Tag: ben hobbs

Q&A: Jye Lockett (GWV Rebels/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Jye Lockett at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

It would only seem fitting that the nephew of Tony Lockett would ply his trade as a budding centre half-forward, and furthermore make the move down to Ballarat as he looks pursue footballing and schooling opportunities. The Queenslander is also part of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and represented Queensland at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, booting multiple goals in two of the three games.

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Q&A:

MA: Jye, how’s the day been so far?

JL: “It’s been good to see all the other teams here. Everyone goes out there and competes hard and I guess it gives a good indication of your athletic ability.”

 

Which of the tests are you excelling in or looking to improve on at the moment?

“I didn’t do too bad at the agility (test) but I’d probably like to work on my 20-metre sprint.”

 

How has the transition been coming from Queensland?

“It was good, I moved down just before last year and was in the Under 16s Rebels program. I moved into the 18s this year and it’s going really well.”

 

You enjoyed a pretty successful Under 16 carnival as well playing forward alongside Noah McFadyen, how was that?

“Yes, I love playing with ‘Nug’. He’s a great bloke and I think we work really well together, so that 16s Queensland side was real fun.”

 

Will you continue to represent Queensland and the Allies or transition to Vic Country?

“The plan was this year to play with the Queensland Futures 17s and go through the Allies program in my 18th year, but I’m not too sure about that just yet. I’m focused on this year.”

 

And you’ve come down for school as well?

“Yes, I got a scholarship at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat and have done Year 11 and 12 there.”

 

Who are some of the boys from there and the Rebels you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch – a few of the Academy boys. It’ll be good to play alongside them and learn off all their different skills.”

 

In terms of position, are you looking to move further afield in future?

“Yes. Centre half-forward is obviously the main position but anywhere from half-forward or deep forward, even pushing up the ground into the midfield or up on the wing is probably the next goal.”

 

Do you have any other goals for the year?

“Obviously if I can play really well in those Queensland Under 17 games then get into the Under 18 Academy and Allies (squad) and set myself up really well.”

Squad predictions: 2020 Vic Country Under 18s

THE annual Under 18 National Championships may be the only chance we get to catch a glimpse of the class of 2020 before draft day, with a decision on the recommencement of competition pushed back to at least September. In the meantime, Draft Central takes a look at how each regional squad may line up should the carnival come around, but with a few stipulations in place. Last week we began with our Vic Metro squad predictions and today we take a look at Vic Country’s potential line-up.

GUIDELINES:

  • Top-agers (2002-born) have been prioritised due to the limited season and exposure
  • Of those, AFL Academy Hub members also gain priority for the starting squad
  • Bottom-agers (2003-born) in the hub, and top-agers outside it are named for depth
  • 19-year-old inclusions are limited, having already staked their claims in previous years

A lot may change between now and when the squad will be announced, and it should be noted that injured players will not be picked here. Of course, the sides may vary greatly as players look to shift and develop in different positions, but each member has been selected based on the roles they have previously played. Given only previous form, preseason testing and scratch matches are what we have to go off, bolters are also difficult to gauge at this point.

But without further ado, let’s get stuck into the second squad prediction, with Vic Country’s talent broken down line-by-line. An alternate squad with no limitations will also be provided below.

DEFENCE

FB – Clayton Gay (Dandenong), Zach Reid (Gippsland), Cam Fleeton (Geelong)
HB – Nick Stevens (GWV), Ethan Baxter (Murray), Isaac Wareham (GWV)

There is a good mix of styles and talent among this back six, with some height, power, dash, and clean ball use all to come from these potential representatives. Versatile 202cm tall Zach Reid seems a lock for full back, able to also double as ruck aid.

Leadership candidate Cam Fleeton and Dandenong standout Clayton Gay provide sound reading of the play and aerial presence on the last line, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) pair Nick Stevens and Isaac Wareham are solid options off half-back. 19-year-old Wareham has already donned the Big V at under 18 level, but may earn another chance given injury curtailed his top-age season.

Ethan Baxter is the final member of the defence, a solidly-built Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) product who is a touch undersized (192cm) to play as a pure key defender, but makes up for it with strength. He could be utilised elsewhere, but we see him fulfilling a role down back.

MIDFIELD

C – Ryan Angwin (Gippsland), Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo)
FOL – Henry Walsh (Geelong), Sam Berry (Gippsland), Zavier Maher (Murray)

Zavier Maher may be the tallest of the Vic Country mids here at 184cm, but by no means will the chosen crop lack power or ball winning ability. Maher, Sam Berry, and Tanner Bruhn are all terrific at the centre bounces, with Maher and Berry the powerful types, while Bruhn is all class in congestion.

Berry can run all day, too, much like Bendigo’s Jack Ginnivan on the outside. Ginnivan could also find a spot up forward like fellow wingman, Ryan Angwin, but the pair have really come on of late and should have no trouble in making an impact further afield.

Of course, Henry Walsh will likely be the one to provide first use to his midfield fleet as the primary ruck. The brother of Carlton Rising Star, Sam is quite apt at the centre bounces with his 201cm frame and is constantly working on his ground level work.

FORWARD

HF – Noah Gadsby (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo)
FF – Dominic Bedendo (Murray), Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh), Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong)

This is hardly a forward six blessed with height or overwhelming strength, but that is not to say that it lacks marking power. Much like Baxter in defence, the high-flying Oliver Henry could play above his size as a focal point, though may be better suited to a third tall role. Highly touted Bulldogs NGA prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unbeatable off the lead at full forward, so is a lock for that spot.

Alongside him may be Dominic Bedendo, a fantastic athletic talent who can compete both in the air and at ground level, while Charlie Lazzaro occupies the other pocket. He is arguably predominantly more a midfielder, but has been adding strings to his bow as a small forward.

On the flanks, his Geelong teammate Noah Gadsby also slots in as a newcomer to the forward line, while raw Bendigo product Seamus Mitchell assumes a role familiar to him on the same line. The largely small make-up of this six is somewhat a product of the guidelines we put in place, as there are a few key position products across each age bracket who could easily add some height and strength to the structure.

INTERCHANGE

INT – Sam Conforti (Bendigo), Will Bravo (Dandenong), Bayleigh Welsh (Dandenong), Blake Kuipers (Dandenong)

Filling out the side are some versatile options, with most of these prospects able to be utilised in many roles. Sam Conforti skippered the Under 16 Country side, and could well slot in as a small forward or wingman in this lineup. Dandenong’s Will Bravo is an exciting player who should also get a run up forward, providing a touch of speed and evasion while also being able to contribute in midfield.

Two more Stingrays cap off the side, with Bayleigh Welsh a midfielder the Dandenong program is high on, while athletic over-age swingman Blake Kuipers could be one to again sneak into the team as key position or ruck depth.

TOP-AGE DEPTH

Given this may be the only chance for draft-eligible top-agers to shine in front of recruiters in 2020, there will be plenty who come onto the radar of AFL clubs. Elijah Hollands and Noah Gribble are two who would have featured in the team, but unfortunately miss out due to long-term knee injuries.

Academy prospect Josh Treacy is a key forward who could well fit into the squad having gained experience for Country at Under 17 level, with fellow tall options Mason Hawkins and Keith Robinson of Gippsland others who can fill that forward/ruck role.

In terms of smalls, classy Geelong co-captain Gennaro Bove may be in the mix, while nippy GWV forward Harry Sharp has also caught the eye alongside another Falcon, Blake Reid. Other options from the Geelong region include Charlie Brauer – another outstanding athlete – and Kyle Skene.

Speaking of athletes, Bendigo is high on elite runner Jack Hickman and could also see the likes of ex-Rebel Jack Tillig or Finn Ellis-Castle push into contention. Dandenong has a couple of products around the mark too, with Deakyn Smith and Jai Neal both likely to be considered.

THE BOTTOM-AGERS

Last year’s Under 16 side may not have produced pure results-based success, but there are a few fantastic prospects who should push into contention. Leading the pack is last year’s carnival MVP Josh Rachele, a damaging midfielder/forward who is incredibly skilled.

Ben Hobbs was his partner-in-crime through midfield and should also get a crack as one of many high-end GWV up-and-comers. Those include Charlie Molan, Josh Rentsch, and Josh Gibcus, with the former two already boasting NAB League experience.

Fleet-footed Sandringham prospect Campbell Chesser was another to impress enough to break into the NAB League, while fellow Under 16 All Australians Toby Conway and Cooper Hamilton are also within the Academy bubble.

Given the focus will even more strictly be placed on draft eligible players, the likes of Ben Green, Connor Macdonald, Tom Brown, Justin Davies and so on will likely have to wait until next year to break into the Under-18 representative side.

There are a number of others outside of the current representative and academy bubbles who could also break through in their own top-age seasons, but it simply remains to be seen.

19-YEAR-OLDS

Possibly the most unlucky over-ager to miss out on our squads is Geelong’s Darcy Chirgwin, who was set to return to his original region after representing Sandringham in his draft year. After injury heavily interrupted his 2019 campaign, he should come into consideration once again.

Geelong teammate Jay Dahlhaus also suffered a long-term injury last year but should be back for more, while Murray prospect Sam Durham has shown a good rate of improvement as a latecomer to the code. Jai Newcombe is somewhat of a bolter having only now made the final cut at Gippsland, and could provide that inside presence with Chirgwin given he is yet to capture centre stage.

The two 19-year-olds we chose for both squads, Kuipers and Wareham, come into the category of players with great upside. Kuipers’ height and athleticism make him a handy option to fill gaps up either end or in the ruck, and his phenomenal testing performance puts him in good stead. Wareham is a solid athlete who will more so be looking for consistency after his top-age campaign last year.

With these additional top, bottom, and over-age prospects in mind, below is our potential best Vic Country squad without any provisions.

FB – Clayton Gay, Zach Reid, Cameron Fleeton
HB – Nick Stevens, Blake Kuipers, Ethan Baxter
C – Ryan Angwin, Tanner Bruhn, Jack Ginnivan
HF – Noah Gadsby, Oliver Henry, Seamus Mitchell
FF – Charlie Lazzaro, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Rachele
FOL – Henry Walsh, Sam Berry, Zavier Maher
INT
– Will Bravo, Dominic Bedendo, Ben Hobbs, Isaac Wareham

Improvement every session the aim for Stevens

ALREADY representing Vic Country in the Under-17 Futures game and showing promising signs as a bottom-ager for the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in 2019, Nick Stevens has no intention of slowing down in his top-age year. The 17-year-old debuted on his birthday last year for the western Victoria side, picking up 10 touches and not looking out of place. A torn hip flexor would see the bottom-ager miss five games across the next couple of months.

Returning to the side in June, Stevens looked like he had not missed a beat, picking up 15 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds being the prime mover in what was albeit a disappointing day for the Rebels, losing by 111 points to top of the table Eastern Ranges. Having missed so much football, Stevens was keen to improve his endurance, but his result at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me was not to his liking.

Nah not happy to be honest, but it’s done now so not much I can do about it,” Stevens said. “Just try to keep moving forward I guess. “Yeah it definitely was (an area of improvement), definitely from last year. “I always want to keep get better at that endurance type running so that was part of it.”

He finished the 2019 season strongly, representing Vic Country in the Under-17 Futures game having played in the Under 16 National Championships the year before. Primarily used as an outside player for his ability to move the ball in transition and his size (191cm and 82kg), Stevens has found a home at half-back where he will likely remain when the NAB League Boys action returns. When asked if he was likely to push for an inside role, Stevens said given his strengths and improvements, he was likely to hone in and get matches under his belt in that offensive half-back role.

Nah not this year I don’t reckon (midfield role),” he said. “I think I’ll stay half-back and keep playing that role and just keep getting better at that half-back, back role.”

Over the preseason, Stevens trained with Geelong’s AFL side as part of the Vic Country Academy hub program. Following the pathway at the elite junior level, the tall utility said it was an offseason to remember.

Yeah that was a pretty surreal experience with the Cats,” Stevens said. “So thankful for that opportunity and they treated me well down there so it was good fun.”

The Rebels finished 10th last year with six wins from 16 games, but were able to blood a number of bottom-agers and under 16s who form the nucleus of the side going forward. Stevens said he was looking forward to playing alongside a number of these players in 2020.

I think a few Warrnambool boys, Fraser Marris, the third year players as well they’re always good coming back,” he said. “Also the bottom-agers Charlie Molan, Ben Hobbs. “Good quality football there, so it should be good fun. “We had our first praccy match on the weekend (back in March) and it was really exciting, so just looking for more.”

As for his personal goals in 2020, Stevens were pretty straightforward – just get better.

I just want to keep improving, keep getting better every time we go out on the track,” he said. “Aim to get better than the player I was before, so that’s probably the short-term goal.”

NAB League Boys team review: GWV Rebels

AS the NAB League season finals approach, we take a look at the sides that are no longer in contention for the title, checking out their draft prospects, Best and Fairest (BnF) chances, 2020 Draft Crop and a final word on their season. The next side we look at is the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

Position: 10th
Wins: 9
Losses: 9
Draws: 0

Points For: 950 (Ranked #9)
Points Against: 1078 (Ranked eq. #11)
Percentage: 88
Points: 24

Top draft prospects:

Jay Rantall

A late bloomer to the sport after focusing on basketball where he made it to international level, Rantall showed he has made the right choice with some of the performances he put out on the park this year. The athletic midfielder has an endurance base that rivals Sam Walsh, and ticks nearly every athletic box there is to tick. On the field, he showed he can wear down opponents and hit the scoreboard regularly, bursting out of stoppages and kicking goals from little time or space. He is still raw compared to other players, but on excitement factor alone he is rated in the first half of the draft, and would make a case for a top 30 selection.

Isaac Wareham

A long-term prospect, Wareham missed the last month due to injury, but showcased what he could do for the Rebels and Vic Country. He is not a huge ball winner, but he has lovely kicking skills and makes the right decisions. He still has areas to work on and his consistency is a big factor that will need developing, but receiving a National Draft Combine invitation is a massive boost in his draft chances. Expect him to be in the late-to-rookie stakes, though players with his skillsets in the past have been known to be plucked out earlier than expected. Has good upside for the future.

Other in the mix:

The two other Rebels who deserve consideration are midfielder-forwards Mitch Martin and Toby Mahony. Both are very different players despite playing similar roles, Martin is that X-factor forward who can win a game off his own boot, while Mahony has a long raking kick that can pinpoint teammates like very few can. Both have had inconsistencies throughout the season and are more long-term prospects, but both have earned draft combine invites and therefore are on the radar.

BnF chances:

While Martin and Mahony will poll well, expect it to be either Cooper Craig-Peters or Riley Polkinghorne who take it out, with both regularly among the best and consistently putting up solid numbers, but also team-orientated performances. Jayden Wright, Jack Tillig and James Cleaver are other players who were regularly standing up – more often than not in the defensive 50 – and will earn plaudits from their coaches.

2020 Draft Crop:

Harry Sharp and Tillig are the two players who are making waves for 2020 in a year that will be better known for its bottom-agers at the Rebels next year. After being a young side in 2018, the Rebels were older in 2019 and will again look to the bottom-agers in 2020. Midfielders Ben Hobbs and Charlie Molan, and key forward Josh Rentsch loom as a 16-year-old trio that will be regularly monitored by the opposition with the first two hoping to hand the latter some opportunities on a silver platter inside 50.

Final word:

The Rebels had an up-and-down year, with their best right up there with the top sides, and their worst among some forgettable performances. They missed out to winning through to the finals this year after a loss last weekend, but they showed some promising signs at times this year and barring a triple-figure loss to Eastern Ranges mid-season, were able to be competitive and not drop as many games with disappointing last quarters which was a step forward.

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

THERE were no surprises this time in the NAB League Boys Wildcard Round, with every higher-ranked side progressing through to the finals. Despite final results, scores were close for a least a term in each game with the top-end talent from each side shining through in the end. We take a look at the outstanding performers who earned representative or combine nods, as well as a few under-agers who impressed in our opinion-based notes.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

An absolute workhorse in the midfield, Chirgwin was dominant at the coalface with his contested ball winning and presence at stoppages. While he was clean at the fall of the ball and tackled hard in close, another pleasing part of Chirgwin’s game was his work rate around the ground to accumulate just about anywhere the ball went. He had a dominant start to the game and his repeat efforts left the Falcons with no answers throughout. He hit the scoreboard from one of a couple of set shot chances, converting on the back of a 50m penalty. Having proven himself against all opposition so far in the NAB League, Chirgwin looks poised for a big finals series to end an injury interrupted year.

#4 Finn Maginness

Combined beautifully with Chirgwin as another big body in the midfield, showing rare vision in the clinches and a strong core to dish out effortlessly to his runners on the outside. Maginness was another to dominate at the stoppages, constantly latching onto the taps – particularly at centre bounces – with clean hands and poise. Maginness also got forward well as expected, spreading hard to sneak inside 50 unmanned and become another dangerous option. He capped off a brilliant game on the inside with a goal in the final term after marking strongly inside 50 – another of his favourable traits.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

Best afield for mine, Byrnes was sensational on the breakaway from congestion – utilising his zippy first five steps and agility to latch onto the first handball away from stoppages and burst free. Byrnes’ work to get around the ground and accumulate allowed him to get involved in a heap of plays going both ways, with surer kicking at times the only area that could do with some work. While he hit the scoreboard himself with a fantastic pick up and finish at pace in the second term, Byrnes was just as influential in his assists – creating three goals off his own boot throughout the game with clever finds forward of the ball or laterally. He showed a good willingness to break the lines too, adding to his forward threat on the spread. A top game, back to his ball-winning best.

#6 Miles Bergman

Dynamic as ever, Bergman again showed his ability to do some freakish things with his work in the air and forward of the ball in general. He built into the game slowly, standing up in tackles and marking well overhead in little glimpses before coming to life as he rotated between the wing and half forward line. Bergman adjusted his linking play further afield to become the target himself up forward, marking high balls strongly in packs close to home to find three of his four goals. His other major came with a classy speared finish from range on the run, and he was in such form that he scored with a monster torp from the wing after the half time siren. He proved the perfect wildcard for the Dragons, and will be one who is climbing draft boards.

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

It was a solid outing for the wingman/forward, rotating between his usual two positions and popping up with a couple of nice moments. Ralphsmith’s pressure and forward run kept him in the game early, with his best moment coming in the second term as he ran onto his own smother at half-forward and finished clinically into the open goal for his first major. His second came with a set shot in the final quarter to end his game well, with Ralphsmith’s carry and running bounces between the arcs proving damaging.

#12 Charlie Dean

A selfless performance by coach Josh Bourke’s standards, Dean continued his work as a swingman – this time starting in defence and moving forward. It was by no means a massive game from the versatile tall but he played a more unheralded role down back early, going back with the flight multiple times and proving solid in the air. That aerial prowess boded well for his shift forward as he marked strongly deep inside 50 and got reward for his efforts with two goals.

#13 Louis Butler

Another who played a selfless role and won praise from his coach, Butler was tasked with playing a more defensive style to his usual rebounding game – shutting down Geelong’s small forwards. While he was sound inside defensive 50, Butler was a little shaky with his kicking under pressure as a few balls grazed the grass on the back of rushed releases. He was freed up a touch more in the second half as he accumulated across the back half, providing his usual run.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The leading ball winner on the day, Hanrahan was busy throughout on the outside in penetrating both arcs. His high numbers came on the back of some good work in handball chains forward, while also using those repeat running efforts to get secondary touches after short kicks too. The over-ager wasn’t afraid to take opponents on with little agile steps, finishing his forward runs with kicks down the line or sharper short finds – as was the case with his goal assist to Miles Bergman in the second term. His accumulative style is commonplace among outside players, but Hanrahan keeps on doing the right things and is in a good patch of form.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The All Australian defender was good without being outstanding in his two-goal performance, proving dangerous up forward before shifting back in the second half. McAsey’s work to get separation on the lead was terrific, allowing him to mark almost uncontested numerous times and creating shots on goal. His earliest set shot was a shocker, but worked out fortuitously as it fell into the lap of Blake O’Leary closer to goal. He would go on to sure up that area, marking twice more and converting his next two set shots with much more conviction. A solid performance, with his marking a constant threat up both ends.

#32 Jack Bell

Bell is coming into some exciting form, again producing glimpses of his athleticism with some great moments in the air. He took an absolute hanger and flew well in his time up forward where he found two goals, while also providing good fold in the ruck with his long reach and craft to palm down to his dominant mids. Just catches the eye on occasion and has the right traits for a tall.

#74 Harry Loughnan

The over-ager stood out with his combativeness in defence, attacking the ball hard and making desperate plays across half-back to set the tone even when the result was well beyond doubt. Loughnan’s hunger saw him collect a good amount of possessions, using it well when he opted to go by foot and proving clean by hand. Also popped up with a nice one-handed mark to show a touch of class.

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

One of Geelong’s only forms of resistance through a midfield that was soundly beaten, Bruhn continues to show no signs of wear from his long-term injury layoff. The bottom-ager had some promising moments at stoppages, winning the first clear disposals at the opening centre bounces of the first and second terms. His clearance work is already sound and he looked unfazed by Sandringham’s bigger bodies, digging in where he could and zipping away with his first few steps. Also provided good drive forward by foot and chipped in with a goal in the third term from close range. Has a wealth of potential and should lead Geelong’s strong bottom-age core into next year.

#37 Oliver Henry

Only had a handful of disposals but caught the eye with just about each of them, if not with a few of his aerial attempts which didn’t register as stats. Henry started by winning a free kick up forward in a one-on-one contest but missed the set shot, coming into the game again in the second term with a nice overhead grab up the ground. He looked to have hurt himself after flying for another ball in the following quarter, attacking it hard and almost bringing it down but losing it as he landed heavily on his back. It was a tough day for Geelong forwards, but players like Henry will be better for the grind.

#40 Jesse Clark

The skipper simply had to be a beacon for the Falcons in defence, but it was tough going. As the Dragons began to get on a roll, Geelong looked to use Clark’s aerial ability as a spare in defence as he rushed back from the wing at the bounce of the ball. He managed to snare a couple of intercepts in the back half and rebounded like he usually does, doing whatever he could to help his relatively young teammates out.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Was quite possibly Geelong’s best player given the heat he took on in a key defensive post. Fleeton was as sure as anyone by foot, switching confidently across defensive 50 to try and set the Falcons on the right foot coming out of defence. Two of his three marks were fantastic too, intercepting strongly in the first term and sticking a one-hander going back in the second to show some courage and athleticism. The bottom-ager was also incredibly composed on the ball, not afraid to take on opponents on the last line and burning one in the second quarter with a good piece of agility after gathering over the back. Also contributed some second efforts with the result beyond doubt, showing heart on a rough day.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It was another assured performance in defence from Davies, who pitched in with his usual intercept and rebounding game. He was entrusted with kick-ins early as is typically the case, but was taken off them on the back of a couple of misjudged long-range efforts against the wind – instead becoming the target with his solid overhead marking. While he was calm with ball in hand, Davies proved much more audacious in the air with his attempts and willingness to launch at packs. He reeled in some nice grabs one-on-one and won a fair amount of ball without being dominant.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a touch quieter than the lofty standard he has now set, but still managed to find the ball and impact play up the ground. D’Intinosante’s attack on the ball was great when hitting up onto the wing or through the corridor, playing almost like a lead-up forward but sweeping at ground level. He would repeatedly go back to win the ball or apply pressure, looking to get forward quickly and follow his delivery up. The state combine invitee’s goal came from a set shot in the final term, missing a tough dribbled effort in the second term and otherwise not having too many chances inside 50.

#8 Adam Carafa

The midfield bull was the leading ball winner by a fair way as the only player to crack 30 disposals, working hard going both ways in the engine room. Carafa was pivotal to Northern’s strong second half, handballing beautifully away from congestion and out to his fleeter midfielders, accumulating at the coalface with ease. With his distribution down pat, Carafa went on to help out his defence and send a couple of nice passes inside 50 up the other end in what was an outstanding third term which turned the tide of the game in a defining way. He added a couple of flashy spins out of traffic to his grunt work to cap off a one of his better NAB League outings.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Has reverted back to his defensive post of late, starting this game as one of the two deepest defenders but looking more impactful with his run from half-back. Sturgess repeatedly got on his bike and looked to chain possessions after an initial disposal, sparking the Knights from the defensive arc and helping to take the game on. He was another to fall victim to the wind when looking for distance from the kick-ins but sured that area up quickly to continue to provide real drive. You can also count on the draft combine invitee bringing aggression to the game, tackling hard and crashing packs when swung forward. He again made an impact up forward, booting two goals in the final quarter with cool conversion and an outstanding 1v2 mark for his second.

#13 Sam Philp

Along with Carafa was crucial to Northern’s turnaround and clear break, hunting the ball in midfield and providing some aggressive run away from congestion. He worked tirelessly to break the game open with his ability to burst clear of would-be tacklers, booting long inside 50 at the end of his explosive runs. Philp added touches of class to his game with drawing handballs at half forward and a fantastic goal on the run in the third term. His scoreboard impact extended to an assist for Jackson Bowne in the same term, conveying the kind of effect he had on the contest in turning it around.

#40 Liam McMahon

Continues to show promising signs inside forward 50, not needing many touches to have an impact and find the goals. His first major was a straightforward one after receiving a 50m penalty in the first term, with his second a much trickier set shot from the boundary which sailed through off a couple of steps, and his third another conversion from deep after marking on the lead. While he only showed it a couple of times, McMahon’s marking at the highest point is what helps him catch the eye, making his influence more profound.

#45 Ayce Taylor

The over-ager had some nice moments from defence, hitting up hard at half-back to intercept at both levels and spark some rebound. Despite playing more like a key defender, Taylor showed good agility to slip opponents with ball in hand and spread well as Northern forced turnovers in defence. His bodywork early was astute, with his ability to run in the second and third terms ending in a James Lucente goal. Taylor’s aggressive style of defence was a good pointer for his fellow back six members to follow, sparking the Knights into some more daring play.

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

Dow was the key ball winner for Bendigo in midfield against some pretty stiff inside competition, hunting the ball and exploding away from congestion to clear going inside 50. While his contested work and bustling stoppage play was a highlight throughout, Dow also pushed forward well and broke the lines over the back to set Jack Evans’ goal in motion. He would go on to win a clearance shortly after to assist Aaron Gundry’s goal and produced a lovely weighted ball to Ethan Roberts inside 50 in the fourth quarter. He capped a solid game with a highlight reel snare off a Josh Treacy tap in the same term, standing up as one of Bendigo’s best.

#19 Ben Worme

It was an indifferent game from Worme, who spent an extended amount of time up forward while also rotating through midfield. His work to get up the ground and wheel into forward 50 was effective, but he fell just short in finishing his own chances with a couple of misses on the run. He showed a nice bit of vision to hit up Riley Wilson inside 50, later making another handy lateral kick at half-forward and contributing in handy bursts.

#22 Josh Treacy

Treacy was aggressive in his time as one of two deep forwards, leading up hard beyond the arc and throwing his weight around in general play. He was one of the better players afield in the first term, booting both of his goals from a free kick and 50m penalty. His conversion was steady and reliable, with his ruckwork later in the day proving shrewd as he found the likes of Thomson Dow with taps well on the move.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

The nippy forward was one of Bendigo’s most threatening players and was relevant throughout the game, leading his opponents to the ball with his gut-busting runs up the field and equally hard movement over the back toward goal. He missed a couple of chances in the opening term but found space in the following quarter to snap home and snare another major out the back again. He slowed up a touch as Northern got on top after half time after claiming all of his 2.3 in the first half, but constantly looked to break from congestion and get something going for the Pioneers.

#38 Brady Rowles

The line-breaking defender was terrific in this outing, having an impact with just about all of his 15 disposals and using his trademark speed to provide some form of inspiration for Bendigo. While his kicks at pace on the end of damaging runs was not always ideal and he almost had a horrific defensive 50 turnover, Rowles hit a couple of handy targets to show signs of improvement in that area overall. His best traits always make you stand up and watch, with enough there to suggest he can become a handy asset when better refined.

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

Slotted a goal early in the first quarter thanks to his goal sense and awareness. Clean hands out of congestion to move the ball forward and put it in a damaging position. Mott worked hard in and around the stoppages and lowered his eyes to find teammates in space. He was not afraid to put his body on the line and applied good pressure. He worked hard at stoppages to get hands to ball and consistently looked to move the ball down into the forward 50. Mott had a good passage of play showcasing his slick hands and impressive kick to hit a teammate on the lead under pressure. He held his space well around the throw ins to try and read the tap and break free. He lifted his intensity in the last term with a burst through the middle of the ground to create a shot at goal for a teammate.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Worked hard across the ground to provide an option and use his assets to his advantage. Cardillo showed good pace out of the middle to run through corridor and spear the ball forward. Displayed good tackling pressure to win a holding the ball call and ran hard throughout the match. He used his quick hands to keep the ball moving and stepped up in the last term winning his fair share of the ball in the fourth quarter.

#5 Curtis Brown

Good hands coming out of defence and displayed his clever clearing kick through the middle of the ground to provide a release for the Cannons. Brown was a good link up player for the Cannons and applied good tackling pressure. Backed himself in the contest credit to his strong hands and used his impressive vision to kick to a teammate in space. He took a few important intercept marks and propelled the ball back down the field late in the game to give his side opportunities in the forward half. He showed glimpses of good speed to track both the ball and his player to stop his opponents influence. Brown had an impressive passage of play laying a huge tackle in the last quarter in the middle of the ground to get a holding the ball call.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Showed some good dash along the wing and was not afraid to take the contest on and try and break lines. After a relatively quiet first half Ramsay really lifted a gear in the second half to drag his team back into the contest. Showed his dare and execution with a good kick through the middle of the ground to open up the field for the Cannons. Showed good footy smarts and understanding creating strong leads throughout the match and using his speed to outrun his opponents. He was involved in an exciting passage of play receiving the ball and running down the wing, then dishing off to a teammate while he continued to run and present in the forward 50 to slot a goal from about 40 out directly in front. Consistently assessed his options across the ground to dish of passes and work hard to win the ball at the coalface. Seemed to have the footy on a string in the third quarter.

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

Strong in the air and worked hard to bring the ball to ground time and time again. He provided a good contest and led up at the footy well. O’Sullivan worked hard throughout the game to offer a target and showed a good leap to get up and try and win the ball. Showed good presence in the forward 50 throwing his weight around and creating strong leads. He missed an opportunity from about 30 out on a tight angle but later rectified his inaccuracy with a strong mark on a tight angle and nailing it in the dying minutes of the game.  

#29 Campbell Edwardes

Got plenty of hands to ball throughout the game and steadily built into the match to win contests and create doubt when kicking the ball in long down the line. Edwardes had a stint in the forward line and took a big contested mark early in the third quarter and slotted the goal showcasing his strong kicking action. He worked hard throughout the match getting to contests and creating half chances. He showcased his strength taking a heap of marks and denying easy access into the Cannons defensive 50.

#38 Brodie Newman

Worked hard in defence and consistently offered an option down the line. Newman displayed his strong set of hands taking a multitude of marks and making it look easy. Good composure to think his way through the defensive pressure and showed good strength to shrug off a couple of would be tackles, keep his feet and dish the ball off. Newman offered a good contest in the air and used his body well to out position his opponents in one on ones. He used his long booming kick to try and create an inside 50 opportunity for his team and backed himself defensively with a well timed punch in the middle of the ground. Strong overhead and lifted his intensity when the game was on the line displaying his general football smarts and skill. He won the footy time and time again and applied strong physical pressure with some brutal tackles.

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

Found good space and lowered his eyes to find a teammate on the lead multiple times throughout the game. Banks was classy with ball in hand releasing handballs to teammates in better positions and was never far away from the contest. He impressed with his ability to read the flight of the ball and take a clever intercept mark deep in defensive 50 highlighting his strong set of hands.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Was in absolutely everything for the Devils for the full four quarters. He read the flight of the ball well and impacted the contest on every opportunity possible. McGuinness opened the campaign for Tasmania credit to his good goal sense and long booming kick. He applied good defensive pressure to get up and smother the high ball coming in while also showing good composure across the field to think his way through pressure. McGuinness was relatively efficient by foot to hit his teammates lace out on the lead and provided good run through the middle of the field. Impressed with one passage of play linking up with a teammate along the wing to receive a couple of handballs and stream forward. He dropped back into the space to take fill in the gaps and used his long booming kick to get over the mess coming out of defence.

#8 Jake Steele

Steele bobbed up and down throughout the game and applied good defensive and offensive pressure when needed. He made the most of his opportunities in front of goal nailing his only major in the second quarter. Showcased his slick hands to move the ball on.

#25 Jackson Callow

Good strong mark and clever lead up at the footy through the middle corridor. He constantly re-offered in the forward 50 and took a strong mark but did not covert on a tight angle at the start of second quarter. Callow struggled in front of goal only managing three behinds but still posed a dominant threat, using his stature to throw his weight around and create half chances. He showed good strength to out body his opponent and win the ball time and time again for Tasmania. 

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

Martin had a mixed game playing mostly as a mid in the first half. He was moved forward in the second half and although he led up well and took some nice marks, his kicking at goal let him down. He won a bit of the ball in the midfield early on but he looked most dangerous when moved forward in the second half and if he had kicked a bit straighter it would have been a very strong game from him. Martin finished the game with 18 disposals, six marks and five tackles.

#13 Jay Rantall

It was a quieter day for Rantall by his standards and looked to carry most of the midfield load for the Rebels with the Jets having the advantage in the middle through most of the day. Rantall would still show his great work rate and ability to work up and down the ground, his craftiness by hand was again a staple despite his kicking letting him down occasionally. His only goal came in the third quarter which was a nice kick on the run and would almost kick a great goal in the last quarter with a snap that did not quite make the distance. Rantall finished the game with 19 disposals, seven tackles and one goal.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Hobbs is not draft eligible until 2021 but already looks a great prospect for then with the busy midfielder playing a different role down back which didn’t effect his ability to win the ball with ease. Hobbs was composed with ball in hand and looked confident in riding tackles and evading which is great to see from such a young player. His defensive running was sound and his ability to read the ball was impressive. Hobbs finished the game with 22 disposals, four tackles and four rebounds 50s.

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

Failli was energetic playing forward and through the midfield, he was the smallest player out there but with perhaps the biggest impact especially in the last quarter kicking two great goals. The best of the lot opened up the last term with a classy left foot snap goal. Failli couldn’t do much more in his role, winning 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and he is one to watch for the 2020 draft.

#3 Eddie Ford

Ford won plenty of the ball playing as a leading player at half forward, his ability to find the ball and provide an options was pivotal for the Jets and despite a few errors and missed shots on goal he should take confidence in his game. Ford missed a few marks early in the game which wasn’t like him but he would take two very strong marks in the last term. Ford finished the game with 23 disposals and three behinds in what could have been a huge game if he kicked straight.

#4 Lucas Rocci

The Morrish Medalist had a well rounded performance showing a good mix of attacking flair and defensive nous. Rocci often used his nice left boot to his advantage finding targets both long and short with ease and despite showing good initiative with ball in hand he also showed initiative without it, laying some nice tackles with one strong tackle on the wing in the second quarter before quickly getting around on his left foot with a long kick inside 50 that found his teammate. Rocci finished the game with 19 disposals, nine tackles and six rebounds.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Cassar was a ball magnet down back, often taking kickouts he rarely missed a target by foot and was pivotal in the Jets rebounding so well from defence. He got a lot of easy receives but showed he could get his own ball with two very good intercept marks in the first quarter. Cassar finished the game with 26 disposals, nine marks and five rebounds which has been the standard game from Cassar all year in the NAB League.

#24 Josh Honey

Honey reminded everyone why he is one of the NAB League’s most dangerous players when up and running with a big performance through the midfield and one of his most well rounded games this year. Honey started the game well with eight disposals in the first quarter and looking lively, he would show a good mix of attacking flair and hard hitting tackles showing he wasn’t just all flash. Honey finished the game strongly kicking a nice running goal from 50m and setting up two other scoring opportunities with an unselfish pass after taking a mark in the pocket. He also showed his dual sidedness with a long left foot kick inside 50 hitting its mark. Honey finished the game with 23 disposals, six marks, six tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash did absolutely everything he could to get his team over the line; the Murray captain was a strong four-quarter performer, going in hard through the midfield in the first three quarters before moving to his preferred position down back in the last to give his team some run from defence. Ash came out with good intent in the first quarter, laying a good smother to then win the ball and have a flying shot at goal that just missed. Ash’s run and eagerness to move the ball on is his bread and butter and he again showed those traits but it was his appetite for the contest as a midfielder that really impressed and showed he had more strings to his bow. Ash finished the game with 27 disposals, six tackles, five inside 50s and six rebounds.

#31 Josh Rachele

Rachele was almost the match winner for Murray, with his nous around goals a real asset for his side. Rachele was the man of the moment in Murray’s second quarter fightback with two great set shot goals from 50m from identical spots. Murray trailed by as much as 30 points around half way through the second quarter and Rachele’s last goal of that term gave them the lead going into the half time break. Safe to say the decision to start him on the bench in the third quarter after his hot finish to the second quarter was a head scratcher and proved even more so as Murray didn’t managed a goal that quarter, Rachele however would pop up again in the last quarter to kick the goal of the day with a kick on his opposite foot in mid air that got the crowd up and about. Rachele finished the game with 17 disposals, six marks, five tackles and three goals and the U16 MVP showed he is a top prospect for the 2021 draft.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

Bedendo is a player that lacks a strong body and was out-bodied on a few occasions but the small samples he shows make him an exciting forward prospect for next year’s draft. Bedendo showed of his great leaping ability with a nice mark in the last quarter that led to his second goal for the game. Bedendo didn’t get a a lot of the ball but he showed his potential with some great leaps and slick hands when taking possession. Bedendo finished the game with seven disposals, three marks and two goals.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

It was a fairly standard game for Young who has been playing midfield as of late but was moved back to his favoured defensive position against Murray and showed the traits that have him talked as a potential top five prospect this year. Young’s influence was seen early with a strong intercept mark at half back and would set his usual tone with his run and carry and confidence to take the game on. Young was also solid defensively with some strong tackles. You could not fault Young’s game and Dandenong certainly look better with the ball in his hands coming from defence, he finished the game with 24 disposals and seven tackles.

#10 Clayton Gay

Dandenong had a threatening forward line and Gay was certainly one of their more influential forwards, especially in the second half with his marking ability and class really standing out. Both of Gay’s goals came from some strong marks and he would convert his opportunities with a great set shot technique. Gay could do it all both overhead and at ground level with his speed and ability to wheel around on his left foot and find targets going inside 50. Gay has shown an ability to play both back and forward and his marking for a 183cm player is sensational and he looks a strong prospect for the 2020 draft. Gay finished the game with 15 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s and two goals.

#11 Ned Cahill

Cahill bounced back after a quiet game last week to cause havoc inside 50 against Murray Bushrangers. Cahill was a constant threat inside 50 with an opportunistic goal in the first and second quarter and his last coming swiftly in the last quarter, swooping onto a loose ball to kick his third. He had plenty of chances to kick more goals, missing some snaps under pressure and he was a consistent player across four quarters – working hard up the ground as well and seemed to get away from his opposition with ease. Cahill was never out of a contest and was always hovering around the play to keep involved and use his slick ball use to his advantage. Cahill finished the game with 21 disposals, four marks and kicked 3.3

#44 Cody Weightman

The highlight machine Weightman looked set to excite the crowd early with his leaping ability and speed. Weightman kicked his only goal from a free kick but had a hand in helping others try and hit the scoreboard, getting a handball out to Cahill which was super quick. Weightman took a spectacular mark in the third quarter and looked very lively early in that quarter with some quick movement and thinking inside 50, Weightman was unsighted in the last quarter and is hopefully not in doubt for Dandenong’s first final as he is a dangerous proposition for the opposition. Weightman finished the game with 12 disposals and a goal

Jets storm into finals with nine unanswered goals against Rebels

NINE consecutive goals to the Western Jets saw the sixth placed side run rampant over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) to end the Rebels’ season on a disappointing note. While both sides were up for the fight, the Jets restricted the Rebels to just four goals after quarter time, while piling on 13 of their own. The complete rout came from the 20-minute mark of the third term as they booted 9.6 to 0.0 to round out the game and storm into the NAB League finals series.

Efficiency going forward was the key between the sides in the first term, with the Rebels having 10 less disposals, but having five more inside 50s. Of the Rebels’ 14 inside 50s, they had six scoring shots on the board, and held a 13-point buffer at the first break. It was Mitchell Jorgensen who got the Rebels going with a lucky bounce in the goalsquare bounding over the head of an overcommitted Jets’ defender back into Jorgensen’s hands who slammed it home for the game’s first major. Up the other end, Archi Manton tried to do the same with creating something out of nothing, but could not get ball to boot and it dribbled across the line. It must have been something in the air because Mitch Martin almost topped everything with a high bouncing dribbler from the tightest of angles which went end-over-end only for it to bounce through and hit the inside of the post

It was not long before Isaac Grant lead out and accepted a neat Matty Lloyd kick inside 50 to make it two in a row, as either side of that Lloyd had a couple of chances on goal but just picked up the two behinds from general play. Finally the Jets got on the board in reward for time in possession with a long kick and quick handball to the running Aaron Clarke in the goalsquare getting them on the board. The Rebels were having none of that though, as Grant soon responded, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping for his second in the opening term and handing the Rebels a 14-point lead. The Jets controlled most of the last five minutes but could only add a rushed behind to their tally as the GWV defence stood up with plenty of high balls inside 50 spoiled away. At quarter time, Darcy Cassar was up to 10 touches, ahead of Eddie Ford and Josh Honey who were used in transition down the wings, while for the Rebels, it was Martin and Mitchell Burgess who had the seven disposals each.

The Jets fought back in the second term, booting a rather inaccurate 3.6 to the Rebels’ 2.2. Clarke and Manton’s strength in the air and at ground level was telling, while the likes of Ford and Honey were trying to create opportunities inside 50. It was the Rebels who could not convert early however, as Grant and Jorgensen missed chances either side of a Manton goal. Manton was on the end of a terrific turnover by the Jets at half-back and ran it down for the competition’s leading goalkicker to capitalise with the extra number inside 50. A nice piece of play from Ford just prior intercepted a handball and got it over to Honey but his snap missed. Riley Polkinghorne soon got the Rebels on the board with a nice end-to-end play resulting in him launching from outside 50 and responding to the Manton major.

A few more Jets misses – first from Harrison Schumann then Nash Reynolds inside 50 – let the Rebels off the hook with back-to-back defensive 50 turnovers, but a third time they would not be so lucky. The ball bounced back inside 50 to Manton who took a strong mark and put it straight through. Ford had a chance of his own in congestion but could not get on the right and it flew out on the full, with the corresponding passage down the wing resulting in a huge flying mark from Liam Herbert who clunked it from the side and then converted the set shot. Ford had another chance from the set shot following a free kick but again it strayed right, before Clarke also followed suit with a behind after a mismatch resulted in a contested grab and shot. It was not long before Western’s dominance with the ball in the forward half paid dividends as Manton snapped around his body for his third of the half and draw within three points. With less than a minute remaining, two terrific defensive efforts from the Rebels – firstly from Jayden Wright backing into Aaron Clarke to spoil and cause a spill, and then Martin laying a perfect technique tackle to win a free, ensured the Rebels remained in front at the half. Cassar and Ford were still the top Jets ball winners, while Ben Hobbs had a massive second term, combining well with Martin through the middle, while Toby Mahony and Josh Dwyer were also having a say.

The momentum the Jets built in the second term continued into the third, with Lucas Failli kicking a ripping goal from a snap after Martin missed just prior to that with a long range shot. Both teams were looking better with their ball movement, but the Jets were clogging up the wings to halt the Rebels where possible, and with the Jets back in front, Manton almost kicked a remarkable mid-air shot from 30m out on the boundary but it bounced through for just one behind. Martin booted his third behind of the day with a chance he would normally swallow up, but Nick Caris made no mistake shortly after, converting his set shot and the Rebels regained the lead by four points. When Rantall ran into an open goal and put it straight through the middle, the margin was 10 points with seven minutes remaining. But that would be the last Rebels score for the remainder of the game as Western took full control of the game. A Will Kennedy dump kick resulted in a great mark over the top from Manton who converted his fourth goal of the game, and a late snap from Billy Cootee from 50m out put the Jets in front at the final break.

The Jets’ momentum had been brewing and it bubbled over in the final term with a procession of goals as Western took full control of the game and it became a party for the sixth placed side. Failli was the trendsetter with another great snap around his body, followed by a huge goal from Honey to extend the lead into double-digits. That followed a Clarke long-bomb himself from outside 50 and when the Rebels dropped a crucial mark inside defensive 50, Daly Andrews swooped in and produced the double cobra celebration knowing his side was now home and hosed with a 29-point advantage.

The Jets were so comfortable they started with the highlight-reel plays as Manton attempted an ambitious 65-metre set shot which unsurprisingly fell short, and then a kick off the ground was just as ambitious from Harley Blake in mid-air. It was not long before Honey’s influence was taking its toll in the forward half with a perfect kick on his non-preferred to Daniel Bolkas who leaned back and converted, then Honey had another goal assist, this time to Failli for his third. Ford was equally as influential in the forward half, but could not find his radar with his third behind of the game, but it mattered little. The Rebels defensive structure had broken down as a deadly turnover inside 50 straight to Mace Cousins who kicked a goal right before the final siren to make it an even 50-point victory. There were not many highlights for the scoreless Rebels in the final term, with Rantall having the sole shot on goal, which despite being on target, was punched over the line and a free against the Rebels handed out anyway.

The final margin was not reflective of the overall game, though the Jets took control after quarter time, and really owned the midfield and gave their forwards enough chances inside 50 to really capitalise. They booted the last nine goals of the game to win in a stampede, almost doubling their score for the game in that last quarter. Honey was best on ground with 24 touches seven marks, eight inside 50s, five tackles, a goal and numerous goal assists, while Andrews worked hard in the engine room to bring up 29 touches, eight marks, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal. Cassar won plenty of the footy in the back half with 24 touches, seven marks and four rebounds, while Ford was busy in the forward half with three behinds from 23 touches and four marks. Failli finished with the three majors in a big second half, ending the game with 19 touches, while Manton and Clarke combined for six goals and were handful in the air. For the Rebels, Hobbs was the best with 21 disposals, three marks, four rebounds, three inside 50 and three tackles, while Rantall (17 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) and Dwyer (20 disposals, three marks) tried hard, as did Martin (15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and three behinds).

WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 4.8 | 7.9 | 14.15 (99)
GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.5 | 7.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS:

Western: A. Manton 4, L. Failli 3, A. Clarke 2, B. Cootee, D. Andrews, J. Honey, M. Cousins, D. Bolkas.
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Jorgensen, R. Polkinghorne, l. Herbert, J. Rantall, N. Caris.

ADC BEST:

Western: J. Honey, L. Failli, D. Andrews, E. Ford, D. Cassar. A. Manton
GWV: B. Hobbs, J. Rantall, J. Dwyere, M. Martin, i. Grant, M. Burgess

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

IT is a big round of NAB League boys action this weekend, with the Wildcard Round getting underway at Preston, Craigieburn and Box Hill across two big days. There is no turning back for the losers, so for five teams, it is curtains on season 2019, while five others live to fight another day.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 24, 11.45am
Preston City Oval

There was always going to be one of the highly-rated top four sides drop out of the automatic finals qualification places and in this case it was Sandringham who finished fifth and face a Wildcard Round elimination final. They meet 2019 Wooden Spooners, Geelong Falcons in the repeat of the 2017 TAC Cup Grand Final. Geelong has had its most disappointing year for some time on wins alone, but outside the win-loss ratio, the Falcons are a much better side than meets the eye. Their last quarter fadeouts have cost them on a number of occasions and the majority of their developing talent are bottom-agers. Not to dissimilar to Eastern Ranges this year, the core of the Geelong midfield will still have a year to go in the system and should be better heading into next year. Coupled with the bottom-agers is overager Charlie Sprague who has been on a goal-scoring spree over the past five rounds, piling on 18 goals in that time – including six last round against Dandenong Stingrays. He comes up against an in-form Corey Watts who, along with the likes of Jackson Voss and forward-turned-defender Charlie Dean will not make it easy for Sprague. Oliver Henry and Charlie Lazzaro provide strong support for Sprague inside 50, with Lazzaro rotating with Tanner Bruhn and Noah Gribble through the midfield. Sandringham’s midfield is star-studded and will take full advantage of their greater experience, with Darcy Chirgwin, Finn Maginness and Ryan Byrnes in the top three midfields of the competition. If the midfield gets on top, then the forwards of Fischer McAsey and Kyle Yorke could have a field day, especially with Miles Bergman, Hugo Ralphsmith and Jake Bowey named in the forward line and who are all capable of picking up midfield minutes. Jesse Clark looms as Geelong’s most important player to try and halt the Sandringham attack, while Cameron Fleeton returns to provide the Falcons with some more stability back there. It is hard to see Sandringham losing this clash, but Geelong played its best game of the season last week, so if they can build on that and start strongly, anything is possible.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday August 24, 2.15pm
Preston City Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Preston City Oval, the Knights host the Pioneers. The Knights are coming off an impressive win over Western Jets in the final round after starting slowly, while the Pioneers started strongly, and had their chances but just went down to Gippsland Power by 10 points on Sunday. The Knights midfield has the upperhand in this game with Northern trio Adam Carafa, Sam Philp and Josh Watson all in good form, while Josh D’Intinosante looms as a key for Northern up forward with 26 goals to his name this season – second over all on the goalkicking charts. James Schischka might be the man to try and stop him, while William Wallace and Riley Ironside have played good defensive roles in the back 50 of late. Brady Rowles was impressive last week and will provide good rebound, while Sam Conforti, Thomson Dow and Riley Wilson can win the pill and hit the scoreboard. Josh Treacy is strong enough to worry opposition key defenders, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies the two who will likely play a big role in the defence for the home side. Aaron Gundry has been in good form this season, as has Jack Ginnivan and Ben Worme with the former able to kick multiple goals in a game, while Worme can push up the ground and rotate through the middle. Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner are another couple of players that must be contained or Bendigo risk conceding a big score, but they will be relieved that Lachlan Potter will miss the season as his run and carry can break games open. Northern go in as favourites at home, but Bendigo beat the Knights at this venue earlier in the season so will be confident they can repeat the dose here.

CALDER CANNONS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday, August 25, 11am
RAMS Arena

In the standalone game at RAMS Arena, Calder host a somewhat depleted Tasmania side in what on paper should favour the fifth placed home side. With Mitch O’Neill already out and the likes of Sam Collins and Oliver Davis missing it means three of their top players will be unavailable for the knockout clash. Jared Dakin has returned to provide some vital leadership, while Matt McGuinness, Patrick Walker and Liam Viney provide good rebound off the back 50. With Harrison Jones, Jake Sutton and Jackson Cardillo inside the forward arc, the Cannons front six will be hard to contain, but the Devils’ forward line is capable of providing impressive contested marking with Jackson Callow and Jake Steele named in the key position spots. Steele can also play in defence if the Devils start to get overwhelmed on the scoreboard, while Sam Banks and Will Peppin are future prospects who have shown great signs. The Calder midfield of Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Ned Gentile should take control of the game given their experience, and if they get first use to their forwards nice and quickly, then the Cannons could put up a big score. Tasmania must remain composed and use the ball well to take advantage of their contested marking talls in the forward line if they are to cause an upset in this game.

WESTERN JETS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday August 25, 11.45am
Box Hill City Oval

Down the Eastern Freeway, Western Jets cross the West Gate to play the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Box Hill. Western’s defence has won it games in the past, with Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar, Cody Raak and Josh Kellett a formidable combination, while Emerson Jeka can play there as well. Jeka has been named in attack, no doubt to stretch the Rebels’ defence with the tall utility likely to cause headaches for undersized defenders. Also in attack is competition leading goalscorer Archi Manton, but the Jets have struggled to kick big scorers on a consistent basis, so quick ball movement forward is key, as the likes of Josh Honey and Eddie Ford can run and hit the scoreboard. The Rebels are more than comfortable in a shootout situation, but showed last week they can win in a slog as well, which will be great preparation for this match. Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin and Cooper Craig-Peters is an underrated midfield and capable of producing quick clearances, while Josh Rentsch is already showing signs as a top-end key forward despite being two years away from being drafted. Riley Polkinghonre and Jack Tillig have been consistent players up either end this season, while Toby Mahony adds a touch of class, and Ben Hobbs is a 2021 draft prospect with a high ceiling. The Jets have overage experience in Aaron Clarke and Daly Andrews on their side, while Will Kennedy has been phenomenal in the ruck. He meets Patrick Glanford who averages the second most hitouts behind Kennedy, while James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd have also remained in the team this season as overagers, playing roles up opposite ends of the ground.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 25, 2.15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what could be the match of the round, eighth placed Dandenong Stingrays take on ninth placed Murray Bushrangers in the second game at Box Hill. The Stingrays head into the game on an eight-game losing streak after sitting at a remarkable six wins and a draw from seven games. They have improved the past month, but were overwhelmed by the last placed Falcons in the wet at Bendigo last weekend. With elimination on the line for the reigning premiers, they must pick up if they are to overcome Murray in this match. The Bushrangers were starting to get back to their best before slipping and sliding – literally and figuratively – to a hungry GWV Rebels side in the previous round. The Stingrays still have plenty of match winners with Hayden Young, Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman in the side, and after spending time in the midfield, have been named back in their most dominant positions of half-back and the latter two, half-forward. Lachlan Williams has consistency to build, but as he showed from his three-goal last quarter in Round 17, can pop up and turn a game if it is tight. Murray is usually a strong defensive side, with Liam Fiore and Ethan Baxter able to nullify their direct opponents, as Charlie Byrne and Zavier Maher provide the run and carry out of defence. Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild and Dylan Clarke provide a hard edge to the midfield, while Lachlan Ash is all class and can play anywhere on the ground. Jimmy Boyer and Clayton Gay can play up both ends for their respective sides, while Ben Kelly will try and work over Bigoa Nyuon in the ruck, who will have the athletic advantage in the air. Will Lewis played his first game for the year last week and looked impressive, while Josh Rachele is a Under 16s forward who looms as a top pick in the 2021 draft already.

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THERE was plenty to write home about after the final NAB League Boys home and away round, with usual suspects standing up in key moments and under-agers in a hurry to show their talent. In this week’s edition of Caught my Eye, we revert back to focussing on one impressive performer from each side, and it was a tough week to narrow down in. For full scouting notes on each player and more, click here.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights

Lucas Failli
Midfielder | Western Jets
14/09/2002 | 170cm | 70kg

Stats: 14 disposals, 5 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:The energetic small… zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Not the highest accumulator but has impact with his touches, using his pace and deceptive strength to break away from congestion. Failli’s penetration on his kicks was particularly useful going forward, and he is just as effective inside 50. Can work on his tackle numbers and work around the ground, but will build on a solid few weeks.

Josh Watson
Midfielder/Wing | Northern Knights
21/10/2002 | 180cm | 74kg

Stats: 21 disposals, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Had a real breakout game and possesses some traits that make his style easy on the eye. Has a booming left foot which he often looks to use, but can work on lowering his eyes as he gets the ball in dangerous positions in the forward half. A bolter to monitor heading into next year.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges

Harrison Jones
Key Forward | Calder Cannons
25/02/2001 | 194cm | 75kg

Stats: 17 disposals, 4 marks, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Still yet to truly break a game open with his scoreboard impact but was terrific in this outing with his impact up the ground. In a draft short of outstanding talls, Jones could find himself in high demand with his enormous ceiling and natural talent.

Lachie Stapleton
Midfielder | Eastern Ranges
14/04/2001 | 177cm | 72kg

Stats: 23 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball… capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Just keeps on getting the job done and is getting some of the recognition his year deserves. His two goals showed real class, with the second obviously coming at a crucial time. Is only small, but cracks in well and goes both ways, which is desirable.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Darcy Chirgwin
Inside Midfielder | Sandringham Dragons
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

Stats: 30 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s

Our scouts said:A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways… he will be important in the crunch finals moments.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Has been a very handy addition to Sandringham’s midfield which all of a sudden boasts a couple of bigger bodies, while also freeing up Finn Maginness to impact up forward. Is quite inside but is still efficient by foot, which is often rare.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Key Forward | Oakleigh Chargers
4/04/2002 | 194cm | 79kg

Stats: 7 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 4 goals

Our scouts said:Another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals… has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up.” – Michael Alvaro

Verdict: Is just a special talent who seldom fails to deliver a few eye-catching moments. Hailed as the next ‘Buddy’, Ugle-Hagan’s high marking is arguably better than the Hawthorn/Sydney champion and he took a ripper in this game. Bulldogs will surely be made to pay a hefty price for their NGA product next year.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power

Brady Rowles
Half-Back/Wing | Bendigo Pioneers
10/07/2001 | 186cm | 72kg

Stats: 15 disposals, 5 marks, 5 rebound 50s

Our scouts said:Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: A high-impact player, Rowles was back to his better self in this outing and again displayed all the talent he did during the national carnival. Is still a touch patchy, but is hard to miss with his line-breaking speed and will garner some attention.

Riley Baldi
Midfielder | Gippsland Power
20/02/2001 | 178cm | 74kg

Stats: 27 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season… converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Is so consistent and has a nice balance of inside and outside traits. Baldi attracts the ball and wins it at will, while staying relevant going the other way, too. Was good to see him have an impact going forward too with a couple of goals, as he may spend some time out of the engine room at the next level.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Tanner Bruhn
Midfielder/Forward | Geelong Falcons
20/05/2002 | 182cm | 73kg

Stats: 16 disposals, 4 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals

Our scouts said:Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half… he (has) nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Just oozes class and is a player the Falcons have sorely missed this year. Fingers crossed he can stay on the park in his top-age year and prove the talent that saw him claim the U16 Vic Country MVP last year. Will be a real wildcard for Geelong next round.

William Lewis
Midfielder | Dandenong Stingrays
27/05/2002 | 176cm | 81kg

Stats: 24 disposals, 4 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:It was the first time seeing Lewis live and he certainly stood out from a Stingrays perspective. Returning from injury, he had the most touches of any player on the ground, but his work rate was a highlight, getting between the arcs and having an impact.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: A smaller player, Lewis showed signs of having talent but has been unlucky not getting on the park due to injury. If he can stay injury free, he could be a crucial player for the Stingrays through the midfield.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers

Ben Hobbs
Midfielder | GWV Rebels
16/09/2003 | 181cm | 75kg

Stats: 12 disposals, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 goal

Our scouts said:Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: The 16-year-old is warming to U18 competition, having good impact with his disposals and still applying his usual pressure around the ball. Spent some more time in the middle this game after playing mostly forward or on the outer previously and showed he belongs.

Sam Durham
Midfielder | Murray Bushrangers
9/07/2001 | 182cm | 70kg

Stats: 18 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s

Our scouts said:Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term.” – Peter Williams

Verdict: Received a state combine invitation for his work this year and he has quietly been flying under the radar. He wins the ball both inside and outside, can roost it long and with a good finals series would further put his name towards draft calculations.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 17

THE cream is beginning to rise to the top in the NAB League as we reach the business end of the season. There was a bunch of top-end prospects to stand up in tight games this weekend, with out scouts getting to both the Metro and Country triple-headers. Here are their opinion-based notes on some of the players who received a National, State or Rookie Me Draft Combine invitation, or represented Vic Country and Vic Metro at the Under-16 Championships and Under-17 Futures games.

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

The energetic small enjoyed time in the midfield, bringing good attack and speed to the engine room. He started well with an accurate hit-up kick to Archi Manton and excelled with penetrating kicks into the forward 50 off only a few steps. Failli also zipped away from congestion well and was often present at the fall of the ball, where he used his agility and clean hands to stay in possession. Not a massive game, but was busy.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Continued his apprenticeship as a key defender for most of the game, positioning well inside defensive 50 to cut off a few Northern attacks – especially early on. Jeka positioned smartly to intercept in the first term and used his ideal foot skills to find both short options and penetrate long on the rebound. He was swung back to his more familiar forward position in the second half but missed the chance to hit the scoreboard as he missed with a third term set shot. But Jeka would still have an impact in that department despite Western’s low-scoring effort, assisting an Archi Manton goal after finding him by foot inside 50.

#20 Darcy Cassar

Had a slow start to the game but built into it with repeat running and driving bursts along the outside. Positioned on the wing and off half-back, Cassar worked well both ways and tried his best to help Western exit the Knights’ territory after quarter time. His instincts in reading the high balls came into play with a defensive 50 intercept mark over the back in the third term, and Cassar went on to accumulate many of his team-high 22 disposals in a more influential second half.

#24 Josh Honey

Was far and away the Jets’ best player for mine, building in confidence as the game went on and causing headaches with his explosiveness from midfield. Honey’s aggression going both ways went a ways to setting the tone for his side, and his willingness to get on the move at every opportunity was a key part of Western’s promising start. Time and time again, Honey broke away from congestion with pure speed and strength, burning opponents with ease and pumping the ball forward. His aggression translated to a bit of niggle and a particularly strong tackle on Sam Philp in the second term, and Honey had an eye-catching three-bounce run later on. Has some terrific traits, just needs to find consistency and eliminate his down games.

Northern:

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Is really coming into his own as a more permanent small forward, bouncing back to form with his second four-goal haul for the year. D’Intinosante broke the game open in the second term, booting three goals in quick succession early in the piece to get Northern well on top and build the game-defining margin. His first goal came off the back of some great pressure, snapping up the resultant turnover and slamming the ball home. His second goal came a bit easier as he was found over the back in the goalsquare, but he produced another fine bit of work with his third goal from a shrewd front and centre take off hands. D’Intinosante went on to add his fourth with a nicely hit set shot in the third term, and was dangerous throughout with his work deep in the forward half.

#7 Ryan Gardner

Gardner recovered from a couple of shaky moments early on, winning a good amount of ball on the outer and providing neat use by foot going forward. Rotating between the wing and half forward, Gardner was terrific in the middle period of the game with clearing balls forward and a nice goal assist to Nikolas Cox. He continually got the ball in good areas and booted inside 50, getting involved as the Jets looked to mount a comeback. Finds space well but can also get to work on both sides of the stoppages.

#8 Adam Carafa

It was a pretty typical outing from Carafa, who accumulated his possessions at the coalface and flicked out well to his runners with 17 handballs from 23 disposals. He first caught the eye with a well weighted kick though, finding Josh D’Intinosante through the corridor with little fuss. While he is a touch fumbly in collecting the loose ball on occasion, Carafa proved his poise in possession with a couple of classy one-on-one wins in space and had the presence of mind to step around oncoming opponents. Will enjoy playing mostly through the middle having been used up either end throughout the last two years at representative level.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Was arguably a very, very close second for best afield on the back of some fantastic aerial efforts. Starting the game at centre-half-back, Sturgess was his reliable self as he acted as an outlet and intercepter across defensive 50. His flying speckie from behind in the second term was a sign of things to come as Sturgess continued to fly confidently over opponents after half time. His courage in hitting the ball hard and plowing through anyone in the way was great to see, leading up and crashing the packs. Sturgess’ whopping 13 marks really showcased the best of the National Combine invitee, and he almost finished with another highlight as he narrowly missed a long-range attempt in the fourth quarter.

#14 Josh Watson

Was named best afield for the Knights and rightly so having made an electric start to the game. Watson did some great work up the ground at the stoppages, snapping the ball up cleanly and breaking away with speed and pumping the ball inside 50 on his left side. His use by foot was often a weapon, finding good range and looking for his tall leading targets – even if he could have lowered his eyes on a few occasions. Was a relative unknown coming into just his fifth game, but the bottom ager certainly captured some attention.

#23 Nikolas Cox

Is such an exciting prospect on athleticism and versatility alone, doing some nice work up either end as more of a key position option. Cox’s leap and clean hands on both levels were exceptional, making him a threat no matter what kind of delivery he was given. He hit the scoreboard early on the back of a 50m penalty and would later add a second with an outstanding wheeling goal in the following term from on the arc to show his true capabilities. Cox was thrown down back to finish the game and was good with his positioning, contesting Western’s forward forays and rebounding to good effect.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

Is just a consistent performer in the back half, doing the defensive things well and working hard to become relevant when exiting the arc. Macpherson racked up a fair chunk of the ball in the first term as Northern played a more high-possession and slow defensive game, but had more important touches later on under heat. Is usually a sound short kick and has good awareness in knowing when to release, while also proving solid in mopping up one-on-one ground balls.

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Michael Alvaro

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Was one who really lifted when the game was on the line, often found at the bottom of packs and extracting from the stoppages as he has done more often since the national carnival. Mott just always found a way to will the ball forward, getting out the back of a few stoppages and booting long while wheeling away from the traffic. He made a more typical play in the third term with a neat goal assist kick to Jake Sutton, but was sometimes a touch more rushed in possession. Will thrive off receiving more ball on the outside at the next level when not acting as the number one ball winner.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

Started brightly with a goal in the first term and found a lot of his possessions going forward, proving dangerous when in full flight. While he can sure up his short-range kicking at times, Cardillo made a couple of neat plays in-tight when keeping his hands free and shifting to release around opponents, while also getting good penetration with longer kicks going inside 50. Clunked a really strong mark from behind in the third term and came off worse for wear, but that kind of attack is just part of his game.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Again proved industrious going both ways in midfield, wheeling away to boot forward clearing kicks and tackling hard when not in possession. His chase to catch an opponent hold the ball in the second term was exceptional and he went on to lay a few more hard tackles at stoppages. Ramsay had a long range snap touched on the line in the final term which could have been a deciding factor, but otherwise made his impact around the ball.

#21 Harrison Jones

Moves so well for his size and was prominent in the air in patches, showing good courage going back and hitting up strongly on the lead at full stretch. Jones found the goals early with a set shot conversion, while assisting for Jake Sutton in the second term and later missing a chance for his second major after marking well one-on-one. Has great potential and favourable traits, but is yet to truly rip a game apart.

#38 Brodie Newman

Had a couple of tricky matchups down back, being held accountable by Eastern’s dangerous talls while still trying to get some rebounding drive going. Newman was caught out a couple of times biting off too much in possession, but looked more assured as the game went on with quicker disposals and some smart decisions. He took a strong pack mark in the second term and looked safe on the last line as the game heated up. A solid game without being exceptional.

Eastern:

#7 Lachie Stapleton

Was his usual productive self through midfield, repeatedly getting to the drop of the ball and sweeping up the loose ball. Stapleton’s short game was neat and he often used it after breaking well from congestion where he read the taps from both rucks. He moved forward to good effect, intercepting inside 50 in the second term and putting through the set shot, and later capping his game with a beautiful finish on the run to level the scores in the final term. Stapleton also got stuck in with his tackles, laying a couple on the end of persistent chases early on and rising to the occasion as the game tightened up.

#11 Mitch Mellis

Another of Eastern’s diminutive midfielders who just always puts in the work and sets the tone for his side. Mellis constantly looked to get on the move in possession, using his speed and agility to break free. His repeat running was a feature, dishing the ball out to runners and going on to get it back up the field to continue the Ranges’ forward forays. He contributed a handy goal assist to Ben Hickleton in the final term when the pressure was on, adding to his ball winning feats.

#18 Billy McCormack

The Eastern big man was used in a different role this time around, tried up the other end as a key defender. His positioning was sound, often getting to long balls into defensive 50 and plucking the ball with ease. He made some good reads out the back when others were sucked into the ball and also affected some long rebounding kicks. McCormack finished the game up forward where he had less of an impact, but was still solid.

#20 Connor Downie

The hero of the day, Downie had a slightly more patchy game in the build up to his match winning goal. He started with some dangerous accumulation around half-forward, missing a quickfire long-range shot on goal in the first term and having another go out on the full. He sharpened up after the main break, becoming the chain on the outside we have come to expect while still going forward well. His moment in the sun came on the back of staying with the play and laying a strong tackle to force the spillage and deciding free kick, converting cooly after the siren.

#23 Zak Pretty

Compliments his midfield partners so well and while he is slightly less heralded, Pretty is clever in congestion and does things you have to look closely to see. He kicked off his game with the very first clearance and a few hacked kicks forward, but looked a lot better when propping in possession and releasing drawing handballs out with good vision and execution. Pretty’s ability to hand out to a voice was also noticeable and was more than handy as the game became more contested.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

The 16-year-old is really coming on quickly and racked up 17 disposals in this game, spending time up forward and through the midfield. He was a good link going forward and penetrated both arcs, having his most important one in the final term and Eastern broke inside 50 for the game winning play. He missed a couple of tough chances on goal but is usually pretty clinical around the big sticks. Has plenty of potential, and could be a wildcard for the Ranges heading into finals a-la Jaidyn Stephenson a few years ago.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

What a handy addition to the Sandringham side Chirgwin has been after a long injury layoff, putting in the hard yards through midfield and providing a great point of difference. A lot of his work was done on the inside in a more unheralded role, digging in at the stoppages going both ways to prize a team-high 30 disposals and lay seven tackles. His handballs from in-close under tackling pressure worked well, and his cleanliness by hand translated to overhead marking as he pulled down a couple of important ones in the thick of the action. Lifted when the game was on the line and he will be important in the crunch finals moments.

#4 Finn Maginness

Arguably the Dragons player who stood up most in the final term and tried to will his side over the line, making an impact through the midfield and booting three clutch goals – including two at the start of the fourth quarter. His first goal came all the way back in the first term with a straightforward conversion from close range, and while he was a touch quiet after that, Maginness popped up with a couple of strong marks and bustling bursts through the corridor. His second goal came from a lovely snap and wheeling finish, with his third another set shot inside 50. Still has some improvement left in him, which makes him all the more valuable as a prospect.

#6 Miles Bergman

A player who does not have many touches but has truly important ones, which was the case again in this game. His overhead marking was again strong, starting with one in the first term while also mopping up below his knees around the ground well. Kicking remains an areas of improvement for Bergman despite all of his eye-catching traits, turning the ball over going inside 50 on two occasions going inside 50 and rushing a touch when throwing it on his boot. Is still very promising and found the goals as he usually does with a free kick in the second term.

#13 Louis Butler

Was his usual self in the back half, getting to an absolute raft of contests across the defensive arc and providing his trademark rebound. He was another who was sometimes rushed on the ball when going long or clearing his lines, but worked into that area as he accumulated across the day. He took an important overhead mark in the corridor with pressure on in the final term and intercepted inside defensive 50 in the same term to show the kind of impact he can have.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Again won a heap of ball on the outside and worked so well between the arcs, linking the play and providing an outlet from tight spaces. The over-ager’s short kicking and work along the line was sound, and he began to have more of an impact on the game with his drifting runs forward. Both of his goals came in the second half; the first was a classy snap as the ball dropped inside 50, and the second came after again finding space inside 50 to mark and boot home the set shot.

#45 Archie Perkins

Just continually does eye-catching things up forward and through the midfield, using his power and confidence around opponents to burst through and get Sandringham going. Perkins started with a really strong mark against two opponents as he worked up the ground from half forward, but had his greatest impact with three important goals from his 11 disposals. His first goal came after finding space to mark close to the boundary just inside 50 and converting the shot, and his third came from a similar position but on the run – showing his improved finishing and ability to rise to the occasion against quality opposition.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

It was a real captain’s effort from Bianco, who was influential in the closing stages to cap off a solid outing. Assuming his familiar role off half-back, Bianco started with a few receives on the back and outside of the centre bounces, using his trademark pace to accelerate away from congestion and get the Chargers going forward. The look of his weaving runs along the outer are pretty unique to Bianco, always looking for holes to run into and the best options up the ground. He put in an important touch up on the wing to spark the chain for one of Noah Anderson’s fourth quarter goals, and just has so much class.

#8 Noah Anderson

Was an out and out match winner for Oakleigh, lifting for a mammoth final quarter effort where he booted two of the final three goals – including the one to put his side in front. Earlier, Anderson began up forward and worked up the ground well, proving impossible to tackle when on the move forward and having a couple of tight shies on goal. Anderson’s combination of bursts and baulks was outstanding, allowing him to find the space to deliver effectively by foot. His final quarter consisted of a goal assist to Fraser Elliot, an intercept mark and goal from the shot, and his third goal shortly after from a strong bit of play as he snapped the ball home. He is just such an impact player, able to tear the game to shreds either up forward or through midfield.

#11 Matt Rowell

What more is there to say about Rowell; he is just so consistent and seldom puts a foot wrong, while also displaying just about every desirable trait in a midfield prospect. His wheeling runs and arching back saw the commentary team reach full voice, extracting a game-high 34 disposals in a permanent midfield game and using the ball brilliantly going forward. Rowell looked on early as he hit up Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for Oakleigh’s first goal, later providing another for Finlay Macrae on the back of a centre bounce clearance. He seemed tireless when working through midfield, willing himself to the ball at stoppages and showing good vision with his handballs out. Rowell’s overhead marking was also prominent, backing back with courage and proving safe with his hands. Just as much of a game winner as his highly credentialed mate, Noah Anderson, and has an influence throughout each game.

#25 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

It was another eye-catching display from the highlight reel forward, making the most of his few possessions to prove a menace up forward with four high quality goals. His hands overhead are so strong, helping him to hold onto a mark for his first goal in the square and another in the opening term. His highlight for the game came in the following quarter as the ball sat up perfectly for him to rise above two opponents and clunk a sensational mark inside 50, which led to a third goal. The Bulldogs NGA member has rare athleticism for a tall, making him such a difficult match up as he covers the ground well but also towers above defenders with his leap. His fourth goal was another beauty, stealing the ball inside 50 and propping before deciding to go for goal himself and slamming the ball home. Just does the mercurial every game and hardly misses a chance, unbelievable talent.

#29 Finlay Macrae

Is coming into a nice patch of form, looking comfortable among some of the best top-age ball winners to find plenty of the pill. His class on the ball is obvious, finding it in all areas and using it effectively with polished kicks. He also gets forward well and found the goals again in this game with a nice finish during Oakleigh’s final quarter onslaught. Will be a leading candidate heading into 2020.

#73 Cooper Sharman

It was not Sharman’s biggest game considering the lofty standard he has set thus far in Chargers colours, but he still managed to pitch in with a few exciting touches. He covered the ground well and worked up to half forward to provide an option, while knowing when to stay forward and get onto the long entry. His second term was his most busy, hitting the post from a near impossible soccer attempt and later finding the mark beautifully after taking a grab at full stretch. Added a second goal in the final term, which was the last for the match, to seal the win.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power
By: Peter Williams

#1 Sam Conforti

The powerful small midfielder provided fierce tackling pressure from the first bounce and also had a number of deft touches, kicking inside 50 perfectly to the leading Thomson Dow. He did it again later in the game, hitting up Seamus Mitchell inside 50 and showed strength in contested situations. He intercepted a Brock Smith kick at half-forward at one stage and played on to kick inside 50 but it fell short just bouncing through for a behind.

#4 Thomson Dow

Had a really busy opening term where he put through an early goal after some nice leading inside 50 and his subsequent set shot from 40m out on a 45-degree angle. He showed off his one-touch ability, clean in the conditions and did a nice move under pressure in the second term where he went one way, was corralled so calmly changed directions and hit his target. Dow had a quieter third term before picking up again in the last term at both ends. He took a terrific mark inside 50 but his set shot missed to the right and fell short but it was kept in play for Jack Ginnivan to snap truly. Then he was seen down in defence showing good composure with ball-in-hand under pressure, and took a great contested mark in the forward half.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Gets involved around the ground and does more than just the usual ruck role. He showed good hands at ground level and was not afraid to get down and do the ground work as well as the aerial stuff. He used terrific bodywork inside 50 in the second term for Jack Ginnivan to swoop in and dribble a goal, then took a good contested mark at half-forward and continued to present as an option across the ground.

#19 Ben Worme

Started the game on the right note with great vision and a nice kick to hit-up Jack Ginnivan inside 50. He had a flying shot on goal himself but went to the right, and then went into the middle and continued to look busy. He was really solid across the four quarters with the one question mark coming around the urgency to move the ball as he looked a tad too casual late in the game where he had time to dispose of it but waited and his kick was smothered deep in defence.

#20 James Schischka

Was rock solid in defence, particularly in the first half before being sent forward. He repelled opposition attacks and then when he went forward looked to be an option. He had a shot on goal from the boundary line but shanked it out on the full, then set up a goal to Josh Treacy the next quarter with a low bullet inside 50. Schischka went back into defence late and took a courageous mark in front of Josh Smith floating back into defence and then took an important grab in the back 50 to settle the side down late in the match.

#22 Josh Treacy

The bottom-age key forward showed some good signs from limited opportunities taking a strong one-on-one mark against Tye Hourigan in the third term only to hit the post from the set shot. He converted later in the quarter courtesy of a long-range bomb from 50m and put his side back up by a point nearing the final break. His body work against more experienced defenders was really strong and he almost handed a teammate a goal with a handball in the square after good bodywork but the teammate fumbled and the Power defenders cleared it.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Played a typical small forward’s role, always looking dangerous at ground level and taking his opportunities when presented. He showed quick hands at ground level and pounced on a couple of goals in the game, including a loose ball in the second quarter when he dribbled one home close to goal. He converted his second major in the last term, pouncing on a loose ball after Thomson Dow’s set shot fell short and stayed in, with Ginnivan snapping around his body.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles was one of Bendigo’s best in the win, having a number of crucial rebounds and being a rock in defence when Gippsland was furiously attacking. He continually looked to run and carry down the ground, using the ball well and making good decisions by hand or foot. Not a huge accumulator of the ball, Rowles is noticeable with his ball use because he does not waste a lot of touches and has a high impact per possession.

#51 Seamus Mitchell

The bottom-age talent showed some nice traits inside 50 with smarts and speed providing a good combination and a danger at ground level. He kicked a goal from a down-field free kick in the first term, and then showed off his great burst speed in the final term to create separation going forward and boot a goal on the run with a low kicking action to put the Pioneers 12 points up. He had a chance in the third term for another major but the set shot from 35m out in the pocket held up in the breeze and went to the left.

Gippsland:

#1 Ryan Angwin

The bottom-ager played a really solid game through the midfield roaming up the wings and using neat skills to dispose of the ball. A lightly-framed player, he took a good intercept mark at half-back in the first term, played on to give it to Sam Berry and then received it back on the wing with hard running. Angwin showed classy around the stoppages and did not panic with ball-in-hand.

#4 Sam Flanders

Did not have his best game, but stood up through the middle patches to have some important touches in close. His first quarter saw opponents working him over and causing a reaction which resulted in a couple of free kicks leading to goals – one pushing over an opponent at a stoppage and one down-field – before coming out in the second term to deliver a major of his own early. He showed great courage flying for an intercept mark, not taking it but copping contact. His hands in close were elite and picked the right exit to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed great bodywork in the third term to bump an opponent off the ball and give it to Josh Smith to kick forward.

#6 Riley Baldi

Best on ground and was the difference between the teams, continuing his good form this season. He converted a couple of goals and was a four quarter performer which was difficult in the conditions. He had the first clearance of the game, and had the ball on a string early, marking from a lead and converted a set shot from 35m out. He kicked his second from 40m out in the second term, also applying good defensive pressure, winning a free kick in the middle for restricting Thomson Dow from finding a way out of the stoppage. He handed a goal off to Fraser Phillips in the third term after poor checking from Pioneers defenders with the natural left footer converting the goal with an easy snap. Baldi had a chance to make it three goals, but his flying shot on goal just bounced the wrong side of the post for one behind.

#7 Sam Berry

The bottom-age midfielder provided a number of highlights in the game, able to gain separation from his opponents in midfield and hit targets forward of centre. He created a goal for Riley Baldi kicking well inside 50, and then showed off his lovely left foot again, playing on to hit-up another target later in the game inside 50. He ran hard throughout and took a courageous mark back with the flight early in the third term.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided some important run and carry for Gippsland throughout the match, and tried to break the lines by running down the middle. He took the game on in the second term with a number of bounces, avoiding opposition players along the way. With time and space Connolly’s disposal was very good, but he did get rushed on a few occasions. He worked hard throughout the game on his way to a really solid contribution.

#17 Charlie Comben

Provided a fierce attack on the ball and whilst the conditions did not suit the taller marking players, still crashed packs and provided the target inside 50. He took a towering mark in the goalsquare in the second term back with the flight and his set shot on an angle went straight through. Unfortunately he missed a couple of chances later in the game, not able to connect cleanly with a dribble attempt in the third term, rolling through for a behind, and then having a mongrel set shot attempt which also went through for a behind. Contributed well throughout with his body work and presence at congested areas.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Started slowly but worked into the game to end up with two goals from five scoring shots as well as finding plenty of the footy roaming up the ground and providing an option. He assisted Ryan Sparkes in getting a goal in the second term with a nice kick inside 50, and managed to snap his first goal thanks to loose checking from the Pioneers defenders later in the third term, receiving the quick handball from Riley Baldi near the boundary and snapping on his left. He kicked his second after the final siren, chewing up the remaining time on the clock to give the Power the win by 10 poitns. He could have finished with a big bag had he converted a few more of his chances, but got amongst it and always looked busy.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Charlie Lazzaro

Played through the middle and had a four quarter performance with his ability to create plays up the ground and do the tough work in the middle as well as get free to keep the ball moving in transition. He placed a kick inside 50 to Charlie Sprague early in the game and the created his own chance shortly after, with the ball touched by an opposition before he could mark it, but he showed clean hands to recover, turn around and snap around his body for a goal. His highlight passage of play was a run down the middle of the ground in the third term to set up a goal.

#12 Noah Gribble

Showed composure at both ends, winning the ball in defence then going forward and had a shot on goal late in the first quarter from a stoppage but put it to the left. A second shot shortly after from a set shot also drifted to the left, but did his best work in close. He had clean and quick hands in close, and won his fair share of the football, covering the ground well and providing an option in defence including marking from a kickout.

#15 Tanner Bruhn

Returning from a long-term injury, Bruhn showed all of his class in the forward half, booting a couple of goals and could have had another one early in the game with the set shot that swung to the right from 35 metres out. He snapped a goal off a step in the last minute of the opening term, then kicked an unbelievable goal in the third term, taking a step of two and snapping under pressure from 40m out to put it straight through the middle. He had nice composure and poise with his disposals around the ground. A top-end talent for next year and hopefully can stay injury free.

#32 Noah Gadsby

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and kept presenting along the wing. Gadsby was able to complement the rest of the midfield and had his fair share of the ball at the same time, pushing up and trying to create some run in wet conditions.

#37 Oliver Henry

After spending time in defence in recent weeks, the medium-sized utility was back inside 50 and showed off his talent when it comes to providing a target leading out. He had great hands overhead to continually remained involved in the contest, presenting at marking opportunities. He took an intercept mark early in the match but rushed his kick and it was smothered. Henry lead long up the wing to win a number of touches up the ground, but also crashed a pack in the second term and gave it off quickly to keep it moving. He did err late in the quarter opting for a quick snap rather than giving the hands off to Charlie Sprague who was free nearby. He converted a set shot after being held midway through the third term and did have the two from the game, also setting up Sprague for his fourth after wrestling the ball from two opponents and giving it over to his teammate.

#40 Jesse Clark

Just a rock in defence and had a really influential first term, before not having a great deal of work to do after that. He still remained steadfast across the remaining three quarters, but kept the Falcons moving by taking a number of intercept marks in the back 50, then clearing the danger and getting it to a teammate by switching or hitting up a short target on the wing. Lead the team well and will hope to continue the form next week against a talented Sandringham Dragons’ forward line.

#46 Henry Walsh

Performed well in the ruck against a more mobile ruck in Bigoa Nyoun, but positioned himself impressively at stoppages. Can leap high and took a strong mark in the second term before kicking long down the line. He hit the scoreboard after receiving a free kick and a 50m penalty, lining up from straight in front early in the third term and putting it through the middle. Laid a couple of good tackles defensively to work hard that way as well.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

Played a bit of everywhere in the match and could not fault his effort. The potential top five pick was winning touches around the ground early starting on a wing before playing exclusively forward in the second term. He lead out of attack and presented on a number of opportunities but was well worn by opposition defenders. He moved back into defence in the third term to try and stem the flow of goals, creating run and carry off half-back but was caught once and dispossessed. He still remained a calm and composed leader, never giving in despite the mounting opposition scoreline and was able to hit-up a target on the wing with a lovely kick out of defence having to negotiate three opposition players and remaining calm to think his way through the situation.

#11 Ned Cahill

Not his biggest game playing through the midfield, but still had a number of nice moments. He showed off his agility early with Cahill turning on a dime after winning the ball at half-back and sidestepping a couple of opponents to kick long down the wing. He was able to win an important clearance midway through the second term, and used the ball well under pressure to hook a kick and hit-up Bigoa Nyuon inside 50 in the opening quarter.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The athletic ruck showed good positioning in the marking contest and gave Jack Toner an opportunity for a goal in the first quarter but he missed the set shot, but created another opportunity not long after with the smarts to intercept a pass in attacking 50, and start a chain of handballs leading to a Jordan Andrews snap goal. Nyuon also took a strong grab later in the game in defence helping out.

#47 Will Bravo

The bottom-age prospect had some nice plays, showing his quick sidestep to evade a couple of players and snap around his body to Hayden Young’s advantage early in the game. He kicked a vital goal from a set shot midway through the second term, and had a chance for another goal but his quick snap was marked by opposition defenders just out from goal.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Had a quieter first three quarters, though did take a terrific contested mark at half-back and received a 50m penalty for an opponent infringing the mark. Once the fourth term rolled around, Williams lit it up, booting three consecutive goals, albeit at a stage when the game seemed done and dusted, though his set shot routine was consistent. He booted all three to cut the deficit from 50 to 32 points in the space of 15 minutes and show what he is capable of in a quarter of football.

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Peter Williams

GWV Rebels:

#3 Toby Mahony

Mahony did not have the biggest game on the stats sheet, but most of his touches were in the forward half with attempts on goal. Unfortunately the wet weather wrecked havoc for his goalkicking as the talented mid/forward booted three behinds, two of which came from flying shots on goal in the first and third terms, and a third miss from a set shot. Continued to present inside 50 and was really good defensively, locking the ball up in terrible conditions and keeping the ball in the Rebels’ forward half.

#6 Jack Tillig

Had the ball on a string early in the game running off half-back and through the middle, winning an impressive one-on-one against the much taller Will Christie, and remained busy when linking up in transition. Later in the game Tillig drifted back to take a strong intercept mark in the defensive 50 hole. An impressive game from the bottom-ager.

#7 Mitch Martin

Played nearly exclusively forward and managed to capitalise with three majors in a day that was difficult to kick them with the wet ball. He started with a behind from a tight angle in the opening term, and a second snap shortly after went out of bounds. He kicked with first goal late in the second term with time ticking down, and almost had a second when he got taken high close to the boundary 35m out on a set shot but it fell just short in the square. He was the beneficiary of a free kick 30m out straight in front for the density ruling late in the quarter as the siren sounded to kick his second. Late in the final term he kicked his third from a great snap and then shortly after fended off an opponent and kept the ball moving with quick hands to Jack Tillig. Finished the game with three goals from six shots so could have had a massive day in the wet.

#13 Jay Rantall

Had a really quiet first term notching up just one touch and had six by half-time before getting into his usual groove and just outrunning everyone. He had a couple of nice clearances and won a free kick early in the fourth term, delivered to a teammate then ran hard to receive a handball from the receiver of his kick and go forward. Finished with a solid 20-odd touches to restore the status quo, but his defensive work was what stood out with numerous tackles time and time again and leading the way in that department with his attitude and attack on the ball and ball carrier.

#43 Charlie Molan

The Vic Country Under 16s representative stepped up from his debut last week to have a real impact in the conditions. He played along a wing and also went in and won his own ball to be one of the more prominent four quarter performers for the winners. He pushed hard and kept it moving in transition and got back in defence to help out and clear the danger.

#44 Ben Hobbs

Did not have as many touches as some others, but the Under 16s midfielder was noticeable every time he went near it. Apart from the colourful boots, Hobbs showed clean hands in the wet and continually picked the right option when handballing to a teammate on the outside to set up scoring opportunities. Took a good intercept mark at half-forward early, and then read the ruck stoppage perfectly in the second term to win the ball on the outside and bend it around his body for a goal midway through the second term. He had another flying shot at goal in the third term but it went out on the full, then set up Matty Lloyd with a lovely lace-out pass inside 50. Had a quieter second half but remained involved with moments like that.

#45 Josh Rentsch

Did not have a huge game but kick-started the Rebels with the opening goal of the game with a strong one-on-one mark deep in attack off the first clearance and inside 50. Rentsch converted the set shot to ensure he got on the goalkickers list and while he did not add to the total, still provided a target inside 50. He showed clean hands in the forward 50 and intercepted a ball in that first term and delivered to Mitch Martin deep in the pocket.

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

Spent most of his time in the forward half to show off the running defender’s versatility. He had a quiet first term with just the two touches and having to push up the ground, but soon showed his composure and leadership in the wet. He stood up and got his hands away in a tackle early, then intercepted a Matty Lloyd rebound with a good mark at half-forward before moving to the goalsquare where he rotated with Jimmy Boyer between there and the midfield. Ash almost kicked a goal from 60m with the wind carrying it past the pack of players in that second term, but the ball bounced through for a behind. He also had a great kick under pressure to hit-up a target at half-forward, always vocal and leading his side throughout the four quarters.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Enjoyed the conditions and was one of Murray’s best again in the middle, shovelling the ball out and getting his hands dirty – both figuratively and literally. He read the ruck taps well and kicked inside 50 and keep the pressure on teh opposition defenders and tried to run and carry as best he could on the slippery ground surface. He won a free kick 40m out for a tackle on an opposition player forcing him to throw it out, but Chalcraft’s set shot was touched on the line and went into the post. He put in one of his better four quarter performances to have another 20-plus disposals, working hard across the ground and taking a mark from a kickout in defence such was his ground coverage.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Set the tone defensively with a magnificent front-on tackle on Toby Mahony to bring him to ground early in the game and rotated between midfield and forward. He got involved more as the game went on and was able to pump the ball inside 50 a few times, but his defensive work was the highlight, laying tackle after tackle which was crucial in Murray staying in the contest. He kicked a late consolation goal on the run thanks to his hard running with less than five minutes to go in the game.

#25 Liam Fiore

Had a really big first term driving the ball out of the back 50 and still did some nice things after that. He takes the game on and is willing to risk it by running down the middle and breaking the lines. He used the ball well and always looked for switching play to find the open player on the outside. Played deeper in defence as the game went on but did well one-on-one.

#26 Sam Durham

Found the ball in all thirds of the ground, firing out handballs from in close, sliding in for a great mark at half-back and pumping a long kick inside 50 as part of a big first term. He continued to win the ball and get it moving forward in transition by picking up touches on the wing or at stoppages and getting it to the danger zone inside forward 50. Durham also provided some good defensive pressure with a number of tackles.

#31 Josh Rachele

The Under 16s forward was not to be outdone by his Vic Country teammates on the Rebels’ side, pushing up the ground to win the ball when required, and being an option inside 50 at times as well. He played to the conditions, often bombing it long to try and gain distance, showing off a quick release by hand in the fourth term to give a running teammate a shot on goal.

#54 Dominic Bedendo

The bottom-age forward showed a number of impressive traits playing exclusively inside 50, having Murray’s first set shot from 50m out on a slight angle but it just fell short and was rushed through. It happened again late in the game with the ball punched through for a rushed behind up the other end, while his goal came from general play in the second term, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping around his body to put Murray in front. He tried to be too inventive at one stage, kicking the ball off the ground but it went out on the full. Got talent to work with, it will just be a case of building on the consistency and lowering the eyes at times.

NAB League Boys Round 17 wash-up: Chargers snatch finals spot in thriller

THE NAB League Boys regular season came to a close on the weekend with a pair of triple-headers, finalising the all-important automatic finals qualifiers and Wildcard Round fixtures. There were plenty of standouts across the six games despite indifferent conditions, with the Oakleigh-Sandringham game living up to the pre-game hype.

WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.9 | 4.12 (36)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 10.8 (68)

GOALS:
Western – A. Manton 3, A. Clarke
Northern – J. D’Intinosante 4, N. Cox 2, J. Watson, J. Lucente, S. House, J. Boyd

BEST:
Western – L. Rocci, J. Honey, D. Bolkas, C. Raak, L. Failli, J. Kellett
Northern – J. Watson, R. Sturgess, N. Cox, J. Boyd, A. Carafa, J. D’Intinosante

By: Michael Alvaro

A sense of redemption was achieved by the Northern Knights on Saturday as they got one back over the Western Jets with a 32-point win at Avalon Airport Oval. The win sees the Knights jump their opponents into sixth place on the back of superior percentage, making it that little bit sweeter on top of redeeming a Round 1 loss to the Jets. After a relatively steady opening term where Western arguably had the better of general play, Northern sprung to life with an explosive six-goal to nil second quarter to set up the win. The Knights’ dare and transition from a high-possession defensive game helped them dominate the scoreboard during middle-period of the game, rapidly building the game-defining margin. Josh D’Intinosante played a big part in that, snaring three goals in quick succession at the start of the term to break the game open. Two late goals as the heat simmered proved consolations for the Jets, who have now lost their last three games. Strong stay-at-home forward Archi Manton had all of Western’s goals for over three quarters and was the sole threat inside 50, finishing with 3.2 from seven disposals and five marks. Josh Honey (18 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s) was also terrific for the Jets with his burst from congestion, with the likes of Darcy Cassar (22 disposals, four marks) and Lucas Rocci (20 disposals, five rebounds) also standing up. But it was Northern bottom-ager Josh Watson who was best afield in a breakout game, collecting 21 disposals, four marks and booting a lovely goal. Adam Carafa led the disposal count with 23 and a lot of work in-close, while Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, 13 marks) was terrific in the air at both ends and D’Intinosante finished with 4.2 from 13 disposals and six marks. The result now sees Northern host Bendigo in Wildcard Round, while Western will face the Knights’ 2018 Wildcard nemesis, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) next week.

CALDER CANNONS 3.1 | 4.1 | 7.6 | 9.9 (63)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 4.5 | 6.7 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS:
Calder – J. Sutton 3, M. Fletcher 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, J. O”Sullivan, H. Jones
Eastern – B. Hickleton 2, L. Stapleton 2, J. Rossiter, C. Downie, L. Gawel, R. Smith, J. Jaworski, M. Zalac

BEST:
Calder – D. Mott, S. Ramsay, J. Sutton, G. Thomas, J. Cardillo, M. Fletcher
Eastern – L. Stapleton, J. Ross, Z. Pretty, M. Mellis, R. Smith, M. Zalac

By: Michael Alvaro

Eastern Ranges snatched a dramatic after-the-siren win over Calder on Saturday to finish the regular season a game clear on top of the ladder. Bottom-age gun Connor Downie proved the hero, slotting home cooly with his twelfth disposal after earning a 50/50 incorrect disposal free kick with just seconds left. Earlier, the Cannons chipped away well to earn leads at two of the first three breaks and looked to have done enough to hold off the Ranges, with Mason Fletcher converting as time ticked away. But in the last roll of the dice play at the end of an action-packed final minute, the Ranges broke forward quickly and created the all-important scramble inside 50 to come up trumps through Downie. The diminutive Eastern midfield trio of Mitch Mellis (26 disposals), Zak Pretty (24) and Lachie Stapleton (23, two goals) was arguably led by the latter in a typically workmanlike display through the engine room, while 16-year-old Tyler Sonsie was also influential moving forward with his 17 touches and two minor scores. For the unlucky losers, Daniel Mott was very nearly a match-winner as he lifted late through midfield to prize a bunch of clearances among his 21 disposals and six inside 50s. State combine invitee Sam Ramsay led the disposal count with 27, while Ned Gentile (20 disposals, 0.3) had some nice moments and Jake Sutton booted a game-high three goals. The result had little bearing on the final ladder and looked to prove as much in the build-up, with results at the other end of the ladder poising Calder against Tasmania in Wildcard Round while Eastern can enjoy a week off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.6 | 13.6 (84)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.3 | 6.6 | 8.7 | 14.7 (91)

GOALS:
Sandringham – F. Maginness 3, A. Perkins 3, K. Yorke 2, A. Hanrahan 2, N. Burke, M. Bergman, C. Dean
Oakleigh – J. Ugle-Hagan 4, N. Anderson 3, C. Sharman 2, F. Elliot, C. Stone, R. McInnes, F. Macrae, N. Stathopoulos

BEST:
Sandringham – C. Watts, F. Maginness, J. Bell, N. Burke, K. Yorke, J. Voss
Oakleigh – M. Rowell, N. Anderson, R. Valentine, J. Ugle-Hagan, J. Lucas, V. Zagari

By: Michael Alvaro

Pure star power dragged the Oakleigh Chargers over the line and into third place with an incredible seven-point come-from-behind win over Sandringham Dragons in the thick of what was a finals-like atmosphere. After the Dragons looked to have sealed the game with three goals in the first five minutes of the final quarter, a Noah Anderson-inspired Oakleigh hit back in style with four majors in the following five minutes, and ended with the last six of the game altogether to snatch victory. Both sides enjoyed spurts of momentum throughout the game and looked like getting on top on numerous occasions, but Oakleigh’s final thrust came at the ideal time as they charged home to claim the remarkable win. Anderson’s game-winning 24 disposals and three goals were arguably matched for importance by the efforts of Matt Rowell (34 disposals, seven tackles) – who hardly put a foot wrong – and skipper Trent Bianco (28 disposals). The high-marking forward duo of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Cooper Sharman also shone, combining for six goals and a couple of highlight reel moments. For the Dragons, Finn Maginness did his level best to drag his side over the line with 17 disposals and three goals, with Darcy Chirgwin (30 disposals, seven tackles) doing the tough stuff through midfield and Angus Hanrahan influential on the outside (23 disposals, two goals). Bottom-ager Archie Perkins was another to impress with his three goals from 11 disposals, while Corey Watts put in a mammoth effort in defence with 12 disposals, six marks and seven rebound 50s. With an absolute raft of combine invitees and representative players taking the field, it was one of the highest quality Under 18 games in recent memory and truly lived up to the pre-game hype as a number of top-end stars stood up.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 9.9 (63)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:
Bendigo – R. Wilson 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Mitchell 2, J. Treacy, N. Walsh, T. Dow
Gippsland – M. McGarrity 2, F. Phillips 2, R. Baldi 2, C. Comben, S. Flanders, T. Hourigan, R. Sparkes

BEST:
Bendigo – R. Wilson, B. Rowles, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Ginnivan, B. Worme
Gippsland – R. Baldi, T. Hourigan, F. Phillips, R. Sparkes, L. Connolly, R. Angwin

By: Peter Williams

In a day of upsets, Bendigo Pioneers almost set the tone with an impressive performance against top two side, Gippsland Power. The Pioneers regained a number of players back to the line-up, including Thomson Dow who returned from school football, but were missing the injured Brodie Kemp. Despite Caleb Serong being the only key omission from the premiership contending Power, the Pioneers jumped them in the first quarter to boot three goals to one, two of which came from free kicks and another from a turnover as the home side looked to be disciplined on the day. With Bendigo booting the first goal of the second term, it looked like the Pioneers might start to run away with it, before Gippsland piled on five of the next seven over the two quarters to keep within a point at both breaks. The last quarter was topsy turvy with lead changes galore, and it took until Fraser Phillips‘ goal after the siren to relieve the nerves of the Power supporters. Riley Baldi was the clear standout performer from the Power, booting two goals and could have had a third to go with his 27 disposals, five marks, five inside 50s and seven tackles, while Tye Hourigan was good in defence before kicking what almost looked like the winning goal late, in attack. He had 20 disposals, 11 marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal on the day. Leo Connolly (22 disposals, seven marks) and Phillips (2.3 from 19 disposals and four marks) also showed signs. For the Pioneers, Dow showed his class in patches with 24 disposals, six marks and a goal, while Ben Worme (21 disposals, seven marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and four rebounds), Riley Ironside (26 disposals, six marks, five rebounds and three tackles) and Riley Wilson (21 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two goals) were the Pioneers’ best.

GEELONG FALCONS 3.5 | 8.7 | 14.8 | 15.9 (99)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.3 | 3.9 | 5.12 | 9.14 (68)

GOALS:
Geelong – C. Sprague 6, O. Henry 2, T. Bruhn 2, C. Lazzaro, K. Skene, C. Karpala, H. Walsh, S. Fonseca-Hateley
Dandenong – L. Williams 3, J. Toner, N. Heath, J. Andrews, W. Howe, W. Lewis, W. Bravo

BEST:
Geelong – C. Sprague, T. Bruhn, H. Walsh, C. Lazzaro, J. Dahlhaus, K. Rayner
Dandenong – W. Bravo, W. Lewis, L. Goonan, L. Scott, J. Toner, B. Kuipers

By: Peter Williams

In what was clearly Geelong’s best performance of the season, the 2019 wooden spooners showed they might just have life in their season yet with a strong 31-point win over Dandenong Stingrays. While the Falcons have to contend with the star-studded Sandringham Dragons this weekend, they played a commanding three quarters against the Stingrays before Dandenong booted four of the five last goals to cut the deficit back to a reasonable margin. The Falcons had some troubles with accuracy early, while the Stingrays found the same issues in the second term, booting 1.6 to the Falcons’ 5.2 to ultimately be the difference with Geelong heading into the main break 28 points in front. They did not stop there however, as the Falcons added another six goals to the Stingrays’ two, effectively ending the contest at a game-high 50 points. Lachlan Williams had a last quarter to remember with three consecutive goals – not that it did enough to turn the momentum – while Charlie Sprague said enough was enough booting his sixth goal of the game late to ensure the Falcons had a major in the final term. To the final break, Sprague had booted the same amount of goals as the Stingrays side, eventually finishing with a clear best-on performance of 16 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and 6.1 for the day. Jesse Clark was a rock in defence with 23 disposals, six marks, nine rebounds and three tackles, while bottom agers Noah Gribble (19 disposals, four marks three inside 50s and three behinds) and Charlie Lazzaro (19 disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, two tackles and a goal) were also impressive. Assisting Sprague in attack was Oliver Henry with two goals from 12 touches and always presenting, while bottom-ager Tanner Bruhn showed no signs that he was coming off a long-term injury, booting two majors and could have had a third, with 16 disposals, two marks, four tackles and six inside 50s. For Dandenong, William Lewis had 24 disposals, two marks, four tackles, nine inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the best across four quarters, while Luca Goonan had a superb first half to finish with 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three inside 50s. Jack Toner (20 disposals, four marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) and Hayden Young (17 disposals, three marks three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles) tried hard, while Cody Weightman had his moments, finishing with 16 disposals and three behinds.

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 8.11 (59)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.7 | 3.9 | 5.14 (44)

GOALS:
GWV – M. Martin 3, M. Lloyd, J. Rentsch, F. Marris, R. Polkinghorne, B. Hobbs
Murray – J. Boyer, T. Panuccio, D. Bedendo, B. Kelly, W. Chandler

BEST:
GWV – C. Molan, M. Martin, C. Craig-Peters, J. Rantall, F. Marris, P. Glanford
Murray – N. Irvine, S. Durham, L. Fiore, J. Chalcraft, C. McLeod, B. Kelly

By: Peter Williams

Given the pouring rain had set in midway through the last game, by the time the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers took the field, the ground could have doubled up for the swimming pool next to Queen Elizabeth Oval. The game itself was not one either side will be reaching for the highlight tapes too quickly, as the conditions made it a genuine slog and difficult for sides to firstly mark the ball inside 50, and secondly hit the scoreboard. Players were slipping and sliding in the mud, with one Rebels play indicative of the weather, going for a run through the middle but as he went to kick slipped in the mud and slid a metre of two along the ground. When it was all said and done however, it was the Rebels who managed to kick away in the second half, booting five consecutive goals to blow the margin out to 29 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, before a couple of late majors to the Bushrangers cut the final deficit to just 15. With 13.25 between the sides, it could have been a lot worse, but at least the sun decided to show up in the last 10 minutes of the match, instead blinding the players who were already soaked thanks to Mother Nature. Cooper Craig-Peters had a game-high 24 disposals, five inside 50s, four rebounds and eight tackles to relish in the conditions for the Rebels, while Jack Tillig finished with 20 disposals, six marks, four tackles and six rebounds. A frequent sufferer of leather poisoning, Jay Rantall had just one touch in the first term and six by the main break, but produced a big second half to end with 20 disposals and a massive 18 tackles in the win. Mitch Martin impressed up forward with three goals from 17 disposals and four marks, as well as a couple of other opportunities, while 16-year-olds Charlie Molan (17 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) and Ben Hobbs (12 disposals, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) stood tall, as did bottom-ager Nick Stevens (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and four tackles). For the Bushrangers, Jye Chalcraft (22 disposals), Cam Wild (21) and Dylan Clarke (20) unsurprisingly loved the wet weather, going in hard and winning the ball in close, while Lachlan Ash overcame a similarly slow start to Rantall with just two disposals in the first term to finish the game with 19 playing in all areas of the ground. Josh Rachele presented well up forward with 19 disposals and four inside 50s, while bottom-age forward Dominic Bedendo had 13 disposals, three inside 50s and a goal.