Tag: brady rowles

Victoria leads way with National Combine invitees

VICTORIA has dominated this year’s NAB AFL Draft Combine List, with 44 of the 79 invites hailing from the state, including a remarkable 11 players from Sandringham Dragons. Vic Metro led the way despite finishing on the bottom of the table at the National Under-18 Championships, with 23 players making the list, followed by title runners-up Vic Country (21), while overall winners Western Australia (16), and South Australia (13) both reached double-figure invites. Of the Allied states, Queensland had three nominees, followed by New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) with two, as Northern Territory and Tasmania both had the sole nomination each. Players must have been invited by at least four clubs to receive an invite to the national combine, which will be held from Tuesday, October 1-Friday October 4. The state combine lists are usually released over the next few months.

Among the list are five Northern Academy-aligned players with GWS Academy’s Tom Green and Liam Delahunty, Brisbane Lions’ Noah Cumberland and Will Martyn, and Gold Coast’s Connor Budarick. Also receiving invites are father-son prospects Jackson Mead (Port Adelaide) and Finn Maginness (Hawthorn), and the Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Liam Henry.

Sandringham’s haul of 11 players includes Darcy Chirgwin (Vic Country) as well as double-digit Vic Metro representatives, Jack Bell, Miles Bergman, Louis Butler, Ryan Byrnes, Oscar Lewis, Maginness, Jack Mahony, Fischer McAsey, Hugo Ralphsmith and Josh Worrell. Oakleigh Chargers and Gippsland Power was the next most with six apiece, Dandenong Stingrays with five and Bendigo Pioneers with four.

In Western Australia, East Fremantle dominated the 16 nominees, picking up six as Jai Jackson, Luke Jackson, Trent Rivers, Trey Ruscoe, Jeremy Sharp and Chad Warner all named. In South Australia, Woodville-West Torrens had four representatives with Mead, Josh Morris, Kysaiah Pickett and Harry Schoenberg all receiving an invite. Just seven players came from the Allies squad, with Green and Tasmania’s Mitch O’Neill the top prospects.

A couple of players proving that missing out on representative selection is not the end of the AFL Draft dream are Northern Knights’ Sam Philp and Oakleigh Chargers’ Cooper Sharman. Philp has been in great form in the NAB League Boys competition, whilst Sharman has been plucked from under former AFL coach Rodney Eade’s nose to bolt up into draft calculations.

2019 NAB AFL Draft Combine list
NSW/ACT

Liam Delahunty (GWS Academy)
Tom Green (GWS Academy)

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Malcolm Rosas (NT Thunder)

QUEENSLAND

Connor Budarick (Gold Coast Academy)
Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)
Will Martyn (Brisbane Lions Academy)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Will Day (West Adelaide)
Karl Finlay (North Adelaide)
Will Gould (Glenelg)
Dyson Hilder (North Adelaide)
Jackson Mead (Woodville-West Torrens)
Josh Morris (Woodville-West Torrens)
Callum Park (Glenelg)
Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens)
Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens)
Josh Shute (Sturt)
Dylan Stephens (Norwood)
Cameron Taheny (Norwood)

TASMANIA

Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania Devils)

VIC COUNTRY

Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers)
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power)
Ned Cahill (Dandenong Stingrays)
Darcy Chirgwin (Sandringham Dragons)
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons)
Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)
Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)
Thomson Dow (Bendigo Pioneers)
Sam Flanders (Gippsland Power)
Brodie Kemp (Bendigo Pioneers)
Flynn Perez (Bendigo Pioneers)
Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)
Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)
Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers)
Caleb Serong (Gippsland Power)
Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)
Cooper Stephens (Geelong Falcons)
Isaac Wareham (GWV Rebels)
Cody Weightman (Dandenong Stingrays)
Lachlan Williams (Dandenong Stingrays)
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays)

VIC METRO

Noah Anderson (Oakleigh Chargers)
Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons)
Miles Bergman (Sandringham Dragons)
Trent Bianco (Oakleigh Chargers)
Nick Bryan (Oakleigh Chargers)
Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)
Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)
Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)
Josh Honey (Western Jets)
Emerson Jeka (Western Jets)
Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)
Oscar Lewis (Sandringham Dragons)
Finn Maginness (Sandringham Dragons)
Jack Mahony (Sandringham Dragons)
Fischer McAsey (Sandringham Dragons)
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)
Sam Philp (Northern Knights)
Hugo Ralphsmith (Sandringham Dragons)
Matt Rowell (Oakleigh Chargers)
Cooper Sharman (Oakleigh Chargers)
Ryan Sturgess (Northern Knights)
Dylan Williams (Oakleigh Chargers)
Josh Worrell (Sandringham Dragons)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Riley Garcia (Swan Districts)
Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco)
Liam Henry (Claremont)
Jai Jackson (East Fremantle)
Luke Jackson (East Fremantle)
Callum Jamieson (Claremont)
Ben Johnson (West Perth)
Ronin O’Connor (Claremont)
Jake Pasini (Swan Districts)
Jaxon Prior (West Perth)
Trent Rivers (East Fremantle)
Deven Robertson (Perth)
Trey Ruscoe (East Fremantle)
Jeremy Sharp (East Fremantle)
Elijah Taylor (Perth)
Chad Warner (East Fremantle)

NAB League Boys: Round 15 preview – Super Saturday hosts four of five fixtures

A shortened round of action sees just five games set to take place in the NAB League, with four of them to be held on what will be a super Saturday. Sandringham will become the latest Victorian side to make the trip down to Tasmania, looking to roar back into the all-important top three spots. Meanwhile, Dandenong hosts Gippsland in a do-or-die clash, with much of the bottom half of the top eight set for a shuffle as the round plays out.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park (Tasmania)

A win and already sizeable percentage could help the Sandringham Dragons claw back into the safety of the top three, but a trip to Tasmania and the Devils stand in their way as they ready to clash. Currently sitting fourth, the Dragons snapped a three-game losing streak last week against reigning premiers, Dandenong, and will look to carry a more settled line-up into the back end of their season. In a slight blow to their chances, All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey – who booted three goals against Dandenong – comes out of the side, but the Dragons are set to bolster their midfield stocks with the inclusion of Darcy Chirgwin amongst at least four changes. It means the Devils’ bottom-aged midfield fleet of Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Will Harper will have to carry a heavy load against the likes of Sandringham top-age guns Chirgwin, Ryan Byrnes, and Miles Bergman. Tasmania’s key position posts will be bolstered though, with Jackson Callow and Oscar Shaw returning to slot in at either end and cover Sandringham’s tall threats. With the Dragons again looking themselves after a down few weeks, they would be confident of how they match up against Tasmania on paper. But the hosts were no pushovers for much of their clash against second-placed Gippsland in Round 14, and will be typically competitive on home turf.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday July 27, 11:30am
Shepley Oval

Gippsland Power poses as incredibly stiff opposition in the Dandenong Stingrays’ bid to break a streak of five-consecutive losses, with the two set to do battle at Shepley Oval on Saturday morning. The Stingrays will be buoyed by their ability to compete with Sandringham last week, going down by just seven points in enemy territory but slipping to eighth. While their ladder position remains safe regardless of results this week, they will hope to jostle back up the table to gain a better position come Wildcard Round. That cause was helped by the recent returns of the likes of Hayden Young, Sam De Koning, and Ned Cahill, with Dandenong now set to bring in some over-age strength this week as Jai Nanscawen and Corey Ellison slot into the 23. Gippsland’s Vic Country representatives have returned to NAB League action just as well though, with the Power just about back to full strength and adding some bottom-age talent in the form of Sam Berry and Nicholas Prowd this week. The Dandenong talls are some of the best in the competition and should match up well against those in the Gippsland ranks, but it is the Power’s engine room that looks most likely to rip the game apart with Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi in ripping form. Either way, expect a competitive tussle with top-end class suiting up for either side.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday July 27, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

The final rolls of the dice approach for Western as the Jets look to keep touch with the top three, set to face Murray this week with the Bushrangers all but set in ninth place coming into their final two fixtures. After a bye, the pointy-end competition has caught up to the Jets and knocked them out of a top-four position, but they will boast a near full-strength side as they consistently have throughout the year. Vic Metro representatives Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka are in at either end, with over-agers Will Kennedy, Aaron Clarke, and Daly Andrews consolidating the side’s key position strength and midfield depth. Despite a loss last week, Murray has also benefitted from the return of some top-end talent, and welcome over-agers Liam Fiore, Will Christie and Zane Barzen back into the lineup to help deal with Western’s aerial prowess after Young Guns outings. At ground level, bottom-age jet Elijah Hollands is a big out for the Bushrangers among eight changes, but the versatility of some of their mid-sized prospects will put them in good stead to plug any holes. While they have been a touch down this year given their talent on paper, the Bushrangers have won three of their last five outings and should compete well with their higher-ranked opponent this week.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday July 27, 2:30pm
Preston City Oval

A fifth-consecutive win is up for grabs for the Northern Knights as they play host to Bendigo Pioneers in a rare fixture at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final game. The Knights have been on a tear of late, enjoying a rich vein of form with much of its representative talent running back through the NAB League 23. Their charge will be hampered somewhat by injuries to small defenders Lachie Potter and Ewan Macpherson, but the Knights are set to regain the likes of Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner among at least 10 changes this week. Josh D’Intinosante is also hot off 10 goals in his last two outings, headlining some of the moving parts in the flexible Northern squad. On the other hand, Bendigo looks to steadily be regaining form, getting up in two of its last four tries and being competitive in each. Their Round 15 side has undergone far less changes (four), with the important top-age half-back/midfield core of Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all finding solid consistency. The Pioneers look flexible in their key position department too, with the likes of Braydon Vaz, Will Wallace, and Josh Treacy all able to impact up either end. Expect to see some players shuffled around throughout the game, as coaches on both sides look to find a winning combination in the lead up to Wildcard Round.

GWV REBELS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) will be looking to grab just its second win at MARS Stadium in 2019 when it hosts the Calder Cannons in Sunday’s only fixture. Despite the strength of the much-improved Cannons, this firms as the Rebels’ best chance to again win at home as they come in off a two-game win streak. Calder has gone one-better of late to have won three-straight and five of its last six games to sit within striking distance of the top three despite boasting a lower percentage. Youth is the theme for this game, with Under 16 Vic Metro representatives Josh Goater, Jack Newitt, and Zac Taylor all named to make their debuts, while PEGS quartet Harrison Jones, Campbell Edwardes, Cody Brand, and Harrison Minton-Connell make way as huge outs. The Rebels look primed to pounce, with over-agers James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd slotting straight back into the line-up to add some experience and depth on whichever line they are required. While ladder position suggests the sides aren’t so evenly matched, form and a changes on either end have levelled the ledger to make this clash an interesting one.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 14

WITH top-end talent and some of the best Under 16 performers trickling into the NAB League, there were plenty of standouts across Round 14’s action. We cast an eye on each game, highlighting the performances of representative squad members and some exciting under-agers. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#4 Sam Flanders

Had a typical big impact around the ground, winning a number of quick handball in contested situations and using his power to burst away. He had a quick snap early in the game but it was marked on the line, but capitalised on a set shot late in the match from 20m out. He read the taps well from his rucks and had a great running shot – though offline but looked good technically bursting through a stoppage in the third term. He fended off an opponent on the wing at one stage and was too strong in the clinches.

#6 Riley Baldi

Winning a lot of the footy early, showing clean hands but rushed kicks at times. Still involved and was one of the muddiest players on the day with and finished the game with a great goal in the dying minutes from a tight angle. He had a flying shot on goal midway through the third term but missed, and his highlight earlier in the match was an intercept mark at half-forward.

#12 Brock Smith

Had a big game after a few errors with his disposal early but his defensive work was top notch. His intercept marking saved a number of goals throughout the match as he patrolled the half-back line. He then snuck forward twice in the final term to kick a couple of cheeky ones himself to ice the game for his side. Time and time again he would spoil or drop back into the hole and mark in defensive 50 and just settle down the team, overcoming some earlier mistakes with his disposal to be really clean in the second half, barely missing a target.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

Had a massive first term picking up double-digit disposals being everywhere for the Power, zipping around the contest. Had a quieter game after that, but still had some nice moments. Won a 50m penalty at half-back and had a shot on goal from forward 50 but rushed it a bit as he did after winning a free at half-forward and kicking inside 50. Also offered himself as an option around the ground and was just solid.

#16 Josh Smith

A dominant big man up forward, booting three goals and should have had a couple more with two posters from gettable shots. He continued to lead out throughout the game, booting his first goal from a tight angle just inside 50, and then his second from 25m out after a downfield free in the second quarter. His third came on the edge of half-time to hand the Power a nine-point lead. His two shots that hit the post came in the second half with one running around from the boundary and another from a set shot straight in front. Presented well throughout and caused headaches for the opposition.

#17 Charlie Comben

Best on ground for mine for his work rate and ability to have an impact in the middle or up forward. He showed good hands under pressure, a terrific leap and able to finish off his work in front of goal. He finished with three majors, but like Smith could have had more, hitting the post from a gettable shot. His first goal was a tight angle set shot from the boundary, and then took a towering mark in the goal square over a smaller opponent in the third term and put it through after he had hit the post from the same angle but slightly further out just moments earlier. Less than 30 seconds into the final term, Comben booted the goal of the day from the boundary on the run and put in motion Gippsland’s big final quarter. His ruck work was first class, with the only concern in his game coming late when he hit his head hard and had to be helped off in a neck brace with just two minutes left on the clock.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Was okay without being outstanding, having a few nice plays around the ground. Often pushed up to the wing and won some touches up the ground, and used the ball well when having time and space. There were a couple of moments where he did a bit too much, getting caught after trying to shake off a tackler, but he stood up late in the game to kick the sealer and put his team 30 points up early in the fourth. He almost had a highlight reel moment running hard in the final term, getting caught and receiving it back but then rushing the shot on goal and hitting the behind post.

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked really hard in the first term winning a number of touches in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. He had a lovely kick under pressure on the wing to hit up a teammate close to the line. Had a quieter second half but was still present around the ground.

#4 Will Peppin

A touch of class in the forward half, winning a great hardball get under pressure in defensive 50 and getting it out to a teammate, then put his side back in front in the second term booting a running goal from 30m. Has good skills by hand or foot in wet conditions underfoot.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Absolutely unbelievable considering his stats sheet might not look as impressive as past weeks, but he was everywhere. His impact across the ground was influential, kicking a goal early in the game in the second term when they needed someone to stand up, and then had an impact in the middle. Stayed in defence in the second half, saved multiple goals from run-down tackles and then took a number of intercept marks – including a brave grab right in front of the leading Josh Smith. He continually ran back to help out his defence and then dropped into the hole, creating run and carry out of defence. He was best-on for Tasmania in my eyes, playing a crucial role on the day.

#8 Jake Steele

Similar to McGuinness, Steele was enormous in defence, not winning a heap of it, but doing the defensive things right. He marked or found the ball on the last line, lapping it up with clean hands and disposing of it well out of defence. He showed great defensive work to cleanly grab the ball first touch and get it away so a spill could not cause a goal to the opposition. The next moment he punched a ball across the line to save a shot on goal.

#13 Sam Collins

Showed some promising signs, booting Tasmania’s fifth goal midway through the second term after a 50m penalty to put them nine points up. He had a powerful clearance out of the middle not long after and provided a marking target around the ground for his side.

Eastern Ranges vs. Oakleigh Chargers
By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Was one of Eastern’s best throughout the day, particularly early on when the Ranges got going in the first term. Stapleton showed good evasion at half-back to evade a would-be tackler and keep the ball moving, running hard around the ground to win the footy. He had a terrific long left foot kick to the middle of the forward 50 and showed courage in the second term to fly back and have an impact on an aerial contest in defence and force a behind from a shot on goal. Continued to apply great defensive pressure as well as clean hands in close.

#20 Connor Downie

Does not need to win much of it to win an impact, but seemed to do some nice things in each quarter of the game. He had a clean pick-up early in the match to kick long inside 50 to set uo Jordan Jaworski for his second goal of the day midway through the first term. He has a lovely kicking technique and just makes things happen when going inside 50, showing class.

#23 Zak Pretty

Another solid game from the inside midfielder who like Stapleton, would drop back into defence and help out. He is a quick thinker who reacts to a loose ball quicker than most and was able to rack up a number of clearances and get the ball forward. Pretty worked hard on the inside and was able to fire out handballs to running midfielders on the outside.

#46 Tyreece Leiu

Just the three touches on debut but you can tell he has that bit of X-factor because his first kick was a lovely low dart delivery into a teammate leading out. He then won a free kick for a great tackle inside 50 in the first term and kicked truly for a great goal from the set shot.

#52 Tyler Sonsie

Like Leiu not huge disposal numbers but made his presence felt with some nice ball use around the ground on debut. He showed great vision to use the ball effectively by foot and was a quick thinker with ball-in-hand, not panicking under pressure.

Oakleigh:

#5 Trent Bianco

Best on ground in the Chargers’ win and was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters. No one went near him in the first term as he racked up seven touches in eight minutes then had to have a spell from suffering leather poisoning. He used his touch of class to keep the ball moving quickly, repelling from half-back to half-forward, and showed strength in the second term, shaking off a would-be tackler and kicked well down the ground whilst under pressure. He showed his class and was a rock in defence, dropping back into the hole and marking time and time again, mopping up for the Chargers and repelling opposition defence. He took a crucial intercept mark in the last minute to slow the play down when Eastern was attacking.

#6 Jeromy Lucas

An unheralded effort in the midfield, Lucas won a truckload of the ball around the stoppages, firing off quick handballs to rack up 15 disposals and in the first half and keep his side moving down the ground. He predominantly won the footy in the middle and was spreading out to the wings to provide and option and break up the play with short, sharp disposals. Won a massive one-on-one in the middle in the final term when Oakleigh was charging forward to stop Eastern from starting a counter attack.

#9 Will Phillips

The bottom-ager was ever-present in the midfield using his strength and power to move through stoppages and try and get the ball free to teammates on the outside. His kick-to-handball ratio was even this week which was important given his role is often handball-friendly. In this game Phillips was able to gain some separation on his opponents and kick the ball long, having a flying shot on goal early in the game but missing to the right, and later was able to fire away a quick handball to draw a second opponent and give his teammate a free run through the middle unimpeded.

#23 Dylan Williams

The stats do not tell the full story because Williams played an important role and looked ever dangerous inside 50. His biggest moment came when he kicked the sealing goal late in the game, dribbling it home from the pocket after working his opponent under the ball and goaling. His bodywork to win a one-on-two contest in the first term in the forward pocket was important, and not long after he intercepted a handball inside 50 but missed to the left with his shot. He missed another chance in the second term to the left, but then set up a teammate with a perfect kick to a leading target inside 50. He booted his first goal with a great set shot late in the second term to put his side in front and showed class with deft touches that might not count as a disposal, but were crucial in keeping the ball live at times and his teammates in contention to score.

#73 Cooper Sharman

Has a bit of the Sam Sturt’s about him in the sense that he looks raw, but very exciting. After turning his first kick over, Sharman used the ball effectively pushing up to the wing and then doubling back inside 50, finishing with four goals, all from general play. He has great special awareness and vision to be able to hit-up targets off very little time and space, and can do damage with ball in hand in the forward half. A creative player who can also hit the scoreboard, and took a great towering mark despite front-on contact friendly fire in the third term. Clean and classy, and has the composure not to blaze away, and rather set up teammates forward of the ball.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Joe Lee

Sandringham:

#5 Ryan Byrnes

The tough midfielder was again at his damaging best, putting in another consistent effort for the Dragons, rounded out by 24 disposals, seven tackles and six inside 50s. Byrnes’ body of work over the year is placing him as one of the most consistent players in the draft pool and rarely plays a bad game. Drove Sandringham’s midfield alongside Hanrahan and was a reason the Dragons prevailed.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

The wingman was one of the dominant players of the round, capping off a superb performance with 35 disposals, 14 marks, eight rebound 50s and a classy goal. Was absolutely everywhere in the first half, racking up 22 touches and ball-winning showcased a ball winning ability that hasn’t been seen until now. His recent VFL experience with Sandringham was showcased, and Hanrahan looked a class above his peers, using his speed, electric ball use and smarts to great effect.

#29 Fischer McAsey

The backman’s draft stocks continue to rise on the back of another sound performance, this time up forward for the Dragons. Used as an intercepting key defender for Vic Metro in the Championships, McAsey slotted three goals for the day in a display that highlighted his around the ground capabilities. Had a consistent aerial presence all day and looked threatening as a forward, finishing with 10 marks and generating strong lead patterns and worked well with the smaller forwards. Took a fantastic pack mark from an errant entry in the first quarter, eventually going back and slotting the shot from 40m out. Started the third quarter on fire, slamming home 2.1 which was testimony of his ability to be a game breaker for the Dragons.

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

The potential top 10 pick was capped off another sound performance with 24 disposals, five rebounds and five inside 50s. Gave Dandenong life in the last quarter, slotting a long-range goal on the run to put them 21 points down and mount a late surge. Young’s disposal efficiency is what separates him from other midfielders and combing this with his pace, which was on show today, makes him a compelling prospect. Outbodied his Sandringham opponent in the second quarter to take a good contested mark, only to miss the straight forward shot which would have been disappointed him.

#11 Ned Cahill

Played a role further up the ground to win the bulk of his touches in the contest. He won a number of clearances and whilst his kicking was rushed at times, showed versatility in playing through the midfield. Cahill had the most centre clearances of any player on the field, and while his greatest impact is inside 50, no doubt his ability to move through an inside role would have been a big tick for those watching on.

#20 Sam De Koning

The agile big man was solid for the Stingrays with 15 disposals and four rebounds. Playing in a largely defensive role, De Koning did not spend much time in the ruck for the game. Moves well for a big man and has good skills for a 200cm athlete.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights
By: Scott Dougan

Murray:

#5 Cam Wild

Wild’s work-rate remained consistently high and he did his best to provide plenty of run and carry through the middle of the ground. He was a bit rushed with his disposal at times, but he always got the ball moving forward. Although he did not have the biggest game possession-wise, but still caught the eye with his pressure around the contest

#12 Lachlan Ash

Ash started the match up forward and was involved in the first passage of play inside 50. After the Bushrangers fell 30 points behind in the first term, it was Ash who stood up for the home side, with a terrific 50m goal after the quarter-time siren. He moved into the guts in the second term and was very dangerous with ball in hand. His speed also came in handy around the ground, constantly finding a way to escape congestion, finding space in areas that he should not have been allowed. Ash kicked his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter after tucking the ball under his arm and burning off his opponent with his electric speed through the middle of the ground. He was the Bushrangers’ best midfielder on the day and was impressive yet again, finishing with over 20 disposals and two goals.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Chalcraft is a genuine in-and-under, fierce footballer. He has a good burst of speed and always seems to have a big impact both defensively and offensively – especially when he has minutes through the midfield. He was involved in the first scoring play of the second term when he drove a long ball inside 50 from a centre clearance. Chalcraft was able to use his strength to his advantage on the day, breaking numerous tackles before disposing of the ball by hand to his teammates on the outside. Just love the way he goes about his footy.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Kicked a crumbing goal in the first 30 seconds of the second term, which swung the momentum of the game back in the Bushranger’s favour. He played in all areas of the ground, showcasing that he can have an impact in any position he’s instructed to play in. Ball-use was again a highlight of his game, along with his speed and vision. Another consistent performance from Boyer, finishing with 20 disposals and one goal.

#20 Elijah Hollands

Hollands played through the Bushrangers’ midfield, as well as up forward where he was a regular target. Hollands had a big impact early on when he spoiled a marking contest after a poor kick-in from the Knights, resulting in Murray’s first goal of the game. He had an electric 10 or so minutes in the first term, where he provided spark and x-factor around the contest. Holland’s forward craft is one of his best attributes and it was evident during the match, with the talented bottom-ager finding plenty of space across half-forward.

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

Davies played across half-back and was immediately involved when he took a nice intercept mark from a ball delivered inside 50 by the Bushrangers. He was reliable with ball in hand and was very patient before making his final decision by foot. Davies controlled the backline on the day and did what he pleased. He played loose and was able to set up plenty of effective passages of play from behind. Intercept marking was a real standout. Davies had a game-high 15 marks.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

D’Intinosante presented strongly, booting his first major of the day after a brilliant kick from 45m out. He was able to use his speed to break away from his opponent before successfully kicking his second goal of the quarter. D’Intinosante had his third goal of the quarter after crumbing a marking contest perfectly and then dribbling through an easy goal. Just 30 seconds later, D’Intinosante snapped his fourth of the quarter from a tight angle. It was one of the best first-quarter performances of the year and the Bushrangers seemed to have no way of stopping the electric forward. He was awarded a free-kick in the forward pocket at the beginning of the second quarter and once again, converted his set-shot. He had five goals in half an hour of footy! He was a little quieter in the second half, but his first two quarters cannot go unrecognised. One of the main reasons the Knights got the four points.

#11 Ryan Sturgess

Sturgess was involved in the first goal for the Knights when he handballed it to teammate Anthony O’Sullivan in open space, who then went on to dribble the ball through the big sticks. He competed strongly in the air, taking nine marks on for the match. Sturgess had three shots on goal but only ended up with one major. However, Sturgess definitely showed off his versatility by having an impact at both ends of the ground. A really good game where his reading of the play and sticky hands were on display.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo:

#19 Ben Worme

It was a solid outing from Worme, performing his usual role off half-back and serving reliably. He linked up well early with fellow flanker James Schischka, often kicking away on the outside. He accumulated well in important areas, and began to take the game on more as it wore on. That culminated in a big run forward to get the hand-off at half-forward and slam home a goal on the run. You know what you are going to get from Worme, and he has enjoyed a consistent month.

#20 James Schischka

The Pioneers’ defensive mainstay endured an up and down day, involved in the action but unable to get his usual running game going and selling teammates into trouble by hand at times. Still, Schischka was strong in one-on-one duels across half-back and showed better composure when running off the last line, competing well both in the air and on ground level. His game could be summed up with one of his last plays in the final term, where he made a terrific tackle to win the ball on the defensive arc, but wheeled around and turned the ball straight over to gift Calder a goal.

#22 Josh Treacy

The enigmatic tall made a good return to the Bendigo side, playing a strong hand in a few different roles. Starting forward, Treacy used his frame to edge his opponent under the ball one-on-one while also hitting up well on the lead. He was not afraid to throw his weight around at ground level either, running straight through an opponent after making a handy spoil from behind on the wing. His timing on the lead when Bendigo broke from stoppages continued to prove smart, and he would eventually make amends for a couple of earlier set shot misses with a free kick goal in the final term. Also popped up with some marks in defensive 50, rucked up forward, and was even thrown on-ball at a centre bounce.

#26 Noah Walsh

Has come into the side in the middle period of the season and provided a bit of spark, this time through midfield and up forward. Donning his helmet, Walsh buzzed around at ground level to win the ball cleanly in congestion, showing good tenacity going both ways. The bottom-ager read the taps well, with one snare resulting in a goal from a forward stoppage in the third term. He would go on to play a bit more forward, hitting up and marking strongly on a couple of occasions, while lowering his eyes well to find targets when running from further afield.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles again popped up in patches with glimpses of his eye-catching dash through the middle. While he found the going tough around the ball with a few fumbles, the Vic Country representative fared better when receiving on the outer and being given the license to put his foot down. He made a couple of those typical daring sprints through the corridor in the second half, with one almost leading to a Pioneers goal.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

It was a steady return for the leading Calder prospect, playing as a constant through midfield. He was often first to the drop of the ball at stoppages, but was also pushed under the rucks at times which hampered his ability to find the pill. When he did latch onto it, Mott’s hands out of traffic were terrific, drawing opponents and dishing off to runners to good effect. Mott also began to get on his bike as the game went on, stringing a nice one-two play together from the centre bounce to go inside 50 and getting a couple of handball receives as we’re used to seeing.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

The bottom-ager was tenacious in the contest, accumulating throughout the day and stringing together clearing kicks. His tackling intent was shown in the second term, giving away an overzealous high free kick but following it up with a holding the ball tackle as Bendigo played on. Cardillo also fared well when used up forward, finding space inside 50 on the back of a turnover to mark and goal, while also improvising a kick to assist a Jake Sutton goal as he gathered on the move. Really rate his aggression and willingness to break tackles.

#8 Sam Ramsay

Ramsay has strung together a massive three weeks in terms of ball-winning, racking it up through midfield and adding strings to his bow. He started off with a couple of nice handballs out from stoppages before providing his more typical ploy of wheeling away from traffic onto his left side and thumping the ball forward. He worked tirelessly to do so repeatedly throughout the game, hardly losing pace and penetration by foot. Ramsay also lowered his eyes well to find Harrison Jones and Samuel Paea on the lead on the end of his runs, showcasing that outside class he provided off half-back earlier in the year. Capped off his game with a goal from close range after finding space inside 50.

#21 Harrison Jones

While he is yet to truly tear a game apart, Jones certainly looks like he has the potential to do so. In his first Cannons outing since Round 3, Jones moved well to get separation on the lead – starting with a mark and set shot goal from 40m in the first term. His work up the ground was handy, plucking a nice grab up on the wing in the following term and tackling well to follow up a pass which had fallen well short of him. Jones added a second after reading the ball well in flight to mark from the side deep inside 50 and slot home the resultant shot.

#29 Campbell Edwardes

The bottom-ager is a dynamic type, this time playing on the wing and again proving clean in the air, off the deck, and in disposal. He does not win massive amounts of ball, but Edwardes catches the eye with most of his touches, starting with a nicely judged mark from behind his opponent inside 50 and slotting Calder’s first goal of the game. He popped up again in the first term with a clean pick up and fend off, going on to provide a presence at ground level with pressure and tackling. Edwardes also positioned well behind the ball when Calder entered attacking 50, taking an intercept mark in the second term to lock the ball in, but would somewhat fade out of the game.

#38 Brodie Newman

Another to return from Vic Metro duties, Newman was solid in his usual defensive post. He immediately got back into the rhythm of intercepting and rebounding, but did get himself into trouble early on as he looked to load up on his right side with limited room. Newman’s positioning and reading of the play was good, playing like a key back while also getting on his bike with ball in hand. Will be important in the back-end of Calder’s season.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#6 Archie Hilderbrandt

Proved a handy addition in his first game since Round 9, keeping busy wherever her went. The bottom-ager started forward and was involved at the fall of the ball in Geelong’s front half, while also working hard to get out the back and in space on the counter. Hilderbrandt thought he had a goal in the second term but his snap was touched off the boot, and he later moved into the midfield where he got on the end of some deft Henry Walsh taps to break from congestion at speed – twice at the centre bounces.

#12 Noah Gribble

Has now put together a consistent few weeks, with this arguably his best outing for the season. Gribble came into the game early with some work down back, including a good couple of flies to intercept in defensive 50. He went on to win a good mix of ball at ground level on the outer of stoppages, as well as in general play. The bottom-ager was a constant accumulator and swept up well wherever he went, eventually finding his way into the back half again to help out in sweeping the ball away with some carry.

#36 Charlie Sprague

The shining light up forward for Geelong, Sprague booted his side’s first two goals of the game in an important second term effort. As a more mature body, the over-ager was strong in one-on-one contests – working well to mark up the ground and stand tall deep inside 50. His first goal came after reading the ball best from the back and marking, going on to convert the set shot. His second would come in a similar fashion, bustling through from behind another two opponents to mark and goal. He missed a couple more chances and had one touched off the boot, but Sprague would cap his day with a well finished snap after spilling the mark in the final term. Now has three-consecutive three-goal hauls in the NAB League.

#40 Jesse Clark

Returning to the side after a solid campaign for Vic Country, Clark assumed his usual role in patrolling defensive 50. The Geelong co-captain was a constant outlet option in the back half and used the ball well by foot despite not always breaching the GWV press. He would go on to station himself further afield to lock the ball in Geelong’s front half and did so to good effect before popping up again in defensive 50 as he looked to create early in the final term.

#53 Cameron Fleeton

Fleeton is another bottom-ager the Falcons staff are high on, and he continues to put his hand up in an intercepting role across half-back. His early work included a few repelling kicks as GWV made a quick start, before eventually getting his aerial game going. Fleeton positioned well on the wing to intercept a long Rebels ball forward in the second term, repeating the act with a terrific pack mark to show his clean hands and reading of the ball in flight. Looks to have been a good find in the middle-part of the year.

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

It was a handball-happy game from Mahony, who made most of his impact around the stoppages. His handballs to teammates on the outside proved handy time and time again, using rare vision and clean use to create passages forward for others. Mahony also caught the eye with a couple of neat pieces of evasion, shrugging off and turning his opponents shortly after gathering the loose ball on the move. Was a constant through midfield, adding some class but not collecting massive numbers.

#7 Mitch Martin

The forward/midfielder continues to find both the ball and the goals, proving a dangerous mover as the game wore on. Martin created a bit of spark with a couple of handball chains on the outside, carving up the wing and releasing long by foot. His work forward was also handy, finding separation on the lead just inside 50 and booting his first goal just before half time. His second came in the final term as he got out the back at half-forward before marking and coolly finishing on the run from 45m. Was another to add quality to an end-to-end game.

#13 Jay Rantall

Continuing his role as a centre bounce constant, Rantall was superb when latching onto the ball on the forward side of the stoppages. Did not end up with the big numbers we have become used to, but made each one count this time around with some deft handballs and booting a couple of sensational goals. His first was a classy finish from 50m on the run after arching his back to burn an opponent, and the second was another nice finish at full flight from closer in. Is a steady riser and arguably the Rebels’ best.

#41 Fraser Marris

The bottom-ager was solid forward of centre, pitching in with a couple of nice touches in the first term. One was a set shot goal after earning a free kick inside 50, and another was a strong mark overhead. Marris showed similar form to intercept one-on-one on the wing in the second term, while also bursting aggressively through traffic. He paired that aggression with a neat kick to Mitch Martin inside 50, assisting his goal.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Under 16 Vic Country representative showed promise on his NAB League debut, thrown straight into the ruck before spending most of his time up forward. While he did not find the goals, Rentsch almost did just that from a shot off the deck after a strong bit of bodywork one-out in the square. He went on to find space well up on half-forward and had a particularly clean half-volley take in the last term to show his athleticism.

NAB League Boys Round 14 preview: U16 talent hits the big time

AFTER a week off for all but two of the NAB League Boys sides, the competition recommences full-time action with a double-header at Box Hill City Oval in Saturday’s lone fixtures. A top-four clash between Eastern and Oakleigh firms as the game of the round, with the Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) clash set to have an impact down the other end of the ladder. Watch for the debuts of some of the nation’s best Under 16s too, fresh off their National Championship campaigns.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Saturday July 20, 11:45am
Box Hill City Oval

A near full-strength Gippsland Power unit will look to pile the pain on Tasmania when they do battle at Box Hill City Oval to kick off Round 14. Both sides are coming off losses, but the Devils have faced a few more challenges over the last four weeks in a string of losses. Results aside, their usual competitiveness has risen in the last fortnight, but Gippsland’s ins make the Power a tough proposition for even a side in the best of form. A massive seven Country representatives return to the side, with the likes of Brock Smith, Sam Flanders, Charlie Comben, and Josh Smith re-forming that strong spine. On the other hand, Tasmania will be without both Mitch O’Neill and competition leading goal kicker Jackson Callow in a big blow to their chances. O’Neill’s class through the midfield will likely be covered by the likes of Under-16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and bottom-aged Allies representatives Oliver Davis and Sam Collins, meaning Callow’s goals could prove the most difficult void to fill. The game will be the Devils’ last in Victoria for the regular season, with their remaining two fixtures set to be played at home, while Gippsland will finish off with a couple of country fixtures.

EASTERN RANGES vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday July 20, 2:15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what looms as the game of the round, Oakleigh will look to derail Eastern’s charge atop the NAB League ladder when the sides meet to round out Saturday’s action. The Ranges are on a tear, simply finding a way to win in each of their six-consecutive victories dating back to Round 7. Having twice gotten the better of fellow top-four hopefuls Sandringham in that run, they should come into this fixture against a rampant Oakleigh outfit with the confidence to stand tall despite the Chargers’ form. Oakleigh’s attempt to make it seven wins from their last eight outings will be dented slightly by the loss of promising bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Tucker, and Reef McInnes, but gain some midfield depth as Jeromy Lucas and Fraser Elliot make the 23. Eastern’s key position strength will be tested as skipper James Ross joins Jamieson Rossiter and Joel Nathan as outs, but we should be treated to a glimpse into the future as Metro U16 stars Tyler Sonsie and Tyreece Leiu have been named to make their debuts. Both could feature through midfield, with Metro MVP Sonsie also able to move forward well. It adds another layer to what already shapes as an interesting battle, with the Ranges hoping to maintain their two-game buffer in first place.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday July 21, 9:30am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

A chance to snap losing streaks is up for grabs for Sandringham and Dandenong at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, with both sides sliding out of the top four in recent weeks. The Dragons have been on a three-game slide while Dandenong has lost its last four, and Sandringham could well jump back into the top four should results go their way. The Stingrays’ six changes seems significant, but it pales in comparison to Sandringham’s 13 with a raft of top-end talent going both ways in either starting 23. Dandenong’s ins read well, with All Australians Hayden Young and Sam De Koning slotting back in alongside Country teammates Ned Cahill, Blake Kuipers, and Bigoa Nyuon. On the other hand, the home side regains Fischer McAsey and Miles Bergman alongside over-agers Riley Bowman and Angus Hanrahan, but lose stars on each line in the form of Finn Maginness, Hugo Ralphsmith, Josh Worrell, Louis Butler, and Charlie Dean. The Dragons’ strength of depth has shone through thus far, and should carry them through well in this bout despite Dandenong’s sizeable inclusions. If the Eastern and Oakleigh game is the best of the round, this looks to be a close second with clear finals ramifications in play.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

The Calder Cannons could shoot into the top four with a win and favourable results elsewhere, but Bendigo Pioneers stand in their way in a meeting set for Queen Elizabeth Oval. The Cannons have enjoyed a good stretch of form, winning in four of their last five outings, with some key talent in the form of Daniel Mott, Harrison Jones, and Brodie Newman set to add a bit of class to the side which is sailing along smoothly. Bendigo has fared a touch differently, but the Pioneers found form well in the last three rounds with two wins and a 10-point loss added to their record. The competition in this game is a little stiffer, but the inclusions of Brady Rowles and Logan Fitzgerald should bode well for their chances of a fifth win. Big man Josh Treacy also returns, named up forward alongside usual full back Will Wallace as the Pioneers shuffle their key position magnets – and they could well be tested in that area given Calder’s ins. Bendigo should make a game of it on home turf, with both sides refreshed after a week off and keen to gain as much ladder position as possible with just three regular season rounds remaining.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday July 21, 1:00pm
Deakin Reserve

The battle for top eight spots heats up as ninth place Murray hosts eighth place Northern with just four points separating the two sides. Both have enjoyed good bursts of form of late, with Northern on a three-game winning run and Murray’s own streak of three only just broken last round by ladder-leaders, Eastern. Either sides’ true credentials will be revealed as they go close to hitting full strength, while also welcoming some Under 16 talent to their respective line-ups. Kevin Sheehan medallist Josh Rachele is one of those talented 16-year-olds named to play, while Northern boast Darcy Wilmot and Jack Rossimel. In the top-age stakes, Murray look to have replenished well with co-skipper Lachlan Ash returning alongside Cam Wild, while fellow Country representative Elijah Hollands also slots in. For Northern, key midfield cog Adam Carafa goes out alongside Metro teammate Nikolas Cox in a blow to their depth, but the versatility of the side should see the Knights cover their losses. With the top eight make-up truly taking shape in the closing three rounds, this game will prove to be a key one in deciding Wildcard Round fixtures.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday July 21, 1:30pm
GMHBA Stadium

Bottom two sides Geelong and GWV clash at GMHBA Stadium to see out Round 14, with just four wins between the teams heading into the final few fixtures. If history is anything to go by, this is set to be a close one, as the Rebels managed to snatch a one-point win over the Falcons all the way back in Round 2 in a thriller. The stakes are arguably higher in this clash with pride on the line and some notable under-age talent breaking into either starting 23. GWV welcomes Country Under 16 representatives Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch, with top-age stars Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, Toby Mahony also set to really bolster the line-up. Meanwhile, the Falcons are finally set to again field one of their two original co-captains with Jesse Clarke back into the defensive unit, with the likes of over-agers Lochlan Hocking and Sam Christensen getting another crack in the starting team. With limited opportunities to bolster up their win tallies, both sides should give this game a red hot crack on the hallowed Kardinia Park turf.

NAB League Boys Round 12 weekend preview: Country sides clash

ALL six country sides clash in a five-game weekend as Northern Knights have the bye, and the Round 12 clash between Tasmania Devils and Eastern Ranges will take place as a standalone fixture on July 13. That will be good news for those sides, with the AFL Under 18 Championships concluded, meaning teams should be at full strength. For the rest of the 10 teams competing this round, expect them to be missing the majority of their Victorian representatives, with all three sides – Vic Country, Vic Metro and the Allies competing in the final two rounds of the carnival today and next Wednesday.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday, June 29, 9.20am
Trevor Barker Oval

Traditional rivals, Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers go head-to-head to open Round 12 of the competition, in what will be more of a test of each side’s depth, rather than top-end talent considering the amount of names missing from both sides due to representative duties. The Dragons are coming off a hard-fought loss to top-of-the-table Eastern Ranges and sit a game behind the Ranges in second, and just percentage ahead of Gippsland Power and Western Jets with seven wins from 10 games. The Chargers on the other hand, went down to Gippsland Power in a seven-goal loss, which with the home side strengthened by a number of returning Vic Country players, was not unexpected. While the clash between the sides is usually a close one, Sandringham’s depth this year appears the stronger of the sides, matching it with the top teams during the past couple of months, while Oakleigh has had mixed results, often relying on a player to steal the match from the opposition. Sandringham are bolstered by the likes of key position players, Charlie Dean and Andrew Courtney, as well as Hugo Ralphsmith through the midfield and Jake Bowey up forward. Oakleigh also have a number of changes, with Jamarra Ugle-Hagan returning and likely to provide plenty of excitement in the forward half.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GWV REBELS
Saturday, June 29, 12pm
Shepley Oval

After remaining undefeated from seven rounds – including a bye to Geelong Falcons – the Dandenong Stingrays have dropped two consecutive matches minus their Vic Country players. But if there’s one team desperate for a win, it is the side with the current longest losing streak, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The Rebels have not sung the song since smashing Northern Territory Thunder Academy on April 28, when they triumphed by 55 points at Windy Hill. Two months on, and the Rebels have lost six consecutive matches, including four by five goals or more, and a 111-point shellacking at the hands of likely minor premiers, Eastern Ranges. With some of their Vic Country representatives returning for their Round 11 clash with the Western Jets, the Rebels put in a strong effort after a slow start, but fell seven points short. With Dandenong understrength, it is a great chance for the Rebels to break their losing streak, but at home at Shepley Oval, with the Stingrays needing a win to jump back inside the top four, it is as much on the line for Dandenong to gain form as it is for the Rebels. The Stingrays lose the likes of Sam De Koning and Lachlan Williams, while the Rebels have a couple of big outs themselves with Isaac Wareham and Liam Herbert into the Vic Country squad after some strong form.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday, June 29, 12.15pm
Victoria Park, Echuca

In a special Echuca clash, Bendigo’s players from the far north west of the state get a reprieve of a handful of hours travel, while welcoming Murray Bushrangers who have followed the state border across from east to west. These teams have had differing form lines across the season, with the Bushrangers seemingly not able to buy a win earlier in the season, going down in tight loss after tight loss, with wins over the bottom two sides the only victories heading into Round 10. Since then, the Bushrangers have defeated Tasmania Devils by 38 points, and Dandenong Stingrays by 34 points, and while the teams might have been understrength, they were important victories for the side that still holds an impressive percentage of 94 despite a 4-6 record. Their opponents hold an even more remarkable percentage considering the Pioneers have won three from nine, with one of those being a five-point thriller over Murray in Round 2. At that stage, the Pioneers were two from two, but as the likes of Brodie Kemp and Thomson Dow headed off to school footy, the Pioneers tight wins turned into tight losses, going down to Northern Knights, Tasmania Devils and Sandringham Dragons within a month by a combined 11 points in a heartbreaking turn of events. After six consecutive losses, Bendigo finally broke the drought last week with a 29-point win over Geelong Falcons. The game on the weekend will be a tough one now Murray has found its groove, and the home team will need to be at its best to win. Unlike a lot of the other sides, Bendigo has maintained a stable side from last round’s win, with Brady Rowles a notable Vic County out, but other Country representatives, James Schischka and Ben Worme still in the side. Murray has lost Lachlan Ash and Ben Kelly among five changes, with overager Zane Barzen among those players returning to the side.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday, June 29, 2.30pm
Shepley Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Shepley Oval, Gippsland Power’s depth will take on one of the league’s youngest sides in Geelong Falcons. The Falcons have had their most disappointing start to a year in recent history, but with injuries to a number of top players – including Cooper Stephens – and the majority of their side being bottom-age, the Falcons have plenty of reasons to smile for 2020. Luckily under the Wildcard system, if the Flacons can get their top-end talent fit and firing come September, they can still make finals despite likely finishing bottom two. Gippsland will be missing almost half of its best 22 – a testament to the quality coming through the program that so many players were chosen for Vic Country – which makes it tough for the Power during the national carnival. They dropped a couple of games prior to Round 11, and it was no surprise to see with the likes of Fraser Phillips (five goals) and captain Brock Smith back in the line-up, the Power looked a much more settled team to easily take the points against Oakleigh. Gippsland will be understrength again in this match-up, which means the Falcons have a genuine shot at taking down a top four side. But the Power team will have got used to its structures after two losses and then claiming victory last week, so it should be a very close contest. Gippsland will miss Phillips, Smith, Charlie Comben and Harrison Pepper and Ryan Sparkes who head to Vic Country, while Mason McGannon and Zach Reid are among those back into the team. For Geelong, Sam Witherden and Charlie Lazzaro loom as important inclusions while Harry Stubbings is among six players out of the side.

CALDER CANNONS vs. WESTERN JETS
Sunday, June 30, 1pm
RAMS Arena

In the only Sunday game, Calder Cannons host Western Jets in a bid to remain in the top eight. The Cannons’ best seems to be very good, but some disappointing losses over season 2019 has them sitting eighth, but with the second worst percentage of any side. It means a loss, and a win to Murray on the weekend, would see the Cannons replaced inside the top eight. They have to take advantage against a Western team just missing the cream of Vic Metro representatives, Emerson Jeka, Darcy Cassar and Josh Honey. To the Jets’ credit, captain Lucas Rocci has done a magnificent job stepping up into Cassar’s role since he has been in the Metro side and along with Josh Kellett has the backline purring perfectly. The tight, low-scoring win against the Rebels indicated their forward stocks have been depleted with Jeka and Honey, as well as Aaron Clarke out last week, which meant scoring has had its own challenges. The Cannons have had their own issues with putting big scores on the board, averaging 54.5 points per game this season. Coming off a bye in Round 12, the Cannons will have had an extended 22-day break since their last match – a 69-point loss at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers. They will have prepared for this game for some time and keen to take down the top four Jets, and leapfrog the Knights into seventh. The Cannons did not play last week, but have a strong side named with Curtis Brown lining up at half-back and Sam Ramsay and Harrison Minton-Connell through the midfield. The Jets have a massive inclusion into the side with Cassar and Honey named in the side.

Country looks to remain undefeated in Geelong double-header

GMHBA Stadium hosts Round 4 of the AFL Under 18 National Championships, as Vic Metro faces the winless Allies and the undefeated Vic Country hosts South Australia, while Western Australia will enjoy a bye. Find the full teams and a preview for both games below.

VIC METRO vs. ALLIES
Friday June 28, 10:30am
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Metro comes to Geelong looking to roll on with the same form that saw them pick up their first win for the carnival last time out, while the Allies’ search for the same feat continues. Much was made of Metro’s chances coming into the championships given their talent on paper, and while they have not quite lived up to the billing of favourites, the Oakleigh/Sandringham quartet of Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Josh Worrell, and Fischer McAsey has been terrific across each outing. Having previously been a case of too much from too few, Metro seemed to brake that mould against South Australia last week as Louis Butler and Lachie Potter held their dangerous forward opponents well, Trent Bianco and Jack Mahony won their fair share of the ball, and the inclusion of Emerson Jeka up forward proved more than handy as a key position target. Metro’s highly-touted ball winning capabilities will only be further strengthened in this game against a formidable Allies engine room, with Ryan Byrnes coming in after returning well from injury, Lachie Stapleton finally knocking down the selection door, and bottom-ager Will Phillips also getting his chance. The forward line balance looks much more settled too, with Dylan Williams coming back in and Jamieson Rossiter forming a solid tall partnership with Jeka.

The Allies will fancy their match-ups up forward, albeit with small stocks, as Suns Academy guns Josh Gore and Hewago Paul Oea proved their worth last week, while Braeden Campbell and Malcolm Rosas Jnr are also set to cause headaches in front of goal. Their midfield strength will also get a work-out, with Tom Green likely to duke it out with Anderson and Finn Maginness, while Mitch O’Neill could take on Rowell, and Ben Jungfer comes in for some depth. They will not be getting service from Sam Gaden like last week though, with over-age Murray ruck Ben Kelly coming in to fill the void alongside the undersized Jake Steele. The likes of Steele will certainly compete, which is something that the Allies had worked on given a much-improved effort against the fast finishing West Australian side. Greater efficiency in front of goal will be the test, and this classy Metro side will surely make them pay for any missed opportunities.

Look for the midfield battle to really take centre stage in this one, with Metro’s overall depth putting them in good stead coming into the clash.

TEAMS

Vic Metro:

B: 15. Louis Butler, 38. Brodie Newman, 26. Ryan Sturgess
HB: 18. Lachlan Potter, 29. Fischer McAsey, 5. Trent Bianco
C: 24. Noah Anderson (C), 25. Finn Maginness, 22. Miles Bergman
HF: 31. Joshua Worrell, 28. Jamieson Rossiter, 7. Lachlan Stapleton
F: 1. Jack Mahony, 36. Emerson Jeka, 23. Dylan Williams
R: 40. Nick Bryan, 11. Matthew Rowell, 12. Ryan Byrnes
Int: (from) 30. Harrison Jones, 13. Daniel Mott, 9. Will Phillips, 39. Jack Bell, 27. Oscar Lewis, 16. Darcy Cassar, 35. Nikolas Cox

Allies:

B: 21. Luke Parks, 52. Dirk Koenen, 8. Tom Griffiths
HB: 20. Matt McGrory, 26. Liam Delahunty, 24. Joel Jeffrey
C: 42. James Peatling, 3. Connor Budarick, 9. Mitch O’Neill
HF: 46. Noah Cumberland, 37. Joshua Gore, 2. Hewago Paul Oea
F: 32. Jake Steele, 31. Hamish Ellem, 36. Sam Thorne
R: 54. Ben Kelly, 22. Tom Green, 16. Ben Jungfer
Int: (from) 44. Nicholas Brewer, 5. Braeden Campbell, 12. Ashton Crossley, 1. Errol Gulden, 47. Jeromy Lucas, 15. Will Martyn, 4. Malcolm Rosas Jnr

VIC COUNTRY vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Friday June 28, 1:00pm
GMHBA Stadium

Vic Country will look to keep its perfect record in tact in what is set to be a cracking match-up against South Australia to close out the day’s play. Country have been the surprise packet of the tournament thus far, with their obvious class and top-end talent being matched by the manic pressure and application of their depth players. Coming off a bye round, they will be hungry to claim a third-straight win and effectively clinch the championship title against the last year’s winners. A comprehensive win against the Allies last time out puts them in good stead, with a wealth of contributors putting their hands up on each line. Hayden Young and Lachie Ash have been terrific both in the air and by foot thus far down back, with Brodie Kemp another to contribute while mixing time in the midfield. Gippsland pair Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders have also been solid in the engine room. Goals from the likes of small forwards Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman will again be important, but one of the better aspects of Country’s performances has been the rise of some more unheralded names – with the likes of Brady Rowles, Riley Baldi, Jay Rantall, and Thomson Dow all poised to continue their solid form in this game.

Country’s free-scoring ways from Round 2 will not come as easily against a sturdy South Australian defence though, with Oliver Shaw returning from injury to add to a back six comprised of key performers in Will Gould, Will Day, Luke Edwards, and Karl Finlay. Their forward line looks a touch more dangerous despite having Kysaiah Pickett missing due to suspension, with the dynamic Cameron Taheny good to go after a corked thigh kept him out of last week’s squad, and Declan Carmody another who should add some class alongside bottom-age midfielder Corey Durdin – who slots into the forward pocket on his return. While the start to their title defence was ideal, a losing effort against the previously winless Vic Metro was not their best, and the likes of Jackson Mead and Harry Schoenberg will have to step up once again in the midfield, with Dylan Stephens one who can bounce back from a slightly down day. Simply competing will be key on the road against a Country side that will test them in the contest, so the Croweaters will need to be on their game if they are to keep their title defence alive.

TEAMS

Vic Country:

B: 18. Brady Rowles, 36. Sam De Koning, 26. Jesse Clark
HB: 12. Lachlan Ash (C), 24. Brock Smith, 17. Hayden Young
C: 29. Lachlan Williams, 16. Brodie Kemp, 15. Ryan Sparkes
HF: 1. Ned Cahill, 20. Elijah Hollands, 3. Cody Weightman
F: 19. Fraser Phillips, 39. Joshua Smith, 6. Riley Baldi
R: 40. Charlie Comben, 4. Sam Flanders, 2. Caleb Serong (C)
Int: (from) 8. Thomson Dow, 14. Liam Herbert, 37. Blake Kuipers, 10. Harrison Pepper, 13. Jay Rantall, 9. Isaac Wareham, 5. Cameron Wild

South Australia:

B: 19. Luke Edwards, 35. Karl Finlay, 22. Harrison Magor
HB: 24. Will Gould, 33. Dyson Hilder, 12. Will Day
C: 7. Dylan Stephens, 18. Jackson Mead, 10. Joshua Shute
HF: 23. Brady Searle, 9. Cameron Taheny, 14. Declan Carmody
F: 3. Corey Durdin, 32. Daniel Sladojevic, 17. Josh Morris
R: 37. Lachlan Burrows, 15. Harry Schoenberg, 20. Lachlan McNeil
Int: 4. Jordan O’Brien, 11. Callum Park, 28. Oliver Shaw, 42. Damon Freitag, 8. Jed McEntee, 31. Jordan Moore

BYE: Western Australia

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Round 11

WITH Vic Country enjoying a bye round, there was plenty of top-end talent back to replenish their respective NAB League sides. The usual suspects also pitched in, and with scouts looking at each game, here are our Round 11 scout notes. Each note is the individual opinion of the writer, with the focus on Allies, Vic Country, and Vic Metro squad members, and a few stand-outs.

Tasmania Devils vs. Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Responded well to being left out of the Allies 23, bouncing back to his usual ball-winning ways as a constant at the stoppages. Provides a good mix of competitiveness going both ways, finding the ball constantly but also tackling hard without it. While he is prolific at winning ground balls, Davis is also often caught, or flicks out handballs to teammates under just as much pressure – keeping the ball locked in at the stoppage. He did show some burst and a willingness to kick forward on occasion – like with his centre clearance in the final term – so has the potential to be more effective. Was the skipper for the day as a bottom-ager, so has some pretty impressive traits already and is quite obviously talented.

#13 Sam Collins

Slotted back into the Tassie side seamlessly alongside Davis, assuming his usual role across half back. Was really impressive with his ability to intercept in the air, possessing a great leap and the courage to position himself in the hole. Collins got to a number of high-balls, spoiling down when he couldn’t get both hands to the ball and hunting at ground level. Was a touch fumbly early on under pressure, and looks most damaging when rebounding in space with long kicks down the line. Positioned well on the corridor side of stoppages in the back half but didn’t win a whole lot of ball there, instead accumulating mostly through kickouts and inside defensive 50. Works really well on the last line to save goals, and is one of the better intercept markers of his draft crop.

#25 Jackson Callow

The strong key forward just keeps on pushing for Allies selection, putting in another fantastic display without totally ripping the game apart. Dominated in the air when the ball came his way, breaking double digits for marks but only managing the one goal – with some polish lacking in front of the big sticks. His best traits are obvious through, and he worked better than anyone up the ground to mark from defensive kick-ins and a target closer to goal. Callow is constantly on the move and always looked to wheel around and move the ball on quickly when in possession – as most forwards prefer. He also made a beautiful pass across the attacking 50 to find a teammate in front of goal early on, hallmarking his all-round class.

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

The skipper continues to put in solid shifts for the Knights, again proving to be his side’s best defender. Davies was terrific in the air, sitting in the hole and reading the game better than anyone to pick of much of Tasmania’s forward 50 entires. He had a purple patch early on with three or four intercept possessions, and moved the ball out of defence quickly down the line. His game is relatively simple, but Davies’ ability to leap and clunk intercept marks always proves a valuable asset. He worked well at ground level too, making repeat efforts to lock it up and chasing down an opponent who looked to be charging out the back in the third term. Solid player.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

The lively midfielder/forward won a fair amount of ball, but couldn’t quite put it all together despite looking likely. Starting in the midfield, D’Intinosante accumulated the contested ball well early, pushing the Knights forward into attacking 50. He found space well to provide a surprising target for kick-ins in the corridor, and showed solid hands overhead. ‘JD’ also put the clamps on his opponents, tackling well but sometimes proving overzealous – as was the case with an in-the-back free kick in the second term. He is constantly a productive and hard worker, but couldn’t quite produce an end product to some nice work at the forward stoppages – missing a few quick-fire shots on goal to register 0.3. If he had a touch more speed, his stoppage work would be fantastic – as shown with a few tap reads and clearances, but he does well with what he has.

#27 Ewan Macpherson

The potential 2020 Bulldogs father-son is enjoying a consistent season, finding a place in the back six. Is often effective as a good user of the ball by foot when exiting the 50, but produced a couple of uncharacteristic clanger kicks early on. Still continued to work and provide an outlet for teammates, spreading into good positions. Like his brother, Darcy, Macpherson also looked strong in the tackle, and laid some hard ones of his own throughout. Made a couple of nice intercepts in the second term off the centre bounces, but looked to have drifted out of the game a touch afterwards.


GWV Rebels vs. Western Jets

By: Joe Lee

Western:

#4 Lucas Rocci

The Jets defensive playmaker was it his offensive best once again, showcasing this via his 24 disposals and 9 rebound 50s. combined with Kellett for 18 rebounds, Rocci was precise with his kicking and dangerous behind the ball, often setting up as a loose man one kick behind the player. His penetrating left boot enables him to generate good purchase on his kick outs and when he combines this with his intercept marking, he’s a complete package. Had one instance in the first quarter where he picked off 3 Rebels forward 50 entries, marking uncontested and moving the ball quickly into the corridor. Did however get easily beaten one on one in the 1st, being out-bodied and out-manoeuvred which is something he can work on

#7 Daly Andrews

The over-age midfielder was one of the Jets’ best, finishing with 27 disposals for the day. Worked hard and spreads well from the contest – Daly racks up big handball numbers, putting his teammates in better positions to make decisions up the ground. Underscored his outstanding breakaway speed from the stoppage late in the third, breaking free and driving the ball in long on his non-preferred. Was very serviceable for the Jets in their winning midfield.

#8 Josh Kellett

The rebounding defender had his best game of the season, capping off his display with 25 disposals and nine rebound 50s. Worked in tandem with Rocci to prevent the Rebels’ forward forays ever eventuating into scores and was a key pillar in the Jets’ back six. Uses the ball well on both feet, often hitting targets down the ground lace out on the lead. Set up a shot on goal with an outstanding contested mark for his size in the fourth, breaking a run of Rebels scores.

#47 Will Kennedy

The over-age ruckman was a dominant force on the ground, racking up 21 disposals, seven marks, 29 hit-outs. Uses his body well and his agility stands out, where in the first quarter he danced around two Rebels opponents and had a shot on goal only for it to fade to the left. Gets back and helps the defenders out, often intercepting bombs into the Rebels 50. Took a fantastic contested mark in the second, only to not carry the distance 40m out. Sprayed another shot on goal from 45m out on the full, highlighting that set shot goalkicking is an area that needs to improve in his game.

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

The Vic Country representative responded to his omission with a classy 20 disposals and a goal. Also finished with eight tackles and five inside 50s, highlighting his defensive pressure and offensive nous. Brings a real physical factor to his game, often hitting Jets players hard and making them earn their possessions. Almost set up a Rebels goal in the third with an exquisite handball over his head, showcasing his natural footy smarts.

#14 Liam Herbert

The tough inside midfielder put in a dominant display, showcasing his all-round midfield class with 28 disposals, eight marks, eight tackles and a goal. Was as tough inside the contest as he was out, Herbert’s tackling pressure was omnipotent in tough and scrappy conditions. Won a free kick for holding the ball early in the second but didn’t back himself to kick 50m, giving it off which resulted in minor score. Nailed a set shot 40m out in the 3rd term to breath life into the Rebels. Was a real leader all day and was close to best on ground.


Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Dandenong:

#20 Sam De Koning

His vertical leap impressed, getting over top in the ruck and marking contests. Proved pivotal through the centre, providing passage with an excellent overhead ability. For the day, he amassed 11 disposals, five marks and eight hit-outs. He only kicked the one behind in his return but is continuing to show great promise as a forward marking option.

#32 Blake Kuipers

Utilised down back, Kuipers displayed strong decision-making and urgency in moving the football. Along with many, the game was one of his weaker for the season. He managed six disposals, two marks, two tackles and three hit-outs, but regardless of his numbers, Kuipers displayed great versatility in the loss.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Damaging overhead. Williams brings a great vertical and read to every marking contest, delivered well on the inside and used well by foot under pressure. Both poised and well-positioned, Williams intercepted defensive exits and countered effectively for a lot of the game. He also nearly took mark of the year over a pack in the third quarter but could not hold it.

Murray:

#5 Cameron Wild

Made his return from Vic Country for the bye and absolutely dominated. Wild recorded a game-high 29 disposals, six marks, six tackles, four inside 50s and four rebounds in his return home. A contested beast, Wild brought solid hands off the deck, absorbed contact, kept his feet and broke through opponents to release by hand. A reliable user by foot, Wild hit his targets well on the run, picks his passes well, and moved down back for the last quarter to aid exiting the ball. A bull on the football, Wild’s return was immense in their victory.

#6 Will Chandler

A classy user and mover, Chandler saw a lot of the footy and affected well by foot. His use going forward was feature, amassing eight inside 50s, making his work look easy under pressure. He positioned well, getting first hands to it and moving well between contests. He showed great contested ability, keeping his feet with strong hands off the deck. He was unlucky in front, kicking three behinds, but impacted the scoreboard well with his entries.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

A hard runner, Chalcraft worked hard between contests and never gave up on the contest. Had an excellent pick-up in the second quarter, taking the ball the second it hit the deck before surging it forward. Reads the play better in close, intercepting, out-positioning and losing his opponents tackles with great acceleration. He finished second to Wild in disposals on 27, alongside three marks, seven tackles and six inside 50s. His pressure work around the centre was first-rate, as was his delivering going forward.


Gippsland Power vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland:

#7 Sam Berry

The in and under bottom ager was one of many relevant players returning to the Gippsland fold and he continued on from where he left off earlier in the season. He is a competitor who does the heavy work on the inside with determination, often getting first hands on the footy cleanly and extracts to advantage. Berry has a physical presence defensively and ensures his opponent doesn’t get an easy touch. I loved his overhead work on Saturday too, taking a great contested mark in the corridor under pressure and backing that up with a leaping effort at half back in the last. One of the better players on the ground finishing with 26 disposals and 5 tackles.

#10 Leo Connolly

Connolly has been building into some good form over the last couple of weeks and Saturday was his best performance at the level. Starting at the first centre bounce, he got his hands on the ball early and his confidence appeared to grow with every quality disposal. He possesses genuine class, highlighted by a superbly executed kick around the corner in the first term that set up a shot on goal. There are times when you can accuse him of trying to take on too much with his brilliant skills, but his decision making was elite and instinctive on Saturday. He finished with 32 touches and it’s great to see him making loud noises again.

#12 Brock Smith

Back on the field after nasty bruising from the first Vic Country fixture saw him miss the Allies clash in Tasmania, Smith returned to his usual defensive post and was at his influential best. While admittedly starting a little rusty by uncharacteristically losing an early one on one and kicking a floater, he quickly took control behind the ball and rarely got passed. A big tackle in the second term earned a free kick which began a chain resulting in a goal, while his composure whether kicking out, intercepting or rebounding from the defensive arc gave his teammates up the ground trust that the ball was coming back to their advantage. Smith finished with 26 disposals, 10 marks and I suspect he’ll be back in the white Vic Country jumper on Friday.

#13 Tom Fitzpatrick

The exciting bottom-age prospect has played numerous positions this season, but started forward on Saturday and produced his best NAB League performance to date. He is explosive, powerful and possesses extreme speed having recorded a 2.86 second 20 metre time earlier in the year. Fitzpatrick looked particular dangerous on the lead early, presenting to the ball and creating separation from his opponent with ease on the flanks. His two goals came behind the contest, the second showcasing that elite pace as he ran into an open goal with no Charger having a chance to catch him. He is really hard to tackle too and has a brutal “don’t argue” fend in his armoury. He is one to keep an eye on.

#15 Ryan Sparkes

This fellow just knows where to find the footy in any position. Starting on the wing, he was composed and had time whenever the ball got in his hands, which was a lot. A little play that took the eye showcased his smarts, winning the ball in a mud patch that had developed in the middle of Morwell Rec Reserve, he calmly side stepped onto solid ground to ensure he had balance and hit a target lace out at half forward. Many would just tumble that forward, but Sparkes considered the situation and executed like it was a training run. He is underrated overhead too, taking a flying intercept mark in the final term, before hitting a laser pass inside 50 that was almost perfect to a difficult target. Another 26 disposals for the Vic Country representative.

#17 Charlie Comben

After a best on ground performance against Vic Metro on the MCG a couple of weeks ago, it is little wonder to see Comben beaming with confidence at the moment. He is looking more capable in the air with every game, whether taking the ball out of the ruck and releasing or attacking the ball in a pack. He took a great contested mark inside 50 in the first term with extreme heat on his back, while his second efforts offensively and defensively are outstanding. He ended the game on the bench with a few other Vic Country players and would be satisfied with another solid outing.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Wow, what a performance by the Warragul junior. He had already provided influential moments up to half time, kicking a set shot goal and producing one of the highlights of the first quarter in weaving through traffic stylishly on the wing and following up to lay a tackle inside 50. But he exploded in the third quarter, being involved in almost every score and kicking three himself. A sharply read intercept and opportunistic left foot snap got things going, before creating space from an I50 stoppage and handballing to a running Harrision Pepper on the outside for a goal assist. Then came the highlight of the game, a superbly executed dribble kick from the boundary that will have recruiters checking the tapes. Another great finish on the run produced his third goal for the quarter and it should have been more had he converted two very gettable late behinds. He earned a down the ground free kick in the final term for a well deserved fifth goal. Huge impact from his 20 disposals, I am looking forward to seeing what he provides for the televised Championships games.

#37 Harrison Pepper

Pepper was another Vic Country player who provided quality output on return. The Hawthorn NGA prospect started behind the footy, winning 20 disposals and beginning many dangerous forward chargers. He often found himself on his non-preferred left side, but rarely wasted a disposal when in that position. Pepper released pressure from the defensive arc with long hits up the ground and stuck some strong tackles when Oakleigh threatened. He won an excellent ground one on one contest in the second term with impressive body use, before getting a smart one metre kick to the advantage of a teammate. He kicked a great goal on the run in the third term, again on his left foot.

Oakleigh:

#27 Josh May

The 195cm midfielder had some nice moments around the stoppages on Saturday, combining sharp hands and a stylish left foot to help keep Oakleigh competitive in the first half. He executed a smart underground handball in the first term and hit an excellent target inside 50 shortly after. He read the hit outs well and uses his height to release, getting his arms high on one occasion in the final term to impressively free up a teammate. On a day where Oakleigh had limited winners, May was solid in his 18 disposal outing.

#30 Sam Tucker

The tall bottom ager doesn’t win huge amounts of the ball in defence, but when he does, something good generally comes of it. He won a brilliantly clean ground ball in congestion during the third term, released and it resulted in a set shot on goal. Tucker also provided a composed kick from deep in the defence arc when Power were hot during that third term, providing a rare moment of relief. Had a tough job matched up on the electrifying Fitzpatrick at times, but held his own.

#73 Cooper Sharman

An overage player making his NAB League debut after producing some excellent performances under Rodney Eade at Balwyn, including a recent three goal best on ground effort against Noble Park. He is a rangy athletic type, standing 190cm and looks to have some flexibility. Sharman started forward and got in dangerous positions at times, before having stints on the ball. He read the stoppages well, often receiving the ball on the outside of the contest to finish with 20 disposals. He looks an interesting type.


Bendigo Pioneers vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Scott Dougan

Bendigo:

#1 Sam Conforti

Conforti laid a terrific smother early on in the first term which ended up resulting in a Geelong turnover and goal for his team. He was efficient by foot and constantly hit targets on both sides of the body. His brilliant opposite foot kick inside 50 to the leading Josh Treacy was one of his top moments on the day. Conforti played throughout the Pioneers’ forward line and midfield, finishing with 13 disposals and five tackles.

#19 Ben Worme

Worme was noticeable from the get first bounce, taking two defensive intercept marks in the space of 30 seconds. He was very reliable by foot and he consistently made the right decisions. Worme was able to hit targets with ease from 40mtrs away and it wasn’t hard to see why the Pioneers wanted the ball in his hand when rebounding out of the back half. Worme was hugely influential, racking up an imposing 26 disposals and seven marks.

#20 James Schischka

Schischka played across half-back and read the play exceptionally well. He was extremely busy in the first term, gathering plenty of disposals along with taking some intercept marks. One of his best passages of play came in the third term when he was able to take a contested mark deep inside defensive 50. He was rock-solid down back and ended being one of the best players on the ground, finishing with 20 disposals and seven marks.

#38 Brady Rowles

Rowles played on the outside of the contest where he would win plenty of uncontested possessions. In the first term, he a took a one-on-one contested mark on the wing and then would use his speed to break away from his opponent before steadying and distributing the ball effectively to a teammate. His composure with ball in hand and ability to take his time before making a final decision impressed. Rowles had a damaging game by foot and had plenty of passages of play that resulted in score involvements for Bendigo. He finished with 15 disposals and seven marks.

Geelong:

#37 Oliver Henry

Henry was terrific in the first term and presented strongly up forward. He took an impressive mark on the lead against Bendigo defender Ben Worme that caught the eye. He would then deliver the ball to a teammate in the forward park who would convert a set-shot attempt. Henry stayed dangerous through the first term but was unable to hit the scoreboard himself. His next three quarters were quiet, but the athletic forward definitely had many positive moments throughout the match.

#46 Henry Walsh

Even though Walsh didn’t win a huge amount of the ball around the ground (finishing with just five disposals), he was able to compete strongly in the ruck. Walsh may still be very light, but his athleticism was definitely on show. He won many convincing hit-outs to the advantage of his teammates and showcased some impressive athletic traits, like a good leap. Walsh finished with 43 hit-outs.


Eastern Ranges vs. Sandringham Dragons

By: Josh Ward

Eastern:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton

Again such a handy player to replace Mitch Mellis. Another strong performance in midfield, gathering a few clearances to go with his 22 touches. Also had 10 tackles and six inside 50s. Yet another strong performance from a man who has performed pretty well this year.

#18 Billy McCormack

In the end, only just won a big battle between him and Jack Bell. Played a massive role up forward, with his marking and disposal use proving crucial as well. Had 23 hitouts to go with two goals in the first half, 19 touches, along with four inside 50’s, four marks and five tackles as well. Looks set for a big second half to the year

#23 Zak Pretty

Another absolutely brilliant performance from him. Continuing on his hot form from the last few weeks, although this game was remarkably the least disposals he collected since Round 2. Only the 24, but still had eight tackles, couple of clearances as well, with 19 of those touches handballs. Continues to increase his stocks.

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

Was really one of the only shining lights for the Dragons. In his first game back from injury, was absolutely a star in midfield. Collected 32 touches, with 20 handballs as well, five clearances, and 16 tackles, so not a bad return. Look out for him in the second half of the year.

#7 Jackson Voss

Had a pretty decent game out on the wing, helping create a few nice chances during the game as well with his efficiency. In the end though, only got the three inside 50s and two rebounds, but did have six tackles, three marks to go with his 21 touches. Continues a pretty solid season.

#32 Jack Bell

Only just lost what was a pretty big matchup between him and Billy McCormack, but still was pretty good. He did collect 13 touches to go with his 21 hitouts, but only had 1.1, three tackles, two inside 50’s and sometimes was a touch sloppy with his ball use. Will look to bounce back next week, so look out Oakleigh.

NAB League Boys Round 11 wash-up: Ranges go clear first, Jets rocket into top four

ROUND 11 delivered on a top four shake up as Western soared into the placings and Eastern went four points clear atop of the NAB League standings with victory over second-place Sandringham. Meanwhile, Dandenong was upset by a rising Murray side, Northern won on the road, a replenished Gippsland held firm against Oakleigh, and Bendigo got the better of a bottom-three clash. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.1 | 2.4 | 3.5 | 7.7 (49)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.2 | 3.4 | 6.6 | 8.10 (58)

GOALS:
Tasmania: J. Lane 3, B. Ryan, T. Reeves, P. Walker, J. Callow.
Northern: L. Waldron 2, Z. Costello 2, C. Barbera, S. Philp, H. Ramshaw, N. Kitchell.

BEST:
Tasmania: O. Davis, J. Callow, O. Burrows-Cheng, H. Ireland, P. Walker, O. Shaw
Northern: J. Davies, S. Philp, A. Taylor, E. Macpherson, H. Ramshaw, J. D’Intinosante

Northern Knights broke into the top eight with a nine-point win on the road against the Tasmania Devils, booting their weekend opponents from the traditional finals spot in the process. It was a typical low-scoring slog on the Apple Isle, with the conditions and depleted teams making scoring tough. It showed early on, but after an arm-wrestle of a first half which saw just five goals scored between the sides, Northern kicked clear to a game-defining 19-point lead after the main break with three goals to one. A late Devils surge did little to damage the Knights’ winning position, despite them more than doubling their previous total and outscoring Northern by 10 points to see out the game. Sam Philp and Josh D’Intinosante were again superb with a game-high 30 disposals each, with the former adding a goal and the latter going 0.3 in front of the big sticks. Skipper Jackson Davies was named best for the Knights on the back of his 27 disposals and 10 marks, continuing his partnership down back with bottom-ager Ewan Macpherson (16 disposals, five rebounds). Lorne Waldron and Zane Costello each booted two goals for the visitors, but were beaten out by Tasmania’s Jordan Lane in that regard as he claimed three. Oliver Davis responded well to his Allies omission to collect a team-high 28 disposals, with fellow representative squad member Jackson Callow (16 disposals, 10 marks, 1.2) also prominent. Oscar Burrows-Cheng joined in on Davis’ dirty work with 26 touches of his own, while Patrick Walker was also productive with 25 disposals, nine rebound 50s and a goal. The Devils again host a Metro team at home in Round 12 as they welcome table-toppers Eastern, while Northern is set for a week off with the bye.

 

GWV REBELS 1.3 | 1.7 | 4.7 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN JETS 3.1 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS:
GWV: C. Giddings, L. O’Brien, C. Nagorcka, L. Herbert, F. Marris, M. Martin, N. Caris.
Western: A. Manton 2, E. Ford, M. Cousins, K. Borg, J. Honey, H. Schumann, N. Reynolds, L. Vidovic.

BEST:
GWV: L. Herbert, M. Martin, R. Polkinghorne, M. Burgess, M. Herbert, N. Stevens
Western: C. Raak, L. Rocci, J. Kellett, L. Phillips, E. Ford, M. Cousins

Western Jets climbed into a top four spot with a narrow win over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in the first of two Saturday fixtures at Mars Stadium. The Jets simply continue to put wins on the board, thriving in a typically tough period for sides as stars of the competition complete representative action. They broke out to an early lead on the back of 3.1 to GWV’s 1.3, making the most of their chances with a touch more class than their opponents. The first half continued to prove difficult for the home side as their woes in front of goal wore on with four behinds, but it did not matter for much as they also managed to hold Western to just the one goal. The Rebels found their kicking boots after the main break, but unfortunately still lacked the firepower to run over the top of a firm Western side, going down by just over a goal. Liam Herbert was their best with a game-high 28 disposals to go with eight marks, eight tackles and a goal, with returning Country representative Mitch Martin (20 disposals, one goal) also handy. Riley Polkinghorne was another to rack up the ball with another 26 disposals, as some of the more recognised Rebels ball-winners were a touch quieter. For the winners, Daly Andrews won the most ball (27 disposals), but it was Lucas Rocci (24, nine rebound 50s) and Josh Kellett (25, nine rebound 50s) who proved most effective in possession from the back half. Josh Honey and Eddie Ford each found the goals to also be influential, while Archi Manton was the game’s only multiple goal kicker with two. The Jets will look to hold onto their ladder position against Calder in Round 12, while GWV faces a tough ask next time out against an albeit, down Dandenong Stingrays.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.1 | 5.2 | 7.4 | 10.4 (64)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.5 | 6.12 | 8.17 | 13.20 (98)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

GOALS:
Dandenong: J. Neal 2, M. Gregory 2, J. Roysmith, S. Merrick, A. Williamson, B. Welsh, B. Cliffe, J. Stuart.
Murray: R. Bouker 3, D. Bedendo 3, K. Brown 2, C. Wilson, D. Everett, H. Kaak, B. Kelly, J. Cooper.

BEST:
Dandenong: M. Gregory, B. Milford, P. Gerdan, W. Bravo, L. Williams, S. De Koning
Murray: J. Chalcraft, K. Chalcraft, J. Hillary, W. Chandler, C. Wild, D. Bedendo

After suffering a rare loss in Round 10 against the Northern Knights, the Dandenong Stingrays again suffered another loss at home, going down to the Murray Bushrangers by 34 points. After previously going the whole season undefeated, the Stingrays have now suffered consecutive losses. On the other hand, the win bodes well for the rest of Murray’s season – knocking on the door for finals. Despite doubling their scoring attempts in the first, Murray only led by four-points come quarter-time. Their finishing on goal only worsened in the second, adding three goals and seven more behinds. Dandenong boasted a much better conversion rate, but continually proved outgunned in transition. Following the main break, Murray again struggled in conversion, adding five behinds and two goals. Dandenong kept close with two goals, though despite the one goal difference, Murray’s behinds kept them 19 points ahead. In the fourth, Murray fixed their finish. They put away five in the fourth quarter, while Dandenong added three of their own. Despite Dandenong’s efforts, they were simply outclassed through the centre. Bottom-ager, Max Gregory had his best game for Dandenong this season, amassing two goals, 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles and six rebounds, alongside tall, Bryce Milford, who starred down back with 13 disposals and six rebounds. Sam De Koning (11 disposals, five marks and eight hit-outs) and Lachlan Williams (11 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s) also impressed in their return. For Murray, Cameron Wild (29 disposals, six marks, six tackles, four inside 50s and five rebounds) and Jye Chalcraft (27 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and six inside 50s) were immense through the midfield. Jay Hilary starred down back in the win with 16 disposals, eight marks and seven rebounds, while Will Chandler dominated on the opposite end with 15 disposals, three marks and eight inside 50s. In Round 12, Dandenong come up against the Rebels at home in what they will hope to be a more straightforward victory. Murray find themselves in a similar spot, versing second from bottom, Bendigo, in what could be back-to-back wins on the road.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 4.4 | 5.6 | 10.10 | 13.13 (91)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 4.7 | 4.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:
Gippsland: F. Phillips 5, T. Fitzpatrick 2, H. Pepper, N. Prowd, L. Connolly, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, H. Neocleous.
Oakleigh: A. Tassell, C. Sharman, R. Walsh, T. Lovell, C. Stone, N. Stathopoulos.

BEST:
Gippsland: F. Phillips, B. Smith, L. Connolly, R. Sparkes, H. Pepper, S. Berry
Oakleigh: V. Zagari, F. Maguire, C. Stone, L. Jenkins, T. Lovell, N. Stathopoulos

A Vic Country bye boded well for the Gippsland Power as they climbed into third with a strong win over the dangerous Oakleigh Chargers. After kicking out to a 20-point quarter time buffer, Oakleigh hit back to find themselves just five points down at the main break with 3.5 in the second term. The see-sawing continued though, as the Chargers were held goalless in the next stanza, and could only answer back with 2.2 in the final period to the home side’s powerful eight-goal second half. Four of Gippsland’s best half-dozen were Country representatives, with Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, 5.3) enjoying a day out to lead the lot and earn a Draft Central Player of the Week nomination. Leo Connolly narrowly missed out on that gig with his game-high 32 touches and lone goal, while skipper Brock Smith, Ryan Sparkes, and bottom-ager Sam Berry each had 26 disposals as Gippsland dominated possession. The likes of Tom Fitzpatrick (17 disposals, 2.1), Harrison Pepper (20 disposals, one goal) and Mason McGarrity (18 disposals, 1.4) were others on the verge of having big days. For Oakleigh, whose winning run has snapped, Vincent Zugari was named best for his team-high 22-disposals effort, with Lochlan Jenkins (18 disposals, 10 tackles) and Josh May (18 disposals) working hard in a weakened midfield. Over-aged debutant Cooper Sharman was one who impressed among the raft of Oakleigh changes, collecting 20 disposals and booting a goal. The Chargers will look to get back on the winners list as they clash with Sandringham next time out, while Gippsland faces a Geelong team desperate for form.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS 4.2 | 10.5 | 13.5 | 13.5 (83)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.9 | 7.12 (54)

GOALS:
Bendigo: J. Treacy 4, Z. Murley 2, R. Clarke, S. Mitchell, F. Ellis Castle, A. Cole, J. Dick-O’Flaherty, R. Ironside, R. Wilson.
Geelong: H. Stubbings 2, J. Mullen 2, C. Karpala, M. Annandale, C. Brauer.

BEST:
Bendigo: W. Wallace, B. Worme, J. Treacy, J. Schischka, R. Wilson, N. Walsh
Geelong: H. Walsh, K. Rayner, C. Page, J. Mullen, L. Smith, H. Stubbings

The Geelong Falcons struggled once again against a determined Bendigo Pioneers, going down by 29 points to Bendigo Pioneers in Saturday’s final fixture. The win sees Bendigo do the double over Geelong for the year, with both sides remaining in the bottom three on the back of tough years to date. Fielding a stronger squad compared to recent weeks, Bendigo got on top in the second term with six goals to one, and held on for victory despite going scoreless in the fourth quarter. Vic Country squad members Ben Worme (26 disposals, seven marks, nine rebounds), James Schischka (20 disposals), and Brady Rowles (15 disposals, seven marks) showed their class in the win, with Riley Wilson (20 disposals, one goal) another solid ball-winner, while Josh Treacybooted four goals as the leading forward on the ground. Zavier Murley was the only other Pioneer to find multiple majors across an impressive nine Bendigo goalkickers, while Harry Stubbings and Jack Mullen did the same for Geelong with two each. Henry Walsh enjoyed his best NAB League outing thus far with a monster 43 hitouts to provide the likes of Keidan Rayner (26 disposals, eight inside 50s) with silver service, while Cameron Fleeton (21 disposals) and Lachlan Smith (17) others to again impress. The Falcons face a tough ask in their search for form next week as they face Gippsland, while Bendigo is set to host Murray as both look to climb out of the bottom four.

 

EASTERN RANGES 2.2 | 4.4 | 7.6 | 8.8 (56)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.2 | 3.5 | 5.6 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:
Eastern: B. Hickleton 3, B. McCormack 2, F. Kroeger, B. White, M. Silvaggi.
Sandringham: J. Bell, J. Goddard, J. Miller, E. Soylemez, J. Mifsud.

BEST:
Eastern: L. Stapleton, B. McCormack, B. Hickleton, T. Edwards, M. Zalac, J. Ross
Sandringham: D. Chirgwin, T. Sheezel, G. Grey, J. Lloyd, J. Mifsud, J. Voss

Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash between Eastern and Sandringham saw little change in terms of ladder position, as the Ranges only strengthened their hold on top spot with an even three-goal win to go four points clear of their weekend opponents. With Eastern holding six and five-point buffers at the first two breaks, the Dragons always looked a chance to come back into the game, but hey were held off well as the Ranges slowly built their lead and kept the dangerous travelling side to just two points in the final term. A difference in firepower ended up being a telling factor, with Ben Hickleton (10 disposals, three goals) and Billy McCormack (19 disposals, 23 hitouts, two goals) stepping up in the absence of Jamieson Rossiter. Jack Bell was the best answer to their efforts for Sandringham up the other end, returning 13 disposals, 21 hitouts and a goal to put his hand up for Metro selection. In the ball-winning stakes, returning Sandringham star Darcy Chrigwin was phenomenal around the ball with a game-high 32 disposals and 16 tackles, with fellow returnee Ryan Byrnes having a steady 21 disposals and Jackson Voss matching his haul in a return to the outside. For Eastern, Jacob Gilbee, Zak Pretty, and Lachlan Stapleton led the possessions but were not named in the best – beaten out by the likes of Tyler Edwards (20 disposals, four inside 50s), Mihaele Zalac (19 disposals, six tackles), and James Ross (15 disposals, five rebound 50s). The Ranges will look to stay top with another win next week against Tasmania on the road, while Sandringham faces Oakleigh in what should be a cracker.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Scouting notes: AFL U18s – Allies vs. Vic Country

VIC Country continued its ominous start to the AFL Under 18 National Championships, backing up its Victorian derby win with a 18.8 (116) to 2.7 (19) trouncing of the Allies. Below were the standout players from either side.

Allies:

By: Ed Pascoe

#3 Connor Budarick

Budarick started the game in defence, providing good run and loved to attack using his dash. He had a great bit of play in the second quarter intercepting at speed and kicking well on his opposite foot. Budarick was later moved into the midfield where he looked to have more impact, winning more of the ball and providing speed and toughness at stoppages. He showed his usual defensive capabilities with a great chase on Country speedster Brady Rowles, as well as his attacking game with a good burst away and dash on the wing. Budarick finished the game with 15 disposals and five tackles.

#9 Mitch O’Neill

O’Neill was the standout player for the Allies with his run and creativity on the wing a real feature. O’Neill started the game quietly but really got going in the second half, starting the third quarter in great fashion – involved in a chain from half-back, winning three possessions with the final one a nice long kick inside 50. O’Neill also showed his courage in the last quarter sitting in the hole in defence and getting crunched from behind where he would win the free kick. The Tasmanian was fantastic on the wing with his composure, run and ball use, finishing the game with a team-high 26 disposals and eight marks.

#15 Will Martyn

Martyn was a busy player through the midfield winning the hard ball but also working hard on transition to either take marks or be a part of a chain of handballs through the middle. He showed good composure with ball in hand and had a good bit of play in the first quarter, showing his nice movement under pressure. He had a chance to hit the scoreboard but wouldn’t quite make the distance with a set shot at goal. Martyn finished the game with 16 disposals and five clearances.

#22 Tom Green

Green was a real force at the stoppages, winning the ball at will. He attacked the ball at stoppages and was very clean getting his arms up quickly to ride the tackle and get a handball out, he had a great chain in the second quarter, winning a clearance and then getting the ball back in the handball chain and released a good long handball and this really showed his work rate in being able to continue attacking after winning a clearance. Green didn’t get a lot of the ball but played a lone hand as the Allies’ only big bodied inside midfielder. Green finished the game with 18 disposals and nine clearances, showing his dominance at stoppages.

#26 Liam Delahunty

Delahunty had a rough time as the Allies’ number one target up forward especially with the poor supply, but he worked into the game and still did some nice things – including a nice contested mark in the second quarter that would only lead to a behind. Delahunty looked at his best in the last quarter going for a nice run and showing his power, but would miss an opposite foot snap at goal on the run – although he would later set up a goal for his team with a nice handpass to teammate Noah Cumberland. Delahunty was moved to defence late in the game where he might find himself more often for the rest of the championships.

Vic Country:

By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Caleb Serong

The Country co-skipper started on fire for the second week running, beginning at the centre bounces before moving forward. He was involved early around the contest and had a long set shot on goal that resulted in a goal to Weightman. When set inside 50, he took a brilliant one on one contested mark, before turning and kicking an excellent long range goal. He was involved again shortly after, taking an intercept mark inside 50 and making the Allies pay. He was clean around the ground and defensively relevant without the ball, highlighted by a holding the ball free kick in the defensive 50 which was uncharacteristically turned over on exit. Took a heavy head knock in a marking contest against Nick Murray in the last, which earned a 50 metre penalty and he converted a third goal. It was another productive outing, finishing with 22 disposals on top of the three goals.

#3 Cody Weightman

After producing moments of brilliance against Metro at the MCG last week, his effort against the Allies was far more complete, ending the day as one of the most influential on the field. The performance started with a quality snapped finish in the first term and he continued winning the footy by presenting high on the lead, which included a spectacular diving effort. He earned a free kick in the second quarter which he converted, before finishing the day with two in the fourth quarter for a nice haul of four goals. Despite lacking some stature, his hands and exciting leap make him such a dangerous prospect aerially.

#6 Riley Baldi

The inside midfielder has always been a ball magnet for Gippsland Power and he took his prolific ways to Tasmania on Sunday to be one of Vic Country’s best. He didn’t start at the opening centre bounces, but pushed up to the contest to lay a heavy tackle on Tom Green early. Once at the stoppages his hands were sharp and effective, but it was on the outside where he was consistently able to find space and provide an option on transition with an incredible 13 marks. What he lacks in acceleration, he makes up for with smarts and often buys himself time with evasive tricks. Baldi was the equal leading ball winner on the day, gathering 29 disposals.

#7 Mitch Martin

Spent a majority of his time forward like last week and while he didn’t win huge numbers, Martin was good enough to take advantage of Vic Country’s dominance and hit the scoreboard. He has a real touch of class and doesn’t need the big disposal tallies, starting with a lovely set shot in the second term. His best moment came when he gathered a ball inside 50, spun in a tackle and dribble kicked a skilful goal. Another converted set shot saw him kick a third goal, a solid outing in anyone’s language.

#12 Lachie Ash

With his co-captain Serong, Ash set the tone for a big day in the first term by collecting 12 disposals up to the first break. He basically did as he pleased behind the ball, intercepting, rebounding and the scoreboard soon offered flexibility for him to take on risky but demanding kicks to advantage. He had some smart defensive moments too, spoiling a one on one contest while out of position, before winning the ground ball and earning a free kick. He just took the game on whenever the opportunity presented and while he got a little cute on occasions, the good well and truly outweighed any turnovers. He finished with 29 class disposals to be in the best on ground discussions.

#16 Brodie Kemp

Many expected to see Kemp play as a big bodied midfielder during this competition, but with Vic Country lacking tall defensive options, the Geelong Grammar scholar has played defensive 50 in a position that is very familiar. He complemented Ash and Young perfectly, holding his position when required, but coming off his man and impacting the aerial contest when the opportunity presented. While he occasionally used a fist, by the end of the day he was reading the play so well that he was in position to take nearly every mark in his area. His hands and skills were good and he’d also take the game on when space opened up ahead.

#17 Hayden Young

Young wasn’t as prominent as against Metro the week before, but the intercepting half back was still very, very good. He got going in the second term with multiple intercept moments, highlighted by a one on one contest against the much bigger Conroy where he used his body to perfection to win the ball and begin an end to end chain that resulted in a goal. He flies for his marks and takes on his kicks, making him arguably the best offensive weapon in this year’s draft despite playing behind the footy.

#18 Brady Rowles

I feel the Bendigo wingman is flying under the radar from a draft perspective. While he doesn’t win mountains of the ball, he is a metres gained footballer who has an electric turn of speed. He is a nice size at 188cm and capable of quickly getting the ball in dangerous positions. He had multiple carrying efforts against the Allies, the best coming in the second term when bouncing out of D50 at top speed to hit a target lace out up the ground. He is good overhead too, taking a strong one on one contested mark in the first term. He could tidy up his decision making on occasions, but I feel the attributes are there to create genuine interest.

#29 Lachlan Williams

The Rays’ utility did not get an opportunity to play on the MCG last week, but made the most of his chance in Tasmania with a strong performance on the wing. He looked calm and composed whenever the footy got in his hands, as shown when he converted a lovely set shot in the second term. Most of his footy was won on the outside, but he is certainly capable at the contest, especially aerially. He is one you always have to check twice on the team sheet, as he looks and plays taller than his 182cm, 76kg frame suggests. Williams finished the game as one of the highest ball winners with 20 possessions and looks to have cemented a spot in the side.