prespakis with Pick 2.

Charlie Rowbottom

#2 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
22/01/2003 | 178cm
Inside Midfielder/Tall Forward

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

The powerful, tall inside midfielder has already proven to be a difficult player to try and contain across four quarters, able to win a game off her own boot when up and about. So strong in the air and at ground level, Rowbottom averaged 7.1 tackles to go with 17.6 disposals and 2.8 marks in season 2021, also booting 10 goals in 11 games. Whilst long-term the sister of Sydney’s James will become a midfielder, expect her to be a tall forward who can kick multiple goals in a game. Her upside is one of the best in the draft crop, and her versatility makes her damaging. Her kicking both in-field and on goal is an area of improvement, but her ability to do all the hard stuff – from winning the ball, tackling and clunking the important marks – more than makes up for the ironing out process that will happen with time. An exciting talent for the future.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Rowbottom pulled off the surprise of the AFL Women’s Draft when it was announced she would nominate Queensland, opening the door for Gold Coast with Pick 1. Expect the Suns and new coach Cameron Joyce to be thrilled to pick up Rowbottom with Teagan Levi to bolster the midfield.

Teagan Levi

#3 Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
14/08/2003 | 169cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Athleticism, strength, kicking, game sense

Touted as the top Gold Coast Suns Academy member, Levi has been an exciting talent for a couple of years now. A bottom-age AFLW Academy member, Levi has all the traits to become a really dominant inside midfielder. A more precise kick than the top two Victorians, Levi also has the athleticism to boot, and whilst she does not have the versatility that Prespakis and Rowbottom have yet, Levi is such a complete inside midfielder with high-level footy smarts that will enable her to add more strings to her bow as she develops. Unfortunately, Levi only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game, picking up 17 disposals, six clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in Queensland’s loss to Vic Country.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Levi was hot favourite to be selected with Pick 1 until Rowbottom nominated Queensland, but it will not matter to the talented midfielder, with the pair set to help fast-track Gold Coast’s rebuild up the AFLW ladder.

Courtney Rowley

#4 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
24/09/2003 | 167cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Speed, clean hands, marking, kicking

Heading west for the fourth placed spot, Peel Thunder’s Courtney Rowley is similar to Levi with a more outside than inside ability. Whilst the talented teenager proved she could also play inside at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, her ball use and athleticism lends itself to be a slick outside talent who can go inside when needed a la Georgia Patrikios. With such a well balanced profile from her ball use, evasion, overhead strength and versatility – being able to play in any third of the ground – Rowley is definitely one of the more complete players going around. Ready to step straight up to senior level having already won a club best and fairest at Peel Thunder at 15-years-old and played through back-to-back premiers sides – though only won the one flag due to injury late this season – Rowley can compete against bigger-bodied players.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite being the standout West Australian talent in our eyes, West Coast will weigh up whether to go tall or small with the first pick, with Amy Franklin the other considered. Rowley is very deserving of the first West Australian selection, but if not, then her name will be off the board at the next WA pick to the Dockers.

Zoe Prowse

#5 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Athleticism, versatility, clean hands, tackling pressure

Able to get it done in the air or at ground level, Zoe Prowse is just as capable at any role thrown at her. Whilst traditionally being a ruck credit to her athleticism and clean hands, Prowse has trialled as a midfielder at SANFLW level, and also up forward as a marking tall. Able to clunk big grabs, and if not, bring the ball to ground and lay fierce tackles, Prowse is the most complete ruck in the draft. Despite standing a touch under the average ruck height at 177cm – in fact two centimetres smaller than midfielder Rowbottom – Prowse more than makes up for it with her vertical leap. Having the ruck smarts to get the ball to advantageous spots for her teammates, expect the Sturt prospect to be really clean when getting her chance at AFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Adelaide do not need to compete for any players, and whilst curve balls can be thrown at state-based drafts, expect Prowse’s name to be the one the Crows look to first as the player who has been the most consistent over the past few years.

#6 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
03/11/2003 | 175cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, contested marking, footy smarts, positioning

Despite a somewhat interrupted season for the AFL Women’s Academy member, playing only the five games due to injury and AFLW Under 19s Championships commitments, Slender still showed why she is a top-end prospect; stepping up from her role as a rebounding intercept defender, to be a forward and midfielder this year in a remarkable display of versatility. Arguably the NAB League Girls’ Most Valuable Player for her side, the Pioneers were a far better team with her in it, and averaging a massive 4.2 marks as well as 5.2 tackles along with her 16.2 disposals shows she has no trouble winning the ball in the air, one-on-one or at ground level. A natural leader co-captaining the Pioneers, Slender could fill any role at AFL Women’s level and has some great upside for the future as well.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Slender is one of the most unique and versatile players in the AFLW Draft crop. Whilst the first handful of picks might be midfielders, Slender has already shown she can roll through the midfield if need be, and should not be off the board too long.

#7 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
10/09/2003 | 173cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

A natural ball-winner with a slick left foot and smooth-moving ability, Reid has proven she can play on all three lines of the field. Starting off half-back and pushing up to a wing, Reid finished her season up forward and ended up slotting 15 goals in 11 games, including three in Oakleigh’s premiership win. She averaged 1.4 goals for the season from 20.1 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.2 inside 50s per game, looked to as a key player to move the ball in transition. She used it well by hand or foot and was able to find space with ease. Multiple times a game Reid would make you wonder how she got in so much space even when tearing it up, but credit to her work rate and smarts to be able to find the open space and then punish the opposition through either her disposal or on the scoreboard.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Slender, Reid is as versatile as they come, but from an outside sense. She can play at half-back, half-forward or on a wing, and hits the scoreboard regularly, and that will appeal to clubs. It is anticipated she will be in the first half-dozen Victorian picks alongside her teammates Rowbottom and Amanda Ling.

Ella Friend

#8 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
30/12/2003 | 175cm
Tall Forward/Wing

Key strengths: Contested marking, mobility, upside, penetrating kick

The top contested marking player in the draft crop, Friend will be a highly sought after talent for her ability to not only clunk the big grabs, but use her penetrating left boot in both the midfield and forward lines. Transitioning from centre half-forward to a wing in the second half of the season, Friend showcased her mobility and her knack for for winning the ball in multiple areas of the field. Only two days away from being a bottom-ager, expect Friend to have plenty of upside left in her and would be a great target for a team needing a key target up forward who can also work hard up the ground. She averaged the 16.0 disposals, 4.3 marks and 2.9 tackles per game in the 2021 season, and slotted two goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs’ VFLW side. A good size at 175cm to play anywhere on the ground.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Friend is the dominant key position forward available in the draft, and with safe hands and athleticism to move up the ground, she could easily be considered in the first couple of selections. With the Cats on the lookout for a tall and having multiple picks in the region, she will no doubt be on their radar.

#9 Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

The Vic Country MVP winner is one of the better ball users in the Victorian crop and with Carlton among those with back-to-back picks early, Anthony could be a player the Blues look to in order to fill that need.

Amy Franklin

#10 Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)
04/02/2003 | 177cm
Key Position Utility

Key strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, versatility, upside

The other West Australian vying for the first picked from the state is the high-upside, talented tall in Franklin. Able to pull down some strong grabs at either end of the field, Franklin has athleticism rarely seen in a tall and is a marquee talent long-term. Still raw in some areas and looking to improve her ground balls, Franklin’s ability to mark, turn and go, not only able to keep distance on opponents but often create separation, is remarkable for a player of her size. She has a long kick and is able to hit the scoreboard regularly when inside 50. Whilst still able to impact in defence, and is more than capable of taking on a task at either end of the field, she looms as a future key forward, and her forward craft is very good, able to judge the ball in flight, outbody her opponent then get goal side to kick majors.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

No doubt Franklin will come into consideration for West Coast’s first selection given how hard talented, athletic key position players are to find. If the Eagles swoop on Rowley, expect the Dockers to very quickly read out Franklin’s name, and a pairing of Franklin and Roxy Roux is nightmare-fuelled for any opposition defence.

Jess Doyle

#11 Jess Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Medium Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, one-on-ones, competitiveness, forward craft

The smooth-moving Sydney Swans Academy member out of the Manly Warringah Wolves has that touch of class about her whether it is inside 50 or through the midfield. Possessing clean hands and an ability to create space for herself, Doyle can win the ball on the lead or at ground level and do a lot of damage. Eyeing off improving her endurance for the future, her competitiveness and forward craft inside 50 makes her such a talent for the future. Still plenty to learn, expect her to play from early on to fast-track her development against senior bodies as she has already developed at a rapid rate competing at the next step up from local football through the AFLW Under 19 Championships. One to watch for the long-term and no doubt one that the Swans will be eyeing off when they enter the league.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Without Sydney having a team as of yet, the talented Doyle falls in the GIANTS hands for now, and will be an incredible steal given the GIANTS do not have a pick until the third round. Expect Doyle to either be taken with the first or second pick, depending if the GIANTS opt for their own Academy talent in Ally Morphett first.

#12 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
23/12/2003 | 163cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

Arguably the best pure inside midfielder in the Victorian pool, Craven has had quite the season for the Falcons. She won the Falcons’ best and fairest award, averaging 21.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50 and 3.9 tackles, then played the two games with Vic Country for 20.5 disposals, 6.0 clearances and 5.0 tackles. She is an inside ball winner and one who can extract it out of the contest going forward. She is smaller than other inside midfielders at 163cm, but she can gain separation at the stoppage and has the footy smarts to be able to use the ball well under pressure. She is also clean and gets her hands dirty at ground level, which is something that stands out in her game at any level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Geelong holds the number one Victorian pick in the draft crop, and whilst they do tend to look to local talent, expect them to gamble Craven will be there with their next selection. Having multiple picks inside the first round, the Cats could bring Craven in straight away to step up, but the question will be whether another club such as St Kilda or Carlton look to pounce and derail the Cats’ plans.

#13 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
09/07/2002 | 161cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, acceleration, endurance, work rate

The first 19th year prospect to feature in this list, Ling has had an outstanding season and shown why the move to an Under 19s competition was important. Despite standing at just 161cm, she is hard to bring down, very slippery in tackles and always able to get her hands free. She is really clean with her hands, and can burst away with a mix of acceleration and endurance, capped off by a high work rate through the midfield. She averaged 17.9 disposals, 2.2 marks, 6.5 tackles and 3.2 inside 50s in season 2021 for the Oakleigh Chargers, whilst playing the two games for Vic Metro thus far, averaging 16 disposals and six tackles. Already managing a game at VFLW level for Port Melbourne and not looking out of place, Ling showed she is a big-game player by taking home the best afield medal in the 2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #7

AFLW Draft notes:

Expect Ling to be the bolter of the AFLW Draft. Whilst long considered inside the Top 10 Victorian prospects at the close of the NAB League Girls season, the 19-year-old Ling could well be taken second in the Victorian pool with St Kilda strongly considering the young gun. If they choose not to, it is hard seeing her slip past Carlton with the Blues’ back-to-back picks given Ling’s obvious appeal and meeting their clean inside needs.

Annie Lee

#14 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

The reliable rebounding defender barely put a foot wrong all season and was a player her teammates could rely upon to use the ball well out of defence. Her strengths were clearly her intercept marking, where she latched onto 5.1 marks per game to go with 16.9 disposals and 4.5 rebound 50s. Already she has managed the two games at VFLW level, and was outstanding for Vic Country in her three games, holding up the fort in defence well and providing some good rebound with almost five rebound 50s per game there. At 169cm she can play against tall or small opponents because she reads the ball well in flight and shows good composure when with it. As a whole, Lee just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what she is capable of doing.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #8

AFLW Draft notes:

One would think Geelong would be eyeing off Lee as another home grown talent, but with so many Falcons and other clubs ready to pounce, it will be interesting to see where he lands. Very consistent and in our Phantom Draft lasted to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 22, which anything in that range is a steal. Expect her to be snapped up earlier, however.

#15 Perri King (Tasmania Devils/Allies)
25/08/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

The sole Tasmanian AFL Women’s Academy member has the best balance between offensive and defensive capabilities, not only able to average 19.7 disposals and 4.2 inside 50s, but she amassed a whopping 9.4 tackles per game for the Devils in the NAB League Girls competition. On debut for North Melbourne VFLW she laid another seven tackles to go with 15 touches, and had the 10.5 tackles with 14.5 disposals, at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. But there is more to King than just ball-winning and tackling, with the athletic talent able to burst out of the stoppage and extract from tight situations. At times could add a touch more composure with her kicking, but her upside compiled with her well-balanced, two-way running is what makes her an outstanding prospect and rounding out the top 10.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #9

AFLW Draft notes:

Whilst King fits a different nomination under the Tasmanian group, she is still included in this as the ninth top prospect for the state. All that means is that North Melbourne – who can take her at any stage given the Tasmanian link – will walk away with a steal. In the Phantom Draft she was taken at Pick 45 as an example of where she could go in the draft, but ignore the number, she is right in the mix among the top players.

#16 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Reading the play, intercepting, marking, athleticism

The talented Maroochydore prospect and AFL Women’s Academy member is a well-balanced talent who has a mix of offensive and defensive traits. She reads the ball well in flight, is able to hold onto grabs and is able to drive the ball forward in transition. Setting up at half-back, Harmer is a good size at 170cm to beat most opponents one-on-one, and whilst she is hoping to build her ground ball ability more, her aerial work is strong. A handy athleticism with a balance of speed, agility and endurance make her hard to stop, and she is someone who can roll onto a wing and then provide that key link moving the ball inside 50, able to pinpoint passes well. There is a lot of upside with Harmer making her one to watch for the long-term as well as the short-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With the top two Queensland pool talents in Rowbottom and Levi heading to the Suns, Harmer is in the mix to be the first called out for the Brisbane Lions on AFLW Draft night. Along with Mikayla Pauga, Harmer is also an AFLW Academy member and one whop has shown great signs over the years, so expect no hesitation from the Lions to bring her into their senior program.

Gypsy Schirmer

#17 Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
18/02/2003 | 178cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, goal sense, contested work, overhead marking

A versatile tall with terrific athleticism, Schirmer is capable in all thirds of the ground, Starting as a forward throughout her bottom-age years, Schirmer proved she could be damaging around goal be it winning possession in the air or at ground level. Over the past 12 months, Schirmer pushed into the midfield, predominantly on the wing, but also won plenty of contested ball in close. Being able to win the hard or loose ball, Schirmer then went into defence late in the year for South Adelaide where she showcased her breakneck acceleration and was able to create fast ball movement in transition. Expect her to be more of a forward to start with at the top level, but the AFL Women’s Academy member certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Prowse, Adelaide can select Schirmer unopposed, and as another AFLW Academy member and player with high upside, expect her to be one the Crows snap up with their selections.

#18 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Wing

Key strengths: Speed, work rate, accumulation, outside game

The premier pure wing in the NAB League Girls competition bounced back from a quiet game against Vic Metro in the AFLW Under 19 Championships, to really dominate in her final two outings against South Australia and Queensland. She knows how to find the ball and is a natural running wing which she showcased all year for Murray Bushrangers. Another player whom given an extra month would be a bottom-ager, really impressed in her draft-eligibly year, averaging 20.7 disposals – almost double what her prior two seasons were. She drove the ball inside 50 four times per game, and had more than two rebound 50s per match as well, providing great run and carry down the wing going forward, something that really caught the eye on a regular basis.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #10

AFLW Draft notes:

Smith is one of the best outside running options in the draft, and one would expect a team like Carlton or Richmond to look at the Murray talent, with her finding a home somewhere in the first two rounds given her unique traits and ability to break the game open from that specialist wing position.

#19 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #11

AFLW Draft notes:

Already signed by Melbourne after the Western Bulldogs supporter opted for the Dees, Campbell will be taken with Pick 42 in the draft – the Demons first – under the father-daughter matching rules. It will be one of the steals of the draft given in an open draft, Campbell could well have been snapped up in the first round.

#20 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
07/01/2003 | 175cm
Tall Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Speed, power, reading the play, intercepting

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #12

AFLW Draft notes:

The athletic defender will attract plenty of attention as the quickest half-back with height available in the Victorian pool. She could end up with her VFL Women’s side the Western Bulldogs, though Richmond is another side that is in the Dojiok range that could look for speed and see her as a tall midfielder of the future.

Mikayla Pauga

#21 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University/Queensland)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Medium Forward

Key strengths: Clean hands, ground balls, acceleration, game sense

The Maroochydore talent moved to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship to study, and has enjoyed a more consistent 2021 after being plagued by injuries of late. She has the class and cleanliness by hand or foot to do a lot of damage in the forward half, and whilst Pauga needs to build her endurance, she has high footy IQ that makes her read situations well when roaming inside or outside of the forward 50. Able to win the ball aerially or at ground level, Pauga is one who had more of a decision on her hands that most Queenslanders having made the move to the Gold Coast despite being in the Brisbane Lions Academy, but has opted for the Lions zone, continuing her pathway through the club over the years.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Having nominated Brisbane as her zone, Lions staff and supporters will be relieved and pleased to pick up the AFLW Academy member be it with their first or second selection alongside fellow AFLW Academy Harmer.

#22 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
25/09/2003 | 160cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, aggression, disposal, high impact

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old during Calder Cannons’ run to the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Yassir played 11 games in her debut season to hold her own against much older opponents. In her top-age year, Yassir lifted her numbers to 16.7 disposals, 3.9 tackles and 3.1 inside 50s to be a crucial player in the Cannons’ forward half of the ground. Her contested work and aggression around the football makes her a player that would do anything to win the football and shows a high level of football nous, along with high impact in the games. She will generally use it well going forward, and whilst she might only be the 160cm, could settle as a midfielder or defensive forward with her traits and skillset.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #13

AFLW Draft notes:

Yassir is a player who could go first or second round depending on the club’s needs. She has a lot of potential for the future and might be one Carlton looks to with its back-to-back picks, with North Melbourne and Richmond around the right region, and even the Western Bulldogs having a few selections together.

#23 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg/South Australia)
19/09/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

After being a bit-parts player all over the field for Glenelg in her bottom-age year, Tonon found her home off half-back and playing up on a wing at times. Her ability to read the game, win the ball and use it well out of defence became her niche, and she went on to have a sensational year, cementing her place in the Bays’ best side and winning a SANFL Women’s flag in the process. Whilst her AFLW Under 19 Championships was cut short following a red card from a tackle, Tonon showed enough to suggest that she has built a profile more than capable of stepping up to the next level both with ball-in-hand and off the ball.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

After the two AFLW Academy members, the Crows have quite the decision on their hands, but on form in 2021, Tonon is a player who has arguably stepped up the most to be third in the ranks with her clean ball use and decision making off half-back or further afield. Included in the Academy as a late entry post-championships, the medium defender has plenty to like for the future.

Gabbi Featherston

#24 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
12/11/2003 | 169cm
Medium Forward/Ruck

Key strengths: Vertical leap, penetrating kick, aggression, upside

Standing at 169cm you would not expect someone to be listed as a ruck, but such is Featherston’s leaping ability that she has indeed become a secondary ruck at NAB League Girls level. Pinch-hitting in there to average 4.3 hitouts per game, Featherston is at her most dominant around the half-forward line where she can lead out, clunk grabs and show great courage in the air or at ground level. Whilst she could improve her composure around goal – she had plenty of chances that were opportunities which went begging – her ability to have so many chances and create opportunities is impressive. She is a raw talent with plenty of upside, and with a long, penetrating kick and strong hands, she is a valuable addition to any forward line.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #14

AFLW Draft notes:

Featherston has the potential to be a bolter or slider in the draft depending on where clubs see her. She has enormous potential given her athletic traits, and ability to play anywhere. Geelong might want to bring in another Falcon, though with so many Falcons in the pool, Featherston might be on that a team such as North Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs look to for a forward option. No doubt Collingwood with their three consecutive Victorian pool picks would be considering a player with her skillset too.

#25 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)
05/09/2003 | 175cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Kicking, clean hands, reading he play, decision making

Had it not being for a pesky wrist injury ruling out her 2021 season, Thomas would undoubtedly be higher on this list. Luckily for the tall talent who predominantly plays forward and can roll through the midfield, she has plenty of runs on the board. An AFLW Academy member, Thomas is the third one from Western Australia in the Academy, and as she showed in her bottom-age year, uses it so well with precise ball-use and decision making. Able to assess the situation well, Thomas is a player who could slot in anywhere on the field, and whilst she has spent most of 2021 recovering, she will be right to go for the start of the AFLW season.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With Rowley and Franklin expected to go in the first two spots, Thomas will likely be the next name to be read out, though if the Dockers were willing to put all chips in based on previous years form, then Thomas could end up second, otherwise it is expected she will head to the Eagles with West Coast holding three of the first four selections.

#26 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/07/2003 | 153cm
Small Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, goal sense, composure, accumulation

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty pf tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #15

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Geelong Falcon who the Cats could look to bring through the program, but is a target for anyone looking for a clean forward inside 50. The Kangaroos, Tigers and Bulldogs all have picks in Schaap’s expected draft range, and might consider the reliable talent.

Meagan Kiely

#27 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne/VFLW)
15/12/1994
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Footy IQ, kicking, clean hands, consistency

The first mature-ager and VFLW player to make it into the Power Rankings, Kiely would have to be one of the favourites for the Lambert-Pearce Medal after a dominant display for North Melbourne this season. Relocating from Tasmania, the Roos would be keeping a close eye on the 26-year-old, who could slot straight into any midfield with her natural ball-winning skills, work rate and leadership. As good as any readymade midfielder outside the AFLW, the North captain has lead the competition across disposals and marks this year, showing she can win it at the coal face, or on the outside, with her clean hands and kicking impressive, but most of all her footy IQ shining through. Averaging a massive 22.8 disposals, 4.7 marks and 5.6 tackles from her 12 games, she is the premier VFLW player at this stage.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #16

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite hailing from Tasmania, Kiely is now relocated to Melbourne, so falls under the Victorian rather than Tasmanian zone. Regardless of the fact she will not be a free hit for the Roos, North Melbourne would be certainly considering bringing their VFLW skipper up to the AFLW program, but there will likely be one or two clubs in the mix for an immediate midfield boost. Carlton and Collingwood are two sides that could grab another midfielder with one of their many picks.

#28 Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Inside game, clean hands, acceleration, contested ball

The most consistent of the West Australians throughout the entire WAFL Women’s season, East shot up into draft projections early in the season with some outstanding performances for Swan Districts. The inside midfielder is just so clean with her hands on the inside, and thrives on the contested ball, shovelling it out to teammates, or tucking it under the arm and bursting away with her quick first few steps. She has offensive and defensive pressure in equal measures, and is someone who can impact a game from the midfield. East has also spent time resting forward and can hit the scoreboard, though she is a future inside midfielder with a great balance of inside and outside traits. After the AFLW Academy members, East looms as the safest option, but also the one that could slot straight in if required, even with some areas to iron out such as her kicking consistency.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Regarded highly in the West Australian State Academy, she could be paired up with Rowley through the midfield at the Eagles, or might slide to Fremantle’s next pick if indeed the Dockers go tall with Franklin. Either way, East is one who would be top of mind for both West Australian clubs, and is someone who could impact from early on in her AFLW career.

Brooke Hards

#29 Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs/VFLW)
19/07/2002 | 167cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

The former Bendigo Pioneers co-captain is the second VFLW player to feature. The soon-to-be 19-year-old excelled as an inside midfielder at junior level, but chose to step up to VFLW level where she improved on the areas that saw her overlooked. Hards moved to the outside playing every role under the sun from forward, to back and wing, able to win the ball and most importantly build up metres gained with her run and carry. Boasting enormous upside and great footy smarts, when able to get-and-go, Hards is damaging with ball-in-hand and has well-balanced athleticism, mainly her acceleration. While her numbers might be lower than at junior level, her game-impacting moments have been higher making her a valuable prospect.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #17

AFLW Draft notes:

Like a number of VFLW performers, showed more signs in the last couple of rounds, and much like North Melbourne with their VFLW performers, the Western Bulldogs would have her among their thoughts to bring up from the VFLW to AFLW program after playing every game this season. Providing versatility and speed around the ground as well as the ability to impact through the midfield, Carlton or Collingwood are other clubs that might look at a talent with an extra year of senior experience.

#30 Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne VFLW)
15/10/1999
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

Another VFLW player who might not have earned a Draft Combine invite but simply has to be in the mix to be drafted is a second Tasmanian playing for North Melbourne in Skinner. She has transitioned from being a forward and the TSLW’s best player and consistent talent, into one of the best in the VFLW, showing she can lift at any level. Still only 21-years-old, Skinner has had some huge numbers since primarily staying in the midfield, picking up 18.1 disposals, 3.8 marks and 4.8 tackles for the Roos. It is her ability to play forward or through the midfield and adapt to the play, creating goal scoring opportunities for either herself or her teammates. Skinner is a plug-and-play typer who the Roos would be considering, but other teams would have to be keeping an eye on too.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #18

AFLW Draft notes:

Travelling over from Tasmania each week has proved valuable for Skinner who has had a sensational year for the Roos in the VFLW. As a player the Roos can take towards the back-end of the draft, Skinner is a valuable talent who adds both midfield and forward prowess, and much better value than what North Melbourne would pay in an open draft.

Abby Hewett

#31 Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Contested ball, clearances, goal sense, versatility

There might not be much of Hewett at 162cm, but the talented utility can play anywhere on the field. She knows how to win the ball inside or outside, reads it well in the air or ground level, and whilst she does her best work in close, can play as an outside player too. There are questions over where she will slot in at AFLW level, and she does have to learn to find the ball more often, but that is only because she can do so much damage with ball-in-hand, be it winning it in close and distributing it to the outside, using it in transition, or finding it close to goal and hitting the scoreboard. Whatever she ends up becoming, Hewett is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft given Queensland’s lack of AFLW Under 19 Championships, but no doubt the two Queensland clubs eyes are all over her given her performances at QAFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

A Brisbane Lions Academy member, Hewett will likely be a third or fourth option for the Lions with Bella Smith being the other Academy member having had an impressive season this year. Brisbane has its own zone to pick players from, so the Wilston Grange product will find a way there, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions chose to utilise her.

#32 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 176cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, X-factor, athleticism, marking

A player with plenty of upside, Houtsma becomes the remarkable fifth Falcon in the top 18 players showing just how deep the Falcons’ side was this season. She does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, her Houtsma’s athleticism across the ground as a 176cm enabling her to play on a wing, or in a key position player at either end. Strong overhead, and able to win it at ground level, Houtsma attacks the ball at speed on a lead, and generally uses it well when in possession. Still ironing out consistency within games, the versatile utility has already spent time at centre half-back, centre half-forward and on the wing, which is a huge feather in the cap for the teenager.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #19

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like her Falcons teammate Feathertson, Houtsma is one who could bolt or slide given her raw attributes, but she has a lot to like about her game. A player who could be taken second round onwards, Houtsma represents value for any side that picks her up given her size, athleticism and versatility. Geelong might look at her, with the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda bringing plenty of youth through their programs, and Collingwood looking for a versatile tall.

#33 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #20

AFLW Draft notes:

With Campbell already off to the Dees, Gillard looms as the best ruck prospect in the Victorian pool. She can play as a key forward too, and standing at 190cm, she is also clearly the tallest prospect in the AFLW Draft pool. Whilst still rounding out her game, Gillard is one who clubs could pounce on early, with the AFL Women’s Academy member having developed over the past few years, and has plenty of scope for the future. Carlton could be prime for Gillard as a tall target, with Western Bulldogs also likely to want to grab a tall, whist Collingwood would snap her up pretty quick if available given she fits the Magpies’ exact need.

Sarah Lakay

#34 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
20/02/2003 | 186cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Ruck work, vertical leap, marking, defensive pressure

The standout West Australian ruck and a big improver in this year’s AFLW Draft crop, Lakay has come a long way in the past 12 months. From a basketball background, it is no surprise to hear of Lakay’s athleticism, and it was certainly no shock to see her smash the vertical jump records at the recent AFLW Draft Combine. Lakay is a high leaper with clean hands and great upside, able to tap the ball to advantage for her teammates. She is strong overhead, and good at ground level with great defensive pressure, and despite needing to improve her endurance to impact for longer, Lakay has plenty of potential to become a first choice ruck at AFLW level at 186cm.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

West Coast will likely use one of its two picks in the second round to pick up Lakay, especially if paired up with Rowley and Thomas. If the Eagles land Franklin, Lakay may slip to the Dockers who are more than happy to add another talented tall to their list, but both clubs would be very keen to pick up the athletic ruck.

#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Queensland)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Strength, power, contested ball, clean hands, inside game

The fact Smith is potentially the sixth best player in the Queensland pool speaks volumes for the state and its footballing programs. The hardened inside midfielder could easily be rated in the top few, such is the evenness of the overall pool, with her inside game the second best behind top pick, Levi. She does not quite have the outside game that others do, but her contested ball-winning ability, clearance work and strength is what makes her the player she is. Able to dominate on the inside and extract the ball to the outside, Smith is the prototype inside midfielder and one who could play from early on in her career. She has the power to create separation from her opponents, and can distribute well by hand when exiting the congestion.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Brisbane Lions Academy member, it does not matter what order the Lions take them in, but they have a plethora of great youngsters to pick up, and Smith will only add to their inside brigade.

#36 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, penetrating kick, contested marking, competitiveness

Whilst the rucks so far in this Power Rankings have been athletic talents who utilise their around the ground speed and vertical leap to impact the contest, whereas Morphett offers a different skillset. Whilst able to still leap high, it is her body positioning and strength that helps her beat opponents, and despite not being as athletic as some of the others, she is the best contested mark of the rucks, and her competitiveness in the air or at ground level is superb. The other way Morphett has an advantage is her ability to play forward, where she can clunk contested marks and unleash her penetrating kick to effect. Being a part of the GIANTS Academy and NSW-ACT zone, Morphett is one who fits a need for the GIANTS as another tall, and would be more likely to start as a key forward and pinch-hit in the ruck.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

The GWS GIANTS may well read Morphett’s name out first given the Murray Bushrangers talent is the top pick in their Academy, but either way her name will come off the board, with the AFLW Academy member a player capable of impacting from early on, and working alongside Erin McKinnon at the GIANTS.

Keeley Sherar

#37 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
29/10/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: X-factor, upside, clearances, tackling

The Eastern Ranges talent was one who really stepped up in 2021 after only managing the one game in the shortened season last year, so not much was known about what she was capable of. Sherar not only stepped up to be a prime ball-mover for the Ranges – particularly in the absence of Olivia Meagher in the second half of the season and Tarni Brown after she was drafted last year – but earned a Vic Metro jumper for her troubles. Averaging 14.8 disposals, 3.4 inside 50s and 4.8 tackles, Sherar is a forward runner with great tackling skills and extraction out of the contest, can move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 well to set up scoring opportunities. One to watch who can add a point of difference to a midfield.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #21

AFLW Draft notes:

At this stage it is hard to work out where players might end up, with Sherar heading to the Pies in our Draft Central Phantom Draft. Eastern Ranges have a good relationship with the Magpies, and expect Collingwood to consider the midfielder, with Melbourne having some good value picks, and St Kilda also looking for a midfielder on the inside with some good pace to send Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith to the outside.

#38 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Skills, composure, versatility, reading the play

A medium defender who runs off half-back, hits up targets and then roams along a wing, Vickers is a player with some great upside, and is another Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership player. She averaged the 13.5 disposals, 3.3 tackles and a well-balanced two inside 50s and rebound 50s per game, such was her ability to cover the ground. The Chargers did not see as much of it in their defence as other teams, so Vickers had to hold a high line at times and be that kick behind the ball ready to intercept. She is not a renowned marker, but she is one to receive the handball and go, and uses the ball well in transition. Still developing areas of her game, as an overall prospect Vickers has some great talent

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #22

AFLW Draft notes:

Like Sherar, it is difficult to exactly calculate where Vickers might land given the amount of even talent at this point in the draft, but the skilful defender and outside runner is likely to have a number of possibilities. The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Melbourne are all teams that like to play quickly with speed, so Vickers would be a name to watch out for there.

#39 Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/11/2003 | 168cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Contested ball, inside game, defensive pressure, endurance

Venning is a player who enjoyed a terrific season, not only standing out for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s, and representing South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, but picking up a host of accolades along the way. Venning won All-Australian honours as well as the West Adelaide best and fairest – claiming the latter ahead of teammate and league best and fairest winner Lauren Young – to be one of the more consistent players all season. With the Crows having so much strength at their disposal, and a smaller draft pool, Venning is one who has shown enough to be on a list, and it will come down to list spots and preferences. Her inside game and defensive pressure is superb, and whilst still working on her kicking, Venning has improved over the past couple of years, and has a great balance of athleticism between endurance, speed and agility to impress at the top level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Following the announcement of the finalised AFLW Draft order, Adelaide only had three selections in its hand, and Venning is considered the fourth one in these rankings. However it indicates where Venning would go in an open draft, and could easily be sourced by interstate clubs, or indeed picked ahead of one of the other three if the Crows find the need for Venning’s role.

Makaela Tuhakaraina

#40 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
Small Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, agility, power, defensive pressure

A raw potential player with huge upside, Tuharakaina is another West Australian who has come on in leaps and bounds the past 12 months. Cementing her self in South Fremantle’s best side from a rugby background, Tuhakaraina’s acceleration and agility is hard to beat, and the combination might be the best of anyone in the AFLW Draft pool. Despite standing at 158cm, Tuhakaraina is able to do a lot of damage by breaking up the opposition defensive zones, and she can play in any third of the ground. Often up forward running from a high half-forward inside 50, Tuhakaraina is still developing fundamentals of her game which is understandable, but her power and ability to burn off opponents gives clubs a raw canvas to work with going forward. With her defensive ability and offensive switch to burst away, she is a talent who will naturally catch the eye.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Both clubs could do with her athletic profile, and she is ranked sixth here in this Power Rankings, but she could easily go higher with what she could become. Tuhakaraina might not have the game-on-game consistency of some of the others above her, but her sheer talent and upside would have both West Coast and Fremantle assessing their options.

Others:

Victorian Pool:

Holding the next two places in our rankings from Victoria are GWV Rebels’ Chloe Leonard and Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin. Top-age talents Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell and Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher are thereabouts, as is Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke, and AFLW Academy member Maykaylah Appleby. GWV Rebels’ Tahlia Meier, Oakleigh Chargers’ Eliza James, Gippsland Power’s Grace Matser, Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling and Dandenong Stingrays’ Ash Richards are others in contention.

Western Jets’ Jemima Woods, Casey Demons’ Imogen Milford, Eastern Ranges’ Cadhla Schmidli and Northern Knights’ Tarrah Delgado round out the AFLW Draft Combine invites who have the most interest. From a non-Combine invited look, Essendon’s Alana Barba, Collingwood duo Imogen Barnett and Matilda Zander – and as an outside roughy after a good year Marla Neal – are those who might be considered to make the step up, as North Melbourne’ Molly Eastman and Southern Saints’ Tara Bohanna have also enjoyed good seasons.

The Power Rankings do not include past AFLW players who are a chance of regaining a chance such as retirees who have backflipped to return playing such as Tegan Cunningham and Leah Kaslar, and ex-North Melbourne now Essendon VFLW skipper Georgia Nanscawen. Hawthorn VFLW also have plenty of players worthy of another chance, with the likes of Georgia Bevan, Nadia von Bertouch and Kristy Stratton among those in the brown and gold able to step in and make an immediate impact. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing both crossed from their respective clubs to run around with Casey Demons in the hope of being redrafted.

From a Tasmanian perspective, top-age talents Ella Maurer and Jemma Webster, as well as consistent draft-eligible talents Jemma Blair, Amy Prokopiec and Amy Bissett would be among those who have done the most to put their hands up for North Melbourne (and the wider Victorian pool).

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POOL:

South Adelaide speedster Tahlita Buethke, Central District powerful forward Lauren Breguet and small forward/midfielder with the deadly left foot in Abbie Ballard are all very even in terms of whether they might get called up to the Crows or a club takes a look interstate. Ruck Leah Cutting is one you would expect to attract interest from interstate with Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and the West Australian teams always able to add another tall to the mix.

WEST AUSTRALIAN POOL:

East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly is next in line out west, with mature-age left foot forward Tessa Doumanis, defender Emily Bennett and slick utility Melisha Hardy among the even contingent being considered. Peel Thunder duo Bella Mann and Beth Schilling have good scope for improvement, with Swan Districts duo Emma Nanut and Nyra Anderson and Claremont’s Matilda Dyke the other West Australians to keep an eye on. Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny has chosen West Australia as her nominating state and would be in the Top 60 overall as that athletic forward/midfielder, whilst VFLW talents North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Theresia Meissner are among the others having nominated the state. Sandringham Dragons’ Pia Staltari has nominated the state she grew up in and could be a slick ball user off half-back or on the outside for one of the West Australian sides.

QUEENSLAND POOL:

Giselle Davies is in the next few in our Power Rankings, with the Queenslander a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, and could even be taken in those first few picks. The Suns also have access to the Northern Territory talent including AFLW Academy member Ashanti Bush, and talented, athletic Grace Mulvahil who also would have made it into the Top 50 of the Power Rankings. The 20-year-old Bella Clarke received a Combine invite, as did mature-age Madison Goodwin and Steph O’Brien, whilst Brisbane Lions Academy members Christine Okesene and Casey Wynne are also in the mix to be picked up after their invites.

NSW-ACT POOL:

In our Phantom Draft, top-age tackling machine Brodee Mowbray found her way to the GIANTS and would be next in line with the talented forward in Georgie Fowler. The GIANTS have a number of late picks and with no competition for the Pool, could look to other top-age talents Maddy Hendrie or Teagan Germech who also received and AFLW Draft Combine invite.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 12

WITH Victoria’s most highly touted top-agers recouping on the back of representative action, it was time for bottom-aged prospects to shine in the NAB League. A raft of fresh faces shot on the scene for their respective regions across the six-game weekend, supporting a wealth of usual suspects who continue to perform well. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 12 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 2.2 (14) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 11.12 (78)

By: Eli Duxson

Calder Cannons:

#8 Paul Pascu

It was the 16-year-old’s third game of the season and arguably his best in the heavy defeat he and his side suffered. Pascu found the footy mostly exiting defensive 50 in which Sandringham provided plenty of opportunities for recording three rebound 50’s. His follow up work was impressive as he continued to try and assist with the link between the arcs, but was missed on multiple occasions when he was free in the corridor with poor kicks. When found, he looked composed with ball in hand and even managed three inside 50s on the day. He worked hard defensively laying eight tackles and looked comfortable in contested situations despite playing against more mature frames.

#26 Matthew Gook

A tough assignment coming up against AFL-listed Max Heath in the ruck, but he provided a contest all day and showed promising signs in open play. At 201cm he looked quite mobile and long which assisted with a couple of nice pick ups below the knees, as well as a nice mark in the second quarter. His decision making was a little on the slow side but there were some positives. In the ruck he got out-bodied by the stronger frames, but he did not stop competing.

Sandringham Dragons:

#1 Harry Sheezel

The Vic Metro Under 17s squad member showed genuine class and composure all game playing mostly out of the forwardline, where he kicked 3.3 from 21 disposals to go with six marks. His first goal came on the run from 40 metres taking advantage from a free kick with the result never in doubt, while his second came from a well-judged mark in the goal square. His third was after earning a free kick for holding the ball where he drilled the set shot. He looked dangerous running back at goal with or without the ball, managing five inside 50s, while his pressure made him look even more so, laying six tackles for the game.

#5 Lachlan Benton

Dominated around the stoppages all game, looking very comfortable in traffic as he accumulated 28 disposals and five inside 50s. He has had a strong season to date, but this performance has typified a solid three-week stretch for Benton as he looks to increase his standard and consistency. Benton’s clearance work was impressive, showing good acceleration into space as well as positional awareness with the dominating ruckmen. He moved well around the ground getting back into defence, as well as hitting contests forward of centre to crumb. An intercept mark and hit inside 50 early in the game set the tone for his day.

#13 Luca Macnab

The dashing rebounding defender was amongst it all game but slowly moved his positioning forward as the game wore on with his side’s ascendency on the play. He and his lovely left boot were streaming off half back early where he showed a good balance of composure and aggression, notably hitting a short target to slow down a frantic play in the second quarter while also penetrating further out of defensive 50 on another occasion. A pair of beautiful hits inside 50 highlighted his ability to deliver forward as his team maintained territory for much of the game. Macnab finished with 25 disposals (season-high), six marks, and six inside 50s.

#52 Luke Nankervis

Playing as a high half-forward for much of the day, Nankervis was often the link player for the Dragons between the arcs using his 189cm frame and his athleticism to provide a threat both in the air and on the ground. He also spent time at stoppages but looked his best in open space in one-on-one situations. He took six marks for the game and his 18 disposals were mostly efficient, showing a propensity for either side of his body. His pressure game as a forward and around stoppages was just as good, laying a whopping 12 tackles despite his side’s control of the game.

#53 Eren Soylemez

Vibrancy for the whole game from Soylemez who maintained his consistency in front of goals with 3.1 from 14 disposals and seven marks. He kicked the first goal of the game marking inside 50 and drilling the set shot. He looked to lead at the ball carrier and often a kick outside the forward 50, using his trusty left boot to deliver inside 50 which he did on three occasions. His second goal came from a contested mark on the behind line which he snapped through truly, while his third was another snap but this time out of nothing, showing a brilliant goal sense. His ground ball gathers were clean and he moved smoothly with ball in hand all game.

#61 Max Heath

It was a super Saturday for St Kilda fans as they watched their side beat AFL premiership contenders Brisbane, while their newly drafted ruckman had a day out and showed why the Saints were eager to secure his services. His ruckwork was dominant as he often held a strong position to direct taps to teammates cleanly, while then also getting after it when the ball hit the deck. His work rate and tank allowed him to get back defensively and mark on multiple occasions. Heath had 21 disposals and 26 hitouts, but it was his two goals and eight marks as a forward that was most exciting. He was able to create space on the lead and marked cleanly overhead at pace.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 12.8 (80) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 12.9 (81)

By: Eli Duxson

Murray Bushrangers:

#3 Toby Murray

The mobile ruckman showed his versatility in all thirds after a strong second half almost helped propel his side to a memorable comeback win. Probably tied the ruck battle with Tasmania’s Tony Aganas but looked much more likely when play continued showing good speed and agility for his 198cm body. He started the second half with a couple of inside 50s before getting on the end of one of those kicks himself, and kicking a long set shot from 50 metres. Fitting the evolving mould of the mobile and capable ball-using ruckmen, Murray showed all the hallmarks of being a two-way runner and player finishing with 11 disposals, four marks, and 17 hitouts.

#8 Zavier Maher

A competitive beast who went hard at the contest all game, showing a strong ability to tackle effectively while also keeping his balance over the ball through contact. While being threatening without the ball, he was composed in tight and showed a good step. Maher also seemed intent on finding it in open space as well often spreading hard out of stoppages to either get to the fall of the next contest or be an option in the link. He finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles, and three inside 50s.

#51 Brayden George

The Under 17s Vic Country squad member led all comers with goals on the day booting four straight as he did his best to keep the Bushrangers in the contest. His first came from a free kick, drilling the 35-metre set shot, while his next two came back-to-back to start the second half and drag his side back in the game. He is a one-touch player who marks cleanly on hard leads and looks solid underneath the ball. His final goal came over the top in the goal square as he finished with 11 disposals and four marks.

Tasmania Devils:

#7 Will Splann

The focal point of the Devils forward line looked likely all day using his 195cm frame to mark reliably overhead, leading to him kicking a season-high three goals. Two of his goals came after marking on the lead and drilling the set shots, while his third came from a free kick in a marking contest. He is not a high-disposal forward as so few you are in the key position, but he showed he does not need many touches to be effective in front of goal. He took six marks in what was perhaps his most involved game this season.

#12 Jye Menzie

Menzie is also not a high possession winner but is damaging when he does find the ball as a half forward operator. His speed allows him to lose his opponent, especially when his side regains possession and he drifts into space, but his ball use is equally impressive. He lowers his eyes and makes good decisions, favouring to kick more than handball (nine kicks, two handballs). From his 11 disposals he had three shots on goal scoring 2.1 with his first being a lovely snap from the boundary.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55) def. GEELONG FALCONS 6.11 (47)

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#17 Jackson Bowne

Bowne provided plenty of spark from midfield for the Knights, utilising his speed to exit the contest and bring a rather scrappy game to the outer. He could be seen zipping out of traffic in all areas of the ground, penetrating the arcs a combined 10 times and taking nine marks as he worked to become an easy outlet. The top-ager also booted a goal in the second term and could have had a couple more with more polished finishing, but was quite productive nonetheless.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Clearly the best player afield, Trudgeon dominated as the biggest and strongest body at each stoppage. He was in the thick of things throughout and brought a hard physical presence, getting his hands dirty to win 35 disposals and lay 15 tackles. The imposing Knights skipper led from the front in a ball winning sense and was able to generate some scores with his disposal on the attack. He contributed at least three direct goal assists with kicks to teammates inside 50, while also adding a major of his own by converting a 50m set shot in the opening term. Trudgeon also rested forward and sought to find more green ball on the weekend, but looked most impactful with his work on the inside.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

The mobile tall forward returned another promising performance in Knights colours, showcasing his class as a leading target. Caminiti did his best work when let off the least further afield, where he would lead as high as the wing and help link Northern into attack. His reach was made more effective by generally clean hands and handy spurts of mobility with ball in hand, while that same pattern of movement allowed for ample separation on the lead. Caminiti couldn’t quite put through a couple of tough set shot chances, but snared a snap goal in the third quarter after marking deep on the behind line.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

A mainstay in the Knights’ defence, Fitzgerald was relentless in his pursuit to rebound out of the back half with run and a sound kicking game. His actions proved repetitive, but largely effective, as Fitzgerald hit short targets forward of the ball and constantly looked to move the play on quickly. He racked up 27 disposals (20 kicks) and six rebound 50s, while also displaying a solid marking game as he floated across to clunk a couple of intercepts among his eight overall grabs. With plenty of work to do, the 17-year-old stood tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Will Baker

The crafty bottom-aged forward displayed some of his best traits on Saturday, popping up with little bursts of brilliance in the front half. While quite small at 176cm, Baker proved his toughness and won a bit of his own ball, either spinning out of trouble or leaning on his speed and agility to come away from congestion cleanly. He was able to roam further afield as the game wore on, finishing with 13 disposals to go with his second term goal.

#4 Gennaro Bove

Leading from the front, Bove took his extended midfield opportunity with both hands and was arguably Geelong’s best player on the day. He finished with a team-high 23 disposals along with five marks and six tackles, with three wayward behinds the only thing stopping his very good game from being a massive one. Starting on-ball, he showed typically clean hands and skills in-tight, before finding more possessions in space around the ground. He seemed to lift in the final term when Geelong needed a spark, but his valiant efforts at the source fell just short.

#11 Cooper Whyte

While it was a relatively quiet day by Whyte’s recent standards, he still managed to be a positive forward mover from midfield for the Falcons. Among his 13 disposals, the 18-year-old pumped forward seven inside 50s and looked his best when breaking into attack with speed – particularly in the first half. Whyte also showed good courage on a few seperate occasions; leaping up in the face of oncoming contact to spoil and mark in the corridor, allowing the Falcons to turn the ball over and manufacture bonus chances on goal.

WESTERN JETS 14.11 (95) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 10.7 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#6 Matthew Payne

The diminutive Western forward was really lively in exciting bursts, bringing his pace to the fore on the ball. He snared a nice goal in the opening term after attacking an aerial ball, before recovering first and snapping home the six points. He added two more in the second half, again showing good smarts and quick reactions to take his chances. Payne also broke the game open with a couple of chaining passages, burning forward and looking to get the ball back after dishing off.

#18 Nash Reynolds

A constant presence in midfield for Western, Reynolds looked to push his side forward with intent. He showed a nice step in traffic but was not afraid to cop contact when required, helping set the tone for his side at the source. Reynolds did not quite find the goals himself but provided that opportunity for others, including in the fourth term when he side-stepped the man on the mark and kicked long for Payne to crumb and finish.

#35 Liam Conway

Conway was mega for Western once again, seemingly popping up everywhere at times and boasting the statline to match that notion with 32 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s. When he wasn’t bustling the ball forward at stoppages, Conway positioned well to mark around the ground and was quite clean in his handling. The top-ager’s ball winning ability is proven, with this his third 30-plus disposal effort for the season.

#50 Paul Tsapatolis

This was potentially Tsapatolis’ best outing yet, with the Geelong-listed ruckman able to showcase his ruck craft and improving work on the follow-up. At the centre bounces, he looked to tap to advantage instead of just hitting the ball, finding his rovers with some deft touches early on. He also fared well with a couple of strong grabs around the ground, while also getting low to make an impact at ground level and bombing forward a few clearances. He also managed a snap goal among his 21 disposals, and won 41 hitouts.

Bendigo Pioneers:

#2 Harvey Gallagher

Usually a productive line-breaker rotating forward from midfield, Gallagher was made to step up and become a more permanent fixture of Bendigo’s engine room. The pacey Pioneer ended the day as his side’s most prolific ball winner, notching 27 disposals and penetrating either arc a combined nine times. In a different style than usual, Gallagher won more ball in-close – rather than being released on the outer himself where his speed shines. He was still effective in those instances, using the ball well by foot heading inside 50.

#11 Cobi Maxted

In a monster effort, Maxted showcased every bit of his versatility on Sunday in a dynamic display. The Pioneers utility started at the centre bounces, but tended to shift forward in general play and got busy in both departments to finish with 25 disposals, nine marks and four goals. The top-ager used his big frame around the ball to stand up in and break tackles before disposing, but he looked arguably more damaging on hard forward spreads. Maxted snuck inside 50 for two goals during the first half, and provided a more permanent marking option there after the main break. His clean hands and strong presentation were key features during that time, and Maxted capped his day with another couple of majors in the fourth quarter.

#17 Oskar Faulkhead

The smooth-moving defender had a few quiet patches, but looked like opening up the game with his run-and-carry out of the backline at times. He looked stylish in possession and timed his runs well to be released on the outer, sending Bendigo forward in transition with his foot skills and willingness to take on opponents. Faulkhead also got a run in midfield during the fourth quarter.

#29 Cooper Smith

Smith was another of Bendigo’s positive forward movers, as he constantly looked to weaponise his kicks and carry the ball towards goal with intent. The top-ager broke tackles, made repeat running efforts and hit targets in the front half, operating nicely on the outer and pushing into advanced areas. He dropped back a touch more in the second half, helping distribute out of defence and doing some of the tough stuff when called upon.

GIPPSLAND POWER 7.6 (48) def. by EASTERN RANGES 11.12 (78)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Gippsland’s best player on the day, Moschetti again looked his side’s most polished player in possession. The classy left-footer showed good poise on the ball and worked it into space before delivering sharp kicks forward. As the game wore on, he began to manufacture more time and space, linking play on the outer and generating valuable momentum as Gippsland attacked. Moschetti ended with a game-high 30 disposals and five marks from midfield, including a couple of handy goal assists.

#9 Will Papley

In his usual midfield-forward rotation, Papley was a productive and versatile member of the Gippsland set-up. He started at the centre bounces and used his burst of speed to break forward, often getting to the front of the stoppage and streaming inside forward 50. When stationed forward, he initially presented as a lead-up kind of option in a role which defied his size, before getting busy closer to goal with that typical mix of speed and smarts. Papley got on the board early, smothering on the mark before finishing beautifully from range, while adding a second major in the third term with a snap from the pocket.

#28 Zane Duursma

The 2005-born prospect already looks comfortable alongside players as many as four years his senior, and proved as much with some time in the midfield on Sunday. Duursma started brightly but missed a 45m set shot in the opening term, before getting back into the game with some handy work in term three. He displayed good courage to protect the drop zone under a high ball and mark inside 50, before converting a classy snap goal and going on to show sharp skills when running through midfield.

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Jake Arundell

Arundell was at his crafty best on Sunday, stationed forward and contributing plenty both inside 50 and up the ground. He consistently showed high level smarts and evasion, while a zippy turn of speed saw him gain considerable separation on the lead time and time again. The diminutive top-ager worked beautifully in tandem with under-ager Nick Watson, as the two found each other inside 50 on multiple occasions. Arundell snared three goals from five scoring shots, while also twice turning provider in a balanced effort, where he brought others into the game and was a constant threat in the front half. No Gippsland defender could go with him.

#8 Nick Watson

The other half of Eastern’s dangerous small forward pairing, Watson also went about getting busy both up the ground and closer to goal. After missing a couple of chances in the first term, Watson straightened up to convert two majors in the following period and all three of his goals for the day came via set shots. The 2005-born talent defied his size as a viable leading option, leaning on his high footy IQ to also get to handy spots when the ball hit the deck. Watson fulfilled his usual small forward duties with smothering pressure acts and tackling efforts, making for a well-rounded performance.

#35 Max Hall

With some of Eastern’s prime midfield movers unavailable in recent weeks, Hall has consistently stood up as a reliable inside ball winner. He had no trouble finding the ball at the coalface, digging in and proving strong over the ground ball before looking to bullock his way out of tackles. While he tended to bomb kick out of the contest, Hall showed he could lower his eyes when afforded more time and even put through a well-hit set shot in the first quarter. Away from the stoppages, the top-ager worked hard around the ground and his final statline of 29 disposals, nine marks, and nine inside 50s was exemplary of that.

#58 Kai Windsor

Windsor showed plenty during his stint in the Vic Metro Under 17 squad, and carried his form back into the NAB League on Sunday. Playing mostly in the forward half before shifting into the midfield, Windsor was an apt carrier of the ball forward and seemed to enjoy operating in time and space. The bottom-ager was also able to show his skills at time, including on one instance in the second quarter where he provided a goal assist for Arundell as he streamed forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 8.8 (56) def. by OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 15.7 (97)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

The St Kilda NGA prospect yet again displayed some eye-catching athletic traits throughout the contest, where he was, at times, played as the deepest forward target for the Stingrays. He looked at his most dangerous when he was able to run onto a free ball, with his pace and clean pick ups from ground level giving him the tools to make the most of those opportunities and keep the ball going quickly, with one moment in the first quarter highlighting this best when he got free, side stepped an opponent and pinpointed a kick inside 50 where his teammate didn’t have to move to hold onto the mark. Ended the day with one goal, where he ran onto a kick over the top of his head and snapped the goal whilst being brought to ground. Despite what the stat sheet may say, he created plenty of scoring opportunities for Dandenong with his plays in the forward half causing headaches for the Chargers defence.

#4 Jaxon Binns

The Under 17 Vic Country representative demonstrated exactly why he was selected in that side in his NAB League debut, looking like Dandenong’s best player early on, showing off high work rate and running capacity on the wing. Was far more inclined to kick than handball when he was disposing of the ball, where he regularly got good penetration and showed good technique with his kicking but sometimes lacked the accuracy to make it truly damaging. Positioned well to get the releasing handball from inside winners, able to beat most opponents in one-on-ones foot races. Kicked an impressive goal in the first, winning the ball off the ground in the forward pocket and snapping it through in the first. Unfortunately had his day cut short after suffering a suspected knee injury. 

#35 Finn Jakstas

Looking composed with ball in and well positioned in the defensive half, Jakstas did some underrated one-percenter acts throughout the game that either stopped certain Oakleigh goals or got Dandenong the upper hand in moving the footy. Whether it was tapping the ball in front of a running teammate, laying a smother in the middle of the ground or spoiling a ball in a two-on-one, he was able to impact plays well to win them for Dandenong. Looked strong overhead as well in the defensive 50, following up with clean ball use to teammates. 

#42 James Cahill

Playing essentially exclusively as a rover for the game, Cahill looked particularly good when collecting the ball off the ground, looking clean even when under pressure. Fed well to receivers via hand when the option was there, never just throwing the ball onto his hand or foot if there wasn’t a teammate ready to get it. Worked hard to follow up and get the ball back as well when he could, with one moment in the first quarter demonstrating this best, inside defensive 50 where he handballed to a teammate, got it back, handed it off again, then got it back and kicked long to a leading teammate. He was composed through most of the game, having moments where he just picked out an option through congestion that not many would’ve found, or had the confidence to try and take. His ability to spread from a contest or stoppage was also a highlight, able to burst away from these situations and spot up teammates to get Dandenong moving forward. 

 #47 Henry Hustwaite

Another Under 17s Vic Country representative, Hustwaite was stationed mostly on the wing, where he showed composure with ball in hand, even when caught in congested spots under pressure. His quick hands in close were on full display, keeping his hands free and firing them out to release runners from behind, or pinpointing a handball through traffic to teammate closer to the forward 50. Didn’t kick often but was composed and kicked with purpose when he chose to, finding targets laterally who were able to take space. 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Blake Drury 

In his first outing for Oakleigh at Under 19s level, Drury took no time at all to get involved and show why he was selected for the Vic Metro U17s side, winning plenty of ball around the midfield and forward half, using it well by hand to get the ball to teammates in better spots. Showed plenty of confidence with his movement with ball in hand, never biting off more than he could chew, but always willing to run the ball forward and get around opponents before getting rid of the ball. What was particularly impressive to see from his Under 17s Metro performances, was how much better his kicking looked at this level, regularly putting it in front of teammates inside 50 to run onto, and taking wider options when nothing presented up the line.

#17 Braden Andrews

The AFL Academy member was thrown about positionally again, spending time in all thirds of the ground and showing promise in each spot. In the first three quarters he split his time down back and through the midfield mostly, with his work around stoppages the highlight, picking up the ball from below his knees cleanly and firing out quick hands on the up as teammates moved for him. He looked composed with his kicking when given time in space to compose himself. When moved into the forwardline he got himself two goals in the final quarter, the first of which came from smart positioning in a marking contest, able to run onto the ball as it went over the top and kicking it straight through from the goal square. His second came after receiving a handball from a teammate he was running alongside going into 50 and slotting it from about 25 out. He paid this back later, after giving off a shot on goal despite being in range.

#33 Patrick Voss 

Continuing his impressive run of form in the backline, Voss looked more convincing, providing run from behind than he previously has, not afraid to take opponents on coming out of the defensive 50. This was highlighted best when he went for a run from the back 50 mark, taking two bounces along the way, as well as a give and go, then stiff arming an opponent and kicking the ball inside 50 to finish it off. That stiff arm wasn’t his only show of physicality, continuing his strong tackling that often rattled opponents whilst still being fair. He got himself a lot of marks by being a switch option in the back line, with Oakleigh looking to switch when it was on, but also got a couple of intercept marks showing his strength to push opponents out of the contest, with one being a good sign of courage, running 20 meters to mark a ball that was hacked out of a centre stoppage, with incoming front on pressure. Kicking was good with time to compose himself, but is a general area of improvement.

#57 George Wardlaw

With arguably the highest profile of any of the debutants from this game, the Under 17s Vic Metro representative was dominant from beginning to end with his inside game a clear standout across both sides. Regularly getting first possession around stoppages, Wardlaw commanded more and more attention around stoppages as the game went on to negate his effect from the midfield, where if given the slightest amount of space he’d get a handball away, having a few moments where he fired a pinpoint pass through congestion and past two or three opponents to release a runner on the other side of the contest. Managed to get good spread from stoppages when he was right in the thick of it, able to stay balanced and on his feet when copping contact, still managing to get the ball to a teammate. Wardlaw drew in some free kicks for high contact with how low he gets when picking the ball up and how fast he tries to straighten up. 

#79 Jack O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan was yet another Oakleigh debutant, and a Vic Country Under 17s representative over the past two weeks. He showed himself to be a damaging pressure forward. Collected ground balls at speed well, following up with damaging ball use even if he didn’t have clear vision, putting the ball in danger spots in front of goal if he was under pressure. Looked dangerous with his leading, not always sticking marks but getting his hands to the ball. Ended the game with two goals and two behinds, although he set up a couple of goals that he could have easily gotten, showing a sense of selfless in his game and want to get teammates involved.

Image Credit: Cameron Grimes/AFL Photos

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 12

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 11 Team of the Week (TOTW) has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Cobi Maxted (Bendigo Pioneers) and Joel Trudgeon (Northern Knights) take out leadership honours in the 24-man squad, headlining a very even spread of prospects from around the league.

Trudgeon’s Knights, who beat Geelong on Saturday join the Western Jets and Eastern Ranges as winning teams with three TOTW representatives, while Sandringham Dragons have four after their dominant win over Calder Cannons. Each region has contributed at least one player, with standouts from each fixture just about picking themselves this week.

There are two AFL-listed players in the squad, with Western and Geelong ruck Paul Tsapatolis starting at the centre bounces, while St Kilda-listed bigman Max Heath was a lock at full forward. Both were imposing in their respective victories, and help make up quite a solid spine.

It was a good week for small forwards, with Eastern Ranges small Jake Arundell pushed up to the wing to accomodate a raft of well-performed flankers and pocketmen. 2005-born teammate Nick Watson is among them, as well as bottom-agers Brayden George, Harry Sheezel, and Blake Drury. The former two combined for seven majors in Round 12, while Drury was a standout rotating from midfield alongside fellow debutant George Wardlaw, who takes his place on the bench.

James Cahill has also been squeezed out to the wing despite playing on the inside, with Western’s Liam Conway and Sandringham’s Charlie McKay taking up starting spots alongside Trudgeon. The likes of Gennaro Bove, Max Hall, and Mitchell Moschetti could all have snuck into those spots having returned solid performances.

There are a few mainstays back once more too, mostly in defence, with Henry Berenger, Zach Morris, and Joel Fitzgerald all retaining their places in the starting back six. Conway, Hall, and Heath are others to feature for a second week running.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 12

B: Tom Bracher (MB), Zach Morris (TD), Tyler McGinnis (TD)
HB: Joel Fitzgerald (NK), Henry Berenger (DS), Luca Macnab (SD)
C: Jake Arundell (ER), Joel Trudgeon (NK, vc), James Cahill (DS)
HF: Blake Drury (OC), Cobi Maxted (BP, c), Nick Watson (ER)
F: Harry Sheezel (SD), Max Heath (SD), Brayden George (MB)
FOL: Paul Tsapatolis (WJ), Liam Conway (WJ), Charlie McKay (SD)

INT: Gennaro Bove (GF), Max Hall (ER), Mitchell Moschetti (GP), Paul Pascu (CC), Nash Reynolds (WJ), George Wardlaw (OC)

EMG: Sam Banks (TD), Lachlan Benton (SD), Eren Soylemez (SD)