Category: Victoria

Draft Central Power Rankings: August 2021

A RAFT of disruptions have impacted the top 2021 AFL Draft prospects over the last month, but through injury and lockdown they have still been able to show their wares through trials and otherwise. While the Under 19 National Championships have been delayed, the top-end of the crop is starting to take shape, but things are incredibly even past the top 15 or so talents. In Draft Central‘s August Power Rankings update, we again list our top 25 prospects along with a bunch of others in the mix. There is a new leader, along with three fresh faces in the top 10 and four previously unranked players who have worked into contention.

Note, the list is ordered purely on our opinion of each players’ current ability and potential, not taking into account any AFL clubs’ lists or needs.

#1 Nick Daicos (COL F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 183cm | 72kg

July Ranking: #2

Snapshot: Daicos has an unrivalled understanding of the game; able to bring his teammates into it and anticipate where his next possession will come from, leading to utter domination.

The Collingwood father-son prospect (son of Peter) has more than justified all the hype leading into 2021, solidifying his status as a bonafide number one contender. Daicos made his long-awaited NAB League debut in Round 1 and has gone on to dominate the competition, putting up ridiculous numbers through the engine room as the skipper of a talented Oakleigh Chargers group. Much like his brother, Josh, Daicos was only due to enter the Chargers’ program last year but was made to wait for his unveiling in Oakleigh colours. It was well worth it, though keen watchers already knew of his supreme ability having seen him hold his own in a Carey Grammar side featuring Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson. The Magpies are in for a rare talent.

Last month:

While Daicos continues to be managed throughout an interrupted season, he is just about undeniable at this point with the level of consistency he has shown when able to play. Having missed out on the Victorian Under 19 trials and not returned for Oakleigh on the weekend, his sole outing during July came for Vic Metro in the Under 19 National Championships opener. With 41 disposals, six clearances and two goals, Daicos was clinical against the best of his peers and is entering the level realms of Matt Rowell and Sam Walsh in terms of output for pick one fancies.

>> Q&A
>> Head-to-Head: Daicos vs. Sonsie
>> NAB League POTW: Round 3
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Nick Daicos fires off a handball

#2 Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder
21/06/2003 | 184cm | 78kg

July Ranking: #1

Snapshot: A midfielder with next to no weaknesses, whose power bodes well for tough ball winning and impressive aerial marking, as well as consistent scoreboard impact.

Heralded as the clear number one choice coming into 2021, Horne retained his crown for our first two rankings updates. The South Adelaide talent impressed in his debut SANFL League outings as a bottom-ager, and has since transitioned into a more prominent midfield role with guidance from former Carlton and Adelaide champion, Bryce Gibbs. He has long been a standout among the South Australian crop, participating in back-to-back Under 16 carnivals and being crowned his state’s MVP in 2019 as captain. Only 18 in June, Horne boasts a well-balanced game with plenty of damaging strengths and very few weaknesses, with his exposure at senior level another factor which sees him well in contention for number one status.

Last month:

Horne’s SANFL League campaign rolled on with three more outings in South Adelaide colours, seeming to build before a quieter game in his most recent dig. The 18-year-old hit his season-high for disposals (19) for a fourth time in an eye-catching performance against Adelaide, with his averages for the month sitting at 14.7 disposals, 5.3 tackles, and 1.7 clearances per game. While slightly down on most of his season averages in said sample, Horne remains a consistent figure for the Panthers despite their streak of four losses in five games. The glimpses of his best are superb, with the powerful prospect still very much in the pick one frame.

>> Q&A
>> SANFL League Player Focus
>> The race to be number one – what separates Daicos and Horne?

Image Credit: Deb Curtis/SANFL

#3 Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
26/04/2003 | 189cm | 82kg

July Ranking: #4

Snapshot: Callaghan is a classy mover with great agility for his size, and has shown a high level of development to prove his balance of outside and inside traits.

One who seems destined to crack the top five picks come year’s end, Callaghan has enjoyed a substantial rise in stocks in the first half of 2021. The flying wingman/half-back has recently transitioned to an inside role, but continues to prove difficult to stop at full flight with his blend of straight-line power and swift agility. While he is working on becoming more outwardly damaging with his disposal, the 18-year-old is quite a clean user of the ball by hand and foot. He is capable of gaining good meterage on the outer with speed and his long boot, and seems to manufacture time on the ball in the clinches.

Last month:

Callaghan starts a list of many top prospects who have sustained injuries over the last month, with inflation in his foot leading to some time on the sidelines. The Sandringham Dragons product was due to line up for Vic Metro before his foot flared up, but is on track to return to NAB League action in a couple of weeks as finals get underway.

>> Compare the Pair: Callaghan vs. Sinn

#4 Sam Darcy (WB F/S)
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Utility/Ruck
19/08/2003 | 204cm | 75kg

July Ranking: #3

Snapshot: Darcy is a fast-developing tall talent who can play in each key position post, is athletic, and marks the ball cleanly.

They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and that is the case with Sam Darcy – the son of 226-game Western Bulldogs champion, Luke. He is a raw tall prospect capable of playing on every line, which he has proven in his time with Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League and Scotch College in the APS Football competition. He is a top five pick on potential and the clear best tall in the draft, with his versatility and rate of improvement proving hard to ignore. Darcy has impressed with his athleticism and aerial ability as a key defender who rotates into the ruck in the NAB League, but has also consolidated his eye-catching forward forays at school football level. Bulldogs fans, you have another on the radar.

Last month:

After dominating the second Victorian trial game in June, plenty was expected of Darcy heading into Vic Metro’s clash with Country. He again played the majority of the game up forward and while he was not overly prolific, still managed to boot two goals via his mix of athleticism and aerial prowess. The highly-touted tall will likely feature for Scotch College as the APS season rounds out, having returned this past weekend.

#5 Ben Hobbs
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
16/09/2003 | 183cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #10

Snapshot: Hobbs is a hard-nosed, hard-working inside midfielder who loves to compete both defensively and in a ball-winning sense.

The GWV Rebels ball winner has not been able to fully show his wares in 2021 due to injury, but is proving he can break back into top 10 contention with a clean run at it. He featured at NAB League level as a 16-year-old in 2019 after earning All Australian honours for Vic Country, slowly getting accustomed to the rigours of midfield work in the elite talent pathway. His best traits are shown at the contest, with a hard edge and competitive streak seeing him win plenty of the ball on the inside. The nuggety 17-year-old is working on his outside game, but has such clear strength around the ball and has taken full toll upon his return to action.

Last month:

Hobbs’ excellent form continued with a trio of outstanding performances over the last month. His first dig came against Oakleigh in the NAB League, where he was unsurprisingly one of GWV’s top ball winners in a low-scoring win, before entering the representative grade with Vic Country. He continued to do what he does best with strength around the ball and gut running away from it, standing up against some pretty stiff Metro competition. Upon the NAB League’s return, Hobbs notched up 34 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal as his Rebels went down to top side, Sandringham. He has really accelerated his value though, as one of the prime and most readymade midfielders available.

>> NAB League POTW: Round 9

Ben Hobbs in action for Vic Country

#6 Mac Andrew (MEL NGA)
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Ruck/Tall Utility
12/04/2003 | 200cm | 70kg

July Ranking: #15

Snapshot: A raw tall prospect who has proven his worth in each post, Andrew’s vertical leap and fast-developing craft really catch the eye.

Another key position type who rocketed up draft boards with a promising start to the year, Andrew will have Melbourne recruiters a little nervous with his performances to date. He now sits inside our current top 20, boasting raw athleticism and bucketloads of upside given his ever-improving ability to be utilised at either end of the ground, or in the ruck. While he has proven his versatility, the Demons Next Generation Academy (NGA) talent looks most comfortable in the ruck, where his leap and clean follow-up work stands out.

Last month:

Having been made to watch on for much of June, Andrew’s stocks continue to soar after a couple of impressing showings over the past month. The raw ruckman is looking a very slim chance to end up at Melbourne through NGA bidding, with his value now sitting somewhere around the top 10. He proved as much in an excellent outing for Vic Country, again lighting up the big stage with his athleticism and aerial feats to be one of the more eye-catching players on the day. Andrew also returned for Dandenong on the weekend, managing 17 disposals, four marks and 16 hitouts as he rotated through the ruck.

>> ‘Rays on the rise

#7 Josh Gibcus
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Tall Defender 
4/04/2003 | 195cm | 84kg

July Ranking: #9

Snapshot: An intercept marking defender who reads the play well and has a sizeable leap, Gibcus’ eye-catching form has propelled him into top 10 calculations.

For the second month running, Gibcus is the second tall prospect on our list and has earned his spot with superb form this year. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) defender is an intercept type who uses his strengths to advantage; reading the play beautifully and timing his movements to float onto the scene, before rising with his springy vertical leap to take series of marks and force turnovers. While he is working on his ground level game, Gibcus is so clean in the air and usually a sound distributor across the last line, showing great composure on the ball. He was one of the many AFL Academy call-ups and truly held his own in that fixture, as he continues to improve at a great rate.

Last month:

While he has been thrown around in a few different roles and proven steady in his form of late, Gibcus’ highlight for the past month came when he lined up on the highly-touted Sam Darcy in Vic Country colours. Playing in his most comfortable key defensive post, the GWV Rebels tall was able to match it with Darcy, a 204cm unit, and quell his marking influence through athleticism and well-timed spoils. The match-up was a handy insight into how the best key forward and back would fare head-to-head, with Gibcus arguably coming out on top. It showed he can lock down when required, adding to his proven intercepting acumen.

#8 Josh Ward
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Midfielder
15/08/2003 | 181cm | 79kg

July Ranking: #19

Snapshot: A classy midfielder who is capable of winning mountains of possessions, Ward proves a centre bounce mainstay with his clean skills and work rate.

Having started the year on the precipice, Ward has broken into and consolidated his spot among the 2021 crop’s top 25 places. The Northern Knights midfielder is one who works hard both ways and gets stuck in at the contest, able to win his own ball and distribute with clean skills to the outer. He is also beginning to showcase his own traits on the outside and can impact while resting forward, but holds clear value as a reliable ball winner at the stoppages. A Vic Metro representative at Under 16 level, Ward is destined for the same honours as a rising draft eligible Under 19 talent this year.

Last month:

Ward has really accelerated into top 10 contention on the back of some irresistible form, which translated well from NAB League level to the representative stage. He started the month of July with another excellent showing, racking up a game-high 34 disposals and eight tackles in Northern’s loss to Murray on the road, but truly shone as he lead Vic Metro to a thumping win over Country the following week. Ward starred with 29 touches, eight clearances and two classy goals to put himself right up there with the best; showcasing his leadership quality, tenacity at the contest, work-rate away from it, and improving ability to hurt the opposition going forward.

Josh Ward gets a kick away

#9 Neil Erasmus
Subiaco/Western Australia | Midfielder/Forward
2/12/2003 | 188cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #12

Snapshot: An exciting forward who has transitioned wonderfully well into midfield, Erasmus lays claim to eye-catching traits both aerially and at ground level.

Another prospect out of Subiaco who played in last year’s WAFL Colts premiership, Erasmus has built on his potential this year having come in as a potential first round bolter. He burst onto the scene with four goals in that 2020 Grand Final, showcasing clean hands up forward after putting in a terrific PSA Football campaign. While he was played off half-forward and the wing as an AFL Academy call-up, Erasmus has proven himself to be quite the consistent ball winner through midfield this year, bringing some spark to the engine room. He has a great vertical leap and can impact both aerially and at ground level, with scoreboard impact remaining in his back pocket.

Last month:

Another who has returned from injury with a bang, Erasmus has been prolific of late in West Australian colours. He linked up with the state Under 19s squad for trial games against East Perth and Perth over the last fortnight, hitting the ground running to show no lingering signs of the quad injury which kept him out for a month. The 17-year-old managed figures of 30 and 28 disposals in those digs, showcasing his outstanding level of consistency in finding the ball, and a sound endurance base despite the time off. He finally cracks the top 10 having shown the potential to do so, and with plenty of development left.

>> WA U19s Player Focus: Neil Erasmus

#10 Tyler Sonsie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Midfielder
27/01/2003 | 181cm | 76kg

July Ranking: #5

Snapshot: A smooth-moving midfielder with terrific poise and class, Sonsie opens up the play with his clean disposal and ability to kick goals.

One of the most highly-touted Victorian prospects before a ball had been bounced in 2021, Sonsie’s absolute best is exceptionally good. The Eastern Ranges prospect was Vic Metro’s Under 16 MVP in 2019 and is one of the few 2003-born NAB Leaguers to have already experienced the Under 19 competition. He was part of his region’s 2019 minor premiership-winning side, rolling forward off a wing. Now a draft eligible talent, Sonsie has moved more permanently into midfield and while he is developing his defensive running, has plenty of attacking traits to offer. His ability to exit stoppages with poise and make good decisions with ball in hand is top notch, with that exceptional skill level also translating to dual-sided finishing in front of goal.

Last month:

Sonsie has been out of action since late-June due to injury, sustaining bone bruising in the second half of Eastern’s Round 9 loss to Sandringham. He was thus ruled out of Vic Metro duties last month, but should soon be in for a return with the Ranges with finals fast-approaching.

>> VFL Player Focus
>> Head-to-Head: Sonsie vs. Daicos
>> NAB League POTW: Round 1

#11 Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Half-Back/Midfielder
7/01/2003 | 186cm | 82kg

July Ranking: #6

Snapshot: A line-breaking half-back who has shown promising development in midfield, Sinn’s greatest strengths are his speed and kick penetration.

Another established leader among the Victorian crop as one of Sandringham’s co-captains, Sinn’s best is as damaging as anyone in the overall draft pool. He is regarded as the best technical kick in the Dragons’ program and is given the license to look for options others simply wouldn’t. His penetrative boot and line-breaking speed make him a meters gained machine, observed most significantly with his well-timed runs off half-back or on the wing. Sinn has also moved onto the inside of late to good effect, showing a handy balance of traits and utilising the size he added during last year’s lost season. His campaign has been interrupted by injury, but he looks poised to return soon and play out a full season in the NAB League.

Last month:

In what has turned out to be a frustrating season for the highly talented speedster, Sinn is again nursing an injury which he sustained late in his Vic Metro appearance. It came after he finally returned to action with Sandringham, putting in steady performances off half-back and then through midfield across consecutive weeks, before then turning out for Metro. At his best, he looked dangerous with his speed and and forward carry, while continuing to take risks via foot. He is poised to break back into the Dragons’ lineup alongside Callaghan in time for finals.

>> Compare the Pair: Sinn vs. Callaghan

#12 Matthew Roberts
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
31/07/2003 | 183cm | 81kg

July Ranking: #7

Snapshot: Roberts is a hard-working and consistent midfielder with senior experience who racks up plenty of the ball, but can also rotate forward.

A second South Adelaide midfielder within the top 10 of our count, Roberts’ form has seen him prove difficult to deny of such honours. Like Horne, he represented South Australia at back-to-back Under 16 carnivals, playing a key role as he split his time between midfield and the forwardline. The 17-year-old broke through for his League debut in 2021, skipping the Reserves grade after a scintillating start in the Under 18s competition. As one of the hardest and smartest runners in the draft crop, Roberts is also a sound user of the ball and looks towards fellow left-footer Marcus Bontempelli as a model for his own game. His ability to hit the scoreboard matches said archetype, though Roberts also has a hard edge and competitiveness which sets him apart.

Last month:

Roberts is yet another top prospect who is currently sidelined, nursing his way back to full health from a syndesmosis injury. He had just cracked the SANFL League grade, but hasn’t played there since Round 7 (late-May), nor has he turned out at College Football level in that time. Once he gets a full week of training under his belt, Roberts will return to the field.

>> Q&A
>> Feature
>> SANFL League Player Focus

Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography

#13 Josh Rachele
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
11/04/2003 | 180cm | 78kg

July Ranking: #13

Snapshot: A mercurial forward who has drawn comparisons to GWS star Toby Greene, Rachele has unbelievable smarts, skills, and a keen eye for goal.

Rachele is rightly a standout among his draft class, having taken out the Under 16 Division 1 MVP award for Vic Country in 2019. He quickly went on to represent the Murray Bushrangers, averaging a tick under 18 disposals and two goals in four games as a 16-year-old. The exciting forward hails from an elite soccer background and has quick feet to show for it, as well as the smiling celebrations you’d expect on the end of well-finished goals. Rachele is lauded for his skills and smarts in the forward half, but has shown an aptitude for midfield work with his turn of speed and ability to find the ball at ground level. He’s capable of highlight-reel moments.

Last month:

With the APS competition back underway and winding down, Murray would have been grateful Rachele found some of his best form during the break. At the start of July, he snared six goals from 17 disposals and eight marks in a wonderful performance against Northern, helping the Bushrangers to a 16-point win. The enigmatic talent went on to don Vic Country colours and was a little quiet early on against Vic Metro, before making the most of a midfield move to finish with 20 disposals and a goal. He holds his spot, but certainly has top 10 quality.

#14 Arlo Draper
South Adelaide/South Australia | Midfielder/Forward
20/01/2003 | 185cm | 71kg

July Ranking: #14

Snapshot: Draper is a classy midfielder-forward who utilises his agility in the engine room, and brilliant marking ability to impact when stationed inside attacking 50.

One of the more intriguing and versatile prospects in the draft pool, Draper has garnered attention with his promising bottom-age form and continued success in the SANFL Under 18s this year. The smooth-moving midfielder has had no trouble getting his hands on the ball with more consistent time in midfield, before impacting in his resting stints up forward. He is yet another South Adelaide prospect in the mix, with his stylish form and clean hands making him easy on the eye to keen draft watchers. He is one who may feature highly on many draft boards despite being snubbed by the AFL Academy, and has great upside in his current role.

Last month:

Another victim of the dreaded syndesmosis injury, Draper’s last game was all the way back on June 19. He dropped back down to the Under 18s level and notched season-highs of 31 disposals and 10 clearances in a sizeable South Adelaide win, putting his had up for another promotion to the senior grades. We should see Draper back on the park in time for SA’s scheduled National Championships outings.

>> SANFL U18s Player Focus
>> Feature

#15 Matthew Johnson
Subiaco/Western Australia | Inside Midfielder
16/03/2003 | 193cm | 80kg

July Ranking: #11

Snapshot: With smooth agility and clean hands at the contest, Johnson is one of the premier tall midfielders in this year’s draft crop and has plenty of upside.

Hailed as the best tall midfielder in this year’s crop coming into the season, Johnson is one with a point of difference and a good amount of development left. The 193cm Subiaco prospect continues to put on size and can win the ball at the coalface, but stands out most with his smooth movement in traffic and clean hands around the ground. He suits an in-vogue modern day prototype and will inevitably yield comparisons to some of the currently dominant midfielders over 190cm. Johnson is already well versed in terms of representative duties and was part of Subiaco’s WAFL Colts premiership side in 2020. He also earned a senior debut this year and would have done so earlier if not for injury on the eve of season proper.

Last month:

Johnson has showcased some of his best form over the last month, competing against his peers after gaining some WAFL League exposure. The tall midfielder’s only Colts game for July yielded 26 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles and a goal agains the winless Perth, before a trio of outings for Western Australia’s Under 19 side. Arguably the best of those appearances was his first, against WA’s Under 17s, where Johnson looked the most polished player afield and showed great poise on the ball. If he continues his run and can find his top level more consistently, he could well be in for another senior dig and will certainly be a key part of WA’s Under 19 midfield.

#16 Campbell Chesser
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Balanced Midfielder
27/04/2003 | 186cm | 83kg

July Ranking: #8

Snapshot: A speedy and productive mover on the outside, Chesser breaks the lines from half-back or the wing but has also shown a good balance in his ball winning.

A third Sandringham Dragons prospect in the top 10, Chesser also lays claim to damaging outside traits – weaponising his run-and-carry and use by foot. While he hails from Lavington, in Murray’s region, the 18-year-old boards at Melbourne Grammar and thus turns out for the Dragons. He is another of his age group who had NAB League experience under his belt prior to 2021, and has stayed true in terms of position to impact off the wing and half-back line. Chesser has only just cracked Sandringham’s stacked midfield in a bid to showcase his balance, having recently returned from injury.

Last month:

Chesser returned to the fold having been held back by a knee injury, showing glimpses of his running best with 19 disposals and five inside 50s in Sandringham’s midfield at the start of July. He went on to represent Vic Country and was a little quieter in his familiar wing post, before Victorian lockdown hit once more. Along with Callaghan and Sinn, Chesser is a player the Dragons will hope to regain heading into their NAB League finals campaign.

Campbell Chesser sets off for Vic Country

#17 Josh Goater
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Midfielder
2/06/2003 | 190cm | 79kg

July Ranking: #17

Snapshot: A big-bodied midfielder with explosive athletic traits and clean hands on the inside, Goater is a prospect with great potential.

Goater lays claim to one of the more impressive athletic profiles in the draft pool, particularly in a power sense. His explosive turn of speed and impressive vertical leap are traits which catch the eye at testing events and are transferred on-field, with the Calder Cannons product able to produce exciting passages of play. He has proven his worth in midfield with good ball winning strength and clean hands on the inside, but can also roll out to a wing or pinch-hit up forward. He is another who stakes his claim on high upside.

Last month:

One of the best performed Victorians over the past month, Goater has been able to show off his versatility and athleticism at a greater rate. With a shift to half-back for Calder, the explosive prospect has proven an apt intercept and rebound defender in the NAB League, averaging 30 disposals, nine marks, and six rebound 50s across two outings in July. He is a proven midfield distributor too, having shone on the inside with his clean hands and strong frame while turning out for Vic Metro. He’s one who could well continue to rise towards season’s end.

#18 Darcy Wilmot
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Small Defender
31/12/2003 | 182cm/70kg

July Ranking: #24

Snapshot: Wilmot is a tenacious and brave half-back whose most flashy weapons show on the attack, as he breaks the lines with great speed and ball use.

Wilmot has thrust his name into contention with increasingly impressive performances for the Northern Knights in 2021, as well as an impressive senior debut at local football level. The small-medium defender has all the typical class and running prowess you would expect on the rebound, but is also willing to compete above his size in aerial contests. The 17-year-old still has plenty of development left as a December 31 birth, meaning he only just makes the cut to be eligible for this year’s draft. His run-and-gun style is sure to catch many more eyes as the season continues, with Wilmot a prospect truly on the rise.

Last month:

Looking at a glance in the first half of the season, Wilmot certainly garnered attention with his speed and dare, though the last month has brought to light much more substance to the 17-year-old’s game. He had a quiet outing against Murray at the start of July, but was excellent in defence for Vic Metro and was easy to identify on-field with his vocal instruction and encouragement. That side to his game screams leadership quality, with Wilmot barking orders from behind the ball and setting up well to get his intercept game going. He was back to his best again this past weekend, managing 16 disposals and four rebound 50s as the Knights went down to Bendigo, but not for a lack of effort (or voice) on Wilmot’s part.

#19 Jye Amiss
East Perth/Western Australia | Tall Forward
31/07/2003 | 195cm/85kg 

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot:

You’ll hear plenty of puns regarding the key forward’s ironic surname but it’s true that Amiss is more hit than, well, miss. The East Perth spearhead has dominated the 2021 WAFL Colts season thus far, booting 41 goals in 10 games with a ridiculously good conversion rate of 80 per cent from his scoring shots. He proved undeniable for selection in a West Australian state squad stacked with key position talent, and doesn’t need a wealth of opportunities to make an impact. With sound overhead marking and an improving ground level game, Amiss is an irresistible threat inside attacking 50. He bolts into our rankings with a debut inside the top 20, but his true test lies ahead at the National Championships.

Last month:

Amiss has translated his WAFL Colts scoring form to the representative stage, able to find the big sticks with relative ease (albeit less accurately) in a trio of West Australian trial games. Coming in off some ripping form for the Royals, the 18-year-old snared eight goals across those three outings – spread well with two hauls of three and 2.4 in his latest effort. Again, Amiss proved he can make the most of limited looks with plenty of attempts on goal, while steadily working further afield to add strings to his bow. He now looks to be WA’s leading forward option alongside Jack Williams ahead of the upcoming National Championships.

#20 Jack Williams
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Forward/Ruck
1/12/2003 | 195cm | 91kg

July Ranking: #18

Snapshot: Williams is a versatile tall prospect who thrives aerially and consistently kicks goals up forward, while also rotating through the ruck or even to defence.

One of the bolting key position players in this year’s draft pool, Williams has been in sensational form at WAFL Colts level. The 195cm East Fremantle talent has shown his best form as a forward in 2021, booting 24 goals in nine WAFL Colts games to this point and showcasing his exceptional aerial ability. While he has been swung forward this season, Williams can also pinch-hit in the ruck and is accustomed to defensive roles too. His clear versatility and upside saw him selected in this year’s AFL Academy intake, and he showed good signs in the academy’s showcase fixture against Geelong VFL.

Last month:

Like most of the West Australian prospects listed here, Williams had just one WAFL Colts outing in July amid the call-up for Under 19 representative duties. During his Colts dig, Williams spent more time in the ruck and won 18 hitouts to go with his 17 disposals and lone goal, putting up strong numbers with much of the same work we are used to from the 195cm talent. He looked to stamp himself as WA’s best key forward option during the trials, but has some pretty stiff competition in that department. Still, Williams looked ominous in the early stages of his first hit-out against the Under 17s, before quieter outings thereafter. Depending on which WA forward attracts the best opposition defender, Williams could be in for some big National Championships performances.

#21 Josh Fahey
GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies | Medium Defender
11/11/2003 | 186cm | 76kg

July Ranking: #16

Snapshot: A run-and-gun rebounding defender who gives his all and boasts a raking left-foot kick, Fahey is arguably this year’s leading Northern Academy talent.

Our top-ranked Northern Academy prospect in 2021, Fahey is clearly the best prospect out of the Allies crop and a real first round contender. He returned to the GWS GIANTS Academy program this year to confirm his eligibility as an academy product, having previously shifted to Queensland and joined forces with the Gold Coast SUNS Academy. The Queanbeyan native has impressed onlookers across both states with his dash out of defence and penetrative kicking, both damaging weapons for a player of his position. He has earned a VFL berth with the GIANTS and was named best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase.

Last month:

Fahey returned to action at the start of July in Greater Western Sydney’s one-point VFL triumph over Casey, but hasn’t been sighted at the level since. He managed seven touches on that day and at his best, is a rebounding force out of the back half. The 17-year-old also turned out for local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra First Grade competition and was named among the Tigers’ best players this past weekend. Hopefully with an uninterrupted run towards the back end of the year, including the National Championships, Fahey can show his value.

#22 Tom Brown
Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country | Medium Defender
30/07/2003 | 186cm | 71kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: A dashing half-back with terrific athleticism in the form of speed and a vertical leap, Brown is a bolting talent who you’ll likely miss if you blink.

While Geelong gained access to sister, Millie via father-daughter rules, Tom Brown is ineligible to be drafted by the Cats under the father-son category as his father Paul falls just short of the 100-game qualification. Nonetheless, the Murray Bushrangers prospect has plenty of eye-catching traits which will help him blaze his own trail. A Vic Country Under 16 and now Under 19 representative, Brown is capable of playing on each line but looks to have found a home across half-back, where his dashing style and clean skills shine. An ankle injury kept him out for a large chunk of the season, but he is back now and raring to break into first round contention.

Last month:

Having returned to the field as the Vic Country runner during June’s trials, Brown finally got back to playing status with some strong showings in July. The rebounding defender was lively in his first game back against Northern in the NAB League, and built steadily into his representative dig against Vic Metro. He ended up with 13 touches and five rebound 50s in the latter game, having showcased terrific aerial ability and plenty of pace on the counter. After another short break, Brown backed that performance up with 12 touches in a tough slog against Calder on the weekend, but has the eye-catching traits to press higher up the board.

Tom Brown looks futher afield

#23 Joshua Browne
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder
3/01/2003 | 185cm | 77kg

July Ranking: #23

Snapshot: An ultra-consistent midfielder who runs hard and finds plenty of the ball, Browne is one of the most in-form midfielders nationwide.

Browne is a player whose form has made him hard to deny for a spot in the top 25, with his ability to win big numbers at a remarkable rate making him one of the most consistent performers in the draft pool at present. He has built on a promising bottom-age campaign with East Fremantle to hit new heights in the WAFL Colts competition, competing with grunt at the contest and running hard to accumulate around the ground in relentless fashion. He is also quite solid defensively on the inside and is the type of player you want on your side, especially among the centre bounce mix.

Last month:

Having sustained a ridiculously good output throughout the first half of the season, Browne’s run of form came to a halt after his Round 14 WAFL Colts appearance. The ball magnet racked up 33 disposals and a goal against Peel on that day, but picked up a knock and was ruled out of the subsequent West Australian trial games. He still looms as a key member of his state’s midfield mix though, with National Championships and Colts finals still to come.

#24 Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Forward/Midfielder
10/02/2003 | 184cm | 73kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: Butler has wonderfully clean hands and burning pace, traits which have translated well from an initial forward role, to a more recent midfield venture.

Another prospect with ties at the elite level, Butler is the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. He is an exciting player in his own right though, with sharp skills by hand and a terrific turn of speed which serve him well in a creative sense. Having proved himself in the forward half, Butler went on to impress with his clean ball winning ability in midfield before injury struck. He missed out on representing Vic Country as an Under 19 having done so at Under 16 level, but should get a look-in upon his, and the National Championships’ return.

Last month:

Butler went down with a sternum injury during GWV’s Round 9 NAB League clash with Murray (June 19), and couldn’t quite get up to play in the Victorian trials or national carnival opener. He did get on the park this past weekend though, managed back into competition and finishing with 10 disposals, five tackles and 1.2 with more time in the front half as his Rebels were beaten by Sandringham.

#25 Judson Clarke
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward/Midfielder
17/10/2003 | 179cm | 69kg

July Ranking: NR

Snapshot: Clarke is a zippy small forward/midfielder who can light up the game in a flash with his forward run, tricky agility, and eye for goal.

While his exploits were on full show earlier in the year, Clarke stamped his credentials with a breakout performance in the Under 19 Victorian trials, bagging five goals in a starring display. The crafty Dandenong Stingrays product represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and continues to show promising glimpses both in the NAB League and at school footy level. He is nimble in possession with a mix of speed and agility, and looks to make things happen in the front half with creative energy and smarts at the fall of the ball. Clarke often finishes his work with spearing left-foot use, making for an exciting package as far as small prospects go. While he can roll through midfield, the 17-year-old looks most damaging up forward and can cement his spot here with more eye-catching big game showings.

Last month:

After his massive trial game, Clarke was almost a certainty to line up for Vic Country come championships proper, and did so with a handy outing against Vic Metro. Clarke also turned out for Dandenong pre-champs in Round 11 of the NAB League, and proved a menace with 27 disposals, five marks, and a goal as the Stingrays went down narrowly to Eastern.

IN THE MIX:

State trial games in South and Western Australia have seen a number of players rise into contention, or at least confirm their status as genuine prospects. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera was a standout in the South Australian trial, which was played in horrendous conditions, but did little to diminish his class and poise on the ball. Lewis Rayson was another to show a bit in that game with his run on the outer, while midfielder Hugh Jackson could be around the mark on the back of his tremendous SANFL Under 18s campaign to date. Meanwhile, Cooper Murley, who suffered a collarbone injury last month, was unlucky to be squeezed out.

Over in Western Australia, big-bodied midfielder Kade Dittmar has dominated his state’s trial games, as the likes of Corey Warner and Fremantle NGA product Jesse Motlop rise on the back of their respective League debuts. Luke Polson was the most recent WA Under 19s squad member to crack the senior grade, proving a mobile key position utility who isn’t afraid to run with the ball. Fellow talls Rhett Bazzo and Jacob van Rooyen have also had their moments with the latter even swinging to defence recently, but find themselves out of the 25 this time around.

A bunch of NAB Leaguers continue to knock the door down too, with crafty Vic Metro ball magnets Zac Taylor and Jake Soligo among them. Connor Macdonald fits in a similar category and has been terrific this season, while fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Knevitt has a bunch of traits which may put advance his standing as a big-bodied midfielder. Athletic wing-forward Blake Howes continues to float around the mark, while Sandringham teammates and St Kilda NGA hopefuls Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager have been big improvers over the last few weeks. Collingwood NGA Youseph Dib has also stood up valiantly for Oakleigh this year.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Richmond

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Richmond.

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

One of the best and most consistent players of this year’s NAB League season, Reid was snapped up by Richmond with pick five. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player is a utility of sorts; having started out the season at half-back, before spending time on both sides of midfield and eventually capping it off with some fantastic performances up forward. In every third of the ground, Reid proved a natural ball winner who could find it at a good rate and provide line-breaking drive on the outer. Her carry and penetrative kick suit the outside midfielder mould well, but Reid is also a handy marking target up forward at 173cm and finds ways to craft shots on goal out of congestion. The Tigers may employ her as a ‘fix-it’ type of player depending on what the team requires, and have a very versatile talent on their hands – not to mention elite.

STELLA REID CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

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

At 160cm, Yassir may be small but truly packs a punch. The Calder Cannons graduate was a teammate of Reid at Vic Metro and together, the pair add some nice depth to Richmond’s midfield rotation. Yassir has long been one of the top Victorian ball winners and is exceptional with her mix of grit and class at ground level. She cracks in at the coalface and comes away with a zippy turn of speed, while also remaining relevant defensively. Her size and tackling game could see her be developed as a pressure forward before transitioning into midfield, but Yassir is a class act in there and should be sound fold for the likes of Monique Conti, Ellie McKenzie, and the Hosking twins for years to come.

EMELIA YASSIR CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls season review: Calder Cannons

#48 Meagan Kiely (Midfielder)
15/12/1994 | 168cm
North Melbourne VFLW

If North Melbourne didn’t pounce, another team would and that was exactly what Richmond did by selecting VFLW standout Meagan Kiely at pick 48. The 26-year-old proved one of the best state leaguers going around in 2021 and offers a readymade option for the Tigers’ midfield mix. Kiely’s inside game and work-rate should allow some of her new side’s more flashy midfielders to be released, aiding their ball winning cause in the face of tags and heavy opposition attention. Having lead the VFLW for disposals, kicks, and marks during the regular season, her dominance was simply undeniable. A few of her new teammates would know all about her talent too, given Kiely had 34 disposals and seven marks in her second-last VFLW outing this year – against Richmond’s VFLW affiliate, Port Melbourne.

MEAGAN KIELY CONTENT:

>> 2021 Mature-age team to watch
>> VFLW Player Focus: Meagan Kiely

Meagan Kiely gets a kick away

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

After three Geelong Falcons graduates were taken in the first round, Houtsma became the fourth at pick 50. The 176cm utility can play on each line, but found a home on the wing for large parts of this year’s NAB League season. She is a prospect with high upside and while she may not accumulate the numbers others might, has an impact with each disposal and boasts a promising athletic profile. Houtsma could offer spurts of play similar to current wing revelation Tessa Lavey given said athleticism and aerial ability, but has all the versatility and room for development to be moulded into a player who suits whatever Richmond may need.

INGRID HOUTSMA CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Geelong Falcons

Ingrid Houstma in action for Geelong Falcons

#54 Akec Makur Chuot (Defender)
5/09/1992 | 178cm
Richmond AFLW (Re-Drafted)

DRAFT SUMMARY:

With a couple of early and late picks, Richmond brought in a quartet of fresh faces who provide great depth and versatility not only to the midfield, but potentially all around the ground. Reid was arguably a best available selection at pick five and while Yassir was arguably the same at pick 16, also suited the Tigers’ need for some midfield support. Kiely adds to that as one of the prime mature-agers nationwide, while Houtsma is a high-value late choice who could develop strongly in an elite system. Richmond also re-drafted defender Akec Makur Chuot with their final pick (54) after delisting her at the end of last season.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Melbourne

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Melbourne.

#41 Georgia Campbell (Ruck/Forward)
1/09/2003 | 182cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

Melbourne got an absolute steal in obtaining Campbell all the way back at pick 41 via the competition’s father-daughter rules. The Eastern Ranges ruck-forward, who is the daughter of Adrian, was eligible to nominate for either Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs, but becomes a Dee and adds to the tall stocks of a finals contending team. She came on in leaps and bounds this season to quickly become the leading Victorian ruck prospect, boasting eye-catching athleticism for a player of her 182cm stature. Able to impact in the air and on the ground, Campbell is also versatile enough to do so both as a ruck or key forward, as shown during her representative stint with Vic Metro. Having transitioned into football from other sports, she has plenty of development left too.

GEORGIA CAMPBELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Eastern Ranges

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

Having known before the fact that they would be getting Campbell, the Demons went tall once more with their second pick immediately after. Gillard has long been one of the most promising Victorian talls, and offers terrific aerial presence at 190cm. While rucking, she uses that size to advantage and has the potential to become a really dominant hitter, while also having the experience of playing at either end of the ground. She rotated forward in 2021 and while some of her disposal execution is a touch raw, the Calder Cannons graduate is difficult to beat in the air. She will likely be developed as a ruck to support Lauren Pearce, given the Dees have just recruited Campbell and Tayla Harris to go with the likes of Eden Zanker and Alyssa Bannan as tall forwards – but there is plenty of dynamism among that lot.

TAHLIA GILLARD CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

Gillard fires away a handball for Calder Cannons

#45 Alison Brown (Utility)
21/09/1997 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Having already rookied midfielder Eliza West from its VFLW program, Melbourne dipped into the reserves pool once more to select Brown with pick 45. The 23-year-old lands at her third AFLW club after earning the honour of being an inaugural Blue and Saint, and in fact the first player signed to St Kilda’s women’s squad. Brown continued to persevere since, and having established a spot in the Demons’ VFLW defence, has been duly promoted for another crack at the elite level. She offers strong and experienced depth to a largely established squad and will likely be ready to go once called upon.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Melbourne fans were made to wait a long time to witness their club’s first pick, which was always going to be Campbell, but all three selections came in a flurry. Campbell and Gillard add to the Demons’ strong tall stocks, particularly in the ruck-forward rotation and given the competition for spots, may well be afforded a proper amount of time to develop before entering the elite level. Brown rounded out the haul nicely as the mature-ager of the bunch, able to play multiple roles and solidify the defence. She’s a readymade option with plenty of experience under her belt already, which is just what Melbourne needs en route to premiership contention in 2021/22.

Image Credit: Melbourne AFLW via Twitter

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Geelong

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Geelong.

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

It was no surprise to see Geelong take Prespakis with the first pick in the Victorian pool, with the potentially generational talent near-impossible to deny in pole position. The sister of Maddy will quickly break that tag, with her own talents proving exceptional throughout the junior pathways – starting with her NAB League best and fairest win at 16-years-old in 2019. Prespakis is as well-rounded a midfielder you can find; able to win her own ball at the coalface, use her running capacity to accumulate around the ground, prove effective by hand and penetrative by foot, while also providing her fair share of tackling pressure. She is a star in the making and ready to go at senior level, providing ideal cover for the loss of Liv Purcell among a regenerating Cats midfield.

GEORGIE PRESPAKIS CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> VFLW Player Focus: Georgie Prespakis

Prized pick Georgie Prespakis in action for Vic Metro

#7 Zali Friswell (Midfielder)
30/12/2003 | 165cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

The Cats pulled off one of the surprise picks of the first round by taking Friswell at pick seven, though the selection is a shrewd one in context. A teammate of Prespakis through multiple competitions, the 17-year-old has waxed with her new Cats teammate through the NAB League, VFLW, and AFLW Under 19 National Championships. But let’s get it straight – she is far from just a sweetener in the Prespakis coup. Friswell is a gun midfielder in her own right with elite running capacity and a great balance of traits in the engine room. She was made to play a variety of roles throughout 2021 at either end of the ground, but looks most comfortable around the ball and has the potential to be a very reliable ball winning asset for Geelong.

ZALI FRISWELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

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

Geelong seldom misses out on local talent and like usual, snapped up a Falcons graduate among this year’s intake. Having sured up their midfield stocks, Featherston was the player the Cats went for, an exciting player with rare athleticism and enormous upside. Such is the power of Featherston’s leap, she rotated through the ruck for Geelong Falcons and Vic Country this season at just 169cm and more than held her own. She is mostly stationed up forward though, where that same athleticism translates to her potential as a marking target who attacks the aerial ball with vigour and possesses a thumping kick. The 17-year-old is almost certain to capture fans’ imaginations with her style of play, and has great potential to grow into a top player.

GABBI FEATHERSTON CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> NAB League Girls team review: Geelong Falcons

Gabbi Featherston (centre right) competes in the ruck

#15 Annabel Johnson (Midfielder)
6/11/2000 | 167cm
Geelong VFLW

After promoting mature-agers Claudia Gunjaca and Olivia Fuller from their VFLW side, the Cats added another with pick 15 in the form of Johnson. The multi-sport athlete is a relative newcomer to high levels of Australian football but has taken to the code quickly and shown a rapid rate of development over the last couple of years. The 20-year-old needed just one season in Geelong’s VFLW system to prove her worth, with her athletic base and promising state league form on both sides of midfield enough to see her crack the top flight.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Geelong’s draft night ended as quickly as it began, with the Cats on the clock early at pick two and out of action by pick 15. They were smart to pair Prespakis alongside long-time teammate in Friswell with their first two picks, making for a one-two midfield punch which promises to prove more than handy. The Cats always pick local and did so once again in taking on Featherston, adding some dynamism and excitement to a talented crop of midfielders. VFLW product, Johnson was the final cab off the rank, another athletic type who adds a different element to the midfield mix. With four selections within the top 15, the Cats have made good on an opportunity to accelerate their regeneration.

Featured Image: Geelong draftee Zali Friswell dons her new colours | Credit: AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Collingwood

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Collingwood.

#29 Eliza James (Forward/Midfielder)
1/10/2003 | 168cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Collingwood fans were made to wait for their side’s first pick before all three came in a flurry. The Collingwood-Oakleigh link remains strong as premiership Charger, James enters the Magpies’ squad, marking great reward for a terrific few years in the elite talent pathway. With explosive athletic traits, the ability to clunk strong marks and create scoring opportunities, James is a dynamic forward-midfielder who can really hurt the opposition. Competition for spots will likely be pretty tight in the rotation James fits, though she is quite versatile and would benefit from being afforded some time to sharpen her skills and build a more refined finishing touch. Overall, there is plenty of upside in this selection.

ELIZA JAMES CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers
>> Top Performers: 2021 NAB League Girls grand final

#32 Eloise Chaston (General Forward)
23/02/2002 | 169cm
Eastern Ranges / Hawthorn VFLW

The Magpies pulled this pick out of the hat, taking on another versatile forward in Eastern Ranges skipper, Chaston. The 19-year-old also plied her trade for Hawthorn’s VFLW side across six games this season, impressing from the get-go with her smooth movement and overall dynamism. She plays slightly taller than what her 169cm standing suggests, leaning on her athleticism to compete aerially while maintaining an eye-catching ground level game. Chaston spent plenty of time up forward in 2021 but is also capable of rolling further afield. Her selection, especially in context with the other two, suggests Collingwood may be in for a restructure of its forwardline personnel.

Eloise Chaston on the ball for Eastern Ranges

#33 Imogen Barnett (Tall Forward)
11/06/1995 | 176cm
Collingwood VFLW

Rounding out Collingwood’s three-player draft haul was another of their own, in VFLW mature-ager Barnett. The 26-year-old has spearheaded the Magpies’ undefeated reserves side in 2021, booting a competition-high 21 goals across her 15 outings. She has refined her craft over the years to become a reliable and consistent key forward, possessing a sound goalkicking technique and strong hands on the end of her shrewd leads. The Magpies’ forward depth gets even stronger with the addition of Barnett, who is a readymade option familiar with the Magpies’ system and style of play. She has a big job ahead trying to crack Collingwood’s starting forwardline.

Imogen Barnett has a shot on goal for Collingwood VFLW

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Collingwood added some size, strength and dynamism to its forward stocks with three selections between picks 29-33. There is serious upside and scope for development in the likes of James and Chaston, who are versatile enough to fit a few different roles in the front five or further afield. Barnett, the mature-ager of the group, is a known quantity to Magpies staff and players alike and thus provides a reliable depth option. The Magpies now have quite extensive ruck and tall forward listings, having addressed both needs in the trade and draft periods.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Carlton

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Carlton.

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

One of the standout prospects from a talent-stacked Geelong Falcons region, Lee proved a ‘best available’ kind of selection for Carlton at pick 10. As was seen on draft night, the 17-year-old is an avid Blues fan which makes this match all the more sweet. Throughout this year’s NAB League season, Lee looked a class above with her reading of the play and composure on the ball in defence, with that class translating well during her time representative level and even VFLW football. The Blues somewhat struggled in transition during last season, so likely valued Lee’s decision making and execution by foot, while her intercept abilities will suit a backline already strong in that department. She may even roam up the ground to a wing given the competition for defensive spots.

ANNIE LEE CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

Annie Lee in action for the Geelong Falcons

#11 Keeley Sherar (Midfielder)
29/11/2003 | 170cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

In need of midfield depth and running power, Carlton pulled off somewhat of a surprise at pick 11 by snapping up Sherar. Another Blues fan, the Eastern Ranges midfielder offers a handy point of difference to her new side’s midfield with her raw athleticism and burst of speed out of congestion. While time to refine her disposal would be ideal, Sherar may have a role to play in her maiden AFLW season alongside a very sturdy Carlton engine room which already features Madison Prespakis, Grace Egan, Lucy McEvoy, and Abbie McKay. With a lot of similar types in that lot, Sherar could be the dynamic turn what Carlton is after around the ball, especially given who the Blues have lost and will be without. Her upside is enormous and her highlight reel, impressive.

KEELEY SHERAR CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Ones to watch: AFLW Draft surprise packets

Brooke Vickers on the ball for Oakleigh Chargers

#23 Brooke Vickers (Wing / Defender)
6/03/2002 | 171cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Adding to the much-needed running power Carlton obtained in this year’s crop, Vickers can tear sides up on the outer but isn’t afraid to crack in and win the hard ball. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player started out the season at half-back, but later found her place on the wing where she was able to join in attacking transitions and deal some serious damage to the opposition with her penetrative kicking. With fellow Chargers graduate Mimi Hill sidelined due to injury, Vickers could prove a like-for-like replacement option or bide her time with a shift back to defence. A popular teammate, ‘Chook’ could well become a fan favourite too if given the opportunity.

BROOKE VICKERS CONTENT:

>> VFLW Player Focus: Brooke Vickers
>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Defenders
>> Ones to watch: AFLW Draft surprise packets

#26 Imogen Milford (Tall Forward)
2/12/1999 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Carlton said it would target a forward and with its final pick, swooped on a mature-ager in Milford. The 21-year-old is obviously still quite young and has taken some time to develop, but began to really hit her stride in 2021 with 19 goals across 15 VFLW games – the second-highest haul in this year’s competition. At 179cm, she may well prove the readymade key forward option Carlton seeks with Tayla Harris out the door, potentially also allowing more time for the likes of fellow talls Serena Gibbs and Paige Trudgeon to develop their own craft. A handy addition.

IMOGEN MILFORD CONTENT:

>> Top mature-agers to watch
>> Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

DRAFT SUMMARY:

After securing a top talent in Lee with pick 10, Carlton drafted for needs and picked up players with plenty of upside. Their ball movement will be aided by the likes of Lee and Vickers behind the ball, while Sherar could unlock a different element in midfield with her turn of speed and overall dynamism. There is a really positive blend of reliability and upside among those three Victorian youngsters, while the addition of 21-year-old key forward Milford ensures the Blues’ tall stocks are, well, stocked. Two Carlton supporters in the mix sweetens things further, and Blues fans should be excited by what these prospects can offer to the squad both immediately and in the future.

State Leagues wrap: COVID chaos and big boilovers

WHILE Victoria has descended into COVID chaos once more, state leagues rolled on in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia with a bunch of intriguing results produced. While it was largely business as usual in the SANFL, there was a major boilover in the TSL, while the WAFL top five is firming as three teams continue to battle for top spot. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

South Australia (SANFL):

While Round 16 proceedings are currently under a COVID cloud, Round 15 went ahead without a hitch in the SANFL. There were two clashes between top five teams this past weekend, as ladder position counted for plenty with every higher-ranked side picking up full points across the five-game round.

At the top of the tree, Glenelg extended its perfect run to 14 games with an 18-point win over South Adelaide, who have now in lost three of their last four outings. A three-goal to nil opening term proved the difference, as the Bays put away another finals candidate. Matthew Snook (29 disposals, one goal), Luke Partington (26 and one), and Chris Curran (24 and one) were all prominent in yellow and black, while Bryce Gibbs managed 27 touches, 14 tackles and a goal in his 50th League match, fittingly against his old side.

Saturday’s other top five clash saw reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens power past Norwood, winning by 36 points on the back of a second half surge. The Eagles piled on nine of the last 10 goals after trailing at the main break, flexing their muscle forward of centre. James Tsitas and Mitch Grigg led the disposal count for either side with 29 touches apiece, while Tyson Stengle‘s two goals at the end of term three helped the Eagles push ahead.

Port Adelaide and Sturt remain in the hunt for finals after respective wins against the bottom two sides, though both came by a mere 13 points. The Magpies did enough to get past a plucky West Adelaide on Sunday, remaining one game out of the top five, while the Double Blues bettered Central District in a low-scoring slog to sit two games off the pace. North Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, downing Adelaide by 54 points to strengthen its standing in third.

Tasmania (TSL):

Clarence has shaken up the TSL top four frame, defeating North Launceston by two points in a major boilover. The Roos led by a single point at half time and after extending the margin to eight come the final break, were made to reclaim the ascendancy via Colin Garland‘s boot at the death.

The result sees Clarence close to within a game of its weekend rival, as the Northern Bombers suffer rare consecutive losses in what was meant to be a celebration for player-coach Brad Cox-Goodyer‘s 200th game.

Brandon Leary booted four goals for the victors in a losing effort for the Northern Bombers, while Garland finished with three and James Holmes was named best afield.

Meanwhile, league leader Launceston escaped a similar scare against Tigers, snaring three goals to nil in the final term to sneak home by 13 points. The Blues trailed at every break after the hosts got the jump, but clawed their way back and pounced at the ideal time.

Fletcher Seymour and Cody Thorp (two goals) were among the victors’ best, while Luke Graham booted a game-high three majors for Tigers as Zach Adams claimed full votes.

In the weekend’s sole non-top four clash, Lauderdale powered past Glenorchy on the back of a 13-goal second half, saluting to the tune of 81 points. Leading a brigade of nine individual goalkickers for the Bombers was Edward Stanley (five), while Tyler Martin (four) and Allen Christensen (three) compounded their side’s scoreboard dominance.

Western Australia (WAFL):

East Perth inflicted the sole ladder change after Round 15 of the WAFL League season, jumping Perth in eight after its nine-point road win over the Demons. Former Carlton-listed pair Rohan Kerr (41 disposals, 10 marks) and Angus Schumacher (33 disposals, two goals) were prominent for the Royals, who held off Perth’s final term surge after leading by an even five goals at three quarter time.

A three-way tie for points from first to third remains after Claremont, Subiaco, and South Fremantle all claimed their ninth wins for the season. Subiaco still leads the way on percentage having defeated West Coast by 20 points, with 10 of the Lions 12 goals coming at one end of Leederville Oval.

Claremont isn’t far behind after downing Peel Thunder by nine points on Sunday, while South Fremantle’s 36-point win over Swan Districts proved a definitive result between finals contenders. Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Jesse Motlop debut for the Bulldogs, booting two goals from 13 touches.

West Perth came away as the round’s other winner after scraping past East Fremantle by five points, overcoming a half time deficit and near-costly inaccuracy to remain clean in fourth. The Falcons were served typically well by Aaron Black (38 disposals, nine marks), as Tyler Keitel and Lachlan Bailey booted four goals for their respective sides.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

Victoria’s recently-extended five-day lockdown saw Round 14 of the VFL scrapped, with the competition currently running on a week-by-week scheduling basis. Victorian teams which travelled to Queensland also had their official fixtures cancelled, though Essendon and North Melbourne combined their reserves to face Brisbane in a scratch match on Saturday. Returning Roos tall Charlie Comben impressed with four goals in that hit-out.

The VFL Women’s finals series has also been impacted, but the VFL says it remains committed to awarding a premier with just the preliminary and grand finals left to play.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton via SANFL

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 13

A BUNCH of the nation’s most promising Under 19 prospects continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL), including a raft of top-ups and academy talents. Many have already made their state league debuts, with more to come and a handful sighted this past weekend. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

>> RESULTS: State leagues wrap

2001-born Sandringham Dragons tall Felix Flockart ran out for his club debut with Port Melbourne on Friday night, notching 10 disposals and 11 hitouts as the Borough went down handily to Frankston. Fellow Dragons product Darby Hipwell continues to turn out for Sandringham Zebras, booting multiple goals for the first time in his VFL career as his side thumped Essendon. Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Jack Hickman was afield for the Bombers, managing four touches.

AFL-aligned clubs from NSW and Queensland again blooded top-up players, with a combined four NAB Leaguers lining up for Gold Coast and Sydney in their respective losses. Tall Dandenong utility Bryce Milford (four disposals) and Geelong Falcons top-ager Lachlan Kidd (five) both lined up for the Suns, while Sam Clohesy (eight disposals, four tackles) and Logan Young (14 disposals, four marks) were drafted into the Swans’ side.

Greater Western Sydney, who downed the Suns, also fielded a handful of academy talents while Sydney gave opportunities to two in its loss to Footscray. Josh Green (16 disposals, six marks), Maximus Monaghan (14 disposals, six tackles) and Harrison Grintell (nine disposals, three inside 50s) were among the Giants’ best youngsters, as Angus Anderson found the goals for the Swans and Pierce Roseby finished with 10 touches.

Bulldogs father-son prospect Ewan Macpherson played his third-straight game in red, white and blue, while Gippsland Power midfielder Chance Doultree also got another run at state league level – his second for the season.

Elsewhere, Brisbane Lions also found room for their academy products, with a quartet of young guns continuing to find their feet. Toby Triffett (14 disposals, five tackles) was solid as his side went down to Southport, while Saxon Crozier and Tahj Abberley each had it 11 times, and Will Tasker contributed five touches.

Western Jets midfielder Harrison White debuted for Werribee in the Tigers’ loss to Casey, while Tasmanian Sam Collins earned a berth with Collingwood and Gippsland Power defender Jess McGrath had his maiden outing for Richmond. Collins’ Oakleigh teammate Lochlan Jennkins reunited with some premiership Chargers in black and white, joined by Eastern Ranges skipper Josh Clarke in the side. Collins was the pick of the bunch, collecting 15 disposals and three marks as the Pies got up by five points against Richmond.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 13

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its 13th round over the weekend, with nine fixtures spread from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 13 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS | State leagues wrap

A bunch of senior-listed youngsters pressed their claims for call-ups in the state league this past weekend, none more so of late than Western Bulldogs midfielder-forward Patrick Lipinski. In the red, white and blue of Footscray, he dished out a round-high 23 handballs to be level with Gold Coast’s Will Brodie. Richmond veteran Josh Caddy had the most disposals overall with 39, while Josh Newman topped the kicking charts (25) in Frankston’s win over Port Melbourne.

Along with Newman, Casey’s Corey Ellison was the only other non AFL-listed player to feature atop his own category this week, after snaring six goals as Casey thumped Werribee. Dominating the airways were Sydney forward Logan McDonald (14 marks) and Collingwood ruck Max Lynch (40), while Richmond midfielder Will Martyn got his hands dirty with a round-high 13 tackles in the Tigers’ loss to the Magpies.

Looking at the overall leaderboard, Coburg ball magnet Marcus Lentini is out in front for disposals and handballs, while fellow standalone standouts Matthew Payne and Matthew Hammelmann (both Aspley) lead the competition for kicks and goals respectively. Emerging Essendon ruck Nick Bryan has also taken over top spot for hitouts, as he searches for another senior berth.

Find the full list of Round 13, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 13 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Josh Caddy* (Richmond) – 39

Kicks:
Josh Newman* (Frankston) – 25

Handballs:
Patrick Lipinski* (Footscray) – 23
Will Brodie* (Gold Coast) – 23

Marks:
Logan McDonald* (Sydney) – 14

Tackles:
Will Martyn* (Richmond) – 13

Hitouts:
Max Lynch* (Collingwood) – 40

Goals:
Corey Ellison (Casey) – 6

* – denotes AFL-listed

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 320 total / 35.6 average

Kicks:
Matthew Payne (Aspley) – 198 / 22.0

Handballs:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 188 / 20.9

Marks:
Colin O’Riordan* (Sydney) – 78 / 9.8

Tackles:
Dom Brew (Werribee) – 82 / 10.3

Hitouts:
Nick Bryan* (Essendon) – 259 / 32.4

Goals:
Matthew Hammelmann (Aspley) – 39 / 4.3

* – denotes AFL-listed

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

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