Tag: aaron clarke

NAB League Boys Round 11 preview: Top four set for a shake up in Futures Round

AFTER a week off, the NAB League Boys top four set-up is set for a shake-up this weekend. A top of the table clash headlines the action, while the Gippsland Power face a tough task in holding onto fourth as Western and Oakleigh hunt their spot. A Mars Stadium double-header leads the five Country-based Saturday games, with Eastern hosting Sunday’s only fixture at Box Hill. This weekend also marks the first Futures Round, where teams are required to field at least 11 sixteen-seventeen year olds and squads are expanded to 24 players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday June 22, 11:00am
Twin Oval, Kingston

The slightly replenished Tasmania Devils are set to host a Northern Knights side without all of their Vic Metro squad members, as both look to crack into the top eight with a win. The tenth-place, 4-5 Devils have been ultra competitive in their first full-time NAB League season, but struggled last time out against Murray with a host of stars instead suiting up for the Allies in their first outing for the year. This game is the first of five home games for Tasmania over the last six rounds, and with Northern missing as host of big names, could act as a chance to get on a roll. The inclusions of bottom-age Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins should inject some class into the middle and off half-back respectively, but the in-form Matt McGuinness and his fellow over-ager Lachlan Gadomski come out of the side to accomodate the Futures requirements. Meanwhile, the Knights will once again be without Adam Carafa as he slots back into the Metro side, joined by rangy bottom-age utility Nikolas Cox as key outs. A host of bottom-agers also replace the likes of Nathan Howard, Bailey Leonard and Ben Nikolovski, who have been key figures in the team this year. It will be a tough test for the Knights as they look to build on their Round 10 win, with the top-age talent of Sam Philp, Jackson Davies and Josh D’Intinosante on each line crucial to their chances. Expect a slog down on the Apple Isle to open the round.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday June 22, 11:30am
Mars Stadium

A top four spot could be on the horizon for Western Jets should they get over the GWV Rebels in enemy territory and have results go their way. They travel to Ballarat with high hopes of claiming a fourth consecutive victory, as their weekend opponents are coming off a goalless trumping at the hands of Eastern. Still, the Rebels should be buoyed by the inclusions of a couple of in-form Country representatives as they search for just their third win of the year, and their first at Mars Stadium. Over-ager Matty Lloyd comes out of the side, but Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony should cover the gap left in the midfield/forward rotation two-fold after promising national carnival outings. Meanwhile, the in-form Jets lose some tall timber in the form of Metro inclusion Emerson Jeka and Aaron Clarke, but gain some midfield depth as Josh Honey and Daly Andrews make their NAB League returns. The likes of Lucas Rocci down back and over-age tall Will Kennedy have shown form of late for the Jets, while Jack Tillig and Riley Polkinghorne have stood tall in a depleted Rebels line-up. Form may show otherwise, but the home side will be looking to really test the Jets, but Western have a lot to play for as they hope to keep pace with the top four.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday June 22, 1:30pm
Shepley Oval

The Dandenong Stingrays will be looking to get right back onto the winners list as they host Murray Bushrangers at Shepley Oval on Saturday afternoon. A loss could remarkably see the Stingrays dislodged from the top four – barring a draw in the Gippsland-Oakleigh clash – after going undefeated across their first seven games. The raft of changes finally caught up with them last time out, and they are set to face a few more in the lead up to this game. Country representatives Sam De Koning and Lachlan Williams are welcome additions, but the depth of Luca Goonan, Corey Ellison, and Jai Nanscawen that had helped to keep the Stingrays in the hunt with their stars out are all exclusions in this week’s 24. On the other hand, Murray is set to benefit greatly from Country’s bye, regaining skipper Lachlan Ash alongside versatile midfielder Cam Wild and Allies representative, Will Chandler. Ash should add a ton of class to the back six, working in tandem with the in-form Jimmy Boyer and perhaps even freeing up Jye Chalcraft to go forward should he be moved into the middle. A disappointing start to the year is something the Bushrangers look to be putting behind them after their last outing, with the top eight still well within reach at just four points away. Beating Dandenong has proved a difficult job over the last two seasons though, and the reigning premiers should be keen to bounce back after a rare loss.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Morwell Football Ground

Oakleigh Chargers can throw a spanner in the top four works and snatch Gippsland Power’s spot in one fell swoop with a win as the two do battle in Morwell on Saturday. The Chargers look to be back to their usual selves on the back of four-straight wins, with their last two coming by a combined 126 points. Their depth has been well and truly tested during the middle part of the season and just as they look to be adapting well, they are set to contend with at least another 14 changes from their Round 10 side. Representative action calls for Jeromy Lucas and Will Phillips, while Futures round sees over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney out and school football sees last round’s five-goal hero, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan also out of the side. On the other hand, the Power should benefit greatly from a Vic Country bye – regaining the likes of Harrison Pepper, Ryan Sparkes, Brock Smith, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben to add enormous strength and class to each line. Gippsland will look to overpower an Oakleigh midfield led by usual wingman Josh May and bottom-age gun Lochlan Jenkins, and should have some capable aerial cover in defence with Smith back. You can never rule Oakleigh out – especially given recent form – but Gippsland looks a formidable opponent for any side this week.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday June 22, 2:00pm
Mars Stadium

Two sides desperate for a win are set to clash in Saturday’s final fixture, as Bendigo looks to do the season double over Geelong at Mars Stadium. The Pioneers are reeling on the back of six-straight losses, but impressively beat the Falcons in Round 1 in their first of two wins to open the season. On the other hand, Geelong has been massively unlucky to find themselves at 1-7-1, fading out late in a number of games to surrender winning positions and remain the lowest-ranked Victorian side. The largely inexperienced Falcons side has shown promise though, and Futures round should provide the perfect platform for their younger talent to shine through once again. Noah Gribble, Charlie Brauer, and Henry Walsh are three notable bottom-age ins, with holes left by Charlie Sprague, Charlie Lazzaro, and Noah Gadsby. The Bendigo team looks near full strength barring the absence of their two top-end stars, with the likes of top-agers Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all important figures with plenty of ball winning ability. This should be a cracking contest as two Country sides in varying bouts of form put it all on the line, and the prevalence of Bendigo’s top-agers could prove a key factor in deciding the outcome.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Sunday June 23, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

A top-of-the-table clash closes Round 11 in Sunday’s only fixture, as Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons go head to head for the second time this year. In their first meeting, current ladder leaders Eastern got the better of the Dragons away from home in a low-scoring tussle, and may even come in as favourites for this bout. The Dragons will be impacted once again by at least 15 changes, but have a couple of more than handy ins. Ryan Byrnes and Darcy Chirgwin will slot straight back into the midfield in their returns from injury, adding strength and class to the engine room mix with Angus Hanrahan and Jake Bowey going the other way. They should have an interesting time combating ball-winning Eastern pair Lachlan Stapleton and Zak Pretty in what will be a hotly contested midfield duel. Both sides lose stocks in the ruck department as Riley Smith is set to miss for the Ranges, while Riley Bowman and Andrew Courtney also come out of the Sandringham side. A swap of Metro representative talls from either end is also a feature of Eastern’s changed, with James Ross a handy addition as Jack Bell comes in for the Dragons. With big contests set to take place on each line, expect a high-quality contest as both sides throw everything at a result and the chance to claim top spot.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 9

A CRUCIAL win over fellow top four hopefuls, Gippsland Power sees five Sandringham Dragons make the Round 9 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week. The biggest winners of the round, Oakleigh Chargers have an equal second best contribution of three players, with Tasmania Devils also having three nominees. Despite a 40-point difference on the scoreboard, Eastern Ranges and Geelong Falcons both had two players get the nod, along with two apiece from Calder Cannons and the losing Bendigo Pioneers side. The remaining sides – Western Jets, Murray Bushrangers, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights each have a sole representative, with many Jets players particularly stiff to miss out after their 42-point win.

A dynamic back line sees Tasmania’s Matt McGuinness (25 disposals, eight marks, 10 rebound 50s) and Gippsland’s Tye Hourigan (17 disposals, five marks, three rebound 50s) take up key posts as the pair play well above their height, and both found a good amount of ball while providing effective rebound. Western standout Lucas Rocci (34 disposals, 12 marks, 12 rebound 50s) was a lock in the back pocket, while St Kilda father-son prospect Tyson Milne played well in defence with 25 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, seven rebounds. Murray’s Jimmy Boyer and Geelong’s Sam Bourke were both named best afield for their respective sides, so also find their way onto each back flank.

There are plenty of goals up the other end in a forward line with a distinct Metro feel. Three players – Oakleigh’s Connor Stone and Nicholas Staphopoulos, and Sandringham’s Kyle Yorke – each claimed hauls of five to fill out the full forward line, while the sole non-Victorian – Tasmania’s Jackson Callow – booted four. Northern’s best-afield Ayce Taylor (22 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s) and diminutive Dragon Lachlan Lamble (27 disposals, 11 marks, 5 inside 50s) fill out the flanks, with the likes of Calder’s Jeremy O’Sullivan, and talls Aaron Clarke (Western) and Billy McCormack (Eastern) unlucky not to find a spot on the back of solid performances.

The midfield features an even split of Metro and Country players, with Eastern’s Mitch Mellis and GWV’s Riley Polkinghorne the standouts on the back of round-high 39-disposal outings. Bendigo ruck Aaron Gundry (19 disposals, 28 hitouts, one goal) made the side, while consistent Calder mid Ned Gentile (21 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s, three rebound 50s) fills out the opposite wing to Mellis, with star Oakleigh bottom ager Lochlan Jenkins (24 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s, 2.1) and Devils ball magnet Oliver Davis (25 disposals, seven tackles, nine inside 50s) filling out the rover roles.

Another St Kilda father-son in Jackson Voss (27 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles, five clearances) was unlucky not to have made the starting line-up, as was Bendigo Pioneers’ Logan Fitzgerald (29 disposals, six marks, six tackles, five clearances and two inside 50s) but both make the interchange bench. Calder’s Max Simpson (27 disposals, 12 marks, five inside 50s, six rebound 50s, one goal) had an outstanding all-round game and simply had to be named, with Zak Pretty (28 disposals, six tackles, five clearances), Blake O’Leary (27 disposals, six marks, eight clearances), and Chas Karpala (24 disposals, nine tackles, six rebound 50s) also hard to ignore – rounding out the side.

NAB League Boys Round 8 wash-up: Mixed bag sees three games decided by under a goal

ROUND 8 of the NAB League Boys season threw up three close results, as well as three not so close ones. Calder broke the early trend of tight finishes with a huge victory to keep Murray languishing near the bottom, while Tasmania brought it to league-leaders Dandenong in another surprise scoreline. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

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

By: Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers scraped home in a dour low-scoring affair, overcoming a three-quarter time deficit to beat the Northern Knights by six points. The match served as a curtain-raiser to the NAB League Girls finals at Shepley Oval, but both sides came out slowly on the big stage to play out a deadlocked 1.2 apiece first term. It proved much of the same in the following quarter, but Oakleigh managed to hold on to a two-point lead at half time after kicking the first goal of the term through Spiros Sklavenitis. The Knights hit back following the main break after Oakleigh’s Thomas ‘Love Machine’ Lovell again ensured the Chargers had the first goal of the quarter, with majors to Ryan Gardner and Joel Trudgeon putting them in a winning position heading into the last turn. It wasn’t to be though, with Dylan Williams‘ inspired move forward proving the difference as the Oakleigh co-captain booted two last quarter goals and assisted another to help his side sneak ahead and hold on. Bottom-aged Chargers Lochlan Jenkins (23 disposals, eight clearances) and Fraser Elliot (28 disposals, six clearances) were terrific in midfield, with the wing pairing of Josh May (24 disposals, six inside 50s) and Jeromy Lucas (23 disposals) also finding plenty of the ball. Thomas Graham joined Williams as the only other Oakleigh multiple goal-kicker, with no Knight achieving the same feat. Sam Philp (28 disposals, nine clearances) and Gardner (15 disposals, seven inside 50s) were named amongst Northern’s best and also found the goals, with Ryan Sturgess (19 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) resolute in defence and Lachie Potter (17 disposals) providing plenty of run. A second-consecutive narrow win sees Oakleigh sneak into the top eight, with Northern just outside on three wins as the competition heads into a development weekend.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 4.0 | 6.0 | 10.1 | 12.2 (74)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 4.10 | 6.12 | 10.18 (78)

GOALS:
Bendigo:
J. Dick-O’Flaherty 3, J. Treacy 3, R. Clarke 2, J. Evans, K. Attwell, J. Schischka, Z. Murley
Sandringham: J. Florent 2, E. Soylemez 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, T. Spencer, J. Bell, M. Bergman

BEST:
Bendigo:
W. Wallace, J. Treacy, J. Evans, J. Ginnivan, W. Shaw, R. Wilson
Sandringham: C. Watts, M. Bergman, A. Hanrahan, R. Byrnes, J. Voss, J. Bell

By: Joe Lee

A wasteful Sandringham escaped with a four-point victory at Victoria Park, Echuca, with Bendigo pushing the Dragons right until the final siren. Whilst Bendigo made the most of their entries, Sandringham was the antithesis, recording 18 behinds. Miles Bergman was outstanding but was the main culprit, kicking five behinds and only one goal. In what was a consistently tight contest, Bendigo managed to hold a 19-point lead early in the fourth, but Sandringham fought back to run out eventual victors. It was the Pioneers’ efficiency inside 50 that kept them in the game, registering 14 shots from 24 inside 50s compared to the 54 inside 50s for Sandy. Ryan Byrnes and Bergman continued their sensational form for the Dragons whilst Riley Wilson worked hard for the Pioneers. The win cements Sandringham as one of the teams to beat whilst Bendigo are left languishing down the lower echelon of the ladder.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.3 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 10.7 (67)
CALDER CANNONS 6.2 | 11.4 | 15.7 | 18.9 (117)

GOALS:
Murray:
C. Wilson 3, B. Kelly 2, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, L. Fiore, Z. Barzen
Calder: F. Evans 3, J. O’Sullivan 3, S. Ramsay 2, B. Bozinovski 2, N. Gentile 2, J. Kemp 2, A. Righele, S. Graham, D. Mott, T. Browning

BEST:
Murray:
B. Kelly, C. Wilson, C. Wild, L. Fiore, S. Durham, D. Bedendo
Calder: N. Gentile, B. Newman, J. O’Sullivan, A. Righele, D. Mott, T. Browning

By: Michael Alvaro

The Calder Cannons continued their recent upward trend, with a 50-point victory over Murray Bushrangers on Saturday making it three wins from their last four outings. After having their previous win streak broken by the highly-fancied Gippsland Power last week, the Cannons came out firing with 11 goals in a high-scoring opening half. While Murray managed to stay with them throughout the first two stanzas, Calder thwarted the home side’s scoring after the main break while piling on a further eight majors to come out comprehensive winners. Draft Central player of the week nominee Ned Gentile was named best afield for his 24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, while Daniel Mott was the leading possession-getter on the ground with 29 and Brodie Newman (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) again impressed. Calder had an impressive 10 individual goal kickers with Francis Evans and Jeremy O’Sullivan booting three, while Sam Ramsay was one of four others to find multiple goals. Murray also three players kick multiple goals as Cameron Wilson booted three, and Ben Kelly and Hudson Kaak each had two with Kelly named their best as he pushes for mid-season draft selection. Cam Wild (27 disposals, six clearances, one goal) clearly led the Bushrangers’ possession count, with Wilson and Jimmy Boyer the next best on 16. The Bushies’ biggest loss of the season sees them stuck much closer to the bottom than expected with two wins, while Calder has shot up to ninth – equal on points with four top-eight sides.

GEELONG FALCONS 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.10 (22)
WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 | 7.8 (50)

GOALS:
Geelong:
C. Brauer, L. Smith
Western: A. Clarke 2, A. Manton 2, J. Honey, B. Ryan, S. Clifford

BEST:
Geelong:
K. Rayner, S. Bourke, L. Smith, H. Stubbings, J. Clark, W. Kilpatrick
Western: L. Rocci, W. Kennedy, D. Andrews , K. Crimmins, D. Cassar, J. Horo

By: Taylah Melki

The Western Jets put on a strong defensive effort to limit the Falcons to a mere two goals for the game while applying plenty of attacking pressure themselves. The Falcons had plenty of opportunities however, inaccuracy killed them unable to capitalise on scoring chances registering 10 points. It was a tight tussle to start with as the both sides only managed a goal in the first quarter but the Jets pushed away as the game went on, piling on four goals to none in the second term to ultimately set up the game for them. In the last term, the Falcons had all the play winning the ball out of the middle and peppering the goals but they could not convert slotting 1.5 to the Jets 0.2. Western were led by Darcy Cassar who was prolific amassing a game high 41 disposals while Daly Andrews was also important for the Jets winning the ball at the coalface and delivering it to teammates on the lead. Aaron Clarke and Archi Manton made their presence felt on the scoreboard nailing two goals apiece while Josh Honey was equally important with his 11 touches and one goal. For the Falcons William Kilpatrick and Harry Stubbings were impressive winning their fair share of the ball and using it well. Stubbings was the leading disposals winner for Geelong with 27 to go with his seven clearances showcasing his hard work across the ground. Charlie Sprague was also impressive applying strong pressure to win the ball and offering good leads to be a constant option for the Falcons racking up four inside 50s. Another key player for the Falcons was Keidan Rayner who contested hard to win the ball and created plenty of attacking forays with five inside 50s and six clearances.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 8.8 (56)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:
Tasmania:
H. Allan 2, M. O’Neill 2, M. McGuinness, C. Stephenson, B. Gordon, W. Peppin
Dandenong: C. Gay 3, M. Riordan, W. Bravo, D. Popa, J. Nanscawen, D. Gould, L. Goonan

BEST:
Tasmania:
O. Davis, B. Gordon, E. Jackson, M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Shaw
Dandenong: B. Schmidt, N. Heath, H. Berenger, J. Nanscawen, C. Gay, D. Popa

By: Michael Alvaro

The Tasmania Devils were this time on the wrong end of a third-consecutive game decided by less than a goal, going down to ladder-leaders Dandenong by four points on home turf. In what was a thrilling final term where Tasmania snatched the lead for just the second time on the back of four unanswered goals, Dandenong’s Declan Gould came up clutch to break Tasmanian hearts with a goal in the final five minutes. Returning Devils star Mitch O’Neill almost proved a match-winner with his two majors both coming in the final quarter after a steady opening three, but bottom-ager Oliver Davis was the clear standout, collecting a game-high 33 disposals and nine inside 50s. Ethan Jackson (24 disposals, eight tackles), Bailey Gordon (23 disposals, eight clearances), and Matt McGuiness (21 disposals, one goal) were the other Devils to impress with solid amounts of ball throughout. The Stingrays also had a number of contributors, with over-agers Bailey Schmidt (14 disposals, 42 hitouts) and Mitch Riordan (23 disposals, five clearances) leading the way. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was the only Dandenong player to boot multiple goals, finishing with three from his 15 disposals, while Jai Nanscawen made a steady return with 18 disposals and a goal. The win serves as Dandenong’s fourth-straight, helping them to consolidate top spot in an undefeated premiership defence to date. Meanwhile, the Devils will be happy with the level of competitiveness they have shown, sitting a win outside the top eight with three already on the board.

GIPPSLAND POWER 5.3 | 9.5 | 12.6 | 15.8 (98)
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:
Gippsland: J. Smith 3, M. McGarrity 2, S. Flanders 2, F. Phillips 2, J. McGrath, H. Neocleous, M. McGannon, L. Connolly, R. Baldi, T. Baldi
GWV: F. Macdonald 3, L. Herbert, J. Rantall, P. Rea

BEST:
Gippsland: F. Phillips, R. Baldi, J. Smith, S. Flanders, J. van der Pligt, B. Smith
GWV: J. Rantall, J. Cleaver, H. Sharp, J. Tillig, J. Dwyer, F. Macdonald

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland powered to a big win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Windy Hill in the standalone game on Sunday afternoon. In a game that the Power controlled from the first bounce, Gippsland piled on five goals to one in the first quarter, and by half-time had nine majors on the board to the Rebels’ two. GWV tightened up in the second half and hit the scoreboard themselves, booting four goals to the Power’s six in a much more even half, but the game was done and dusted by that stage. Fraser Phillips was impressive in the forward half with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and two goals from five scoring shots, while Riley Baldi was the top ball winner with 29 touches, five marks, eight tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Also impressive for the Power up front was Josh Smith who rotated through the ruck and had 16 hiouts, 11 clearances, 22 disposals, four marks and three goals in one of his best games for the season. On the inside Sam Flanders (25 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) was good, while Jake Van Der Plight and Brock Smith were also impressive. For the Rebels, Jay Rantall racked up 30 disposals, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the standout Rebel once again, while James Cleaver (16 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harry Sharp (16 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were also named among the best, while Fergus Macdonald hit the scoreboard with three majors.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Boys – Round 5

A NEW ladder-leader has emerged in the NAB League as one academy side suffered its first loss, and Geelong Falcons and Northern Territory remain the only ones without a win. With eyes on each of the nine games, here is the Round 5 wash-up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.1 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Bendigo: K. Brown 2, K. Attwell, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, C. Fisher, J. Rodi.
Northern: J. Bowne 2, S. Brazier 2, J. D’Intinosante, C. Barbera, Z. Costello, J. Lucente.

BEST:

Bendigo: R. Wilson, W. Wallace, J. Ginnivan, J. Schischka, B. Worme, R. Ironside.
Northern: E. Macpherson, J. D’Intinosante, S. Philp, S. Brazier, Z. Costello, L. Potter.

It took five rounds but Northern Knights finally came away with some premiership points, downing the impressive Bendigo Pioneers by less than a kick under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval on Friday night. Bendigo lost its second consecutive game after starting the season 2-0, despite having chances to win in both matches. In this clash, the Pioneers led throughout the night, including by 17 points at the main break. A more determined Knights outfit came out in the second half, making the most of their run and carry, booting five goals to one in the second half to secure the five-point victory. Ewan Macpherson was named best on ground for Northern, while Josh D’Intinosante was consistent across the four quarters, as were fellow inside midfielders, Sam Philp and Sunny Brazier. Lachie Potter showed dash off half-back and between the run from defence to the inside ball winning capabilities, the Knights were better across the four quarters. For the Pioneers, Riley Wilson was terrific across the four quarters, while James Schischka was ever-reliable in defence with William Wallace, while Ben Worme and Riley Ironside were others who performed on the night for the Pioneers.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 | 13.10 (88)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.3 | 2.9 | 7.9 | 9.10 (64)

GOALS:

Sydney: H. Ellem 3, T. Drum 2, H. Maguire 2, M. Sheather, A. Watling, J. Barling, K. McGrath, P. Roseby, M. Rossmann.
Murray: C. Wilson 3, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, K. Chalcraft, J. Chalcraft, J. O’Dwyer.

BEST:

Sydney: L. Swaney, C. Nash, A. Watling, M. Geddes, J. Dol, S. Thorne
Murray: C. Wild, J. Chalcraft, S. Durham, K. Chalcraft, C. Wilson, W. Christie

Sydney Swans Academy extended its unbeaten NAB League run on Saturday, kicking off the Blacktown double-header with an impressive 24-point win over the Murray Bushrangers. The loss is the only result for Murray that has been decided by over seven points after going 1-2 across the first three rounds, with the Bushrangers unlucky to be languishing in the bottom half of the table. They were beaten out of the blocks by the home side, which broke out to a 29-point lead at the first break, while building on it well to find themselves an seven six goals up at half time. The Bushrangers fought back after the main break, taking their chances well to boot 5.0 to 2.2 in the third term, but the gap proved too far to bridge in a rather stalemate final stanza as the Swans cruised to victory. An impressive nine individual Swans goal kickers were led by Hamish Ellem‘s three majors from 22 disposals, while Harry Maguire and Thomas Drum snared two each in low possession games. While Kyle Martin led their possession count, Lachlan Swaney was named best for the Swans for his 18-disposal performance, while Sam Thorne, Max Geddes and Jacob Dol each had over 20 touches to also be thereabouts. Cam Wild continues to be a standout for Murray, named their best in this outing on the back of 28 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal, while both Kade and Jye Chalcraft hit the scoreboard to be named in the best alongside leading goal-getter Cameron Wilson, who bagged three. Murray goes on to face other Sydney academy, GWS in Round 6, while the Swans face Geelong Falcons in their final NAB League hit-out.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.2 | 10.4 | 12.8 | 19.10 (124)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 8.6 (54)

GOALS:

Dandenong: E. Cahill 3, L. Williams 3, J. Neal 2, W. Bravo 2, B. Kuipers 2, J. Nanscawen 2, B. Nyuon, B. Welsh, B. Milford, A. Bradtke, L. Goonan.
Oakleigh: L. Stelling 2, T. Graham, T. Lovell, R. Valentine, H. Mundy, B. Rogers, F. Elliot.

BEST:

Dandenong: E. Cahill, J. Toner, J. Nanscawen, L. Williams, S. De Koning, C. Gay
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, S. Seach, R. Valentine, L. Jenkins, F. Elliot, L. Stelling

In their first three clashes, the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed absolute nail-biters, winning by a goal twice, and the drawing with Geelong Falcons in Round 3. While the opening term scores suggested this one would head down the same path, the action told a different story with the Stingrays on top, but not putt ing the scores on the board. That happened in the second term when they took full control of the game from Oakleigh Chargers, piling on eight goals to one with the breeze in a windy day at Shepley Oval. In front of a home crowd, the Stingrays put an understrength Oakleigh to the sword, extending the lead to 52 points by the final break, before running away with it in the last term as both sides managed to break through for goals. Eleven majors were kicked as Dandenong won that quarter seven goals to four, and enjoyed a massive 70-point win. In the absence of Hayden Young, Ned Cahill stood tall to be the standout player on the ground, while Luke Williams also contributed with his long-range goals a highlight. Jack Toner and Clayton Gay were solid throughout, as was Sam De Koning who took a multitude of intercept marks at centre half-back. For Oakleigh, Jacob Woodfull is hard to miss, rocking a mullet, but the ruck was sensational throughout the match, while Sam Seach and Ryan Valentine were also named among the best. AFL Academy members and co-captains Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams showed signs across the ground, but the Stingrays controlled the play for the most part in the impressive win.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 8.3 | 13.9 | 17.13 | 19.18 (132)
BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Sandringham: B. O’Leary 3, J. Bell 2, K. Yorke 2, A. Courtney 2, A. Hanrahan 2, R. Byrnes, T. Murray, J. Voss, J. Le Grice , T. Deane-Johns, G. Grey, D. Hipwell, A. Perkins.
Brisbane: T. Wischnat, T. Abberley, C. Bowes, M. McDonald, T. Matthews.

BEST:

Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Voss, H. Loughnan, R. Byrnes, L. Butler, R. Bowman
Brisbane: W. Martyn, T. Griffiths, B. Reville, T. Jeffrey

New NAB League table-toppers Sandringham Dragons roared to a thumping 97-point win over the Brisbane Lions academy, keeping its perfect record in tact. A 13-goal to one blitz in the first half set up the final margin of victory for the home side, with a whopping 13 Dragons getting on the scoresheet and five of them scoring multiple goals – led by Blake O’Leary‘s three. The tall timber of Jack Bell and Andrew Courtney proved a handful for the Lions defence, with over-ager Angus Hanrahan chiming in well early and bottom-ager Archie Perkins also impressive forward of centre. Midfield maestro Ryan Byrnes (26 disposals, seven inside 50s, one goal) was the key catalyst for the first-half onslaught though, winning a wealth of ball through the middle and setting Sandringham forward with bursting runs and inside 50 entries on both sides. The likes of Louis Butler (31 disposals) and Harry Loughnan (25, nine marks) also covered the ground well, with Riley Bowman showing his versatility in all key-position posts. Though they were soundly beaten overall, the Lions showed good heart in the second half to keep Sandringham to six goals while scoring four of their own, with key players finding their way into the game. One who was combative all day was Will Martyn (33 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles), leading his side well from midfield and leading all-comers in disposals. Tom Griffiths was named in the best for his role in an under-siege defence, while the smooth-moving Bruce Reville lifted in the second half to also be thereabouts, and bottom-ager Tahj Abberley also showed good signs. In its final NAB League outing, Brisbane hosts Dandenong in the Sunshine State, while Sandringham can enjoy a bye.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 1.1 | 5.1 | 9.4 | 9.7 (61)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.5 | 9.5 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

GWS: L. Conlan 2, L. Delahunty 2, H. Grant 2, R. Mooney, J. Peatling, T. Organ.
Gippsland: R. Baldi 2, H. Pepper, Z. Skinner, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, B. Maslen, W. Papley, F. Phillips, K. Dunkley.

BEST:

GWS: H. Grant, N. Murray, L. Squire, J. Lucas, S. Driscoll, J. Peatling
Gippsland: J. Smith, H. Pepper, R. Baldi, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, T. Hourigan

Gippsland Power was made to work for its third win of the NAB League season, downing a spirited GWS Giants Academy side by nine points in Blacktown. The travel did not seem to faze the Victorian side, looking fresh coming off a bye round to set up an early lead. The Power’s 13-point quarter-time lead proved the difference in their second-consecutive win, as the home side poured on eight goals during the second and third terms to get within a single point heading into the final break. With the game on the line, Gippsland’s depth proved too strong, seeing the Power home in a tense and low-scoring final term. Riley Baldi sent a timely reminder of his talent with 22 disposals, eight inside 50s and two goals on his return, with big-man Josh Smith named Gippsland’s best. Harrison Pepper (26 disposals) and Josh Dunkley (18) found a good amount of ball on top of hitting the scoreboard, while Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Ryan Sparkes (18 disposals) continued their solid partnership across half-back. Harry Grant had a monster day out as GWS’ best with 31 disposals and two goals, while Liam Delahunty and Lucas Conlan were the other multiple goal kickers. Ball winners Lachlan Squire (26 disposals, Jeromy Lucas (24), and Nicholas Murray (21) also proved important for the Giants in the narrow loss. GWS’ last NAB League fixture comes against Murray in Victoria, with Gippsland returning to home turf in Round 6 to face the in-form Eastern in a top eight clash.

EASTERN RANGES 1.3 | 2.5 | 9.7 | 11.11 (77)
GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Eastern: B. White 4, J. Rossiter 3, B. Hickleton 2, Z. Pretty, C. Hirst.
Gold Coast: R. Buckland, E. Dawson.

BEST:

Eastern: R. Smith, Z. Pretty, J. Nathan, J. Clarke, L. Stapleton, B. White
Gold Coast: C. Joyce, C. Budarick, M. Pescud , D. Koenen, R. Gilmore, P. Murtagh

Eastern Ranges made it a double demolition of the Northern Academies at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, downing the Gold Coast Suns academy by 59 points to climb into the competition’s top two. After a first-half arm-wrestle ensued, the Ranges broke the game open with a seven-goal to nil third term to set up their fourth-straight win. Three players did the bulk of Eastern’s scoring, with Bailey White claiming an opportunistic bag of four goals in his first game for the year, while Jamieson Rossiter booted 3.3 in a solid marking display and Ben Hickleton chimed in with 2.4. Another player to find the goals, Zak Pretty, amassed a whopping 37 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency to earn the Draft Central player of the week nod, but was beaten out by dominant ruckman Riley Smith (19 disposals, 37 hit-outs) for best-afield honours. Lachlan Stapleton (27 disposals) and Mitch Mellis continued their good form through the middle, with bottom-age prospect Joshua Clarke impressing off half-back with plenty of dash. Ryan Buckland and Ethan Dawson were the Suns’ only goal kickers for the day, with many of their best players employed further afield. Connor Budarick (27 disposals, 16 tackles) continues to shine on the back of hard work, while Corey Joyce and Dirk Koenen were also named in the best for their roles in defence. The Suns head back home next week to face GWV and see out their NAB League cameo, while Eastern faces a tough task in keeping its win-streak alive against Gippsland in Morwell.

CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Calder: N. Gentile 3, J. Martin 2, O. Sasalu, M. Simpson, J. Keeping.
Geelong: C. Sprague 2, L. Lloyd 2, C. Seymour, L. Smith, K. Rayner, W. Batson.

BEST:

Calder: B. Newman, D. Mott, N. Gentile, O. Sasalu, S. Ramsay, S. Graham
Geelong: H. Stubbings, S. Christensen, C. Karpala, C. Sprague, S. Bourke, W. Batson

The Calder Cannons were made to earn their second win of the year, leaving Geelong Falcons winless after five rounds with a seven-point victory at RAMS Arena. With the wind favouring one end, the game was ultimately decided by Calder’s dominant second quarter, where the Cannons scored 4.5 while keeping Geelong scoreless to open up a 17-point lead. Despite bridging the gap to a single point heading into the final break, the Falcons were outlasted by the home side, which converted well in the clutch moments in an otherwise hit-and-miss display in front of goal. Ned Gentile (21 disposals, three goals) converted in each of the last three quarters to provide a key hand, while other multiple goal kicker Jacob Martin kicked the deciding goal with seven minutes to play. The game was dominated by Cannons key defender Brodie Newman, who recorded 36 disposals and an incredible 17 marks, while Daniel Mott (29 disposals) continued to build his form and Sam Ramsay (27) was also good. Not all is lost for the Falcons despite being the only full-time NAB League side without a win, with some of their depth players standing up. Over-ager Harry Stubbings was named best for his 20 disposals and nine tackles, with Will Batson (20 disposals, one goal) and Chas Karpala (19 disposals) also amongst it, while Charlie Sprague returned an impressive 18 disposals, six marks, and two goals. Geelong’s search for a win continues on neutral territory in Round 6 against an unbeaten Sydney Academy side, with Calder hosting at RAMS Arena once again against Bendigo.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western: A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

A second-consecutive win sees Western Jets fly into the NAB League top eight, accounting for Tasmania Devils by 47 points on the Apple Isle. With the two sides coming in on eight points apiece, it was the Jets who got the better of an early stalemate – snatching a two-point lead at the first break and never looking back. The travelling side gradually widened the margin as the game went on, kicking no more than three goals in each quarter to build their eventual winning score. While goals were hard to come by for the Devils, they proved competitive up the field but were beaten by a combination of Western’s strength and classy ball winners. Darcy Cassar led the way in the latter department, collecting a game-high 31 disposals (27 kicks, 13 marks) from half-back, while Josh Honey was back to his best with 25 disposals and two goals, and Josh Kellett (18 disposals) also proved effective. Over-ager Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 33 hit-outs) continues to dominate in the ruck, while fellow big-man Aaron Clarke clunked nine marks and Archi Manton converted three goals up forward. For the home side, Oscar Burrows-Cheng was named best for his combative 22 disposals, with Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon the leading disposal getters (both 25) and debutant Isaac Chugg showing some promising signs. The Devils remain in Tasmania for a clash against Oakleigh at North Hobart Oval next week, while Western has a bye in Round 6.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 10.6 | 13.9 | 17.10 (112)
NT THUNDER 1.2 | 1.5 | 6.8 | 8.9 (57)

GOALS:

GWV: N. Caris 4, R. Polkinghorne 2, I. Grant 2, M. Lloyd 2, J. Rantall 2, T. Mahony 2, C. Craig-Peters, J. Hill, M. Martin.
NT: T. Woods 3, M. Cumming 2, B. O’Connell 2, J. Lynch.

BEST:

GWV: P. Glanford, C. Craig-Peters, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, J. Rantall, M. Lloyd
NT: B. Jungfer, B. O’Connell, L. Ferreira, S. Cumming, M. Cumming, J. Jeffrey

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have come away with an easy Round 5 victory, downing Northern Territory Thunder by 55 points at Windy Hill. The venue was aptly named for the conditions as a strong breeze blowing a gale caused for some inaccuracy at times, although both teams seemed well equipped by half-time to deal with the conditions. The Rebels never looked like losing the game, piling on 10 goals to one by half-time and essentially having put a nail in the Thunders’ coffin as they headed into the main break. The Northern Territory coaches told the players that their efforts “now” (in the second half) was what mattered and was within their control, and the visitors answered with three of the first four goals, and five foals to three in the term, to cut the deficit to 43 points by the final break. Any slight hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out within eight and a half minutes as the Rebels piled on four consecutive goals – including two to Izaac Grant – to race away to a 67-point advantage. Two late goals to Beau O’Connell and Matthew Cumming restored the final margin to 55. Patrick Glanford was named the Rebels’ best in the ruck, competing against the bigger-bodied Stephen Cumming, while Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne were among nine individual goalkickers. Nick Caris led the way with four majors, while Polkinghorne, Grant, Jay Rantall, Toby Mahony and Matty Lloyd all booted two apiece. For the Thunder, Tyson Woods kicked three goals all within 15 metres, while Matthew Cumming managed two majors, as did O’Connell. The small mid-forward was a standout for the Thunder, working hard on the outside with Ben Jungfer doing the heavy lifting on the inside. Down back, Joel Jeffrey had some highlight reel moments with high leaps and terrific intercept marks.

Number Crunching: NAB League Boys – Stars shine amid representative commitments

DESPITE representative trials, an academy hit-out, and byes interrupting the season thus far, usual suspects have dominated the first month of NAB League action. In this edition of Number Crunching, we take a look at who leads the key stats, with Northern Academy prospects well and truly making their mark.

While the consistent performances of Matt Rowell have him poised as arguably this crop’s top player thus far, Oakleigh teammate Noah Anderson has done his chances of going first off the board no harm with an incredible early-season stat-line.

The damaging midfielder started the year with 26 disposals and four goals against Eastern, backing that up with a monster 44 disposals against Calder and another 26 against Sandringham. Anderson’s impressive disposal tallies see him top the averages with 32 and overall total with 96, while also posting the best goal return of any pure midfielder with eight – and at least two in each game.

Tom Green is his closest ball-winning competitor, with the GWS Giants Academy product having just one less disposal for an average of 31.7 over his three games – highlighted by his 38-disposal effort against Northern. Sydney Academy bottom-ager Errol Gulden would have been right up there with Green and Anderson had he not missed his side’s second outing, putting together two spectacular displays for the Swans to average 30 touches of the ball as third-best.

Green leads the contested ball stakes with his haul of 60 contested possessions making up almost two-thirds of his overall tally. Northern’s Sam Philp is his nearest contender, with the two duking it out in their most recent outing. Philp, who is also equal-third for total possessions (92), has been a beacon of hope for the Knights, and leads the league for handballs (51) from Green (50). Tackling is also a strong point for Philp, with the Knight laying a league-best 32, with Rowell the only other to have 30 to his name. Giants bull Green is stamping his authority as the leading inside midfielder overall though, with a competition-high 30 clearances to be eight better than Philp, Rowell, Ashton Crossley, and Daly Andrews.

On the flip-side, Oakleigh over-ager Joe Ayton-Delaney sits second for uncontested possessions in his third-best overall tally (92) with 59, trailing fellow returnee Angus Hanrahan, who has 64. While Hanrahan boasts the greatest total with 16 over his four games, the best averages belong to Brisbane Academy skipper Will Martyn (17.6), Anderson (16.6) and Calder’s Daniel Mott (16.3).

While the likes of Hanrahan and Ayton-Delaney are fantastic forward movers, academy guns are the ones who dominate the inside 50 ranks. Gold Coast’s Hewago Paul Oea leads all-comers with 22 thus far while teammate Connor Budarick has 16 and Sydney’s Gulden separates them with 18.

At the other end of the ground, Western Jet Josh Kellett has racked up an impressive 31 rebound 50s, followed by Geelong co-captain and half-back mainstay, Jesse Clark on 24 in one less game. Lion Saxon Crozier is one who covers the ground well to boast stats at either end, and it shows in his equal-second marks tally of 23. With key-forward Jet Aaron Clarke on top with his 26 over four games, Martyn and Murray’s Lachlan Ash are the best midfielders in this area with equal averages of 7.3 over three games.

On top in the marking charts, Clarke is second in the goal kicking stakes – his tally of 10 goals is equal with Tasmanian Jackson Callow, and one less than Charlie Dean‘s 11. Meanwhile, Anderson is the highest-scoring midfielder with eight goals – with half coming in his opening game. Dean shares the best individual goal haul of five with Geelong bottom-ager Oliver Henry – the brother of Cats defender, Jack.

While many stars of the draft crop are standing out at this point, expect the stat lines to even out as the season goes on with Northern academy prospects heading back home, school commitments coming into play, and the National Championships also to be played. As is often the case, diamonds appear from the rough during these periods, and they may well appear in the next addition of Stats Central.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 4

WESTERN Jets’ impressive win over Northern Territory has seen them rewarded with the most players in the Draft Central NAB League Boys’ Team of the Week for Round 4. Five Jets have made the side comprised of the seven full-time teams in the NAB League Boys competition. The Jets had one more than other winner,  Eastern Ranges and narrow loser Tasmania, while Calder Cannons, Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights had three players each. Oakleigh Chargers were well beaten by Gold Coast, and had just the two players make the Team of the Week.

Western Jets’ Aaron Clarke makes the team for a second consecutive week at centre-half forward, joined in the side by teammates, Josh Kellett, Jonah Horo, Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy. The latter crossed from Sandringham Dragons and is one of three rucks in the side with Sandringham’s Riley Bowman – who ironically also changed sides from Dandenong Stingrays – and Northern Knights’ Nathan Howard. Nick Burke slots into the side at half-back for another Dragon representative, while Angus Hanrahan has been named at half-forward. Also in the side from the Knights is consistent midfielder, Sam Philp and overager, Sunny Brazier.

Eastern Ranges had four players named in the team with Joshua Clarke, Chayce Black, Ben Hickleton and Salele Feagaimalii all impressing in the win over Brisbane Lions Academy. Tasmania lost to Calder but had four players named with defenders, Nicholas Baker, Oscar Shaw and Patrick Walker all finding plenty of it, while Jackson Callow looms as a top prospect for the future, named at centre-half forward once again. Calder had the three players named in the team themselves with Jacob Martin in the back pocket, Harrison Minton-Connell in the middle and Ned Gentile also in the squad of 24. To round out the side, Oakleigh overager Joe Ayton-Delaney sits on a wing, joined in the team by Kaden Schreiber who also stood up in an otherwise disappointing day for the Chargers.

NAB League Boys Round 4 wash-up: SUNS shine in NAB League Boys

THE NAB League ladder has a new leader after all the action from Round 4, as three Northern Academy sides got the better of their Victorian Metropolitan counterparts. With Tasmania also picking up a win, it was a good weekend to be an interstater, albeit with the Victorian sides depleted on the back of trial games.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 5.4 | 5.6 | 7.9 (51)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 3.3 | 4.5 | 8.13 | 10.17 (77)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:
Northern:
C. Barbera, L. Mcmahon, S. Brazier, L. Waldron, J. Boyd, N. Howard, O. Simpson
GWS: L. Delahunty 3, L. Conlan 2, J. Lucas 2, M. Hamblin, J. Peatling, S. Driscoll

BEST
Northern:
N. Howard, S. Philp, C. Barbera, A. Taylor, E. Macpherson, S. Brazier
GWS: M. McGrory, J. Lucas, J. Peatling, L. Delahunty, S. Driscoll, H. Grant

GWS Giants Academy travelled to Melbourne this weekend to take on the Northern Knights at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. This first quarter was hotly contested. The Giants shot out of the blocks in the first two minutes, when James Peating won a holding the ball decision directly in front and goaled. The Knights fought back and after Sunny Brazier goaled from a snap shot, they started to gain some momentum. Ruckman Nathan Howard was dominant in the first quarter, giving the Knights first use, yet he was equally impressive around the ground. A serious knee injury to Lucas Perry caused a significant delay, as the young Knight writhed in pain. Both teams were visibly shaken as the midfielder was stretchered off the field. The Giants kicked two late goals – Lucas Conlan from a tight angle and then Liam Delahunty who goaled with only a minute remaining to give the Giants a seven-point advantage into the first break. The second quarter was owned by the Knights – they had most of the possession, and took advantage of it. Ruckman Howard continued on from his fine first quarter by kicking a late goal. GWS’s Tom Green was outstanding for the Giants. The big bodied midfielder kept his side in the match, winning clearances and contested possessions, and at half time GWS were only down by five points.

The Giants flew out of the blocks in the second half. Green started where he left off, winning four possessions, two centre clearances and a goal assist in the first two minutes. The final five minutes of the third quarter changed the match. Knights could barely get their hands on the footy, as Green and Peatling took over. Jeromy Lucas kicked two goals in the final minute, and the Giants had put the game to bed. The Knights who had been in this game up until midway through the third were nearly broken. The Knights started the fourth quarter well after an early Ollie Simpson goal, but they still needed to find four more in under 20 minutes of play. Sure enough, only a minute later, Lorne Waldron took a contested mark directly in front but missed what would have been a momentous goal. The Knights continued to find opportunities to win the game but missed a further two convertible chances in the next two minutes. A terrible turnover from GWS across goal gave Cooper Barbera another opportunity, but when he missed also, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be the Knights day. The Knights had most of the possession in the final quarter, but the Giants kicked two late goals to finish off the game as 26-point victors. Green was the best player on the field with 31 possessions, while Howard did everything he could for the Knights. GWS play the Gippsland Power at Blacktown in Round 5, while the Knights head to the QEO in Bendigo to take on the Pioneers.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.3 | 5.5 | 7.9 | 12.11 (83)
SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 5.1 | 10.4 | 14.6 | 16.9 (105)

By: Alex Gibson

GOALS:
Sandringham:
K. Yorke 3, A. Hanrahan 2, J. Florent 2, A. Perkins 2, H. Loughnan, L. Garnaut, R. Bowman
Sydney: B. Campbell 4, H. Maguire 3, T. Tyson 2, S. Thorne 2, H. Ellem 2, E. Gulden, K. McGrath, A. Watling

BEST:
Sandringham:
N. Burke, R. Bowman, J. Le Grice , J. Castan, A. Perkins, K. Yorke
Sydney: H. Ellem, N. Brewer, B. Campbell, L. Parks, A. Watling, S. Thorne

With the ongoing Vic trials, 14 changes were made for the Sandringham side which faced a classy Swans Academy outfit. Sydney’s pressure from the outset was immense, led by Samuel Thorne (21 disposals, two goals) and Harrison Parker (seven tackles) allowing the Swans to get the early jump on the ladder leaders. Sandringham from there on had to play catch up footy and on ball duo Angus Hanrahan (29 disposals, two goals) and Bill Mackay (21 disposals) did their best for the Dragons, however it was no match for the Swans who laid 22 more tackles for the match. The new look Sandringham forward line consisted of youth and rawness which consequently lacked a strong solid target in Charlie Dean’s absence, which hurt the Dragons all day. In contrast, the Swans big forwards dominated the second term thanks to Josh Maguire (three goals) and Hamish Ellem (two goals) who were able to control the forward 50 as the Swans lead extended to 29 points heading into the main break. It was a better second half for the Dragons as ruckman Riley Bowman (40 hitouts) was able to get on top, however bottom-ager Errol Gulden (26 disposals, two goals) took the game away from the Dragons with his classy left boot. In a game that tested Sandringham’s depth, they were able to remain competitive all day with their youth showing good signs but they were outplayed by the Swans big bodies which eventuated in a 22-point victory for Sydney who remain undefeated.

GOLD COAST ACADEMY 1.3 | 6.4 | 10.8 | 14.11 (95)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 3.6 (24)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Gold Coast:
P. Murtagh 2, E. Dawson 2, M. Selsby 2, J. Gore 2, M. Conroy, C. Budarick, H. Oea, A. Davies, E. Semaan, R. Nicholls
Oakleigh: M. Steiner 2, J. Robertson

BEST:
Gold Coast:
C. Budarick, C. Joyce, A. Davies, H. Oea, J. Gore, D. Koenen
Oakleigh: J. Woodfull, K. Schreiber, J. Ayton-Delaney, H. Mastras, B. Jepson, R. McInnes

Gold Coast SUNS Academy became the third non-Victorian side to pick up four points on the weekend, opening Sunday’s Queensland double-header with a 71-point win over Oakleigh. The Chargers came in heavily depleted like most of their fellow metro sides, but it didn’t show early as they battled well in an even first term. It was all Gold Coast from thereon though, as the Suns pulled away to a 26-point half time lead. With eight goals to one, it was more of the same in a dominant second half from the home side as they pushed to claim top spot at round’s end. Connor Budarick again had a day out, leading the Suns with 28 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles and a goal, while Corey Joyce and Ashton Crossley won the ball well with 22 possessions apiece. Josh Gore could have had a huge game, claiming 2.5 from his 20 disposals as one of four Suns multiple goal kickers, with Mark Steiner booting two of Oakleigh’s three goals for the match. Chargers over-ager and 2018 Vic Metro representative Joe Ayton-Delaney (26 disposals) was influential through midfield alongside Kaden Schreiber (24, seven marks, five clearances), but both were beaten to being named best by ruckman Jacob Woodfull who managed five clearances from 15 disposals. With two losses on the trot, Oakleigh will look to bounce back after the break against Dandenong, while Gold Coast is set to face another metro side in Eastern as its NAB League stint edges over the half-way mark.

TASMANIA DEVILS 0.1 | 5.1 | 8.1 | 10.3 (63)
CALDER CANNONS 0.1 | 1.4 | 3.6 | 7.9 (51)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Tasmania:
J. Callow 4, J. Hennessy 2, J. Menzie, W. Peppin, P. Walker, R. Mansell
Calder: C. Brand 3, M. Fletcher 2, H. Minton-Connell, J. Sutton

BEST:
Tasmania:
J. Callow, O. Shaw, J. Chaplin, R. Ashlin, L. Gadomski, J. Steele
Calder: H. Minton-Connell, N. Gentile, J. Martin, M. Simpson, K. Baker, S. Callander

Tasmania Devils ground out its second win on the trot, prevailing 10.3 (63) to 7.9 (51) against Calder in its first NAB League appearance on home turf. After a slow burn in the first term with the sides only managing a behind each, the Devils kicked away in the next stanza with five goals to one to set up a game-winning lead, slowly extending it to 25 points at the final change. While Calder stood up to win the fourth quarter, it was all too little, too late as the hosts held on to a two-goal final margin. Jackson Callow was the standout Devil with another bag of goals to amass almost half of his side’s total, while Oscar Shaw spread well to reel in 12 uncontested marks from 17 disposals. Patrick Walker and Nicholas Baker were the key ball-winners with 24 disposals apiece, while usual suspect Mitch O’Neill was a little quieter than usual with 16. For Calder, Cody Brand booted all three of his season goals at once, while Mason Fletcher joined him as a multiple goal kicker as he was thrown forward. Harrison Minton-Connell was the visitors’ best with a game-high 26 disposals and eight clearances, and could have had a bigger game had he made better of his 1.3. Crashing back down to earth after last week’s win, the Cannons face a winless Geelong side next time out, while Tasmania will hope to continue its winning run as it does battle with Western.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 3.0 | 5.1 | 11.1 | 12.3 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 4.4 | 6.7 | 8.7 | 13.8 (86)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:
Brisbane:
B. Coleman 4, T. Wischnat 3, N. Cumberland 3, D. Marsh, T. Abberley
Eastern: B. Hickleton 3, S. Mason 2, C. Black 2, S. Feagaimalii 2, J. Tilly, J. Clarke, C. Weightman, J. Jaworski

BEST:
Brisbane:
T. Jeffrey, W. Martyn, C. Michael, C. Stackelberg, B. Coleman
Eastern: S. Feagaimalii, J. Clarke, J. Duffy, B. Hickleton, J. Gilbee

An fighting final term turnaround saw Eastern Ranges earn its third-consecutive win, overcoming the Brisbane Lions academy by 11 points in Southport. Having broken to a 12-point half-time lead, the Ranges were reigned in quickly thereafter as the hosts booted six goals to two to steer clear heading into the final break, but the Ranges turned the two-goal deficit almost completely around as the heavens opened to snatch an unlikely victory. Eastern bottom-ager Salele Feagaimalii had an blinder, taking full advantage of playing full-time midfield to rack up 28 disposals, seven clearances and two clutch final-quarter goals as his side’s best. Fellow 17-year old Joshua Clarke also stood up when it mattered, slotting the goal of the day on the run from 50 as part of his 21 disposals, while Chayce Black was dangerous early up forward, ending with 2.3 behind Ben Hickleton‘s 3.0. For the Lions, Blake Coleman claimed a game-high four goals from his nine disposals, with Tom Wischnat (19 disposals, 3.2) to thank for two of them, while Noah Cumberland also claimed three majors. Skipper Will Martyn lifted from last week’s performance to rack up an impressive 37 disposals and 12 marks, while former-captain Cody Stackleberg was influential with 26 touches and seven inside 50s. With Eastern locked into the top four, a game against another Queensland academy awaits, while Brisbane will look for a second win in its away clash against Sandringham.

WESTERN JETS 3.8 | 9.14 | 12.19 | 18.24 (132)
NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.7 | 9.7 (61)

GOALS:
Western:
A. Clarke 4, S. El-Hawli 3, C. White 3, C. Mackenzie-George 2, A. Manton 2, L. Failli, S. Clifford, L. Conway, J. Horo
Northern Territory: T. Woods 3, B. Ah Mat 3, W. Derksen, S. Cumming, B. O’Connell

BEST:
Western:
J. Horo, A. Clarke, D. Bolkas, C. White, D. Andrews , W. Kennedy
Northern Territory: M. McGregor, T. Woods, B. Ah Mat, B. Jungfer, S. Cumming, J. Stevens

The Western Jets picked up their second win for the NAB League season, closing out the round with a thumping 71-point win over Northern Territory Thunder. After the travelling side broke to a narrow quarter-time lead, the Jets flicked a switch and piled on 15 goals from 31 scoring shots for the remainder of the game to come out as dominant winners. Jets spearhead Aaron Clarke was again amongst the goals, leading group of five multiple goal kickers with 4.6 in what could have been a huge outing. Fellow tall Will Kennedy was also dominant, leading his side’s disposal count alongside Daly Andrews with 25, while also having 28 hitouts and five clearances. For NT, Tyson Woods and Braxton Ahmat each booted three goals, with Marly McGregor (17 disposals, five clearances) named their best despite Brandon Rusca‘s 25-disposal effort. The winless NT academy will again play in Melbourne, facing the GWV Rebels at Windy Hill, with Western travelling to Tasmania to face the Devils after the Easter break.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 4

WITH the Country sides afforded a bye and Victorian trials played this weekend, the remaining Metropolitan NAB League sides faced an uphill battle against interstate rivals with depleted lineups. Still, there was a good amount of talent on show, so here are our opinion-based notes on players identified by talent managers as ones to watch, as well as strong performers on the day. The focus was primarily on the Academy sides ahead of the National Under 18 Championships.

Northern Knights 7.9 (51) defeated by GWS GIANTS Academy 10.17 (77)
Sandringham Dragons 12.11 (83) defeated by Sydney Swans Academy 16.9 (105)
Gold Coast SUNS Academy 14.11 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 3.6 (24)
Tasmania Devils 10.3 (63) defeated Calder Cannons 7.9 (51)
Brisbane Lions Academy 12.3 (75) defeated Eastern Ranges 13.8 (86)
Western Jets 18.24 (132) defeated Northern Territory Thunder 9.7 (61)

Academies:

GWS:

By: Cam Ross

#10 James Peatling

Clean and quick. Played well forward and in the midfield.

#17 Jeromy Lucas

Seems to be a natural footballer, with an ability to read the play better than others. Delightful use of his body in the third quarter created an impressive goal. Ended up with 28 possessions and 2 goals in a terrific all-round performance.

#25 Tom Green

Dominant performance from Green who was the best player on the field. He’s the prototypical modern-day midfielder. Built like an undersized ruckman, but wins contested possessions and can run all day. Green’s back to back clearances in the third resulted in goals and he “sold some candy” early in the fourth quarter, making his opponents crash into each other. Finished the game with 31 possessions, most of which were contested and numerous clearances. This was even more impressive considering he spent a lot of the game up forward.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Strong forward who kicked three goals. His marking and contesting up forward was important and gave the GWS boys a target for the entire game. Delahunty’s produced some pieces of play that weren’t rewarded on the stat sheet, such as in the third quarter, when he flew from 3-4 men deep to crash the pack and bring the ball to ground. This resulted in a goal for his side in an important stage of the match. He’s also a very nice kick of the ball as he a has a beautiful technique. One to watch for the future.

#28 Matt McGrory

Good performance from the wingman. Smart piece of play in the second quarter. McGrory was outnumbered on the Knights counter attack. Instead of the overcommitting to the ball carrier, he read that the Knights player would handball over the top, and intercepted, preventing a counter attack and a potential goal.

 

Sydney Swans:

By: Alex Gibson

#7 Braeden Campbell

Didn’t have a massive day on the stat sheet but was very noticeable when he had the ball. Playing as the ‘link up man’, Campbell was very exciting to watch and the Dragons could hardly lay a hand on the half forward. The bottom-ager finished with three goals and his craftiness was a serious problem for the Sandringham defence.

#9 Samuel Thorne

Thorne was consistent all day and looks to be a very natural footballer. He was clean by hand and made smart decisions finishing with two goals and 21 touches. The midfielder worked hard in and under the stoppage and even when Thorne didn’t have the ball was still pressuring the Sandringham midfielders with his four tackles.

#23 Errol Gulden

One to watch for 2020. Sandringham had no response to the silky bottom ager who collected 26 disposals in a best on ground performance. Kicking 2 goals from the wing, Gulden’s left foot was seriously damaging and was often the man trusted with kicking the ball inside 50 due to his ability to hit a target. Sydney may just have themselves another Heeney or Mills here.

#39 Josh Rayner

Was a rock in the Swans defence all day and the Dragons could not get it past him. The 193cm prospect’s ability to not only read the play, but to also take intercept marks was brilliant. Playing a crucial role in the Swans victory, the defender finished with six rebounds and his presence in the defensive 50 was immense.

 

Gold Coast:

By: Ed Pascoe

#1 Hewago Paul Oea

Hewago looked lively at half forward early in the game and then really hit his straps in the second quarter getting to go through the midfield and show off his clean ball use and speed, he had a nice bit of play late in the second quarter with a lovely pass inside 50 on his opposite foot to teammate Murtagh. Hewago had some scintillating passages of play where he showed of his speed and agility to get around opponents with ease and he kicked a very good opportunistic goal early in the third quarter. Hewago was always clean at ground level never fumbling and he has another great big of play dancing around some opponents and kicking a lovely pass inside 50 to a teammate.

#5 Connor Budarick

Budarick was a tough customer in the midfield often laying crunching tackles and winning the hard ball, he showed he wasn’t just a bull with a lovely kick inside 50 to teammate Gore and he himself kicked a lovely set shot goal in the first quarter. He once again hit Gore with a beautiful pass inside 50 in the third quarter where he was again a strong performer with his tackling and workrate. Budarick has claims as the best player on the ground winning plenty of the ball, tackling hard and also hitting the scoreboard for a very well rounded game.

#28 Ashton Crossley

Crossley was a consistent player through the midfield who was clean at the stoppages and used his solid frame to win the contested ball, he had a nice bit of play where he showed good hands at a stoppage handballing to a teammate who would fumble but Crossley would recover and lay a hard tackle on his opponent. Crossley worked tirelessly through the midfield both at the contest and on the outside willing to link up and be an option.

 

Brisbane:

By: Michael Alvaro

#11 Will Martyn

The Brisbane skipper really lifted from his output last week, racking up a monster 37 disposals and 12 marks. Trading time through the midfield and forward line, Martyn worked hard to find the ball around half back in the first half when the Lions were under the pump, and looked more composed in possession. Martyn made better decisions by foot and while a little shaky early on, executed a lot more cleanly to find options up the field. He found Darcy Marsh well inside 50 to gift him a goal after finding space, and is mixing well between his inside and outside game.

#12 Saxon Crozier

Crozier was again busy between the arcs, particularly in the back half. While he was a touch fumbly with the ball in dispute, Crozier is clever with ball in hand and usually receives it in space with marks. A key link in the chain going forward, Crozier finished with a handy 24 disposals.

#13 Blake Coleman

The crafty forward had a phenomenal third term where he booted three of his four-straight majors. His first goal came in the opening quarter with a good collect below his knees and quick snap to find the big sticks, and he almost found a second later on as his dribbled shot fell short. He kicked his second and third goals on the run with tidy finishes from Wischnat assists, but his highlight of the game came with a big pack mark from the back deep inside forward 50, which he played on from to kick his fourth goal. An excitement machine and classy finisher, Coleman is certainly a natural footballer.

#19 Tom Griffiths

Griffiths had a couple of nervy moments early, flying for the same ball as a teammate inside defensive 50, but built into the game well. Used mainly off half-back, Griffiths rebounded well and used clever kicks in tight spaces to manipulate the ball into good areas for his teammates. Made a particularly good find in the third term with a kick inboard, and ended with four rebound 50s from his 21 disposals.

#21 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland’s tussle with his headband was just about the most trouble he found himself in all day, as he put in a solid 15 disposal and three-goal shift up forward. He made a good read from a forward 50 stoppage to snap the Lions’ first goal in the opening term, while also setting one up for Wischnat not long after. Read the ball well again for his second goal out the back in the next quarter, and booted his third with an unreal torpedo in traffic to ensure he had a goal in each of the first three terms. Has good pace and applies pressure well when pushing up the ground.

#38 Tom Wischnat

One of the Lions’ best throughout the day, Wischnat was a real presence through the midfield and particularly up forward. The academy prospect used his big frame well on so many instances to set up goal scoring opportunities, with two coming in the third quarter to release Coleman into space for back-to-back goals. He found the goals himself with a 40-metre set shot conversion early on and 35-metre one in the final quarter, but his best goal came in the third term as he slipped a would-be tackler with strength and snapped truly. He has an unconventional kicking action and sometimes rushes when going forward, which may have hampered his two missed attempts on goal in the final term – one of which came after an impressive 1v2 mark in the goalsquare, which was costly.

 

Tasmania:

By: Scott Dougan

#1 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill had a very quiet opening term but was able to redeem himself in the second term. He won some important centre clearances for his team and was dangerous around stoppages. He also displayed his ability to win the ball on both the inside and outside of the contest.

#4 Will Peppin

Peppin did not have a massive game stat-wise, but when he was around the ball, he was able to make something happen. He was lively up forward, especially in the second term when he was able to kick Tasmania’s fourth goal of the quarter in the twentieth minute. He showcased a variety of handy attributes on the day, such as speed, athleticism, and cleanliness at ground level.

#7 Matt McGuinness

McGuinness was fantastic across half-back. He gathered plenty of disposals and used the ball extremely well on both feet. Throughout the match, McGuinness showed that he was can read the play to perfection, with the athletic utility accumulating plenty of intercept possessions and marks.

#22 Nicholas Baker

Along with plenty of his teammates in defence, Baker was rock-solid. He was able to apply some defensive spoils, but also provided some run and carry out of the defensive 50 when needed. I was also impressed with his attack on the ball, along with his defensive pressure and tackling. Baker had 22 disposals and five marks. A very solid outing.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow was kept fairly quiet in the first term but was able to bounce back in the second. He took some nice marks on the lead in the forward half and due to his sticky hands, he was able to hold the majority of them. Callow’s third term was just unbelievable, with the bottom-aged big man taking four contested marks and booting three goals. In the end, Callow was the difference between the two sides and is definitely a very exciting prospect to keep a close eye on in his draft year.

 

Northern Territory:

By: Brandon Hutchinson

#2 Tyson Woods

Woods is class personified. The electrifying small forward seemed impossible to contain at the goal face, zipping in and out of defenders and never losing sight of the sticks. He found his first from an intercept mark off a Western kick-in, putting it through on a tight angle. For the day he finished with 12 disposals, 10 kicks, three goals and five marks.

#7 Brandon Rusca

A pillar in defense, Rusca continued to show improving form with another big performance. He brought reliable hands to the penetrating footy and rebounded well from the backline. He led as Northern Territory’s highest accumulator and delivered effectively by foot. He finished up with 24 disposals, 18 kicks, five marks and four rebounds.

#32 Marly McGregor

Improved substantially from last week, spreading his influence well. He moved well and got involved in a lot of ball movement, delivering the ball inside 50 and cleaning up messes down in the backline. He finished with 17 disposals, 12 kicks, two marks, one tackle, three rebounds and three inside 50s.

#35 Stephen Cumming

Dominant in the ruck with strength and good position, Cumming took a few with both hands and kept his feet to get the ball away. He found the goals in the first from a set shot directly in front, but missed his second under similar conditions, clipping the post. Not shying away from the hard ball, Cumming continually got low and stood up in the tackles with clean hands. Cumming iced many of his direct opponents in seemingly fifty-fifty contests, providing clear passage through opposition. He finished with 18 disposals, one goal, three marks and 33 hit-outs.

#39 Braxton Ahmat

Along with Woods, Ahmat was the most important players in front of the sticks, kicking three in his first game this season. He put away his first following a well-timed lead in the first quarter and followed up with two more in the third. He accompanied his three goals with seven disposals, five kicks, three marks, two tackles and one inside 50.

 

Victorian sides:

 

Daly Andrews (Western)

Daly bounced back hard after one of his weaker performances in Round 3, accumulating the most disposals for Western. He worked hard on the inside and involved himself in a lot of the linking plays through the ground. He returned to his Round 2 (6) form with five marks, after not taking any in Rounds 1 and 3, and sped through congestion with the footy. He earned himself four inside 50s and helped mop up in defense, earning two rebounds.

Joe Ayton Delaney (Oakleigh)

Ayton-Delaney was smooth through the midfield and especially early was one of his teams better midfielders and decision makers with ball in hand. His last quarter was superb with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on and attack despite the wide margin, he was by far the standout for Oakleigh in a solid 4 quarter display through the midfield.

Chayce Black (Eastern)

While his finishing touch left a little to be desired, Black was a key man for the Ranges inside forward 50. Black created chance after chance in the first term, but only managed to take advantage of one – with his set shot goal the first of the game after a nice one-on-one mark deep inside 50. He involved himself well by applying pressure and working up the ground to find the ball, and is clearly a hard worker. Black’s second goal was an important one in the final term, again coming from a set shot, but he could really have had a day to remember if he finished a touch better.

Nick Burke (Sandringham)

The kid does not stop running. The stand-in Sandringham skipper worked tirelessly all day and collected 18 disposals playing on the wing and half forward. Burke’s running patterns allowed him to get to the right positions at the right time and despite a somewhat smaller frame still remained composed in a contested situation. When the skipper had the ball Sandringham looked at their most dangerous.

Aaron Clarke (Western)

Clarke played his best game this season with complete poise and control in Western’s forward line. He brought great hands to the overhead footy, keeping his eyes on the ball. He burned his opponent off the lead and, at many times, marked the ball at its highest point. He had his fair share of behinds to accompany his goal tally, but fought hard to earn his opportunities, looking a class above his opponents. For the day he finished with four goals (six behinds), 17 disposals, 15 kicks, 10 marks, two inside 50s and three free kicks.

Joshua Clarke (Eastern)

The bottom-ager was super impressive off half-back with his run and willingness to take the game on. He looks exciting with ball in hand and proved to be a key catalyst in the Ranges’ forward movement. A 1-2 handball passage through the corridor in the second term resulted in Clarke booting inside 50, only to turn the ball over. Undeterred, he intercepted the following kick but missed the resultant shot on goal. After copping a knock in the third quarter, Clarke was crucial in the last, sparking Eastern to life with a sensational running goal from 50-out on the boundary and a courageous effort in the air against 204cm ruckman, Samson Ryan.

Salele Feagaimalii (Eastern)

The solidly-built midfielder had his best game for the year, standing up as Eastern’s best with 28 disposals, seven clearances and two clutch goals. Anchoring the centre bounces, Feagaimalii burst away from the stoppages time after time and drove the Ranges forward well throughout the day. While his handballing at times showed the touch of a raw product, the bottom-ager found his teammates well with some tidy kicks on the back of his bursts. Kicked a set shot goal early in the final term to level the scores with a hacked snap, and made a seven-point play later on to cap off a stand-out performance.

Mason Fletcher (Calder)

Fletcher had a fairly quiet match but got better and more involved as the match went on. His effective defensive spoiling and positioning were evident in the first two quarters. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he took a good contested mark deep in defence. In the fourth term, Fletcher showed that he can play both ends of the ground, with the 200cm key position player booting two goals.

Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham)

The smooth mover was the Dragons best for the day collecting a game high 29 disposals also hurting the Swans on the scoreboard with 2.4. Hanrahan’s game had a nice balance of dashing speed and poised composure knowing when to lower his eyes. Hanrahan also showed his versatility in the third quarter where he was used as the deepest forward in order to facilitate Sandringham’s forward troubles.

Nathan Howard (Northern)

The returning ruckman made an immediate impact and tried his best to give his depleted midfield first use with a monster 51 hitouts, while winning seven clearances of his own. Howard’s work around the ground was just as good as his ruck craft as he steadily accumilated 18 possessions, including three rebound and inside 50s, and a goal to boot. Will no doubt play a key role in a potential Knights turnaround as the season progresses. 

William Kennedy (Western)
Kennedy was one of many players exceeding standards in Sunday’s win, holding his own against Northern Territory’s big man, Stephen Cumming. Despite losing in hit-outs 29 to 33, Kennedy was far from defeated, finishing the game with the second most disposals and winning five free kicks due to careful positioning in the contest. He delivered well inside 50 (5) and took the footy strong overhead. He finished the game with 23 disposals, 15 kicks and three inside 50s.

Bill Mackay (Sandringham)

With an undermanned Sandringham midfield, Mackay really flourished in taking his opportunity. Noticeably more powerful and stronger then his opponents, Mackay’s one-on-one work certainly impressed throughout the day showing real grunt in the stoppages. Along with his ability to win the contested ball, the big-bodied on baller caught the eye of spectators with a few exciting centre bounce clearances where his impressive foot skills going inside 50 allowed the dragons to have numerous set shots on goal.

Sam Philp (Northern)

Philp continued his consistent start to the season, and was a key part of the effort to counter GWS midfield star Tom Green. In a largely contested game, Philp thrived with seven clearances and six tackles among his team-high 26 disposals in what was a tough day for the Knights. Should continue to grow as some of the Knights midfield brigade returns from Metro trials, and stands out with his composure on the ball through traffic.

NAB League Boys Round 4 preview: Changes galore as NAB League goes national

ROUND 4 of the NAB League Boys sees established Victorian Metropolitan sides both play host and traveler as five clubs steel themselves for clashes against the Northern Academies, while the Country clubs each have a bye. A Saturday double-header sees both Sydney academies hit Sandringham, while the Queensland academies are set to host a game each at Southport on Sunday, and Calder becomes the first side for the year to cross Bass Strait and battle Tasmania.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday April 13, 10:45am
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Northern Knights and GWS GIANTS Academy open Round 4 as sides still searching for their first win in season 2019. This bout acts as the Giants’ first experience in playing against established NAB League Boys opposition after losses to the Sydney and Brisbane academies in Rounds 2 and 3. For Northern, while the chance to showcase talent that would otherwise miss out during the year will be the number one priority, wins are at a premium and a 0-4 start would not be ideal. With the core ripped out of their side due to Vic Metro trial game commitments, the Knights have plenty of players who will be looking to consolidate a spot in the underperforming starting lineup. 19-year old Northern Blues listed Sunny Brazier is one of them, and should form a handy midfield trio alongside Sam Philp and Lucas Perry. Speaking of, the Giants have a few in-form ball winners of their own – with star Tom Green leading the way from Jeromy Lucas and Matt McGrory. An inexperienced and largely bottom-aged Knights defence will also have its hands full with dynamic Liam Delahunty, who has been in good goal-scoring form. With one side depleted and the other looking to prove themselves, this should prove to be a close encounter.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Saturday April 13, 1:15pm
Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval – Sandringham

Sandringham will be looking to maintain its perfect start to season 2019 as it hosts the Sydney Swans academy to close out Saturday’s proceedings. Like many of the metro sides, the Dragons have a raft of key outs as trial games roll into town, with at least 14 changes from last week’s side that beat Oakleigh. With their typical midfield core out, the likes of Jackson Voss and Angus Hanrahan will get the opportunity to run through the middle, while Riley Bowman is sure to take up more rucking responsibility. AFL family connections Jai Florent and Jeremy Goddard also slot in at either end as noticeable ins, but Sydney has arguably the most important inclusion of the round. Errol Gulden is set to suit up for his second game of the year, looking to have the likes of Braeden Campbell and Jackson Barling bounce off the electricity he brings. A change of structure looks imminent with Josh Rayner named at half-back, while the promising Ky McGrath will slot in as 23rd man. With the Dragons’ depth set to be tested on this rare occasion, look for the Swans to come out firing, with some serious talent running around on each line.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday April 14, 10:45am
Southport Oval

Best placed Academy side Gold Coast SUNS welcome NAB League Boys premiership fancies Oakleigh Chargers to the Sunshine State, looking to maintain its winning record. While the Suns downed NT and Brisbane in their first two games, Oakleigh suffered its first loss for the year against Sandringham last time out and will hope to rectify it this week. With perfect conditions forecasted, it is as good a chance as any for the Chargers to showcase their brand of football. The Suns have proven their worth though, and the likes of top-end midfield duo Connor Budarick and Ashton Crossley will have a big say on proceedings. The clinical Josh Gore is also in good form, and is sure to cause headaches for the Oakleigh depth alongside Hewago Paul Oea. Chargers over-ager Joe Ayton Delaney is one who remains amid the 11 changes, and should have a good battle with Budarick as another zippy midfield type. While many of the big names are missing, Oakleigh’s second-string is arguably as strong as some sides’ starting line-up, so they will stand every chance of jumping on the plane home with a win.

TASMANIA DEVILS v. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday April 14, 11:30am
Penguin Oval – Tasmania

Tasmania is set to play on home turf for the first time this season, hosting Calder Cannons at Penguin Oval. The Devils are the best placed side with one win, sitting pretty in ninth after toppling NT in Round 3, while Calder also got on the board last week with a win over Western. While six changes is nothing to scoff at for the Cannons, they will remain relatively steady coming into this game, travel aside, with a solid bunch of 19-year olds looking to contribute. Josh Kemp leads the pack alongside Mason Fletcher, with Tye Browning showing glimpses of why he was picked to return thus far, and top-ager Harrison Minton-Connell another likely type in midfield. The hosts will feel they have answers on each line though, with Jackson Callow one who may well keep Fletcher busy, while Matt McGuinness and Sam Collins have been good across half-back, Jye Menzie and Will Harper likewise up the other end, and Mitch O’Neill leading all-comers in midfield. With the whole state behind them, Tasmania will look to take full advantage of a good hand and streak to a second-straight win, but it will not be easy against the Cannons.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday April 14, 1:15pm
Southport Oval

Eastern Ranges will be hoping to make it three-straight NAB League Boys wins as it travels north to face the Brisbane Lions Academy in the second game of Sunday’s double-header. The Lions went down in last week’s Q-Clash, but hold a Round 2 win over their GWS counterparts, while Eastern has soundly beaten Western and Northern to shape as one of the surprise packets so far. With nine outs named, the Ranges will be stretched thin in combating their weekend travel, but will have solid contributors across the park. 19-year old James Blanck comes in to stake his claim, with forward pocket duo Chayce Black and Joshua Tilly showing good form thus far. The Lions have some eye-catchers, with Bruce Reville a clear standout last week, while Will Martyn will look to lift and join Tom Griffiths in finding a wealth of possessions. Good conditions should greet the sides, which should make for decent viewing on stream for those watching at home. A couple should really catch the eye, so look for those smooth movers in the hosts’ lineup.

WESTERN JETS v. NORTHERN TERRITORY
Sunday April 14, 2:30pm
Downer Oval – Williamstown

A clash between Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder is set to close the round out, with the travelling Thunder still looking to get on the board in their NAB League Boys stint. After Western snatched a win in Round 1 over Northern, both sides have lost over the last two weeks with a crushing defeat handed to them each. The Jets remain the most steady of the Victorian sides coming into this weekend with only four outs, but they are all key players at that. Still, the likes of Aaron Clarke and Archi Manton have found the goals well, and over-ager Daly Andrews should catch the eye through midfield. For NT, Stephen Cumming looks to be coming along nicely after teasing for Dandenong last year, while the likes of Joel Jeffrey and Maurice Rioli Jr have provided moments of magic. Joel Budarick and Ben Jungfer are ball-winners also sure to catch the eye, though the conditions at Downer Oval may prove difficult for all. A good opportunity rises for the Thunder, but the Jets proved in Round 1 that they will not go down without a fight.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 3

EASTERN Ranges’ and Sandringham Dragons’ wins over Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers have resulted in the teams having the most players in the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 3. Along with Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons having three players each, seven of the remaining 11 sides have two players each in the team, while Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Northern Knights and Western Jets have the one player each in the side.

Ranges’ captain James Ross will hold down a key defensive spot with Mitch Mellis and Zakery Pretty also making the side this week after impressive performances. Holding down the other key defensive spot is Sandringham’s Josh Worrell, as well as midfielder Finn Maginness and key forward Charlie Dean. Their opponents on the day were Oakleigh who produced the Draft Central Player of the Week in Matt Rowell, while Nick Bryan was the standout ruck across the weekend, with a number of Chargers, such as Will Phillips and Noah Anderson unlucky not to make the side. Northern Knights had a disappointing loss on that day, but Josh D’Intinosante was a shining light in the defeat.

In Bendigo the next day, Gippsland Power’s Caleb Serong and Fraser Phillips combined for five goals and made the Team of the Week, while Jeremy Rodi was Bendigo’s sole representative, though a number of players could have squeezed into the side. In the second game, Dandenong Stingrays’ Hayden Young fits into defence alongside opposition Geelong Falcons’ defender Jesse Clark, while Ned Cahill and Oliver Henry (five goals) also make the team for Dandenong and Geelong respectively. In the final game, Murray Bushrangers’ Lachlan Ash and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jay Rantall were superb for their respective sides and slot straight into the starting side, while Jimmy Boyer (Murray) and Mitch Martin (GWV) come off the bench after impressive games.

At the Holden Centre, Mitch O’Neill led Tasmania Devils to their inaugural win, joined in the side by key forward, Jackson Callow who booted five goals in the victory. Rounding out the side is the clear standout from each side in the Calder Cannons and Western Jets game, with Aaron Clarke‘s three goals seeing him slot into centre half-forward, while Daniel Mott stands on a wing after his best game of the year.

In a week that once again forced some unlucky omissions including Sandringham Dragons’ Jack Mahony, Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp and Calder Cannons’ Harrison Minton-Connell who were the last ones just missing out on this week’s side.