Tag: 2019 draftees

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 9: Serong stars as Dockers stun the Pies

THE NUMBER of recruits from the 2019 AFL Draft to run out for their respective teams on the weekend again spilled into double digits, despite a few youngsters being squeezed out of senior selection. There was plenty to take out of Round 9 for the class of 2019, with a bunch of up-and-comers continuing to stamp their mark on the competition. We take a look at how the best handful of them performed.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
STATS: 24 disposals, 14 contested possessions, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 9 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 4 score involvements

Another heart-stopping Fremantle win, and another outstanding performance from Serong. It’s a good thing players aren’t eligible for more than one Rising Star nomination, because the Gippsland Power graduate would have been a lock for consecutive nods. The diminutive midfielder’s work rate again shone through, and he had won the second-most disposals to half time in an influential display.

With a monster nine clearances overall, Serong continues to go from strength-to-strength among the cut and thrust of midfield. He does all the dirty work you expect from a two-way midfielder, but also provides some handy touches moving forward. The 19-year-old was clean in possession and was clever in his use by foot on forward breaks, setting the Dockers on the front foot and only furthering his status as a star in the making.

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
13 disposals (10 kicks), 2 marks, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 307 metres gained, 1 score involvement

After Serong got the run-with role against Patrick Dangerfield for Fremantle last week, Budarick was tasked with following GWS star Toby Greene around in Gold Coast’s loss to the GIANTS. He fared well for the short time they were matched up, before Greene hobbled off early with a hamstring complaint. The SUNS Academy graduate proved more than just a defensive outlet, with his attack on the ball and spurts of speed on the rebound propelling his side into attack effectively. Budarick did miss a few kicks on the fly, but showed good intent as his side battled hard to no avail.

Will Day (Hawthorn)
10 disposals (7 kicks), 5 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 rebound 50s, 2 score involvements, 1 goal

Day may have been a touch quieter in comparison to the lofty standard set by his first three AFL outings, but still managed to catch the eye on several occasions as Hawthorn downed Carlton on Friday. His nine uncontested possessions and zero tackles indicate his role is very much that of a defensive outlet, with his assured use of the ball further pertaining to it. Day also continued his marking form with five clunks of the footy, while also sneaking forward early to nab his first senior goal – and a ripper at that on the fly.

Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
11 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 7 score involvements, 3 goals, 2 behinds

The exciting key position forward was very close to taking out star of the round honours, but looks like inevitably claiming that crown down the line after another promising performance. Georgiades is just so commanding in the air, able to take the ball at its highest point and again provide a key target in linking Port’s midfield to its attacking 50. His seven score involvements point towards an enormous impact, and five scoring shots of his own helped double his career goals tally in one outing. Eyebrows may have been raised when Port selected Georgiades with pick 18 last year, and they remain that way after his impressive form.

Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
10 disposals (7 kicks), 3 marks, 7 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 score involvements, 2 goals

Mahony is a young player who has benefitted from being afforded an extended run among a rebuilding side, and while he may not yet be setting the world alight, looks to have settled into the Kangaroos’ starting lineup. As a small forward who can advance up the ground and impact at ground level heading towards goal, Mahony is playing his role well. The former Sandringham Dragon managed to snare his first two senior goals in a big win, and should be high on confidence as a result.

Others in action:

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast)
Lachlan Ash (GWS)
Ned Cahill (Essendon)
Brad Close (Geelong)
Michael Frederick (Fremantle)
Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Elijah Taylor (Sydney)

2019 AFL Draft Focus – Round 5: Pick one down, but draftees fly high

11 RECRUITS from the 2019 AFL National Draft ran out for their respective teams on the weekend, and we take a look at how the best handful of them performed. Top pick Matt Rowell may have been rubbed out early with a dislocated shoulder, but there was plenty to take out of Round 5 for the class of 2019 as plenty of talented youngsters retained their spots at the elite level. For the first time this year, none of the weekend’s debutants came from the most recent draft, but there promises to be plenty to come.

STAR OF THE ROUND: Hayden Young (Fremantle)

STATS: 15 disposals (10 kicks), 6 marks, 2 rebound 50s, 73% disposal efficiency

The stats may not overly flatter him, but Young is building nicely into is AFL career having returned another strong performance in Fremantle’s first win for 2020. Stationed in his usual defensive post, Young delivered 12 of his 15 disposals from the back half and did so with accuracy. His intercept marking ability is also coming to the fore as he gains in confidence, able to read the ball well in flight and have a crack backing into traffic. At four games into his elite level venture, the Dandenong Stingrays graduate is beginning to bring his best traits forward and has cemented his spot in the Dockers’ side.

Noah Anderson (Gold Coast SUNS)

18 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements

As good mate, Rowell went down, Anderson stepped up to deliver one of his better performances across his first five career games. Continuing in his role on the wing, Anderson got involved in the contest and managed to find the ball in important areas while also fulfilling his defensive duties with 11 pressure acts. The former Oakleigh Charger may have turned the ball over six times amid the heat of the contest, but has impactful touches and has the potential to have a big say once all the factors in his game click.

Lachlan Ash (GWS GIANTS)

15 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 2 score involvements

Ash is another who is beginning to click into gear having been granted ample opportunity upon his AFL berth, and he was among the GIANTS’ top 10 disposal winners in their win against Hawthorn on Sunday. Moving along the line from defence to the wing, Ash was able to penetrate the forward 50 in transition to show a glimpse of his attacking quality, while also providing a safe outlet in the back half. He won half of his possessions in contested situations too, displaying a good appetite for the contest and the rigours of the elite level.

Tom Green (GWS GIANTS)

14 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 2 clearances, 3 score involvements

Right behind Ash in terms of disposals was GIANTS Academy graduate, Green with 14. After a breakout game in Round 4 saw him earn a Rising Star nomination, the big-bodied midfielder continued on his ball winning ways to contribute some solid numbers to GWS’ Sunday salute. The GIANTS’ coaching staff has shown great faith in Green in allowing him to run through midfield, attending centre bounces where he thrives on the contested side of the game. He’s another who looks to be locking down a spot, and is providing ample cover some some absent GWS stars.

Caleb Serong (Fremantle)

10 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 2 score involvements, 1 goal assist

Following the example set by former Vic Country teammate, Young is Serong, who also played his part in Fremantle’s opening win for season 2020. The diminutive Gippsland Power product is another who has been thrust right into the engine room action at times, holding his own against big-bodied opposition and remaining relevant going both ways. He is proving more comfortable with ball in hand as time goes on, and it is positive that he manages to find it in the first place.

Others in action:

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast)
Jack Mahony (North Melbourne)
Sam Philp (Carlton)
Kysaiah Pickett (Melbourne)
Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
Matt Rowell (Gold Coast)

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

Draftees in action:

Calder: Sam Ramsay
Bendigo:
Brady Rowles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Bianco’s Chargers survive Devils scare

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 14 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Oakleigh Chargers and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides met in Tasmania’s maiden full-time campaign.

2019 NAB League, Round 6
Saturday May 4, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

TASMANIA DEVILS 3.0 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.4 | 3.5 | 6.6 | 8.8 (56)

Goals:

Tasmania: R. Mansell 2, W. Harper 2, M. McGuinness, S. Banks, B. Gordon, J. Callow
Oakleigh:
T. Lovell 4, T. Graham, L. Westwood, H. Mundy, A. Tassell

Best:

Tasmania: H. Ireland, R. Mansell, O. Davis, P. Walker, L. Viney, I. Chugg
Oakleigh:
T. Bianco, J. Woodfull, J. May, H. Mastras, L. Westwood, S. Seach

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness 
Oakleigh:
Trent Bianco

Oakleigh may have been the much higher fancied side in 2019 when compared to incoming full-time side, Tasmania, but the two regions sat level on points coming into their Round 6 NAB League clash. The Chargers got up in Rounds 1 and 2, but were starting to feel the effects of school and representative football commitments having suffered three-straight losses. A second interstate trip in three weeks would hardly help, with Tasmania gaining the benefit of another home game to help buoy its 2-2 record. The Devils had notched consecutive wins after their Round 2 debuts, but lost to Western in Round 5.

Co-captain Trent Bianco would taking the reigns solo as the sole eventual draftee in Oakleigh’s side to make the trip, while North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s lone AFL product afield with Mitchell O’Neill absent. In a boost to the Devils’ lineup, they would boast bottom-aged Allies hub members Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Jackson Callow, along with Patrick Walker and leading 2021 hopeful, Sam Banks.

As the action got underway at North Hobart Oval, the Victorians were unable to take full advantage of starting at the scoring end, taking a four-point lead into the first change as their four superior scoring shots all ended in behinds. Tasmania, blessed with kicking boots, showed them the way in the second term, keeping the Chargers goalless while adding two majors to snatch a nine-point buffer heading into half time.

One of the outstanding traits of Oakleigh’s side in 2019 was it was able to score quickly, and signs began to look ominous as the Chargers booted three goals within the first 11 minutes of the third term. The Devils were able to mount somewhat of a comeback, but some inaccurate kicking of their own late in the piece would prove costly. A grandstand finish was set up with just one point separating the sides heading into the final term, and the two teams did not disappoint.

Four lead changes would occur, with Banks giving Tasmania the jump early, only to see Thomas Lovell edge Oakleigh back in front twice with his third and fourth goals. Jye Menzie‘s shy at goal with under three minutes left on the clock would prove Tasmania’s last chance at victory, as Oakleigh broke the hearts of home fans and travelled back to the mainland with four points.

Lovell came up clutch with his four goals making up almost half of Oakleigh’s tally, but it was Bianco who proved the standout of the day. The Collingwood draftee was a cut above the rest, racking up a monster 42 disposals in what was a complete performance, putting him 14 touches ahead of the next-best ball winner – Josh May, 28 disposals. Fraser Elliot was another Charger to impress from midfield, while Davis (21 disposals) was Tasmania’s leading ball winner, and the pairing of Will Harper and Rhyan Mansell combined for four goals.

The Devils would go on to add just two more wins to their tally in 2019, putting up a valiant effort in Wildcard Round to lose by only six points to Calder. Oakleigh finished the regular season in third at 11-4, and went on to win the NAB League premiership on the back of an unstoppable late-season run. Six Chargers, including Bianco were drafted. Most famously, the region boasted both of the first two picks in the 2019 draft as Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson headed to the Gold Coast SUNS.

Classic Contests: Jets stream past Dragons with inspired third term

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to when the two sides did battle in early July.

2019 NAB League, Round 13
Saturday July 6, 11:00am
Downer Oval, Williamstown

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

Goals:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham:
C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

Best:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham:
H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Draftees in action:

Western: Josh Honey, Emerson Jeka
Sandringham:
Finn Maginness, Ryan Byrnes, Hugo Ralphsmith, Louis Butler, Josh Worrell, Jack Bell

It seemed the end of the 2019 Under 18 National Championships, and a school football bye would spell trouble for the Western Jets as they readied to face Sandringham Dragons in Round 13 of the NAB League, but one inspired term helped the hosts pull of an unlikely victory at Downer Oval.

The Dragons welcomed back a host of big names, with six of their eventual nine draftees taking the field; including the likes of Josh Worrell, Finn Maginness, and Round 4 AFL debutant Louis Butler. Western would also lay claim to a good bunch of its top-end talent, led by 2019 rookie draftees Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka.

Some more respect could, or perhaps should have been shown to Western from the neutral, as the two sides sat level with 7-4 records to that point. Further to it, Sandringham’s form had somewhat abandoned them during an undermanned period, losing its last two matches and narrowly escaping a defeat to the lowly Geelong Falcons. Western had also lost in Round 12, but picked up wins in its previous four outings to contend for a top three spot.

Just as there was nothing to separate the sides’ win-loss records, they went into the first break level at 3.2 apiece. That was before the Dragons threatened to take hold, edging out to an eight-point lead at half time with help from the scoring end.

Speaking of taking hold, that was exactly what Western was able to do in a game-defining third quarter. Having managed eight total scoring shots for the entire first half, the Jets piled on the same number of goals within an electric 25-minute period, keeping Sandringham to just one in the process.

While the Dragons’ top-end talent help to enact a late surge from 34-points down at the final break, the damage was well and truly already done, seeing Western hold on to win by nine points on its home deck. The win saw the Jets leapfrog Sandringham on the ladder, but both sides were also jumped by Oakleigh, who also came into Round 13 with a 7-4 record.

The small and tall combination of Lucas Failli and Aaron Clarke produced an evenly-split 6.4 towards Western’s total, just over half of the winning score. They were two of three Jets to boot multiple goals, while Hugo Ralphsmith led a trio of Dragons to manage two majors each.

Sandringham’s ball winners got to work despite the loss, as Ryan Byrnes led all comers with 28 disposals and a goal, while Maginness (24 disposals, one goal) and Butler (23 disposals) also impressed. Bailey Ryan was Western’s leading ball winner with 19 touches, followed by Honey on 18 and Morrish Medalist Lucas Rocci (16).

In an odd quirk, ex-Sandringham ruck Will Kennedy was named best afield for Western on the back of 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hitouts, and a goal. Bottom-agers from either side were also recognised, in the form of Western’s Cody Raak and Sandringham’s Lachlan Carrigan.

The Jets would go on to drop slightly to a seventh-place finish at 8-7, beating out Northern in an epic elimination final but going down to Gippsland in the semis. Sandringham remained consistent to finish fourth with nine wins and six losses, but fell short of its premiership dream in a preliminary final loss to Oakleigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classic Contests: Williams the hero as Chargers scrape home over Knights

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 13 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock just one year to when the two sides met for a low-scoring thriller.

2019 NAB League, Round 8
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 6.10 (46)

Goals:

Northern: S. Brazier, R. Gardner, S. Philp, J. Zapantis , J. Trudgeon
Oakleigh:
T. Graham 2, D. Williams 2, T. Lovell, R. Sklavenitis

Best:

Northern: S. Philp, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, L. Potter, K. Brandt, J. Davies
Oakleigh:
L. Jenkins, D. Williams, J. Woodfull, J. May, S. Seach, M. Steiner

Draftees in action:

Northern: Sam Philp, Ayce Taylor
Oakleigh:
Trent Bianco, Dylan Williams

Two metropolitan sides would meet on neutral, country territory come Round 8 of last year’s NAB League season, as Northern and Oakleigh went to battle at Shepley Oval. The highly fancied Chargers had only just fought to an even 3-3 record to that point, snapping a three-game losing run upon the commencement of school football with a one-point win over Tasmania. Northern managed to retain most of its key talent, and had won two games on the trot after a lacklustre 0-5 start to its campaign.

While Oakleigh’s two co-captains in Dylan Williams and Trent Bianco took the field, the Chargers’ remaining four 2019 draftees – including top two pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – were absent. Northern evened the ledger in terms of future AFL products with bolter Sam Philp a mainstay in the side, and 19-year-old Adelaide top-up Ayce Taylor also running out with plenty of interest.

As expected, Oakleigh arguably had the better of the opening exchanges, but could not quite capitalise on its territorial pressure as the sides entered the first break level at 1.2 apiece. The theme continued into the second term as both sides proved inaccurate in front of goal, but the Chargers’ superior two scoring shots saw them sneak ahead at half time by two points.

That was where the buck stopped for Northern, as it began to better take hold through midfield and apply scoreboard pressure in the process. A slender four-point lead at the final break was stolen back almost immediately by Williams in the following period of play, before Philp did the same for Northern. A second from Williams after Thomas Graham reclaimed the lead would prove the sealer for Oakleigh in a real scare, getting over the line by six points.

Williams’ move from half-back to his more comfortable forward role in the final term proved a game-winning decision, as the Port draftee booted two defining goals to see the Chargers home. Co-captain and new Collingwood recruit Bianco was kept relatively quiet for 17 disposals as bottom-ager Fraser Elliot led all comers with 28 touches, and partner-in-crime Lochlan Jenkins was named best-afield for his 22.

Philp returned a performance consistent of his form for the Knights throughout 2019, racking up 28 touches and booting an important goal in the losing effort. A player who very nearly joined him at Carlton, Ryan Sturgess was also influential with 19 disposals from defence, on top of having the difficult task of manning Williams at the death. Taylor was quiet with seven disposals but laid six tackles to display his versatility.

Northern would go on to finish sixth at 8-7 and disposed of Bendigo in Wildcard Round, but came undone against Western come finals time to see an end to its season. Oakleigh won the NAB League premiership from third, storming undefeated through a brilliant finals campaign which culminated in a 53-point triumph in the decider.

Classic Contests: Dragons blow Devils away on the road

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 12 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind back the clock almost a year to late-2019, when the two sides met for the first time since Tasmania’s full-time induction into the competition.

2019 NAB League, Round 15
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park, Launceston

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)

Goals:

Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow.
Sandringham:
A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman.

Best:

Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
Sandringham:
A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matt McGuinness
Sandringham:
 Ryan Byrnes, Miles Bergman, Jack Bell

Not much more than pride was up for grabs as Sandringham travelled down to Tasmania to take on the Devils in Launceston, with the fate of the two sides all but already sealed. The Dragons were gunning for a top three spot to avoid Wildcard Round, while Tasmania was simply battling for position having fallen to 13th spot.

Neither side was in particularly outstanding form either, with Sandringham coming in having won in its previous outing against Dandenong, but the Dragons had lost three straight games before that and five of their last six overall to sit 8-5 in fourth. The Devils were 4-11 on the back of a five-game losing run, which would end up stretching to seven by season’s end.

Of significance were also the absentees for both teams, too, with Sandringham missing a raft of eventual draftees and combine invitees, including the likes of top 30 picks Fischer McAsey, Finn Maginness, and Josh Worrell. Mitch O’Neill was the biggest name missing for Tasmania, one of its two 2019 draftees, but the Devils maintained their four 2020 AFL Academy prospects in the side.

Keen to flex their superiority and gain some winning form on the eve of finals, the Dragons took control from the get-go with six scoring shots to one in the opening term helping them to a 15-point lead at the first break. They would extend it to 31 points by half time, again restricting Tasmania to just one major while piling on another three of their own.

Having got the jump, Sandringham well-and-truly put the result beyond doubt with a game-high five goals in the third term, and a couple more in the closing stanza for good measure as the Devils could only again manage a goal per the final two terms. The final margin sat at 65 points in favour of the travelling side, marking Sandringham’s third win by over 10 goals at that point in the season.

Over-ager Angus Hanrahan had a day out, leading all comers for goals (three) and disposals (33), with St Kilda draftee Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, one goal) another to find both the ball and the goals. Matt McGuinness was Tasmania’s leading ball winner with 26 touches, while of the other draftees afield, Miles Bergman booted 1.2 from his 19 disposals, and Jack Bell also booted a major in his forward/ruck duties.

Despite boasting one of the more stacked Under 18 squads of recent times, Sandringham fell short of the top three and its premiership dream as injuries and some bad luck took toll, finishing fourth at 9-6 and losing to eventual premier, Oakleigh in the preliminary finals. Tasmania would end up losing seven-straight games to finish the season at 4-11 in 14th, but gave Calder a scare in Wildcard Round as the Devils went down by a single goal.