Tag: AFL

State Leagues wrap: Dramatic grand final replay headlines Victorian return

POST-SIREN drama capped off a memorable Grand Final rematch in the VFL this weekend, as Victorian sides returned to the fold. While South and West Australian fans took in slightly condensed fixtures, it was business as usual in Tasmania as a new all-time games record was achieved. We run you through all the results and outstanding performances in this week’s state league wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

A draw in Sunday’s 2019 Grand Final replay between Richmond and Williamstown highlighted Round 10’s action, with post-siren drama ensuring the rulebook was given a workout. Gun Seagull Mitch Hibberd sent a 50m free kick to the line which was initially slapped down by Richmond’s Garrett McDonough, only for Williamstown captain Adam Marcon to punch it back through the behinds. But given the final siren had sounded, Marcon’s touch was void and scored were left locked at 74 points apiece.

There were two other games decided by a goal or less, both occurring on Saturday. North Melbourne snared its second win of the season in a three-point thriller against Coburg, doing just enough in term four after scores were tied at three-quarter time. Ben Speight‘s fourth major came with just over two minutes left, putting the Roos back ahead for the game’s decisive lead change.

Gold Coast claimed victory in the day’s second thriller, coming back from 41 points down at half time to edge Aspley by one straight kick in a Graham Road Oval shootout. Competition leading goalkicker Matthew Hammelmann snared another six majors for the Hornets, while Josh Corbett (five goals) and Ben Ainsworth (four) proved impactful for the Suns. Table topper, Southport also won out on Saturday, thumping the Brisbane Lions by 107 points as Billy Gowers took full toll of the Sharks’ midfield domination with eight goals.

In the round’s sole top four clash, Footscray kept its perfect record in tact with a 33-point triumph over Geelong on the road. The Bulldogs were spearheaded by Josh Schache‘s six goals, with Patrick Lipinski (36 disposals, three goals) was also dominant. Frankston snuck into the top eight with a 29-point win over Northern Bullants, with Mitch Cox (28 disposals, five goals) and Josh Begley (25 and three) waxing nicely. Carlton, Werribee, Box Hill were the other sides to register Round 10 wins, with the latter two sitting clear in the top eight.

South Australia (SANFL):

Only two games were played in Round 11 of the SANFL, with Central District and Sturt kicking out to wins which see them move clear of the ladder’s bottom rung. Nicholas Gillard stepped up to boot half of Centrals’ goals (five) in their win over West Adelaide on Saturday, with the Bulldogs maintaining a three-goal buffer at each of the final three breaks. Travis and Jarrod Schiller combined for 52 disposals in red, white and blue, while Shay Linke notched 12 touches on his League debut. Elliot Dunkin racked up a game-high 35 touches for Westies, aided well by the reliable Kaine Stevens (31 disposals, one goal) and Thomas Keough (21 and two).

Meanwhile, Sturt snapped a four-game losing run to also claim its third win of the season, downing Port Adelaide by 41 points on Sunday. Senior-listed forward Dylan Williams booted six of Port’s seven goals in the loss, with skipper Cam Sutcliffe bagging the other major on his return. Joshua Hone snagged three for the Double Blues, who had a much more even spread of 11 individual goalkickers. Tom Lewis topped their disposal charts, collecting 26 en route to victory – only outdone by Port’s Sam Mayes (27).

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston marked a record-breaking weekend of TSL football in style, thumping Glenorchy by 113 points on Saturday to move clear atop the table. The Blues were celebrating Jay Blackberry taking over the league’s games record, running out for the 213th time to move past former Magpies stalwart, Jaye Bowden. Blackberry marked the occasion with two goals, while competition leader Dylan Riley bagged five in another standout forward display.

Tigers also picked up a significant win among the top four picture, setting up a handy buffer to weekend opponent, Clarence on Saturday. The result was all but wrapped up by half time as Tigers led by 45 points on the back of nine goals to Clarence’s two, before the Roos claimed some consolation scores to see the final margin sit at 31 points. Marcus Gardner was adjudged best afield for the victors, contributing a game-high three goals.

Lauderdale was another side to create some separation in terms of ladder position, leaving North Hobart on the bottom rung after beating the Demons by 67 points away from home. The Bombers’ two wins in 2021 have both come against North Hobart, with this one set up by the goalkicking combination of Edward Stanley (five goals) and Harry Richmond (four). Full of confidence, Lauderdale will have to wait to perform again with its bye coming in Round 13.

Western Australia (WAFL):

Another condensed round of WAFL action saw three games played on Saturday, with away sides West Coast, West Perth, and East Fremantle all picking up valuable victories. The most remarkable of the lot went to West Coast, as the Eagles notched their first win for the season and spurned Subiaco’s quest to reclaim top spot in the process. Mark Hutchings (32 disposals, one goal) and Nathan Vardy (17 disposals, 26 hitouts, two goals) were terrific for the unlikely six-point victors, while Ben Sokol piled on six goals in an attempt to drag Subiaco over the line.

West Perth moved above Swan Districts with a 46-point win at Steel Blue Oval, in which the Falcons lead at every break. While the pair still sits clear among the top five, both East Fremantle and Perth are not far behind. The Sharks moved to within a game of the finals spots with their 26-point win over the Demons, overtaking their weekend rivals in the process. The race for finals qualification looms as a tight one with just under half of the regular season left to play.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

State Leagues wrap: Finals spots shaken up

THERE were some key changes to finals calculations across the state league this weekend, with ladder leaders soaring as the following packs jostle for position. Victorian sides still await their return, but it was business as usual in South Australia and Tasmania, while West Australian fans had two fixtures to take in on Saturday and Sunday. We run you through all the results and outstanding performances in this week’s state league wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

Teams from everywhere but Victoria carried the Victorian Football League through another round of action, with three AFL reserves sides taking the field across a pair on Saturday afternoon fixtures. The first saw Gold Coast complete a dramatic turnaround against Sydney Swans, with first year utility Joel Jeffrey putting the SUNS ahead in the dying stages having trailed by as much as 38 points in term two. An eight-goal third quarter blitz set up the 17.5 (107) to 16.8 (104) victory, with Jeffrey among four SUNS to boot three goals. Brayden Fiorini racked up a game-high 45 disposals upon returning to the grade, as Sydney bigman Hayden McLean claimed four majors.

In the day’s second fixture, over at Blacktown International Sportspark, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) stormed home with seven final term goals to topple Aspley by 49 points. Having been trialled in numerous roles, GIANTS youngster Jake Riccardi returned to his familiar forward post and bagged eight goal to spearhead his side’s victory. Up the other end, competition leading goalkicker Matthew Hammelmann snared six of the Hornets’ nine major scores, as teammate Matthew Payne led all comers for disposals (32). Young GIANTS Tanner Bruhn (25 disposals, two goals) and Kieren Briggs (23 disposals, 28 hitouts, one goal) were also outstanding.

With Victorian teams back in training as of last week, a return normal programming should be just around the corner. Southport currently tops the ladder at 6-1 having played twice more than most other teams, while Casey Demons and Footscray remain undefeated at 5-0 to sit second and third respectively.

South Australia (SANFL):

Woodville-West Torrens moved up to second spot with a comprehensive 68-point drubbing of Port Adelaide, seeing the Magpies drop to fifth. The Eagles broke away with 10 goals to one after half time, with Jack Hayes (28 disposals, three goals) and James Tsitas (41 disposals, eight clearances) among the prominent figures. Jarrod Lienert was kept busy for Port, registering 14 rebound 50s among his 26 disposals as first year forward Ollie Lord showed some promise with two goals and three contested marks.

The Eagles overtook South Adelaide in second, as the Panthers went down to Norwood by nine points. Mitch Grigg continued his return to form for the Redlegs, racking up 34 touches and booting three goals in the win while Matthew Nunn (29 disposals) and Richard Douglas (19, one goal) also played key hands. Former AFL veterans Matthew Broadbent (25 disposals) and Bryce Gibbs (24, 11 clearances and one goal) stood up for the Panthers, as 200-gamer Joel Cross also hit the scoreboard and top draft prospect Jason Horne booted a goal from his 19 touches.

Ladder leader Glenelg moved to an ominous 10-0, defeating North Adelaide by 23 points as Liam McBean (five goals) and Matthew Snook (34 disposals) took hold. Meanwhile, Adelaide jumped Sturt after its 10-point win over the Double Blues, which saw senior-listed players Jackson Hately (31 disposals, seven clearances and one goal) and Billy Frampton (three goals) knock on the door for a call-up.

Tasmania (TSL):

Round 11 of the Tasmanian State League (TSL) went largely as expected, with ladder position telling the story of all three results. The round of action opened on Friday night as Tigers stormed KGV to come away 22-point victors over Glenorchy, seeing the visitors stretch the gap to their weekend opponents to three wins. Max Collidge booted three goals for Tigers, while Riley Oakley snared two for the Magpies as Edward Cole and Nathan Blowfield were named best afield for their respective sides.

North Launceston maintained its chase for top spot on Saturday, doubling Lauderdale’s score to win by 35 points in enemy territory. 14 of the combined 15 goals scored were kicked at one end of the ground, with the Northern Bombers dealing more damaging blows in the first and third terms. Jay Foon booted a game-high three goals and was named the victors’ best player, while Phillip Bellchambers snared two for Lauderdale as Rhys Sutton earned the coaches votes.

Competition leading goalkicker Dylan Riley enjoyed another day out, booting eight majors in Launceston’s 103-point thumping of North Hobart. Riley has bullied the Demons this season, kicking 18 goals in two meetings – including a season-high bag of 10. Alec Wright also featured prominently for the table topping Blues, while Callum Fitzpatrick was named the best for North Hobart after a tough outing.

Western Australia (WAFL):

Claremont rose to the top of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) ladder in Round 10, coming from behind to beat Peel Thunder by seven points on Saturday. The Tigers trailed at each of the first three breaks, before piling on five goals in the final term to sneak ahead at the clutch. Jye Bolton continued his dominance with another 35 disposals and nine inside 50s for Claremont, as youngster Jack Buller booted four goals in the win. Fremantle-listed midfielder Luke Valente was Peel’s biggest ball winner (26 disposals), as the Thunder again yielded a heavy amount of rotations.

The round’s sole other fixture came on Sunday, with East Perth causing a boilover to beat reigning premier South Fremantle by five points. The Royals were ahead at each break and while South remained within striking distance, they were unable to turn the tables and snatch victory. The Bulldogs still sit pretty comfortably in third though, with the Royals’ second win sees them remain ninth. The likes of Angus Scott (26 disposals), Angus Schumacher and Shayne Hill were terrific for East Perth, as Chad Pearson (29 disposals) led all comers and Brandon Donaldson (four goals) proved potent going forward for South Freo.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

2021 AFL Women’s trade period: Final day update

THE 2021 AFL Women’s sign and trade period came to a close at 2:00pm on Wednesday, ahead of dual list lodgement deadlines. A bunch of big deals played out since our week one wrap, with stars like Olivia Purcell and Tayla Harris seeing their big moves get over the line, while West Coast came to life at the death to push a couple of negotiations through.

Check out all the ins and outs below, listed club-by-club, with a quick recap of this year’s trade dealings. There should also be even more movement to come as free agency period remains open.

INS AND OUTS:

Adelaide:

In: Pick 20, Pick 47
Out: Chloe Scheer, Pick 49

Brisbane:

In: Nil
Out: Nil

Carlton:

In: Jess Dal Pos, Pick 10, Pick 11, Pick 23, Pick 26, Pick 40
Out: Chloe Dalton, Katie Lyons, Tayla Harris, Pick 12, Pick 29, Pick 32 Pick 44

Collingwood:

In: Sabrina Frederick, Pick 29, Pick 32
Out: Maddie Shevlin, Pick 16, Pick 48

Fremantle:

In: Pick 38
Out: Evangeline Gooch

Geelong:

In: Chantel Emonson, Chloe Scheer, Pick 15
Out: Olivia Purcell, Pick 20, Pick 37

Gold Coast:

In: Claudia Whitford, Viv Saad, Pick 30
Out: Pick 19, Pick 36

Greater Western Sydney:

In: Chloe Dalton, Jasmine Grierson, Katie Loynes, Pick 37
Out: Elle Bennetts, Jess Dal Pos, Aimee Schmidt, Pick 10, Pick 27, Pick 42

Melbourne:

In: Tayla Harris, Olivia Purcell, Pick 44
Out: Chantel Emonson, Pick 15, Pick 32

North Melbourne:

In: Pick 19 Pick 28
Out: Jasmine Grierson, Viv Saad, Pick 30

Richmond:

In: Poppy Kelly, Maddie Shevlin, Jess Hosking, Pick 57
Out: Sabrina Frederick, Pick 23, Pick 26, Pick 40

St Kilda:

In: Pick 12, Pick 36, Pick 48
Out: Poppy Kelly, Claudia Whitford, Pick 22, Pick 25

West Coast

In: Evangeline Gooch, Aimee Schmidt
Out: Pick 38

Western Bulldogs

In: Elle Bennetts, Pick 22, Pick 25, Pick 27
Out: Pick 11, Pick 28, Pick 57

After Collingwood, Richmond, and St Kilda were the only teams to deal during a truly dour first week of trading, the Western Bulldogs entered the equation with a trade for classy Greater Western Sydney (GWS) rebounder, Elle Bennetts. The cross-code athlete made her move back home to Victoria at a cost of pick 28 for the Bulldogs, which looms as a high-value pickup.

The whole period came to life as a monster five-way trade saw seven players transferred yesterday evening. Among the biggest names to prize a move were Olivia Purcell and Tayla Harris, who both join Melbourne with plenty of credit in the bank. The injured Purcell, a Geelong Falcons graduate, shifts to the big smoke from her home region, while Harris’ much-hyped move sees her join a third AFLW club.

Carlton bolstered its draft hand in the deal as Melbourne sent Chantel Emonson down the highway along with an exchange of picks. The Blues also dealt with GWS to secure Jess Dal Pos, seeing Chloe Dalton‘s wish granted in exchange along with former Carlton skipper, Katie Loynes. Adelaide got involved by allowing Chloe Scheer to move to Geelong, with pick 20 coming the other way.

A bunch of fallout was left to come, with Carlton then looking to shift slightly up the draft order in lop-sided deals with Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. The Blues relinquished picks 12, 27, 29, and 32 to gain selections 11, 26, 55 and 57. The Bulldogs acted on their gains, securing St Kilda’s picks 22 and 25 for that 12th selection, while Collingwood’s ended with a solid hand after that deal, and the one to nab Sabrina Frederick – with Maddie Shevlin going to Richmond.

Elsewhere, the Saints were involved earlier as they moved on Claudia Whitford, who yielded pick 36 from the Gold Coast SUNS. Jasmine Grierson landed at the GIANTS for pick 28, which came from the Western Bulldogs, as Aimee Schmidt crossed to West Coast as a delisted free agent. The Eagles also signed Evangeline Gooch from cross-town rivals Fremantle, at the cost of pick 38.

While sides like Fremantle, Gold Coast and North Melbourne were involved in straightforward one-player exchanges, reigning premier Brisbane was the only team not to get involved – a welcome change for Lions fans after seeing their list previously dismantled by expansion clubs.

Jess Hosking sought a late move to Richmond to join sister Sarah, after the deadline passed with picks exchanged both ways. The free agency market remains open, while clubs have been scrambling final list changes and delistings ahead of list lodgement dates on June 16 and 25.

Image Credit: Melbourne FC (@MelbourneAFLW via Twitter)

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

REVIEW | 2021 AFL mid-season draft: Club-by-club

THE 2021 AFL mid-season draft saw 22 of a possible 27 players enter the elite level, with previously overlooked talent, mature-agers, and genuine bolters all among those who earned their chance on Wednesday evening. The half-hour virtual event saw picks come in thick and fast, with a few surprises along the way and plenty of feel-good stories. We take a look at each pick and what they may offer to their new clubs.

>> All the picks – round-by-round

Adelaide:

4. Patrick Parnell (Murray Bushrangers)
Small Defender | 4/03/2002 | 176cm | 67kg

Crows fans seemed a little agitated by the selection of another small, running defender, though their club’s policy was to target the best available talent and Parnell was exactly that in their eyes. The zippy Murray Bushrangers top-ager is an aggressive forward runner and uses the ball sharply on both feet. He is still quite light-on but has already gotten a taste of senior footy at VFL and local level, while also turning out in this year’s Victorian Young Guns showcase.

Brisbane:

14. Kalin Lane (Claremont)
Ruck | 5/12/01 | 204cm | 95kg

One of the many rucks taken in this draft, Lane is right at the top end of that list when it comes to rate of development. He shot into contention last year and was part the Claremont side which qualified for the WAFL Colts grand final, before continuing his rise in the Reserves this season and even earning a League berth. Averaging 14 disposals and 29 hitouts per game, Lane has improved his impact around the ground and uses his imposing frame to good effect, while boasting the obvious ruck craft trait. He may be considered a long-term option, but bolsters Brisbane’s tall stocks.

Carlton:

6. Alex Mirkov (Carlton VFL)
Ruck | 17/11/99 | 210cm | 104kg

Mirkov is a prospect who has come from the clouds to land on an AFL list, plucked out of the Blues’ VFL program after just two appearances. The 210cm former volleyballer received a special exemption to be eligible for this draft having not nominated in 2020, and was on the radar of a number of clubs in search of both long-term and immediate ruck depth. Carlton pounced at pick six, and will be happy to fill out their stocks after the loss of Matthew Kreuzer last year, with a raw type who could mould into something special.

20. Jordan Boyd (Footscray VFL)
Small Utility | 22/9/98 | 182cm | 81kg

Carlton is slowly turning its own VFL side into a feeder program, and dipped into the stocks of another club which has done so with great success in the Western Bulldogs. Boyd was their man with the second of a possible three picks, suiting the Blues’ need for some genuine and readymade small depth. The 22-year-old has mostly been pegged as a forward, but could be the small defender or wingman Carlton is in desperate need of to fill out its starting 18. His speed and bullet-like foot skills will likely catch the eye of Blues fans, and their forwards.

25. Pass

Collingwood:

3. Ash Johnson (Sturt)
Forward | 6/10/97 | 193cm | 85kg

Another Halls Creek native with good footballing pedigree, Johnson’s unconventional leap to the bigtime has been as drastic as his vertical feats on-field. The mature-ager should help bolster Collingwood’s struggling forwardline, bringing some excitement with his ability to fly for high marks and kick bags of goals. The Pies were made to act with pick three to land their man, with other clubs circling for the Sturt product.

18. Aiden Begg (Eastern Ranges)
Key Forward/Ruck | 8/10/02 | 197cm | 87kg

Collingwood fans were another somewhat agitated group after this selection, given Begg is currently injured and will play no part in the 2021 season. But rest assured, the Eastern Ranges ruck-forward looms as a promising key position option for the Magpies who lack a pure spearhead that can also give Brodie Grundy a chop-out in the ruck. He competes well and is a handy marking option, but also has the potential to swing back too. In a nostalgic link for Pies fans, he was coached by premiership forward Travis Cloke in the NAB League.

Essendon:

9. Sam Durham (Richmond VFL)
Midfielder | 9/7/01 | 185cm | 75kg

A pick made on upside and right under the noses of Richmond, Durham has some nice traits as a developing midfielder. He may not be thrown into the senior mix right away, but has a good inside-outside balance and offers versatility with his selection. The Murray Bushrangers product has improved steadily since first being overlooked in 2019, utilised on flanks or either side of midfield. He will be a nice point of difference in the Bombers’ midfield mix.

22. Pass

Fremantle:

Nil.

Geelong:

Nil.

Gold Coast:

5. Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ruck | 15/2/02 | 204cm | 100kg

While the SUNS were prepared to jump on others if Moyle were to be snapped up earlier, they nabbed their man at pick five and got an immediate boost to their ruck stocks. The Oakleigh Chargers bigman has come on leaps and bounds in 2021, earning a VFL berth with Collingwood and holding his own against AFL-listed rucks, before transferring his learnings back to the NAB League in a dominant final outing. He is a competitive type and will throw his frame around, which bodes well for an early senior gig given Gold Coast’s ruck crisis.

19. Pass

Greater Western Sydney:

8. James Peatling (GWS VFL)
Utility | 21/8/00 | 182cm | 80kg

A product of the GIANTS’ Academy, Peatling has been made to wait his turn but finally gets a senior look-in. The 20-year-old has developed in a range of positions; initially offering some drive off half-back and the wing, before being moulded into a pressure forward, and also having the potential to rotate through midfield. Having turned out in the VFL this season, Peatling will inevitably be right at home in the charcoal and orange, adding some handy depth to the GIANTS’ squad.

Hawthorn:

2. Jai Newcombe (Box Hill Hawks)
Inside Midfielder | 8/2/01 | 186cm | 85kg

A big-bodied midfielder out of the Gippsland region, Newcombe has thrived under the tutelage of Sam Mitchell at Box Hill in 2021. Having been cut at the end of preseason by the Power on multiple occasions, Newcombe looked like being one of the more promising over-age prospects in 2020, but instead gets his chance now. He should add some grunt to the Hawks’ engine room with his readymade frame and cannot be faulted for intent. Having been taken on special terms, Newcombe was one of the more intriguing cases leading into the draft.

17. Jackson Callow (Norwood)
Key Forward | 11/6/02 | 195cm | 96kg

Arguably one of the most unlucky players to be overlooked in last year’s intake, Callow trained with the Hawks during preseason and gets his opportunity after some ominous state league form. The Tasmanian shifted to the SANFL and dominated AFL-level opposition at times, with his contested marking the standout feature of his game. Mobility is his biggest knock, but Callow has the strength and aggression to compete at senior level.

Melbourne:

15. Kye Declase (Werribee)
Wing/Defender | 15/10/96 | 195cm | 85kg

Originally a graduate of the Northern Knights, Declase has shown a rapid rate of development since entering the state league and had plenty of work put into him by Melbourne during preseason. He has cut his teeth as an intercept and rebounding defender, but more recently rolled up to the wing and has even impacted in the front half during his VFL tenure. The 24-year-old adds good versatility and depth to Melbourne’s mix, perhaps as a direct replacement for the injured Adam Tomlinson.

24. Daniel Turner (Murray Bushrangers)
Defender | 28/1/02 | 191cm | 79kg

Another promising type out of the Murray Bushrangers, Turner is an intercept defender who thrives aerially and is sound in possession. He featured in this year’s Victorian Young Gun showcase and impressed, improving out of sight in his top-age season and performing well at NAB League level.

North Melbourne:

1. Jacob Edwards (Sandringham Dragons)
Key Forward/Ruck | 22/11/02 | 202cm | 83kg

The chances are, you have already heard of Edwards and everything he has to offer. The 202cm Sandringham Dragons prospect shot onto the radar during preseason and delivered on the hype as the NAB League season came forth. He is wonderfully mobile for his size, kicks well and can dominate aerially, boasting terrific upside as a long-term key position option. Having filled out their midfield stocks last year, the Roos now have a genuine tall gun among their ranks.

16. Charlie Ham (Geelong Falcons)
Small Defender/Midfielder | 11/11/02 | 180cm | 74kg

The brother of Essendon’s Brayden, Ham has followed in his elder sibling’s footsteps by being picked up having initially been overlooked. He is a dashing half-back who can also roll up to the wing, with his speed and precise foot skills key strengths of a promising overall game. While North will likely focus on building its key position brigade, they picked up another small along the way with plenty of upside.

Port Adelaide:

13. Jed McEntee (Sturt)
Small Forward/Midfielder | 15/2/01 | 176cm | 76kg

Port picked up a local talent in McEntee, who now has a good amount of senior experience under his belt having turned out for Sturt’s League side. He is a small forward who can also rotate through midfield, but will likely add a bit of defensive pressure to the front six for Port with his speed and competitiveness. A good point of difference in that mix.

Richmond:

10. Matthew Parker (South Fremantle)
Forward | 25/1/96 | 187cm | 79kg

Let go by St Kilda at the end of last season, Parker gets his second senior chance having once again proven a class above state league level over in Western Australia. He is capable of the mercurial with high flies and eye-catching goals, and will likely take little time to become a fan favourite at Tigerland. The 25-year-old follows in Marlion Pickett’s footsteps, being taken from South Fremantle in the mid-season crop. Could have an immediate impact and also rotates through midfield.

St Kilda:

7. Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons)
Ruck | 24/10/02 | 204cm | 94kg

The Sandringham Dragons ruck has followed a similar path to Edwards, in that he shot to contention with outstanding preseason form and now gets his chance. One key difference is that Heath did so last year, seeing him earn a National Combine invite despite not playing a competitive game in 2020, before being overlooked. He proved his worth in the NAB League this year though and at 204cm, is an aggressive tall who loves to compete and can also provide some fold up forward. He’s a local should thrive under the guidance of Rowan Marshall, whom he moulds his game on.

21. Cooper Sharman (WWT Eagles)
Forward | 25/7/00 | 194cm | 78kg

A bolter who missed out on being drafted in 2019, the Saints continued to track Sharman’s progress and pounced in 2021. The 20-year-old’s football journey has taken him around the country; starting with the GIANTS Academy, then shifting over to Oakleigh in the NAB League, and eventually landing him with Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFL. He is a dead-eye in front of goal and could serve as a quick fix to the Saints woes in that department.

26. Pass

27. Pass

Sydney:

12. Lachlan McAndrew (Sydney VFL)
Ruck | 26/5/00 | 208cm | 93kg

One of the many prospective ruck selections made, McAndrew has only been playing Australian football for two years. The rugby union convert graduated from the Swans Academy and has since passed through their VFL program, turning out twice in 2021 and doing enough to land a senior berth. He is a raw, long-term choice but should add to the strong competition for spots in Sydney’s tall department.

West Coast:

11. Will Collins (Swan Districts)
Defender | 24/5/02 | 185cm | 78kg

Another player who lands at the club he trained at during preseason, Collins has long been on the Eagles’ radar. The Swan Districts defender managed to crack League level this season and has also been rotating through the reserves, showing steady development with his clean ball use and ability to intercept across the defensive line. He suits a need for the Eagles, who also brought in Alex Witherden at the end of 2020.

23. Connor West (West Perth)
Midfielder | 7/5/99 | 183cm | 80kg

Once again dipping into the local talent pool, the Eagles prized a readymade ball winner who could help cover some of their most recent injury losses through midfield. The West Perth product averaged 27 disposals and six tackles per his seven League outings in 2021, with that form enough to warrant selection in the WAFL state side.

Western Bulldogs:

Nil.

Pick-by-pick: 2021 AFL mid-season draft

THE 2021 AFL mid-season draft has been run and done, with the half-hour long virtual event seeing 22 of a possible 27 selections made and plenty of fresh faces enter the elite level. As expected, Sandringham Dragons ruck/forward Jacob Edwards was selected with pick one, among seven top-age players taken straight out of the NAB League system.

Find the full draft order below, and stay tuned to Draft Central for our review of each selection – dropping tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

ROUND 1:

  1. North Melbourne – Jacob Edwards (Sandringham Dragons) | Key Forward/Ruck
  2. Hawthorn – Jai Newcombe (Box Hill Hawks) | Inside Midfielder
  3. Collingwood – Ash Johnson (Sturt) | Forward |
  4. Adelaide – Patrick Parnell (Murray Bushrangers) | Small Defender
  5. Gold Coast – Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers) | Ruck
  6. Carlton – Alex Mirkov (Carlton VFL) | Ruck
  7. St Kilda – Max Heath (Sandringham Dragons) | Ruck/Key Forward
  8. Greater Western Sydney – James Peatling (GIANTS Academy) | Defender
  9. Essendon – Sam Durham (Richmond VFL) | Midfielder
  10. Richmond – Matthew Parker (South Fremantle) | Forward
  11. West Coast – Will Collins (Swan Districts) | Defender
  12. Sydney – Lachlan McAndrew (Sydney VFL) | Ruck
  13. Port Adelaide – Jed McEntee (Sturt) | Forward
  14. Brisbane – Kalin Lane (Claremont) | Ruck
  15. Melbourne –  Kye Declase (Werribee) | Wing/Defender

 

ROUND 2:

  1. North Melbourne – Charlie Ham (Geelong Falcons) | Defender/Midfielder
  2. Hawthorn – Jackson Callow (Norwood) | Key Forward
  3. Collingwood – Aiden Begg (Eastern Ranges) | Key Forward/Ruck
  4. Gold Coast – Pass
  5. Carlton – Jordan Boyd (Footscray VFL) | Small Forward
  6. St Kilda – Cooper Sharman (WWT Eagles) | Forward
  7. Essendon – Pass
  8. West Coast – Connor West (West Perth) | Midfielder
  9. Melbourne – Daniel Turner (Murray Bushrangers) | Defender

 

ROUND 3:

  1. Carlton – Pass
  2. St Kilda – Pass

ROUND 4:

  1. St Kilda – Pass

Image Credit: Steve Tanner/News Corp

PREVIEW | The top 2021 AFL mid-season draft candidates

THE 2021 AFL mid-season draft finally arrives on Wednesday night, with around 15 players expected to find homes at the elite level after weeks of speculation and on-field auditions. A spill of overlooked talents from last year’s draft pool have staked their claims as worthy candidates through the elite talent pathways and state leagues, while mature-agers are also inevitably in the mix. We run you through the most likely draftees across both groups, with an insight into how they play and where they may end up.

THE NAB LEAGUERS

It is well known that Sandringham Dragons ruck-forward Jacob Edwards is likely to be snapped up by North Melbourne with pick one, having burst onto the scene this year. The Mentone Grammar student was pegged as a long-term prospect last year and quickly rose to prominence during pre-season in 2021, showing great signs during the Dragons’ intraclub match.

At 202cm, he is a terrific athlete who not only marks well, but is also quite mobile and offers the dual threat of forward and ruck craft. Edwards averaged 12 disposals, 14 hitouts, and booted five goals across three NAB League appearances this season. He turns 19 in December, so has plenty of development left and could well have been considered a first round chance for the National Draft.

There are plenty of other talls in the mix, with a bunch of clubs scrambling to bolster their ruck and key forward stocks. Oakleigh Chargers ruck Ned Moyle is another who has come on strongly in 2021, improving out of sight to also earn a VFL berth with Collingwood. There, he tussled with AFL-level rucks and showed he was not afraid to compete hard, before transferring his ruck craft learnings back to the NAB League in one final audition before Wednesday. With pick two, Hawthorn could be into Moyle, while Collingwood would also be a fitting home, and Gold Coast is desperate for ruck cover at pick five.

Max Heath, a teammate of Edwards at Sandringham who is also completing his Year 12 studies, will likely also attract a Victorian suitor. He has been linked with St Kilda, a team which potentially has plenty of spots to fill given its growing injury woes. The 204cm ruckman was deemed a chance to go in last year’s National Draft after imposing pre-season performances, but was eventually overlooked and made to prove his worth through the NAB League this year. His aggression and physicality are key strengths at the contest.

A region which could produce multiple mid-season draftees is Murray, with key forward Cameron McLeod, defender Patrick Parnell, and midfielder Zavier Maher all attracting interest. Carlton are said to be into McLeod and Maher, with the latter tied to the Blues’ VFL side having trained there during pre-season. Parnell is a dashing small defender who is being monitored by clubs like GWS, where he turned out for a single VFL outing this year. McLeod has impressed of late with his mobility as a leading target, booting a bag of four goals in his latest NAB League outing. Maher made his return in that same game, winning 30 disposals as an explosive midfielder who just needs to polish his disposal coming away from the contest.

Another top-ager on the Blues’ radar is Noah Gribble, a hard-running wingman who has been ultra consistent upon returning from an ACL tear in 2021. The Geelong Falcons product is one of many in this group to have turned out in the Victorian Young Guns game, and has little trouble finding the ball. His knocks have been speed and disposal in the past, but he is hard to deny as a genuine prospect.

Elsewhere, Cody Raak has been one of the better performed top-agers in the NAB League this season, even making the step up to VFL level for Footscray. He is also a Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduate, but his home side does not currently have a selection available. Raak, and Eastern Ranges forward-midfielder Corey Preston trained at Whitten Oval during pre-season, and while both missed out on a spot then, they could come into consideration for other clubs now.

Like Raak, Luke Cleary is a reliable intercept defender who sweeps across half-back with work both in the air and on the ground. He is likely to have impressed a number of clubs with his ability to set up play from the defence, and also earned a National Combine invite last year before being overlooked.

Also in the mix are Aiden Begg and Liam Podhajski, a couple of fast-developing rucks who can also play at either end of the ground. Begg, of the Eastern Ranges may be considered despite being injured during NAB League duties this year, and may suit a need at either end of the ground. Podhajski has turned out for Calder Cannons and the Northern Bullants, rotating forward through the ruck as a mobile type who can also impact with his marking.

GWS and Richmond could be among the clubs looking at Giants Academy product Tom Green, who recently turned out in charcoal and orange in the NAB League. The brother of Tom also has family ties to Richmond, and is a versatile type who can play as a tall midfielder, or marking forward target. He racked up 25 touches and a goal against the Swans Academy on Sunday.

STATE LEAGUERS

Among the younger crop of state league players in the mix, Tasmanian pair Oliver Davis and Jackson Callow have created plenty of buzz. The former is a ball winning midfielder who returned to his state’s NAB League program in 2021, before jetting off to Adelaide to join the Crows’ reserves side. He could be looked at by either South Australian team, while Callow would be a great fit for Collingwood. The contested marking beast tore apart AFL opposition for Norwood in the SANFL recently, and is a readymade key forward.

Jai Newcombe is one who, after being robbed of an over-age NAB League season last year, has been excellent for Box Hill in the VFL. He is a combative inside midfielder who Gippsland Power staff were very high on, and he has come on well once again to be in the box seat to be taken under special terms by Hawthorn.

Richmond VFL utility Sam Durham is another in the mix, potentially for the Tigers having shown steady development but terrific upside. He featured in the recent Young Guns showcase and built into the contest nicely. The former Murray Bushranger can play on a wing or off half-back, with potential to even run through the engine room as he fills out.

Of the state leaguers who haven’t yet experienced the top flight, Carlton VFL ruck Alex Mirkov is one poised to do so soon. While he has not gained much in the way of on-field exposure, the 210cm ex-volleyballer showcased his potential in two outings for the Blues this season. He could be in for a Navy Blue promotion, but Gold Coast is lurking with a pick beforehand and his upside is clear for others to pounce on.

In a similar vein, Essendon VFL gun Angus Baker could finally earn his own call-up having continued to return terrific state league form. The 2019 NEAFL Rising Star was in contention for a spot at the Bombers during pre-season and continues to knock on the door having been overlooked there. Essendon has covered the running half-back role well, but has a readymade prospect in Baker waiting in the wings.

The likes of Ash Johnson (Sturt, SANFL) and Tyrone Thorne (Peel Thunder, WAFL) are other exciting state leaguers to have thrown their hats in the ring. Johnson is a high-marking forward who hails from the prosperous Halls Creek region and has good ties to the elite level through his pedigree. While small in stature, Thorne has stood out as a zippy midfielder who has the potential to impact as a small forward at AFL level.

Of those who have already been drafted to the AFL level, Wylie Buzza seems destined for another shot. He has been linked with Gold Coast’s pick after Michael Knoll failed a medical at the Suns, with Carlton another potential suitor given the two clubs’ competing interests coming into the intake. Tyson Stengle could land at Richmond once again, with Collingwood also potentially in for the talented small forward.

Another former Crow, Riley Knight has been in terrific SANFL form and has St Kilda taking a look, while former Saint Nathan Freeman is becoming increasingly difficult to deny given his dominant VFL feats. Geelong NGA graduate Blake Schlensog is said to have matured greatly during his time in Western Australia, while Jarrod Garlett has nominated in hopes of finding a home – though neither West Coast or Fremantle have opened up a list spot as of yet.

NEED TO KNOWS

The mid-season draft order will be structured like the National Draft, following the reverse ladder order set at the conclusion of Round 11. 602 players nominated for the draft, with 18 rookie list spots currently available. Clubs have until 5:00pm on Tuesday June 1 to make any changes to their lists, as the draft is set to commence at 7:00pm the following evening in a virtual event.

Below are the current availabilities per the AFL, again, subject to change until 5:00pm on Tuesday June 1.

Adelaide: 1 selection
Brisbane Lions: 0 selections
Carlton: 2 selections
Collingwood: 2 selections
Essendon: 1 Selection
Fremantle: 0 selections
Geelong: 0 selections
Gold Coast: 2 selections
GWS: 1 selection
Hawthorn: 1 selection
Melbourne: 2 selections
North Melbourne: 2 selections
Port Adelaide: 1 selection
Richmond: 1 selection
St Kilda: 1 selection
Sydney: 1 selection
West Coast: 0 selections
Western Bulldogs: 0 selections

Image Credit: Solstice Digital

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 4

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its fourth round over the weekend, with six fixtures spread from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, as 10 sides enjoyed byes. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 4 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: State League wrap

Nathan Freeman‘s sensational start to season 2021 continued in Round 4, as the former Collingwood and St Kilda midfielder gathered a round-high 44 disposals in Frankston’s loss to Williamstown on Saturday afternoon. With his latest impressive array of numbers, Freeman boosted his competition-high season averages for disposals (40.5) and kicks (25.3), clearly enjoying a clean run at state league level.

First year midfielder Finlay Macrae helped Collingwood hold on to beat Coburg earlier on the same afternoon, with the classy prospect registering a high of 24 handballs. For the Lions, Luke Bunker got his hands dirty with 11 tackles, bringing him up to second on the overall leaderboard with an average of 10.7 per game.

Elsewhere, North Melbourne’s Harry Jones distributed 28 kicks to top the league in Round 4, as senior-listed Bulldog Lewis Young reeled in a monster 17 marks, Josh Jenkins dominated the Northern Bullants with seven goals, and former AFL bigman Matthew Lobbe knocked down 36 hitouts for Werribee in the Tigers’ win over Box Hill.

While Freeman’s hold on the overall disposal and kick count remains, Jacob Dawson leads the handball stakes with an average of 19.3. Carlton’s Ben Crocker has entered the fray as he pushes for mid-season draft contention, now topping the goalkicking charts along side Matthew Hammelmann with 16, and clunking the most marks (9.8 per game).

It is no surprise to see tackle machine Dominic Brew head that department after four rounds, despite not holding the league’s best average, while Hawks tall Ned Reeves still holds a lead in the hitouts after suffering an injury in his Saturday outing. He still won 11 hitouts on the day to average 32.5.

Find the full list of Round 4, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 4 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman** (Frankston) – 44

Kicks:
Harry Jones (North Melbourne) – 28

Handballs:
Finlay Macrae* (Collingwood) – 24

Goals:
Josh Jenkins* (Geelong) – 7

Marks:
Lewis Young* (Western Bulldogs) – 17

Tackles:
Luke Bunker (Coburg) – 11

Hitouts:
Matthew Lobbe (Werribee) – 36

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 162 total / 40.5 average

Kicks:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 101 / 25.3

Handballs:
Jacob Dawson (Southport) – 77 / 19.3

Goals:
Matt Hammelmann (Aspley) – 16 / 5.3
Ben Crocker (Carlton) – 16 / 4.0

Marks:
Ben Crocker (Carlton) – 39 / 9.8

Tackles:
Dominic Brew (Werribee) – 35 / 8.8

Hitouts:
Ned Reeves* (Box Hill) – 130 / 32.5

* – denotes AFL-listed.
** – denotes season leader.

Image Credit: Mike Owen/AFL Photos

Full squads: 2021 Victorian Young Guns showcase

THE ANNUAL Victorian Young Guns showcase is back in 2021, with Metro and Country squads set to battle it out as prospects look to stake their claims for mid-season draft (June 2) selection. Bouncing down at 2:30pm tomorrow at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee, the fixture will see a selection of Victoria’s brightest Under 23 talent fielded all at once.

Though the parameters have been set at the 23-year-old limit, no player selected is older than 20, with 48 of the nominated prospects coming from the NAB League – including the entire Metro team – and just four out of the Victorian Football League (VFL). With players essentially hand-picked by AFL recruiters, the match promises to provide a useful insight into who is on the draft radar at this point.

>> SCROLL to see the full squads

SQUAD SNAPSHOTS:

Metro

Among the Metro standouts are a couple of talls who come in fresh off some VFL exposure. Oakleigh Chargers bigman Ned Moyle is one of them, and he looms as a favourable mid-season draft option having also turned out for the AFL Academy recently. The other is Calder Cannons ruck-forward Liam Podhajski, a fast-developing type who has proven his upside this year. The pair respectively played for Collingwood and Northern Bullants at state league level.

Some promising Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduates are also in the mix, with Cody Raak (Western Bulldogs) among them. The marking defender has been a level above the NAB League and recently earned a VFL berth with the Bulldogs. The raw athleticism of Carlton-tied prospect Dominic Akuei should also catch the eye, he can rotate up either end of the field while pinch-hitting in the ruck with a huge leap.

Bulldogs and Blues fans should also be on the lookout for a pair of father-sons in NAB League top-agers Ewan Macpherson and Charlie McKay. Both were overlooked last year but have returned in fine form, boasting good size as inside midfielders who win plenty of ball at the coalface, but can also rotate back to defence. Macpherson was also seen kicking a bag of five goals for local side, Diamond Creek a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere, skilled small forward Corey Preston remains on the radar after fighting for a preseason supplementary selection spot at the Western Bulldogs. The likes of Darby Hipwell (midfielder, Sandringham), Dylan Thomas (forward, Collingwood), Sam Paea (key forward, Essendon) have all gained VFL experience this year, while Logan Young is a West Australian native who crossed to play with Sandringham Dragons this year. He is a tall midfielder who has also rotated forward.

Country

Country will field the only four non-NAB League listed players on Saturday, including one of just two selected 20-year-olds in Aaron Gundry. The 201cm Bendigo Pioneers product is a developing ruck who currently plies his trade for Carlton’s reserves. Isaac Wareham (Geelong VFL) and Sam Durham (Richmond VFL) are familiar names with plenty of their own upside, while 2019 Bulldogs NGA graduate Mutaz El Nour (Northern Bullants) rounds out the state league selection.

Dandenong Stingrays speedster Kobi George is Country’s sole current NGA prospect, tied to Melbourne, but the likes of Will Bravo and Charlie Byrne have experienced the rigours of AFL-level training having fought for preseason supplementary selection spots at Hawthorn and Essendon respectively, before rolling back into the NAB League system come season proper.

Among those with VFL exposure this year are nippy Bendigo Pioneers smalls Sam Conforti and Jack Hickman. Both have turned out twice for Essendon’s reserves side and showed plenty – particularly in last week’s outing against Carlton. Expect them to rotate forward through midfield, or station on the outer. Geelong VFL-listed pair Charlie Ham and Marcus Herbert will also play, having turned out against the AFL Academy last month.

Ham, the brother of Essendon’s Brayden will be joined by another brother-of in the squad. Will Papley, who has similar forward craft to his elder sibling Tom, also earned a berth in the side and will likely start inside attacking 50 with the potential to roll into midfield. Elsewhere, watch for the work-rate of wingman Noah Gribble, who has impressed in the NAB League after tearing his ACL last year.

FULL SQUADS:

Metro

1. Jake Arundell, 18, 169cm, 65kg, Eastern Ranges
2. Harrison White, 19, 175cm, 70kg, Western Jets
3. Eren Soylemez, 19, 179cm, 82kg, Sandringham Dragons
4. Ewan Macpherson, 19, 179cm, 82kg, Northern Knights
5. Tom Blamires, 18, 180cm, 76kg, Sandringham Dragons
6. Corey Preston, 18, 181cm, 77kg, Eastern Ranges
7. Darby Hipwell, 18, 182cm, 82kg, Sandringham Dragons
8. Harrison Keeling, 19, 183cm, 68kg, Eastern Ranges
9. Joel Trudgeon, 18, 185cm, 90kg, Northern Knights
10. Charlie McKay, 18, 186cm, 83kg, Sandringham Dragons
11. Lachlan Riley, 19, 186cm, 85kg, Sandringham Dragons
12. Dylan Thomas, 18, 187cm, 77kg, Oakleigh Chargers
13. Liam Conway, 19, 188cm, 87kg, Western Jets
14. Ben De Bolfo, 18, 188cm, 79kg, Northern Knights
15. Sam Clohesy, 18, 189cm, 72kg, Calder Cannons
16. Fraser Elliot, 18, 189cm, 88kg, Oakleigh Chargers
17. Luke Cleary, 19, 189cm, 80kg, Sandringham Dragons
18. Logan Young, 19, 190cm, 84kg, Sandringham Dragons
19. Marc Massarotti, 18, 191cm, 91kg, Eastern Ranges
20. Cody Raak, 18, 192cm, 80kg, Western Jets
21. Dominic Akuei, 18, 192cm, 76kg, Northern Knights
22. Samuel Paea, 18, 194cm, 94kg, Calder Cannons
23. Flynn Maguire, 19, 195cm, 82kg, Oakleigh Chargers
24. Riley Smith, 20, 200cm, 104kg, Eastern Ranges
25. Felix Flockart, 19, 202cm, 80kg, Sandringham Dragons
26. Liam Podhajski, 18, 202cm, 99kg, Calder Cannons
27. Ned Moyle, 19, 205cm, 87kg, Oakleigh Chargers

Country

1. Sam Conforti, 19, 173cm, 74kg, Bendigo Pioneers
2. Charlie Ham, 18, 180cm, 74kg, Geelong Falcons
3. Kobi George, 19, 182cm, 74kg, Dandenong Stingrays
4. Jack Hickman, 19, 177cm, 71kg, Bendigo Pioneers
5. Patrick Parnell, 19, 178cm, 60kg, Murray Bushrangers
6. Clayton Gay, 19, 183cm, 77kg, Dandenong Stingrays
7. Will Bravo, 19, 181cm, 77kg, Dandenong Stingrays
8. Marcus Herbert, 18, 181cm, 81kg, GWV Rebels
9. Flynn Young, 19, 181cm, 69kg, Geelong Falcons
10. Isaac Wareham, 19, 183cm, 81kg, Geelong VFL
11. Will Papley, 18, 178cm, 78kg, Gippsland Power
12. Noah Gribble, 18, 180cm, 79kg, Geelong Falcons
14. Charlie Byrne, 18, 184cm, 79kg, Murray Bushrangers
15. Sam Durham, 19, 190cm, 82kg, Richmond VFL
16. Cobi Maxted, 18, 188cm, 88kg, Bendigo Pioneers
17. Bryce Milford, 18, 195cm, 82kg, Dandenong Stingrays
18. Xavier Mitchell, 18, 191cm, 78kg, Bendigo Pioneers
19. Daniel Turner, 19, 191cm, 79kg, Murray Bushrangers
20. Ryan O’Keefe, 19, 192cm, 69kg, Bendigo Pioneers
22. Caleb Ernst, 18, 194cm, 91kg, Bendigo Pioneers
23. Mutaz El Nour, 19, 192cm, 83kg, Northern Bullants VFL
24. Cameron McLeod, 18, 192cm, 78kg, Murray Bushrangers
25. Jai Neal, 18, 192cm, 88kg, Dandenong Stingrays
27. Mason Hawkins, 19, 198cm, 82kg, Gippsland Power
28. Aaron Gundry, 20, 201cm, 91kg, Carlton VFL

The game is set to be streamed live via the official AFL app and website. Stay tuned to Draft Central for scouting notes on the outstanding players from both sides.

Scouting Notes: 2021 AFL Under 19 Academy vs. Geelong VFL

THE AFL Under 19 Academy suffered a 130-point thumping at the hands of Geelong VFL on Saturday morning, with the hosts flexing their muscle in the showcase fixture at GMHBA Stadium. Result aside, it proved an eye-opening opportunity for the nation’s brightest young talents to test their measure against seasoned operators. Our scouts were on hand in Geelong to deliver their opinion-based notes all 24 Academy players.

>> Match report: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

#1-17 (By Ed Pascoe)

#1 Blayne O’Loughlin (North Adelaide/SA)

The usually prolific North Adelaide prospect found the going a bit tougher against the Geelong VFL side but made his possessions count by both hand and foot and often looked composed under pressure. O’Loughlin showed great courage sitting in front of oncoming talls leading up at the ball where he was crunched.

#2 Austin Harris (Gold Coast/QLD)

The speedy defender tied to the Gold Coast Suns, Harris had some nice moments down back showing plenty of dare and dash with ball in hand, despite his light and small frame Harris still managed to get involved and even got a run on the wing late in the game. It is still up in the air which position will be his best going forward.

#4 Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers/VC)

The exciting Murray forward took some time to get into the game but he certainly looked like the Academy’s most dangerous forward, looking dangerous whenever he got the ball or was in the vicinity. He kicked a great goal from beyond 50m after taking a lead up mark which was one of only two goals scored for the Academy. Rachele was skilful in the air and at ground level and his efforts to tackle were also a highlight.

#5 Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/VM)

Not the game Sonsie would have wanted as he pushes for his claim in the first round of this year’s draft, the smooth moving midfielder from Eastern Ranges found the going tough against the bigger bodies in the Geelong midfield and was later moved to defence, yet still could not work his way into the game. Despite using the ball well when he got it, he did not get it enough to really make a big impact.

#6 Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

The Collingwood father-son prospect continued his strong start to the year with another prolific game through the midfield leading his side as captain he also lead in disposals with 26. The smooth moving midfielder from Oakleigh Chargers was crafty around stoppages and smart around the ground just knowing where to be at all times and his skill by hand and foot was superb especially with some of his kicks inside 50 early in the game. Although he did not kick any goals as he usually does – he had a few missed shots showing great agility both times but just missing – it was another strong game from Daicos who continues to press his claim as the best prospect in this years draft pool.

#7 Cooper Hamilton (Bendigo Pioneers/VC)

The tough Bendigo defender/midfielder showed his usual traits as a clean and tough competitor with his sturdy frame and desperation on show. Starting down back it took a while for Hamilton to work into the game but got more involved with some midfield time in the last quarter.

#9 Jason Horne (South Adelaide/SA)

The impressive midfielder who has already tasted action against senior bodies at South Adelaide, took what he has learnt from that time into the Academy game showing great tackling intent and playing with a lot of maturity. Despite not being overly prolific with 13 disposals for the game, Horne made every touch count, looking impressive with his burst and clean hands at stoppages and his ability overhead with a strong mark at half-back in the second quarter showcasing his overall elite attributes.

#10 Matthew Roberts (South Adelaide/SA)

Coming off a 37-disposal game last week for South Adelaide, the tough midfielder was played forward all game for the Academy and although it was disappointing that he did not get a run in his favoured position, he managed to do some nice things and was perhaps his side’s most prolific forward. Roberts got to show his long left foot with a nice kick inside 50 and a 50m shot at goal in the first quarter. Although the shot was a behind, he would have likely had a more prolific game forward with a closer game and better service coming inside 50.

#11 Jase Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/SA)

The Port Adelaide father-son prospect from Woodville-West Torrens started the game in his usual role at half-back showing his clean hands and composure with ball in hand. Burgoyne would move to the wing in the second half which proved a good move as he started to win more of the ball although his kicking did not come off a few times he did well to try and create although he will want to work on his defensive side on a more consistent basis to better round out his game.

#13 Lachlan Rankin (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

Used on the wing and later forward, Rankin would not have a prolific day like his fellow forwards and wingmen, and despite his best efforts defensively, he would not get to show why he was a late addition to the Academy squad, with the small utility impressing at NAB League level for Oakleigh Chargers.

#16 Josh Fahey (GWS/NSW-ACT)

One of the few standouts for the Academy side, the GWS GIANTS Academy member offered plenty of drive from defence using his speed and long left foot to break the lines and it was no surprise that he took kick-outs with those strengths. He took one good intercept mark which could be considered low, but he played percentages and went with the fist multiple times to great success. Fahey showed great leadership qualities being vocal down back and he was prepared to work hard with and without the ball. Sharing some similarities to AA defender Michael Hibberd, he could be set for similar accolades at the next level. Speaking of accolades, he would win the Presidents Medal for his 23-disposal and nine-rebound 50 game.

#17 Nasiah Wanganeen (Glenelg/South Australia)

The athletic wingman from Glenelg did not win a lot of the ball, but he had some good moments by foot playing wing early in the game before moving back in the last quarter showing good composure and a nice spoil deep in defence was also good.

#19-31 (By Michael Alvaro)

#19 Neil Erasmus (Subiaco/WA)

The West Australian ended up being quite a handy addition to the Academy squad, able to show his worth in some nice pockets of play. He came to life during a second term purple patch, where his vertical leap and overhead marking were prominent. Erasmus rose well both on the lead and to intercept across half-forward, where he was posted for most of the game. He would later be shifted up onto the wing where he worked back more defensively, but arguably looked more dangerous in attack during the first half. Erasmus had a set shot attempt on goal fall shot in term two and took some time to eventually hit his targets by foot on the move, but returned a promising game overall.

#20 Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

Another late inclusion, Callaghan took some time to get up to speed with the pressure gauge set, but began to string together plays more indicative of his talent as the contest wore on. When given the opportunity, he showcased his long and penetrative left-foot kick, looking a touch more comfortable when streaming forward in space. The Sandringham Dragons bolter was a little fumbly below his knees which brought on more pressure than required, though he has the frame to beat opponents when going low and hard. Callaghan shifted to half-back in the final term and was released for a couple of trademark runs before breaching the forward 50 arc by foot. He is difficult to stop in full flight with that mix of size, speed and agility.

#21 Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/VM)

On a tough day for Academy forwards, Howes returned a relatively quiet outing having been permanently employed among the front six. With a light frame considering his height, Howes could not quite burst free from tackles he normally would at Under 19s level, but competed well to win a couple of contests in the opening and closing terms. The first was a handy split at half-forward before dishing off to the running Lachlan Rankin, and the second was an instance where he had to cop contact to create a spill inside 50, as the ball was not delivered to his advantage. A good leaper with sticky hands, it was a difficult outing for Howes to show those traits.

#22 Matthew Johnson (Subiaco/WA)

While injury scuppered his chances of an early-season League debut in the WAFL, Johnson put his hand up for such honours with a solid outing against mature bodies. Having played exclusively in midfield, the tall ball winner looks like being in the right shape to do so after his time off. He was the Academy’s third most prolific player, even with a disposal count of 13, showing clean hands and poise at the coalface. His one-touch potential was shown early with a beautiful half-volley gather at half-forward, before going on to take a strong overhead grab later in the first term. Johnson also notched a few clearances but was given little time to think about delivering anything more than a quick kick forward. His uncontested touches were polished though, and he looms as the prime tall inside midfielder in this crop.

#23 Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont/WA)

Arguably the leading key position forward among a raft of high-level midfielders in this year’s draft pool, Van Rooyen was posted permanently in the familiar centre half-forward position. The Claremont product competed well among a front six that was afforded few opportunities and less than ideal delivery. He presented up the ground and was unlucky not to have been paid a sliding mark on defensive wing in the first term. He would continue to gain separation while up the ground, even when his efforts went unrewarded, while also playing a hand in attempting to lock the ball in his side’s attacking 50 with pressure at the contest. Despite a frustrating outing at times, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ remains a frontrunner in his role.

#24 Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts/WA)

While he has swung forward to good effect in the WAFL Colts, Bazzo reverted back to his defensive duties for the Academy and built into the game well despite being handed tough assignments. A good reader of the ball, Bazzo was caught lacking early as he was caught behind, but saw that kind of positioning pay off later on as he chimed in with well-timed spoils and some terrific intercept marks inside defensive 50. He was under the pump at times given the speed of which Geelong moved the ball forward, but stood up in one-on-one battles against taller and more developed opponents, like Sam De Koning. His confidence seemed to grow with each defensive act, though he could do little at times as the Cats swept up relentlessly after the initial effort. Bazzo’s disposal, mostly by foot, was also assured on the last line.

#25 Josh Gibcus (GWV Rebels/VC)

The GWV Rebels defender is such a smooth operator on the last line, contributing wonderfully poised disposal on the rebound under a good amount of pressure. He was kept very busy inside defensive 50 and did his best to repel by foot, hitting targets both short and long on the rebound. Gibcus’ reading of the play is also sound, as he popped up to clunk eye-catching marks with nice timing and clean hands. In such a tough role deep among an under-siege defence, he was also impressive at the fall of the ball and swept up as per usual for the Academy. He should be one climbing draft boards after a stunning start to the year.

#27 Jack Williams (East Fremantle/WA)

It was somewhat of an almost day for Williams, who very nearly made the best of limited chances in the Academy forward line. The rising East Fremantle talent started with a strong mark on the lead, before booting his side’s first goal of the game with a wonderfully fluent set shot routine. He would go on to work up the ground and present well down the line, but could not quite hold his marks as he was met with contact by stronger-bodied opponents. Perhaps different umpires would have paid a couple of marks for the balls he got first hands to, but it was not to be for Williams. Still, his short moments were eye-catching despite the absence of end product after his first term goal.

#28 Mac Andrew (Dandenong Stingrays/VC)

One of the steepest risers in this year’s crop, the Melbourne Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved his true first round potential. He played up either end and gained a good tick for his versatility, but well and truly came to life in the final term with an awesome showing in the ruck – despite the result being well beyond his side at that point. Andrew caught the eye with phenomenal vertical leaps at each centre bounce, with his first act of the final term a follow-up clearance. He highlighted his marking ability with a nice clunk in front, and showed off some finesse in the ruck with a wonderfully directed hit to the anchoring Jason Horne. Having started forward, the Dandenong Stingrays talent snared the first score of the game with a snap, before displaying clean hands on the move and flying well in his less fruitful move to defence. Demons recruiters will now be sweating on his potential after a string of terrific performances, if they were not already.

#29 Toby Conway (Geelong Falcons/VC)

Playing in his home region, Conway was afforded the starting ruck gig and got to battle it out with an AFL-listed big man in Darcy Fort. He would have learned some handy lessons in positioning and bodywork in each ruck contest, but Conway did his best to compete in those situations. He worked back to offer some aerial support to his defenders and even took an early mark from a long kick-in. Conway also rested forward and spent plenty of time deep in the final term without seeing too much action. He led well on one occasion but was spoiled from behind, unable to cap his outing with a goal.

#30 Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers/VM)

One of two 19-year-old prospects afield, Moyle carried his promising NAB League form into this outing and competed well against stiff opposition. The Oakleigh Chargers big man rotated into the ruck and was not afraid to leap into or wrestle with his senior adversaries. He also did well to stay relevant as the ball fell to ground level, prizing a few clearances forward – even if they were rushed scrubber kicks. Moyle also had the confidence to grab from the ruck and took a nice mark from a kick-in during term two. Like Conway, he rested forward and was stationed there more frequently during the second half, but just lacked the mobility and composure to make a true impact in those attacking positions.

#31 Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels/VC)

The latest of inclusions in this Academy squad, Marris was relatively competitive in his late-notice opportunity and contributed some handy clean touches. Posted in defence as a small, the GWV product fared well in early one-on-ones without having too many wins, but showed his ability to find the ball in space with neat uncontested touches, mostly delivered by foot. He played his role well and should be one to gain some VFL opportunities, ironically enough with the Cats.

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos