Category: Tasmania Devils

Queensland survive late scare from Tasmania to hold on in AFL U19s contest

QUEENSLAND has survived an almighty last quarter scare from Tasmania to post a narrow two-point win at Yeronga as part of the states’ clash for the AFL Under 19 Championships. After a scrappy first term, the home team piled on seven of the next eight goals to lead by as much as 35 points late in the third term. Tasmania found the momentum in the last 23 minutes, booting six of the last seven themselves to roar to within two points, and even have a shot after the siren for the win, but the kick sailed out on the full. For all the last quarter fight, Queensland held on to a narrow 9.8 (62) to 8.12 (60) win.

In perfect sunny conditions with a breeze blowing to the Queensland end early, it was in fact Baynen Lowe who would have the first shot of the day from outside 50. Easily making the distance, it sailed out on the full, providing an eerily opening and closing symmetry to the match. Despite Queensland having more chances in the opening term, it was key forward Will Splann who marked on the lead from an Oliver Davis pass inside 50, who kicked the first major of the contest five minutes in. Only one more goal in the next hour of play went the way of the visitors, as Toby Triffett‘s perfect set shot from the boundary getting Queensland on the board.

From the second term on it was all Queensland, as they piled on the five consecutive goals including Triffett’s major, with Max Pescud providing a high-flying highlight for mark of the game with a pack effort and subsequent goal. From the next stoppage, Saxon Crozier burst away and launched from 55m in a 90-second purple patch of of bliss. The key forwards started to get involved and were overpowering the smaller Devils defenders, with Will Tasker and Will Bella both converting majors, and the lead was suddenly out to beyond 25 points. A late goal against the flow to Bailey Gillow on the run gave Tasmania some hope, with both Jonty McIvor and Jye Menzie hitting woodwork either side, and the team combining for an inaccuracy 1.5 to Queensland’s 4.1.

Accuracy was the difference in the game and Queensland kept the foot on the pedal with Jack Briskey marking well and kicking a goal early in the third term, and then some more Pescud magic found Bella on the line for one of the easiest goals of his career. Briskey gave fans a sense of deja vu as he marked and delivered from an almost identical place as his earlier goal, and the Queenslanders were blowing the game right open with a six-goal lead. Desperate for a major and a late momentum swing, Sam Collins hit up McIvor inside 50 who marked and then made no mistake from straight in front to give the Devils a sniff heading into the last.

That was all they needed, as the top-agers of Ollie Sanders, Davis and Collins went to another level in the final term, determined to drag their team across the line. Collins was thrown forward and immediately had an impact just 75 seconds into the match, and then a couple of poor turnovers inside their defensive 50 saw the Queenslanders cough up two consecutive goals to Sanders and Menzie. A couple of almost chances drew to a single-digit deficit and the visitors were storming home. Luckily for the home side, Briskey kicked his third with a clever snap around his body to settle the home fans nerves, putting it back out to a 14-point lead.

The boys from the Apple Isle were not done yet though, with Sanders launching a ripping shot from 55m and then in the dying moments, Alex Davies kicked a goal with the outside of the boot to draw within two points. With less than a minute left, the next centre clearance was crucial, and it went the way of Queensland. A quick kick inside 50 fell in front of Bella who rushed the kick and it flew out on the full. Desperate times saw an end-to-end play by the Tasmanians, finishing with Sam Tilley moments before the final siren. Looking just outside his range, he was told to settle down and the siren sounded forcing him to attempt a barrel. The shot on goal sailed off the side and out on the full, handing Queensland the victory.

Triffett was a consistent performer throughout for Queensland, with Jed Foggo providing some good drive off half-back. Crozier was busy through the middle, and the likes of Briskey, Bella and Tasker all played their roles by hitting the scoreboard. For Tasmania, the trio of Sanders, Davis and Collins stepped up when required, whilst Zac Morris in defence, and the likes of Sam Foley and Dom White in midfield, provided good run and carry.

QUEENSLAND 1.4 | 5.5 | 8.8 | 9.8 (62)
TASMANIA 1.2 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 8.12 (60)

GOALS:

Queensland: J. Briskey 3, W. Bella 2, T. Triffett, M. Pescud, S. Crozier, W. Tasker.
Tasmania: O. Sanders 2, W. Splann, J. McIvor B. Gillow, S. Collins, J. Menzie, A. Davies.

DC BEST:

Queensland: T. Triffett, S. Crozier, J. Briskey, W. Tasker, J. Foggo
Tasmania: O. Sanders, O. Davis, S. Collins, Z. Morris, S. Foley

2021 AFL U17/U19 Championships preview: Queensland vs. Tasmania

WITH South Australia and Western Australia able to run out for a couple of representative games at the recent AFL Under 19 Championships, two of the Allied states join the party tomorrow when Queensland hosts Tasmania in a double-header of Under 17s and Under 19s action. The two games take place at Yeronga Sports Ground south of Brisbane, with the Under 17s kicking off from 9:30am, and the Under 19s locking horns at 11:30am.

With both state leagues in Queensland and Tasmania done and dusted, it means both states will have the pick of the players for their clash without having senior finals threatening to take away the top young talent. The visitors named their teams early a few days ago, with the Under 19s welcoming back Ollie Davis after playing for Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) in the bid to win a mid-season draft spot. Still remaining in the draft frame, the uncompromising Davis will lead a talented midfield that also features Darcy Gardner and Ollie Sanders.

Unfortunately the Devils will be without star talent Sam Banks who is still injured, but have a couple of National AFL Draft Combine invitees up either end in full-back Baker Smith, and centre half-forward Will Splann. Smith has been an impressive player for a number of years now with his reading of the ball in flight and intercepting capabilities. With Queensland having plenty of strong talls, he will be important to Tasmania getting the win. Splann is someone who has really enjoyed some fantastic form, first in the NAB League, and then in the TSL.

Others from the Apple Isle hoping to stake their case for the AFL Draft include top-agers Zac Morris and Sam Collins who have both been named in defence, as well as dangerous forward Jye Menzie. The Devils have nice balance across the ground and will be a difficult opponent for the Queensland side in this clash. Their opponents will be no push-overs either with some experienced top-age talent running around.

Saxon Crozier has continually put his hand up to be considered as a top-ager in 2021 after building more of an inside game, with he and Tahj Abberley among the midfielders who earned Draft Combine invites last year. Jack Briskey is a top-age tall who came close to earning a spot on Collingwood’s list after training with them over the summer, whilst goal-scoring machine Max Pescud, key defender Jack Johnston and the smooth-moving Bailey Reeves are all among those who were in consideration last year after combine invitations.

In 2021, Toby Trifett has continued to build for Morningside in the QAFL to put his hand up, whilst Cairns product Austin Harris remains Queensland’s key talent as a member of the AFL Academy. Bodhi Uwland has been the Sunshine State’s most consistent player in the NAB League, whilst Will Bella is hard to contain with his strength and overhead marking. Charlie Bowes, Brinn Little and Thomas Hofert round out the Allies Under 19 squad representatives.

Looking to the Under 17s clash, and the future year’s prospects will hope to catch the eye, lead by key forward Bryce Alomes who had a fantastic TSL Development Grand Final with five goals in a best-on-ground performance for Clarence. Ryley Sanders and Sam Banks-Smith will be players to watch in the midfield, with the Devils getting an additional chance at exposure to elite level football they missed out on in 2020, with a year or more to go to being in the AFL Draft selection frame.

For Queensland, they had a number of players who impressed in the NAB League and at QAFL level. Jaspa Fletcher is a potential father-son prospect to keep an eye on, but the other father-son in Will Ashcroft has been touted as a potential Top 5 selection. Though Ashcroft has been down in Victoria, the Lions have a couple of linked players for 2022. Ravi Schofield and Riley McMillan are other Lions players to watch in the big ‘Q’, while Cody Harrington is a high-level talent for the Suns with Jared Eckersley another name to watch coming out of the back half.

Tasmanian Statewide Women’s Player Focus: Candice Belbin (Ulverstone)

IN our latest Player Focus, we take a look at the Tasmanian Women’s Statewide Preliminary Final, where Ulverstone defeated Launceston by 19 points at Dial Park in Penguin on the weekend. The teams had a number of top-age and draft-eligible players running around, but the main focus was on a 2022 AFLW Draft talent in Candice Belbin, who was one of the Robins’ best in the win.

>> MATCH REPORT: Ulverstone dominate scoreboard to book final decider spot with Glenorchy
>> STATS PROFILE: Candice Belbin

CANDICE BELBIN PROFILE:

Height: 164cm
DOB: 14/07/2004
Position: Midfielder/Defender
Club/s: Ulverstone/Tasmania Devils

Strengths: Power, strength, contested ball, versatility, clearance work
Key Improvement: Execution by foot

Candice Belbin was one of those players who improved as the 2021 NAB League Girls season went on, catching the eye with her work across the ground. Her ability to win the contested ball and power out of a stoppage – despite often playing outside in the season – is what she does so well. Even though she is smaller compared to some inside mids, she has the ability to read the taps well and also provide run-and-carry. Her quick hands and versatile athleticism – a nice mix of speed and agility, as well as her work rate and competitiveness – helps her remain strong throughout matches. She only had one game below 10 touch for the Devils (and that was nine) in a season where she was ultra-consistent, and showed that she had plenty of give for next year. If she can tidy up her execution by foot, then she ticks a lot of boxes.

2021 NAB League Girls stats (averages):

Games: 9
Kicks:
 4.6
Handballs: 6.8
Disposals: 11.3
Marks: 0.9
Tackles: 4.1
Inside 50s: 0.9
Rebound 50s: 1.0

Match in focus: Ulverstone 3.12 (30) defeated Launceston 1.5 (11)

Candice Belbin Quarter by Quarter analysis:

Q1:

Stats: 3 kicks, 3 handballs, 6 disposals, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 behind

Belbin started the game with a prominent first quarter as expected being the top talent eligible for next year’s draft in the game. She laid a great early tackle and then won her first kick in close out of a stoppage and scrubbed it forward to the advantage of her teammates. Her movement through traffic was evident inside 50 when she won the ball inside a stoppage, could not get rid of it cleanly, but then produced a second effort to win the contested ball again and fire away a quick handball, kept her feet to get it back and spun through traffic to have a kick towards goal, albeit for a behind.

Another highlight of the term was her second efforts and work rate of back-to-back handballs where from half-back she ran onto it, kept her eyes on the ball, won it with oncoming pressure and opted to handball over her opponent so Belbin could run onto it again. She handballed a second time, and whilst opponents were able to halt her run there, she had gained great meterage from the play along the wing. Her last touch of the quarter was a kick off the ground, followed by another great tackle.

Q2:

Stats: 2 kicks, 4 handballs, 6 disposals, 1 mark, 1 tackle, 2 frees against

Belbin’s ground coverage and overall pressure was really good as her second quarter built on that of her first. Not finding much space in close, Belbin used her power time and time again to breakthrough congestion and get it forward, with only the execution being the area to sharpen up. She did get caught holding the ball trying to break through a tackle late in the second term, and gave away an earlier free kick for a tackle on an opponent for slinging, but was perhaps a little unlucky for that one. Her first touch was a quick handball in close, and her cleanliness at ground level for the most part was good, often having a split second to pickup the ball and tackle off, which she did at one stage on the wing. Belbin had pressure coming with a two-on-one situation, cleanly grabbed the ball on the wing close to the boundary, drew the contact and produced the handball, which enabled her team to go forward and set up the team’s first goal of the day.

Belbin’s clean pickups and run-and-carry were certainly highlights, though she did tend to rush her kicks even once she had gained the space. Taking a strong uncontested mark 40m out after sneaking into the perfect spot, she looked to hit up Amy Bissett in the pocket but just overcooked the kick and went over her head. Back in the midfield, Belbin won another contested ball on the wing, but was immediately tackled, then a second effort saw her win another touch and this time get her handball off, to finish the first half with a really prominent 12 disposals, one mark and three tackles.

Q3:

Stats: 5 kicks, 4 handballs, 9 disposals, 1 mark, 1 inside 50, 2 frees for

Belbin’s best quarter by far was her third term, spending the entire quarter right where the action was in midfield. Whilst she played through the midfield around the ground in the first half, she was a permanent fixture at each stoppage in the third, and it showed on the stats sheet with her ball-winning ability. She won a free kick in the opening few seconds for being taken high, but her kick again missed the target and was intercepted. Her ability to win the ball under pressure and still be able to dispose of it through power and strength is eye-catching, and she produced an elite tackle four and a half minutes into the quarter. Her execution on the tackle was fantastic to win the holding the ball free kick, but again the spin on the ball from the free kick did not go the right way and the opposition took advantage. Playing more inside, Belbin was able to read the taps off the ruck hands well, often being the one to get into the right spot to win it, and then either power away or quickly dish off, which she did on a number of occasions.

Belbin pushed forward to about 20m out and while the mark was not paid, she quickly handballed forward under pressure, and won the ball another two times in the chain, keeping the ball locked inside the forward 50 as Ulverstone really put scoreboard pressure on Launceston. Winning the ball over and over again in the contest, Belbin was clean when she was able to go inside 50 and then ran on to win another contested ball off the ground before being immediately tackled. Showing off her one-on-one bodywork, late in the quarter Belbin nudged her opponent off the ball, grabbed the ball but was immediately tackled winning a free kick for being taken high. Her kick was intercepted, though Belbin won the ball back off that next possession through a mark herself, before another turnover. By the final break, Belbin was one of the best on ground with 21 disposals and two marks.

Q4:

Stats: 1 kick, 3 handballs, 4 disposals

It was Belbin’s quietest quarter of the game in the last, with most of the time in possession being in Launceston’s forward half, and Ulverstone struggling to clear it from the defensive 50 for large portions of the game. The bottom-age talent spent time around the ground, and when she was in the at defensive 50, won a contested ball, tried to charge away, was tackled but still got her handball off. She almost had an identical moment not long after, but lost control of it – without giving away a free kick – as it was knocked out of her hands. Her clearance work had been on show the game and once again she did well with her hard running to kick it forward, and then got to the next stoppage to do it again by reading the tap well, but was immediately tackled.

Being immediately tackled before being able to possess of the ball from the stoppage was more often than earlier in the game, with Launceston ramping up the defensive pressure to try and get back in the game. Belbin did win a last touch late in the match, with her trademark contested ball win from the stoppage, charging off, being tackled but still getting her hands free for a handball to teammates.

TOTAL STATS: 11 kicks, 14 handballs, 25 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 frees for, 2 frees against, 1 behind

SUMMARY:

Candice Belbin’s game was impressive, with the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft prospect having some draftable traits, particularly with her running, contested ball-winning ability and power from a stoppage. She does need to continue to clean up the execution by foot, but aside from that, there was not too much to fault in her performance, with her hands through contact and decision making by hand both good. She also found space well, able to win the ball inside or outside, and in each third of the game. With plenty of time until the NAB League Girls season starts, Belbin has the raw attributes to show promise next year.

Picture credit: Simon Sturzaker via The Advocate

2022 AFLW early look: North Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is North Melbourne, a team that scraped into the last finals spot, but were not far off the minor premiership either, and ranked in the top three defensively.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 6th
Wins: 6
Losses: 3
Draws: 0
Points For: 379 (5th)
Points Against: 202 (3rd)

North Melbourne have perpetually been considered a contender in the AFL Women’s competition, and 2021 was no different. Despite finishing sixth, the Roos were only one win and percentage off top spot such was the evenness of the competition, and a result here or there could have changed the finals outlook. As it stood, the Roos were beaten by a fast-finishing Collingwood in the finals series, though were able to match-up against most sides, with the Magpies causing them the most trouble during the season. The ranked inside the top five for both points for and least points conceded, with very few holes across the board, and a title-winning side on paper. It might not have gone the way they would have liked, but the Roos were able to provide young players with more games as they did during the VFLW season.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons), Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers), Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs), Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW), Perri King, Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)
Outs: Vivien Saad (Gold Coast), Jasmine Grierson (GWS), Katelyn Cox, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Georgia Hammond, Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

North Melbourne had a fairly uneventful trade period, with only a couple of players departing the club and none arriving in that time. Ruck Vivien Saad headed north to play with the Suns, and Jasmine Grierson found her third club at the GWS GIANTS. The Roos tried to get Western Bulldogs ruck Kim Rennie into the club during the trade period, but the clubs could not come to terms, though North Melbourne eventually got their player via the AFL Women’s Draft. There, they also picked up mature-age talent Jasmine Ferguson to replace key defender Kate Gillespie-Jones, with the latter among five players to be delisted. Those included inaugural Roo Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor, and first-year Roos Katelyn Cox and Georgia Hammond, the former taken as an injury replacement player prior to the 2021 AFLW season. Heading to the draft and having access to the Tasmanian zone, North Melbourne were able to pick up AFL Women’s Academy member Perri King and her Devils’ teammate Ella Maurer. King would have a case as the biggest steal of the draft, though she was far from the only one for the Roos. Tess Craven was touted to go top 10 and Tara Slender was another terrific first round prospect, and the Roos were able to snap up both for below value. Able to add extra elements to their midfield, forward and defence, North Melbourne was able to nail the draft well.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Abbatangelo
Kaitlyn Ashmore
Daria Bannister
Daisy Bateman
Brooke Brown
Nicole Bresnehan
Jenna Bruton
Grace Campbell
Tess Craven
Jess Duffin
Bella Eddey
Jasmine Ferguson
Jasmine Garner
Ellie Gavalas
Britt Gibson
Aileen Gilroy
Danielle Hardiman
Emma Kearney
Elisha King
Emma King
Mia King
Perri King
Ella Maurer
Alice O’Loughlin
Tahlia Randall
Kim Rennie
Ash Riddell
Tara Slender
Amy Smith
Sarah Wright

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can North Melbourne finally make the next step and reach the AFLW Grand Final?
  • How many of their first-year young guns will crack into the senior side in 2022?
  • What percentage of the game will Emma King play forward compared to ruck next season?

PREDICTION:

North Melbourne has very few flaws in its team, so expect the Roos to be right up there when the whips are cracking. After initially building a side to win in 2019, North has steadily filtered in more youth to replace outgoing players and has a list that will compete with the very best. Led by Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell in the midfield, on paper North Melbourne could easily be favourites for the title, but premierships are not won on paper. Expect the new kids on the block to be more readymade than ever before, and the Roos to be an incredibly exciting side to watch in 2022.

Picture credit: Michael Dodge / AAP

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%

Scouting Notes: Clarence trio aide Roos to upset win over Blues

THREE young stars were on show in Saturday’s Tasmanian Football League (TSL) match between Clarence and Launceston. All Allies representatives, Sam Banks, Darcy Gardner, and Baker Smith suited up for the Roos in what was a nail-biting victory over top of the table Blues. Draft Central took a closer look at each of their performances throughout the match.

Sam Banks playing for Tasmania at the 2019 AFL U16 Championships.

#23 Sam Banks
Height/Weight:
187cm/73kg
Position:
Medium Defender/Midfielder
Strengths:
Kicking, decision making, athleticism

Banks spent most of the game playing across half back with a few stints in the middle of the ground. A highlight of his game was his clean ball use and his rebounding ability out of defensive 50. Banks showed off his kicking skills by hitting not only short targets, but also impressing with long kicks that hit his teammates on the chest.

When he had his stints in the middle, he attacked the ball hard and laid a few tackles on opposition players.

He played a consistent four quarter game and while he wasn’t the most prolific player on the ground, when the ball came to him, he was in most cases composed and able to find a target by foot.

In the first half particularly, there appeared to be a coaching directive to use Banks’ run and carry off half-back, with his teammates often looking for him when exiting the defensive 50. He received quite a few handballs, backing his skillset to create play moving up the ground.

A couple of great examples of his ball use came at the start of the third quarter when Launceston won the centre bounce clearance, but Banks was able to separate from his man and intercept the ball, before steadying and hitting a teammate 50m away.

A second great passage was when he received a handball on the wing, darted inboard and kicked a lovely long kick to the advantage of Baker Smith.

Overall, Banks played a solid game and certainly showed he is capable at a higher level.

Darcy Gardner playing for Tasmania at the 2019 AFL U16 Championships.

#39 Darcy Gardner
Height/Weight:
177cm/78kg
Position:
Inside Midfielder
Strengths:
Contested work, tackling, footy IQ

Gardner lined up at the first centre bounce of the match and remained in the midfield for the majority of the game. He was relentless for the four quarters, never shying away from a contest and racking up plenty of footy. He was the most prolific of the three young guns in focus.

Gardner took the game on whenever he could. He loves to back his speed to beat his opponents and he is a good ball user as well.

In the first quarter, he had a good piece of play where he positioned himself nicely to beat his opponent and take an uncontested mark from a kick out, before he pushed back quickly off the mark and wheeled onto his right foot to kick the ball inside forward 50.

He continued to attack the footy all game, he also tackled hard and always made sure it was tough for his opponents to win the ball. In the first centre bounce of the second quarter, he laid a tackle and won a holding the ball free, he then took off and hit his leading teammate on the chest for a shot at goal.

He’s skillset was summarised brilliantly when he kicked his goal in the second term, after crumbing the pack he used his speed to get away from an opponent, then evaded another oncoming tackler, before finishing his fine work with a running goal.

Gardner just kept going all game and his hard work paid off with the victory. He was among the best players on the ground, and he highlighted to any scouters watching on that his work rate is one thing that can see him match it with players at the highest level.

Baker Smith playing for Tasmania at the 2019 AFL U16 Championships.

#42 Baker Smith
Height/Weight:
194cm/71kg
Position:
Tall Utility
Strengths:
Marking, versatility, defensive efforts

Smith played a decent game. He was not dominant in terms of finding the footy or taking lots of marks, but he stood up in the big moments.

He spent the match rotating between the forward line and the ruck. While he was beaten in the hitout category, Smith’s agility made him like another midfielder in the centre of the ground. He worked hard all game and his one-percent efforts were a highlight amongst his second half goals.

While playing forward in the first quarter, Smith took the ruck in a forward 50 stoppage, he was able to set up the first goal with a great piece of ruck work to tap the ball to Josh Green who then snapped the ball across his body into the goals.

Smith showed good courage to continue playing after he was slammed into the turf when a big tackle was laid on him late in the first quarter.

He really came to play in the second half however, kicking three goals, including one that would end up being the match winner.

His second efforts led to his first goal after he tapped the ball on to a teammate on the edge of the forward 50, before following up to sneak home a little toe poke on the goal line moments later.

He then took two nice marks for his second and third goals, one off a short lead at the top of the 50 in the third term, before Banks kicked a long ball towards him, where he managed to push off his opponent, take the mark and convert the goal from a tight angle midway through the last quarter.

His time up forward, where he was able to take some strong marks and kick goals, certainly looked more in his nature than competing in the ruck, however he showed recruiters that he does have the flexibility to play in multiple positions.

Picture credit: Solstice Digital

TSL Player Focus: Zach Morris (Launceston)

WITH the Tasmania Devils players quickly having to change their weekend plans due to the Victorian lockdown, the top teenagers in the state headed back to the Tasmanian State League (TSL) competition. There, Draft Central took a focus on one particular player who set the game alight on the weekend in Launceston’s Zach Morris who stunned the TSL with a whopping nine goals in his first game up forward.

ZacH Morris
28/01/2003 | Medium Defender
188cm | 88kg

The Tasmania Devils medium defender has been a consistent player over the past four rounds played, lifting his game to record five or more rebound 50s in three of those games, while amassing 16 or more touches in each. What stands out in his game is his strong hands, good read of the ball in flight, and great body positioning and preparation for the mark which helps him win one-on-one contests with ease. Having not played forward all season – including for Launceston – Morris was thrown up the opposite end by coach Mitch Thorp to trial how he would go.

THE MATCH:

Launceston is the premier team of the Tasmanian State League (TSL) and the Blues flexed their muscles with a mind-boggling 28.13 (181) 5.5 (35) victory over Glenorchy. Whilst the Magpies are by no means a premiership contender, they had picked up the four wins coming into the match, whilst the Blues were a dominant 14-1 on top of the table. After a relatively even start in the first 18 minutes with only a few points separating the sides, the Blues piled on 26 of the next 29 goals in a complete shellacking – including leading the Magpies by 116 points at the final break.

PLAYER FOCUS:

Morris played forward the entire match, predominantly deep forward, though he did rotate up to half-forward in order to give teammates a rest closer to goal. Along with his own individual stat line, Morris set up a couple of goals with cleverly weighted passes inside 50.

Q1:

Stats: 3 kicks, 1 handball, 3 disposals, 2 marks, 1 goal

The first quarter started off perfectly for Morris in his new role, by nudging his opponent under the ball in a terrific one-on-one just 52 seconds into the match. He took the contested grab and nailed the set shot from 15m out, an omen for the rest of the contest. Surprisingly, Morris did not kick another goal for the first quarter, but still remained involved. He was caught behind a pack of pack of players when trying to lead out a few minutes later, and then did well to get front position on the lead, but the ball went over his head. His lead did drag his opponent out of the goalsquare which enabled a one-on-one for his teammate to go.

After Glenorchy predominantly had the ball in its forward half for the next 10 minutes, Morris pushed up the ground to mark at half-back with a good vertical leap and cut the kick inboard to try and move it through the corridor. In the 18th minute, Morris did well running back towards goal in space, keeping it in play close to the line and having the composure and vision to put it to a teammate’s advantage. Whilst his teammate did not pull down the mark, the execution was spot on. In his only real one-on-one loss in a marking contest, he was beaten by VFL-experienced utility Harrison Gunther who grabbed front position and could not be moved, rushing the ball through for a behind in the goalsquare.

Q2:

Stats: 4 kicks, 4 disposals, 4 marks, 3 goals, 1 inside 50

Once again Morris had an outstanding start to the quarter, just one minute and 27 seconds in taking a terrific mark on the lead with strong hands. He converted the set shot from about 50m into the breeze in what was a powerful kick to sail home for his second goal. Just three minutes later, Morris was at it again with his one-on-one ability, outsmarting the experienced Josh Arnold in the goalsquare to mark and then convert the set shot easily. His third goal – at the 11-minute mark – was his first gift, marking about 60m out and then when Gunther ran over the mark, was handed a 50m penalty, which Morris easily converted.

After a relatively quiet next 10 minutes, Morris got involved late in the term, but this time he was pinged for throwing the ball after trying to win the handball at the top of the goalsquare, but could not dispose of it correctly. He took a great mark 55m out late in the term, playing on immediately and swinging onto the right to weight it well to Jay Blackberry for a goal assist, closing out the half with eight disposals, six marks and four goals in an already eye-catching effort.

Q3:

Stats: 3 kicks, 3 disposals, 1 mark, 2 goals, 1 behind

Morris’ third quarter was definitely more of a deep forward’s stat line with the three kicks for three scores, though one was off the ground and not often counted in official statistics. He worked hard early positioning himself closest to goal and almost got one over the back with a bouncing shot on goal hitting the skiddy ground and bouncing through for a behind. He kicked his second gift of the day 30 seconds later, when an opponent kicked into the man on the mark and Morris pounced on the handball receive to run into a vacant goalsquare and kick his fifth.

He did not have to wait long for his sixth, with just two more minutes amassing on the clock, and this time it came from a nice lead out from goal, beating his opponent on reading the play and moving to clunk the grab and convert the set shot from a 45-degree angle. He almost looked like he had clunked another mark on the boundary 60m out sliding in, but it was not paid, and then in the dying moments, had a chance on the goalline against multiple opponents but the kick inside 50 did not favour him and he was rushed in getting boot to ball to soccer it into the behind post as he was dragged down.

Q4:

Stats: 6 kicks, 1 handball, 7 disposals, 4 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 goals

Morris saved his best until last and came with a flurry in the second half of the quarter. He found the going tough inside 50 in the first 13 minutes, leading out but not able to half volley it off the slippery deck, and then having a loose defender chop off a kick inside 50 towards him. He marked at half-forward and kicked deep inside 50 at one stage, but then turned it on for the last 15 minutes. Morris soccered the ball off the ground in the mud in the 14th minute, finding the opportunity amongst a pack of players, then just two minutes later, used early body work to push his opponent off the ball, read the flight and mark at the top of the goalsquare which he slotted easily again for number eight.

In the 19th minute, Morris snapped off the deck quickly under pressure to try and go for number nine but it held up in the breeze and was cleared by the defence back in numbers. His strong hands were on show not long after though, clunking a grab in the 22nd minute, reading the flight and pulling it down to again give himself an easy set shot from 15m out which he slotted. In an attempt to try and get Morris his tenth goal, the Launceston players were looking for him forward in the last five minutes, as Morris marked outside 50, but handballed it off, received it back then kicked cleverly under pressure to Casey Brown who slotted the goal instead on the run.

TOTAL STATS: 16 kicks, 2 handballs, 18 disposals, 11 marks, 2 inside 50s, 9 goals, 1 behind

QUOTES:

“I think there were a few outs so I think Thorpey (Launceston coach Mitch Thorpe) thought ‘why not?’ and put me forward. Credit to the boys with the delivery as well, I don’t think I would have kicked as many as I did without their delivery,” Morris told City Park Radio’s Rob Saward post-match.

When asked about learning his craft, Morris had this to say:

“Yeah I did a bit of craft stuff the last three weeks just working on it and I haven’t really played with Launnie in a while, and Thorpey sent me a message a couple of weeks ago saying he’d like to see me play forward so it was definitely swing forward and kick a couple of snags and help the team win.”

SUMMARY:

Overall Morris had an outstanding game as a forward. There are plenty of angles to take from this, with many no doubt arguing that in this large of a win it certainly favoured any forward inside 50 for the Blues. Without a doubt the delivery inside 50 was frequent and helpful for Morris, but he still had to put in the work to convert the goals. Only a couple were from long-range, but his set shot routine was consistent, and the reason he was able to take shots from so close to goal is due to his bodywork, reading of the play and preparation for the mark. It will be interesting to see if this game potentially sees him forward for the Devils in future NAB League contests, or indeed if he stays inside 50 for the Blues against a higher touted TSL outfit.

Picture credit: The Examiner

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)

Scouting notes: Tasmania Devils Intraclub

WITH the AFL Under 19 Championships postponed, the Tasmania Devils top talents took to the field in an Intraclub game between the Under 19s and Under 17s squads. Whilst the Under 19s got the job done by 52 points, both sides had some impressive performers and we took note of how some of them played in that match. All notes are the opinion of the author.

U17s:

#2 Braidy Simpson

Simpson is a classy player plying his trade mostly across half-back during the game, and while the ball sailed over his head plenty of times, he certainly showed glimpses of talent, competing well in one-on-one battles, and remaining composed under pressure. He used the ball well in the back half and was not afraid to get down and dirty in contested situations. Simpson also took a few kick outs, highlighting his ball use as a key trait in his game. The soon to be 17-year-old from Glenorchy has played three games in the NAB League so far this season and will be looking for more chances next season.

#11 Ryley Sanders

One of the youngest member of the Devils’ NAB League squad at just 16 years of age, and he had a super game on Sunday. Playing predominantly as an inside midfielder, Sanders was ferocious with his attack on the footy, winning plenty of the ball and using it well on most occasions. He accumulates the footy in multiple ways, he can get in and under the packs and win a contested ball, but he also possesses the ability to break lines and create play for his teammates. He was a standout player in the U17’s squad on Sunday, backing up what has been a great NAB league season, averaging 16 disposals and over four marks and four tackles per game. Standing at 184cm and weighing 76kg, Sanders is already a good-sized midfielder and a couple more years of development could see him turn into a strong player.

#16 Lachlan Cowan

Cowan was another player who performed well in the intraclub clash, providing plenty of eye-catching moments throughout the match. He is 186cm tall, but it would come as a surprise to many given his ability to play taller. He worked off half back and through the guts, showing some great attributes like intercept marking, line breaking speed and clever ball use. He has a penetrating kick, on show with some of his kick outs from defence, and always works hard up and down the ground. Cowan showed an ability to perform as both an attacking player and defensive player across the ground and has the skillset to play multiple roles across the field. He was most impressive on half back however, intercepting and turning that defence into attack.

#25 Tom McCallum

The 191cm forward kicked two goals out of the teams seven on the day, with a couple other chances to add to that tally. McCallum is agile and presents well right across the ground, from being an option coming out of defence to a good deep forward target. He uses his body well to outmuscle opponents in contested situations and has strong hands. What makes him a better player is his additional running ability, he’s got a good step and can put a couple quick meters on opponents when he leads. He finished off a great bit of play in the middle of the second term when he crumbed the ball on the wing, outran his opponent, evaded a tackle, and then kicked a goal from inside the centre square.

 

U19s:

#1 Baynen Lowe

Lowe is an energetic midfielder/small forward who works hard all over the ground. He is only 176cm tall but has a tireless work rate and he is always having a crack. His efforts were highlighted right from the start of the game when he worked hard to apply the forward pressure, tackled, and won a free kick, before finishing off superbly by kicking a goal from 40m out on the boundary. Not only is he capable of winning plenty of the footy as shown in his NAB League efforts this season, where he averages 25 disposals per game, but he also works hard defensively to pressure opposition players. He is smart and clean with ball in hand and can make things happen for teammates.

#2 Darcy Gardner

Gardner had a great game in the intraclub clash, racking up heaps of the footy playing predominantly through the middle, and spending some time forward. He is a hard-nosed midfielder who attacks every contest with intent. He is not a massive player by any means, but he uses his body well to break tackles and win the footy on the inside. Gardner also tackles hard and can stand up against bigger opponents. He has been averaging 16.5 disposals and just under six tackles at NAB League level, highlighted by a 27-disposal effort in round five against the Thunder. He showcased his ability on Sunday and can certainly have a big impact on games, getting the ball moving out of the centre.

#13 Jye Menzie

The boy from North Hobart had a field day, kicking six goals and finding the footy across the ground. He has a bit of x-factor about him, and he makes things happen with the ball in his hands. He’s got excellent skills and is a smart finisher around the big sticks. He kicked a nice goal in the third quarter after he intercepted the ball and got it onto a teammate, he then followed up and put in a strong second effort to tackle when the ball was lost, before it was won back, and he received a handball to kick a snapped goal. Another element of Menzie’s game is his speed, with the ability to burst away from packs. He’s been averaging 15 touches and has kicked 12 goals in the NAB League this season.

#23 Will Splann

Splann was the dominant force on the ground in the first half. He played forward and was taking strong marks in one-on-ones and leading up well at the ball carrier. He bagged the first two goals of the game, including his second one which was impressive, he laid a big tackle and was rewarded with the free kick, then he finished off his good work. His efforts were rewarded again in the second term, taking some nice marks, and adding another two majors to his name. In the second half, Splann was sent into defence, showing his versatility as a big man. He looked right at home too, winning a couple of big contests against his opponents, remaining composed, and using his strength and footy smarts. He kicked three goals and had six marks against the Bushrangers in round 12. He is an exciting prospect at 195cm, with his ability to perform at either end.

 

Picture credit: Jonathan DiMaggio/AFL Photos