Tag: brock smith

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

NAB League Boys team review: Gippsland Power

AS the NAB League grand final approaches, 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 Gippsland Power.

Position: 2nd
Wins: 11
Losses: 4
Draws: 0

Points For: 1091 (Ranked #4)
Points Against: 856 (Ranked #3)
Percentage: 122.90
Points: 44

Top draft prospects:

Caleb Serong

The hard-nosed and aggressive ball winner was outstanding in each of his five NAB League outings spilt at either end of the season, while also performing for Geelong Grammar and Vic Country in a high quality year of football. Serong is competitive and his standards are high, helping him get the best out of himself in his time at the Power. He could well be the third player taken after Oakleigh’s two stars, offering goals up forward or a reliable midfield asset to whichever club he ends up at.

Sam Flanders

Flanders’ stocks have risen on the back of a massive finals campaign where he proved he can take big games by the scruff of the neck and make them his own. His combination of inside work and forward prowess makes him a rare prospect, and one who is now pushing the likes of Serong to feature among the top five picks. Explosive yet clean, Flanders has lived up to all expectations coming into the year and has definitely added to the high-flying forward profile he built in his bottom-age season.

Others in the mix:

The leading Country side this year in terms of draftable talent, Gippsland should have a good number of players taken throughout each round. Tall forward/ruck Charlie Comben has shown great improvement to thrown his name in the hat, with skipper Brock Smith a consistent figure throughout the year who missed the back end due to injury, and Riley Baldi is another mainstay who proved his worth. Fraser Phillips is a dynamic forward with huge upside who should also be in the mix alongside classy outside movers Leo Connolly and Ryan Sparkes. The form of Hawthorn NGA prospect Harrison Pepper will give the Hawks something to think about come November, too.

BnF chances:

Flanders’ impact on each game he played will put him right up there despite playing less games than others, while the likes of Connolly, Tye Hourigan, Sam Berry and the Baldi brothers enjoyed consistent patches throughout the middle of the year to give them good chances of getting up.

2020 Draft Crop:

While the class of 2019 has been incredibly strong, the Power has been able to blood a good number of bottom-agers this year which bodes well for sustained form in 2020. Midfield bull Berry and exciting forward/wingman Ryan Angwin lead the charge at this stage, with versatile tall Zach Reid another with plenty of promise. The likes of Will Papley, Tom Fitzpatrick and Tyran Rees saw plenty of action in their bottom-age years too, so should feature heavily again next time around.

Final word:

Gippsland Power will be disappointed they ultimately fell one win short of the decider again, but still had plenty to enjoy this season with a number of draft prospects stepping up and having most of the Vic Country squad this year. The Power were the only Country side in the top seven teams, and they still have some bottom-age talents who will look to take the next step up in 2020. Expect another strong season next year with some important roles filled already based on their form this year.

NAB League Boys 2019 Preliminary Final preview: Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

EASTERN RANGES (1st, 12-3) vs. GIPPSLAND POWER (2nd, 11-4)
Saturday September 14, 1.30pm
Ikon Park, Carlton North

Match Preview:

Minor premier Eastern Ranges takes on second-ranked regular season side Gippsland Power on Saturday for a spot in the NAB League Grand Final.

Comfortable winners in their semi final, the Power come in as one of only two teams to have beaten the Ranges this season – all the way back in Round 6. Both sides were at relative full strength that day and with similar lineups set to take the field in this clash, the 10-point difference in May points toward another flip of the coin kind of result. Notorious for their evenness across the board, the Ranges have benefitted from remaining almost untouched in terms of disruptions to their starting 23, which conversely is something Gippsland has been forced to work through with its wealth of top-end representative talent.

Power skipper Brock Smith, who has been named in the side after missing the past two weeks with illness, was his side’s leading ball winner in Round 6, and his addition to the line-up would be more than welcome in countering Eastern’s forward threats. Jamieson Rossiter is one Ranges forward hitting peak form at the right time, with the likes of Ben Hickleton and Billy McCormack also worth their salt around goal. The Power will have their own threats up the other end in Charlie Comben, Josh Smith, and Fraser Phillips, with both sets of defences to be stretched for height given the depth of tall options, so expect the second and third leading options to get involved.

It is the midfield battle where the game will be decided though, with Eastern’s reliable trio of Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton, and Zak Pretty coming up against the star-power of Gippsland duo Sam Flanders and Caleb Serong. The Ranges’ engine room often outworks its opposition and finds a way through traffic via series of handballs, but the lockdown pressure and aggression from Flanders and Serong threatens to shut that movement down at the source. The Power’s midfield depth in the likes of Riley Baldi, Sam Berry, Ryan Sparkes, and Leo Connolly makes them tough to beat, but if any team has proven to outshine names on paper, it is Eastern.

There is hardly anything separating the final four and this fixture should prove it. If we could tip a draw, we would, so expect a tense contest with the consistency of Eastern grappling the X-factor Gippsland’s match-winners can bring.

Prediction: Eastern by 5 points.

Key match-ups:

Zak Pretty vs. Sam Flanders

As already discussed, the midfield battle will be the one that wins the war. Similar in shape and size, Pretty and Flanders present a perfect match-up as ironically two of the bigger midfielders on the park for either side. Flanders has reminded us of his forward craft of late, and snuck inside 50 well last time out against the Ranges to boot two goals from 25 disposals. The Eastern midfielders arguably won’t afford him the same luxuries this time, and Pretty is one of many Ranges extractors who can match Flanders in going both ways. Both players tackle hard and win the ball at will, making this a battle that could decide which forward line gets first use. Expect to see Flanders’ explosiveness from the stoppages, countered by Pretty’s shrewd vision and handballs out to runners.

Connor Downie vs. Ryan Sparkes

With the majority of finals action played out in a contested manner, teams often look towards their outside runners to break the game open. Enter Downie and Sparkes. Often lining up on the wing, both players have the ability to rack up possessions on the outer and use it well going forward, with the wealth of inside midfielders in this game able to feed them both. The point of difference for the bottom-aged Downie is that he may be used off flanks at either end or even at the centre bounces, while Sparkes has very much found a home on the wing. Expect to see them line up on each other but find plenty of space on Ikon Park, breaking the lines and gaining serious meterage.

Head to Head:

2019:

Eastern Ranges – 0
Gippsland Power – 1

Overall:

Eastern Ranges – 24
Gippsland Power – 19

Teams:

EASTERN RANGES

B: 10. C. Black, 39. J. Nathan, 40. J. Hourihan
HB: 4. J. Clarke, 21. J. Ross, 19. W. Parker
C: 20. C. Downie, 7. L. Stapleton, 30. T. Edwards
HF: 11. M. Mellis, 18. B. McCormack, 52. T. Sonsie
F: 9. J. Duffy, 13. J. Rossiter, 27. J. Jaworski
R: 49. R. Smith, 23. Z. Pretty, 16. T. Garner
Int: 6. M. Brown, 14. L. Gawel, 36. B. Hickleton, 26. C. Norris, 41. K. Phelan, 59. B. Tennant, 45. M. Zalac
23P: 44. H. Keeling

In: K. Phelan, M. Brown, B. Hickleton

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 24. B. Maslen, 14. T. Hourigan, 35. J. van der Pligt
HB: 37. H. Pepper, 22. Z. Reid, 12. B. Smith
C: 1. R. Angwin, 4. S. Flanders, 15. R. Sparkes
HF: 21. M. McGarrity, 33. N. Prowd, 20. H. Neocleous
F: 7. S. Berry, 16. J. Smith, 19. F. Phillips
R: 17. C. Comben, 6. R. Baldi, 2. C. Serong
Int: 30. T. Baldi, 40. T. Mann, 8. B. McAuliffe, 25. J. McGrath, 9. W. Papley, 29. T. Rees, 32. L. Williams
23P: 39. M. Hawkins

In: J. McGrath, T. Mann, M. Hawkins, W. Papley, B. Smith, L. Williams
Out: T. Fitzpatrick, L. Connolly, M. Bentvelzen

Ones to watch – AFL Draft watch

FOLLOWING on from Monday night’s Power Rankings which included our current top 30 players, we take a look at some of the players who could make a move up the draft boards based on their season to date, their upcoming finals or perhaps their testing results come October. Mostly, this piece will mention a number of players who were very close to the top 30, and given the evenness of the competition, it is hard to fit a high amount of players into those spots. All the players chosen are those who have received National Draft Combine invitations and therefore have at least four AFL clubs who have expressed interest in them. For extended profiles on each player, click on their name highlighted in red.

Louis Butler (Sandringham Dragons)

The exciting runner has been building since returning to the Dragons from school football and was second best-on for the side in the narrow loss to Eastern Ranges. His kicking his improved since the start of the season and he has eye-catching traits coming out of defence and along a wing.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons)

The tireless working midfielder is a player who could slot into a senior midfield immediately and has a great first few metres out of a stoppage with his burst able to create separation from his opponent. He is one of the most consistent players in the competition and while his kicking can be ironed out further, he is as dual-footed as they come which is very handy, as well as dangerous going inside 50.

Darcy Cassar (Western Jets)

Is no stranger to racking up big numbers in the back half, and will be keen to put together a good finals series. He knows how to find the pill and get it out of defence, and while the elimination final win was not his finest game, he has the versatility to play further up the ground. He also has power in the way he moves, and is a reliable interceptor.

Charlie Comben (Gippsland Power)

The ruck missed the qualifying final loss to Oakleigh Chargers but is expected to be back for the semi-final clash with Western. Behind Luke Jackson, Comben has emerged as potentially the second picked ruck in the draft and when he is up and about looks just as dangerous up forward as through the middle. He can clunk marks and follow up with second efforts around the stoppages.

Noah Cumberland (Brisbane Lions Academy)

Will be an interesting one to see where a bid falls because while he is not the highest disposal winner, he has some athletic traits that are hard to ignore. His break-line pace is very eye-catching and his defensive work is terrific. He takes the game on, and while at times it can cause some mistakes, he has pace to burn and the versatility to fulfil a number of roles.

Sam De Koning (Dandenong Stingrays)

The All-Australian key defender can play forward if required and has a good set of hands, reading the ball well in flight. He seems better suited in the defensive 50, but given a lack of top-end talls like there was last year, De Koning is a player who could go higher than expected and join his brother Tom in the AFL.

Mitch Georgiades (Subiaco)

Sidelined with a quad injury all year, trying to work out where the exciting but seriously raw forward will go is anyone’s guess. His work at the 2018 AFL Under-18 Championships was a treat with his high leaping and marking ability on display. He was still very raw in the sense he did not find a lot of it, but his ceiling could be great value for a club mid-draft, though a club could pounce earlier.

Harrison Jones (Calder Cannons)

Similar to De Koning, Jones is a versatile tall who put his name in lights with some strong performances for Vic Metro at the AFL Under-18 Championships. He spent a fair bit of time in the ruck on the weekend for the Cannons, but can play defensive roles, or be a leading target up forward. Still lightly built, the 194cm player is a genuine project key position prospect and they do not grow on trees.

Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons)

The balanced midfielder has always been a name in earlier draft conversation, but his form of late has been really impressive. The knock was his contested work but he is finding more of it to accompany his great kicking skills. More so, his work rate to find space is very good and he can hit the scoreboard, looming as a player who could play a key role in a senior midfield in the not-too-distant future.

Jake Pasini (Swan Districts)

The Swan Districts defender is as reliable as they come, having spent time across all three levels – League, Reserves and Colts – in the WAFL. While he was able to have more time and space to win the ball in the Colts competition, he showed he was still strong in the air regardless of opponent, averaging five marks per game in the senior ranks. Not talked about as much as some of the other key position defenders, but could be a really solid pick to play a lockdown role or be more offensive at the top level.

Fraser Phillips (Gippsland Power)

Always exciting, the general forward can sniff a goal a mile away and just creates plays inside 50. His consistency is still an area of improvement, but when he gets going, he can do the impossible with a deadly left foot that has some distance on it. He roams outside 50 and can double back to crumb a ball, and at his medium size, can boot goals from set shots or from general play.

Sam Philp (Northern Knights)

Overlooked for Vic Metro selection, Philp is one player who I personally have noticed change since the start of the season. In the opening few rounds you could tell his was solid with good speed and ease at which he won the ball, but his run home has been nothing short of exceptional. He is now using not only his speed but burst out of stoppages, and he would be racking up the metres gained out of the midfield, and getting the ball into the forward 50 to set up goal scoring opportunities. Just as importantly, he got forward and managed to provide a target when resting up there meaning he has added versatility to his repertoire. Should be the first Knights player picked on form this season.

Kysaiah Pickett (Woodville-West Torrens)

The exciting forward and nephew of Byron has always been a crowd-pleaser with his magical goals from impossible angles and high-flying marks. He is still raw and lightly built, but he attacks the ball with vigour and is a player who could play that perfect crumbing role at AFL level. While Pickett will probably be the shortest player drafted this year, it is hard not to get excited about the potential highlight reel in the future that this kid could produce.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels)

With an endurance base that rivals Sam Walsh or Bailey Smith from last year, Rantall just burns his opponents into the ground. He moves well and gets to areas on the ground that make it hard for opponents to keep track of him, and he racks up the ball with ease. An inside midfielder with athletic capabilities, Rantall is at his most damaging around stoppages where he can burst away, or when inside 50 snap around his body to hit the scoreboard. He seems like a perfect second round prospect because he has areas to work on such as his composure when kicking, but it has been improving since the early rounds and having come from a basketball background, he is still raw and developing.

Harry Schoenberg (Woodville-West Torrens)

The South Australian Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the AFL Under-18 Championships has managed to fly under the radar this year comparatively to some of his state teammates. He has been ultra-consistent and his performances at the championships put his name right up into draft contention. Against senior bodies in the SANFL, Schoenberg has averaged 22.0 disposals, 5.0 marks, 4.0 clearances and 3.5 tackles showing he is one of a number of readymade prospects who could fill a role at senior level should he be required to in 2020.

Josh Shute (Sturt)

The yin to Schoenberg’s yang, Shute is the definition of a winger, with his hard running, good pace and nice kicking skills on display. He will provide a nice outside prospect who can slot into other roles such as half-back which is a place he has found himself for the Double Blues. Like Schoenberg, Shute is already playing against senior bodies in the Reserves and despite weighing in at 73kg at the start of the year, has shown no signs of being overawed against bigger bodies.

Brock Smith (Gippsland Power)

The reliable Gippsland defender missed out on the Power’s qualifying final loss to Oakleigh, but has put together a body of work this season. His offensive work has been more damaging than in past years where he has been asked to play more defensive-minded roles. He had to do just that at the AFL Under-18 Championships, but some of the games he put together for the Power this year have been superb with not only intercepting, but his work going forward and hitting the scoreboard as well. Occasionally makes mistakes but is generally reliable with the ball, and is just an animal who bleeds for the club he plays for and leaves nothing out on the field.

Chad Warner (East Fremantle)

An absolute contested ball-winning machine, Warner racks up the touches with ease and shows composure through the midfield when going forward. He has drawn comparisons to Jack Redden in the way he goes about it, but his drive and desire is what sets him apart from other midfielders. He works his way through stoppages and picks up plenty of clearances, but can also get back and assist the defence, acting as a two-way runner with solid defensive and offensive traits which hold him in good stead.

Oakleigh charges through to preliminary finals with epic win over Gippsland

OAKLEIGH Chargers have advanced through to the 2019 NAB League Boys Preliminary Final after downing Gippsland Power in one of the finishes of the year. Both teams had momentum swings throughout the contest, with the Chargers on top early, the Power storming in front, only for the Chargers to come again with seven of the last 10 goals to run over the top and take home the chocolates.

The first quarter belonged to Oakleigh with four consecutive goals to open proceedings, and Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan looking dangerous against a defence missing their best interceptor in captain Brock Smith. Ugle-Hagan took four marks in the first term, converting two goals from set shots and setting up another one to Bailey Laurie with class tight on the boundary. Without hesitation he spun and delivered a neat centring pass into Laurie who did not let him down with the set shot. The first goal had come from Nick Stathopoulos who found himself free inside 50 and had no problems converting the set shot from straight in front. Facing a four-goal deficit and frustrated, Gippsland Power’s Caleb Serong gave away a downfield free for a late bump, only to suck the player he knocked over to put him on the turf and his appeal to the umpire was successful to win the ball back. It seemed to ignite Gippsland who to that point had been a rung below a switched on Oakleigh side. Trent Baldi booted back-to-back goals with a set shot and then getting free and doubling back to goal to kick one from point blank on the run. Having cut the deficit to a couple of goals, it was painful when Cooper Sharman somehow got his hands free in a congested stoppage inside 50 to flick the handball behind his head to the running Reef McInnes who slammed it home seconds before the siren for Oakleigh to head into the break 17 points ahead. Serong was on fire for the Power, picking up nine touches and taking a contested mark over the much taller Nick Bryan, while Oakleigh had plenty of ball winners with bottom-agers Will Phillips (nine), Finlay Macrae (seven) and Laurie (seven) leading the way. The ominous sign for the Chargers was that despite the lead, their two biggest names in Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson had combined for just 11 touches in the first term.

If the first quarter belonged to Serong, the second quarter belonged to Sam Flanders. The dynamic forward booted four consecutive goals to steal the show and open up a massive 23-point lead at half-time. The term started with Harvey Neocleous booted a goal from a quick snap in the opening minute after great work from Serong out of the middle, before a run-down tackle from Fraser Phillips aided a goal to Leo Connolly who Phillips handed it off to on the run. The long raking kick from Connolly outside 50 sailed through and the Power were up and about. Oakleigh had a rare chance through Laurie inside 50 but his set shot missed to the left, and the Power immediately made them pay. Flanders proceeded to put in one of the best individual quarter performances, piling on 12 touches and four goals over the next 15 minutes, all of which came from set shots. He was isolated one-on-one with an opponent and time and time used great body work to nudge his opponent off and apply more scoreboard pressure. After his fourth Flanders went into the middle and immediately went to work setting up the next major, bombing long inside 50 to Serong who rotated deep with his Vic Country teammate, and it came off hands for Phillips to run onto it perfectly and dribble it home. The siren sounded with Gippsland remarkably on top after booting nine of the past 10 goals.

After counter-opposite opening terms in the first half, the third quarter became an early shootout with both sides showing off their ability to hit the scoreboard. Stathopoulos quickly added Oakleigh’s first major since the last few seconds of the first term, running into the open goal for his second goal. It seemed to open the flood gates at both ends as Tom Fitzpatrick won a 50m penalty and converted from point blank. Both Phillips’ got on the board for their respective sides, with Will turning onto his right and snapping around his body for Oakleigh, before Fraser did the same from the next clearance off his left from a Serong clearance. Flanders had an ambitious shot from the pocket but sprayed it out on the full, then Laurie made it count with a successful shot from the other end. When Stathopoulos made the crowd believe it was Groundhog Day – running into the square and booting it from point blank range again – Oakleigh was back into single digits. Will Phillips and Ugle-Hagan both had chances to cut the deficit further but missed. At the final break, Flanders (23 disposals, six marks and four goals) and Serong (20 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s) were dominant, while Phillips (20 disposals, four inside 50s and one goal) and Trent Bianco (20 disposals, four inside 50s) were the top disposal winners for the Chargers.

As if the players needed a challenge in the last term, the heavens opened and the rain poured down and it became a slog. Not before Ugle-Hagan could slot his third and cut the deficit to within a kick. Riley Baldi quickly responded as the rain began to fall, running into an open goal and answering the call with a major, but from then on goals were hard to come by. Bianco seemed to defy that though when he unleashed a bomb from just inside 50 and it sailed through for a vital major either side of a Ugle-Hagan spray from 15m out. The behinds were enough to put Oakleigh up by a couple as Gippsland desperately tried to get the ball forward. But instead it was Oakleigh through Stathopoulos who somehow found a way deep in the pocket to kick an almost impossible goal and hand the Chargers an unlikely come-from-behind win.

Rowell finished the day with an influential second half and 30 disposals, two marks, five tackles and four rebounds, joined among the big ball winners in Will Phillips (28 touches, four tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds) and Anderson (25 disposals, three inside 50s), while Stathopoulos and Ugle-Hagan combined for seven majors. For the Power, it was the duo of Flanders (28 disposals, seven marks, four inside 50s, seven tackles and four majors) and Serong (24 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and four tackles) who did the bulk of the damage, while Connolly (21 touches, 11 rebounds and a goal) and Tye Hourigan (16 disposals, four marks, nine rebounds and two tackles) were also consistent.

GIPPSLAND POWER 2.2 | 9.2 | 11.3 | 12.3 (75)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.1 | 5.3 | 9.7 | 12.11 (83)

GOALS:

Gippsland: S. Flanders 4, T. Baldi 2, F. Phillips 2, H. Neocleous, L. Connolly, T. Fitzpatrick, R. Baldi.
Oakleigh: N. Stathopoulos 4, J. Ugle-Hagan 3, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes, W. Phillips, T. Bianco.

ADC BEST:

Gippsland: S. Flanders, C. Serong, L. Connolly, T. Hourigan, Z. Reid, F. Phillips.
Oakleigh: M. Rowell, W. Phillips, N. Anderson, N. Stathopoulos, B. Laurie, J. Ugle-Hagan.

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year

OUR 2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year has officially been announced today, with 21 of the 24 players receiving five or more Team of the Week nominations this season. We placed a minimum of five NAB League Boys games, and at least four nominations to make the 24-player squad.

A remarkable eight captains feature in the squad – including five in defence – with Sandringham Dragons’ leader Ryan Byrnes named as captain of the team this year. Byrnes has gone one step better than last year when he was named in the Second Team of the Year, while Lachlan Ash, Trent Bianco and Josh D’Intinosante were the trio to back up their Team of the Year selections last year, with selection this year. Mitch Mellis and Jye Chalcraft followed Byrnes in advancing from the Second Team into the Team of the Year as a top-ager.

In terms of a team-by-team basis, Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights recorded three players each in the side, while Geelong Falcons, Sandringham Dragons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Tasmania Devils and Western Jets have two players each. Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers have a sole representative in the side.

BACKS:

Brock Smith
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
20.1 disposals, 5.9 marks, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 tackles

The Gippsland Power captain has been a reliable force in defence, often tasked with the dual role of nullifying a key forward, whilst providing run out of defence. He has kicked a few big goals this season as well.

Matt McGuinness
Tasmania Devils | Six nominations
21.1 disposals, 6.2 marks, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 tackles

Automatically qualified for the side following his six nominations, and was crucial in holding down a key defensive spot for the Devils despite being medium sized. He can play anywhere on the ground, indicating his versatility.

Lucas Rocci
Western Jets | Six nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.3 marks, 5.1 rebounds, 3.8 tackles

The Western Jets captain had a big back-end to the season, relishing the role in defence where he found plenty of the football, rebounded and laid quite a number of tackles.

HALF-BACKS:

Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays | Six nominations
22.4 disposals, 3.8 marks, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

While Young has pushed up to a wing and even played forward at times, the potent rebounder was at his best off a half-back flank, and leads his team with his actions. Along with Ash, is in the top two elite kicks in the draft crop.

Jesse Clark
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
21.4 disposals, 4.0 marks, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

The Geelong Falcons co-captain has been a rebounding force this season, ranked number one for average rebounds in the competition, and has stood up despite him team finishing on the bottom of the ladder.

Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers | Five nominations
22.6 disposals, 5.1 marks, 2.6 rebounds, 4.3 tackles

Rounding out the defence is our fifth captain in six spots, with the Murray co-captain standing out early in the season with his kicking and run-and-carry. He has played in the forward half of the ground and on-ball of late to show off his versatility, but he rarely wastes a disposal.

CENTRES:

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Seven nominations
25.5 disposals, 2.6 marks, 5.7 clearances, 6.5 tackles, 5.7 inside 50s

The draft bolter earlier in the season, Rantall has become a massive influence in the Rebels midfield, using his elite tank and athletic traits to win a truckload of the ball and burst away from stoppages whilst laying a high number of tackles.

Riley Baldi
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
24.3 disposals, 5.4 marks, 3.4 clearances, 3.4 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s

Playing just the seven NAB League Boys games after overcoming injuries and representing Vic Country, Baldi has the least amount of games to his name in the side, but still picked up five nominations from his seven matches.

Ryan Byrnes (c)
Sandringham Dragons | Seven nominations
24.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 5.5 clearances, 3.6 tackles, 4.7 inside 50s

The Dragons captain is the sixth captain in the side and given he has the equal most nominations with seven, he has earned the captaincy tag. Capable of playing inside or out, Byrnes has been a ray of consistency this season in his 11 games.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Mitch Mellis (vc)
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
27.0 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.5 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 9 goals

The midfielder-forward is the vice-captain of the side and is capable of playing full-time midfield or going forward and kicking goals. One thing is for certain, he is a ball magnet and has hardly put a foot wrong this season with a remarkable seven nominations from 10 games.

Jackson Callow
Tasmania Devils | Five nominations
13.2 disposals, 6.0 marks, 1.5 tackles, 2.6 inside 50s, 24 goals

The key position forward is one of just two bottom-agers in the side and has been a marking machine this year working hard inside 50 and pushing up the ground. Callow has booted 24 goals this year, the second most of any forward included in the team.

Mitch Martin
GWV Rebels | Five nominations
17.7 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.6 tackles, 4.6 inside 50s, 18 goals

The GWV Rebels’ mid-forward has rotated between the two roles this season, winning the ball consistently and also hitting the scoreboard when forward. He is the fourth highest goalkicker in the team with the 18 majors from 13 games.

FORWARDS:

Josh D’Intinosante
Northern Knights | Seven nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.8 marks, 6.1 tackles, 3.8 inside 50s, 26 goals

The dynamic forward has enjoyed a huge season after backing up his 2018 Best and Fairest winning effort as a bottom-ager. He has spent time in the midfield, and gone forward to boot 26 goals in his 14 games, the second most of any player in the competition.

Josh Treacy
Bendigo Pioneers | Five nominations
13.0 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 6.1 hitouts, 13 goals

The second bottom-ager in the side fills the other key position forward slot after a strong season in attack for the Pioneers. In 14 games, Treacy has booted 13 goals, but works hard to find the ball and have an influence inside 50 outside of pure scoreboard influence.

Charlie Sprague
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
15.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 2.5 tackles, 24. inside 50s, 21 goals

The taller forward has been enjoying his past six weeks, booting a bag of six majors last week, which followed four consecutive matches of three-goal hauls. His consistency to hit the scoreboard is as good as anyone’s and just from 10 games as well.

RUCKS:

Will Kennedy
Western Jets | Five nominations
17.0 disposals, 4.4 marks, 35.1 hitouts, 3.8 clearances, 3.6 tackles

The clear standout statistical ruckman all season, Kennedy has monstered many of his opponents week-in, week-out, also picking up a truckload of the ball. Not only does he win the hitouts, but he gets around the ground, finds the ball and lays tackles.

Zak Pretty
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
26.6 disposals, 2.4 marks, 6.2 clearances, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s

The number one ball winner in the competition has amassed a massive 372 disposals this season, and also ranks number one in clearances. Pretty has enjoyed a consistent season and one of a damaging trio of Eastern Ranges players.

Sam Philp
Northern Knights | Six nominations
22.9 disposals, 3.7 marks, 5.6 clearances, 5.6 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s

The inside midfielder has been a standout this season for the Knights, earning a National Draft Combine invitation after being left out from the Vic Metro squad. He is ranked third overall for total disposals and clearances in the NAB League Boys competition.

INTERCHANGE:

Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers | Four nominations
27.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.1 rebounds

After making last year’s Team of the Year, Bianco has backed up the effort with another nomination despite playing just eight games. He has been superb as co-captain for Oakleigh playing both in defence and through the midfield.

Jye Chalcraft
Murray Bushrangers | Four nominations
21.7 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.9 tackles, 5.5 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Spending more time in the midfield this season, Chalcraft has picked up the second most total disposals and clearances this season, and has shared the load with the balanced Murray midfield.

Jackson Davies
Northern Knights | Five nominations
19.3 disposals, 6.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 5.0 rebounds

The eighth captain to be named in the side, Davies has enjoyed a strong season since missing out on Vic Metro selection, standing tall in the Knights’ defence winning the ball, taking intercept marks and rebounding.

Angus Hanrahan
Sandringham Dragons | Four nominations
24.6 disposals, 6.8 marks, 3.6 inside 50s, 3.0 rebounds, 14 goals

The versatile utility has played just about everywhere this season and put his name well and truly into draft contention after missing out last year. He is one of only three overagers in the Team of the Year.

Sam Ramsay
Calder Cannons | Four nominations
23.3 disposals, 4.2 marks, 4.6 tackles, 3.2 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Ranked top five in disposals, Ramsay has been an influence on the outside and is one of the more consistent players, having a purple patch later in the season and assisting in Calder’s revival up the ladder.

Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges | Five nominations
23.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 6.8 tackles, 5.1 clearances, 4.6 inside 50s

The third of the damaging Eastern Ranges trio earns a place in the squad after another great season as that tackling midfielder who earns plenty of clearances with his touches.

SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

The NAB League Boys Second Team of the Year is lead by the Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Western Jets who have three players each in the team. Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers each have two, while the Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights and Tasmania Devils have a player each. Sandringham Dragons did not have a player in the side after both nominees made the first team. Calder Cannons’ Brodie Newman was named captain of the side.

Morrish Medal Preview: Tight contest predicted for 2019

IT is hard to pick a winner in this year’s Morrish Medal count which will take place on Sunday, with a number of potential draft prospects putting their hands up for the NAB League Boys’ top award. We will run through some of the key contenders from each side and our predictions.

Bendigo Pioneers:

The Pioneers are unlikely to have a winner because of the shared effort between their best players week-to-week. Thomson Dow will poll well at either end of the season, but missed far too many games due to school football, while the likes of Riley Wilson, Josh Treacy, Aaron Gundry and James Schischka will steal votes off each other depending on who the umpires liked on the day. Not having a huge amount of wins means there will not be a great deal of three-votes either.

Calder Cannons:

There is a chance a Cannon could don the Morrish Medal, but it will rely on one of Daniel Mott or Sam Ramsay picking up the votes when both are in the team. If they end up splitting them like it will likely occur, it means they might fall short of an individual win. Brodie Newman should poll some good votes early in the season as well, while Ned Gentile will arguably grab some later in the season, and maybe roll into the higher votes with Mott and Ramsay.

Dandenong Stingrays:

Much like Hugh McCluggage before him, Hayden Young would be a chance given he has only missed due to the championships. Later in the season he was thrown around in different roles which might detract some votes, but his early season form was terrific and will still poll some later in the year, but more likely single votes. Ned Cahill is the other Stingray who will likely poll strongly in the vote count, while Jack Toner and Lachlan Williams might grab some lower votes for consistency.

Eastern Ranges:

The club that will be the most interesting to watch because they genuinely have three players that could win it in Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Stapleton and Zakery Pretty. All three have been consistent throughout the year, with our preference leaning towards Mellis just for the reason of hitting the scoreboard more often and has hardly had a bad game. In our prediction we had Mellis picking up 18 votes, including four best on grounds, while Pretty finished with 15 – two best on grounds – and Stapleton on 10 – mostly picking up the ‘two’ votes because others had huge games while he was consistent. Though they will likely steal votes off each other, if the umpires favour a particular player, then that player will likely take control given Eastern will roll in the votes this year.

Geelong Falcons:

Hard to see the bottom side polling enough votes to present a winner this year. Jesse Clark would be the Falcons’ top hope, and we have him on 11 for the season, but they are likely to be single votes given most games were losses. After Clark it is extremely even with the Charlie trio – Charlie Sprague, Charlie Harris and Charlie Lazzaro among the next in line.

Gippsland Power”

Similar to Eastern, watching how the Gippsland votes will play out is something worth keeping an eye on. We have Riley Baldi topping the list with 10 votes, one ahead of Sam Flanders and Brock Smith, but given the consistency and nature of the performances by those players, it will be hard for umpires to separate them. Fraser Phillips and Ryan Sparkes might steal the odd vote off the trio as well.

GWV Rebels:

Jay Rantall is one of the front-runners for the award because he is likely to pick up a host of three-votes, strong in the Rebels’ early wins and tight losses. He racks up big numbers and is eye-catching which helps, though Mitch Martin (who we have reaching double-figure votes) could also pick up votes from him. Cooper Craig-Peters and Riley Polkinghorne are others who should poll in a few games given their consistency.

Murray Bushrangers:

Another team that has an even contribution from its top-end with Jye Chalcraft, Lachlan Ash, Cam Wild and Jimmy Boyer the four names to keep an eye on in this space. Chalcraft is the one we have polling the most, and with Ash missing a number of games due to Vic Country and AFL Academy commitments, the other trio are potentially going to benefit on Morrish Medal night. Depending on how the votes go, they could steal them off each other or if one can monopolise them, then they will be a serious contender.

Northern Knights:

Two names emerge from the Knights as genuine contenders in Josh D’Intinosante and Sam Philp. The pair did not play for Vic Metro and therefore have more games to poll in, and similar to Jackson Davies, will pick up three or two votes in matches when they have really stood out. We know small forwards have traditionally polled well, so D’Intinosante is a chance, though the umpires might lean towards the contested mid in Philp.

Oakleigh Chargers:

With all the school football and injuries at times to co-captains, Trent Bianco and Dylan Williams, it is hard to get a read on how Oakleigh’s votes will poll. There is little doubt that had Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell played full seasons we could be looking at a one-two from Oakleigh. We still have Anderson polling nine votes and Rowell seven despite playing just four games each to be the highest vote getters. But also on seven are Bianco, Fraser Elliot, Lochlan Jenkins and Reef McInnes, signifying how hard it is to work out who will secure the votes mid-season.

Sandringham Dragons:

Liam Stocker won it last year, and now a player who also did not have school football commitments could get the job done in 2019 with Ryan Byrnes. He missed some games due to injury, but is a genuine chance to take home the Morrish, with realistically only Angus Hanrahan the other player likely to steal votes when the school footballers were away. They will end up with a lot of players having votes on the night, but these two stand out above the others.

Tasmania Devils:

Did not win enough games to get too many three votes, but Matt McGuinness and Oliver Davis are the two players who will compete for the most votes at the league’s newest club. Jackson Callow will pick some up for his work up forward, while Mitch O’Neill will steal them when he got out on the park.

Western Jets:

Lucas Rocci is predicted to be the Jets’ highest voter, finishing the season in a blaze of glory to take up Darcy Cassar‘s role, who will ironically be the one polling votes early in the season. Those two will pick up the key votes either end of the season, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews the other two who might come into consideration from the umpires.

TOP CONTENDERS: (Based on our prediction)

Mitch Mellis (Eastern Ranges) 18 votes

R1: 0 – Okay first game, but just the 17 touches in a dominant day for Noah Anderson. Oakleigh likely to take top votes.
R2: 3 – Was a clear best on ground in the win over the Jets, racking up 35 touches and booting three majors.
R3: 3 – Had the 29 touches and three goals in an easy win over the Knights. James Ross the one who could steal the three-vote with 30 disposals in defence.
R5: 1 – Was solid with 24 touches, but Zak Pretty had a mammoth day out against the Suns with 37, while Lachlan Stapleton racked up big numbers.
R6: 0 – Was solid with 21 touches, but was shaded by Pretty and Stapleton on the day, but more so the Power with Riley Baldi, Brock Smith and Sam Flanders all in contention for votes.
R9: 3 – Safe as houses for the three votes with a mammoth 39 disposals and seven inside 50s.
R12: 3 – Another likely best-on-ground performance after 33 touches and a goal – 10 more touches than any other player in Eastern’s win over the Devils.
R13: 2 – Narrow win over the Bushrangers, a chance for the three votes with 22 touches and two goals, but Jye Chalcraft was superb that day with 29.
R16: 2 – Amongst it for votes, Zak Pretty, Hayden Young and Jack Toner all possibilities, though Mellis had 24 touches in a strong game.
R17: 1 – Tightest of wins over Eastern, Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Lachlan Stapleton the big vote threats.

Jay Rantall (GWV Rebels) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Rebels fell short of victory against Stingrays, a number of others on both sides ahead of Rantall for votes.
R2: 3 – Was a key reason the Rebels snuck home, but votes could go to Cooper Stephens who was terrific in the one-point loss.
R3: 3 – A clear best-on-ground performance with 31 touches and two goals, but a loss to the Bushrangers might prevent him from picking up the three.
R5: 3 – Stood out against the Thunder with 27 disposals and two goals. Riley Polkinghorne and Toby Mahony could be vote threats.
R6: 0 – Just 14 touches in the loss to the Suns, won’t poll in this game.
R7: 3 – The Rebels lost by 32 to the Knights which might cost him the votes, but he had a massive 36 touches, 10 more than any other player.
R8: 0 – A game-high 30 touches, but the Rebels were thrashed by the Power with a raft of players likely to collect all the votes. Will be the one to get one if Rebels get a look in, though.
R14: 0 – Comfortable win over the Falcons, but Mitch Martin was superb, while Noah Gribble and Jesse Clark will get chances for the Falcons.
R15: 2 – Expect Sam Ramsay to pick up the three in the Cannons’ tight win over the Rebels, though Rantall was just as good despite the loss.
R16: 3 – Turned it on when required against the Pioneers with 21 touches and two goals in a low-possession game. Jack Ginnivan’s 19 and four might earn the three votes, while Josh Treacy was also in contention.
R17: 0 – Finished the game with 20 touches but just five in the first half will hurt his vote chances. Feeling is he misses out, but could pick up a vote.

Ryan Byrnes (Sandringham Dragons) 16 votes

R1: 2 – Massive win to the Dragons over the Cannons, Byrnes among the best with 27 touches and a goal, but Charlie Dean booted five goals.
R2: 3 – Accounted for the Knights and was the standout midfielder for the Dragons. Adam Carafa had 29 touches for the Knights, while Dean was inaccurate with 4.3.
R3: 0 – Okay but Matt Rowell, Trent Bianco, Jack Mahony and Finn Maginness are likely to poll votes ahead of him.
R5: 3 – A smashing win over the Lions with 26 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal. Louis Butler’s 31 is a threat to steal the ‘three’.
R7: 1 – Went down to the Ranges and Zak Pretty and Cody Hirst both impressed. Best of the Dragons though with Angus Hanrahan the other a chance to sneak a vote.
R8: 3 – Should poll the three votes here in the Dragons’ narrow win over Bendigo thanks to 31 touches, three marks and a goal. If Miles Bergman kicked straighter (1.5) it might be a different story.
R11: 0 – Went down to the Ranges and Darcy Chirgwin dominated upon return.
R13: 2 – Loss to the Jets, with Lucas Rocci picking up nine rebounds, and Finn Maginness also impressive, but should poll one or two.
R14: 0 – Tight win over the Stingrays, Angus Hanrahan and Hayden Young the clear standouts. Fischer McAsey with three goals likely to poll as well.
R15: 2 – Massive game to Angus Hanrahan (33 touches, three goals) will earn him the three votes, but Byrnes was next best with 28 and one.
R17: 0 – Just the 13 touches and plenty in line for votes ahead of him in the massive game against Oakleigh.

Josh D’Intinosante (Northern Knights) 16 votes

R1: 0 – Went down to the Jets, and Josh Honey, Sam Philp, Adam Carafa and Ryan Sturgess among those in contention, though he could grab a minor vote.
R2: 0 – Went down to the Dragons by 43 points and was inaccurate with 1.4.
R3: 0 – Held his own with 21 touches and a goal, but Knights were smashed by the Ranges and Philp was Northern’s best. Mellis and Ross the top vote getters.
R5: 3 – The difference in the Knights’ win over Bendigo, booted a goal from 30 touches, six marks and eight tackles.
R6: 3 – Again the standout player with two goals from 25 touches, Lachlan Potter and Jackson Davies two that could steal votes.
R7: 2 – They won by 32 but Jay Rantall had a field day, while ‘JD’ finished with 1.3 from 20 touches.
R8: 0 – Narrow loss to the Chargers and others were better, just the 16 touches and one behind.
R9: 0 – Loss to the Cannons and Philp and Davies good again, unlikely to pick up a vote.
R10: 0 – Massive win over the Stingrays, but not among the best despite two goals.
R11: 2 – A chance to pick up the three, but will likely go to Philp. Both had the 30 touches, with D’Intinosante slightly inaccurate with three behinds.
R13: 0 – Seven-goal win and he booted four majors – a chance for votes, though Carafa, Philp, Davies and Potter were all impressive.
R14: 3 – Six goals from 18 touches – Lock in the three votes, Eddie.
R15: 0 – Just the 13 touches and one goal in the 37-point loss to Bendigo.
R17: 3 – Booted 4.2 from 13 touches on the weekend in a low-disposal winning game, with Carafa, Ewan Macpherson, Ryan Sturgess and Josh Watson all potential for votes though.

Jye Chalcraft (Murray Bushrangers) – 16 votes

R1: 0 – Just 10 disposals and a behind in a quiet outing at RAMS Arena.
R2: 0 – A chance for votes with two goals from 26 touches in the tight loss to Bendigo, but Lachlan Ash and Cam Wild were impressive, as was Thomson Dow and Brodie Kemp.
R3: 1 – Jay Rantall had a great day with 31 touches and two goals, while Ash starred with 28. Chalcraft next best in the seven-point win.
R5: 0 – 22 touches and a goal, but Wild had a good day as Hamish Ellem (22 touches, nine marks and 3.3) should get the ‘three’.
R6: 0 – Booted two goals but just 14 touches in the loss to the GIANTS as Tom Green monstered them and Jeromy Lucas and Ed Perryman had big numbers, while Ash was best for the Bushrangers.
R7: 3 – Finally got the win and Chalcraft was important with 26 touches in the midfield. Wild (27 and one goal) and Dylan Clarke (23 and two) the two biggest threats.
R8: 0 – Well beaten by the Cannons and just 13 touches.
R9: 0 – Okay with 17 disposals and a goal, but Bushrangers were smashed by Chargers so no votes, and Wild and Jimmy Boyer both better.
R10: 0 – Boyer, Clarke and Charlie Byrne in the running for votes as Murray accounted for the Devils. Chalcraft not far behind with 20 touches.
R11: 3 – 27 disposals and six inside 50s, competing for the top votes with Wild.
R12: 3 – 33 disposals, four inside 50s and five tackles in a low-scoring win over the Pioneers, Boyer booted 1.4 from 27 disposals as his biggest challenger for votes.
R13: 3 – Topped the disposals comfortably with 29, though Ranges won by four points and Mellis and Pretty both had 22, with Mellis booting two goals.
R14: 0 – 18 touches and a goal in a 20-point loss, others ahead of him for votes.
R15: 2 – Big win over the Jets, but will be competing with Wild, Ash and Boyer for votes.
R17: 1 – Loss to the Rebels, but had 22 touches and was one of Murray’s best with Wild and Josh Rachele, might be behind Cooper Craig-Peters as well though.

Others: (Based on our predictions)

Zakery Pretty (Eastern Ranges) – 15 votes – Could take some of the Mellis votes if the umps prefer clearance midfielders.
Sam Philp (Northern Knights) 15 votes – Could take some of the D’Intinosante votes.
Daniel Mott (Calder Cannons) 14 votes – Misses quite a few games, but when at his best he is looking at high votes.
Lucas Rocci (Western Jets) 13 votes – Had a purple patch in the second half of the season, have him for four best-on-grounds.
Tom Green (GWS GIANTS) 12 votes – Four games, four BOGs, absolute domination.
Angus Hanrahan (Sandringham Dragons) 12 votes – Might take votes off Byrnes, and guaranteed some threes after huge games.
Sam Ramsay (Calder Cannons) 11 votes – Battling with Mott for Cannons votes.
Hayden Young (Dandenong Stingrays) 11 votes – Should pick up plenty, but run home not as much.
Connor Budarick (Gold Coast SUNS) 11 votes – Like Green, was massive in the Academy Series games.
Jesse Clark (Geelong Falcons) 11 votes – Should monopolise most of the Falcons’ votes.
Mitch Martin (GWV Rebels) 11 votes – Toss up between him and Rantall for votes at the Rebels.
Lachlan Stapleton (Eastern Ranges) 10 votes – May take votes off Mellis and Pretty, particularly if the umps like tackling midfielders.
Riley Baldi (Gippsland Power) 10 votes – Has plenty of competitors for votes at the Power, but seems to do it all.
Lachlan Ash (Murray Bushrangers) 10 votes – Stands out even in average games, but missed a fair chunk due to Vic Country and AFL Academy.

Our Predictions after Round 5:

Tom Green (GWS) – 9 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 8 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 8 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 8 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 7 votes
Lachlan Ash (MB) – 7 votes

Our Predictions after Round 10:

Tom Green (GWS) – 12 votes
Ryan Byrnes (SD) – 12 votes
Zakery Pretty (ER) – 12 votes
Jay Rantall (GWV) – 11 votes
Connor Budarick (GC) – 11 cotes
Daniel Mott (CC) – 11 votes
Mitch Mellis (ER) – 10 votes
Sam Philp (NK) – 10 votes

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year 48-player squad announced

DRAFT Central has announced its 2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year squad today, with the final team and Second Team of the Year to be announced on Friday. The Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the NAB League season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under-18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Finn Maginness and Fischer McAsey are not included in the side.

We also placed a five-game minimum on any player to qualify for our Team of the Year, and based our selections off the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week nominations. Of the nominations, five players received a massive seven Team of the Week nominations, with four players named six times throughout the season. These nine players automatically qualify for the side. From the remaining 39 players, every one had at least three nominations, with players requiring at least FOUR nominations to make the first side. Each player who does not make the first side is named in the second side.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Western Jets had the most with five players making the squad, with Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights all recording four players. Due to school football, Oakleigh Chargers (three), Sandringham Dragons (two) and a lesser extent Dandenong Stingrays (three) had more of a shared contribution across the season, while Tasmania Devils had three players named in their debut season.

Of the 48 players, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Ash, Jye Chalcraft, Josh D’Intinosante, Trent Bianco and Ryan Byrnes made the Team of the Year squad last year, with Ash, D’Intinosante and Bianco all making the first side with the others slotting into the second team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [4]: Jack Ginnivan, Aaron Gundry, Josh Treacy, Riley Wilson.

Calder [4]: Ned Gentile, Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay.

Dandenong [3]: Ned Cahill, Lachlan Williams, Hayden Young.

Eastern [4]: Ben Hickleton, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty, Lachlan Stapleton.

Geelong [4]: Jesse Clark, Oliver Henry, Charlie Sprague, Henry Walsh.

Gippsland [4]: Riley Baldi, Tye Hourigan, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith.

GWV [4]: Cooper Craig-Peters, Mitch Martin, Riley Polkinghorne, Jay Rantall.

Murray [4]: Lachlan Ash, Jimmy Boyer, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild.

Northern [4]: Jackson Davies, Josh D’Intinosante, Sam Philp, Ryan Sturgess.

Oakleigh [3]: Trent Bianco, Lochlan Jenkins, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Sandringham [2]: Ryan Byrnes, Angus Hanrahan.

Tasmania [3]: Jackson Callow, Oliver Davis, Matt McGuinness.

Western [5]: Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Josh Kellett, Will Kennedy, Lucas Rocci.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 15

DOMINANT performances from Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons have seen them combine for nine of the 24 players in the Draft Central NAB League Boys’ Team of the Week for Round 15. The Bushrangers recorded an equal season-high five players in the team, while the Dragons had four, after massive wins over Western Jets and Tasmania Devils respectively. The Devils had an even team performance in the loss with just Liam Viney making his way into the side, though regulars Matt McGuinness and Jackson Callow were very close. Every other side had two players make the Team of the Week this round.

Murray had four of their five representatives on the field, with Charlie Byrne (half-back), Lachlan Ash (wing) and Josh Rachele and Jimmy Boyer (both forward) all making the starting side. Rachele becomes the first Under-16s player to make the Team of the Week this season, while Cam Wild also made the side on the bench after big second half. Their opponents, Western Jets had two players in the side who impacted up either end with Cody Raak and Josh Honey both making the squad. Sandringham Dragons had the second most nominees in the Team of the Week, with Player of the Week overager Angus Hanrahan, captain Ryan Byrnes, ruck Riley Bowman and midfielder Darcy Chirgwin all making the squad.

In the game at Shepley Oval, it was difficult to pick standouts, with Dandenong Stingrays duo Hayden Young and Team of the Week debutant Henry Berenger making the side, while winners Gippsland Power saw Harvey Neocleous slot into the forward pocket and captain Brock Smith also make the side. At Preston City Oval, forwards Jack Ginnivan and Josh Treacy were keys to Bendigo’s upset win on the road and make the side again, while the Northern Knights had captain Jackson Davies and bottom-age talent Nikolas Cox both fill important gaps at opposite ends of the field.

In the final game at MARS Stadium on Sunday, Calder Cannons’ Sam Ramsay made our Team of the Week once again, this time with Ned Gentile. For the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Jay Rantall got back to his best form to slot into the middle, while overager Jed Hill found himself in an unfamiliar role in defence, but starred to also make our team this round.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 15

IT may have been a shortened round of five games, but there was no such shortage of talent on show in Round 15 of the NAB League. There was a diverse range of standouts this weekend, so here are out notes highlighting representative squad members, under-agers, and a few standouts from each game. Each note is the opinion of the individual writer.

Tasmania Devils vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Peter Williams

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked hard through the midfield and like many of the Devils’ midfielders, pushed back into defence where possible. He was able to intercept the ball by being in the right place at the right time early in the game, and then did so again later on at half-forward where he set up a target with a neat kick inside 50. He offered himself as an option in the chain moving the ball forward, was able to provide quick hands in close throughout the game, and was one of Tasmania’s best.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another workmanlike performance from the tall defender who was more often than not composed with ball in hands in the back 50. At times his disposal could go array, such as a turnover in the third term straight to a Dragons’ opponent, but his launching left foot kick-outs broke open the game with some efforts almost reaching the centre circle. Patrolled the defence and took a number of intercept marks propelling the home side forward.

#13 Sam Collins

So strong one-on-one, he stands up in tackles and was a presence around the stoppages. He moved well through the midfield sharing his disposal-winning ability between both the inside and outside. His hands in close were a highlight of his game, and was productive throughout.

#25 Jackson Callow

Had a tough day at the office but not through lack of want or trying because he was one of Tasmania’s best once again. Instead, it was more the case of often he was double-teamed inside 50 with the Devils looking to him as a target the majority of the time and the Dragons defenders identified that and at most marking contests sat someone in front of him or came across as a third-man to spoil. Regardless, Callow booted the one goal – Tasmania’s first of the game and one of his few one-on-one contests – after great body positioning. He had a massive first term working up teh ground, winning the ball in each of the thirds, and then kept presenting throughout, but most of his marks had to come up the ground given the body pressure on him inside 50. He almost had a second with a quick snap in the third term but it fell short, and tried to set up a goal to Rhyan Mansell early in the fourth with a quick handball but the snap missed. One of the top key position options next year.

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

Returned from injury at the AFL Under-18 Championships with a strong first half before being managed in the second half. After a big impact in the middle, he also went forward and provided a presence, setting up Angus Hanrahan inside 50 for a goal in the third term. He was able to fire out quick handballs from stoppages and was strong overhead, able to not only hold his ground in marking contests, but also stand up in tackles. Possesses a nice kick and good decision making to hit up a target from half-back to half-forward straight down the middle in the second term.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

One of Sandringham’s best on the day, leading from the front. The biggest differential between Byrnes and a lot of midfielders is is ability to use either foot when coming out of stoppages. He just uses the foot from which side he has been forced to lean onto in order to get his clearances away – and he had a truckload. The most dominant midfielder on the ground, Byrnes set up that many teammates for scoring opportunities, he was like a playmaker in the attacking half – they included goals to Riley Bowman in the first term and Jake Bowey in the fourth term, and an unlucky miss to Miles Bergman in the last term as well who probably should have rewarded the effort with the straight forward set shot. He kicked a goal of his own late in the second term after marking, being called to play on and snapping around his body truly. Worked cohesively with Riley Bowman and Jack Bell at ruck stoppages.

#6 Miles Bergman

Had a solid game throughout the four quarters and just kept popping up with some nice moments, but should have had a bigger day with some set shot misses he will no doubt want to take again. He kicked a terrific goal in the third term with a snap from a forward stoppage showing all class, but missed the two easier shots – one in each of the bookend quarters – both within 30m out straight in front or on a slight angle. His field kicking was good and he kept presenting high up the ground, opening the game up at one stage in the fourth term with a delightful kick into the middle on that 45-degree angle to hit-up Jack Bell.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Clearly the best on ground once again and just seemed to do it all. Played off half-back, pushed up to the wing and then went forward in the second half to finish off with three goals. His highlight-real moment came late in the fourth term with a clean pick-up, gather and nice checkside snap near the behind post to kick his third major of the day. His other two goals came from set shots just inside 50, the second of which he won for a free kick after holding his ground in the marking contest and earning a chopping the arms free. He zipped around the ground racking up the touches off half-back and running into space, and whilst most of his disposals were won in uncontested situations, he used his composure and skill to hit-up teammates down the field. He provided run and carry and made good decisions going forward, even showing off some candy late in the game to hit-up Darcy Chirgwin inside 50.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruckload with Jack Bell and importantly got forward to kick a couple of goals. He took a terrific towering grab in the first term to grab it cleanly in the air and slot the set shot from 40m out, then kicked his second major midway through the second term with a snap around his body in general play. His best work was done in the ruck however, time and time again winning the hitouts and double-tapping it to the path of a running midfielder – usually Ryan Byrnes – and worked hard to also take some intercept marks and win his fair share of the ball around the ground. He and Bell proved a handfull for the Devils.

#32 Jack Bell

Teamed well with Riley Bowman and set up the first goal with a terrific hitout at the first centre bounce to get it to Ryan Byrnes who delivered inside 50. For a big man he showed composure with clean hands under pressure, and positioned himself well in marking contests. Missed a set shot early in the game after taking a good mark going back with the flight, but then capitalised in the final term with a good chest mark by protecting the drop zone, and kicking an easy goal straight in front. Ruckwork was impressive and kept moving as a target through the middle.

#43 Jake Bowey

An exciting bottom-age prospect who looks dangerous when he has the ball-in-hand because of his zip. He played mostly on a wing where he was able to win some early touches and showed clean hands in the wet to hit-up Ryan Byrnes for a goal late in the second term with a great kick and nice vision. Sometimes he can miss his targets by foot, but the kick is still well placed to their advantage, and he does try and take that high risk-high reward kick when going inboard. Bowey uses his body well and showed off his composure in the third term with a clean pick-up late in the third term, stepping around an opponent and snapping over his shoulder for a goal. Set up Jack Bell in the fourth term with a kick to his advantage at the top of the goalsquare. Has time and space in the midfield and weighs up where to put the ball to best advantage his team.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gippsland Power

Dandenong:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

We have seen on numerous occasions what the likely top five draft prospect can do behind the play, but Young showed on Saturday that his stoppage attributes could be a tad undersold. Starting on the wing, he had some nice moments on the outside before spending more time inside where he came to life. He won some brilliantly clean clearances in the second term that started dangerous forays forward for Dandenong, highlighted by a one touch collect at pace and superb hit inside 50. He used his aerial nous at half forward when the opportunity presented, reading and intercepting the high Gippsland defensive 50 exits when in his area. He attempted to take on Ryan Angwin in the fourth term and got caught holding the ball, but got straight up to chase down Ryan Sparkes and executed a spectacular diving smother. He finished the day with 26 disposals and a goal in a near best on ground display.

#11 Ned Cahill

After missing a risky kick in the defensive arc early in the game, Cahill was back to his busy and efficient self spending a majority of his time in the midfield. He was smart and clean in tight, extracting the ball with minimal fuss and working hard on the spread. He probably didn’t win the ball in his usual damaging positions, but was creative enough to ensure his 23 disposals were beneficial to his side’s cause. Coming up against a quality midfield that packs plenty of depth, Cahill more than held his own and ensured the likes of Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi were accountable by laying seven tackles.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

It was an interesting day for ‘Biggy’, who had plenty of holes to fill after the unexpected early exodus of Dandenong talls. The late exclusion of Sam De Koning saw Nyuon start in defence on Charlie Comben and he provided some eye catching moments early running off the rapidly improving Power tall. An injury to Bailey Schmidt threw another spanner in the works and Nyuon quickly found himself in the ruck. He dug deep and made the seemingly unexpected move an advantage, consistently getting first hand in the ruck and having an impact at ground level. He ended the day with 14 disposals and 22 hit outs to be one of Dandenong’s best.

#32 Blake Kuipers

It was always going to be a tough day for the Dandenong KPDs having to counter the talented Gippsland talls, but Kuipers more than held up his part of the job. While he played some minutes on the hulking Josh Smith, a majority of his day was spent standing the in-form Charlie Comben. Kuipers didn’t win much of the footy himself, but he managed to keep the Vic Country tall goalless and have minimal impact despite plenty of Gippsland entrances. His aerial decision making was excellent, spoiling when required and taking a couple of great intercept marks when in best position. His kicking was scrappy to say the least with a few poor turn overs, but it’s an area of scope. He looks comfortable in the back half.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Starting mostly on the wing, Williams was influential in collecting 21 disposals and kicking two goals. He got to dangerous positions on the outside and was often involved in long metres gained chains. He worked hard to get out the back of the pack to kick the first goal of the day and took a nice little specky inside 50 during the second quarter, striking a lovely set shot from the arc for his second goal. While he had some excellent moments, Williams had a bit of a mixed day by foot. He shanked and turned some balls over, but the evidence over the year suggests this is an exception to the rule.

Gippsland:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders played the game with great intent and in terms of attack on the footy he was right up there but was often let down with disposal, with his overall impact being low for his standards. Flanders had some chances to do some damage, with a set shot in the first quarter that did not quite make the distance and a snap at goal in the second quarter that registered a behind. Flanders’ attack on the ball and clean hands were very notable with plenty of players fumbling on the day and not committing, he made a great chase in the last quarter and certainly performed well in that last quarter in terms of attack and intent, even showing a nice spin move out of trouble. Flanders finished the game with 19 disposals and four inside 50s.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi had a solid outing playing through the midfield with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on a real feature. Like many teammates in the first quarter he had a chance to hit the scoreboard with a set shot just holding up from long range. He had some nice bits of play in the second half with a nice shark from a stoppage and a nice long clearing kick inside 50, another great bit of play was a lovely pass inside 50 lowering his eyes to hit up the leading player. Baldi finished the game with 20 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith has been in a purple patch as of late and that continued against the Stingrays with an impressive showing playing as an undersized key defender. Having some talls go down early didn’t help the Stingrays but regardless Smith held strong down back and provided great counterattack on the rebound, Smith’s work overhead was strong and his body work too good for any smaller player he came up against and at this stage is proving to be Gippsland’s most valuable player. Smith’s disposal at times let him down but more often than not hit his targets and picked good options. Smith finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks and nine rebound 50s.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben had a rough day at the office in a game where Dandenong lost their best key defender before the game and their ruck early on. It seemed everything aligned for Comben to have a big game but it just didn’t quite click for him. Comben was one of many players in the first quarter to have a shot at goal that didn’t make the distance but that came off a very nice lead up mark. Comben showed his aerial skills with his overhead marking a feature but what really impressed was his clean hands at ground level for a tall player with a magnificent gather under pressure in the forward 50 in the second quarter and hand-balling to the running player’s advantage. Comben finished the game with eight disposals, three marks and one behind and he will look to get back into goal kicking form in his next game.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips had a solid game and showed his exciting traits that make him a highly sought after talent. Phillips did not do a lot wrong throughout the game with ball in hand and he also impressed without it with a good tackle that was rewarded in the second quarter to lead to his first goal. His second goal came in the last quarter with a quality gather on the run and classy snap goal showing his speed, class and cleanliness inside 50. His kicking was again a great feature with his laser left foot and I was impressed with one but of play in the third quarter where he took a nice lead up mark on the wing and worked hard to get into forward 50 to be another option. Phillips finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks and two goals.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

Provided a good presence around the ground as a strong ruck effort in the midfield. He showed clean taps and also backed up his efforts by winning the ball at ground level. He pushed his direct opponent by getting forward and being a target, taking a strong intercept mark at half-forward, and then marking 30m out straight in front, but unfortunately missing the set shot. Was a fierce tackler on the day, not afraid to get down and stop opponents in their tracks.

#2 Charlie Byrne

Liked the look of the bottom-ager off half-back, playing the Lachie Ash role to allow Ash to play midfield and forward. He is so clean with his ball use, and positions himself well behind the play. He took a number of great intercept marks, and his left foot was a treat to watch. Whilst he did spend the majority of his time in defence, Byrne kicked a nice goal on the run in the opening term.

#5 Cam Wild

Played a mixture between half-forward and midfield, and had a big impact after a quieter first term, getting his hands on the ball more and ran rampant in the second half. He kicked a lovely running goal in the second term, timing his kick well at full speed to get on the board, then set up a goal to Will Chandler in the third, with a kick that might have been a shot on goal that fell short, but nonetheless it goes in the book as a goal assist. He balanced his disposals well between handballs to open the game up and kicks forward, and burst out of the middle in the third term for a shot on goal but it went to the right.

#6 Will Chandler

Had a couple of highlight runs down the field, taking a run down the middle in the first term but his flying shot on goal went to the left, then had another run off half-back to the wing. He had another flying shot on goal tight on the boundary but missed to the right, then finally got on the board in the third term with a running mark just inside the line and then a snap from a set shot goal. He dribbled home his second goal to bring up the 100 for Murray late in the third term. In the last he took a good intercept mark in the middle midway through the quarter, but then bit off more than he could chew playing on, fending off an opponent but was pinged for throwing the ball. Laid a good tackle in the forward 50 late in the game to lock it up and prevent a rebound.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Had the luxury of mixing between midfield and forward and had an impact in both areas of the ground. He still got back to help out the defence early, running on of defence and using his elite decision making and foot skills to hit up teammates down the ground. Gave off a goal assist to Kade Chalcraft with a wobbly kick that was effective, and after having a big first half in the middle, spent considerable time forward in the second half, kicking a goal after a strong lead and vertical leap to convert from 40m out straight in front. He missed a short just earlier from a tighter angle just inside 50, and tried to squeeze through another later in the term but the kick just lacked the distance and was intercepted in the goalsquare. Ash’s hands at ground level off the deck were lightning to give it to co-captain Cam Wilson to run in for a shot on goal. Prominent as usual.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Productive throughout the game, Chalcraft ran hard for four quarters picking up plenty of touches and being a staple in the midfield that had plenty of rotations. He would have had good metres gained given his ability to win the pill and take off, or zip around the ground and win a number of possessions in a chain to get it forward. He took a nice mark leading out inside 50 later in the game but his set shot missed, though showed off his work rate not long after, getting into defence and running the ball out with a neat kick. He did kick a goal in the second term by getting creative to kick the ball around his body mid-air and went straight through the middle to answer Western’s second goal late in the term.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Named as Murray’s best and was one of a number of players who could have bestowed the honour after an impressive game. Just kept running hard and kicked three first half goals when the game was hot. Boyer kicked his first after winning the ball in the goalsquare following hard running, turned his opponent inside out and snapped around his body from a few metres out. He kicked his second from the pocket late in the first term with a terrific kick, then his third from a quick play on and goal from 30m out in the second term. Just prior to that he set up Nicholas Irvine with the easiest of goals, winning the loose ball in the pocket and handballing over the top of an opponent to Irvine to run into the goalsquare and kick truly. Boyer had some risky touches in defence such as one in the third term, but his work rate saw him mop it up and help out his teammate after his kick dropped short. Spreads well around the ground and played further up the ground in the second half.

#31 Josh Rachele

Astonishing to think that this kid has two more years left at NAB League level, and it is easy to see how he took home the Kevin Sheehan Medal at the Under-16 National Championships. Rachele is as composed as anyone on the ground and his hands at ground level are like velcro-mits that just scoop the ball up cleanly and fire off handballs to running teammates. Aside from his clean hands, his ability to turn on a dime makes him so damaging because of his agility and then burst speed that burns off opponents, such as he did in the first term with his set shot just missing. Prior to that though he kicked a goal from 30m out straight in front having an impact from the start and setting the tone for his game. He has a damaging left foot that he used to not only capitalise himself, but set up others. He set up a goal to Jimmy Boyer in the second term with a clean handball out of a pack, and could have done the same for Cam Wilson in the third quarter but his shot on goal missed. Rachele booted his second major after kicking the ball into space inside 50 then working harder than his opponent, got forward and marked, before nailing the set shot from straight in front, His third came late in the game off a quick step with just a few minutes remaining in the game. He could have had a couple more as well, with one bouncing into the behind post from a dribble and consistently putting it deep inside 50 to the damaging positions. Had a nice mark in the second term leaping high.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Tirelessly worked throughout the game despite the overwhelming run that Murray provided. He was a steady head in the midfield and won possessions in each third of the ground, having a quick snap on goal at one stage but it missed to the right. Finished with the couple of behinds but the Jets’ equal highest ball winner through midfield. He had a no-frills approach to his footy, getting the ball both on the inside and outside and pushing hard into defence, then getting it in midfield and putting it inside 50 for his forwards.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Had a big first term, taking a number of intercept marks in defence, including a huge pack mark early, though he did miskick off the boot deep in defence, but was cleaned up. He used the ball well kicking long, and provided a presence around the ground taking numerous marks. He was moved forward in the second half and helped set up a goal to Jono Horo in the third term with a neat kick in-board opening up the game for another teammate. In the final term he used good bodywork one-on-one close to goal midway through the quarter, but could not take the mark, though managed to get a handball away. Won a free kick on the wing late in the game and used a nice weighted kick to a teammate at half-forward.

#24 Josh Honey

The most dangerous forward for the Jets, Honey booted three goals, including his side’s two first half goals. he booted Western’s first with hard running onto a loose ball in front of him to boot it from the goalsquare, then converted late in the second term after winning a free kick 45m out straight in front. He kicked a third, and a consolation goal midway through the last, but he kept trying to take the game on, with a bounce late in the match and a long 60m kick, though an opponent spoiled it away from his teammate. He had a couple of chances for more goals earlier in the game but could not quite put it through the big sticks with limited time and rushed snaps.

#26 Cody Raak

The best on ground for Western with clean work out of defence to rack up rebounds on a string in a defence under siege. With the likes of Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett out of the team, much of the run and carry out of defence was left to Raak and in a game where the Jets were heavily beaten, Raak could hold his head high as a player who played four quarters and kept repelling opposition attacks. A prospect for next year, Raak is a good size and had his best game of the year with eight more touches than his next best, finishing with 24 disposals and 11 rebounds.

#47 Will Kennedy

The overager used all of his strength and ruck nous to dominate the hitouts with another 50-plus hitouts around the ground. Murray did dominate the midfield, and opponent Will Christie was good at ground level, but Kennedy still provided a target around the ground for his teammates. He won plenty of the ball in close and spread to the outside when needed, but was able to set up a scoring opportunity in the second term with a long kick inside 50.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It is hard to ignore the month of footy that Davies has put together, and he once again proved a standout for Northern. The Knights’ skipper featured consistently throughout with his unmatched reading of the play and sticky hands overhead, while also showing improvement in his use by foot. His first bit of play was a typically strong intercept mark in the first term, and it proved a theme for Davies’ game as he plucked them one-on-one, in packs, and from both in front and behind. His setting up behind the play is what allowed him to do so at such a rate, snapping up everything that came his way backwards of defensive wing. Davies also had a nice moment with ball in hand in the third term, handballing over his shoulder with opponents circling to intelligently find a teammate in space.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a bit of a quieter game from the small forward/midfielder when compared to his six-goal effort last time out, but he continues to provide value to the Knights line-up. Starting at half-forward once again, D’Intinosante got up the ground well to find the ball early on, but his most effective plays came when charging off the line at centre bounces. His pressure and intent in the tackle was phenomenal, hitting his opponents fairly, but hard. Kicked the one-straight goal, coming from a classy dribbled finish over the back and also had a couple of brave efforts in the air.

#7 Ryan Gardner

It was a steady return from injury for Gardner, who spent a lot of time playing up at half-forward. He started up on a wing though, finding most of his ball on the outer and providing clean use. With his move forward, Gardner led well and showed deceptively strong ability overhead despite not always pulling down the mark. He had most of his touches around the arc, drawing opponents well to flick out handballs and getting involved off the centre bounce.

#23 Nikolas Cox

The bottom-ager has proven a marvel at ground level considering his size, but used all of his height in a more forward-oriented role in this outing. It was a shrewd move, with Cox a nightmare matchup as he marked the ball at its highest point and got good separation on the lead from full forward. He kicked his first of four goals in the first term after a nice clunk close to goal, following up with another set shot conversion on the half-time siren to keep the Knights in touch. After more time up the ground in the third term, Cox returned forward and got on that lead again to find a third goal. Cox’s fourth came differently, showing his athleticism to win a ground ball and snap home a late consolation goal. Plenty to like.

Bendigo:

#2 Jack Hickman

The speedy bottom-ager provided some real spark when running through the midfield, taking the ball at pace and breaking away from congestion. Moving forward, Hickman was a threat with those line-breaking capabilities and got the Pioneers going effectively. Capped a solid day with a goal in the second term as Bendigo broke away to a handy lead, and just does some eye-catching things with his speed and agility.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Had a solid day in the ruck but impressed more with his work at ground level, covering the turf well and getting involved at the drop of the ball. While he didn’t have a massive effect with his marking or crashing of packs, Gundry also looked likely when playing forward and got on the board with a really handy goal in the first term. He read the flight of the ball well, laid a heavy bump on his direct opponent to get him out of the road, gathered the ball and coolly dribbled home into the open goal.

#19 Ben Worme

It was another workmanlike outing from Worme, who was handball-happy in the middle of the ground. He would so often get the ball on the outer of the stoppage, wheel away out the back and dish off to a runner to good effect. The Vic Country representative was also part of the midfield-forward rotation, having a hand in Cooper Smith’s first term goal and getting involved as a half-forward. Worme missed a good chance on goal at the start of the third term as he streamed into the 50 off the back of a handball chain, but made amends in the same term with a lovely long-range snap. Just always manages to find the ball, and is adding strings to his bow.

#22 Josh Treacy

Was again used in a range of roles; starting forward, pinch-hitting in the ruck, and being thrown into a few centre bounces to help combat Northern’s bigger bodies. He still looks most at home up forward though, leading up strongly to centre half-forward and providing a reliable target. Leading from closer to goal in the third term, Treacy took another strong grab inside 50 but was unable to convert the set shot, instead putting through his second chance in the following quarter from a downfield free kick. The versatile big man was also again not afraid to through his weight around, laying hits that bordered on late and tackling hard at the drop of the ball.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Another lively bottom-ager, Ginnivan racked up the possessions in the forward half, providing dangerous run out the back and linking well into Bendigo’s attacking 50. He worked really hard to work back towards goal after getting up the ground and was not afraid to take the game on. Found the goals for the third-straight occasion, booting just the one set shot in the first term but having a hand in a range of Pios attacks.

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Seldom does he win mountains of the ball, but Mahony often stands out with his clean hands in the contest. He got on the end of a couple of nice chains early on in what was a steady start to his game, going on to find a couple of nice touches inside 50 in the second term. Mahony took a strong mark from behind inside the arc but sprayed the kick, and found space shortly after but again put the kick out on the full. He continued to find the ball in-close and got his hands up smartly in tackles while trying to burst through, doing so to good effect a heap of times in the second half.

#7 Mitch Martin

The classy midfield mover was particularly deft in his use by hand, flicking out a couple of eye-catching look-aways to teammates in acres of space after drawing an opponent. His agility and smarts on the ball also shone through, getting boot to ball quickly at the stoppages to clear, while also zipping through traffic and kicking neatly after gathering on the half volley. He capitalised one one of two chances in the second term to hit the scoreboard, first missing a set shot after a 50m penalty but rectifying it with a fantastic crumb and quickfire shot from close range. Capped his game with a fantastic pass inside 50 to Nick Caris from near-on the centre circle.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was back to his ball-winning best in this outing, leading all comers in a dominant display from midfield. Rantall’s initial work was done at the stoppages, chaining handballs and getting some forward run going, while working hard around the ground in general play to find the ball just about everywhere between the arcs on the back of his enormous endurance base. While he did not always have that typical damage and drive in his disposals, Rantall was a class above with his vision from the contest and direction of play in the back half. Rightly earned a National Combine invite and should show off his quality athletic traits.

#14 Liam Herbert

Assumed his usual role of accumulating on the outside and delivered neatly by foot on a few occasions. He missed a couple of early chances to find the goals; first getting on the end of a bad Calder turnover to mark inside 50 but missing the shot, and then intercepting again but missing the lot with his quick snap opportunity. Herbert went on to work hard to find space up either end and provide a key link along the outer, and would be buoyed by his forward impact.

#32 Harry Sharp

The bottom-ager popped up very early on very an electric goal to get the Rebels going, and went on to provide plenty of spark from the wing. Sharp gathered the ball over the back inside 50 and put the foot down to burn an opponent behind him, round one in front of him and snap home an eye-catching goal. He looked dangerous when breaking forward, undeterred by a couple of fumbles when attempting to take the game on. Sharp added to his goal tally with a clever steal and snap through two or three opponents, finishing into the open goal.

#41 Fraser Marris

Marris was another bottom-ager to stand up for the Rebels, showing a happy knack for finding the ball both up the ground and closer to home from his forward starting position. He just so often found separation on the lead working up to the wing, presenting well and using the ball well by foot to link forward. He couldn’t quite take a couple of chances on goal afforded to him, missing a set shot from a downfield free kick in the first term and later missing a snap in the third term. Still had a good impact, especially in the opening stages, and works hard.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Vic Country U16 representative is impressively mobile for a tall, showing off his best traits in both the ruck and up forward. Undeterred by the more mature bodies of his opponents, Rentsch did well to grab the ball out of the ruck on a few separate occasions and boot forward, while standing up well in the contest. Rentsch worked to get to contests around the ground and presented up from the forward 50. Made a nice pass inside 50 to Liam Herbert on his left foot in the second term, doing things that not many big-men can. Wasn’t quite able to hit the scoreboard, spraying a set shot out on the full but getting in good positions to score.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Again played more of an extractor role from midfield, handing out to his runners at the stoppages and not being afforded the time and space to get going. He competed well despite being a little quiet to start off, eventually clicking into gear and clearing a few balls by foot from traffic to go inside 50. Mott also showed a willingness to tackle, doing so well at a defensive 50 stoppage in the third term and showing a different side to his game.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

He might only be a bottom-ager, but Cardillo keeps on providing good grunt in the engine room, battling hard to break tackles and applying his own with force throughout the day. He was a little down on some of his recent numbers but still popped up with a few nice touches around the ground – marking strongly on forward wing in the fourth quarter and later faking a set shot to find Sam Ramsay a little further inside attacking 50.

#8 Sam Ramsay

It was another best-on display from Ramsay, who is pretty easy on the eye in full flight. Time and again he found space breaking away from the stoppage, reading the play well to either break forward and receive over the top, or scoot out the back and wheel around onto his left side. Ramsay is hard to stop when he gets on his bike, ending his quick bursts with long raking kicks. While he did so often enough to have an effect, Ramsay could perhaps benefit from mixing up his ball use, with some of his long kicks either cut off or to no one in particular. It is still an effective way to put the opposition defenders under pressure, and Ramsay was simply a magnet to the ball. Has put together a fantastic last month after missing Metro selection, and is doing all the right things.

#38 Brodie Newman

Started to get back to his best in this outing, putting in a more attacking effort in his time down back and proving effective when thrown forward. He started with a daring kick into the corridor in the first quarter and provided a solid kick-in target across the opening half. After the main break, Newman swung forward and got involved straight away with a lead-up mark from a centre bounce clearance. Leading up once more, Newman wheeled around in the centre square, took a bounce and launched long to assist Samuel Paea’s goal in the third term in a great bit of play. He continued to present well and proved too strong for many of his opponents, combining it with good movement at the drop of the ball.

#44 Harrison Andronaco

Kept his spot after a decent showing on debut last time out, and worked into the game well this time around. The 16-year-old did not lay many tackles but made them count, locking the ball in well and earning a holding-the-ball free kick in the third term. His carving forward runs looked dangerous, using subtle signals to fake-out opponents and afford himself that bit of time and space. Ended with 1.2; missing his first shot with a quick snap from congestion and another in the final term, but slotting home late in the third quarter after a clever stop and prop inside 50.

#45 Flynn Gentile

Has been a decent contributor in his three games thus far and just seems to find the ball with ease. Most of Gentile’s work was done on the outside, drawing opponents well when handing off and getting busy in general play with some forward drive. While his kicking wasn’t always sharp, Gentile made a couple of neat passes throughout – including one to find Brodie Newman inside 50 late on. One of a few Cannons 16-year-olds to keep an eye on.