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Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 11

A RAFT of draft eligible representative guns returned to the NAB League in Round 11, ensuring squads were stacked in one of the strongest weekends for talent so far this year. There were plenty of top showings across the six fixtures, as players stepped up across a generally competitive round – which featured three games decided by a goal or less. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 11 snapshot

CALDER CANNONS 8.5 (53) def. GEELONG FALCONS 7.8 (50)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#5 Zac Taylor

It seemed Taylor was everywhere at times, with the small midfielder a consistent figure at each contest and a hard-worker around the ground. While Geelong applied decent pressure, Taylor often looked to back his pace and nearly always steadied before delivering by foot. That kind of trait made for better efficiency going forward, with the Calder midfielder very creative in possession. He also claimed the game’s first goal after launching a huge set shot from the arc in a tone-setting act.

#6 Flynn Lakey

Another constant in Calder’s midfield mix, Lakey continues to play an under-appreciated and selfless role for the Cannons. He was often the one digging in for first possession before dishing out to runners, bringing his teammates into the game with slick handballs. Even when accumulating away from the contest, Lakey did not bite off too much and continued to feed his runners, allowing Calder to flow forward. He defies his size in terms of toughness too, a factor observed as he laid a big hit on big-bodied Falcon, Mitch Knevitt.

#25 Josh Goater

Shifting from midfield to half-back, Goater was simply superb in a game which fully showcased his rare versatility. His clean hands have been evident within his midfield craft, but Goater transferred that same skill to be a reliable intercept marker in the backline. When in possession, he used the ball typically well by foot with precision passes and hardly wasted a touch. In motion, Goater leant on his athleticism with eye-catching turns of speed to weave through traffic and spark rebounding chains. He worked well with others too, starting one-two passages to move the ball down the field in style. The draft eligible talent did it all and was near-untouchable at times.

#30 Sam Paea

Paea was the dominant key forward afield and proved far too much for his opponents to contain across a five-goal game. He made good on two set shot chances in the opening term and never looked back, harnessing the confidence gained from his conversions to provide marking presence up the ground and get dangerous inside 50. Paea did not always clunk the ball cleanly overhead, but showed good athleticism in his follow-up work to snare two more goals. His fifth was a lovely snap from the boundary in the third quarter, capping a promising display from the developing tall.

Geelong Falcons:

#11 Cooper Whyte

While others had more of the ball, Whyte was one of the more productive midfielders out there on Saturday. He often got his legs pumping to exit the contest with speed and looked to break tackles, proving aggressive in his approach to driving Geelong forward. He hardly took a backwards step and defied his size to clunk overhead marks in important areas, before again generating that forward momentum and moving the ball on quickly.

#12 Noah Gribble

One of the league’s most consistent accumulators, Gribble racked up another 39 touches for the Falcons in his latest effort. He runs as hard as anyone at the level and leans on that work rate to find the ball at either end of the ground, while also following his disposals to get the ball back and go again. Gribble sometimes halted the Falcons’ momentum when turning back into traffic, but did well to find more ball on the outer after half time and lifted when the game was up for grabs late. His intent to achieve penetration with each kick during that period was clear, but ultimately to no avail.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

Spending a good chunk of time forward in this outing, Knevitt enjoyed a handy little purple patch late in term two. The big-bodied midfielder continually worked his direct opponent over, finding separation on the lead inside 50 and being afforded shots on goal. He missed a set shot and sent a snap into the post, before eventually converting before the half was up. When running though midfield, Knevitt’s hard tackling and clean hands were key features of his game.

#56 Oscar Morrison

Morrison was handed a tough match-up for most of the day in Calder spearhead Sam Paea, but looked effective when he was able to roll off and take intercept marks. The Falcons defender clunked some nice grabs early, stretching well overhead to cut off Calder’s forward forays and often relieve Geelong on the last line. He was sometimes beaten in the follow-up work after competing aerially, having initially done well to create spills by having body on his opponent or affecting a spoil.

GWV REBELS 5.7 (37) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 4.11 (35)

By: Michael Alvaro

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

Having made a splash upon his return from injury over the last few weeks, Hobbs continued his strong ball winning form on Saturday. The hard-at-it midfielder started forward but soon found his way into the middle, bringing his usual grunt and hardness to the engine room. Hobbs often looked to bustle his way out of congestion and break tackles, which saw him caught on a couple of occasions, but set a positive tone for his side. He also worked hard around the ground to boost his disposal tally, as one of the leading possession-getters afield.

#3 Charlie Molan

The ever-reliable Molan was again integral to the Rebels’ cause, stationed in his newly-customary wing position. He got in all the right positions behind the ball to either intercept or contest and force turnovers, producing plenty of influential play. His radar was a touch off at times, particularly when opting to go long, but Molan sharpened up and knocked around some clever forward passes as the game wore on.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Such a stylish mover on the ball, Herbert came to prominence in the early stages with a terrific goal. The Rebels top-ager showed off his dancing feet and strong core, baulking past two opponents in quick succession before slamming home the six points. He looked strong over the ball at ground level and competed well in that aspect, while also looking far more polished with his disposal by foot. Herbert later missed another chance on goal from range, but hit a couple of nice targets going inside 50 in what was a really solid performance in midfield.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Another who has found some promising form of late, Ballantyne continued that trend in Round 11. While he is known to provide a bit of dash on the outer, the wingman showed he is not afraid to contest the hard ball and get his hands dirty. There was less room than usual to operate in for Ballantyne, but he adjusted well to run through the loose balls and dispose cleanly even with contact imminent.

#15 Nick Hodgson

The Allies Under 19 hopeful returned to the Rebels’ line-up and has seen competition for midfield spots rise, but went about his usual business with some tough work on the inside. Hodgson thrives at the contest and that was hardly different on Saturday, as he dug in at ground level and made his mark with fierce tackles. He really started to warm to the contest in term two, finding a good amount of ball and getting others into the game.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Youseph Dib

Operating through midfield as he has done in recent weeks, Dib leant on some of his strongest traits to have an impact. The Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect proved evasive with his turn of speed, but was also strong at the contest where his mature build held up well. Dib also rotated forward, but missed a fourth quarter set shot via the post. He still produced a couple of big moments; running down Herbert as he broke from a centre bounce, and winning a crucial late clearance to help give Oakleigh once last chance on goal.

#12 Lochlan Jenkins

The top-ager produced work expected of him at this stage, getting busy though midfield with tough work in the clinches. He was particularly busy early on as he and his Chargers looked to set off on the right foot, competing well in-and-under the packs. Jenkins did well to consistently rip the ball free and pump his legs to get a bit of space before sending kicks forward. His tackling was also strong, making for a solid inside midfielder’s game.

#22 Lachlan Rankin

A player capable of being employed on each line, Rankin was mostly sighted in defence during his latest NAB League appearance. The Chargers trusted his skills as he took on kick-in duties, mixing up his outlets to search for both short and long targets. Rankin also opened up general play by foot, with one particularly daring defensive switch in the final term catching the eye. The utility would also sneak forward but could not quite make good on his shots on goal, including a 20m set shot in the last 90 second which may well have won Oakleigh the game.

#27 Karl Worner

Fresh off his impressive Vic Metro trial outing, Worner continued his usual stints out on the wing for Oakleigh and had a say moving forward. He found his fair share of ball but could not quite get the space he was after early on, before finding a few more blades to operate in and pumping his side into attack by foot.

#33 Patrick Voss

Voss brought all the physicality and intent he usually does to this contest, setting the tone early with a crushing holding the ball tackle. His strength was impressive throughout the contest, but sometimes resulted in free kicks against due to overzealous defensive acts. Voss also tended to bomb forward by foot and while he gained good meterage, would sometimes have been better off lowering his eyes. He got a run in midfield late on and proved a pest to opposition ball winners.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 11.5 (71) def. NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55)

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers:

#2 Charlie Byrne

Pushed back out to the wing after a foray on the inside, Byrne went about his usual business by generating positive run on the outer. His skills looked sharp and Byrne was often the player Murray looked for at half-back to spark their transitional play. The top-ager would either use the ball soundly by foot, or move on quickly with a fend-off or burst of speed to kick-start the attack. He played an ideal outside role and would have gained plenty of metres throughout the day.

#4 Josh Rachele

It is fair to say that Rachele was well and truly back to his best on Saturday. The highly talented forward looked switched on from the outset, working over his first direct opponent and forcing a switch having repeatedly gotten loose up the field. He sunk two goals in the first term to get things rolling, before turning it on in the second with three typically genius conversions. Rachele showed his smarts with a nice tap over the back, before running onto the loose ball and snaring his third major, with his fourth a clever checkside out of the forward 50 stoppage. He sent through another on the half time siren and after getting few looks in term three, made it six with a wonderfully hit 50m bomb in the final quarter. Outstanding stuff from the Draft Central Player of the Week, who served a reminder of his top five potential.

#13 Tom Brown

In his first NAB League outing since Round 4, Brown took little time to get going. With a tricky match-up at half-back, the defender was constantly able to mop up at ground level and get a better read of the aerial ball to intercept Northern’s attacks. Brown also backed his pace on the rebound, setting off quickly before delivering neat passes at full tilt. While he was a touch less prominent after half time, this was a more than steady return for the 17-year-old.

#24 Cameron McLeod

McLeod popped up to snare goals in three of the four quarters against Northern, showcasing classy finishing skills on the move for a player of his size. The top-ager got on the board in term one with a nice bit of play on the forward break, and kicked another on the run in term four after working up the ground. McLeod became more prominent in that department as the game wore on, searching outside the attacking arc to help link Murray into attack.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

It was another stellar display from Ward on Saturday, who has put himself firmly in the first round frame with a series of top performances. The Northern Knights standout was his side’s most permanent and prolific midfielder, getting stuck in at the coalface while also continuing to show good speed away from the contest. Ward’s ability to get productive and chain together one-two handball passages proved a positive way forward for the Knights, who sometimes needed that kind of spark on the uptake. He was also made to work into defence to find the ball and start such passages, leaning on a strong work ethic to do so. Ward appeared to clutch at a knee after being brought down in a fourth quarter tackle, but ultimately ran off the knock.

#23 Anthony Caminiti

Caminiti has proven to be one of the finds of the season for Northern, with such status only consolidated after just his second NAB League outing. The mobile tall forward was able to repeat his best skills, which were often marks taken on the lead at full stretch with plenty of separation to his direct opponent. Caminiti also showcased his mobility on the ball, proving confident enough to burn the trailing opponent and manufacture some space to dispose efficiently. He was also thrown into the ruck and while there was no reward in the form of goals, Caminiti certainly deserved at least one for his efforts.

#27 Jason McCormick

With a certain small forward exciting at the opposite end of the ground, McCormick proved his own worth with a well-crafted four-goal outing – his second for the season. The bottom-ager converted well from set shots and was clever in his reading of the play, nudging his opponent under the ball to then either mark or run onto it over the back. He also lurked at the back of packs and finished in quick time after sharking the spills, playing the small forward role perfectly in terms of his attacking 50 craft.

#28 Joel Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald racked up plenty of possessions on the rebound from defence, setting Northern on the front foot with his run and clean kicking game. He cushioned the ball well for leading targets and often looked to carry through the corridor, making for more direct avenues forward. Fitzgerald put together a pretty neat performance and was another to perform repeatable skills, with that short kicking game quite sound in transition.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.6 (18) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 6.20 (56)

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Baynen Lowe

Lowe was his usually busy self throughout the day, but understandably found the going tough at times against some pretty stiff opposition. He often worked back to help out Tasmania’s besieged defence, accumulating across the back half and looking to pump his side forward under pressure. He also popped up at the other end after half time, hitting the post with a set shot and contributing the one-percenters – like a spoil at half-forward to help lock the ball in.

#6 Sam Banks

One of the many highly-touted prospects making their return this week, Banks’ first game back was a steady one in defence. He looked to generate some momentum out of the back half when kicking short, working hard to get the next possession and continue his foray up the field. Banks, who took on kick-in duties, also looked for distance in his use by foot, as Tasmania struggled to exit its own half at times. He seemed to be managed after half time but showed some positive signs early on.

#8 Zach Morris

Morris was solid as a rock in defence, with his strong intercept marking a real feature throughout the day. He often rose against an opponent and managed to pull the ball down, not afraid to do so from behind or with heat coming either way. He had a really tough gig in the backline but stood up well with plenty of work to be done.

#15 Lachlan Cowan

Cowan has shown some really promising signs this season as a bottom-ager, looking quite assured in defence. He was another who fared well aerially and had plenty on his plate, but took to the task with aplomb. Cowan pushed a high line early and intercepted in advanced areas, before being forced to drop much further back after half time and produce the same feats inside defensive 50. He proved a good judge of the ball in flight and often clunked the ball at full stretch, before calmly distributing.

#22 Baker Smith

The Allies Under 19 squad member is the fourth Tasmanian defender to feature here, and rightly so after standing up in a tough spot. He did much of his work under enormous pressure on the last line, but positioned well to prevent many Sandringham scores by intercepting on the goal line. Smith was another whose marking became prominent, but it was also his tackling and one-percent efforts which helped the Devils keep their opponents somewhat at bay.

Sandringham Dragons:

#4 Josh Sinn

After getting back into the swing of things off half-back last week, it did not take long for the Dragons to thrust Sinn back into midfield this time around. The Sandringham co-captain looked terrific in the early stages, sharking the ruck taps at speed and backing his pace to burn forward out of congestion. He trusted his foot skills too, taking on aggressive options going forward. Sinn registered a couple of behinds in the second term; one on the run as he just could not steady enough, and the other a 45m set shot after marking uncontested. He was not as prominent in the second half, perhaps a product of being managed.

#5 Lachlan Benton

After enjoying some added responsibility in different roles over the last couple of weeks, Benton rolled forward from the wing on Saturday. He proved strong in the air for a player of his size, rising with courage to take a couple of solid overhead marks in the first half. Benton dropped back well to find the ball and worked hard to chain his possessions in transition, even if he did not always get the ball back. Another example of his repeat running came in the third term, when Benton hit Blake Howes on the lead, then worked inside 50 to receive a short kick over the top. He missed the resultant set shot, but later got a run at the centre bounces and was a solid contributor overall.

#6 Blake Howes

There is plenty to like about Howes’ game and he once again impressed with not only his athletic traits, but footballing ability. The forward-turned-wingman remained prolific in the air and got to plenty of good spots forward of centre to get involved in scoring passages. He was incredibly unlucky not to hit the scoreboard himself, at least in a major way, registering four behinds with most of his efforts coming from range on the fly.

#7 Campbell Chesser

At risk of sounding like a broken record, Chesser was another player to return this week and took some time to get adjusted to the pace of the game. Usually a prolific carrier of the ball, he backed himself to do so but was afforded less time and space than he might have desired, which impacted his ball use. Still, Chesser found his groove and got in some great positions to receive on the outer – using his speed once released, rather than to manufacture than space himself. The midfielder had a nice patch in the third term with a couple of clearances, rounding out a solid game to build off.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan’s output of late has been simply exceptional, and he was again the best player afield on Saturday among a host of big names. He has truly found a home on the inside, where is poise and agility in traffic has only become more pronounced with each passing week. Callaghan hardly wasted a touch and was effective both by hand and foot, never looking rushed on the ball and proving a level above in terms of his overall polish. His first half was as good as it gets and he carried that on to finish with a game-high 28 disposals.

#45 Marcus Windhager

Fresh off a promising display in the Victorian Under 19 trials, Windhager popped up to produce some eye-catching plays once again. The St Kilda NGA prospect rotated through the midfield and forwardline, with his disposal while on-ball leading to plenty of chances on goal in the first half. He was consistently able to hit targets inside attacking 50, working up to half-forward and using the ball beautifully by foot heading back towards goal. While he did not find the goals himself, Windhager helped the Dragons do so with his sound decision making.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 7.8 (50) def. by EASTERN RANGES 7.10 (52)

By: Declan Reeve

Dandenong Stingrays:

#3 Miller Bergman 

Taking up a role on the wing for most of the game, Bergman was a big part of transitional play from the defensive half, working hard to push in the back 50 and provide an option for a switch kick or to apply pressure of his own, getting a free kick early on when he caught an opponent holding the ball. Was effective with his ball use throughout the game even if he had little time to balance himself when delivering a kick, hitting some pinpoint kicks from just a step. Used his agility to get around opponents quickly, selling candy at crucial moments to keep the ball moving quickly forward.

#6 Connor Macdonald

Continuing to impress as he did prior to the NAB League break, Macdonald was a major ball winner through the Dandenong midfield. Continually clean below his knees, Macdonald took some clean one-hand pick-ups whilst moving at top speed, or under pressure from opponents, bursting away to get a disposal away. Macdonald has become somewhat renowned for that burst, as well as his leap, able to impact plays he has no right to, at times leaping high to get a hand to an attempted handball and tapping to his own advantage, or taking marks over the top of opponents, getting above their reach. Whilst he didn’t have much luck getting goals himself, missing a few ones you’d expect him to nail, his footy IQ and decision making around the forward 50 helped set up a few in the second half, happy to pass the ball off to options behind or in more central spots to open up the inside 50, or handball and follow up with a shepherd to buy his teammates more time with the footy. Was strong around stoppages as well, winning hardballs at ground level at times to win clearances, with one in the third quarter resulting in a goal after one of his teammates ran onto it.

#7 Judson Clark

Coming into the game with the momentum of five goals from the previous weeks Victorian trial games, Clarke wasn’t quite given the time in the forwardline against Eastern, but still looked dangerous forward of centre with his lighting speed and agility catching a few eyes. One of the biggest strengths Clarke showed was his workrate around the ground, both offensively and defensively, working hard around the contests to apply pressure and assisting in the defensive 50 to work the ball out. Would follow up his handballs and kicks to get it back and dispose of it with momentum, with one of these moments in the final term seeing him run about 80 meters, starting on the wing, getting a handball to a teammate on the 50 meter mark, getting it back and snapping a goal to momentarily put Dandenong in front.

#43 Billy Taylor

The 2004-born ruck/forward had some impressive moments throughout the game, where his athleticism and skill at ground level suggested he was a smaller than his 195cm stature would suggest he could. Kicked the first two Dandenong goals in the second quarter, with the second one particularly impressive as he got an opponent for holding the ball inside the forward 50 when he looked like he was out of the contest. When he went through the ruck his leap allowed him to win most of the hitouts, with his follow up work around the ground also impressive, seemingly marking everything that came his way. 

#46 Justin Davies

Being switched between the forwardline and backline throughout the game, whilst Davies struggled to gain consistency in finding the ball, his aerial dominance was a constant, able to hold onto the ball even when copping heavy contact in the contest. His positioning when approaching aerial contests was impressive as well, putting himself in a spot where if he didn’t hold the mark, he’d be able to follow up strongly at ground level.

Eastern Ranges:

#5 Jake Soligo

After an impressive display in the recent Victorian trial matches, Solgio returned to the NAB League with another impressive outing through the Eastern midfield and forwardline. Continuing to impress with the things he does well, getting separation around the ground and looking strong overhead, winning contested ball and clearances well, working hard both ways and hitting his in tight handballs. What was different was the cleanliness of Soligo’s kicking, hitting a lot of targets by foot through the game, even when under pressure. Took a good mark inside 50 where he nudged his opponent under it to hold it out the back, and kicked it straight through.

#21 Corey Preston

Continued his transition into the defensive half as he lined up at half-back for a large majority of the game. Not overly flashy as he can be in the forward half, Preston did the fundamentals really well, positioning strongly behind the ball to intercept when it came in from his side of the ground, and pushing wide to be a switch kick option for his teammates. His follow up ball use was also impressive, with his kicking in particular getting penetration behind it going forward. In the dying stages of the game, as Eastern looked to hold onto their two-point lead, Preston was switched into the rover role, adding some composure on ball.

#35 Max Hall

Looking at his best around stoppages, Hall seemingly won every second clearance he could, able to burst away from opponents to collect it off the ground and bomb the ball forward. Was impressive with his hands in close, finding teammates out of congestion to release them going forward. Was really strong in holding his ground when copping contact, not being knocked off balance when opponents tried to bring him down.

GIPPSLAND POWER 9.3 (57) def. WESTERN JETS 7.9 (51)

By: Eli Duxson

Gippsland Power:

#4 Nathan Noblett

Not typically one to dominate the scoreboard with just two majors before this game, but he proved to be the difference bagging four goals straight to get the accurate Power over the line. It was a mixture of fortune and opportunistic positioning with two of his four goals coming from well timed runs out the back into open goals. His pressure up forward was strong in a day that was tough to exit defensive 50 with a holding the ball free kick for netting him a set shot chance which he drilled. Noblett found most of his 15 disposals in the forward half of the ground often presenting outside 50 and working back. When around the ball, he was able to get in and find it as well as receive on the outside, his second goal came from a kick out of a pack.

#11 Caleb Van Oostveen

The 17-year-old small enjoyed one of his better days out from his four games this season collecting 13 disposals to go with a goal, but more importantly laying a game-high 10 tackles. His goal came from a holding the ball free kick for of which he nailed the set shot for, a reward for effort. Van Oostveen averages eight tackles a game and played a pivotal role in making the already difficult rebound 50’s for the Jets even more so compensating for his 171cm frame with tenacious pressure.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

Another reliably productive game from D’Angelo in conditions made for contested football, and clearly made of him. Was one of Gippsland’s more prominent inside midfielders using his hip strength to keep his balance and offload from packs more efficiently. He had a perfect balance of inside and outside play and disposal type (11 handballs and kicks) due to his ability to spread from stoppages and get involved further down the chain. His vision was solid on multiple occasions with pulled kicks and on a better day weather wise, he would have looked a lot more polished. Despite his presence in the contest, he did not lay a tackle all game.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

Was lively all game and kept the Jets in the contest for much of the day. He almost kicked three goals in a row for Western with his first coming after the quarter time siren to extend their lead, and his second coming early in the second term as he manufactured a snap out of nothing. It seemed he could not be stopped as he was almost everywhere at one point, his third shot at goal being deemed touched halted the Jets momentum. White spent more time in the forward line but pushed up the ground and found the ball 21 times with some midfield minutes, providing great run and contest all game.

#11 Harrison Schumann

Entrusted with the kick out duties on a day you would rather not but did a serviceable job for the few behinds the Power scored and was generally reliable with ball in hand coming out of defence. The 18-year-old recorded five rebound 50’s among his season-high 17 disposals (12 kicks, five handballs), but he also managed to push further afield and deliver inside 50 following his opponent on a day where balls were falling short and swirling. Defensively he was disciplined being strong in the contest aerially and on the deck, with his cleanliness below the knees a feature of his tidy abilities.

#14 Mace Cousins

Looked threatening and classy all in one selling candy and spinning out of trouble onto his often-trusty left boot. His cleanliness also suffered at times due to the blustery conditions but looked one to be dangerous entering forward 50 which he did on five occasions. Playing out of half forward he would not push up too far and chose to remain closer to goal. Like many of his teammates he was unable to hit the scoreboard and was often a little too kick-happy, but it was an almost game for Cousins who was not far off breaking the game open.

#20 Dylan Laurie

The small defender put together another solid game collecting 17 disposals and three rebound 50’s in a similar role to Schumann. Often got on the end of handballs to exit defence and was generally efficient considering the conditions which no one could master consistently. Laurie defended well and applied good pressure at ground level, despite being pushed up into space to meet the ball. Disciplined in position and disciplined with ball in hand.

#35 Liam Conway

A season-high in disposals in what has been an impressive season for the big-bodied midfielder as he made his way to 34 disposals along with five marks and a whopping 11 inside 50s. Around the contest he showed his strength and balance over the ball and ability to extract, while then also spreading and creating space for teammates with his disposal. He played a more defensive role setting up behind the ball well to intercept and drive the ball back in to the forward 50, while also sweeping at stoppages and using his strength and acceleration to find teammates or clear forward. The Jets best on the day as he continues to compile a strong case for a spot at the higher level.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 Draft Central NAB League Boys TOTW: Round 11

THE Draft Central NAB League Round 11 Team of the Week has dropped, with 24 of the weekend’s best performed-players featuring in a competitive lineup. Player of the Week nominees Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers) and Sam Paea (Calder Cannons) co-captain the side on the full forward line after snaring bags of six and five goals respectively.

After the Bushies’ impressive win over Northern Knights, the country region sees three representatives selected – so too the Knights after a competitive showing. Rachele is joined by teammates Cameron McLeod (centre half-forward) and Charlie Byrne, who keeps his spot on a wing for the second week running. First round prospect Josh Ward was the best of Northern’s bunch, having collected 35 disposals from midfield. He was still squeezed out of a ultra competitive midifeld.

Starting in the engine room are Finn Callaghan, Connor Macdonald, and Zac Taylor, all of whom racked up plenty of the ball and were arguably best afield in their respective digs. On the centreline, Callaghan is also accompanied by Sandringham Dragons teammate Blake Howes. Calder’s Josh Goater has proven a midfield mainstay to this point, but finds his spot at half-back this week after a phenomenal showing across there for the Cannons.

A pair of Tasmanian defenders – Zach Morris and Baker Smith – earned their spots on the full back line after holding up against a surging Sandringham unit, while the first of Gippsland’s two selected players also features down back. Tristen Waack is the man in question, while teammate Nathan Noblett sneaks in at the other end after a four-goal effort in the Power’s first win for 2021.

On the bench, Eastern midfielders Max Hall and Jake Soligo can count themselves unlucky not to be starting after their side’s heart-stopping win over Dandenong. The likes of Marcus Herbert, Liam Conway, and Mitch Knevitt also feature on the six-man interchange as their regions’ lone representative.

Check out the full team below:

Draft Central NAB League Team of the Week: Round 11

B: Zach Morris (TD), Baker Smith (TD), Joel Fitzgerald (NK)
HB: Tristen Waack (GP), Henry Berenger (DS), Josh Goater (CC)
C: Charlie Byrne (MB), Finn Callaghan (SD), Blake Howes (SD)
HF: Nathan Noblett (GP), Cameron McLeod (MB), Judson Clarke (DS)
F: Jason McCormick (NK), Sam Paea (CC, vc), Josh Rachele (MB, c)
FOL: Max Heath (SD), Connor Macdonald (DS), Zac Taylor (CC)

INT: Liam Conway (WJ), Max Hall (ER), Marcus Herbert (GWV), Mitch Knevitt (GF), Jake Soligo (ER), Josh Ward (NK)

EMG: Youseph Dib (OC), Ben Hobbs (GWV), Cooper Whyte (GF)

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 11

SQUADS were stacked in Round 11 of the NAB League as plenty of draft eligible stars returned to their regions after last week’s representative trial games. Cold conditions and blustery breezes ensured the class of those players was tested though, with four of the six fixtures decided by a goal or less. There was still a raft of big performances to be marvelled at, and we highlight them in our weekend snapshot. Stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

>> ICYMI | Top 25: Draft Central’s July Power Rankings

CALDER CANNONS 8.5 (53) def. GEELONG FALCONS 7.8 (50)

IN A SENTENCE:

Calder Cannons held off Geelong Falcons in a three-point thriller at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with 12 of the total 15 goals kicked at one end of the ground.

TEAM STATS:

  • Calder Cannons won the disposals (373-309), kicks (198-160), and marks (86-64)
  • Geelong Falcons won the inside 50s (44-41), tackles (69-54), and hit-outs (43-26)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons) 34 disposals, 7 marks, 9 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Josh Goater (Calder Cannons) 33 disposals, 7 marks, 1 inside 50, 5 rebound 50s
  • Sam Paea (Calder Cannons) 13 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals
  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 39 disposals, 7 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 11 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Tom Gillett (Geelong Falcons) 20 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 3 goals, 3 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Paea (Calder Cannons)
4 – Zac Taylor (Calder Cannons)
3 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Flynn Lakey (Calder Cannons)

NEXT UP:

Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons | Saturday July 10, 10:30am @ RAMS Arena
Geelong Falcons vs. Northern Knights | Saturday July 10, 1:00pm @ Preston City Oval

GWV REBELS 5.7 (37) def. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 4.11 (35)

IN A SENTENCE:

GWV Rebels took out a low-scoring slog by two points against the Oakleigh Chargers, who missed a late chance to snatch victory after managing just one goal to three quarter time.

TEAM STATS*:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (238-209) and handballs (112-87)
  • Oakleigh Chargers won the tackles (66-50) and scoring shots (15-12)

KEY PLAYERS*:

  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 24 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels) 18 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels) 17 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers) 16 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s
  • Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers) 11 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 2 goals, 2 behinds
  • Patrick Voss (Oakleigh Chargers) 18 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
4 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
3 – Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers)
2 – Sam Tucker (Oakleigh Chargers)
1 – Marcus Herbert (GWV Rebels)

NEXT UP:

GWV Rebels – Bye.
Oakleigh Chargers vs. Dandenong Stingrays | Sunday July 11, 2:15pm @ Shepley Oval

* – Note: Statistics only recorded to three quarter time.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 11.5 (71) def. NORTHERN KNIGHTS 8.7 (55)

IN A SENTENCE:

Murray Bushrangers stood firm in the face of Northern Knights’ third term challenge, kicking clear in the final quarter to win by 16 points on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • Murray Bushrangers won the kicks (212-168), marks (111-67), and rebound 50s (31-27)
  • Northern Knights won the handballs (133-120), inside 50s (40-38), and tackles (74-66)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers) 17 disposals, 8 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 6 goals
  • Jedd Longmire (Murray Bushrangers) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 11 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers) 24 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Josh Ward (Northern Knights) 35 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Joel Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) 31 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 4 inside 50s, 7 rebound 50s
  • Jason McCormick (Northern Knights) 14 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 4 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Josh Rachele (Murray Bushrangers)
4 – Josh Ward (Northern Knights)
3 – Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Tom Bracher (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Jason McCormick (Northern Knights)

NEXT UP:

Murray Bushrangers vs. Tasmania Devils | Saturday July 10, 1:00pm @ RAMS Arena
Northern Knights vs. Geelong Falcons | Saturday July 10, 1:00pm @ Preston City Oval

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.6 (18) def. by SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 6.20 (56)

IN A SENTENCE:

Sandringham Dragons overwhelmed the Tasmania Devils forward of centre to register 26 scoring shots to eight en route to a 38-point victory, with their wealth of opportunities cancelling out their inaccuracy.

TEAM STATS:

  • Sandringham Dragons won the disposals (376-274), inside 50s (65-28), marks (116-78), and scoring shots (26-8)
  • Tasmania Devils won the tackles (65-48) and rebound 50s (56-26)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Tyler McGinnis (Tasmania Devils) 25 disposals, 10 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebound 50s
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 19 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Baker Smith (Tasmania Devils) 18 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 3 rebound 50s
  • Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons) 28 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50
  • Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons) 24 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 4 behinds

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Finn Callaghan (Sandringham Dragons)
4 – Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons)
3 – Luke Cleary (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Tyler McGinnis (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Lachlan Benton (Sandringham Dragons)

NEXT UP:

Tasmania Devils vs. Murray Bushrangers | Saturday July 10, 1:00pm @ RAMS Arena
Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons | Saturday July 10, 10:30am @ RAMS Arena

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 7.8 (50) def. by EASTERN RANGES 7.10 (52)

IN A SENTENCE:

Eastern Ranges snuck back ahead with five minutes on the clock after relinquishing their three quarter time lead, coming away two-point victors over Dandenong Stingrays under Saturday night lights.

TEAM STATS:

  • Dandenong Stingrays won the handballs (112-110) and rebound 50s (35-29)
  • Eastern Ranges won the kicks (186-163), inside 50s (43-36), and marks (78-59)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays) 37 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 10 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s, 2 behinds
  • Judson Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays) 27 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Justin Davies (Dandenong Stingrays) 11 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
  • Max Hall (Eastern Ranges) 33 disposals, 6 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Corey Preston (Eastern Ranges) 20 disposals, 9 marks, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Judson Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)
3 – Max Hall (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Jake Soligo (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Henry Berenger (Dandenong Stingrays)

NEXT UP:

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Oakleigh Chargers | Sunday July 11, 2:15pm @ Shepley Oval
Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power | Sunday July 11, 1:00pm @ Morwell Recreation Reserve

GIPPSLAND POWER 9.3 (57) def. WESTERN JETS 7.9 (51)

IN A SENTENCE:

Gippsland Power were made to earn their first win of the season, pushed all the way by the Western Jets but finishing six points to the good on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the disposals (302-287), handballs (141-121), and rebound 50s (43-25)
  • Western Jets won the kicks (166-161), inside 50s (51-34), and tackles (62-54)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 22 disposals, 1 mark, 1 inside 50, 2 rebound 50s
  • Tristen Waack (Gippsland Power) 21 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 9 rebound 50s
  • Nathan Noblett (Gippsland Power) 15 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 goals
  • Liam Conway (Western Jets) 34 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 11 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Harrison White (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Billy Cootee (Western Jets) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Liam Conway (Western Jets)
4 – Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power)
3 – Harrison White (Western Jets)
2 – Nathan Noblett (Gippsland Power)
1 – Caleb Van Oostveen (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

Gippsland Power vs. Eastern Ranges | Sunday June 11, 1:00pm @ Morwell Recreation Reserve
Western Jets vs. Bendigo Pioneers | Sunday July 11, 11:00am @ Downer Oval

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

PREVIEW | NAB League rolls on amid representative action

THE NAB League regular season enters double digits this weekend, with Round 10 offering up five fixtures across Saturday and Sunday. While plenty of top end talent will be observed at the Under 19 Victorian trials and Country-Metro Under 17 clash, a solid core of talent remains among the elite talent pathway. Debutants continue to filter through, and more established talent will also get a chance to shine in greater roles.

A much different looking rematch kicks off the round’s action, as Sandringham and Oakleigh do battle at RSEA Park for the second time this season. Both sides are set to field sides with hosts of changes, as up to eight Dragons debutants enter the fold. Among them, Hugo Hall-Kahan has been a standout for Haileybury College, while Charlie Clarke‘s local form for Port Melbourne Colts sees him earn a NAB League berth.

The home side is also set to be bolstered by the return of co-captain Josh Sinn, who has shaken off a hamstring strain. Fellow first round prospect Campbell Chesser is said to be another week away. Sandringham’s midfield will feature the likes of Lachlan Benton and Charlie McKay, under the ruckmanship of St Kilda mid-season recruit Max Heath. Up either end, 20th-year players Felix Flockart and Jesse Castan fill out the spine.

Oakleigh’s midfield will also be full of experience, with top-agers Lochlan Jenkins and Sam Collins poised for a permanent run. Collins, a Tasmanian who debuted for Oakleigh last week, is also familiar to the half-back role and even started up forward in Round 9. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy and Allies squad member Patrick Voss is another to watch for Oakleigh, as he continues his defensive apprenticeship.

Northern Knights take on Calder Cannons at Preston City Oval in a second all-metro clash for the day, with a number of club-aligned players set to feature across either team. Jackson Archer (son of Glenn) will again line up in the Knights’ defence, alongside Carlton Next Generation Academy (NGA) hopeful Regan Uwandu. Blues fans can also look out for father-son eligible pair Tom Gleeson (Adrian) and Dane Whitnall (Lance) for Calder.

Essendon has a few potential academy and father-son prospects to monitor, all on the Cannons’ side. Bottom-ager NGA pair Carlos Egan and Reuben Rode get a crack at Under 19s level, while Josh Misiti returns to the fold after making his debut in Round 1 and featuring thrice. The likes of Sam Clohesy and Jack Rossimel are handy types who were overlooked for trial duties, while bottom-agers Caleb Burquest and Josh Hamilton should enjoy a few tussles in midfield.

Western Jets and Eastern Ranges round out Saturday’s action, locking horns at Downer Oval. Fresh off honours in the cricketing realm, Jets leader Billy Cootee will line up in midfield, potentially across from Ranges skipper Josh Clarke, who plays his second game for the season. Geelong-listed rookie Paul Tsapatolis is back in the ruck for the hosts, while Sahaf Ali is one to watch up forward for the Ranges after a promising debut last week.

Proceedings head down to Tasmania on Sunday as the Devils host Dandenong in Launceston, with the Stingrays hit hard by the weekend’s representative fixtures. Fresh off a 97-point triumph in Round 9, the visitors will be heavily rotated coming into this clash. The Devils’ side featured Allies squad members Baker Smith (centre half-back) and Jye Menzie (half-forward), the latter of which was best afield for his side last time out.

Seeing out the weekend’s play, Bendigo battles with Murray in Echuca, making for a replay of their Round 7 meeting. The Pioneers are set to unleash Max Dow, the third brother to enter through the NAB League pathway. NSW-ACT Under 17 squad members Jason Gillbee and Jedd Longmire will line up on opposite sides, while solid draft eligible players also remain.

Budding Allies representatives Charlie Byrne, Ryan Eyers, Cameron McLeod, and Toby Murray will all feature for the Bushrangers, while Essendon VFL-experienced pair Jack Hickman and Jack Evans should bolster Bendigo on either side of midfield.

Jack Hickman in action for Essendon VFL | Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Country regions Geelong, Gippsland, and Greater Western Victoria all have byes this round.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 9

METRO regions returned to the NAB League in Round 9 as full-time competition resuming, with seven games played on a bumper weekend of action. It meant plenty of Victorian, Tasmanian, and Giants Academy prospects were able to show their wares ahead of the Under 17 and 19 National Championships, with a good amount of budding representatives strutting their stuff in style. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side, in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS | NAB League Round 9 snapshot

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 7.10 (52) def. by NORTHERN KNIGHTS 14.10 (94)

By: Declan Reeve

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Nick Daicos

Once again topping the disposal count for the game, Daicos took some time to work into the contest, looking uncharacteristically rushed with his disposal early as Northern burst out of the blocks. When he found his feet later on in the first quarter he returned to his usual classy self, with his ball use, particularly by foot, damaging offensively as he looked to put it into space for his forwards to run onto. He would also handball to teammates already on the fly, keeping Oakleigh moving quickly forward. He continued on with his top level positioning around the midfield, especially at stoppages, to be a constant danger once he had figured out how to play on his opponent – regularly Northern’s Josh Ward.

#14 Sam Darcy

The rapidly rising Western Bulldogs father-son prospect further solidified his claims to the best key position prospect in the pool, with a strong display where he was put into a few different spots. Starting the day in the defensive 50, Darcy looked clean throughout, showing off some clean pick-ups below his knees early on where he followed up with good use by foot, usually into central spots to keep the ground open for Oakleigh up ahead. In the second quarter he seemingly couldn’t drop anything, holding onto the ball overhead even when there was heavy contact, or in pack situations. It was impressive to see his confidence to take the game on following his marks, happy to play on and get past or around opponents to get extra distance and penetration on his kicks. He played a little more in the ruck in the third term where his height was too much to deal with for Northern, directing the ball well from the taps clear from his opposition ruck. In the forwardline, he presented well even with a heavy lockdown focus from the opposition, getting himself a goal in the fourth term.

#33 Patrick Voss

Having less time away than most on ground due to his games for the Giants Academy, Voss looked one of the most up to the task on field, switching from his usual forward role into the defensive half, which paid off wonderfully. He was a threat aerially and generally used the ball well coming out of defence, but what was most impressive was his physicality and confidence with his tackling and carry of the ball. He performed two really good fend-offs in the second quarter, where he had the ball and put his opponents to ground, with the second one being followed by a good run forward and a torpedo kick to a pack. He moved into the midfield later on where that physicality was again on show as he ran through opponents when hunting for the ball.

Northern Knights:

#3 Josh Ward

Arguably the best on ground across both sides, Ward was a step above with his ball winning and clean disposal throughout the game, despite the wet conditions. While it took others a while to work into it, he was ready from the get go. Ward set the tone early, winning the first clearance and kicking well long for a teammate to mark and convert the first goal of the game, and it only continued on from there. Able to get the ball out quickly to teammates, he became a dangerous option for Northern around the ground, made even more obvious by their efforts to get it in his hands. A point of interest from Ward’s game was the fact he often put himself on Oakleigh’s Nick Daicos around stoppages, able to negate his usual impact well in the early stages of the game whilst not letting his own numbers slip.

#7 Ewan Macpherson

The ever reliable inside bull flourished in the conditions early on and then maintained his impact in the latter stages of the game when it became more and more contested. His follow up efforts around the contest and the ground were impressive, applying pressure and laying tackles to everyone that got within arm’s reach, while also able to pick the ball up even when under heavy pressure and fire out hands to outside runners.

#9 Darcy Wilmot

Wilmot was consistently seen streaming out of defence with ball in hand, trying to be creative with his disposal in order to make Northern more dangerous on the rebound. Whilst he occasionally struggled to execute his skills when running at full speed, overall he hit it his targets more often than not. His workrate was exceptional; proving just as willing to work hard offensively by pushing up and getting handball receives, as he was to run back and impact contests or lay tackles. He came into his own in the second half in particular, as Northern started to run over the top of Oakleigh, as he provided a dangerous option behind the ball.

#19 Joel Trudgeon

Felt like he brought his own footy at stages in the game given how much he had it. Was just a constant sight on the inside of contests, battling hard to keep Northern in possession then disposing of it to teammates who were in space. As usual he worked hard defensively as well, seemingly landing every tackle and impressing with his follow up on the ball when it spilled, able to beat all comers to it and hand it out. Whilst he didn’t have many ‘flashy’ moments through the game, Trudgeon was just consistent and showed good football instinct with his positioning, timing and use by hand.

#27 Jason McCormick

The bottom-aged small forward had a game to be proud of, registering a game-high four goals. His read of the ball off hands led to him crumbing well off of packs, able to see if the ball was going to go over the top or in front of the contest and hit the area at speed to pick the ball up, usually with one grab, consistently. Despite being smaller in height than most on field, he wasn’t afraid to compete for the ball in air, leaping for a few high balls and reaching impressive heights, whilst showing strong leading patterns and impressive speed to get separation from opponents. 

GWV REBELS 11.8 (74) def. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 6.5 (41)

By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#2 Ben Hobbs

An outstanding game from the inside midfielder who racked up a massive amount of the ball and never took a backwards step. In conditions that suited him to a t, Hobbs was a work horse on the inside and just crashed and bashed his way around the ground. Despite injury ruling him out of the first part of the year, Hobbs showed no signs of being held back by it, using the ball by hand regularly and racking up the possessions with ease from the opening bounce. Always under pressure, Hobbs has to rush his kicks, but it was his hands in close which stood out, as well as his fierce tackling. Hobbs won a free kick for being taken high in the second term and earned a 50m penalty where he slotted it from the goalsquare. He had another flying shot on goal running hard from the initial centre square stoppage to receive the ball and launch on goal, only to just miss to the left. Hobbs kicked his second goal from a forward stoppage in the final term, with a clever snap around his body sailing home. His natural footy IQ combined with his desire to never lose a contest made him a difficult player to contain.

#3 Charlie Molan

Started the game with a clever intercept in the middle, reading the handball from an opposition to steal it back and give it off. Composed with ball in hand, Molan spreads well to the outside and often looked to draw the opponent in before firing off the handball to a teammate. Late in the second quarter, Molan pushed back deep into defence and produced a long, accurate kick to the wing, and then early in the third term was back mopping up in defence again. He tried to spin out of trouble in the middle at one stage in the third but was pinged for holding the ball, though he is able to use both feet which helps him get out of trouble when being corralled.

#6 Marcus Herbert

Herbert donned the long sleeves and found plenty of it in the wet, showing clean hands at ground level and being able to shovel out passes to teammates on the outside. He had some more time in the first half where he was able to spread and win a few uncontested marks, and whilst his kicking under pressure was a bit rushed, he used it well with time on his side. Herbert had a nice passage of play in the third term where he dribbled a kick out of the defensive stoppage and then ran hard to win the next possession via hand, before distributing to a teammate. His clean flick out of a stoppage to an open runner early in the fourth, and his hard ball get to aide in Hobbs’ goal meant he had an influence on the game.

#13 Sam Breuer

Set the tone with Hobbs early, going in for a fierce tackle and then getting the ball away to a teammate, and went on to have an impressive game. Winning a match-high 35 disposals, Breuer covered the ground well and kicked a remarkable thumping goal from the wing. By the wing, that’s centre wing, where an open goalsquare saw it bounce home and in early in the first term. Throughout the match Breuer worked hard for his touches, showing good hands in the wet, spreading well and applying immense defensive pressure. He had a poor turnover in the second term trying to cross from the middle to half-forward, but otherwise was able to impact going forward.

#14 Jamieson Ballantyne

Rotating through the midfield, Ballantyne had a few nice moments throughout the match, which included a release handball to Breuer for that long goal, and then showing some nice toe of his own to burst away from an opponent at half-forward. The right footer showed he can kick off his left as well, and predominantly looked to open up the play by hand or with a short kick, finishing off with a good goal from an uncontested mark 20m out in the final term. He then produced a well-weighted kick to Josh Gibcus up forward, but the usual defender missed to the left.

Murray Bushrangers:

#8 Zavier Maher

Maher provided some experience and stoppage nous around the contest, able to win the ball in close and use his elite sidestep to get himself out of trouble. A few times he was a little fumbly, such as dropping a mark on the wing then unable to gather quickly, though he redeemed himself with some great second efforts. He read the taps at the stoppages well, and took a strong contested juggling mark late in the game at half-back. Maher had a flying snap on goal in the second term, but it did not swing enough and missed to the left.

#9 Kade Chalcraft

Started strongly with a gather from the stoppage, and got back in defence to help out not long after to clear the ball to half-back and move it on quickly. Playing on-ball, Chalcraft used his stronger frame to frame in and protect the ball when required, lay a big tackle or shovel it out to the outside. Chalcraft had a flying shot from 50m out under pressure just drifted it to the left early in the second term. At one stage in the second quarter, he was tackled by multiple opponents then still shovelled it out showing great strength.

#52 Tom Bracher

Playing on the last line, Bracher provided some good run and carry out of defence to be one of the best Murray players on the day. He read the ball in flight consistently and then was able to run off and receive the handball when he was not marking it. He timed his marking attempts well, and when he had to spoil, using the ball well by foot coming out of defence. He had a big opening term and took a couple of intercept marks in the opening half, tasked with the kickout duties for the Bushrangers on the day. He took some risky passes at times but was able to open the game up through the middle or via a switch, nailing the short harp attempts to his teammates in the back half more often than not.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 12.11 (83) def. EASTERN RANGES 5.5 (35)

By: Ed Pascoe

Sandringham Dragons:

#6 Blake Howes

In perhaps Howes’ best game this year, he made the wing position his own after playing the bulk of his time as a high half-forward earlier in the year. Howes, standing at 190cm, moves incredibly well for a player of his stature, with his agility over the ground and clean hands – not just overhead but also at ground level – a real feature in his game against Eastern Ranges. One of the best showcases of his talent came in the second quarter, taking a nice mark at half-back before quickly playing on, showing his great speed and willingness to take the game on. He would get better as the game went on as well, showing great skill at the back of stoppages and with a 50m penalty, he converted a goal which was reward for his efforts up to that point. Howes finished the game with 18 disposals in what is two very strong back to back games for Sandringham Dragons.

#17 Finn Callaghan

Callaghan has likely left the wing position behind him playing for Sandringham, as he has not only excelled in his move to the stoppages, but is starting to look like one of the prime midfielders in this year’s draft crop. His game against Eastern was his most complete game to date. It felt like Callaghan was everywhere, not just having an influence at stoppages in winning multiple clearances, but also getting the ball in open play using his trademark agility to escape congestion, leaving opponents in his wake. It’s hard to showcase as a wingman, but as he is now playing on the inside more he has started to show good attack on the loose ball, showing great balance to his outside class which was already well noted. That harder edge is what will push him towards the very top end of the draft and with a game high 31 disposals to go with four tackles and seven inside 50s, Callaghan’s stocks continue to improve.

#32 Dante Visentini

In his best outing to date, the Under 16 Vic Metro representative showed why he won those accolades back in 2019 with a strong display playing forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck. Visentini was a real threat in the air, taking some strong marks highlighted with one contested grab inside 50 in the third quarter. He would miss the resultant set shot there, but his marking on the wing was also impressive, showing he could get on his bike and present as a leading option all over the ground. Visentini finished the game with 13 disposals, seven marks, 13 hit outs and a goal in a timely reminder to recruiters of his talent ahead of the National Championships.

#52 Luke Nankervis

The smooth moving forward hasn’t been the type of forward to kick bags of goals, but he is certainly one of the more creative ones in this year’s crop with his clean hands and agility with ball in hand real features of his game. That was again evident against Eastern Ranges, where Nankervis showed a great ability to take the ball cleanly below his knees and get his arms up to release by hand. Although he hasn’t been able to use those hands in marking contests, he does have that in his arsenal. Defensively, Nankervis was also very sound with six tackles for the game, with one in the first quarter rewarded for holding the ball. If Nankervis can start to really weave around opponents more often with his agility and start to be a threat in the air, he will cause major headaches for any defender. Nankervis finished the game with 18 disposals and five inside 50s.

#61 Max Heath

The newest acquisition to the St Kilda Football Club, Heath was an imposing force around the ground with his trademark bash and crash style on show – not just in the ruck, but also up forward where he would lay multiple bone crunching tackles. Heath relishes on the tackling side of football, which showed with his five tackles and every one of them certainly left his opponent worse for ware. Heath’s ruck work was also good, forming a great partnership with his on-ballers – especially Finn Callaghan who was fed some quality taps from Heath. The AFL-listed bigman finished the game with seven disposals, five tackles and 21 hit-outs in a typical Heath display.

Eastern Ranges:

#1 Tyler Sonsie

It wasn’t Sonsie’s day, with the classy first round prospect struggling to really get going in the midfield and despite looking good when he got the ball at stoppages, those moments were few and far between by his lofty standards. Usually a dangerous forward threat, Sonsie had numerous opportunities to kick some majors but just couldn’t get the finish, missing some snaps at goal he would usually nail. Things wouldn’t get any better for Sonsie late on, going down with a suspected lower leg injury while being tackled early in the last quarter. Sonsie finished the game with 15 disposals and four tackles and we can only hope the leg injury isn’t too serious.

#5 Jake Soligo

In what was Soligo’s most prolific game to date, the hard nosed Eastern Ranges midfielder proved why he was considered one of Victoria’s most promising midfielders after his strong performances in the 2019 Under 16 National Championships. Soligo was a workhorse through the midfield, winning plenty of the ball at the coalface while also getting back into defence to help his defenders. That defensive nous was on show in the second quarter with a strong intercept mark sitting in the hole, as well as a crunching tackle on fellow hardnut Charlie McKay. Soligo looked elusive and composed whenever he got possession and although it has taken a few games for Soligo to find his feet, he looks to have hit his straps at the right time with Vic Metro soon to take on Allies in the Under 19 National Championships, Soligo finished with a team-high 29 disposals to go with eight marks and 10 tackles.

#8 Nick Watson

A player not eligible for the draft until 2023, the nippy and creative forward only stands at 168cm but his impact and smarts make him an incredible prospect to look out for, and he couldn’t have impressed more in his NAB League debut. Watson was active early, having no issue finding the ball and offering plenty of pressure inside 50. His first goal came on the half time siren where he would kick an impressive major from long range. His second was even better in the last quarter, kicking an incredible snap hard on the boundary from a set shot, showing his obvious class and skill. He was rewarded for his first half with some midfield time in the second half and he again showed plenty of dash and skill through the middle. Watson finished with 13 disposals, five tackles and kicked 2.1 and looks a player to watch for Vic Metro in the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#31 Tyreece Leiu

After starting the year in the midfield and up forward, Leiu has had a stunning turn of form playing down back in recent times for Eastern Ranges. His intercept marking was a key feature of his game, taking strong marks in the contest and reading the play really well. The Eastern Ranges defence was adept at taking intercept marks, non more-so than Leiu, but it was also his intercepts in general where he would body line a loose contest and either take the ball himself or cause a 50/50, using his stronger frame to his advantage. Leiu finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and nine rebound 50s in a performance which could have solidified his spot in Vic Metro’s backline in the upcoming Under 19 National Championships.

#49 Sahaf Ali

Another exciting debutant for the Eastern Ranges, Ali showed plenty of eye catching traits up forward with his leap and marking ability on show multiple times. The East Ringwood prospect had impressed in his senior EFL debut and has taken that form into the NAB League, where he looks to be a mainstay for the rest of the year. The athletic forward wouldn’t kick a goal until the last quarter, which came from a free kick, but he was certainly one of the more dangerous marking options and he even got a run in the midfield later in the game, showing some versatility. Ali finished the game with 11 disposals, seven marks, four tackles and kicked 1.1.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 8.16 (64) def. TASMANIA DEVILS 8.10 (58)

By: Eli Duxson

Giants Academy:

#1 Harrison Grintell

Grintell was crafty, hovering around the half-forward flank all game while also showing a strong intent to hit the contest hard and do his bit defensively. It was his attacking play that stood out on the day though, as he notched seven inside 50’s with impressive sprinting efforts with and without the ball. His ability in space matched his silkiness in tight as his agility allowed him to get out of packs and deliver to a teammate on several occasions. This play led to a goal after a pair of disposals on centre wing saw him deliver to hit a teammate inside forward 50. His field kicking was sound, but he could not quite convert the way he would have liked, kicking 1.2. Grintell also finished with 18 disposals.

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Probably GWS’ best on the day, showing a willingness to hit legs and cover ground to make his way to stoppages and contests all over the ground, but staying mostly between the arcs as a link player. His work rate to contests was on par with his aggression once he got there, often trying to get first hands on it at stoppages with his bustling style. He did also play a role for his side being the sweeper many times to which he received some balls to slingshot forward or move laterally. Hamblin put in some big efforts in the tense final quarter which was eventually rewarded with an off-the-ball free kick, which saw him slot through a set shot from 30 metres out to give the Giants a two-goal buffer. He managed 29 disposals, seven marks, and five inside 50s.

#24 Sam Frost

The GWS captain led all comers with 30 disposals and a whopping 10 rebound 50s. That probably typifies his game as well as possible, as the defender looked solid in one-on-ones, while also looking to attack once the ball hit the deck managing six inside 50s. He played a bit like Brandon Starcevich showing good confidence aerially to mark, while also being a steady user by foot. There were several blunders on his behalf however, including a lazy kick, two free kicks, and a 50-metre penalty which could have resulted in Tasmania goals but luckily did not. Beyond those though, he led valiantly for the Giants.

#31 Josh Green

It seemed no position was impossible for Green as he tried his hand everywhere bar the defence on Sunday. Starting as a lead up forward, he kicked GWS’ first goal of the game with a tidy finish across his body, looking dangerous for in one-on-one situations. His mobility once the ball hit the ground posed more problems for Tasmania as he could bust through packs due to his size. He moved into the middle in the second half and made good decisions with his hands in tight, while also showing a willingness to work back and help defensively at stoppages. Green rucked in the forwardline when he was there, but also rotated as the main ruck at times, especially in the final quarter as he became another midfielder after the ruck contest. He finished with 20 disposals and four marks to go with his goal.

Tasmania Devils:

#12 Jye Menzie

Tasmania’s best on the day playing predominantly half-forward, he managed three goals from 15 disposals, with his goals all coming in the first half. His first two were bursts into space to snap through well, with his third being a set shot after the half-time siren to put Tasmania back in front. He scrapped and hustled in contests and showed a cleanliness in tight not many others on the ground possessed. His defensive abilities were adequate for his role, but his forward movement showed he has a good sense for the forward craft.

#22 Baker Smith

The key defender was generally very good with his positioning and body in aerial contests, being rarely beaten. Repeat entries challenged him, like it would most defenders, but his ability to read the flight of the ball was impressive knowing when to spoil and when to mark. Even more impressive was his temperament. He did not look flustered within his defensive role despite the +22 inside 50s for the Giants, but he also did not give any free kicks away which can be easy to do playing on key forwards.

CALDER CANNONS 10.12 (72) def. WESTERN JETS 8.9 (57)

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#4 Sam Clohesy

Shifting between the wing and forwardline, Clohesy warmed to the contest and showcased some of his best traits as it wore on. While Calder often opted to play a controlled kick-mark style, Clohesy looked to break the play open with his penetrative disposal by foot, seeing him gain good meterage along the line. His strong overhead marking also came to the fore, with Clohesy clunking some nice grabs in important areas to either intercept, or help keep Calder in possession. Overall a solid outing, with the top-ager ending on 23 disposals and 12 marks.

#5 Zac Taylor

Arguably the best player afield, Taylor was a consistent ball winner for Calder and a productive member of the midfield-forward rotation. A crafty type on the ball, he always took his time in possession and looked to create with his kicks. While some of those kicks were delivered a touch short in the early stages, Taylor continued to back his skills and went on to hit leading targets inside 50. He finished with a game-high 32 disposals and nine inside 50s, while also contributing defensively with a couple of notable chase-down tackles.

#25 Josh Goater

The big body in Calder’s midfield, Goater played the distributor role perfectly at stoppages with his clean hands and strength in tight spots. He often got first hands to the ball and proved difficult to tackle, allowing for fluent ball movement to the outer where runners awaited. Goater is a terrific athlete and showed as much aerially with a spekky during the second term, but could perhaps better showcase his explosiveness at stoppages by pumping his legs instead of always dishing to the first option. Finishing with 28 touches, Goater was typically efficient with his ball use.

#30 Sam Paea

That standout key forward afield, Paea produced arguably his best outing to date. The high-marking Cannon proved near-unstoppable when allowed a full run at the ball, rising to clunk some outstanding overhead marks with his combination of reach and vertical leap. His athleticism also allowed for handy separation on the lead, as Paea worked hard up the ground to provide a link into attack for Calder. He seems a real confidence player, so is still a touch inconsistent with his goalkicking but still managed to convert four set shot goals with fluency. Eight marks and four majors from 13 disposals makes for good reading.

#41 Liam Podhajski

Making his NAB League return after gaining senior experience in the VFL, Podhajski took some of the learnings he inevitably made back into the elite junior competition. The developing ruckman showcased his vertical ability with sizeable leaps at each centre bounce, before following up nicely at ground level. He did not have as profound an impact around the ground in terms of marking, but still had his moments and dropped behind the ball nicely when Western was attacking. His directional work was also handy in the ruck, including some deft taps over his shoulder.

Western Jets:

#2 Harrison White

White ended as Western’s leading ball winner on the day with 23 disposals, which included seven inside 50s and three rebound 50s. He was a positive member of the midfield mix, constantly looking to generate some forward spark with his run and foot skills coming away from the contest. The top-ager backed his speed in those instances but was also quite no-fuss around the ball with quick and clean touches at the contest. He missed a chance to hit the scoreboard via a set shot during term three, but had a solid day overall.

#32 Paul Curtis

Curtis was again Western’s most productive forward, leaning on his smarts and goal sense to snare three goals from five scoring shots. Mostly stationed deep inside 50, he presented well for a player of his size to mark on the lead, while also holding his own in one-on-one situations. He snared two majors via those methods with set shots, with his third an opportunistic volley from the goalsquare. Curtis also tackled well, laying five overall, including a strong effort in the pocket to earn another shot on goal.

#33 Billy Cootee

Western’s skipper lead from the front on Sunday, working hard in midfield and showing positive attacking intent with ball in hand. He would often mark uncontested and look to wheel around quickly to release long by foot, allowing Western’s forwards to get to work on swift inside 50 entries. He also impacted at the contest, with his clearance work at the centre bounces helping the Jets stay in touch during the third term. His urgency remained heading into the closing stages with more of that typical meterage, and Cootee also made his mark with a well-hit snap goal late in the opening quarter.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 6.10 (46) def. by DANDENONG STINGRAYS 22.11 (143)

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#15 Jack Stewart

One of the more lively Pioneers on the day, Stewart showed off some neat evasion skills and clean hands in close. More often than not, the midfielder was able to identify the target he needed to hit, and threaded the needle through traffic. His kicking at times was rushed when in play, often trying to open up angles and go long, but when resting forward, Stewart kicked a couple of goals, one from a good mark on the lead and set shot in the second term, and another running into an open goal in the final few minutes of the match.

#29 Cooper Smith

Provided great run out of defence and down the ground, often acting as the interceptor in the back half of the ground. He was often under pressure and forced to rush his kicks, but he kept accumulating the ball and just looking to take grass at every opportunity. One of the Pioneers more prominent ball-winners, he was under siege more often than not, but kept working hard throughout the game.

#56 Harley Reid

A real eye-catcher on the day, Reid was strong in the contest and able to stand up in tackles to get free by brute force, At one stage late in the first term he produced a low bullet to a teammate going inside 50 after leading out to take a great grab. He did not win a heap of the ball, but seemed to look dangerous every time he went near it, clunking a good mark in the final term and converting the set shot.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Josiah Kyle

Possessing high level footy smarts, incredibly clean hands and a great goal sense, Kyle feasted on the Stingrays’ dominance going forward to slot 3.1 from limited touches roaming deep inside 50. He was a worry for the opposition, and still provided that defensive pressure required of him, providing a contest in the air or at ground level. His first goal came with a great run and mark heading with the flight towards goal. He missed his second set shot from straight in front in the second term, then snuck out the back of a contest, to use one mitt to win the ball at speed and kick with the outside of the boot for a goal. More impressively, his second term run-down tackle forced a turnover and goal for the Stingrays. He nailed his third goal in the third term from a mark and set shot.

#3 Miller Bergman

Bergman covered the ground well and was involved from early on, putting pressure on the opposition.He pushed to the outside and an early touch 12 minutes into the game lead to a Stingrays’ goal. He slotted a nice goal on the run himself in the second term from a one-two in one of the plays of the day. Bergman provided some good run throughout the game, worked hard and generally made the right decisions with ball-in-hand, setting up a goal to Judson Clarke in the final term. Bergman then capped off his day with a tidy snap from the pocket as casual as you like to slot home his second.

#14 Will Bravo

Played the role you would come to expect of the talent who was close to earning a spot on an AFL list. He looked too strong for his opponents and showed off his athletic traits in close, often winning the ball and getting and going forward, accumulating the ball at will. Bravo was clean at ground level and able to move through the stoppages well, finding the space to exit. He gave away a number of free kicks going hard at the contest, but his spread and work rate was really impressive, and you can never doubt his intent at the coal face where he really did his best work.

#17 Bryce Milford

Started his day in defence to smack a wayward set shot into the behind post, but funnily enough found himself slotting four majors up the other end. The left footer found plenty of space on the outside, though he was fumbly at ground level, needing to take the ball a little cleaner at times. When in possession and playing his game, Milford was dangerous, missing a chance early in the third term, then went to work slotting four goals in the final 39 minutes of the match. His first was from a mark and lead nine minutes into the third quarter, then he took a good contested grab at half-forward, played on and slotted it from 50m, before kicking back-to-back goals in the fourth, the first from an uncontested mark and the second from getting behind his opponent to get boot to ball on the run.

#23 Jai Neal

A strong presence in the air, Neal’s marking was noticeable throughout the game, positioning himself well in the back 50 from the opening few minutes and taking back-to-back intercept marks in the hole. Neal had a really big first term with plenty of involvements both in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to impact the contest. As the game went well and truly on the Stingrays’ terms, Neal had less work to do, but still positioning himself well.

#40 Colby Nayna

Had a really eye-catching game up forward pushing further afield at times to slot three goals from 13 touches and always look dangerous. His first involvement was an incredibly high leap to grab midway through the first term, with his set shot sailing through the middle. He slotted his second just five minutes later from another mark on the lead, showing his burst to create separation from opponents. He is quick off the first few steps and then set up a goal to Sam Frangalas with a well-weighted kick. His used the ball well by hand or foot and kicked his third in the third quarter on the run cleverly reading the drop of the ball off hands inside 50.

#42 James Cahill

Cahill worked hard around the ground to provide plenty of drive going forward. Not only did he pump the ball inside 50 time and time again, but applied defensive pressure – through tackling or implied pressure – to opponents. Midway through the first term, he got free inside 50, gathered the ball well under pressure and snapped around his body for his first goal. He then played a part in the next forward thrust with a mark, then a rushed handball that proved effective and lead to a goal off the next disposal. He had a chance for goal early in the second term running in but drifted to the left. at times Cahill was a little fumbly under pressure, but he still had an overall solid game, kicking his second goal from a mark and set shot in the third term.

#48 Declan Cole

The leading ball winner on the ground, Cole just accumulated the pill with ease in the big win. He cracked in hard alongside Bravo and Henry Berenger and won a lot of his touches in close be it himself or as the first handball receiver spreading from the contest. Late in the first term he had a set shot but missed to the right in his only score for the day, but his best work was done up the field. He was strong overhead and looked to open up the play when possible and get it to dangerous areas. He made a mistake in the second term missing a crucial handball in defensive 50 which lead to a shot on goal, but generally attacked the ball carrier well and worked hard up and down the ground.

GIPPSLAND POWER 6.9 (45) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.13 (67)

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power:

#6 Mitchell Moschetti

Moschetti offered real class on the ball with his movement coming away from traffic, as he sped into space before looking to deliver by foot. The draft eligible midfielder did well to shift to the outside and managed to get Gippsland going with a couple of running bounce passages, even if the end product was not always effective. He added a stylish centre bounce break to his game in the final quarter, and finished with 20 disposals.

#9 Will Papley

Rotating forward from the midfield, Papley proved a slippery customer with ball in hand. He was hard on the inside with his speed and tackling pressure, but also presented nicely for a small forward when stationed inside 50. He often led to the ball at half-forward, before wheeling around and pumping a long kick to the hot spot. The top-ager finished strongly with more time in midfield, getting busy at the contest and continuing to provide important defensive acts. Papley was lively overall, finishing with 21 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

D’Angelo was quite crafty and clean with his work on the inside, winning the contested ball and getting it out to receivers on the outer by hand. In more open play, the Gippsland leader looked quite polished in possession with his short kicking, able to find the ball in dangerous areas and deliver forward by foot. He contributed to a couple of scores with that kind of work; the first was an intercept mark from a kick-in which he handed off, and the second was a clever knock on which allowed Chance Doultree to waltz inside 50 and convert a major score.

Geelong Falcons:

#12 Noah Gribble

Gribble continues to be one of the more consistent accumulators in the NAB League, racking up another game-high tally of 32 disposals on the back of sheer work rate and smarts. Having transitioned to the inside, he was able to contribute neat touches around the contest with clean and quick hands, having no trouble finding the ball. As the play broke either way, the top-ager worked hard to impact in either arc and provide an outlet coming out of defence. He seemed a lot more assured in possession, not rushing his disposals as much and not trying to do too much with each touch.

#32 Noah Gadsby

One of the more handy inclusions to this Geelong side of late, Gadsby was able to showcase some of his high-level athletic traits on Sunday. The top-ager was stationed forward for most of the day but worked hard up the ground and was also given a late run in the midfield, attending centre bounces during term four. His athleticism was mostly observed in overhead marking contests, where Gadsby rose well to contest with courage. He also leant on his running capacity to work over his opponent en route to collecting 28 disposals, while also becoming a threat inside 50 with four scoring shots. Only one of them was a goal, converted craftily from a quick snap in the pocket.

#56 Oscar Morrison

The intercept marking defender continues to make strong strides in 2021, putting in a strong shift across the backline and cutting off a number of Gippsland attacks. Morrison was superb aerially, reading the play and flight of the ball beautifully to rise third-up and cleanly take some quality grabs in the back half. He was hardly beaten in the air, but also distributed the ball with good poise and skill to keep the Falcons out of trouble, proving a no-fuss kind of operator.

#60 Toby Conway

Conway returned another strong showing in the ruck, proving too big and strong with his 204cm frame. He showed good confidence to grab out of the ruck and dispose of the ball, while also continuing to show handy ruck craft with his directional taps. He protected his space well and was quite strong on the ball, looking a touch more comfortable in possession than in other weeks. Conway also positioned nicely down the line and behind the ball, with his impact around the ground an area of growth.

2021 Allies Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 Allies Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with the 39-man squad featuring players originating from four different states and territories. Made up of prospects from the Northern Territory, NSW-ACT, Queensland, and Tasmania, the Allies are set to field a largely competitive team at the upcoming National Championships, boasting a strong core of top-agers. In a quirk not many other squads will have, there were no bottom-agers selected.

Among the talents from each state are Northern Academy products, with the GIANTS, Swans, Lions and SUNS academies represented, along with the Northern Territory Thunder and Tasmanian NAB League side. With stints in the Victorian pathways competition, all five academies have been able to enjoy an extended run of competitive action, with the top echelon of players also filtering into the state leagues.

NSW-ACT and Queensland are set to be the most represented states, with the former producing 15 squad members – including three from the Murray Bushrangers – while the latter lays claim to 13. There were six Tasmanians included, while four hail from the Northern Territory.

There are a few prospects playing outside of their native zonings, with the likes of Patrick Voss and Sam Collins (both Oakleigh Chargers), Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons), Oliver Davis (Adelaide SANFL), and Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder), and Ned Stevens (SUNS Academy) all competing in seperate states. That is not to mention the four Murray Bushrangers representatives; Charlie Byrne, Cameron McLeod, Toby Murray, and Ryan Eyers.

Standouts in the squad include GIANTS Academy gun Josh Fahey, a dashing defender who earned the President’s Medal as best afield in April’s AFL Academy showcase against Geelong VFL. Versatile tall, Stevens is also part of the national academy, as is fellow SUNS Academy member Austin Harris and Tasmanian Sam Banks, who is recovering from a wrist injury.

The Allies are set to begin their carnival on July 8 against Vic Country, playing host to the Victorians at Metricon stadium. They then travel to face South Australia at Adelaide Oval on July 24, before taking on Western Australia in Blacktown on July 31, and ending at GMHBA Stadium on August 14 by taking on Vic Country.

Below is a preview of how the Allies team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad list.

B: Charlie Byrne (MB) – Ryan Eyers (MB) – Josh Fahey (GWS)
HB: Bodhi Uwland (GCS) – Jack Briskey (BL) – Sam Banks (TAS)
C: Jack Peris (NT) – Josh Green (GWS) – Saxon Crozier (BL)
HF: Patrick Voss (GWS) – Ned Stevens (NT) – Jye Menzie (TAS)
F: Max Pescud (GCS) – Will Bella (GCS) – Austin Harris (GCS)
FOL: Jack Driscoll (GWS) – Brodie Lake (NT) – Oliver Davis (TAS)

INT: Tahj Abberley (BL), Sam Collins (TAS), Cameron McLeod (MB), Toby Murray (MB), Bailey Reeves (GCS), Toby Triffett (BL)

EMG: Toby Alker (SYD), Angus Anderson (SYD), Charlie Bowes (BL), Sam Frost (GWS), Darcy Gardner (TAS), Harrison Grintell (GWS), Thomas Hofert (GCS), Jack Johnston (GCS), Brinn Little (GCS), Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT), Kye Pfrengle (SYD), Liam Puncher (SYD), Felix Rogers (SYD), Pierce Roseby (SYD), Baker Smith (TAS)

FULL SQUAD:

Tahj Abberley (Lions Academy)
Jack Briskey (Lions Academy)
Charlie Bowes (Lions Academy)
Saxon Crozier (Lions Academy)
Toby Triffett (Lions Academy)
Jack Johnston (Suns Academy)
Brinn Little (Suns Academy)
Austin Harris (Suns Academy)
Bodhi Uwland (Suns Academy)
Max Pescud (Suns Academy)
Bailey Reeves (Suns Academy)
Will Bella (Suns Academy)
Thomas Hofert (Suns Academy)
Josh Fahey (Giants Academy)
Sam Frost (Giants Academy)
Harrison Grintell (Giants Academy)
Josh Green (Giants Academy)
Paddy Voss (Oakleigh Chargers/Giants Academy)
Jack Driscoll (Giants Academy)
Toby Alker (Swans Academy)
Kye Pfrengle (Swans Academy)
Liam Puncher (Swans Academy)
Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
Angus Anderson (Swans Academy)
Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy)
Sam Banks (Tasmania)
Sam Collins (Oakleigh Chargers/Tasmania)
Baker Smith (Tasmania)
Oliver Davis (Adelaide/Tasmania)
Jye Menzie (Tasmania)
Darcy Gardner (Tasmania)
Andy Moniz-Wakefield (Northern Territory)
Brodie Lake (Peel Thunder/Northern Territory)
Jack Peris (Sandringham Dragons/Northern Territory)
Ned Stevens (Suns Academy/Northern Territory)
Cameron McLeod (Murray Bushrangers)
Ryan Eyers (Murray Bushrangers)
Toby Murray (Murray Bushrangers)
Charlie Byrne (Murray Bushrangers)

State Leagues Preview: Key games across the board

STATE league football will continue over the weekend with plenty at stake for the teams involved. With some sides looking for their first win and others trying to keep themselves ahead of the pack, expect plenty of thrilling action this weekend.

Victoria:

The third round of VFL action kicks off this weekend with Collingwood taking on Gold Coast at Olympic Park Oval on Friday afternoon. Gold Coast registered their first win last weekend over Sydney by 14 points, getting on a roll and will be looking to back it up this weekend against the Pies. Suns midfielders Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorni fired in the engine room last round and will need to do the same if they are to grab their second win of the season. Collingwood couldn’t back up their Round 1 win with another last week, falling to the Bombers by 35 points in a disappointing second half. Big man Mason Cox will miss due to suspension while the side will look extremely different with plenty of injuries at AFL level. The Pies depth will be tested here, which should make the win even sweeter if they can pull it off.

The Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats will make for an interesting matchup when they face off on Saturday afternoon at Tramway Oval. With a 1-1 start to the year, the Swans will be eager to the return to their Round 1 form, which saw them take down the Giants by 26 points. If they are to take down this Cats side, experienced heads such as Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor will need to lead by example. The Cats will be fully refreshed after a bye last weekend, and will be looking to back up their Round 1 effort which saw them run out 79-point winners. Forwards Ben Jarvis and Josh Jenkins combined for eight goals, and if they can do something similar this weekend, it will be hard to stop the Cats.

In a battle of cross-town rivals, Carlton will travel to Windy Hill to take on Essendon on Sunday afternoon as both sides look for their second win to take them up the ladder. The Blues clinched a massive 69-point win over the Lions last weekend, which should give them a world of confidence heading into this match. A combined 12 goals from former AFL listed players Ben Crocker and James Parsons drove the Carlton win and if either can get off the chain again this weekend, Essendon coaches will have plenty to ponder from the sidelines. The Bombers took down the Pies last weekend, and should be looking to use the win as a spark for their season following a Round 1 loss. Tom Cutler was Essendon’s best in the win with 27 disposals and three goals, so expect the Blues to pay some attention to him throughout the match.

South Australia:

Round 5 of state league action kicks off with a blockbuster match, as Norwood host South Adelaide at Coopers Stadium under lights on Friday night. Norwood has landed a selection bombshell heading into the match, stunningly dropping dual-Magarey Medalist Mitch Grigg, who had just 14 disposals and a goal in last week’s 18-point loss to West Adelaide. Brad Mckenzie will line up on a wing in his return to the side while Brad Carroll is also confirmed to return to the side. Highly touted youngster Fraser Turner will finally debut for South Adelaide, named to start on a wing. The former Richmond utility has been named on the extended bench for consecutive weeks and will finally get his chance against Norwood. Liam Fitt will miss following a nasty head knock while Anthony Biemans is expected to miss multiple weeks following a leg injury.

North Adelaide will be looking to erase the memory of last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win this week over Glenelg at Prospect Oval on Saturday afternoon. North Adelaide fell to Woodville-West Torrens by three points in Round 4, and this pain will still be fresh in their minds. They could be bolstered by the return of star defender Cameron Craig, who has been named on the extended bench following a hamstring injury, but changes are yet to be confirmed. Don’t be surprised if Glenelg choose to not make any changes at selection this weekend, following a 10-point win over Port Adelaide last round, with no changes confirmed to the lineup that achieved that feat.

West Adelaide and Central Districts will go head-to-head, with the winner certainly moving up the ladder following their clash at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides are in the bottom half of the ladder sitting at 1-3, so a win on Saturday afternoon is crucial for both these sides. West Adelaide will unleash a new player, as Canberra Demons recruit Lucas Meline is named to line up in the midfield for his first game in the new colours. There have been no confirmed outs at the time of publication. Central Districts coaches have been busy shuffling the magnets with four confirmed changes to their team. Rhett Montgomerie, Connor Mclean and Jacob Templeton will all miss through injury while Nick Gillard has been omitted. Fraser Fort, Wyatt Patterson, Cooper Dahms and Travis Schiller have been named as their replacements.

Bottom placed Sturt will have the opportunity to move up the standings as they host Adelaide at Unley Oval on Sunday afternoon. Sturt have not been able to register a second win on the season and will be desperate to take this opportunity against the Crows. Forwards Abe Davis and Josh Hone will return to give Sturt a boost while Charlie Parker will debut for the side across half back. Sturt will lose the services of Jordan Houlahan and Matt Crocker through injury while Adam Trenorden has been dropped. Adelaide will be waiting for AFL emergencies to affect their lineup but will certainly be without midfielders David Mackay (AFL) and Luke Pedlar (injured). Nick Murray has also earned an AFL call up.

In the final SANFL game for Round 5, Port Adelaide will return to Alberton Oval to host Woodville-West Torrens on Sunday afternoon in a key clash for both sides. Port Adelaide currently sit with a disappointing 1-3 record, and with Trent Burgoyne and Matt Appleton both ruled out through injury, a chance to improve this record seems unlikely. In saying this, don’t rule out the Power just yet, with plenty of talent around the ground, they won’t give up without a fight. Woodville-West Torrens have worked their way to a 3-1 record and will see this weekend’s match as the perfect opportunity to improve this. They will be without the services of former AFL forward Daniel Menzel, who will miss with an ankle injury and has been replaced by debutant Cooper Sharman.

Tasmania:

TSL action kicks off on Saturday with Clarence travelling to the Twin Ovals in Kingston to take on the Tigers. The Tigers found their form again last week, defeating Glenorchy by 24 points in the ANZAC day clash. The side will go in unchanged following the victory, and the obvious player to watch is Elijah Reardon who should continue his blistering season this weekend. Clarence had the bye last weekend and have brought in some firepower to combat this Tigers team, while the Roos have brought in Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner, Colin Garland and Jacob Young to make their side look much stronger. Expect a close contest.

Lauderdale will be keen to bounce back after last round’s 93-point belting at the hands of a brutal North Launceston side, and this round’s matchup against a struggling North Hobart side will get their hopes up. Lauderdale have shaken things up at team selection in order to conjure a response from their side. Among the ins are Tyler Martin, Luke Hodoninczky, Bryce Walsh and Ozzie Warmbrunn as the Bombers fight for their second win. North Hobart were embarrassed by Launceston last round, conceding 25 goals and losing by 125 points, and they have also opted to change things up at team selection. The Demons are bringing in Johnathon Pullen, George Mcleod, Jye Menzie, Tyler Mcginniss and Will Splann. Both sides have plenty to play for here.

Glenorchy face a tough obstacle if they want to bounce back from last week’s loss, and that obstacle comes in the form of an outrageously in-form Launceston side. The Magpies were defeated by the Tigers to the tune of a 24 point margin but face an even tougher task this week in the Blues. Glenorchy will need to change things up if they are to upset the juggernaut, and the team selection reflects this. The Magpies will lose former Blue Sam Rundle but will be bringing in Riley Best, Darrean Wyatt, Joshua Whitford, Dominic Brown and Isaac Manson. The Blues have made only one change in their quest to remain undefeated, bringing in hard-running midfielder Miller Hodge at the expense of Grant Holt who has been omitted.

Western Australia:

The fourth round of the WAFL was unfortunately cancelled last weekend as Western Australia battled a minor COVID outbreak. This has since been resolved and Round 5 is scheduled to go ahead, with all sides nice and refreshed. The first game of the round will see East Perth welcome Swan Districts to Leederville Oval as they attempt to find their maiden win of the 2021 season. In Round 3 they fell by 25 points, in a promising display. They aren’t far away from a win and this weekend could be the drought breaker. Expect centre half-back Nathan Blee to find plenty of the ball as he did in Round 3. Swan Districts are tracking nicely, sitting in third place on the ladder and looking to improve on their 2-1 record with a win this weekend. The team regains former Eagle Lewis Jetta who is sure to break the game open with his blistering pace.

East Fremantle will host Perth at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon in a match with implications for both sides. A win for East Fremantle keeps them in touch with the top of the ladder as they currently sit in fourth place and a loss could see them slip down the standings. Perth are barely keeping in touch with the top five, but a win here could potentially see them enter the top half of the ladder. Keep an eye on East Fremantle half-back flanker Cameron Eardley, who racked up 26 disposals and 14 marks in Round 3.

Claremont will be looking to extend their undefeated streak as they welcome West Perth to Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Claremont couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, and they currently hold a 3-0 record, along with Subiaco. West Perth’s start to the season hasn’t quite been as successful. They sit in sixth place on the ladder with a 1-2 record, and face a serious challenge to improve this in Round 5. Can Aaron Black continue his strong form and lead his side to an upset over this powerful Claremont side?

Speaking of undefeated sides, Subiaco are as good as it gets this year. They sit on top of the ladder and will be keen on staying up there this weekend with a win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco were able to sneak past West Perth in Round 3 and will probably need a slight lift if they are to keep their spot on top of the table. Meanwhile South Fremantle took down Peel Thunder in Round 3 and will give themselves every chance to walk away with the upset win here. Expect South Fremantle’s Haiden Schloithe to play a big role in the result of this game, fresh off best on ground honours in Round 3.

The final game of the round sees some Sunday footy action as the Peel Thunder will face off against West Coast at David Grays Arena. West Coast have struggled to fly this year and will be keen to get some runs on the board after a 0-3 start to the 2021 season. Peel Thunder have started the season 1-2, good enough to see them sit seventh after three rounds. They will be eager to return to their Round 2 form which saw them with a triple-digit win over East Perth. Pending AFL selection, should Connor Blakely play, expect him to find plenty of the ball for Peel Thunder.

Queensland:

The fifth round of QAFL action sees plenty of exciting matchups. The first will see Maroochydore look to remain undefeated with a win over a surging Labrador side. Maroochydore are yet to lose a game in the 2021 season, but expect Labrador to push them right to the final siren. Labrador have only lost the one game so far, and an upset here would push them into the ‘contender’ category by the end of the weekend. Former Lion and Sun Pearce Hanley has worked his way into the season for Labrador and should prove a headache for Maroochydore players and coaches.

Redland-Victoria Point have started the season in strong fashion, with two wins from three games, and will be looking to snatch a fourth as they travel to Southside Toyota Oval to face off against Mt Gravatt on Saturday. Mt Gravatt have had two byes so far, but still sit at 1-1, with the loss coming against an in-form Maroochydore side. Mt Gravatt forward Jonah Licht has kicked 10 goals in his two games this season, and if he can prove dangerous around the big sticks again, it is hard to see his side losing.

The last two teams on the ladder in Noosa and Sherwood Districts will clash on Saturday afternoon at Rococo Oval, in a vital match for both sides. A perfect opportunity for both teams, whoever emerges victorious could find themselves with a spark to start their season, while the other will be left in no man’s land on 0-4 and much less likely to make finals. Sherwood Districts midfielder William Fletcher has enjoyed a consistent start to the season and could play a key role here, as he has proved himself as a goal kicking midfielder. No matter what happens, one of these sides will be singing the song for the first time in 2021.

In a battle for a second win, Palm Beach Currumbin and Wilston Grange will face off at Salk Oval in the final match of Saturday QAFL action. Not much separates these sides, with both teams sitting on a 1-2 record, this is another vital clash in the fifth round of action. A second win could see either side move into the top five, which is crucial heading into a sixth round. At the time of publication, team lineups had not been released.

Finally, a seemingly unstoppable Broadbeach side will host a struggling Surfers Paradise side at Subaru Oval on Sunday afternoon. Broadbeach are yet to lose a game and boasting the best percentage in the league, they sit on top of the table. Surfers Paradise are a completely different story, having only won one game in their first three, and in dire need of a second. The key question is can they contain Broadbeach forward Sam Jasper, who is fresh off a bag of eight goals last weekend? This matchup will prove important in determining a winner.

State Leagues preview: QAFL’s first full round begins as other states go again for Round 2

IN a Draft Central first, we have streamlined a look across the nation with a number of state leagues coming back for Round 2 after a big opening round. Competitions in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland all take place over the weekend and we preview them all in one convenient preview.

QUEENSLAND:

The full bill of teams will be out in force for Round 2 of the QAFL after last year’s wooden spooners Wilston Grange got the one-point win over newcomers Noosa Tigers last weekend. The Gorillas matched their total wins from last season – albeit from a shorter nine-game season – from just one match, and will host Maroochydore this weekend. The Roos have teenager Ben Thomas on the wing, with key position tall Max McDonald named at half-back. For the Gorillas top-age draft prospect Bae Gallop has been named onball, alongside Kuot Thot (half-forward flank). Ky McKenzie (interchange) and Oscar Stewart (back pocket) are others who are young talents to watch for the home side.

Meanwhile grand finalists Broadbeach will host Labrador in the Cats’ first game of the year, while reigning premiers Morningside will travel to Palm Beach Currumbin for an away game first up. Naturally the Panthers were happy to wait until Round 3 to unfurl the flag against the team they conquered in the 2020 decider. The Cats will have a couple of Suns Academy members who have come through the program in Ryan Pickering and Finn Brown (emergency), while for Labrador, small forward Blair Rubock is back again in the yellow and black, with Bryce Retzlaff to provide a a tall target and crucially, ex-Gold Coast and Brisbane talent Pearce Hanley named onball.

Will Bella is the one to watch for the Lions as they try to take down the reigning premiers in Round 1, as the Gold Coast Suns’ tall has been named in the forward pocket. He will play alongside the likes of Ethan Hunt and Ashton Crossley who have both come through the Northern Academy programs in recent years. For Morningside, Ben McCarthy has been named at half-back and is one to watch from the Brisbane Academy, while Nathan Colenso and Tom Griffiths have come through the Northern Academies in recent years and remain youngsters to keep an eye on.

The 2019 QAFL premiers Surfers Paradise will be eyeing off a much better season in 2021 after just two wins last year, taking on another new team in Redland-Victoria Point. The Demons will hit the road against the Sharks in the clash, whilst the final match of the round will see Sherwood Districts hosting Mt Gravatt. Noosa Tigers will have a bye after the tight Round 1 loss.

Not named as a starter, but young Jaspa Fletcher will be one to watch for Sherwood this season, with Adrian’s son set to create plenty of headaches inside 50. Speaking of headaches inside 50, it is great to see Kobe Tozer returning from injury to be named at full-forward for the black and whites. Up the other end, Conner Bulley has been named in a forward pocket as another teenager in the side, whilst for the Vultures, Lochlan Harrop (half-forward) and Ethan Kerr (back pocket) are a couple of teenagers in the Round 2 team.

Surfers Paradise have players to keep an eye on as they keep developing such as Matthew Green and Myles Jewell returning to the side to take on the Sharks. Redland-Victoria Point is a new side entering the QAFL, though Redland has had its success in the NEWAFL, and ex-Collingwood talent Peter Yagmoor is one to watch on the list, as well as ex-Sherwood player Caleb Franks.

South Australia:

Former Tasmanian State League (TSL) and ex-West Coast Eagle Mitch O’Neill has been named for his South Adelaide debut, coming into the Panthers’ team alongside another former TSL and ex-AFL talent in Fraser Turner. They will beef up the Panthers’ starting team to take on North Adelaide in the SANFL League clash, who celebrate Jarred Allmond‘s 200th game. Top draft prospect will start on the interchange for the Panthers, whilst Dyson Hilder will be at full forward for the Roosters.

Another Tasmanian coming into the league is Hamish Allan, with the ex-North Hobart 20-year-old running out for Sturt this year. He will be amongst the side that features past South Australian representatives at Under 18s level, Tom Lewis, Josh Shute and Jed McEntee among others. Their opponents Norwood will celebrate Cameron Shenton‘s 100 games, but will be without Richard Douglas for the clash due to personal reasons, though a player who has garnered draft interest in recent years in Cole Gerloff returns to the Redlegs.

A trio of teenagers will potentially line-up for the League side with Brady Searle, Cooper Horsnell and Will Chandler all named in the side for their debuts, with ex-Demon Billy Stretch out with an ankle injury. Their opponents Woodville-West Torrens will unveil Canberra Demons’ recruit Mitchell Hardie who comes into the side along with the huge – physical and metaphorical – inclusion of ruck Jarrad Redden.

Teenage talent Bailey Chamberlain has been named for West Adelaide as one of three inclusions up against Adelaide’s reserves side. He joins new recruit Nick Steele as a potential inclusion, with no outs as of yet, and the likes of Josh Gore and Elliot Dunkin as ones who have caught AFL clubs attention in past years. The Crows will include ex-Glenelg onballer Luke Pedlar for the first time, with Daniel Jackson rested from the match.

Meanwhile Port Adelaide will be without Lachie Jones (debut) and Tom Rockliff (concussion) in a couple of massive outs, which gives Central District a big bonus at the selection table, welcoming in former Panther Brett Kennedy alongside ex-Tiger Ben Nason who returns into the team for the clash against the Magpies.

 

TASMANIA:

In Round 2 of the TSL, Glenorchy enter the competition after a Round 1 bye, set to take on a Clarence team coming off a hard-fought seven-point defeat. The Roos took a little too long to get going against an Allen Christensen-inspired Lauderdale outfit, and they will be keen to step it up against the Magpies.

Glenorchy will of course be without legend Jaye Bowden who retired last season, with Matthew Joseph set to be the focal point up forward, whilst youngster Callum Thompson is one to keep an eye on in the match. The Roos lose a shot of young guns due to Tasmania Devils returning to the NAB League with Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes all out, while ex-Demon Colin Garland has been named at full-forward.

In the Tigers-Lauderdale clash, much has been spoken about the huge impact that Sam Siggins and Nat Franklin had through the midfield with Christensen dominating up forward. The trio will look to have a similar impact when they travel to Kingborough to take on Tigers, who had a young gun stand out in Round 1 with Zach Adams impressing off a wing, whilst Lachlan Gadomski and Riley Ashlin are other young talents.

North Launceston will be without the Sanders brothers in Ollie and Ryley Sanders, as well as Nathan Pearce for the clash against North Hobart, as the Northern Bombers need to find a way to bounce back from a 55-point loss to reigning premiers Launceston. They still have experience in Brad Cox-Goodyer through the middle, but have a new-look side to its recent years. For the Demons. The Demons are coming off a loss themselves, going down to Tigers by 11 points, and will be massively depleted with a ridiculous amount of young talent out of the side including George McLeod and Jye Menzie. It will be up to the next ground of players coming in, with 12 inclusions – including four emergencies – to the Demons side.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

East Perth and Peel Thunder will be keen to quickly move on from Round 1 losses as they do battle in Round 2. The Royals will be without Nick Robertson, but still have Jackson Ramsay and Rohan Kerr among the midfielders as former AFL talents. Peel Thunder will bring in a quartet of Fremantle players with Griffin Logue and Liam Henry joining Mitch Crowden and Bailey Banfield in the side, with Sam Sturt‘s five-goal haul enough to earn a recall at the Dockers, as Connor Blakely and Taylin Duman also are out. A non Fremantle-listed talent to watch for is young gun Brodie Lake who is named in the back pocket.

Two teams that picked up wins in Round 1 were Claremont and South Fremantle, with ex-Dockers Jason Carter and Alex Pearce a couple of big inclusions for the Tigers. They have plenty to like about their lineup with Jye Bolton, Kane Mitchell and Jake Patmore among the talented experienced players in there, though Jacob Van Rooyen is the one to watch as a potential Top 10 pic, lining up on ex-Geelong Cat Blake Schlensog who is playing for South Fremantle. The Bulldogs will be without Cam McCarthy for this match, but still have Haiden Schloithe and Matthew Parker, and the exciting Ben Rioli.

A potential matchup between Chris Masten and Lewis Jetta on the team selection sheets is a mouth-watering clash for any West Coast Eagles fan, with the two ex-talents doing battle for Perth and Swan Districts respectively. Jetta might just have the leg speed in that head-to-head, with Sam Fisher, Jesse Palmer and Frank Anderson among the other Swans to keep an eye on. For Perth, ex-Murray and St Kilda talent Doulton Langlands joins ex-Docker Brady Gray and ex-Eagle Brant Colledge in the Perth midfield which will provide some resistance for the clash.

It is early days, but a top of the table clash between Round 1’s big winners in East Fremantle and Subiaco opens the second round with plenty to get excited about. Ex-Docker Hugh Dixon is joined by youngster Finn Gorringe who comes into the Sharks’ League side, while Jonathon Marsh and Dillon O’Reilly make a damaging forward duo. For the Lions, Ben Sokol is a goal-scoring machine, with Lachlan Delahunty starting his year off strong, set to go head-to-head with Josh Schoenfeld in a battle of the leather poisoning talents from the opening weekend.

At the time of publishing, the West Perth and West Coast teams were not out.

Picture credit: Bronia Henty-Smith Photography

TSL scouting notes: North Launceston vs. Clarence

IN the first of two Tasmanian State League (TSL) pieces wrapping up the first week of finals, we took a look at the first against fourth clash between North Launceston and Clarence and some of the top stars out on display.

NORTH LAUNCESTON vs. CLARENCE

By: Peter Williams

Twelve consecutive goals to North Launceston reminded spectators at UTAS Stadium just what the reigning premiers were capable of as the Bombers rampaged to a whopping 78-point win over Clarence. The Roos were plucky early kicking the first two goals of the game through bottom-agers Darcy Gardner and Noah Holmes and then leading by as much as 13 points at one stage after Josh Green kicked his side’s third major. Many expected a North Launceston response, but no one expected a 12 goals to zero domination over the next three quarters – including five in the final term – to run out 15.8 (98) to 3.2 (20) winners.

Daniel Withers was electric up forward and got better as the game wore on booting five goals for the Bombers, whilst Tom Bennett (three goals) and Taylor Whitford (two) both hit the scoreboard. Brad Cox-Goodyer was best on ground kicking a goal and always looked lively, whilst Jack Avent (one), Arion Richter-Salter and Thomas Donnelly were also standouts. For the Roos, Zac Buechner, Ollie Davis and Gardner all tried hard, with Davis breaking through a tag to be a force on the inside, whilst unfortunately for the Roos, they just faded as experience took over.

North Launceston:

#16 Ollie Sanders

Had a classy game for the Bombers, spreading well and getting better as the match wore on. His work rate and repeat efforts to get to multiple stoppages was admirable and in particular he looked lively in the front half of the ground. Sanders’ third term was the busiest for the talent, working hard in the back pocket to win the ball, then pushing into the midfield having plenty of touches. He spread regularly and then did well early in that term to speed out of a stoppage and use the ball well by hand and get it back not long after in space. Overall he was impressive for the Bombers, finishing with 18 disposals, six marks, five clearances and two tackles.

#64 Baynen Lowe

Lowe loves the contested side of things and lays some fierce tackles. He showed some quick hands under pressure, and was able to get it out whilst being tackled early in the second term. After a quiet first term, Lowe worked into the game and used his pace and defensive pressure to unsettle the opposition. In the third quarter, Lowe had a couple of score assists and was involved in a handball chain down the wing then hit up a target inside 50. He took a strong mark 40m out later in the quarter but his shot went to the top of the square and was cleared. Another good effort was late in the final term, spoiling one-on-one then handballing off which led forward to another goal for the reigning premiers. All up, Lowe had four score involvements to go with his 18 disposals, two marks, two clearances and five tackles.

 

Clarence:

#20 Oliver Davis

The TSL Rising Star really came of age when he found North Launceston’s Ben Simpson walk up to him from the first bounce. Davis was tightly guarded by Simpson and afforded no space around the clearances, but like he tends to do, he just wears down his opponents. Davis might not have had the greatest impact he has had in games – he was being tightly held – but he never gives in and just throws himself at the ball and ball carrier and his work rate is enormous. With clean hands in congestion and always giving it a crack even with the mammoth deficit mounting, Davis kept trying and finished with 18 disposals – 11 contested – six tackles and three clearances.

#23 Sam Banks

The most lively of the Clarence young guns, Banks played in defence and tried to use his run and skills to break the lines. He took a strong contested one-on-one mark on the wing, and whilst he was often under pressure in defence, made the best of it. Had one weird, uncharacteristic turnover in defence that triggered a series of mistakes by both teams, and then copped a hip and shoulder from the goal umpire in a couple of minutes he would rather forget. He readjusted and and was able to try his heart out driving the ball long, though the North Launceston defence was set up well. By the final siren, Banks had 18 disposals, one mark, one tackle, two clearances and three score involvements.

#34 Noah Holmes

It was a lonely day to be a full-forward for Clarence after quarter time, with Holmes winning the majority of his four touches in the first term when the Roos looked lively. Had one of the highlights of the day with a goal off a step 50m out and kicked it with ease like it was a 15m pass. He moved into the ruck to start the fourth term, but ultimately like most of his teammates had a quiet outing with four disposals, two tackles, two score involvements, one hitout and one goal.

#39 Darcy Gardner

Symbolic of many Clarence players, Gardner tried hard but was ultimately overwhelmed by the experienced North Launceston midfield. He ran hard in the opening term on the transition to lose his opponent and mark 30m out to slot home the opening goal of the match. His first term was huge with a great tackle on an opponent to stop a clearance, and then pumped a raking ball in deep that travelled 60-odd metres. He was quieter after quarter time, finishing with 11 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four score involvements.

#46 Baker Smith

Saw plenty of the ball in defence, but had a tough day on Blake McCulloch. When he had the ball, Smith looked composed and showed he could close down his opponent with well timed spoils. Often he was starting scoring chains from defence, but had his hands full with his opponent. McCulloch missed a couple of chances, but Smith still held him to the one goal from eight touches and three marks, far from disgraced against a distinguished opponent. Smith also hurt himself landing a little awkwardly in the last term, finishing with six disposals, one mark, two tackles and three score involvements for the match.

Picture: Andrew Woodgate

TSL scouting notes and wrap: Round 13 – Roos secure finals berth

ROUND 13 of the Tasmanian State League (TSL) saw some exciting players set the field alight and showcase their talents for their respective sides as Clarence won and Tiger lost for the former to secure a finals spot in the last round of the regular season.

Clarence 9.12 (66) defeated North Hobart 8.7 (55)

By: Peter Williams

Clarence locked up fourth spot and guaranteed the Roos finals thanks to a tight 11-point victory over North Hobart in a battle of the sides with an abundance of youth.

Clarence led at each change but it was by a kick of less at the breaks, holding a two-point, one-point and six-point lead at the first, second and third breaks. An inaccurate 1.5 in the final term extended the final margin out to 11, but they never entirely looked safe in the 9.12 (66) to 8.7 (55) victory.

Chris Nield was a standout coming back into the side kicking two goals, while Jason Bailey and Josh Green also kicked a couple each. Baker Smith was named his team’s best-on for his work in defence, with others youngsters Sam Banks and Oliver Davis also among the Roos’ best. For the Demons, Julian Dobosz, Angus Norton and Jye Menzie all kicked multiple goals, as Hugh Williams, Thomas Reeves and Jayden Charlton were named among the best.

Scouting notes:

By: Tom Cheesman

CLARENCE:

#20 Oliver Davis

Davis had a strong game through the midfield for Clarence. The slippery conditions made the match very congested, and this is a style of football that suits Davis well. He played predominantly on the inside where he gave some good handballs under pressure and laid some aggressive tackles. Davis won numerous contested possessions throughout the day and earned multiple free kicks by getting to the ball first and putting his head over it.

#23 Sam Banks

Banks showed that he has good skills and athleticism with some nice link-up play out of the defensive half on Saturday. His kicking was a highlight, as teammates continually looked to get the ball in his hands and he found short targets on a consistent basis. Banks has a fantastic work rate, as he always followed up his kicks and attempted to earn another possession in the same passage of play. A couple of times he did appear rushed under pressure, but this is understandable given that he is a young player. With more experience at League level, he should be able to find a bit more of the ball on the inside which will compliment his outside game beautifully.

#34 Noah Holmes

Holmes played a solid game as a key forward for the Roos. Early in the game, he linked up well down the wings and applied good body pressure with blocks and shepherds to create space for teammates. He took a strong one-on-one mark in the second quarter to earn a shot for goal, but unfortunately his kick was touched by the man on the mark. Holmes redeemed himself with a nice snap goal in the third term. He also showed some decent agility, particularly when he laid a chase down tackle to win a holding the ball decision in the third quarter.

#39 Darcy Gardner

Gardner was very impressive for Clarence in the midfield and as a half-forward. The under-ager displayed some brilliant work on the inside, highlighted by a burst through the middle of a stoppage to win a clearance in the second term. Gardner rarely fumbled, was clever with his hands and linked up very nicely with teammates through the middle of the ground. He often provided a lead-up option for teammates and initiated switches of play as well. Despite being smaller than most of his opponents, Gardner is a great competitor and is not afraid to compete against the bigger bodies, which was demonstrated when he laid a good tackle to win a holding the ball decision in second term. He also displayed some fantastic forward craft when he kicked a clever goal in the third term by side-stepping two opponents and then drilling the drop punt from about 35 metres out. Gardner played a pivotal role in his side’s 11-point victory.

#46 Baker Smith

Smith showed some fantastic signs on Saturday. Although he misread the flight of the ball a couple of times early, his performance from the second quarter onwards was outstanding. He took numerous intercept marks by dropping into holes and reading the leads of opposition forwards. Smith has great length, so he can cover lots of ground and is a reliable mark. Once he had the ball, the bottom-ager always looked for runners coming past to create some fast ball movement coming out of defence. Smith’s kicking was reliable too, particularly when he went short and switched the play.

NORTH HOBART:

#37 Sam Collins

Collins was one of North Hobart’s most reliable defenders on Saturday. He took numerous intercept marks in the defensive 50 by reading the play well, floating in front of leading forwards and using his strong hands. In the first quarter, Collins linked up with teammates across the wings to control possession and set up a goal with a nice long kick inside 50. Throughout the game he spread from defence well, rarely fumbled, hit most of his targets by foot and created a running option when his side was moving the ball forward. He had a great moment in third term where he pushed off his opponent, took an intercept mark, used pace to break away and then found a teammate with a beautifully weighted kick through the corridor. This led to an important goal and demonstrated how damaging Collins can be when he gets the ball in dangerous positions.

#46 Jye Menzie

Menzie kicked two goals on Saturday and showed some other good signs. He applied strong pressure on the opposition and regularly got into good positions to crumb marking contests. His ability to make something out of nothing was evident, particularly when he almost kicked an amazing goal with some soccer skills in second term. He pushed up the ground to collect touches and link-up with teammates whenever necessary, but he mostly played as a deep forward. Other highlights of his game were a brilliant run down tackle in second quarter that won a holding the ball decision and led to a goal, and an impressive overhead mark on the lead in third term.

 

North Launceston 17.11 (113) defeated Glenorchy 3.7 (25)

By: Fraser Stewart

An eight goals to none blitz in the first quarter set off a thumping win to the North Launceston Bombers as they finished on top of the ladder to claim the minor premiership as they look to continue their form into the final series.

It was a convincing performance from the Bombers with a wealth of players popping up and hitting the scoreboard in big way with multiple goals coming from Zachary Burt (four), Jack Rushton (three), Jack Avent (three), Bradley Cox-Goodyer (two), Taylor Whitford (two), William Edmunds (one goal), Sherrin Egger (one goal), and Ollie Sanders (one goal) all contributing to the 17.11(113) to 3.7(25) win.

Despite trailing by 12 goals at the last break Glenorchy did their best to make much of a contest in the fourth quarter but it was too little too as they only managed one goal in that term as they went down by 88 points.

NORTH LAUNCESTON

# 16 Ollie Sanders: 

Put in a terrific game right from the outset, although his first quarter was quiet he showed glimpses of what he was going to do all day when he linked up the play collecting a ground ball and lowering his eyes to hit a target inside 50. He was all over the ground often moving to the wing where he showed his calmness and agility when he collected a bouncing ball from an awkward bounce and weaved his way out of a tackle. He also made his way to defence to help the defenders out, showcasing he has a good football brain when he switched the play which led to an attacking play. But wherever he went he always seemed to get his hands on the pill often handballing it to create a link-up play or hitting targets lace out into space. He was often the starter of the attacking movements. 

GLENORCHY

#36 Charlie Thompson

He was a pretty quiet which was evident of North Launceston dominating all day on the park and on the scoreboard, but he did try to make things happen for Glenorchy, as he often went up for marks and went further upfield to help out in defence where he got most of his possessions. Despite not getting on the scoreboard, it should be noted that his second efforts were some of his biggest traits in the 88-point defeat. This was evident when dropped a mark (albeit a relatively hard one but got his hands on it nonetheless) but went to ground to try and reclaim the ball and created a contest out of it. He was lively in the last quarter when Glenorchy started to play with more fluency, he nearly had a goal to his name but was rushed by a North Launceston player, however, that alone should be encouraging for the full-forward as he found time and space (which he did not have for majority of the game) to get a shot away as he got the defenders off guard and finally got good service to him.

 

Lauderdale 8.13 (61) defeated Tigers 8.10 (58)

By: Peter Williams

In the battle between two more experienced sides, and Tigers needing a big win – and the Roos to lose – in order to make finals,- Lauderdale just got the job done and held firm to win by three points.

Tigers led at each break and looked likely to cause and upset throughout the contest, taking a four, seven and nine-point lead into each quarter, winning the first three terms. Unfortunately for the visitors, they could only score two behinds in the final quarter as Lauderdale booted 2.2 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and win 8.13 (61) to 8.10 (58)

Harry Richmond slotted four goals for the Bombers – including the matchwinner midway through the final term, as he was named among the best with Luke Nelson (two goals) and Josh McGuinness (one). Sam Siggins and Nathan Oakes also stood out for Lauderdale, as Toutea Havea was the other solitary goalkicker in the match. For Tigers, Oliver Burrows-Cheng (two goals) was the only multiple goalkicker as he, Kieren Lovell (one), Luke Graham (one), Marcus Davies (one) and William Campbell were all steadfast in defeat.

Picture: Solstice Digital & Photography