Tag: ben jungfer

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 6 – Academies bow out, Stingrays go top

FANS, recruiters, and pundits alike were treated to another eight games in Round 6 of the 2019 NAB League, with the early-May weekend serving as the last for each of the five Northern Academies’ cameos. Reigning premier Dandenong broke clear as the sole undefeated side left, while Gold Coast was crowned the Academy Series victor via percentage after Sydney lost its only game for the season. A thrilling finals preview also went down as Gippsland and Eastern battled it out, with the Power getting the better of the eventual premiers on home turf.

The round kicked off in North Hobart, with Tasmania playing host to the heavily-depleted Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. It was the visitors who managed to scrape home in a nail-biting, low-scoring slog by the slimmest of margins, overcoming a half-time deficit to keep the Devils at bay. Winning skipper Trent Bianco, the only national draftee afield dominated with 42 disposals as he stepped-up in the absence of some key personnel.

Fellow top-ager Josh May was also influential with 28 touches, while bottom-aged midfielder Fraser Elliot had it 23 times, and Thomas Lovell put in his best shift for the season with four majors. For the Devils, Harrison Ireland was named best for his work as an undersized ruck, with bottom-age gun Oliver Davis getting to work at ground level with a team-high 21 touches, and fellow Allies Hub member Sam Collins not far behind on 18.

The GWS Academy and Murray Bushrangers went to battle on the New South Wales-Victorian border at midday, with the GIANTS coming away with their second win from five attempts. It was a well drawn out win for the ‘away’ side in its home state, leading at every break but being made to earn the 11-point victory. In another game headlined by the dominance of a future draftee, Tom Green amassed 37 touches for the GIANTS in a mammoth performance.

Over-agers Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals) and Ed Perryman (31) were not far behind, while Harry Grant put in a big shift for 3.2 from his 23 touches, and 2020 19-year-old hopefuls Matt McGrory and Liam Delahunty also got busy. Green’s current GIANTS teammate Lachlan Ash collected 27 touches and booted a goal as Murray’s skipper, aided by Dylan Clarke and Cam Wild who matched his ball-winning output. Jimmy Boyer also impressed with three goals from over 20 disposals, while former GWS Academy member Charlie Byrne had 20 touches exactly.

Saturday’s final fixture took the competition back down to Victoria, as Calder and Bendigo met at Highgate Reserve. It was the Cannons’ day in another low-scoring affair, leading relatively comfortably at every break to eek out a 16-point win over the Pioneers on home turf. The leading Calder draft candidate to that point, Daniel Mott led the way with 36 disposals and a goal in a game which featured just two eventual draftees.

Jacob Martin enjoyed a breakout performance, racking up 36 touches of his own alongside Mott, while skipper Brodie Newman had 21 from defence and Carlton recruit Sam Ramsay had 16 on the same line. James Schischka was Bendigo’s leading ball winner with 20 disposals, with Sydney draftee Brady Rowles collecting his season-high haul of 17 in tricky conditions.

Heading up north to South Pine in the Sunshine State, Gold Coast took out the overall Academy Series with a well-earned 14-point victory over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The visitors pushed the talented academy prospects all the way despite trailing for the game’s entirety, with captain and SUNS AFL rookie Connor Budarick capping off a stellar month with another terrific performance.

His 23 disposals led all comers, with the exciting Hewago Paul Oea managing 19 and two goals, while Ashton Crossley provided good fold in midfield with 19 touches. Bottom-ager Max Pescud booted a game-high four majors, matched by Rebels’ Nick Caris in his second consecutive four-goal game. 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham notched two goals of his own, with fellow Vic Country representative Mitch Martin also impressing, but Jay Rantall kept quiet at just 14 disposals.

Completing the South Pine double-header were the Brisbane Lions Academy and Dandenong Stingrays, with the visitors claiming a resounding 71-point win on their travels up north. After a low-scoring first half, the Stingrays clicked into gear after the main break with 10 goals to one to comfortably ensure they would remain undefeated and atop the NAB League ladder.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn stood tall in the defeat with a typically professional 32-disposal performance, with fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland (26 disposals) also returning a good shift. 19-year-old Tom Matthews matched Cumberland’s effort, with bottom-agers Will Tasker and Tahj Abberley also impressing. For Dandenong, new Bulldog Cody Weightman bagged three goals, while fellow draftees Hayden Young (28 disposals), Sam De Koning (17, seven marks) Ned Cahill (21, 1 goal) strutted their stuff. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was another to catch the eye, booting two goals from 21 touches.

A touch earlier and back in Victoria, the Geelong Falcons proved too good for the previously undefeated Sydney Swans Academy in their clash on neutral territory, upsetting the northern hopefuls with a 31-point win. The home side’s four-goal to one fourth term sealed the final margin, with the contest a touch tighter to that point.

It was the bottom-ager who stole the show in this clash, as Ollie Henry booted four goals for the Falcons alongside Charlie Brauer‘s two, while Braeden Campbell and Errol Gulden both managed 22 disposals and a goal each. Geelong captain Jesse Clark was the leading ball winner on the ground with 25 touches, followed closely by Sydney top-ager Sam Thorne (24).

Not much may have been expected of the Gippsland-Eastern clash coming into the season, but it proved to be a belting finals preview as the Power took out the four points in Morwell. The game was tight the whole way through, with the high-quality contest ending in a 10-point triumph to the home side.

As had been the case in previous fixtures, the cream rose to the top as Sam Flanders (25 disposals, two goals), Brock Smith (27 disposals), and Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) all enjoyed fantastic outings for the winners. The midfield trio of Zak Pretty (28 disposals), Lachlan Stapleton (28), and Mitch Mellis (21) was just as handy for Eastern, while forwards Bailey White and Ben Hickleton notched three goals apiece.

The final game of the round saw a seventh venue used in Ikon Park, as the Northern Knights held off a fast-finishing Northern Territory Thunder Academy. A six-goal third term saw the Knights double their goal tally, and it set up a match-defining margin as they went on to salute to the tune of 38 points. The NT’s campaign would finish winless, but not for a lack of trying and talent.

Josh D’Intinosante and Jackson Davies both had a good amount of ball while also booting two goals each for the winners, while 2020 Vic Metro Hub member Liam McMahon also managed two goals from his 15 disposals and eight marks. Ben Jungfer was the Thunder’s leading ball winner with 22 touches, but it was Malcolm Rosas Jnr who shone with 21 and two goals, while Joel Jeffrey found the ball 21 times, Beau O’Connell 19, and Brodie Lake 16.

Classic Contests: Rantall and the Rebels roll the Thunder

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 7 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Northern Territory (NT) Thunder Academy. In this edition, we wind the clock back just over a year when the two sides met for the first time in a one-sided clash at Windy Hill.

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

2019 NAB League, Round 5
Sunday April 28, 2:00pm
Windy Hill

Draftees in action:

GWV – Jay Rantall
NT – Malcolm Rosas Jnr

A historic fixture was set for Round 5 of the NAB League as GWV and NT readied to do battle for the first time since the Thunder’s reintroduction to the competition on a part-time basis. It would go down on neutral territory, with the Country side playing host at Windy Hill to the further-travelling Territorians.

The Rebels came in sat in 12th on the back of a 1-2 record, but it could have easily been 3-0 with their two losses coming by a combined 13 points – split by a one-point win over Geelong in Round 2. The Thunder Academy had a much tougher time of it at 0-3, with its average losing margin sitting at 54.3 points across the three games despite boasting a load of exciting talent.

Speaking of, either side would lay claim to a single future draftee each, with Collingwood slider Jay Rantall running out for the Rebels in his emergence through midfield, while Gold Coast rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr would make his first appearance for the season. Current SUNS NT zone hopefuls Joel Jeffrey and Brodie Lake also took the field as bottom-agers, with National Championships representative scattered across both line-ups.

Starting as they wished to continue, the Rebels broke out to a massive 55-point first half lead thanks to a six-goal to nil second term, with goalkickers coming from across the board. It followed their four-goal effort in the opening period of play, working to overwhelm the Thunder and making it difficult to see a turnaround eventuate.

But that did occur to some extent, with the visitors banging through five goals to three in a more spirited third term and finishing the second half with 7.4 – the same amount that the Rebels would manage. While the margin had shot out to as much as 61 points, 55 was the closing deficit for NT as it went down again by around that average mark of 54.

There were nine individual goalkickers for the victors – including six multiples – as Nick Caris led the way with his four majors. 19-year-old Matty Lloyd had a team-high 28 disposals and two goals, followed closely by Rantall’s 27 and two effort. Riley Polkinghorne, Toby Mahony and Cooper Craig-Peters were others to find both the ball and the big sticks, while 2020 over-age hopeful Isaac Wareham had 16 touches, and ruckman Patrick Glanford was named best for his 24 hitouts against good opposition.

Three of NT’s four goalkickers booted multiples, with Tyson Woods again bagging a three-goal haul, while Matthew Cumming managed 2.3 and Nichols Medalist Beau O’Connell produced 2.2 from his game-high 29 touches. Allies representative Ben Jungfer was named the Thunder’s best for his 28 disposals, while Jeffrey also impressed with 24 touches and six marks. Rosas was kept relatively quiet, finding the ball 11 times on the day.

Despite flashes of good form and some individual brilliance, the NT played on to a 0-5 record in its NAB League cameo, finishing last of the Northern Academies. GWV only managed to add another four wins for the season to finish 10th, but were well represented in the Vic Country squad.

NAB League Boys 2019 Throwback: Round 5 – Dragons, Ranges humble Academies to go top

ROUND 5 of the 2019 NAB League season saw the Victorian mainstays peg back their Northern visitors in an action packed nine-game weekend. Sandringham and Eastern delivered big wins over the two Queensland academies at Trevor Barker Oval, while the Sydney Academy won strongly to remain undefeated alongside Dandenong (3-0-1).

But first to take the field were the Bendigo Pioneers and Northern Knights at Queen Elizabeth Oval, with the visitors taking four points back to Preston after trailing at every other break. After streaming ahead by 17 points at half-time with double the goal tally, the Pioneers ran out of legs to be held to just one major in the second half as the Knights snuck ahead to come away five-point victors.

As was a theme in Round 5, both sides were weakened but had some solid talent running around from each age bracket. Josh D’Intinosante and Sunny Brazier had plenty of the ball while also hitting the scoreboard, while Lachlan Potter created some zip on the outside. Top-age Pioneers James Schischka, Ben Worme, and Logan Fitzgerald all had 25 touches, while bottom-age jet Jack Ginnivan showed promise with 20 and a goal.

Sam Philp was the best ball winner of the 2019 draftees, earning 17 touches for Northern, while Swans recruit Brady Rowles had just 11 as he popped up in spurts. Ryan Sturgess, who almost joined Philp at the Blues as a supplementary top-up, was also impressive with 21 disposals and seven marks.

Saturday’s first game opened a Blacktown double-header as the Swans Academy accounted for Murray in a close encounter to move to equal-first. The Sydneysiders shot out of the blocks with five goals to nil to open the match, adding another four in the second term to lead by six goals at half time. Although they fared much better in the second half, the Bushrangers could not fully recover the deficit and went down by 24 points.

Sydney over-ager Kyle Martin led all comers with 29 disposals, just one touch ahead of Bushrangers runner Cam Wild (28, one goal). Dylan Clarke also led the way for Murray with 23 disposals, with Jye Chalcraft, Jimmy Boyer, and Sam Durham all also ticking over the 20-mark. Max Geddes (23 disposals) was also influential for the Swans, but it was big man Hamish Ellem who stole the show with 22 disposals, nine marks, and 3.3 in a performance which went a long way to securing him an Allies berth.

The GWS Academy was next up on its home turf against another Victorian country side in Gippsland, only it could not repeat the feats of its New South Wales rival. The GIANTS trailed at every break but brought the contest to the highly-fancied Power, getting within a single point at three-quarter time before falling by nine points.

Harry Grant had an outstanding game for GWS, booting two goals from his game-high 31 disposals, while Oakleigh squad member Jeromy Lucas had 24 touches and newly-transferred Northern Knight Liam Delahunty booted two goals. But a talent rich Gippsland unit was led well by Brock Smith (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Hawthorn rookie Harrison Pepper (26 disposals, one goal), with Riley Baldi also stepping up through midfield. Draftees Kyle Dunkley, Leo Connolly, Fraser Phillips, and Charlie Comben were also in action for the Power.

Skipping back, and Dandenong extended its unbeaten start to the season with a huge win over Oakleigh on home turf. After a tight opener, the Stingrays played the conditions perfectly to pile on eight goals in the second term, and seven in the last to storm away 70-point victors with 11 individual goalkickers.

Lachlan Williams and Ned Cahill slotted three majors each for the winners, while bottom-ager Will Bravo slotted two and Richmond recruit Bigoa Nyuon managed one from 17 touches. Cahill was the leading disposal getter with 29, while Joe Ayton-Delaney, Lochlan Jenkins, and Trent Bianco all managed 24 for the Chargers. Port draftee Dylan Williams went goalless in a different role, while Gold Coast mid-season recruit Mitch Riordan had 15 touches and Melbourne rookie Austin Bradtke had just eight disposals and a goal.

Saturday’s other double-header began with Sandringham thumping the Brisbane Lions Academy by 97 points on home turf. The Lions had won just one game to that point, and were in for more immediate pain as the Dragons helped themselves to 13 first half goals while holding the visitors to one. There was no way back from there, with Sandringham coasting to victory.

Brisbane skipper Will Martyn was one of the sole Lions to stand up all day, collecting a game-high 31 touches while fellow Richmond draftee Noah Cumberland was kept to just nine. Louis Butler and Ryan Byrnes strutted their stuff for the Dragons to win plenty of the ball, while Miles Bergman started to get into his stride with 17 touches, Jack Bell impressed with two goals from the same disposal haul, and Blake O’Leary finished with a game-high three goals.

Eastern completed the academy rout with a defensively sound 59-point thumping of Gold Coast’s academy, keeping the SUNS to just two goals. After just three goals were scored in the first half, the Ranges clicked into gear to break the game open with seven in the third term and run home comfortable winners.

Zak Pretty had a monster day out with 37 disposals, aided well by Lachlan Stapleton (27) and Mitch Mellis (24), while bottom-age defenders Wil Parker and Josh Clarke also impressed. Bailey White led the goal count with four, while Jamieson Rossiter managed three and Cody Hirst played one of his last games before being snapped up by Sydney. Skipper Connor Budarick was the standout for Gold Coast, accumulating 27 touches, with bottom-ager Max Pescud also thereabouts, and fellow SUNS recruits Matt Conroy and Patrick Murtagh also taking the field.

Saturday’s final fixture saw Calder edge Geelong in a close battle at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with both sides enjoying time in the lead. The Cannons looked the goods after coming out on top in a low-scoring first half, but were pegged back to within a point at the final break. Keeping their heads, the hosts held on to win by seven points.

Sam Ramsay was the sole draftee afield, and he had a decent outing with 27 disposals – behind only Daniel Mott (29) and Brodie Newman (36). Ned Gentile booted three goals from 21 disposals to also be among the best, while skipper Jesse Clark claimed that honour for Geelong. Nineteen-year-old Charlie Sprague was another to impress with two goals from 18 touches, with fellow over-ager Henry Stubbings managing 20.

Fast-forward to Sunday, and Western got the better of Tasmania in their trip to the Apple Isle, trumping the hosts by 47 points to get within touch of the top four. A steady opening half saw Tasmania prove wasteful, booting 1.6 as Western eventually took flight to run home with six goals to two after half-time.

Competition leading goalkicker Archi Manton took full toll with a game-high three majors, supported well by Carlton rookie Josh Honey (two from 25 disposals) and bottom-age jet Eddie Ford (two from 16 disposals). Darcy Cassar racked it up across half back to finish with 31 disposals, while Patrick Walker and Bailey Gordon shared that feat for Tasmania (25). Isaac Chugg was also impressive on debut for a Devils side which was missing a lot of its star power.

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels took home a huge win in the round’s final match, defeating the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 55 points on neutral territory. The Rebels never looked back after a 10 goals to one opening half at Windy Hill, which proved more than enough for the win despite a more even second half.

Nick Caris led the goal count with four for GWV, while Jay Rantall (27 disposals, two goals), Matty Lloyd (28, two), and Riley Polkinghorne (23, two) all had an impact. There was plenty of class on show for NT despite the loss too, with Beau O’Connell (29 disposals, two goals) having a day out, while Ben Jungfer had it 28 times, Joel Jeffrey had 24 touches and six marks, and new SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr also got on the park.

Classic Contests: Clarke powers inaccurate Jets to thunderous win over NT

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 4 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Western Jets and Northern Territory Thunder Academy. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 when the teams played out a one-sided contest in Williamstown, with Western soaring to a big win after quarter time.

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

Round 4 | Sunday April 14, 2019
Downer Oval, 2:30pm

The Western Jets hosted Northern Territory on a blustery Sunday afternoon in Williamstown, looking to score its second win of the season after consecutive defeats cancelled out their Round 1 triumph. It served as the Thunder’s third NAB League fixture for 2019 as part of the Northern Academy cameos, with the Top-End squad also scratching for a win. After fruitless contests against the Gold Coast Academy and newly full-time appointed Tasmania Devils, it was also NT’s first game back against a Victorian opponent. They would head into the fixture minus a couple of AFL Academy stars in Joel Jeffrey and SUNS rookie Malcolm Rosas Jnr, but boasted a bunch of youngsters with senior NTFL experience. For the Jets, talls were a key asset despite the absence of now-Hawk, Emerson Jeka, while fellow rookie draftee Josh Honey was also out of action.

In an opening term of swinging momentum, the Thunder got the jump twice to snatch a quarter time lead by the narrowest of margins. Wade Derksen‘s major was cancelled out by Samuel Clifford, before Cassius White helped Western sneak ahead. But three goals in a little over five minutes saw the Thunder surge back in front once again, with a further 1.5 from the home side taking them to within a goal of their opponents.

With the wind advantage and some slightly sharper finishing, the Jets then looked to take the game away from the visitors with 6.6 to NT’s 1.1, setting up a 34-point buffer at the main break – twice the Thunder’s score. Leading goalkicker on the day, Aaron Clarke began to have a say, booting three of his four goals coming within the second stanza, while White added his second and Cooper Mackenzie-George notched two majors of his own. Tyson Woods‘ first shot through the big sticks was the Thunder’s sole form of resistance, with the physical Jets finding their groove.

The scoring somewhat settled after the main break in a period of play akin to the opener, with the two sides sharing six goals evenly. The NT cut into the telling margin through another major to Woods after talented St Mary’s product Braxton Ahmat hit the scoreboard within the first minute, bringing their side to within four goals. But Clarke’s near-immediate response and a couple further daggers hit to the heart of the Territory’s comeback, with Western’s ascendancy pushed out to 36 points with one period to play.

The respectable margin was blown out in the fourth term to 71 points upon the final siren as Western added six goals to one to take full advantage of the strong tailwind. Saad El-Hawli joined in on the scoring act to add his second and third majors, with 2019 leading goalkicker Archi Manton firing a couple through as consolations. NT’s only goalkicker happened to be Nichols Medallist Beau O’Connell, who capped off a solid outing with a classy six-pointer before going on to light up the NTFL for Wanderers. The Thunder simply ran out of legs in the end and could not make up the gap with the wind advantage, succumbing to Western’s superior scoring power.

Those avenues to goal were mostly through Clarke, who finished with 4.6 and was joined by White, El-Hawli, Manton, and Mackenzie-George as multiple goalkickers, with Western boasting an impressive nine individual scorers. On the ball, overager Daly Andrews (25 disposals, four marks, six tackles, six inside 50s) sharked the taps of fellow 19-year-old Will Kennedy (25 disposals, six marks, 28 hitouts) beautifully, as the two led all-comers for disposals. One to watch for this year, Lucas Failli booted 1.3 from 15 disposals, while Bailey Ryan almost had a day out with his 0.4 from 21 touches.

For NT, Southern Districts prospect Brandon Rusca also had 25 touches to go with five marks and six inside 50s, with bigman Stephen Cumming duelling well against Kennedy in the ruck to notch 18 disposals, 30 hitouts and a goal. O’Connell was dangerous as usual with a steady 18 disposals and one goal, with Maurice Rioli Jnr returning 16 touches as a bottom-ager, while St Mary’s teammate Jacob Long had 17 and talented inside midfielder Ben Jungfer saw it 15 times. Woods’ three goals were the standout alongside the feats of Ahmat, with both taking their chances from more limited supply.

Classic Contests: Devils claim inaugural win

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 3 clashes in the NAB League this year between Northern Territory and Tasmania. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2019 in the only other previous clash between the sides in the competition having just been included last season.

NORTHERN TERRITORY 3.2 | 3.2 | 4.5 | 6.8 (44)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 5.7 | 9.11 | 13.14 (92)

Round 3 | Sunday, April 7 2019
Olympic Park Oval, 1pm

Two new sides to the NAB League competition – one joining full-time – faced off in the heart of Melbourne when Northern Territory Thunder clashed with Tasmania Devils at Olympic Park Oval. These sides had a handful of top age draft prospects, but it was the bottom age talent on show plenty of recruiters would have come to watch, with both teams were coming off losses the week before in the Academy Series and searching for their first win of the season.

Northern Territory broke the ice through swingman Joel Jeffrey who snagged a major in the fourth minute to put his side in front. Tasmania’s Rhyan Mansell countered that shortly after. Powerful small midfielder/forward Beau O’Connell kicked back-to-back goals for the Thunder to hand them a 10-point lead which would prove to be the largest of the match for the “home” side. Both teams were missing their chances late in the term, with the Devils booting four consecutive behinds between their first two goals, as Tyler McGinniss got on the board six minutes into the second term. Bottom-age key forward Jackson Callow got his first midway through the quarter to send his team in front by five points, and within five minutes, the Devils had added two more and headed into half-time with a 17-point advantage, not allowing the Thunder to score in the quarter.

With the Thunder needing an early goal it was Tasmania’s Joel Hennessy who added more pain to the opposition with an early second half major, and soon McGinniss and Callow had their second majors with the lead getting out to as much as 35 points midway through the quarter. Wade Derksen broke the 45-minute odd drought for the Thunder to try and salvage the game, but a goal in the dying minutes to Jye Menzie saw the visitors take a six-goal lead into the final break. Callow was quick to add his third major, as the Tasmanians stretched their lead to 47 before O’Connell snagged a third of his own midway through the quarter, and then Dominic Forbes made it two in a row to drag the deficit back to 35 points with 10 minutes to play. Callow was not done with just yet though, keen to kick a bag the tall forward kicked a couple of majors in the dying minutes to finish the game with an impressive five goals for his troubles, while the Devils headed home 48-point winners.

Callow was the star up forward with 5.2 from 19 disposals, eight marks and three inside 50s, while McGinniss (20 disposals, three marks, three hitouts, three tackles and three inside 50s) and Patrick Walker (10 disposals, three marks and two tackles) both chipped in with a couple each. Top draft prospect for 2019, Mitch O’Neill was the star of the show however, racking up 35 touches, three marks, four clearances, nine inside 50s and three rebounds in the win. Mansell had a handy 23 disposals, four marks, four tackles, two clearances seven inside 50s and a goal, while bottom-age talent Oliver Davis showed off his contested ball-winning ability thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four clearances and six inside 50s. In defence, future Roo Matt McGuinness had 18 disposals, three marks and five rebounds, while Jake Steele worked hard against much bigger opposition through the ruck for 14 touches, four marks, five tackles, six hitouts and five clearances.

That ruck was Stephen Cumming who used his strong frame to take control around the stoppages on his way to 22 disposals, 40 hitouts and nine clearances. He gave first hands to the likes of Ben Jungfer (17 disposals, five tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds, O’Connell (16 disposals, four marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and three goals) and slick bottom-age talent and potential Richmond father-son prospect, Maurice Rioli Jnr (13 disposals, six tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s). Among the other bottom-age players to stand out, Jeffrey had seven rebounds from 20 touches and seven marks, while Isaac Seden-Kurnoth (18 disposals, nine tackles and five rebounds) and Brodie Lake (15 disposals, six marks and six rebounds) also caught the eye despite the loss.

Northern Territory played out the Academy Series without getting a win, while the Devils went on to avoid the wooden spoon and push fifth placed Calder Cannons all the way in the Wildcard Round, just falling short of a shock finals appearance.

2019/20 NTFL Men’s Premier League season preview

WITH the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League competition set to get underway on the weekend, we take a look at the eight teams competing for the ultimate prize over the summer.

DARWIN BUFFALOES

Last season: 5th
Win-loss: 8-10
Points: 32
Percentage: 94.6

The Buffs are coming in off an indifferent 2018/20 campaign that saw them scrape into finals after a promising start. They were eliminated in a crushing 73-point elimination final loss to Waratah after going down to the Warriors in Round 18 as well, finally folding after struggling to reclaim the early-season form that had them pegged for another top two finish. Having captain-coach Matt Campbell and star players Joe Anderson, Adam Sambono and Malcolm Rosas Jnr shuffle in and out of the side at times did not help the Buffaloes in their search for some consistency, but the talent base is certainly there. Ex-Blue Anderson and highly rated junior Sambono are poised to feature prominently again under Campbell’s tutelage, while Rosas Jnr’s availability hinges on his AFL Draft hopes. Those three are all capable of seeing a heap of the ball and having important touches, with the consistent figures of Shaun Ahmat and Kevin Maroney set to again add that stability to the lineup each week. With Rosas seemingly moving on to the elite system, the young gun in Darwin’s crop this year is Antonio James. James featured for two straight years for the NT Thunder’s Under-16 side and was part of the Under-18 NAB League squad without playing, making him a good chance to feature for them in the upcoming season. The Buffs will be keen to see how he goes at Premier League level, with his enthusiasm and pace from defence helping him to stand out to this point. After a disappointing finish to last season, the storied club will hope to reach the heights they did in 2017/18 and sneak back into that top two. They certainly have the top-end talent to challenge, and should provide some highlights along the way.

Players to watch:

Joe Anderson
Adam Sambono
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Shaun Ahmat

Young gun:

Antonio James

NIGHTCLIFF

Last season: 1st
Win-loss: 15-3 (Premiers)
Points: 60
Percentage: 166.08

The reigning premiers took home their fourth premiership cup last season, and in doing so moved one clear of Palmerston and Southern Districts to outright fifth on the overall premiership table. It was a dominant year for the Tigers, only losing thrice on their way to an outright minor premiership and getting up by 22 points over then-reigning premiers Southern Districts in the grand final. Trent Melville was the side’s spearhead, booting 56 goals from his 20 games to finish as the league’s leading goal kicker, but Nightcliff had a wealth of scoring threats. Melville will suit up again alongside the likes of Liam Holt-Fitz and Matthew Bricknell up forward, with big-man and NT Thunder representative Hugo Drogemuller a chance to feature up either end. The Budarick brothers, Jess and Joel will also be important between the arcs for the Tigers, with Joel turning out for the NT’s Under 18 academy this year. Jess appeared for the Thunder in the NEAFL this season and should add to his games tally this time around, adding to Nightcliff’s list of promising youngsters. Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Jamie Jones and Ned Stevens are also on that list after playing a part in the NT’s Under 16 campaign this year, putting the reigning premiers in good stead to feature well again and into the future. Their depth is solid, and their firepower is almost unmatched.

Players to watch:

Jess Budarick
Trent Melville
Matthew Bricknell
Hugo Drogemuller
Liam Holt-Fitz

Young gun:

Joel Budarick

PALMERSTON

Last season: 6th
Win-loss: 7-11
Points: 28
Percentage: 70.57

The Palmy Army experienced much more joy in 2018/19 after claiming the wooden spoon in season 2017/18, with a vastly-improved sixth place finish – just one win outside of the finals spots. The Magpies had their depth tested with ex-AFL players like Aaron Davey, Alwyn Davey, and Ezekiel Frank missing chunks of games throughout the year, while Matthew Stokes only appeared in a two-game cameo. All four of those stars provided great value though and could do so again in this year’s competition to aid a bunch of regulars who stood out. Victorian ruck veteran Matthew Dennis featured among the best for all but one of his 18 games last year and could go around again, with VFL player Dylan Gordon set to make his NT return. He joins the likes of prolific goalsneak Kyle Emery, as well as the ever-improving Nigel Lockyer and consistent figures of Samuel Autio and Samuel Talbot. Add youngster Jason Baird to the mix and so much of the Magpies’ firepower comes in their forward movers, despite not being able to post the biggest scores last year. Up the other end, their defence was the leakiest in 2018/19 and will need some tightening if Palmerston is to continue its upward trend.

Players to watch:

Kyle Emery
Matthew Dennis
Dylan Gordon
Samuel Talbot
Nigel Lockyer

Young gun:

Jason Baird

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

Last season: 2nd
Win-loss: 13-5 (Runners-up)
Points: 52
Percentage: 147.36

So close, yet so far, the Crocs battled hard throughout the season and looked at times like premiership favourites, particularly after a 20-goal smashing of Tiwi Bombers in the preliminary final. But as they found out, the Grand Final is a different ball game, going down to Nightcliff by 22 points. That does not take away from the dominance the Crocs have had over the competition during the last two seasons, with a ton of depth and some scary firepower. Ex-AFL players Leroy Jetta, Richard Tambling, Ed Barlow and Jared Brennan were all terrific over multiple games for the 2017/18 premiers, adding arguably the highest level of ex-professional class. Goals came aplenty through the likes of Jess Koopman and Michael Mummery, while Bradley Vallance, Dean Staunton, Charles McAdam, and Beau Schwarze were others to combine their scoreboard impact with ball winning. They should all be important figures again if Southern Districts is to have another flag tilt, providing a consistent base throughout the year with a raft of other stars coming in and out of the team. It is always hard to look past the Crocs on paper and given the ability they have to blow teams away, expect them to be right up there once again this season. With young gun Brodie Lake also one of the NT’s big hopes for next year’s draft, they have some future talent to nurture too.

Players to watch:

Jess Koopman
Michael Mummery
Dean Staunton
Ed Barlow
Brandon Rusca

Young gun:

Brodie Lake

ST MARY’S

Last season: 8th
Win-loss: 5-13
Points: 20
Percentage: 78.14

The NTFL powerhouse side was publicly in financial trouble over the off-season, but is back in the league to try and bounce back from its poor season last year. After missing the 2017/18 Grand Final for only the second time since 2002/03, the Saints went through a rebuilding phase last season dropping to the bottom of the table. With nine more premierships than its nearest rival, expect this successful club to move back up the ladder in season 2019/20. Former Gippsland Power prospect Nathaniel Paredes was the Saints’ shining light last season, featuring in the best 10 of 15 times and booting 20 goals in the process. A host of famous names and relations also fill out the side, with Ben Rioli and Jacob Long sure to join prodigious youngsters Maurice Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli – pending their availability. Nicholas Yarran and Raphael Clarke would be handy returns after solid 2017/18 seasons, along with the likes of Mathias Liddy. St Mary’s is renowned for producing top talent, and NT Under 16 representative Preyben Tipiloura is an exciting type to come through further this year alongside Rioli Jnr and Brayden Rioli, while Kieren Parnell is another rising star set to make his long-awaited injury return. Given the club’s strong history and the raw talent set to be displayed, expect St Mary’s to be a riser this year – the only was is up from last season after all – and a couple more former-AFL coups could help.

Players to watch:

Nathaniel Paredes
Maurice Rioli Jnr
Jacob Long
Ben Rioli
Kieren Parnell
Brayden Rioli

Young gun:

Preyben Tipiloura

TIWI BOMBERS

Last season: 3rd
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 101.72

Tiwi very nearly became one of the better stories out of last season as their run in the back-end saw them earn an unlikely preliminary final berth. Although they were soundly beaten while searching for a grand final spot, the journey there was something to behold. It came long after a slow start to the season, with a raft of experienced and reliable players helping the famous Bombers click into gear. They were awesome in front of goal at times, and that is only set to be helped this year with the return of favourite son Cyril Rioli, who joins as a player-coach. The prospect of having him run around alongside fellow ex-AFL players Austin Wonaeamirri and Nathan Djerrkura, as well as Ross Tungatalum is scary and sure to bring plenty of excitement to the league. Add to that club stalwarts Jason Puruntatameri, Dion Munkara and prolific young guns Adam Tipungwuti and Jeffrey Simon, and you have a fun side destined for big things. The improvement they showed last year should only be built on this time around, and there is no reason why the Bombers cannot fly back to the top of the NTFL with a continuance of their form. Do not be surprised to see Tiwi go in as one of the flag favourites, and there will certainly be plenty of expectation given how dangerous they look on paper in the forward half.

Players to watch:

Cyril Rioli
Ross Tungatalum
Austin Wonaeamirri
Jason Puruntatameri
Dion Munkara
Nathan Djerrkura
Adam Tipungwuti

Young gun:

Jeffrey Simon

WANDERERS

Last season: 7th
Win-loss: 6-12
Points: 24
Percentage: 74.22

A somewhat down 2018/19 season saw Wanderers narrowly escape the bottom of the ladder with a final round victory over Palmerston, despite only winning half the amount of games they lost in the 18-game season. It looked a justified ladder position given they were second-to-last for both points scored and conceded, but there are some promising signs pointing to the future for the Muk Muks. They are set to field young stars aplenty, with NT Under-18 representative Beau O’Connell one who could team up with Davin Ferreira through midfield alongside the experience of Marlon Motlop. John Tipiloura is another lively youngster, as is Mark White, who starred up forward in the 2019 Under 16 Division 2 carnival. But arguably the best of the lot is 2020 AFL Draft hopeful Joel Jeffrey, who was a regular for Wanderers last year and played out on the MCG in the Under-17 grand final curtain raiser. If he is available before his top-age year, look out for his high marking up either end of the ground. While the immediate impact of their talent has not quite translated to results just yet, expect to see the Eagles sore in years to come.

Players to watch:

Beau O’Connell
Marlon Motlop
Joel Jeffrey
Davin Ferreira
John Tipiloura

Young gun:

Mark White

WARATAH

Last season: 4th
Win-loss: 9-9
Points: 36
Percentage: 100.44

Waratah is a team which surprised some last year, holding strong with its local talent to cap a consistent year off in fourth place with an even record – hardly ever looking like missing out on finals throughout the season. Anchoring the side in midfield was Abraham Ankers, who will be key again in this campaign alongside fellow NT Thunder squad member Brodie Carroll, who played 16 games last year. Zach Westerberg, Cameron Barrett, and Henry Kerinaiua were others to hold down spots, and another possible cameo from ex-Melbourne forward Michael Newton could spell some more goals. Newton’s two games aside, Waratah is one of the teams with the fewest ex-AFL experience, making their exploits even greater. Andrew Moore could change that factor slightly as he is poised to sign for the Warriors, and Matthew Green could have the effect of a new signing after only featuring a couple of times last season. Watch for Under 18 Allies representative Ben Jungfer if available, given he is Adelaide-based, with his clearance work outstanding. With a lot of other sides improving, it will be a battle for Waratah to maintain their form, but they have the stock to match it with the best once again.

Players to watch:

Abraham Ankers
Matthew Green
Brodie Carroll
Andrew Moore
Cameron Barrett

Young gun:

Ben Jungfer

South Australian weekly wrap: Redlegs stay in title hunt as Magpies fly high

THE first week of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) finals action is in the books, with Norwood remaining alive and Port Adelaide Magpies moving through to face Glenelg next week for a spot in the decider.

LEAGUE:

Sturt 15.6 (96) defeated by Norwood 16.14 (110)

Norwood has kept its 2019 premiership hopes alive with a strong 14-point victory over Sturt. The Redlegs did not make the most of their scoring chances in the first term, booting two goals from six scoring shots, before piling on five goals to three to extend the lead to 14 by half-time. A high-scoring third term resulted in Norwood booting six goals to four to create some separation with a 30-point advantage at the final break. Sturt came home with a tailwind booting six goals to three in the last quarter, but fell short to go down 16.14 (110) to 15.6 (96) by the final siren. Dom Barry was influential with 28 disposals, five marks, three clearances, four tackles and 3.3, joined among the bests with Lewis Johnston (28 disposals, nine marks, three clearances and one goal) and Cole Gerloff (25 disposals, five marks, five clearances and four tackles). Top Under-18 draft talent Dylan Stephens had 14 touches, two marks, two clearances, three tackles and kicked a terrific goal, while Anthony Wilson and Brady Dawe added three goals each. For the Double Blues, Jake Sutcliffe had a day out up forward with 4.2 from 13 touches and six marks, joined on the goalkickers list by Joshua Hone (three goals). Sam Colquhoun was the dominant ball winner, picking up 34 disposals, 11 marks, six clearances and nine tackles, while James Battersby (22 disposals, four marks, nine clearances, six tackles and a goal) and Danyle Pearce (21 disposals, seven marks and two clearances) were also impressive.

Port Adelaide 12.13 (85) defeated Adelaide 8.7 (55)

Port Adelaide Magpies have enjoyed a 30-point win over their AFL Reserve counterparts in Adelaide Crows, booting six goals to four in both halves to secure the win. Neither team could be split in the first term with three goals on the board each, but a three goals to one second quarter opened the game up for the Magpies, before Adelaide hit back with three goals to one of their own in the third term to cut the deficit to just three at the final break, A dominant five goals to one final term resulted in the Magpies running away with the contest, 12.13 (85) to 8.7 (55) at Adelaide Oval. While both South Australian sides are out of finals for the AFL, a number of AFL-listed players still impressed. Willem Drew (32 disposals, four marks, seven clearances and eight tackles), Jack Trengove (29 disposals, seven marks), Cam Sutcliffe (28 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and five clearances), Joe Atley (28 disposals, four marks, 10 clearances and three tackles) and Trent McKenzie (27 disposals, 11 marks) all racked up big numbers for the Magpies, while Peter Ladhams booted two goals – one of which was a ripper – from 23 touches, six clearances, four marks and 23 hitouts). For the Crows, Lachlan Sholl (24 disposals, six marks ad three clearances) impressed, as the retiring Andy Otten also had a team-high 24 touches to go with his five marks and seven rebounds. Alongside him in defence was Pierce Seymour with 22 disposals, four marks, two tackles and seven rebounds), while Matthew Wright (20 disposals, nine marks and three tackles) was also strong.

RESERVES:

Sturt 11.9 (75) defeated Woodville-West Torrens 8.10 (58)

Second placed Sturt has earned the right to face top-of-the-table Norwood next week after downing Woodville-West Torrens in their qualifying final clash. The Eagles started strongly to booted three goals to two in the first term, though missing multiple opportunities to only head in with an 11-point lead. Both sides booted a goal in the second term but it was the Double Blues’ turn to be plagued with inaccuracy, booting five behinds from six scoring shots as the Eagles lead by eight points at the main break. A dominant third term saw Sturt boot seven goals to three and head into the final change with a 16-point lead before holding on in a arm-wrestle of a last quarter with both sides booting two goals and securing the 11.9 (75) to 8.10 (58) victory. Overage key forward Hugo Munn was impressive for the Double Blues, picking up 20 disposals, three marks, four clearances and five tackles, while fellow over-ager and father-son prospect Casey Voss had 19 touches, three marks, two clearances, six tackles and a goal. Joel Thiele had 15 touches, five marks, five clearances and nine tackles, while James Richards and Mihail Lochowiak both booted three goals in the win. Adam Trenorden (16 disposals, two marks, six clearances and 10 tackles) and Josh Shute (15 disposals, seven marks) were others who stood tall. For the Eagles, Ben Nason had a game-high 22 disposals, as well as five marks, two clearances and four tackles, while Jake Comitogianni helped himself to 20 disposals, four marks, two clearances and a tackle. Up forward, Harrison Morgan booted three goals from 12 touches, while Josh Morris kicked 2.2 from four kicks. Other names who played from South Australia’s Under 18s side were Kysaiah Pickett (11 disposals, one goal) and Harry Schoenberg (16 disposals, three clearances and three tackles).

Central District 11.12 (78) defeated Glenelg 3.10 (28)

Central District put Glenelg to the sword in the side’s elimination final at Peter Motley Oval, running away 50-point winners. The Bulldogs booted seven goals to one in the first half, and kept their opponents to just three goals for the game, as the Tigers’ inaccuracy of 10 behinds from 13 scoring shot proved an issue. In a remarkable game, Glenelg actually dominated possession with 56 per cent, also having 62 more touches and 45 more marks, but it was the tackling pressure of the Bulldogs (90-62) that helped Central District get the win. Isaya McKenzie (19 disposals, three marks, three clearances, eight tackles and a goal) and Ari Rigney (17 disposals, 12 tackles and a goal) were among the top possession winners for the Bulldogs, as Jordan O’Brien held that title with 22 disposals, seven clearances and seven tackles in a best-on performance. Fellow South Australian Under-18 representative Oliver Shaw (18 disposals, four marks and three tackles) also had a strong game, while bottom-age talent Corey Durdin booted two goals from 10 touches and nine tackles up forward. For Glenelg, it was Callum Park who stood tall with 20 touches, 12 marks, three tackles and a goal, while a host of teammates picked up big numbers. Ben Sawford had a game-high 27 touches, five marks, two clearances, four tackles but an inaccurate three behinds, while Reid Kuller (25 disposals, six clearances and eight tackles) and Sam Davis (22 disposals, seven marks, five clearances and two tackles).

UNDER 18S:

South Adelaide 13.10 (88) defeated Glenelg 10.3 (63)

South Adelaide kept its season alive in the Under 18s competition with a dominant first term all but ending Glenelg’s hope of an unlikely flag from fourth spot. The Panthers piled on 7.3 to 0.0 in the first term in a complete obliteration, before the Tigers booted six goals to one in the second term to suddenly draw within 15 points at the half. South Adelaide took control again in the third term with four goals to one and opened up a 38-point advantage, with Glenelg flying home with three goals to one, but not enough to overcome the 25-point final siren margin. Nicholas Kraemer picked up 23 disposals, nine marks, six clearances, seven tackles and a goal for the Panthers, while Damon Freitag (21 disposals, five marks, eight clearances and four tackles) and Zac Dumesny (20 disposals, seven marks) were also among the high possession winners. The Panthers had no shortage of players who hit the scoreboard however, with Tyler Oliver (three goals), Daniel Sladojevic (two) and Beau McCreery (two) also having impressive matches. For the Tigers, Kye Dean had a big game with 24 touches, two marks, five clearances, seven tackles and a goal, while Josh Slade (16 touches, four marks, five tackles and two goals) also impressed. Austin Kitschke and Cooper Horsnell both booted multiple goals in defeat, while Luke Pedlar (17 disposals, six clearances) and Will Schreiber (17 disposals, six clearances) were also consistent despite the loss.

Woodville-West Torrens 14.8 (92) defeated West Adelaide 10.6 (66)

Woodville-West Torrens has advanced through to the 2019 SANFL Under 18s Grand Final after downing West Adelaide by 26 points at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval on Saturday. The Eagles trailed by three points at the first break, but soon got on top, booting four goals to two in the second term to open up a 13-point advantage at the main break. A six goals to four second half – in which the Eagles booted an extra goal compared to their rivals in each quarter – saw them record a handy 14.8 (92) to 10.6 (66) win. Michael Frederick was the top player for the Eagles with 21 disposals, five marks, two tackles, two clearances and three majors, while Henry Smith (11 disposals, three marks, five clearances, 11 hitouts, nine tackles and a goal) was strong in the ruck. Zane Williams also hit the scoreboard with three majors from 16 touches and three marks, while Luke Barnett (22 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles was strong through the middle. Northern Territory representative Ben Jungfer had the 19 disposals, four clearances and four tackles in the win, while a couple of potential father-sons in Taj Schofield (21 disposals, three tackles) ad Jase Burgoyne (15 disposals, one goal) also contributed. For the losers, potential 2020 number one draft pick Riley Thilthorpe racked up 24 disposals, nine marks, two clearances, eight tackles and a goal, while top-age draft prospect Will Day managed 20 disposals, nine marks and five rebounds in the loss. For others, the consistent Joel Groom had 27 disposals, nine clearances, eight tackles and four marks in a mammoth effort, while Bailey Chamberlain also racked up the clearances with 19 touches, nine clearances and six tackles.

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – South Australia vs. Allies

SOUTH Australia held firm late-on to finish off its national carnival with a 17-point win over the Allies at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday. Michael Alvaro was on hand to note down some of the prominent players, with all notes opinion-based of the individual writer.

South Australia:

#1 Kysaiah Pickett

The exciting Eagles product proved his worth once again after missing SA’s last game through suspension, collecting 22 disposals and booting a goal. While he is an obvious threat at ground level with his pace and clean hands, Pickett also has good spring and competed well above his head when required. He started well with a ground ball get against three opponents in the first term, wheeling away from them and shooting the ball inboard to Callum Park. Despite spending a lot of time up on the wing, Pickett snared a goal deep inside 50 in the second term with an easy finish into the open goal on the run. It always felt like he was about to do something special when near the ball, and he did as much with a high-flying mark on the wing in the same quarter. Was otherwise a pretty typical display from Pickett, zipping around to mop up at ground level and proving a tackling menace at both ends.

#3 Corey Durdin

Was by no means a big game from the bottom-ager in terms of his disposal output (just seven), but he continues to show little bursts of form in a forward role. There isn’t much of him at 173cm, but Durdin cracks in against bigger bodies and tackles hard – boding well for his inside midfield craft. Showed his class with a snapped goal from a forward stoppage in the first quarter, and caught the eye with a clean pick up and spin on defensive wing in the following term. Should enjoy more midfield time in his top-age year.

#7 Dylan Stephens

The classy mover arguably left his best championships performance for last, racking up a game-high 33 disposals – including nine clearances. Stephens worked tirelessly through midfield for SA, winning the ball in all areas of the ground and proving clinical by foot on his left side. He looked dangerous early when breaking forward, getting hand-offs in areas where he could unleash a long-range shot on goal, despite not quite finding them. While a lot of his best work was done when breaking away from congestion, Stephens also showed an ability to win his fair share of inside ball. His typically pin-point kicking was somewhat compensated as he threw the ball on his boot quickly on occasion in those situations, which is a rare area he can polish up on. Much of his game was one of accumulation, but Stephens’ cleverness shone through at times, with a tap over his opponent and gather on the run at defensive 50 proving shrewd, and his agility in traffic outstanding throughout.

#8 Jed McEntee

Looks to have a really nice mix of class and grit, doing some clever things on the outside while digging in desperately to win the ball at ground level. Had more impact than his stats suggest, and first came into the game with a big tackle on the wing in the opening term. McEntee went on to pop up with little bursts of agility through traffic up the ground, while also running hard forward to mark inside 50 on two occasions, but missing both set shots. He made good on that with his involvement in Jackson Mead’s third quarter goal, diving to get a hand on the ball as an opponent looked to pick it up, winning it, standing up to burst through would-be tacklers and flicking out to Kysaiah Pickett, who moved it on to Mead for a terrific team goal from nothing.

#9 Cameron Taheny

Looked dangerous in the opening stages, showing his typically strong hands overhead and darting a neat kick laterally in his first influential play of note. The dangerous forward spent a lot of time up the ground on a wing, but still proved worthy inside attacking 50 with a slow dribbled goal from a turnover in the first term. Tended to opt for a lot of space on the attacking side when matched up on Mitch O’Neill up the ground, and it allowed him to find over half of his 21 disposals uncontested. It clearly worked in his favour as Taheny used his skills and the time afforded to make a couple of darting hit-up passes toward the forward 50 arc in the third term. A good day for the dynamic SA prospect.

#10 Joshua Shute

Shute managed to accumulate 21 disposals as one of SA’s better outside movers on his customary wing. While his running game was not as obvious as in his other carnival outings, Shute showed good pace when called upon and worked hard to penetrate the arcs at either end by foot. Is one whose stocks have risen after some solid representative action, and has noticeable traits as a rangy outsider.

#12 Will Day

Put in another slick display off half-back, building into the game with a purple patch in the second term. Is a good height while being quite light on, but still held up well in contests to add to his more prevalent outside traits. Only had the two rebound 50s but made some typically neat kicks as he won the ball up the ground. Half-backs are dime a dozen, but Day is starting to set himself apart.

#15 Harry Schoenberg

Was arguably one of the biggest improvers across the national championships, finishing off an outstanding carnival with 27 disposals to earn his state’s MVP award and be named All Australian. Plays a more unheralded role given the class of his centre bounce partners, but well and truly did it all from midfield with five marks, five clearances, four tackles, and a goal. That goal came on the run from range in the second term to spark South Australia’s dominance, and Schoenberg enjoyed a short game of kick to kick with Will Day later in the quarter to pad his stats. He almost snared another goal on the fly in the third term but missed, but just seems to win the ball wherever he goes. Hands out and kicks forward well, making him a rounded midfield prospect.

#18 Jackson Mead

Another strong showing from the potential Port Adelaide father-son, and he started beautifully with a couple of spearing hits through the corridor to find teammates leading up to the forward 50 arc. Mead would go on to rack up the ball well and continued to push forward in damaging fashion on the outside when allowed the time and space. Showed a bit of cheek to throw the ball at his opponent as he was shoved out of bounds, and capped a solid game with his neat checkside goal in the third term. Mead used his frame to win the ball between the arcs, but bit off a bit too much when moving through congestion as he was caught holding the ball just before his goal. Rightly earned All Australian honours, but Port fans will want to keep that on the down-low.

#19 Luke Edwards

One of few bottom-agers in the SA squad but was again impressive in spurts, making him a leading father-son prospect (Adelaide) for next year. Found a spot in the back six throughout the carnival, but will become a good midfielder in time with his clean hands and strong frame. Edwards had a shaky moment early with a pretty bad turnover by foot on defensive wing, but would make amends later in the game with some clean gathers off the deck and improved composure inside defensive 50 as the game wore on. Also had a nice bit of play when recovering from a spilt mark, putting in a quick first few steps to get away from danger. Has a handy bit of versatility and will have impressed many.

#20 Lachlan McNeil

Another less heralded midfielder pre-championships, McNeil was again one of his side’s leading ball winners as a hard-working cog on the inside of SA’s engine room. His impact is not always noticeable, but McNeil’s touches and tackles at the stoppages proved vital in allowing the likes of Stephens to work the ball forward in space. Can work on polishing up his disposal at times, shown by a kick and handball under pressure in the final term, but is a great role player in the midfield mix.

#24 Will Gould

The two-time All Australian defender is an absolute unit, and used his frame to good effect throughout the game. You just always feel nervous for his opponents as he closes in, exemplified best as he threw his body around early and laid a crunching bump on the much smaller Errol Gulden later in the third term, who he has 30kg on. On top of his physicality, Gould is also surprisingly damaging by foot – playing as one of SA’s designated kickers from defence. Given his ability to stand up in tackles, Gould is often cool in a crisis and has the confidence to take the game on by playing on from kick-ins. He did so in the second term, and got busy in the following quarter inside defensive 50 with some neat touches to keep his side composed. He hits the ball hard from that centre half-back position, and that boded well for his 10 rebound 50s from 25 disposals. His ability to play tall became obvious with a couple of marking efforts from the side too, and he looks a dynamic prospect.

#33 Dyson Hilder

Was swung forward in this game and while Hilder did not find whole lot of the ball (eight disposals, two marks), he still had some nice moments with efforts in the air. He was unlucky not to claim a couple more marks in the second term, flying well for one on the forward 50 arc and having one taken away from him with a free kick inside 50. He did manage to hold on for a mark in the final quarter among a decent pack, booting his only goal for the game with the resultant set shot. Enjoyed a promising carnival, formerly forming a solid partnership with Karl Finlay down back.

#35 Karl Finlay

Assumed his usual role as the leading key defender for SA, and did so to great effect to be one of his side’s best in the first half. Only had the four marks from his 11 disposals but it seemed like he had more, starting with a strong take going back on the defensive arc. Finlay followed it up with a couple of spoils in aerial contests in defence and up on the wing, putting in similar efforts in the second quarter. His attack on the ball and consequential rebound on the fly was excellent for a player of his size, and he could be that intercepting defender at the next level – rather than a key position back.

Allies:

#1 Errol Gulden

The bottom-aged Sydney Academy member was again impressive, buzzing around the forward half and proving damaging as he wheeled craftily onto his left side. He started in ideal fashion with a well-read crumb off hands inside 50 and clinical finish for his side’s first and only goal in the opening term. While his spearing passes on the left look good when they come off, Gulden has a tendency to look for those low-percentage kicks across the 50 arc and did turn one over in this game. Can pick his shots better, but is so damaging when he hits them and you would not want to smother his natural talent. Finished with 14 disposals (12 uncontested).

#2 Hewago Paul Oea

The Papua New Guinea-born forward made his usual impact, but also did well to find more disposals than his carnival average (15). His defensive pressure and damage on the outside was terrific, while also flicking out effective handballs when under a touch more pressure. Better known as ‘Ace’, much of the Suns Academy member’s best work was done over the back when streaming forward, sending the ball inside 50 on five occasions and finding Noah Cumberland well to supply him with one of his two goals.

#3 Connor Budarick

Named All Australian in the back pocket, Budarick’s Academy Series MVP award was largely earned for his work through the midfield, and his handball-heavy 21 disposals ensured a solid end to his national carnival. The Suns Academy skipper continued to do the dirty work as the anchor at centre bounces, laying eight tackles and winning over half of his possessions in contested situations despite only standing at 175cm. He is all heart, but has the speed and finishing qualities up forward to make him even more desirable for the Suns. Found the goals with the first major of the second half after cleaning up from Tom Griffiths’ tackle on Will Gould.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Rosas continued his electric end to the national championships, combining harmoniously with the Allies’ brigade of zippy smalls to give the opposition defenders headaches. While there is not much of him, the Darwin product has a good knack of prizing the ball free with opponents around, but works even better in space and has the speed to find it. Was one of the more influential Allies with his 15 disposals and three inside 50s, and could have had an even better game with better finishing. Still managed to post two goals after his first-half woes in front of the big sticks and offers some real silk forward of centre.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

The hard-nosed Tasmanian earned second All Australian honours with another solid outing, collecting a respectable 16 disposals on the wing. He often started with a fair bit of separation from his opponent when the centre bounces went up, and it showed as he found a touch more uncontested ball than usual. Did not have as profound an impact as he has shown he can over the last two games with his role on the outer of midfield, but always manages to attract the ball and works hard both ways to help out his defenders and provide for forwards.

#12 Ashton Crossley

The Lions Academy member is a contested ball beast, complimenting fellow big-bodied midfielder Tom Green well at the stoppages to have arguably his best game for the carnival. Is a handball-happy kind of player in his extraction role, and that was no different in this game with his 16 handballs from 22 disposals – with six clearances to boot. Played his role well and provided a physical edge, but can work on polishing up his disposal and running game.

#16 Ben Jungfer

Another inside type in the Allies midfield, Jungfer was slightly down on his usual disposal output with 10. Still fulfilled his role of prizing the ball free and winning it at the coalface, with eight of his possessions contested and three of them ending in clearances. Just gets the ball going forward when allowed to throw it on the boot, and got it moving inside 50 when he could.

#20 Matt McGrory

Was one who stepped up in patches and looked to have built into the game nicely after a relatively quiet opening. Is usually employed out on the wing, but had a couple of good moments under pressure with kicks going inside 50 and showed glimpses of his class that had been more few and far between in previous outings. Showed some promise with his 14 disposals and consolation goal in the final term.

#22 Tom Green

Again led the way for his side as their leading ball-winner (23 disposals, 18 contested possessions, six clearances), bossing stoppage proceedings but having less impact around the ground than he did in his previous outing. Used his big frame to stand up in tackles and keep the ball alive in typical fashion, while laying seven of his own on South Australia’s nippier midfield types. Rightly earned All Australian honours and pushed his case well for top 10 selection come the end of the year as the pool’s leading inside midfielder.

#46 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland just continues to get better and found form at the right time during the carnival. Loves to kick long down the line and get his side going with some rugby-like dash, but was caught out for running too far early on as he tucked the ball under his arm. While he shows moments of his rawness, Cumberland also proved classy with his two goals, and particularly with his nicely weighted set shot in the third term. Had 18 impactful disposals, four tackles and four inside 50s as one of his side’s best. Will be an interesting prospect for the Lions to consider going forward.

Western Australia and Vic Country to decide AFL U18s title

A NEW national champion will be crowned tomorrow evening with Vic Country and Western Australia set to lock horns for the national title, while South Australia and the Allies play after in what has become a dead rubber match, but still plenty of talent on show. Vic Country has not won since 2015, with Vic Metro and South Australia combining for the other seven titles in that time. Josh Schache was named the Larke Medallist for his dominance up forward, in a team that included Darcy Parish, Ben Ainsworth, Jarrod Berry, Jacob Weitering and Rhys Mathieson. For Western Australia, the time between wins is even longer, with a decade passing since their 2009 triumph where the likes of David Swallow, Mitch Duncan, Jack Darling, Brandon Matera and Travis Colyer were running around in the yellow and black.

 

VIC COUNTRY vs. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Wednesday July 3, 2.10pm
Marvel Stadium

The 2019 AFL Under-18 National Championships once again comes down to the final day, and the winner of this match between Vic Country and Western Australia with the home side undefeated from its three games, while Western Australia has won two out of three, the only blip coming in a low-scoring against South Australia in Round 1. Both teams have accounted for the Allies and Vic Metro – with Country notching up its two wins early on including a 15-goal humiliation of the Allies, while Western Australia had to fight hard but recorded strong wins over both. This game is set to be a beauty with the strong defence of the Country side going head-to-head with the excitement machines that represent Western Australia.

Vic Country has made two changes for the game with Sandringham Dragons’ Darcy Chirgwin coming in for his first game of the series following a successful return from injury a couple of weekends ago against Eastern Ranges. That day he collected 32 disposals and 11 clearances in an impressive return match, joined in the Country side by Murray Bushrangers’ Cam Wild who was left out of the Murray side on the weekend in order to play this game, but picked up 29 touches the week prior. Fraser Phillips and Lachlan Williams are the two players to miss out after quiet games in the narrow win over South Australia. Western Australia has opted for four changes with the highly rated Jeremy Sharp missing out on the side this week, while Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley and Reuben McGuire are also out of the team. In their place come a couple of overagers in Ryan Bennell and Jarvis Pina, as well as Nathan O’Driscoll and Nicholas Martin.

Both teams have the capability to move the ball with speed, and for Country, it has the two best half-backs in the draft in Hayden Young and Lachlan Ash making life difficult for any side as they slice up opposition zones. Brock Smith and Sam De Koning have proven to stand up as the key talls, with Smith having to play in a higher weight division as he will with a potential match-up against bottom-age tall Logan McDonald on the cards. The small forwards of Country have been very damaging with Cody Weightman the leading goalkicker of the carnival and it will be between him and Elijah Taylor to take out the title. Elijah Hollands has weaved magic across the past month despite being a bottom-ager, while Ned Cahill has worked well with Weightman transitioning from Dandenong Stingrays to the Country side. The midfield of Gippsland Power duo, Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders, and Bendigo Pioneers’ Brodie Kemp has made a massive difference and will no doubt look to control the ball in there, able to match it with the strong West Australian midfielders.

Western Australia’s strength lies in its ruck and speed. Luke Jackson is the dominant ruck and is set for All-Australian honours, while Taylor, Liam Henry and Tyrone Thorne have that X-factor about them and can create something out of nothing. Deven Robertson has done his draft chances no harm after being injured last year, coming second in the disposals across the carnival, and being a shining light as captain of the Sandgropers. Riley Garcia and Chad Warner have also been consistent in there, while Trent Rivers is a touch of class who can play between half-back and the wing, or go through the middle. The bottom-age talls of McDonald and Denver Grainger-Barras hold the visitors in good stead for next year, while Jake Pasini and Callum Jamieson have been strong up either end at the carnival. Spectators also get a glimpse of bottom-age talent O’Driscoll who has been named at half-back, in a game that is predicted to be an absolute beauty.

Vic Country will head in as favourites having gone undefeated thus far, but Western Australia are fresh off a rest whereas Vic Country have the five-day break so it will be interesting to see how that affects them.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 26. Jesse Clark – 36. Sam De Koning – 9. Isaac Wareham
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash – 24. Brock Smith – 18. Hayden Young
C: 8. Thomson Dow – 16. Brodie Kemp – 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill – 20. Elijah Hollands – 13. Jay Rantall
F: 6. Riley Baldi – 39. Josh Smith – 3. Cody Weightman
R: 40. Charlie Comben – 4. Sam Flanders – 2. Caleb Serong
INT: 22. Darcy Chirgwin – 14. Liam Herbert – 10. Harrison Pepper – 5. Cameron Wild

IN: Darcy Chirgwin, Cam Wild
OUT: Fraser Phillips, Lachlan Williams

Western Australia:

B: 13. Ben Johnson – 21. Jake Pasini – 20. Jaxon Prior
HB: 22. Max Murphy – 36. Denver Grainger-Barras – 7. Nathan O’Driscoll
C: 12. Regan Clarke – 10. Deven Robertson – 5. Liam Henry
HF: 18. Jai Jackson – 25. Logan McDonald – 19. ELijah Taylor
F: 23. Nicholas Martin – 39. Callum Jamieson – 3. Tyrone Thorne
R: 32. Luke Jackson – 14. Chad Warner – 4. Riley Garcia
INT: 34. Ryan Bennell – 24. Ronin O’Connor – 11. Jarvis Pina – 35. Trent Rivers – 26. Trey Ruscoe

IN: Nathan O’Driscoll – Nicholas Martin, Ryan Bennell, Jarvis Pina
OUT: Cameron Anderson, Tristan Hobley, Jeremy Sharp, Reuben McGuire

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA vs. ALLIES
Wednesday July 3, 4.40pm
Marvel Stadium

In the second game of the double-header, South Australia and Allies will effectively play-off for third spot having already amassed two losses from three games. As South Australia defeated Western Australia, the Croweaters can effectively grab second with a win over the Allies and a Vic Country triumph in the first game. However they could also finish last with a loss, because they also lost to Vic Metro who sit with the same amount of wins – one. If the Allies win they will grab third, while if they lose they will be fourth after ensuring they will not finish last thanks to the win over Vic Metro. South Australia came agonisingly close to making this a title game if they had come away with the points against Vic Country, but with their back-to-back hopes dashed, the Croweaters will be keen to finish off the carnival with a good win.

The Allies have made two changes to the side that got over the line by two points against Vic Metro, recalling exciting bottom-age forward Braeden Campbell, as well as ball winner, Jeromy Lucas who has been named at full-forward. Out of the side go Nicholas Brewer and James Peatling. The South Australians have also made the two changes with Kysaiah Pickett returning from suspension for the game, joined in the side by Jordan Moore, while Jordan O’Brien and Brady Searle are the outs from the team that narrowly lost to Vic Country in the previous game.

The battle of the midfields will be entertaining with Jackson Mead, Harry Schoenberg and Lachlan McNeil going head-to-head with Tom Green, Ben Jungfer and Connor Budarick on the outside, while Will Martyn and Mitch O’Neill will hope to match the run provided by Dylan Stephens and Josh Shute on the wing. Up forward, South Australia has some great variety with Daniel Sladojevic the key tall, Cameron Taheny as the talented medium forward, and Pickett as the electrifying small. Noah Cumberland, Tom Griffiths and Luke Parks are in some good form and will look to cover the smalls and mediums, while Liam Delahunty could have the job on Sladojevic.

Up the other end, the South Australian defence is right up there in terms of quality with Dyson Hilder and Karl Finlay a couple of dominant tall intercept markers, allowing captain Will Gould to run riot off half-back. Will Day and Luke Edwards also create great run and rebound out of the back half, but will need to be accountable to the likes of Campbell and Hewago Paul Oea who are nimble and damaging if given time and space. Josh Gore is in some ripping form after three goals in the last game, and Hamish Ellem has also produced the goods at ground level. Add in the Allies depth of Errol Gulden and Malcolm Rosas Jr coming off the bench through the forward half and they have plenty of scoring options. Corey Durdin is a name to remember for next year for the Croweaters, while Damon Freitag could cause issues given his size and strength.

South Australia will be favourites in this game given how close all of their games have been, but the Allies have improved each game they have run out, so if that is any indication, they are set to hold up here against strong opposition.

TEAMS:

South Australia:

B: 35. Karl Finlay – 33. Dyson Hilder – 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 19. Luke Edwards – 24. Will Gould – 12. Will Day
C: 10. Joshua Shute – 18. Jackson Mead – 7. Dylan Stephens
HF: 8. Jed McEntee – 32. Daniel Sladojevic – 17. Josh Morris
F: 31. Jordan Moore – 9. Cameron Taheny – 1. Kysaiah Pickett
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows – 15. Harry Schoenberg – 20. Lachlan McNeil
INT: 14. Declan Carmody – 3. Corey Durdin – 42. Damon Freitag – 11. Callum Park – 28 Oliver Shaw

IN: Kysaiah Pickett, Jordan Moore
OUT: Jordan O’Brien, Brady Searle

Allies:

B: 8. Tom Griffiths – 52. Dirk Koenen – 21. Luke Parks
HB: 46. Noah Cumberland – 26. Liam Delahunty – 36. Sam Thorne
C: 15. Will Martyn – 3. Connor Budarick – 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 5. Braeden Campbell – 37. Josh Gore – 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 31. Hamish Ellem – 47. Jeromy Lucas – 32. Jack Steele
R: 54. Ben Kelly – 22. Thomas Green – 16. Ben Jungfer
INT: 12. Ashton Crossley – 1. Errol Gulden – 24.Joel Jeffrey – 20. Matt McGrory – 4. Malcolm Rosas Jr

IN: Jeromy Lucas, Braeden Campbell
OUT: Nicholas Brewer, James Peatling

Scouting notes: AFL U18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Allies

VIC Metro’s Under 18 carnival came to an end on Friday with a tight loss at the hands of a much-improved Allies side. We were on hand in Geelong to take note of how the outstanding players from both sides fared, with opinion-based notes that of the individual writer.

Vic Metro

By: Peter Williams

#1 Jack Mahony

A standout player for Metro across the game, setting up a number of goals for his teammates, then finishing off with three of his own – two of which came in the final term to help his side charge back into it. He almost had a fourth but it dropped short and his final kick of the day almost found its way into the hands of Emerson Jeka to win the game but was spoiled away. He had a fairly complete game with great defensive pressure and rarely missing a target forward of centre with neat kicks across his body, well placed to the advantage of his teammates. Mahony was also clean above his head and hard to stop.

#5 Trent Bianco

Composed with ball-in-hand, Bianco looked very classy coming off half-back and along the wing, and was able to use it well by hand or foot. He was the player often benefiting from extras heading into stoppages, with teammates getting it out to him and he was able to move the ball well in transition. He did so under pressure in the back half, and showed a great second effort when losing a marking contest, he got up and smothered a ball to win it back and kick forward. Had a chance for a goal by playing on and putting it through in the third term, but was forced to take the set shot and it fell short.

#11 Matt Rowell

Was again one of Metro’s best even if he was contained (by his standards) after quarter time. His first quarter was outstanding, which included eight disposals, three clearances and a goal, but the Allies midfield made sure to put more work into him after the first term. He used the ball well and was able to get it out to teammates running out the outside. Rowell is great one-on-one and the goal he did kick he managed to do so while being run down from behind. The confidence he exhibited was terrific as he glanced behind him, saw an opponent and backed himself to take him on. He has such clean hands and always keeps battling on across four quarters.

#13 Daniel Mott

Had a big first half and was working hard not only offensively, but defensively as well. He managed to tackle Tom Green and lock the ball away by holding an arm with great technique. He showed clean hands in close and worked hard to get to the right positions. Had a quiet third term, but picked up again in the last quarter.

#22 Miles Bergman

Took a good mark on the lead early in the game and put it to the danger zone for Harrison Jones to mark in a pack and goal to level the scores in the first term. He had a long range shot early in the second and it was perfect off the boot to sail through the middle. Bergman covered the ground well, winning the ball in all thirds of the ground to took a strong intercept mark inside 50, and also had the crowd up on their feet when he flew high on the interchange side of the ground but could not quite bring it down.

#23 Dylan Williams

Booted the one goal and could have had a couple more. He set up the first shot of the game to Emerson Jeka in the opening term, then in the second quarter took a good mark on the lead straight in front and launched it from 50m to go through. He had a chance on the wrong side for a left footer and it pushed to the right for a behind, having a second shot after the three quarter time siren but also missed that. Looked dangerous on the lead throughout.

#24 Noah Anderson

Almost the opposite to his partner-in-crime Rowell, having a very quiet first term – just two touches – before really starting to work his way into the contest. He was strong at ground level and laid multiple tackles with great second and third efforts.On one occasion he read the tap perfectly and booted the ball straight out of the middle with a long clearance kick inside 50. He even showed a bit of audacity in the final term, selling some candy, realising he had no leads on offer, bought some time with more candy then put it to Ryan Sturgess in teh pocket who kicked the goal to put Metro in front late. Another consistent performer who can be pleased with a terrific carnival.

#25 Finn Maginness

One of Metro’s best working hard on the inside and then getting it done on the outside with some dangerous kicks inside 50. Had a long range shot in the second term but missed to the right, and his best highlight came from a dance around an opponent in the middle in that last quarter, sidestepped another and kicked perfectly to Emerson Jeka inside 50.

#29 Fischer McAsey

Has enjoyed a ripping carnival and Friday’s game was no different with another impactful performance in defence. Time and time again he intercepted the ball and rebounded out of the back half, dropping into the hole perfectly. He saved a certain Tom Green goal early with a good mark in the goalsquare, and held his line well in the defence, winning the ball and

#36 Emerson Jeka

Presented well throughout the match inside 50, and could have had three goals to his named but just finished with the one. He missed one narrowly and the other shanked a bit, but never gave up with his work rate. His goal came from a set shot 30m out in the third term, and he was often spotted pushing up to the wing at times.

#39 Jack Bell

Got involved throughout and while he sold a teammate into trouble with a poor handball early, he showed some nice skills by foot, setting up Emerson Jeka for a third term goal by having the nous to move the ball quickly and get it to his teammates’ advantage. Later in the game he dropped behind the ball and was able to use his height to win the ball and move it forward.


Allies:

By: Michael Alvaro

#1 Errol Gulden

Swans fans will be pretty pleased with what their 2020 Academy prospect has shown to date, and this was another great performance on the big stage. Playing off the half-forward flank and up onto a wing, Gulden was a constant threat moving forward when wheeling around onto his trusty left boot. He always looked to create and showed crafty vision with his passes inside 50 to find teammates on multiple occasions. Gulden was as clean as anyone at ground level and it proved a telling trait as he delivered so effectively in space around the arc. Gulden’s willingness to opt for high-risk/high-reward kicks and ability to make them work more often than not made him a game-changer, topping off his contribution with two goals in the third term. His first was a real highlight, turning his opponent with great agility and finishing clinically on the left from just inside 50. One of the best for next year’s crop.

#2 Hewago Paul Oea

The Suns Academy product did some nice things throughout the game, underlining why he is better known as ‘Ace’. He started brightly to get on the scoreboard early with a goal out the back – assisted by the other dangerous forward he would often link up with, Malcolm Rosas Jnr. Tended to flow in and out of the game, but would pop up with good bits of pressure and crafty touches in close to break congestion open and move forward. One of his better plays was finding fellow Sun Josh Gore inside 50 to notch a goal assist, and he looked like breaking towards an open forward line on a few occasions to no avail.

#4 Malcolm Rosas Jnr

Is as silky as they come in the forward half and could do nothing wrong in the latter part of the opening term. The Darwin product roamed the half forward line when the ball was up field, and did well to make himself dangerous when it entered the Allies attacking 50. Rosas’ first goal off hands showed that, but his second was even better as he slammed home a classy left foot finish on the move from just inside the arc. Was a little quieter as the game went on, but applied good pressure throughout and looked likely when the ball edged over the back. Starting to build more consistency.

#16 Ben Jungfer

Was one who at the start of the championships looked to be a depth selection in a talented midfield bunch, but proved to be much more than that as a constant at the stoppages. Jungfer complimented Tom Green beautifully at the centre bounces, doubling the Allies’ contested ball-winning threat and getting stuck in well to prize six clearances. Did a lot of the dirtywork throughout the day to flick the ball out to his runners, and looked strong over it when tackled. Not many frills about his game, but is a reliable accumulator in the middle.

#21 Luke Parks

Looks to be adapting well to being freed from having to play above his height, and proved a solid defensive contributor in this game. Found a good amount of ball and used it well in repelling out of defensive 50, with his rebounding starting to shine through. His best moment came with a terrific gather on the half-volley at pace through the corridor, followed by a kick forward which led to a goal for Swans Academy teammate Errol Gulden in the third term.

#22 Tom Green

Was far and away the Allies’ best, with a game-high 33 disposals 13 more than his next best teammate. Green put in a mountain of work at the stoppages as we’ve come to expect, and proved difficult to tackle as he broke through hoards of opponents at times. Is a real leader in his actions, but also proved vocal with an audible call under a high ball in the first term. Had a couple of shots on goal early with one snap missing and another which he launched from 40 meters falling short, but eventually hit the scoreboard with a clutch set shot conversion in the third term. That side of his game was great to see, and he seemed to be kicking more while showing he can cover the ground really well for an inside midfielder. Also showed terrific spatial awareness with his use by hands with a couple of nice passes over his shoulder, and has great IQ in tight. Absolutely did his top 10 chances no harm with a more well-rounded display.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

The bottom-aged NT utility is capable of playing up either end, but looks really useful down back as a good reader of the ball in flight. Jeffrey leapt really well under high balls towards his own defensive 50 and stood strong as packs formed in his area, showing he wasn’t afraid of the inevitable contact. Looked better as the game went on and proved solid in the second half as Metro looked to charge with some one-on-one wins.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Another who can play at both ends, but looked much more at home in his outing down back in this game. By no means finds massive amounts of ball, but did what was required of him – often times deep inside defensive 50. Showed his overhead prowess as he leapt to clunk a high ball with opponents nearby, and was composed again later on as he saw the ball into touch. With more time in defence, Delahunty could be an effective intercept type, but looks just as good one-on-one with his closing speed and ability to spoil from behind.

#31 Hamish Ellem

Was super impressive early on – proving too big, strong, and smart for his opponents one-out deep inside attacking 50. Booted the first goal of the game with a snap, but caught the eye more with a couple of solid one-on-one grabs and some mobile follow-up work. Made space to be found on the lead as the game wore on, but looks to have some room for improvement in his set shot goalkicking as he could have finished with three or four goals. Had no such issues in general play though, slotting another snap with an unlikely effort from the boundary in the third term. Is somewhat of an in-between size, and has traits to play both as a second tall or as a smaller type given his work at ground level.

#37 Josh Gore

Just always seems to find the goals and this game was no different as Gore slotted three from his seven disposals. Managed to convert in each term after quarter-time, including the Allies’ sole goal in the second after following up a bellied snap to win a holding the ball free kick. Suns teammate Hewago Paul Oea handed him a second goal after finding him in the pocket, with Gore again finding space deep inside 50 to mark in the last and convert a third set shot to put the Allies back in front. Ended up being a game-winner with his clinical finishing, but can add more to his overall game.

#46 Noah Cumberland

Cumberland was ultra impressive in a final term effort which went a long way to helping the Allies hold on to victory. The Lions Academy member’s intensity and strength around the contest was outstanding, truly setting the tone for his teammates with efforts that coaches would love. Playing mostly forward, Cumberland’s impact early was mainly seen in small bursts with big fend offs and aggressive runs forward – although he bit off a little more than he bargained for when he took on Metro speedster, Lachie Potter. Cumberland provided real drive going forward, but also won the ball well with clever body positioning in-close to protect the drop zone and set a solid base. His overhead mark and pass to Tom Green in the fourth quarter was excellent, but his game-winning tackle to lock the ball up even later on was even better to see. Can add some polish, but is a real raw competitor.