Tag: brady rowles

2019 AFL Draft club review: Sydney Swans

A REGENERATIVE draft haul is what Sydney Swans fans can look forward to reaping the rewards of, with their side bringing in a range of talents and some long-term midfield cover. Boasting their first non-academy top 10 pick since taking Gary Rohan at number six in 2009, the Swans pulled a small surprise and picked up a South Australian gun with senior experience, packaging another Croweater with their next pick and two West Australians to round out an impressive National Draft haul.

National Draft:
5. Dylan Stephens (Norwood/South Australia) | 183cm | 74kg | Outside Midfielder
26. Will Gould (Glenelg/South Australia) | 192cm | 106kg | Tall Defender
36. Elijah Taylor (Perth/Western Australia) | 188cm | 77kg | Medium Forward
39. Chad Warner (East Fremantle/Western Australia) | 183cm | 83kg | Inside Midfielder

Rookie Draft:
4. Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 186cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder
19. Jack Maibaum (Sydney Swans)

Dylan Stephens became the Swans’ first non-academy top 10 pick in a decade when snapped up at pick 5, with much of the talent around that range ensuring Sydney would pick a top-end quality player. It did that with Stephens’ blend of inside and outside traits suiting the Swans’ long term needs. While his frame and penetration on the outside bode for growing into a classic wingman, Stephens is more than capable of becoming the locked-in inside midfielder that Sydney will need long-term. His senior experience in the SANFL League and Norwood’s premiership-winning Reserves means he should be ready to slot straight into the starting side.

Fellow South Australian Will Gould was next on the list for Sydney, another readymade type with senior experience having won the SANFL League premiership with Glenelg –  which was enough to see the Swans trade up to nab him. One of the strongest players available, Gould played more like a key defender at Under-18 level, but could be more suited for the third tall role in the back six given his sure kicking skills and phenomenal penetration. While Gould lags athletically, he is a footballer’s footballer and has all of the natural talent to prove plenty of people wrong by making his mark in the big leagues.

While Sydney already boasts a couple of exciting medium forwards, mercurial West Australian Elijah Taylor was too hard to pass up on at pick 36. On talent alone, Taylor is arguably a first round prospect and could be anything at the next level with his innate goal sense and knack for the spectacular. His selection could also free up Isaac Heeney for more midfield time and make possible pursuits for Tom Papley easier to take. Making the trip east with Taylor is his Black Ducks’ teammate Chad Warner, a hardworking inside midfielder who thrives on the contested side of the game. He could be an under the radar pick who has an impact early on and adds value straight away, adding depth to the engine room.

Aside from the re-listing of injury-riddled defender Jack Maibaum, Bendigo Pioneers goer Brady Rowles was the Swans’ lone Rookie Draft selection. A phenomenal runner with searing pace, Rowles continues the theme of Sydney’s preference for outside speed in previous drafts having brought in the likes of Zac Foot, Justin McInerney, and Oliver Florent of late. While Rowles is still quite raw, he has plenty of upside and makes high impact plays.

Overall, the Swans will be thrilled with an even an diverse haul of draftees, filling out their midfield in the long term but also picking players who look ready to go. After baulking on trading in Joe Daniher for a pretty penny, another move for the enigmatic forward is still on the cards with no talls taken at the draft and Darcy Cameron out the door.

2019 Rookie Draft selections

IN an event that took about the same time as one first night National Draft selection, the 2019 AFL Rookie Draft was held today with 33 selections made and nine passes. A total of 13 players will enter the AFL for the first time, while Williamstown’s Mitch Hibberd returns to the elite level after a sensational year with Williamstown earning him a place back on an AFL list. Among those players to find a home were Western Jets’ duo Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka, Gippsland Power excitement machine Fraser Phillips, West Australian talents Jarvis Pina, Anthony Treacy and Jake Pasini, Sandringham Dragons’ ruck Jack Bell, Bendigo Pioneers’ outside mover Brady Rowles, Port Adelaide father-son prospect Trent Burgoyne, South Australian bolter Brad Close, and arguably the most surprising omission from the AFL National Draft – dual All-Australian Mitch O’Neill.

Clubs are still making Category B selections, with Matt McGuinness named as one by the Roos, which we will include in our club-by-club summaries to come later today.

ROUND 1

Pick 1 – Gold Coast SUNS – Josh Schoenfeld (redrafted)
Pick 2 – Melbourne – Pass
Pick 3 – Carlton – Josh Honey (Western Jets/Vic Metro
) | 185cm | 82kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 4 – Sydney – Brady Rowles (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country) | 186cm | 75kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 5 – St Kilda – Jack Bell (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro) | 202cm | 81kg | Ruck/Key Forward
Pick 6 – Fremantle – Jarvis Pina (Peel Thunder/Western Australia) | 178cm | 72kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 7 – Adelaide – Ben Keays (Brisbane Lions/AFL)
Pick 8 – Port Adelaide – Jake Pasini (Swan Districts/Western Australia) | 192cm | 81kg | Tall Defender
Pick 9 – Hawthorn – Emerson Jeka (Western Jets/Vic Metro) | 198cm | 91kg | Key Position Utility
Pick 10 – Essendon – Mitchell Hibberd (Williamstown/VFL) | 192cm | 87kg | Midfielder
Pick 11 – West Coast – Anthony Treacy (Claremont/Western Australia) | 182cm | 69kg | Medium Forward
Pick 12 – Brisbane – Sam Skinner (redrafted)
Pick 13 – Collingwood – Pass
Pick 14 – Geelong – Brad Close (Glenelg/South Australia) | 180cm | 68kg | Midfielder/Forward
Pick 15 – GWS GIANTS – Jake Stein (redrafted)

ROUND 2:

Pick 16 – Gold Coast SUNS – Connor Budarick (GC SUNS Academy/Allies) | 177cm | 74kg | Small Utility
Pick 17 – Melbourne – Pass
Pick 18 – Carlton – Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power/Vic Country) | 187cm | 72kg | Medium Forward
Pick 19 – Sydney – Jack Maibaum (redrafted)
Pick 20 – Fremantle – Thomas North (redrafted)
Pick 21 – Adelaide – Ben Crocker (Collingwood AFL)
Pick 22 – Port Adelaide – Trent Burgoyne (WWT Eagles/South Australia) | 177cm | 67kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 23 – Hawthorn – Pass
Pick 24 – Essendon – Pass
Pick 25 – West Coast – Mitch O’Neill (Tasmania Devils/Allies) | 176cm | 72kg | Balanced Midfielder
Pick 26 – Brisbane – Corey Lyons (redrafted)
Pick 27 – Geelong – Oscar Brownless (redrafted)
Pick 28 – GWS GIANTS – Thomas Sheridan (redrafted)

ROUND 3:

Pick 29 – Gold Coast SUNS – Matt Conroy (GC SUNS Academy/Allies) | 201cm | 97kg | Ruck/ Key Forward
Pick 30 – Fremantle – Hugh Dixon (redrafted)
Pick 31 – Adelaide – Pass
Pick 32 – Port Adelaide – Boyd Woodcock (redrafted)
Pick 33 – West Coast – Brendon Ah Chee (redrafted)
Pick 34 – Brisbane – Archie Smith (redrafted)
Pick 35 – Geelong – Lachlan Henderson (redrafted)
Pick 36 – GWS GIANTS – Zachary Sproule (redrafted)

ROUND 4:

Pick 37 – Gold Coast SUNS – Malcolm Rosas (NT Thunder/Allies) | 178cm | 69kg | Outside Midfielder
Pick 38 – Port Adelaide – Riley Grundy (redrafted)
Pick 39 – West Coast – Hamish Brayshaw (redrafted)
Pick 40 – GWS GIANTS – Pass

ROUND 5:

Pick 41 – Gold Coast SUNS – Pass
Pick 42 – West Coast – Pass

2019 AFL Draft Preview: Hawthorn Hawks

HAWTHORN heads into the 2019 AFL Draft with its highest pick since taking Ryan Burton with pick 19 in 2015, and may well come away with a rare pair of first round selections. The Hawks can look to replenish their key position stocks at the top end, while also looking for points of difference through midfield on top of snaring potential father-son, Finn Maginness.

CURRENT PICKS: 11, 42, 50, 54, 63, 73, 87, 92

NOMINATED ACADEMY/FATHER-SONS: Finn Maginness (F/S), Harrison Pepper (NGA)

LIST NEEDS:

Key position depth
Midfield point of difference/speed

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:

Key position depth, particularly down back, looks like being the Hawks’ priority coming into this year’s draft, with pick 11 a good spot for filling that need at the correct value. All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey looks the best fit and is ripe for the taking at pick 11, but could be snapped up by the Cats should they trade into the top 10. If that is the case, Brodie Kemp is another option with great upside who can plug gaps on every line, while the dynamic Josh Worrell could also slot in up either end as a high marker. The Hawks will hope a bid for father-son gun Maginness comes after their first selection, with a pick somewhere in the teens or early-20s more likely for the athletic midfielder.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Hawks have been able to already secure a trade that saw them pick up two selections from North Melbourne in Pick 50 and 73, as well as a future second round selection for the 2020 AFL Draft. In exchange they gave up Pick 30, but with a potential first round bid for Maginness – and certainly top 25 – that selection was always going to be used to secure the father-son, but this way Hawthorn has greater versatility to match.

REMAINING CROP:

As is the case for most sides, the back-end of the draft is purely up to needs and preference as it looms as one of the most open pools in recent times. Should the Hawks look to further bolster key position stocks, the likes of Jake Pasini and Emerson Jeka may well be available around that 54-mark, while ruck options come in the form of Nick Bryan, Callum Jamieson and Joel Ottavi in that range. Angus Hanrahan, brother of current Hawk, Ollie would be a nice addition late-on for some outside run with Isaac Smith coming into the free agency fold soon, while Bendigo pair Flynn Perez and Brady Rowles fit the same mould if they are still on the board, and Josh Honey could offer the same kind of power going forward. Late picks are always difficult to predict, but the Hawks will undoubtedly have their favourites going in and could even take Harrison Pepper as a Next Generation Academy pick.

Top athletes star at National Draft Combine

AFTER a huge year of football, the nation’s top footballers battled it out for athletic honours last week at the National Draft Combine. A number of top-end talents took out individual tests, while others put their name forward to recruiters because of improvement in certain areas.

Gut-running Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ athlete Jay Rantall took out both the 2km time trial and the yo-yo test, sharing the latter with Geelong Falcons’ co-captain Cooper Stephens. In the speed tests, it was Northern Knights’ Sam Philp who clocked a speed of 2.867 seconds in the 20-metre sprint to take it out, with West Australian Ben Johnson the only other player to record under 2.9 seconds. Top five hopeful, Hayden Young took out the agility test, bettering his pre-season effort to record a lightning quick 7.940 seconds to be the sole player under eight seconds. For the jumps, it was Miles Bergman and Brady Rowles who impressed the most. Bergman took out the standing vertical jump with a 77cm effort, four more than Rowles. But with a run-up it was Rowles taking the honours with a massive 98cm jump, eight more than Bergman who was second.

Vertical jump (cm)

Miles Bergman 77
Brady Rowles 73
Ben Johnson 70
Daniel Mott 70
Cody Weightman 69
Sam Flanders 69
Lachlan Williams 69
Sam Philp 69
Nick Bryan 69

Agility (seconds)

Hayden Young 7.940
Elijah Taylor 8.005
Thomson Dow 8.061
Trent Rivers 8.100
Oisin Gallen 8.197
Chad Warner 8.203
Sam Flanders 8.206
Noah Cumberland 8.208
Connor Budarick 8.242
Dylan Stephens 8.245

20m sprint (seconds)

Sam Philp 2.867
Ben Johnson 2.885
Malcolm Rosas 2.924
Mitch Georgiades 2.925
Noah Cumberland 2.931
Finn Maginness 2.957
Harrison Jones 2.963
Jeremy Sharp 2.966
Brady Rowles 2.968
Dylan Stephens 2.972

Running vertical jump (cm)

Brady Rowles 98
Miles Bergman 90
Sam Flanders 88
Cian McBride 87
Lachlan Williams 86
Hugo Ralphsmith 86
Jaxon Prior 85
Nick Bryan 85
Oscar Lewis 83
Kysaiah Pickett 83
Cody Weightman 83
Will Day 83
Brady Rowles 83
Cooper Stephens 83
Harrison Jones 83

Yo-Yo test (level)

Jay Rantall 21.8
Cooper Stephens 21.8
Connor Budarick 21.6
Chad Warner 21.6
Oscar Lewis 21.5
Sam Philp 21.5
Lachlan Ash 21.4
Harrison Jones 21.4
Finn Maginness 21.4
Trey Ruscoe 21.4
Riley Baldi 21.3
Sam Flanders 21.3
Matt Rowell 21.3
Jeremy Sharp 21.3

2km time trial results (min:sec)

Jay Rantall 5:50 minutes
Finn Maginness 5:51
Dylan Stephens 6:01
Louis Butler 6:09
Hugo Ralphsmith 6:12
Jeremy Sharp 6:12
Connor Budarick 6:15
Jai Jackson 6:15
Will Martyn 6:16
Ned Cahill 6:17
Matt Rowell 6:17
Noah Anderson 6:17
Cooper Stephens 6:17
Cian McBride 6:17

NAB League Boys team review: Bendigo Pioneers

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

Position: 11th
Wins: 5
Losses: 10
Draws: 0

Points For: 962 (Ranked #8)
Points Against: 956 (Ranked #4)
Percentage: 101
Points: 20

Top draft prospects:

Brodie Kemp

The standout Pioneers prospect really staked his claim as a potential top 10 talent with his AFL Under-18 Championships performances for Vic Country. He booted the clutch goal to win Country the game against South Australia, and then almost did it again in Country’s tight loss to Western Australia – with more playing out after his important goal. Unfortunately Kemp was ruled out for the year following his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury late in the year for school football, but he did more than enough to suggest he will not drift much, and should be a locked and loaded first round choice.

Thomson Dow

Had his ups and downs at times, but the brother of Paddy showed he has some real draftable qualities with his traits and ability to look smooth through traffic. He spent time resting forward and would hit the scoreboard which was important, and can go back and help out the defence as well. While his brother was a top five prospect, Dow is one who is potentially in that second round, though could land later in the first if a club wants to pounce early. He has great upside and is more of a longer term prospect by the time he hits his peak.

Other in the mix:

Bendigo has had a number of players put their hand up to be drafted on the back of a strong season in terms of game-by-game performances. Along with the two above, Brady Rowles has surely done enough this year to earn a place on an AFL list after his impressive work in the back half, while Flynn Perez – despite being injured the entire year – has always caught the eye of scouts with his class and upside. Outside the quartet, Ben Worme, Aaron Gundry and James Schischka all received combine invites and have attracted interest from clubs.

BnF chances:

There are a few names who put their hand up for the BnF, with bottom-age midfielder and former Vic Country Under-16 captain Sam Conforti leading the way. He was consistent throughout the season and has to be a good shout, while Schischka was another who played all year after not cracking into the Vic Country side despite being named on the list. Gundry, Riley Ironside, Riley Wilson and Josh Treacy also all produced consistent years and played at least 15 games, so expect the count to be tight with plenty of players deserving of the nod.

2020 Draft Crop:

Looking to next year and the likes of Treacy and Conforti are a couple of players who standout front-of-mind. Treacy is the bigger-bodied key forward who can pinch hit in the ruck and will be a leading candidate for the overall goalkicking next season, while Conforti has been tracking nicely in midfield. The real dark horse who based on his last month or two could be the first Pioneer selected next year is Jack Ginnivan, the forward who has midfielder traits and showed he can spend stints in there. There is not much of him in terms of size, but he has that eye-catching class that will standout in the competition. Add in Seamus Mitchell and Jack Hickman – who both played Under-17 Futures – and the Pioneers have a number of names to watch next year.

Final word:

On face value, the Pioneers finished third last and it is easy to write that off as a bad season. But in no way, shape or form was this season a disappointment, other than the fact they blew a few chances for more wins. This was the best Bendigo side we have seen in seven years purely for its depth and consistency for the entire year. They conceded the fourth least points of any side and still managed to score, ranked in the top eight with a massive percentage of 101. Sure they lost in Wildcard Round and on paper they finished eleventh, but Steve Sharp and the whole Pioneers organisation should be thrilled for what they produced which was a strong, competitive outfit all year round.

Scouting Notes: NAB League Boys – Wildcard Round

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

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

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

#4 Finn Maginness

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

#5 Ryan Byrnes

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

#6 Miles Bergman

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

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith

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

#12 Charlie Dean

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

#13 Louis Butler

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

#15 Angus Hanrahan

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

#29 Fischer McAsey

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

#32 Jack Bell

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

#74 Harry Loughnan

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

Geelong:

#15 Tanner Bruhn

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

#37 Oliver Henry

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

#40 Jesse Clark

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

#53 Cameron Fleeton

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

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

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

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

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

#8 Adam Carafa

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

#11 Ryan Sturgess

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

#13 Sam Philp

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

#40 Liam McMahon

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

#45 Ayce Taylor

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

Bendigo:

#4 Thomson Dow

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

#19 Ben Worme

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

#22 Josh Treacy

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

#29 Jack Ginnivan

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

#38 Brady Rowles

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

Calder Cannons vs. Tasmania Devils
By: Taylah Melki

Calder Cannons:

#1 Daniel Mott

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

#3 Jackson Cardillo

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

#5 Curtis Brown

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

#8 Sam Ramsay

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

#12 Jeremy O’Sullivan

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

#29 Campbell Edwardes

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

#38 Brodie Newman

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

Tasmania:

#6 Sam Banks

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

#7 Matt McGuinness

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

#8 Jake Steele

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

#25 Jackson Callow

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

Western Jets vs. GWV Rebels
By: Ed Pascoe

GWV:

#7 Mitch Martin

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

#13 Jay Rantall

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

#44 Ben Hobbs

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

Western:

#1 Lucas Failli

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

#3 Eddie Ford

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

#4 Lucas Rocci

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

#20 Darcy Cassar

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

#24 Josh Honey

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

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Murray Bushrangers
By: Ed Pascoe

Murray:

#12 Lachlan Ash

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

#31 Josh Rachele

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

#54 Dominic Bedendo

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

Dandenong:

#2 Hayden Young

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

#10 Clayton Gay

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

#11 Ned Cahill

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

#44 Cody Weightman

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

Midfield maestros go to work as Knights down Pioneers

A MIDFIELD masterclass from Northern Knights duo Sam Philp and Adam Carafa has lead the Knights into the finals series after missing out last year, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by 42 points at Preston City Oval today. The pair had a combined 52 touches in the win, as they took control of the inside midfield and let the forwards go to work with Northern booting nine of the last 10 goals to see off the Pioneers. Bendigo was in the game for the majority of the contest, and the seven-goal final deficit did not reflect the tightness of the game.

Bendigo had the favourable end in the opening term and made the most of it, capitalising with three goals to one. It was an arm-wrestle for the most part as both sides had chances to put scoreboard pressure on the opposition. Jack Boyd had a chance with a great contested mark but his shot missed, and then Sam Conforti made Northern pay with a great goal on the run to give the visitors the opening major. The sling-shot approach from defence to attack by the Pioneers in the conditions was working a treat, and Josh Treacy took advantage with a strong mark and converting the set shot for goal number two. James Lucente almost got the Knights on the board with a snap on goal but it bounced into the post. Liam McMahon managed to find the luck with a 50-metre penalty bringing him to the goalsquare to send through Northern’s first goal of the day. He had a chance for a second moments later with a great lead-out mark from the next clearance but the shot fell short and was kept in.

Bendigo rushed it down the other end but Jack Ginnivan also missed after winning a free kick for a high tackle. They peppered the goals with Jeremy Rodi having a chance after a great tackle and free kick, but missed, as did another shot which was just touched by Knights captain Jackson Davies on the line, albeit with an unwanted interaction with the goal post at the same time. Philp was doing his best in close, fending off a couple of players and getting it free forward, but the Bendigo defence, lead by William Wallace and Brady Rowles was sending it down the other end at rapid pace. Their quick ball movement soon paid off as Treacy received a 50-metre penalty and converted to put the Pioneers up by a couple of goals. At quarter time, Philp and Carafa shared in 15 disposals between them, while Ginnivan and Aaron Gundry had six apiece.

Northern took full advantage with the breeze in the second term, booting four goals to one, including the three last goals of the term, to take a narrow four-point lead into the break as the weather deteriorated and spectators began to check weather radars. Much like the first term, Boyd had an early chance, but unlike his first quarter effort, this time he made good on his set shot to cut the deficit to a goal, though the running Ginnivan made sure this was only temporary as he was involved in a number of handballs before putting one through along the ground. The Bendigo defensive pressure continued throughout the term to give the Pioneers chances, but it was the defensive aerial ability of the Pioneers back six that was causing grief for the Knights. Northern continually attacked but each forward 50 entry was picked off by the Pioneers defenders. McMahon broke back with his second goal with a terrific snap from the pocket, negotiating the breeze, then back-to-back set shots after perfect kicks inside 50 handed the Knights the lead. Lucente and McMahon both capitalised on goals and while Ben Worme had a chance to steal the lead back late, missed and the margin was four points at the main break. At half-time it was Philp who led all-comers with 13 touches, while Carafa (11), Gundry and Thomson Dow were not far behind with 11 each. But it was Rowles and Wallace’s impact off half-back and McMahon and Boyd’s work inside 50 that were standing out in the low-scoring contest.

Philp’s work through the midfield was absolutely superb, getting the ball forward early in the premiership quarter, hitting the scoreboard as Northern piled on five goals to three against the breeze. A snap from Lucente was touched as he kicked it for the first score of the game. Wallace and Rowles were combining once again, with Rowles racing it out of defensive 50, taking the game on and getting it long, only for a shot on goal from Ethan Roberts to be touched in the square. Wallace intercepted an end-to-end play from Northern off the behind and established an end-to-end play for the Pioneers as Dow ran onto the ball on the wing and through a series of handballs set up Jack Evans to put it through the middle and give his side the lead. Not to be denied, Philp got on the end of one running inside 50 to put it through and hand his side back the lead, only for Ginnivan to steal it back with a nicely timed goal to stand up as he did in the last term.

But the next 10 minutes of the term belonged to Northern as the Knights booted four goals and blew the margin out to 19 points thanks to majors from Jackson Bowne, Boyd, Koby Davies and Thomas McMahon, all of whom had booted their goals from just about identical spots 30m out from goal off a loose ball get. It rubbed salt into the wounds for the Pioneers, who had been peppering the goals but not quite putting through majors, kicking 2.4 up to that point. The pressure valve was soon given some relief with Gundry marking inside 50 and converting a goal for the visitors just to give them hope heading into the final term, trailing by 13 points. Philp and Carafa were bordering on unstoppable in the midfield, combining for 42 touches, seven more than anyone else on the ground.

The game felt like it was about to break open heading into the last if Northern continued its momentum from the third term, and when Koby Davies snapped truly in the opening few minutes, the home crowd got exactly what it wanted. It opened up the game for Josh D’Intinosante to hit the scoreboard with a set shot to push the margin beyond 20 points, and soon Liam Kolar joined the party with his first goal in Knights colours. The Knights’ lead was 32 points and although the Pioneers never gave in – continuing to get it down the ground with dare and determination, their finishing was letting them down as they kicked two more behinds from genuine chances, to sit at 7.13 to their opponents’ 13.7 with 10 minutes to go really showing the difference in goal efficiency. Ryan Sturgess enjoyed the flow-on effect of the Knights knowing they had the game in the bag, booting two late goals to add to his solid performance across the four quarters. The Knights had run out easy 42-point winners on the back of a five goals to zero final term, but it was not reflective of the Pioneers work for the majority of the game.

While Bendigo was brave for the majority of the match, the Knights’ finishing capabilities in front of goal, the defensive work of Jackson Davies (17 disposals, three marks and eight rebounds) among others in the back 50, and most importantly, the work of Carafa (29 disposals, three marks, five inside 50s, four rebounds and five tackles) and Philp (23 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, three tackles and a goal) in the midfield separated the sides. Lucente (18 disposals, 10 marks and one goal) was important, particularly in the first half, while Liam McMahon’s three first half goals set the Knights up. The likes of Dow (19 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s) and Riley Wilson (17 disposals, six marks) in the midfield did all they could, while Gundry (20 disposals, two marks, 16 hitouts and a goal) was a standout in the ruck and providing a target down forward. Rowles (16 disposals, three marks) and Wallace (11 disposals, six marks and four rebounds) in defence constantly stood up in the barrage of attacks, while Ginnivan (15 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s) was classy despite kicking 2.3 for the day.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.3 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 15.7 (97)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.3 | 4.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:

Northern: L. McMahon 3, J. Boyd 2, K. Davies 2, R. Sturgess 2, J. Lucente, S. Philp, J. Bowne, T. McMahon, J. D’Intinosante, L. Kolar.
Bendigo: J. Treacy 2, J. Ginnivan 2, S. Conforti, J. Evans, A. Gundry.

ADC BEST:

Northern: S. Philp, A. Carafa, J. Davies, L. McMahon, J. Lucente, J. Boyd.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan, A. Gundry, B. Rowles, T. Dow, W. Wallace, R. Wilson.

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caught the Eye: NAB League Boys – Round 17

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

Western Jets vs. Northern Knights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Gippsland Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 17

IN the hardest Draft Central NAB League Boys’ Team of the Week yet, it was near impossible to squeeze just 24 names into our team to round out the season. In a remarkable round of football where big numbers and impressive individual performances flew left, right and centre, there were up to 40 players who made the shortlist to find their way into the team which is stacked with draftable talent. The blockbuster game between Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons yielded a massive seven players such was its high quality, while another couple players who missed out – Angus Hanrahan and Louis Butler – arguably would have made it most other weeks. The third emergency this week was Eastern Ranges’ Billy McCormack whose side was one of many who had the two nominees, with the remaining winners, as well as narrow losers in Bendigo Pioneers and Calder Cannons both having a couple of players in the side. While Dandenong Stingrays, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets all had just the one, they had more on the shortlist, with the squeeze for spots very difficult.

Oakleigh Chargers’ four names to make the side are arguably the four most talked about players with top-age talents Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Trent Bianco, as well as bottom-age exciting forward and Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan making the side. Sandringham Dragons’ tall Corey Watts slots into full-back after a terrific performance in that game, along with talented representative midfielders Darcy Chirgwin and Finn Maginness, with Maginness also going forward to boot three goals. The forward line certainly has plenty of firepower with six-goal Geelong Falcons’ hero Charlie Sprague lining up at full-forward, joined in the side by bottom-age ruck Henry Walsh who was dynamic in their win.

Looking at the forward pockets, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Mitch Martin booted three goals in wet conditions to make the side, making the team with a second gamer and Vic Country Under 16s representative Charlie Molan who has earned a spot at half-back more due to his ability to get into defence and clock up more rebounds than other midfielders in the round. In the other pocket is Team of the Week regular, Josh D’Intinosante who slots into the side once again, this week joined by Ryan Sturgess who could have made the team up either end, but finds his place at centre half-back.

Heading to the defensive line, in one back pocket is Gippsland Power’s Tye Hourigan, whose teammate Riley Baldi was sensational on the weekend with 27 touches and a couple of goals in the Power’s come-from-behind win – while Hourigan himself almost kicked the winning goal switching forward late in the match. In the other back pocket is Brady Rowles who stood tall for Bendigo in that match and was unlucky not to drive the Pioneers to victory along with their best, Riley Wilson who booted two goals in the victory. The other representatives to make the side from Sunday’s slogs in the wet at Queen Elizabeth Oval were Murray Bushrangers’ Sam Durham – who we thought was the best of a number of potential players including Jye Chalcraft and Liam Fiore who both made the initial discussions of almost 40 players – and Dandenong Stingrays’ William Lewis who was in for his first game of the year post-injury and shone in a disappointing loss.

Rounding out the team is the tight contest between Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons with the sides producing a combined four midfielders. Lachlan Stapleton and Mitch Mellis make the side once again for the Ranges, while Daniel Mott and Sam Ramsay are in for the Cannons after strong performances. The final player who earned his spot in the side is Western Jets’ Josh Honey who tried his best in the loss to Northern.